Begin With The End In Mind

So much is written about New Year’s Resolutions. Some love them, others think they’re for the birds. Not a believer in goal-setting culture (it suggests either accomplishment or failure), I concur with the latter.

Stephen Covey had it right when he suggested we ‘Begin With The End In Mind’ as one of his 7 Habits. How well did you live this one wild life you’ve been given? How might others speak of you after you’ve died? Let’s put our energies toward these kinds of questions as the New Year arrives. No goals, just big picture stuff.

big sur

So, it got me thinking about my own intentions and questions for 2013. They read something like this:

  • Continue to live with joy, and in joy
  • Remind myself that meaning can only be found from within, not from the external world
  • Be open to wherever life takes me, to whomever I meet, and to whatever happens; listen to what they show me about myself
  • Consider how I can help others
  • Let others know how they help me. (I’m getting really good at this:) It’s a Think Win-Win, another of Covey’s 7 Habits.

My external world is HUGE and I love it. It allows for opportunities for my inner world to blossom and grow (Edelweiss-like) through wonder and gratitude for what I DO have, not for what I don’t. 

I relish the movement not as an escape from, but as a mirror to my soul – to what my future self might look back on and thank me for.

This constantly changing world awards endless practice in letting go and saying goodbye; things I used to hate (most of us do) yet in the past required me to do against my will, and too often! Now I choose a lifestyle that welcomes endings, hoping it heals and softens my resistance to change.

2012 has taken me from Australia to San Francisco, awarded me infinite beauty, choice times with friends and family, and more joy and laughter than I remember even as a child.

flowers on water

So, from a friend whose eloquent voice says it all:

I hope that 2013 unfolds in a way that meets your heart’s desires … and that you and those you love will be blessed in those ways that matter most.

Problems Getting Back in the Saddle?

Ever had those icky post-vacation blues? Back from a long holiday, wandering and wondering where you fit in? Somewhat like an ill-fitting sweater, one that’s outgrown itself? Me too.
Even landing in Vancouver last month failed to rally the usual excitement. A place laden with memories of another life time, where we ‘did this’ or ‘went there’.
Like I’m haunting a previous life.

But it’s good to come back and feel what it feels like.

Maybe place isn’t as important as it once was. From time spent with my daughter in the Kootenays, friends visiting from Nova Scotia and Australia, and down in Seattle and Whidbey Island I’m reminded that it’s less about place than it is about people.

Living out of a suitcase however is both ridiculously simple and equally frustrating. Makes me realize how little I need. (Doesn’t seem to stop me from wanting!) My car doubles as library, pantry, and junk draw. But sometimes, just sometimes, I long to have a place to put a cookbook or hang my clothes.

Then I remind myself that having no fixed address or definitive plans, combined with a curiosity to learn more about the people that inhabit a place is a gift. A gift of time. Langley, Whidbey Island has to be one of the friendliest towns to hang out.

It’s my new favourite place.

As with everything, the more you have the more it grows. And the more you give, the more joyful your life and those around you. Everywhere I go the generosity of the people I meet is profound. Likewise I offer myself generously to others. If David Deida’s right in saying that, “Every moment is the most important moment of your life” then may your cup runneth over with GENEROSITY.

It’s my new favourite word. What would it take to be generous with yourself?

I’m Not Racist But…

F**k Off, We’re Full announced the windshield sticker on a Perth hatchback. In the 14 years since first visiting the land Down Under, an insidious undercurrent of fear has taken a firm hold on the national psyche. Not the increase in skin cancer or shark fatalities, but the fear of a Chinese take over. In the late 70s as the government opened its borders to refugees, it allowed thousands of war-torn Vietnamese to flee Russian communism and start anew. The typical Aussie was far from welcoming. Clearly things haven’t changed much in some parts!

A fear of foreign invasion was born years ago. Russia threatened to rob Australia of its prolific mineral reserves back in the mid 1800s and the seed was planted. Even the mysterious drowning death of prime minister, Harold Holt back in 1967 has conspiracy theorists pointing at Russian involvement.

Fact or fallacy, fear-mongering shares a popularity similar to sport in this sun-blessed land. Imagine! Almost daily, politicians exploit the public fear of foreign takeover and job losses to grab the attention of a nation.
It works. In 2001, when John Howard ordered the turnaround of a boat load of refugees during an election campaign, it ignited the voters and sealed his victory.

I recall a similar fear infiltrating my home town of Leicester back in the 70’s as an influx of Indians and Pakistanis descended on our city. Silent prejudice brewed in ‘white’ homes, mine amoungst them. Tempers flared on buses. ‘Coloured’ kids left abandoned on playgrounds. An us and them mentality arose from our threatened status quo and rampant belief in British superiority.

Like Canada this is a nation born from immigrants. Unlike Canada it’s still kicking and screaming in protest. I reckon the die-hard Aussies won’t go down without a fight. The iconic image of the blond-haired, surf-crazy, politically incorrect, beer swillin’ nation is hard to break. After all, this is the Australia we have come to know and love around the world.

But everything changes. With death and taxes it’s one of the few certainties in life. Guess it depends how long and how tightly we hold on, and to recognize if and how the fear of change plays out in our own lives. That’s surely worth an evening of contemplation.



Travel asks how much we’re willing to surrender to the unknown. It is as Pico Iyer suggests, an exercise in trust as we pitch ourselves, naked and undefended, into a foreign place. It satiates our curiosity to know something more about a place and to go deeper inside ourselves without the encircling familiarity of home. No surprise that in Ancient Greece, travel was considered one of the four main tenets of educating the ‘whole man’. Time for educational reform!
In transit for the past two weeks, some poignant thoughts and reflections from Palma to Perth. Check out the flickr photostream – In Transit, Singapore and Perth 2011
Thrills and Giggles
  • flying to Singapore on an Airbus 380, marveling at the minds able to engineer an 80 m wing span. Flying may well be my Ghostly Lover. I am ever more convinced that the woman’s animus IS, as Jung believes, up in the air.
  • watching locals patiently wait out the daily downpours of Singapore’s rainy season, no umbrellas or rain gear. A wonderful comment on acceptance of life as it is.
  • searching out bustling eating places (Chinese, Malay, Indian) where mine was the only ‘white’ face 
  • attempting to eat Indian curry, rice and sauces with fingers only! So humbling, and counter to everything I was taught about eating etiquette.
  • remembering the things I so loved about being in Australia years ago…passion fruit, sunshine, laid back lifestyle, BYOB to restaurants. A right thing in the right place (see  A Shoe in the Washer)
  • hearing Christmas carols while wearing summer clothes
  • how 32 degrees and 94% humidity feels on a jet-lagged body 
  • young people publicly puffing on giant, steaming hookahs at an outdoor cafe in the Malay-Arab quarter, and the fruity fragrance of sheesha (flavoured tobacco). Legal in Singapore?
  • how achingly beautiful the evening call to prayer (adhan) from the Sultan’s Mosque. An overwhelming yearning to enter and be part of this ritual. 
  • warning sign of gun-toting soldier aiming at would-be intruder at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Confirmation of law breaker treatment in Singapore.
  • entry into Australia requires a visa! Thank God for night time revelations and e-visas
  • my house sit owner’s inspiring love of life. I am open to this choice, as are you. 
The few annoyances arose from jet lag, waiting in lines, and the time and expense of getting to and from airports and accommodations. Things that can consume hours of precious time and energy. All ample evidence for going some place and staying still for a while. I like to call it residential travel. It’s about being somewhere not just seeing somewhere!