Author Archives: Earthianne

One Fine Day

Two Fridays ago, I decided to check out a patisserie during my lunch break and satisfy my sweet tooth. It became a day that will stick with me for a while.

When I got there, the sweet aroma and sight of a wide variety of delectable sweets on display made me linger and hesitate in picking out which one to try first. Just then, an elderly woman came and started eyeing those tarts and profiteroles, and she voiced out exactly what I was thinking. Opening my mouth to politely reply end up costing me more than I bargained for. Was it worth it? You tell me.

* * *

I could sense she wanted company.

After a hesitant pause, she asked me if I minded joining her while we each partake a piece of our chosen dessert. It was a lovely, cool sunny day, far different from the drab, rainy weather we experienced during the past Sydney summer. I wasn’t rushing to go back to work and being aware of how much the extroverted elderly people long for conversations, and feeling generous of my time, I obliged. I didn’t expect to stay for more than twenty minutes but she talked non-stop for two hours!

R. turned out to be a very interesting woman! An intelligent, well-read 84 year old, she shared with me her interest in history, travel, arts – living art, she emphasised – including classical and rock music!

Decades back, she left England as a school dropout and, penniless, grabbed the opportunity to migrate to Australia and start out a new life.

In those two hours, she shared with me her life stories that showed an enlightened, broadminded father who taught her from a young age that though people look different, we are all the same underneath; of her adventures in Asia and Europe; her experiences living as a white person in South Africa during the apartheid era and raising a mixed-race son; and dealing with people with narrow-minded views and beliefs.

These days, she spends her time taking walks in Parramatta, where she now resides after living for a long time in Cremorne; reading books she borrows from the local library; watching plays in the local theatre; and watching ethnic festivals when they’re on. She and her husband parted ways and her only son died three years ago. He was schizophrenic.

Her memory is remarkable! She would repeat full names and describe the personalities of people she met on the ship on her way to Australia, during her other travels and those she befriended while living here and the details of their conversations. I can’t even remember the first or last names of most of my teachers!

With my eyes fixed on her while I slowly sip my skim mocha, she recited a couple of poems to me, sung a tune or two, suggested books for me to read, shared her love for the Aboriginal people and people of all cultures, and scoffed at prejudiced people, and politicians and politics.

In one of those rare moments where she paused, I managed to quickly share my newly-discovered interest in chanting, which I thought would impress her. Surprisingly, she then recited a sacred mantra she knew by heart. I listened in amazement.

Under the glare of the early afternoon sun and while gushing at the delicious sweet snacks we were having, we discovered we have many things in common, like the love of:

  • Rock music
  • Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie Mercury

Wow, an 84-year old woman who loves ROCK! I’m as amazed to hear this as when I hear of rock music-appreciating Gen-Ys, like my friend Fran, as most of these young kids these days generally have no idea what real great music sound like! 🙂

She must have been one cool woman during her time. She still is ‘cool’, actually. She mentioned she watched the unforgettable concert film, ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ which she loved. Not to be outdone, I let her know I watched it three times! She was duly impressed!

I could imagine her musical drummer son, whom she recalled fondly, playing Stairway to Heaven with his acoustic guitar which she bought for him, to veer him away from the hard drumming that he played. She said she encouraged her son when he was still alive to play and listen to higher vibration music, like classical music, to help him with his mental condition.

You could tell she looked after herself. Her facial skin is not that lined for her age and her powdered face still shows a beauty she must have enjoyed at her youth. Her current short, light brown hair becomes her. Spanish gay friends she met and befriended would call her élégante. But she’s no longer that, she says, because she’s now old.

She narrated her love of nature and hearing the sounds of the birds in the morning. She says she was raised an Anglican/Protestant but she had left it all behind and now considers her god as the moon, the stars, the trees.

She survived breast cancer. She has firm ideas about how the female breasts should be regarded and voiced her disapproval of the way men view women’s breasts.

At 16, she fell in love for the first time but it was ‘unconsummated,’ she says. I didn’t dare ask her when and with whom it finally happened, but her mother certainly drummed into her the risks of having premarital sex.

With no inhibition, she casually dropped the word ‘sex’ like we were long-time best friends! I kept asking myself over and over while she continued talking, ‘Did I hear it right, did she really say ”sex”?’  Hence, damn it, I missed hearing what must have been the juicy details of her life!

She’s not wearing spectacles or contact lenses so her eyesight is obviously still good, her hearing is much better than mine, she walks unaided and still does her own shopping, and I’m sure there are other things she ably does by herself.

But I feel a tinge of sadness. Though her mental faculty is still enviably sharp, her physical body is showing inevitable signs of ageing and decline. She has poor body circulation, she says. Her wrinkled wrists and neck, the exposed body parts of which her beige, old long-sleeve winter coat couldn’t hide, are covered with big brown spots. She may not need eyeglasses but her eyes often become watery. She has no family to look after her or to keep her company. She must have friends but most are probably long gone. She might have once rocked it, but at this stage of her life she can no longer be a party animal that I, ahem, still am.

I tried to get up from my seat to slowly say ‘bye, thanks for the chat,’ but she didn’t take notice  and continued talking leisurely, not really minding that I was late getting back to work. She couldn’t let this opportunity pass by so easily, I suppose, to share old stories that are still alive in her long memory and are waiting in anticipation to be shared to a willing listener. I slowly eased half of my behind off the chair and poised to bolt. At my third attempt to interrupt her storytelling, I got up to say firmly, ‘I have to get back to work.’

She gave me her number for in case I feel the desire to have a chat with her again. I sensed she didn’t really seriously count on me contacting her ever. She must have offered her contact number to many others, with the small hope that one of them would call one day.

Reality for me is, I don’t get to hang out with thinkers like her too often. People who read to learn and broaden their perspective; people who question established beliefs and biases; people who defy the norm and follow what they feel is the right thing to do, not just believing things are the way they should be done just because the majority think so.

