Category Archives: Life Skills

Keeping Promises

I wake at 5.45 – it is just getting light, the grandfather of the house has begun his day, unlocking the gates and putting the dog, Olive back into her house – her guarding job over for another night.  It is time to get up, time to don loose clothes and light walking shoes and leave my safe haven.

I had been promising myself for days to begin walking again in the morning.  A very easy thing to do in my home place of Perth – places to walk to the beach, to the coffee shop, in the park – around the quiet morning streets.  But here?  In India where always I stick out as the foreigner.  I have to again gather my spirit to move outside my comfort zone and find out how it is to join the rest of the healthy folks who also ‘walk’ in the morning.

I live very close to a ‘ground’ the place where cricket and other games are played, and sometimes even concerts are held.  It is in the huge compound of the BVB College – where our offices are .. and the locked night gates open at 5 am.

“No, you don’t need to take anything with you – just have a big drink now and leave the bottle at home.   Mobile phone – forget it.. just your keys slipped in the pocket and off you go.”

The street outside is quiet – a couple of early morning dogs prowling near the rubbish bins on the corner – a young man cleaning his motorbike.  I walk to the gate and enter – picking up speed as I go.  It’s cool this morning – the air still fresh from the evening’s rain. There are lots of people around the ground – jogging, walking, striding it out – I too stride along – starting to feel the warmth of the exercise coursing through my sleep soaked body.

The trees here are special – some – the ‘sky jasmine’ having strewn their prolific night blossoms as a carpet below them.  I walk the path through the campus buildings and do a ’round’ then head down to the ‘ground’ to join the morning enthusiasts.  One lap is enough for me now and I head back to my place… the body feels good – a little stiff in my right hip but that will easily pass. I have walked for a good half hour. Ahh, time for a meditation – this time in front of the fan as I am sweating and hot.

And then my morning coffee.  Thankfully the power is on this morning so there is no wait for my ‘coffee fix’ so I sip the hot strong black brew and write.

What did I learn on my walk?  That in keeping my promise to myself, there are far-reaching consequences that go way beyond ‘exercise’.

My ‘being’ rejoices – it ‘gets’ that I stand by my values for myself – for no one else.. simply for myself.

And as I do this – my values hold and are reaffirmed, I have put another building block of integrity in my life – just by the simple act of going for a morning walk.

Embarrassed, shy? Get over it and smile.

I wake early on Saturday morning – its relatively quiet yet.. kids doing sport yelling deep in the background – birds – the occasional rickshaw sputtering. The sound of the mop and bucket cleaning the tiles downstairs. The metallic clatter of the dishes being cleaned has not yet begun – she comes a little later these days.

I have resumed my morning meditation but I am far from quiet.  My head wanders all over the place on inconsequential meanders.  Right now in this first couple of days back in India  I am feeling self-conscious – here safe in my room but at anytime I emerge, I am again shy, a little nervous. Aware of my ‘foreignness’ and my strange status as an older foreign female wandering around on my own.

Women tend to move in packs.  Not always true but in the male dominated ‘hotels’ (restaurants) there may be only one or two women with their husbands- or perhaps a table of 4-5 women together. At the hotel where I come to eat my evening meal,  no-one is alone like me. No-one foreign – just me. ‘ Is it okay?’ I ask myself constantly – always eyes are on me.

I am embarrassed – I don’t know what is available in the hotel – there is no menu – just what I see around me.  The man opposite me is finishing his ‘thali’.  I don’t want that.  There is pau baji – white soft bread rolls slightly sweet with a tomato based spicy sauce – also not tonight – but perhaps they serve dosa – so I ask for that.  ‘Masala dosa?’ the waiter says.. yes – that’s it.. relief….I have ordered.

The man opposite orders something – it comes – a sort of frothy lemon drink.  It seems cold with ice.. he appears hesitant but then begins to drink.  I catch his eye and ask: ‘Nice?’ he nods.  End of communication.  He leaves it half finished on the table and gets up to leave.  No recognition or nod to acknowledge his going.