She apologised for talking too much. I replied that I enjoyed our talk immensely and I learned a lot. She paused, looked me in the eye and firmly said, ‘no, you didn’t learn from me; I learned from you.’ I tried to quickly recall what it was that I could have possibly said of value but none came to mind.

‘I must learn more about the Philippines, especially before the time of the Spanish colonisation’, she says. With dismay, I offered the information that the thoughtless Europeans who invaded my country of birth, destroyed most of the ancient and written artifacts that must have depicted a rich life and history of the ancient Filipinos. She replied that they did the same thing in South America.

I made a mental note to re-read Philippine history and silently chastised myself for not taking to heart my history lessons in school.

She assured me she’d let me talk more next time.

***

Ever since that fateful day, I’ve been thinking about how I enjoyed sitting at a sidewalk café during a perfect autumn weather, discussing life over Lebanese halva with a stranger, a woman of substance.

There’s a lot more for her to share, for sure. Stories spanning more than eight decades and ideas and opinions formed while living a meaningful life, with details too interesting and too eventful to narrate in two hours.

Still, I find myself begging the question, ‘Should I see her again?’

Hmmm… perhaps at another one fine day, I might give her a call to suggest repeating for me over coffee and a baklava the juicy details of her life that I might have missed hearing the first time. 😀

20 Thoughts on God

Religion does not have a monopoly on God. This is what I’ve come to realise after years of solo soul searching.

As a child, I still remember my feelings of frustration for not being able to see and talk to God. I longed to get to know God, an almighty being who sees, hears and knows everything, but who no one could see, hear, talk to or touch. This supposed to be powerful God, which the atheists insist to be non-existent, is to this day indescribable, unknowable, unfathomable and mysterious.

As an adult and when I found the courage to do so, I embarked on an armchair soul searching by reading books from various authors from different belief systems and philosophies, and also re-read the bible. As expected, the resulting effect is I became confused, disillusioned and dissatisfied. However, I got to know a few teachers who I resonated with and, over time, helped me develop my own thoughts on a god I can believe in. Not surprisingly, I disconnected from religion, which I narrated and explained in my ‘Losing my Religion‘ blog series, but somehow retained a belief in a god (reasons of which I will explain more in the future). This after lots of reflection, contemplation and rumination! The whole of existence having one than without makes more sense to me. That there is an overall mystical, super-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing figure (or figures) controlling the workings and laws of nature and the universe is reassuring to me. I also surmise science will one day catch up and confirm the reality of spirit life and the existence of a supreme being; and that you don’t have to belong to any religion, go to a specific church or other places of worship to connect with god.

Having kept my new beliefs and opinions to myself, I now share my thoughts and lay my cards on the table so family and friends understand where I stood where a deity is concerned. This is not to say they read my blog, but if they do, then they’d stop wondering why I’ve stopped going to church (except on special occasions). They also won’t try to put me back into the fold, so to speak, or recruit me to their ”brand” of religion because there is no turning back for me. I consider myself free.

For the religious, these thoughts could be sacrilegious; for the atheists, these are silly and meaningless. For the religion-less but non-agnostic and non-atheist like me, what I believe now — believe it or not — has made me stronger, I have less fear and am guilt-free. Depending on your beliefs or spiritual perspective, you may think me courageous or foolish. However, don’t you worry about me. You see, the ”fire and brimstone and hell and damnation” that most religions teach no longer work on me. I feel more happy now, contented and comfortable where I am spiritually, even if I’m taking this spiritual path alone – no family or friends to walk the path along with me.

My musings may not make sense to others but they do to me. I welcome your comments. We can agree to disagree. 🙂

* * *

Love thoughts or thoughts on ‘God’:

  1. Love, honour, remember and thank God but do NOT fear God. [Praise is something god doesn’t want/need so it’s not on my list.]
  2. Why must God be feared? Do good not out of fear of the ”wrath” of God.
  3. If humans are capable of ”unconditional love,” how much more God?
  4. God isn’t one-dimensional, boring, uncreative or unimaginative. God didn’t only make one spiritual path.
  5. God encompasses all. There are many paths to god. Take one or… none.
  6. God would never say ”It’s either my way or the highway.”
  7. If there is a God and God is as God says God is, then my God is your God is our God.
  8. To love God is to love him, her, them, us and yourself. *
  9. I stopped referring to God as he. Nor did I ever refer to god as she or it. But I found a new definition of god: he, she, it, we, they. *
  10. If God is love, then love is the right religion, the one true path. *
  11. If God is the god of all, if God is everywhere and anywhere, if God sees, hears, watches all, then there is nothing to fear.
  12. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, eternal, no beginning and no end, then there is more to life than we human beings can ever see, comprehend, imagine or believe.
  13. God doesn’t think like a human being.
  14. Therefore: God is not racist, sexist, xenophobic, elitist, ableist, homophobic, fatist or a speciecist.
  15. We are each unique and all races are equal in God’s divine eyes.
  16. God is NOT callous, dictatorial, hateful, impatient, insecure, jealous, needy, prejudiced, temperamental, unforgiving, vengeful or vindictive. **
  17. God has a sense of humour, I’m sure!
  18. If God has no sense of humor, then God isn’t real.
  19. God would want me to love my life, believe in myself, have fun, be happy, love all, take care of others—including the animals— and love and be kind to myself. God wants the same for you.
  20. God is so much, much greater than what any religion can ever teach us.

* Inspired by Brian Piergrossi

** Inspired by Neale-Donald Walsch

A Logical, Sane and Smart Thing

In April 2010, I started blogging with the intention of publishing a blog post at least once a week, if not more. Since taking a holiday last year, my published posts dwindled to about once a month.

Around the time of my one year blogging anniversary, I prodded you to README, to hear me out etc… then silence. For over a month, there was no word from me. So when your writing output is down and posts are few and far between, what is the most logical, sane and smart thing to do? Create another blog!

And that’s what I did. 😀

Love Animals Now is my second blog and, as its name suggests, it’s where I advocate truly loving animals and cease looking at them as food. It’s time to make ourselves aware about this whole issue of cruelty and eating animals, and to exercise our sense of compassion and empathy for these long-suffering beings.

I have learned that giving up meat is not that hard to do. If I, a once hard-core meat lover and a picky eater can do it, so can you. You just need to make an effort to listen, to know, to care.

I’ll share my take on various issues in future posts, including impacts of animal production, my response to friends’ comments on eating meat etc.

I remember when my daughter was a toddler. I learned to pick up one sure sign she was up to no good and this is when she was very quiet. In my case, my being quiet didn’t mean I was up to no good. In fact, I’m trying to do good (blogging about pertinent things), but it would be more fun to do it with you. 🙂

Earthianne is my blog for sharing my stories, opinions and other musings.

Love Animals Now is my blog for sharing one of my new-found beliefs that:

not eating animals = truly loving animals + loving yourself and others.

After all, as others teach and believe, we are one, interconnected and interdependent.

Please go over to Love Animals Now for my latest take on a topic very close to my heart — The Unpalatable Reality of Eating Animals.

I hope to see you there. 🙂

Wish

Happy 1st Blog Anniversary to me!!

Cute Liam and pretty Meme helping moi make my wishes come true. Photo by Bebot Felix

It has been one year and a bit since my first attempt to write and call myself a blogger.

A Lone Voice and a long and slow build up of desire to write started me on this blogging journey. No matter the quality of it from your perspective, Earthianne is my ”labour of love”, my ”work of art”. All up, I managed to publish about 35 blog posts only, considerably less than what I intended to and 300+ short of what other bloggers produce. For a chronic procrastinator who writes as a hobby and for someone who claims to be an ”aspiring writer”, however, I think I didn’t do too bad!

In the main, this blog has become a source of fun and laughter for me. Picture me while I’m writing/rewriting chuckling and laughing all the way to my final drafts. I laugh at my own jokes, you see.

It’s hard work but it’s fun to blog. I’ve been inspired and encouraged by the talented, intelligent, eloquent, creative, deep, helpful, friendly and caring bloggers I’ve met in the last year. I’m tickled pink seeing friends and people I know, old and new, who I didn’t/don’t really expect to care enough to be or even have time to come here, even if only occasionally, but they do. TYVM to you!

A year on, I’ve decided I’m staying put in this blogging world. It’s great to have an outlet for sharing some thoughts I keep way back in my mind because very few, if anyone these days, have time/make time or have a need for long or deep and meaningful conversations.

Allow me a few requests while you’re here.

To my friends—old, new and ‘time travellers’—would you:

READ ME. Be your bi-monthly or monthly ‘fix’, part of your online-reading routine. Your feedback is welcome so I can improve my writing.

HEAR ME. There are things I want to share; perhaps we’re in the same wavelength or maybe not. Hear my logic and perspective anyway, hear me out. Let’s learn from each other.

UNDERSTAND ME. The reasons for my writing are as I say they are, but they may change in time. After all, life changes constantly and we evolve continuously. Also, be happy for me, for whatever intrinsic satisfaction I’m getting out of writing/blogging.

ACCEPT ME. Our opinions, outlook in life, religious beliefs (if any), ideologies, philosophies, tastes, skin colour, sexual orientation, and/or even size of our waistline may differ, but that’s the beauty, and some say strength, of our being diverse. If you find yourself disagreeing with me, let’s make a deal: Let’s agree to disagree.

WATCH ME. I’ll continually learn and grow, both as a “self-published writer” and as a fellow temporary resident of earth.

TELL ME. Share what you’re thinking. Let me hear it; broaden my perspective.

TEACH ME. I’ll no doubt make mistakes, even fall flat on my face, as I cruise along, both in blogging and in this life that I now see as truly worth living. Your reminder, suggestions, advice, nudge or even comeuppance are welcome (but be gentle).

SHOW ME. It’s a two-way street: I give, you take; I take, you give. Show me and I’ll reciprocate. I’ll WATCH YOU grow, change, create, transform and/or inspire others.

HOLD ME. This is while I steady my gait in this sometimes overwhelming, sometimes lonely blogging world.

GIVE ME. Something to remember you by – a word, a comment, a constructive criticism, a food for thought, a really funny joke—which I love—and other things that come from your heart. [Special thanks to those bloggers and visitors who left comment/s here or direct messaged me.]

MASSAGE ME. No, not my ego, but my aches and pains that I sometimes feel. Soothing words, as you know, are like a balm that take away some of the occasional sadness, and past and present hurts.

HUG ME. Or I hug you — it’s the same really. For coming here, let me hug ((((YOU)))). Virtual hugs are not as warm as the ”manual” hugs (lol) but, as you know, it’s the thought that counts!

LOVE ME. What is there not to love? Just don’t ask certain people!

I’m joking, of course. I just thought a list like this can’t NOT include love! ”Love” in all its forms has become a favourite topic of mine and I’ll be tackling it here more later. Love’s a never-ending learning process for most of us. It’s the bottom line of all our desires, don’t you think? I just don’t have the constant urge to say it or the constant need to hear it (romantically speaking is another matter, lol). Actions really speak louder than words. If you love someone, show – don’t tell. Or let me clarify: show at every opportunity and say it in moments when you feel you’d burst if you don’t say, ‘I Love You‘!

To prove how grateful I am to you for taking the time to ”readme” and for me to share my LOVE of books to my cool readers, I will buy via http://www.bookdepository.co.uk (because it’s free shipping worldwide) or http://www.fishpond.com.au (because it’s free shipping in Australia) the first 3 people who comment on this WISH post a book of their choice to the value of up to A$25 (for each lucky reader).