My dosa comes just as I am trying to sneak a pic of the male dominated room.. my pic is blurred and full of waiter’s stomach.

But the dosa is great!!  I would like a lassi – but not many hotels serve these in this area. I don’t see them being given.  Only chai and it is too late for that. I am not ready for a sleepless chai fuelled evening.  So I let the thought of it go and signal for the bill.

That is easy in any language. 32 rupees – about 60 cents. It was a delicious dosa.  I wash my eating hand with the cup of water into the dish in front of me as is perfectly acceptable here.  I fish for my money, pay and move out to the street with some relief.

Next a little shopping.  Breakfast pre-purchased tonight – curd (yoghurt) and banana – easy.  The street is busy, cars, rickshaws, motor bikes – walking on the side with the traffic coming behind me – the Indian way – I reach a tiny hole in the wall shop.  There are 4- 5 people standing outside at the narrow counter.  And the lady inside recognises me – there is welcome in her eyes – we smile together and I ask for curd – doh pakit – 26 rupees and panch banana. Oh, mistake – I wanted 4 and I asked for 5! but I get them and pay and we are both happy.

I will go there again for the friendly face.

Why am I so nervous when really in the face of all these daily small challenges, the most important thing I need to remember is that I am the stranger.  It is up to me to find my smile, to jump over my shyness, my embarrassment at who I am, my awkwardness with my language barrier.

Smile Shazar – practice every day, every moment to catch the eye of the person next to you and smile for who are they but another one of you.

Clicking Like doesn’t change our world

I have been having a meltdown this morning –
With some help from my friends, I came to understand what this ‘meltdown’ has been about and what it has shown me.

Simply – I need to “let go of outcomes” – and do what I do do simply because it is mine to do. And as I move through my life, that which is mine to do gives me great satisfaction and joy. This is the outcome.

However it remains to be said – what I saw this morning is relevant for us to ‘get’. And as I write this I see also that I need to let go of the outcome of wanting everyone to ‘get’ what I am realising.

So it is this: we can spend much time and energy trolling through Facebook, seeing the posts that Facebook has deemed important for us to read, vicariously enjoying the adventures and the ups and downs of our ‘friends’ lives and sometimes re-posting something that touches our heart or our intellectual selves – or even says Hooray for our favourite team.

But in the scheme of things, what does clicking a like
really do?

I have to look at it from my point of view as that is really all I have. “ I did a post – and I got 103 likes .. and 4 comments.  Success.”

What? what success? what is that? a small massage to my ego.. this many people see what I write.. this many people like it .. share it and spread the word. And then…….

and then…..

what changed?

nothing.

This morning as I woke up I saw myself tomorrow heading off on my road trip – this road trip I have been so excited about .. that seemed like an idea born from inspiration – a way to inspire many people to put their hand up.. or rather perhaps in their pocket to support our work here. A way to bring water to our thirsty planet. And I realised that despite the hours I have spent writing, connecting, speaking, organising – creating videos, that in fact the real result so far has been very small in relation to the effort expended.

Ah – but what am I trying to say for this post is not for you dear reader.. but for me. As is all that I do. It may look like I am doing work for Mother Earth and yes I am.. but in fact I am doing this and writing this for me.

But I am going to say it again.

Clicking Like does not change the world. Clicking like does not make a difference. Clicking Like is a form of voyeurism with no effect. Clicking like sends a hollow message that “I stand with you.”

How many likes will we click before we really see what is happening on our planet and get up and take action? Taking action is the crucial key to the creation cycle. Inspiration, ideas – action – result. No action no result.

And interestingly enough, despite all those who advocate the visualisation of the result – and focus on that – the most important aspect is to “yes – see the result but then let go of it”.. let go of the outcome – simply initiate the action and continue to take the steps that are revealed to you as you move forward – but let go in every moment because when I hold on to the result – what comes is not the joy in my life – but the pain of disappointment – the worry of not acheiving the result, the disturbance in the flow of energy and blocking the flow of allowing of the next move in this game to show itself – for it is not me that is in control – if I try to control – all is lost.