Haha, I’ll be luCkY to get 3 comments but I’m serious! Go on, make my day. 😀

And while you’re here now, stay a while. Together, let’s enjoy the great Pink Floyd.

Cheers!

Pleaaase Don’t Eat Me

Don't eat me

Cute Babe

If only the real Babe could speak…

I’ve been catching up on my knowledge on the loveable antics of animals, especially farm animals. Did you know that animals are much like humans in so many ways?

Animals form close, deep and long-lasting relationships not only with humans, but also with their own kind as well as other species of animals. Researchers and other observers say they love hanging out with their animal and/or human ”best friends”. They are playful and inquisitive, or get themselves into mischief. They feel joy, happiness, contentment, loyalty and love! They are capable of intense love and affection that humans could very well learn from them.

It’s not only feelings of joy though. They feel physical discomfort, suffer mental anguish, squeal in protest, feel terrorised, endure agony, scream in pain, get stressed, and also express extreme distress when separated from their loved ones.

So you can easily imagine how the deplorable and shameful situations in slaughterhouses take its toll on animals. They hold a grudge to those who hurt them. They have long memories, remember past hurts and some, like the chimpanzees, even after many years, don’t forgive. It’s not only elephants who mourn the loss of loved ones and friends, but other animals too.

These are just a few things we have in common with them. And yet, there are many more things we don’t truly know about them.

In her book, The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities, Amy Hatkoff says animals with reasonably complex brains have ”vivid and distinct personalities, minds capable of some kind of rational thought and… feelings”.

Marc Bekoff, in The Emotional Lives of Animals notes that ”Careful scientific research is validating what we intuitively understand: that animals feel, and their emotions are as important to them as ours are to us… Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys, and their grief the deepest and most devastating.”

Some of the things that farm animals are reported to do or possess, which many of us may or may not know:

We're not food

Loving pigs

• Pigs love video games. They are more intelligent than dogs; smarter than poodles.
• Even though pigs have small brain, they are teachable and are fast learners (what they call a ”one-trial learner”).
• Chickens can count and ”use their right and left brains for different functions”.
• Chickens and roosters have ”highly developed communication skills”.
• Ducks have good sense of humour, and are suspected to even have ”regional accents”.
• Turkeys recognise each other by their voices.
• Turkeys love human companionship and, armless as they are, love to hug and be hugged by humans.
• Goats are ”affectionate” and ”love attention”.
• Sheeps recognise faces and ”respond to emotional cues from both human and sheep faces”.
• Cows are perceptive, sensitive and are self-aware.
• African Buffalos were observed to be making decisions by, what else, ”voting”!

k.d. lang asked a good question, ”We all love animals. Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner’?”

Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, shows us how she quit salivating for animal flesh: ”I looked at the piece of animal on my plate, and it symbolized fear, pain, death. I stopped eating it.”

Watching http://www.earthlings.com did it for me. In fact, it was not the merciless torture the animals suffer or the physical and/or psychological problems caused by unthinking humans shown on the video that stuck with me. It was the sight of a dog, perhaps bound to be euthanised, sitting in a corner of its cell with the saddest of eyes I’ve ever seen in a dog.

Unless we watch videos/documentaries or read books on animals and their rights, we’ll remain ignorant about their plight.

I feel so much love for animals now I lost my desire for eating animal meat, much less handle cooked or raw, dead, bloodied meat. Quitting eating meat is not that hard, at least from my experience, once you have a shift in your thinking about the true nature of and our relationship with animals. Once you realise what loving and respecting animals truly mean, you’ll lose your craving for animal flesh. This is coming from me, a one-time hard core meat lover right up to late last year and a picky eater one at that.

My eyes, mind and heart are now wide open. I look at animals in a new light. I now see what other long-time genuine animal lovers see.

Joe Hutto, a naturalist who studied and wrote about wild turkeys, sums it up nicely, ”The time I spent with them was this wonderful kind of humiliation. We are not superior beings, we are just different beings. We are not more interesting creatures.”

* * *

Sources and recommended reading:

The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities by Amy Hatkoff.
Ninety Five, Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs, edited by No Voice Unheard.
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
The Ten Trusts by Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff

Note: The above images are from istockphoto.com.

The Big Five of Authentic Leadership

Smiling heart

In my last post, I dare posit that someone who is a bad leader is only masquerading as a leader, or one I call a ‘WANNABE’ leader.

It seems to me authentic leaders are hard to find, and there is no fixed formula for being a great leader. Books and blogs abound on the whole gamut of leadership. Most list a whole heap of qualities a leader is supposed to have. Experts say one’s success as a leader depends on the context of the leadership role. It’s obvious that one’s effectiveness as a leader depends on so many factors.

There are five essences, however, that a leader must possess to be considered authentic. If you have these, you have the indelible and invisible mark of an authentic or a potential leader—at least in my idealistic eyes.

Outside of these five essences are other skills and attributes that don’t have to be present in the first instance. In one’s journey as a leader, one’s effectiveness can develop, grow and improve over time. Or not.

Take Hosni Mubarak. Was he an authentic or a wannabe leader? He wasn’t an inauthentic leader because he got himself ousted in power, nor was he an authentic leader because he managed to stay in power for so long. Or take George W. Bush. He wasn’t an inauthentic leader because of his “Bushisms”, nor was he an authentic leader because he got himself elected for two full terms.

The two ex-presidents are so-called leaders because they didn’t have one or more of these essences. I list these intangible qualities with a few obvious examples:

The first essence: A leader has INTEGRITY.

Integrity is doing the right thing—legally, morally, ethically, fairly and justly—even when no one is looking. In other words, LIES, DECEIT, hypocrisy, half-truths, and bad and unethical behaviour are not an option.

Michael Hyatt, a Christian minister I discovered via Google, calls this the FOUNDATION of an authentic leader, and I agree.

A leader with strong personal integrity:

• is always truthful, transparent and will not hide behind bullshits, false promises, false excuses and false pretenses.
• chooses to do the right thing in whatever circumstances or its cost to himself or herself.
• will not backstab his or her way to the top.
• will not insult anyone’s intelligence by using false claims to achieve a selfish end.
• will not indulge in or spread malicious gossip, spread innuendos or unverifiable facts about anyone.
• will not undermine others, let alone his or her own people/staff.

I quote Leonard Roberts (not the actor) who says, “You cannot be a fake. You must stand up for what is right regardless. You cannot maintain your integrity 90 percent and be a leader. It’s got to be 100 percent.”

A person who is incorruptible has the first hallmark of a true leader.

The second essence: A leader has HEART.

If integrity is the foundation of an authentic leader, then the heart is the CORE, so says Michael Hyatt again.

What does it mean to have heart? I read somewhere that the heart of authentic leadership is an emotional process. I think it also has to do with being warm, kind, sincere and having compassion. Someone said a person with heart uses feelings intuitively.

A leader with heart:

• never forgets the humanity of their fellow beings.
• doesn’t play the blame game, nor any un-fun and dirty political games.
• is emotionally intelligent. In his The Soul of Leadership book, Deepak Chopra, describes this as working with positive emotions and dealing effectively with negative emotions.
• is optimistic and focuses on solutions and not problems, and then take positive action.
• is passionate about his or her cause, vision, goals and/or direction and shares them with those who have the right to know.
• has good communication skills. This person speaks from the heart and, at the same time, is a good/attentive listener. Deepak Chopra, describes a good listener as someone who doesn’t interrupt, criticise, argues or patronise.

In my opinion, a brilliant mind can only be complete if his or her mind thinks, analyses, judges with heart.

The third essence: A leader has a NURTURING INSTINCT.

Having a nurturing instinct is having the inclination, interest and willingness to provide the necessary conditions for a person’s talents and skills to grow and develop. And when I say nurture, I mean the lot!

A leader who nurtures:

• inspires, teaches, develops, motivates, trusts, helps, guides, empowers, encourages, engages, cultivates, boosts, persuades, supports and protects.
• sets high expectations and goals, and gives others the right push so they reach their full potential.
• help others overcome their weaknesses.
• doesn’t underestimate people.
• create more leaders, not followers.

Russell Palmer, author of the Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation calls releasing human potential as the ultimate goal or the POINT of leadership.

The fourth essence: A leader has SELF-BELIEF.

Having self-belief is being sure of one’s own abilities, strengths, validity, value and worth, and has inner confidence. This self-belief is what creates the SOUL of leadership in a person, so says Earthi-Anne.

A leader with the right amount of self-belief:

• has no feeling of inferiority or sense of insecurity, and is not being cocky.
• keeps his ego in check and lose any sense of arrogance, smugness and false pride.
• doesn’t feel threatened or intimidated by his or her superiors (if any) and/or by smart or smarter subordinates. A genuine leader understands that everyone has his or her weaknesses and strengths; and that someone’s weakness(es) maybe his or her strength(s) and vice versa, and that they can complement each other.
• gives credit to where it’s due; can say no to his or her superiors, if it’s warranted.
• doesn’t feel the need to butter up to their bosses and doesn’t encourage others to butter up to them.

A person who recognises their intrinsic worth as a human being has enough self-belief.

The fifth essence… A leader has BALLS.

If integrity is the foundation, the heart is the core, nurturing is the point and self-belief is the soul, then having balls is what gives you your IN-BUILT ARMOUR, Earthi-Anne dares say.

Call it guts, courage, spine, will, inner strength or mental toughness, a leader with balls:

• is not a bully. A leader doesn’t use fear, intimidation or aggression to get things done or to get what they want.
• is not a wimp and doesn’t balk at intimidators and aggressors.
• not afraid to admit to the truth or admit to their own mistakes.
• doesn’t shy away from giving their superiors or staff the true picture.
• sometimes takes the heat if necessary or when things go wrong, as things sometimes do.
• is not afraid to apologise nor is afraid of people making mistakes. A leader recognises human beings are capable of making mistakes and no one is perfect. A leader understands unavoidable mistakes, just like life’s lessons, are opportunities to learn and grow.

A leader’s mental toughness is what shields himself or herself from self-doubt, detractors, naysayers, critics or enemies.

* * *

I mentioned in my last post that there is one characteristic that is important in a leader. A leader with—yes, you guessed it—a SENSE OF HUMOUR, is the icing on an already rich and filling cake. Imagine a very competent, strong, highly-intelligent, kind and compassionate, and courageous leader but someone who is dull serious and has no sense of humour?? Arrrrggghhhh!! It would make extremely dull what would otherwise be an idyllic work life with an authentic leader.

A leader who knows how and when to use good humour can make our life fun, enjoyable and stress-free — one would hope!

There you have it, my five must-haves: the foundation, the core, the point, the soul and the in-built armour of authentic leadership. PLUS that one teeny, weeny, super extra-special quality or characteristic that I’m trying to force into my self-made wish list. 😀

Cast your eyes over our past and present world leaders and leaders where you work and play. Do any of them have the mark of a true leader? Do YOU have the mark of a true leader? Stand up, be recognised, LEAD and SERVE!! Your team, school, organisation, country—and the world—needs you! I NEEEEED YOU!!

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on authentic leadership but I have a keen interest in this topic, as well as in personal leadership.

The Mark of an Authentic Leader

Heart image from istockphoto.com

Don’t you wish we could see through each person professing to be a leader?