And… I want to shout at us all.. stop clicking likes and get on with it.. take action for nothing can happen unless we do.

It’s time to move, it’s time to act, it’s time to get up out of the chair and join the dance of life.

The Gift of Fear

It is said “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

How many times in my life have I had to do that?

It never stops – it doesn’t change, confidence is not a birthright, or something you put on and leave on – it is to be stepped into each time a challenge arises.

The gut butterflies, the unknown possibilities of failure are always there – This morning I want to go to the ISKON temple – but my nervousness is holding me back. The thought of getting on the bus here in Hubli India – and all that entails.

“Will I have the right money on the bus, can I understand the ticket guy when he asks me something? Will I miss the stop? When I get there will there be somewhere for me to sit comfortably?  Will I remember the name of the college stop when I get the bus back?”

I could laugh so loud at myself for these incredibly ridiculous fears that loom so large, but they almost bring tears to my eyes.

How many times in my life, as long as it has already been, have I stopped myself from doing something I set out to do because the butterflies turned into vultures in my stomach?

And how many times have I leapt past the beating of their wings and found the exultation of action?  Such small things sometimes with such profound results.

We may consider that great acts of courage are what builds our character – but what of the small acts – no less significant?  The daily step upon the path which takes us out of our comfort zone and past even the minute but looming mountain in our way – these too build and strengthen us on a daily basis.

Do they become less, do the challenges reduce in size, does the experience of moving beyond change the landscape?  I don’t think so.

But the spirit inside of me knows – “I can do it.”

Once I climbed a rope ladder up the side of a ship in Antarctica.  If I could do that when everything in my being was screaming at me that it was impossible – then today I can step beyond this fear of boarding the local bus in India and being able to arrive safely at my destination.

the bus

So today I tell myself again – feel the fear but do it anyway – the butterflies are my friend – there simply to remind me to tread lightly – to be aware, to know I am in a strange land and it is no time to be on ‘automatic’.

That’s the gift of the fear – it is the gift of staying awake – being present – being in the here and now.  Whether it is climbing a rock face, or boarding a bus to an unknown destination – or bringing your most cherished project to the boss for approval, its all the same thing.

The key is ‘presence’ – being present – given by the gift of fear.

 

Its not all about me!

What are the learnings of family relationships?
In fact of all relationships.

Most of the time number one would be “It’s not all about me!”  Its is a refrain that should be imprinted on my brain.

I could delete yesterday’s post – I could say: “Ah this was unkind of me” – or perhaps “Ah this was incorrect and could be hurtful to another”.. and yes that’s true – but once again who is it really about?

Or should I take it down because it shows me in a poor light? That the ‘spiritual me’ that I like to protray is also sometimes very ‘unspiritual’ and stuck in her own mind, unable to confront what is real.

I don’t even know who reads my ‘stuff’ as yesterday’s post was certainly ‘stuff’ dressed up to resemble an exercise in writing. Ha! Caught out Shazar – you who thought of being clever. When there is unresolved angst underneath the words, however plain and undecorated they are – it takes no effort to see the real picture beneath that I was feeling  pissed off and hurt.

But in the ultimate scheme of things it is simply not about me. I hear:  “How often is it not about you?” Always – 99.9% of the time. Its time to wake up and look at what is real, not the surface. Time to let go of the mish mash of emotional charge and ask: “What is really going on here. Whose stuff is this?” – and once it gets a little more clear then do something about it. My stuff, my responsibility, and ultimately my choice about how I feel about my life and what happens in it.
With apologies to my regular readers – I won’t take the post down because that too is a part of who I am and deleting does not change the learning.  I shall leave it there as a reminder.

What was that – the learning?

“Shazar it is not all about you!!”