Throughout our history, often unknowingly, we’ve allowed liars, thieves, cheaters, wimps, abusers of power and unscrupulous people to rule.

If it was only possible to discern who are authentic before we vote certain politicians into power, or before we place our trust on certain people and let them lead us, our world would certainly be a much better place. People who we vote to put in government, some people we put on pedestals and some of those who lead us at work betray our trust and expectations.

We’ve been victims of spin, propaganda, misinformation, manipulation, deception and treachery by our so-called leaders. They are so-called leaders because they are NOT authentic leaders. I’m beginning to think, though this is just my opinion, there are no good or bad leaders. Good leaders are authentic leaders. Bad leaders are only wannabes.

I acknowledge being a leader, a genuine leader, is not easy. Leading—be it a country, an organisation, a committee, a large group or a small team—is a tremendous responsibility. It’s hard work! Would-be leaders who want to lodge themselves in power, or current leaders who want to hold on to their position should do what they professed to do, and do what they were voted or hired to do. As the saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat – get out of the kitchen, for those who easily crack under the pressure.

I’ve certainly worked with and for wonderful leaders. I know authentic leaders are out there fulfilling roles that are rightfully theirs and some potential authentic leaders waiting in the wings. However, we also know there are crackpots, unethical or clueless people who, due to misrepresentation or, sometimes, luck, are currently in leadership roles who have no clue how to lead people in a genuine way.

Like the word love, leadership has no one, consistent definition. I’m still on the lookout for the best meaning as I haven’t found THE ONE. On the web, you’ll find that various meanings are attached to the word leadership, like position, roles, functions, styles, capabilities, principles, skills, characteristics, behaviours, qualities and essence.

Managing and leading, as you know, are two clearly different things. Changingminds.org says “managers focus on work; leaders focus on people” and that “managers have subordinates; leaders have followers”.

Being a good manager doesn’t automatically mean being a good leader. A good leader isn’t just being a boss or being a manager. Being a boss is a status, and being a good manager can be taught. However, being an authentic leader, it seems to me, and contrary to common wisdom, is born, not made. Whatever is the truth, one thing cannot be disputed: you have to have certain qualities, or essences as I prefer to call them, to be bestowed the honour of being called an authentic leader.

Authentic leadership is described by a respected spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen as caring a lot about “a higher purpose, a higher principle, a higher goal that we are willing to make the most important sacrifices for the sake of what we are aspiring to accomplish. It means we care so passionately about others also reaching that goal that we unhesitatingly sacrifice our own peace of mind, comfort, and security in order for them to succeed.”

Leadership expert and author, Robin Sharma, says one can lead without a title. Joe Farcht, another author on leadership suggests building personal leadership precedes building organisational leadership. In my thinking, to be an organisational leader, you must first pass some tests. Once you pass and continue to embody the essences, then you receive the invisible stamp or mark of authentic leadership – the heart.

In my increasing quest to separate the wheat from the chaff of leaders, I hand-pick five essences of an authentic leader. I’ve only formed five because there is a set of traits “embedded” within each essence. If you’re missing any of these, I’d say learn or acquire them first, if it’s even possible, before you boldly attempt to take on a leadership role. I believe you don’t have to have leadership experience to be a successful leader. If you have the mark of a leader, then other essential qualities of a leader not embodied within these essences can be learned, acquired or honed before or while acting in your role.

I’d like to add that there is one extra and interesting characteristic that I have not included within the essences. If you have this or if you know how to use this, can not only help you but also those around you and those you lead. If used inappropriately, it could backfire, but if used effectively can help improve morale.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on authentic leadership but I have a keen interest in this topic, as well as in personal leadership.

Fun + Games + Giggles + Laughter = Young Mind and Heart

“No, we’re not going out of the house with you dressed like that! It’s too revealing! Wear something more appropriate!”

“What is wrong with th… ?”

“No!”

“What if I put…”

“No!!”

The only time I attempt to dress “youngish” and not my age, my Gen Y daughter stops me in my tracks.

On her Facebook wall on my last birthday, she dobbed me in to her friends:

“busted my mum trying on my clothes when she’s 2 sizes bigger. Walked past her room to find her struggling to get my top past her elbows, bwahaha.”

How is that funny, Michelle??

* * *

Trying too hard to look young or sexy, made obvious by inappropriate dressing, surely backfires. On a page on Oprah’s website, it says, “The number one mistake women make is shopping by size, not by fit”. Author of Before You Put That On, Lloyd Boston, advises, “Get the clothes that fit, not the number you want to be and your clothes will look so much sexier.”

The word “sexi-er” convinced me. Lloyd, I’ll remember that next time I’m tempted to buy a size 8 top!
[Note though that it says “your clothes” will look sexier, not necessarily you! Lol]

I’m at that stage where I’m starting to see the ravages of time. Having just added another year to my ever increasing age, I think I’ll have to start asking people not to scrutinise my face. People my age have long been conscious of sagging facial skin and drooping eyelids, plus the increasing “threat of invasion” of white hair on our head.

It was about a decade ago when I start to stammer when replying to people’s questions about my age. In spite of believing age is just a number and my recent pronouncements of not shying away from admitting it, I still get tongue-tied when asked. I’m failing one of my new year’s resolutions already (of being authentic) and we’re only in January!

So I worked out a sure-fire plan to help keep our attitude and mindset as young as when we were, say, in our 20s or even 30s, to continue—with the emphasis on “continue”—to keep ourselves perpetually young in mind and young at heart, even if not in face and body.

These may not work for everyone but I’m sticking to these from now on to ensure we have as much fun while we can and we’re able and to minimise stress:

Watch your language

• Stop calling yourself “old” and stop using that word to describe people who were young once.

• If you ever need to ask someone their age, choose to say “how young are you?” You know it’s a good trick to make someone, including yourself, smile.

Be a student for life

• I joke that I’m a mature student of love (okay, I’m half serious). Whether it’s learning about love (as it’s such a broad topic), acquiring a new skill, reading, learning a new hobby or studying for a course, keep your curiosity about new things alive.

Keep your sense of fun

They say high school is one of the most fun times of one’s life and it was for me. Maintain your sense of fun and love for games just like when you were younger.

• If you’re physically able, go ahead and dance, play sports or board games or, if you dare, even naughty games! Fun!!

• Giggle a lot; laugh heartily, loudly and often (though not too much or you risk your co-workers’ ire, if you work in an office). Crack jokes but, of course, make sure not at the expense of others.

• See life only as “role playing” — at home, at work and on Earth. This should keep our ego in check and make us not think of life and oneself seriously. I’m serious!

I know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re in a middle of a serious illness or problem, or a tragedy, but then again a lot of people take a lot of things seriously even at times they shouldn’t. [See “Solutions focused” below.]

Indulge in music

There was a period of about 10 years that I stopped listening to music. Big mistake!! Music soothes our soul — those in the know say!

• One suggestion—regardless of your age—while listening to music, bop your head, let your body move to the rhythm and feel the music. Heaven!

Spring to life

• Exercise can’t be over-emphasised. One of my goals this year is to be more physically active. Kickboxing, bring it on!!

• Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wise. My parents used to drum this saying into us when my siblings and I were growing up. I struggle with this still as I come alive at night.

Glorious food

• If you haven’t started, develop an “eat-and-drink healthy-consciousness”. This means no meat, no sweets (ok, not too much and not too often is another one of my goals), saturated and trans-fat a big no-no, use salt sparingly and avoid sodas (unless you’re having it with vodka, lol).

Self-love

• Affirm: I’m one of a kind… and so are you!

• Go to health retreats and give frequent special treats to self.

• Acceptance of your shortcomings, weaknesses and imperfections.

• Learn to accept and love your body, however difficult it may be to do so. Read here on how to have a healthy body image. It’s not too late!!

Solutions focused

For most of us who believe there is spirit life after physical death, we take our life on Earth so seriously. We forget it’s only temporary so therefore our respective and collective situations here are also temporary.

If tragedy strikes, of course we allow ourselves time to grieve, cry and feel pain for a while. Then we start to recover, feel better and eventually start to get over our sad situation. It’s when we drag our feelings of misery, resentment and/or self-pity for too long that can really have a detrimental effect on our health.

• Reduce, if not eliminate, negativities that we sometimes allow ourselves to indulge in. [See “Keep your sense of fun” above.]

• See problems as opportunities to learn and grow, as they say. As John Lennon puts it in Watching the Wheels, “There’s no problem; only solutions.”

• Don’t let any bastards get you down (well, at least not for long).

It’s not at all surprising that the things you can do to delay (for as long as possible, at least) one’s physical decline are also, it appears, the same things that you can do to keep your heart and mind forever young.

Image pinched from an email. If I reach her age, I promise to act like this but not to dress like this. 😀

Does young mind + young heart = immaturity??

I don’t think so. You know why?

Fun + games + giggles + tears of laughter + enjoyment = young mind and young heart.

I admit Maths isn’t my strong point, but I’m positive the above formula adds up.

* * *

Last weekend at a friend’s party, instead of spending my time conversing with adults, I spent the whole time playing Wii with a 10-year old!

While the adults in the party were probably thinking what you’re thinking, my young friend, Yashar, is now convinced his khale (auntie) is cool!

Post updated on 22 January 2011.

Grabbing the Reins

istockphoto.com

As 2010 draws to a close, I’m prodding myself to grab the reins of my life.

I’ve let myself stay on auto pilot for years and kept doing certain things that aren’t working on continual loop. It’s what others call ‘insanity’ — doing the same things over and over knowing you get the same, predictable, undesired results.

Year in year out, this is what I do: daydream, plan, procrastinate, get distracted, lose focus. Repeat.

I have stuff on my ‘Wish List’ that only remained ‘wishes’. With 2011 almost upon us, I resolve to change this once and for all and turn my long-held dreams into tangible reality.

Mind you, most of them are not really big dreams. They’re mainly simple things like wanting to practice Tai Chi or Qigong, learning to play the African drums, be more health-conscious, perhaps booty shake it like Shakira (lol) etc.

In my inaction, I’ve undermined my own self. With my long-overdue show of self-love, however, that is about to change. First, I take responsibility for my inaction and its inevitable non-result; I acknowledge it and now it’s time to get off my derrière and just do it.

I’ve examined my life and I know there are aspects of it that seriously need fixing. I have dreams that I know I have the power to bring into fruition.

From now, this is what I’ll consciously do: desire, intend, commit, focus, persist and—when it materialises—celebrate! Repeat.

Marianne Williamson, author of ‘A Course in Miracles’, wisely tweets ‘owning your desire will start the cosmic engine‘. Even before I read her tweet, I know 2011 will be a very interesting year for me in terms of goals because of my strong intent to make things happen this time.

Taking stock of my life journey this past year, a few things were noteworthy:

1. unintentionally becoming a wannabe jet-setter. This, of course, created a big hole in my pocket, but I’m grateful for the experiences and to the various people who helped make those trips worthwhile, fun and memorable.

2. actualising my desire to write, express, share, unzip, unload and reveal where I stood on certain issues by starting a blog. Writing is one thing that I’ve actually managed to do something about but to date it’s only a hobby.

3. being in a pleasant office environment where any potential dramas and conflicts are ‘repelled’ by the good-naturedness and strong work ethics of the young people who work there. I’m lapping it up at the moment while it lasts.

The last few months of 2010 found me:

4. unintentionally becoming a vegetarian. Losing my desire to eat animal flesh was an unexpected but welcomed change. This has become a precursor to my New Year plan to improve my physical fitness.

5. falling in love… with farm animals and joining Meat-eater Anonymous!! Recently, I mentioned sensing ‘love is in the air’. I caught the love bug but I wasn’t expecting this type of love!

6. advocating for love and compassion for animals

7. de-cluttering my space at work and home (ongoing)

8. re-starting a savings plan

9. appreciating people and situations more, and more and more loving life!

However, it’s my dormant and unactualised ‘wants’ that I’m focusing on next year. I’ve started to list my desires/goals/wishes for the new year. Without solid plans and just empty dreams, many will remain in limbo, like I was in the last many years.

Right now I’m ‘stirring’… and have started to do and put things in place in preparation to actualising my intentions for 2011. And I’m getting excited!

Tanjoubi Omedetou

G’day!

I’m offline for a few days. While I’m taking it easy, I ponder the following lines from a Japanese song. It’s so fittingly funny, it’s hilarious!

♫ Tanjoubi Omedetou To Me! ♫

“Always one extra candle
Always getting more wrinkles
Always adding one year
And always gaining some weight.”

LOL.

Click on the video and sing along!

ENJOY!

CHEERS!

Click here for the lyrics.

Till next post…

‘Lovelier’ the Second Time Around

I’m funny like this. I shook my head vigorously when I asked myself silently, ‘Am I now a vegetable lover?’

I’m not a fan of vegetables!

I was a meat craver who is now learning to adjust to a non-meat diet. Add to this ‘comedic situation’, being a closet prima donna, if no one peels, de-seeds and slices fruits for me, I don’t remember to eat them.

How am I going to feed myself?

Once, several years ago, I attempted to become a vegetarian for health reasons, not for any moral, compassionate, empathetic reasons. But my first attempt didn’t last long.

Late 2010 and my once-held desire to be a vegetarian is re-awakened. This time I resolve seriously to eliminate all meat and some animal by-products, and possibly seafood, in my diet.

To help family and friends decide what food to prepare for me when I go over to their homes and visit, remember this:

I dislike zucchini, eggplants, okra, soggy capsicums, string beans and olives.

I eat but I’m not a big fan of corn, green peas and cucumbers.

I cringe at fresh or cooked tomatoes and has no intention to eat them for the rest of my life! Never mix them in your food or salads if you plan to share them with me.

So how do I intend to stay a vegetarian, if not a vegan, being very fussy with food?

Well, I like yellow squash, pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I love avocados. I don’t mind the different kinds of lettuces.

It’s not difficult to prepare food for vegetarians. Just cook some of your favourite food the usual way and just don’t add any meat or seafood! Voilà, you have a vegetarian meal!

My eyes light up when I see desserts. I hope to develop that feeling when I see vegetables.

I love some fruits. I love all kinds of nuts. I love pulses and legumes. I love brown rice. I just have to learn to love vegetables.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been craving for meat (granted, it’s just been a couple of weeks, lol). I can’t stand the thought now of what animals go through to serve one of my physiological needs. I no longer see animals as food. Would you care to join me in this lifesaving, cruelty-minimising crusade?

I’m no longer sure I can still handle raw meat and cook and serve them at home for family and guests.

When I think of a hamburger or any of my ex-favourite meat food, my face contorts. So it’s a good sign and I’m optimistic announcing this intention of giving up meat for good on my blog is not something I’d regret later on.

I’ve been reading on the many pros and cons on being a vegan or vegetarian and lots of advice on what supplements to take so as not to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.

My reasons for this life-changing decision is as I described in my Empathy post, not necessarily for health reasons. So far, I feel good. In months to come, I’m positive I’ll even feel better.

By the way, I went to see an eye specialist. When I offered the information that I’ve become ‘a vegetarian’—which felt funny when I said it—he gave me more than a pat on the back. He replied, ‘your body will LOVE you for it!‘. Hearing the word ‘love’, I took it somehow as an indication the universe approves!

I love giving up meat! It’s surprisingly easier for me this time around.

* * *

A friend let me know of these vegetarian restaurants. If you’re in Sydney, check them out too:

Green Gourmet
Bodhi Restaurant
Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen

Read if you will:

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist
ihealth Directory
Vegetarian Starter Guide
The Definitive Vegetarian Starter Guide
Vegetarian Diet: How to get the best nutrition

Put your Empathy where your Mouth Is

Suddenly, drastically, I’ve become a ‘meat shunner’.

A ‘meat lover’ all of my life, I’ve now become an ‘animal lover’.

It literally happened overnight after watching Earthlings, a one hour and a bit documentary about the cruel, callous and disrespectful way humans treat animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation (research) and sports.

This five-year old film touched me emotionally and intellectually.

The result: I can never look at fried chicken; roast lamb, beef or pork; a whopper burger, beef steak and other meat and seafood with hungry eyes ever again.

I resolved to change my eating habits and attempt to become a vegetarian, if not a vegan, after only 20 minutes into the film.

Aside from the horrific images, there were three things from the film that stood out for me. Mind you, these are not secret information or new revelations. We all know these but we haven’t taken this knowledge into our heart and mind:

1. Animals are creatures who have a right to co-exist with us on Earth, free from deprivation, torment, maltreatment, pain and suffering.

2. Animals are beings who ‘live, breathe, eat, play, show emotion, experience pain, hunger, thirst’ like humans.

3. Animals are pitifully, horrendously and mindlessly maltreated and killed long before they arrive at our table, on our plate and into our mouth.

Some claim Earthlings is just a propaganda tool. I think those who say this are missing the point. It’s clear that killing animals for food or for other uses, whether painlessly or otherwise; or killing or maltreating animals for fun or in the name of research is seriously barbaric, inhumane and primitive.

So out of my belated respect, empathy and compassion for my fellow ‘earthlings’, I’ve started eliminating all meat and meat products in my diet.

There are those who say the animal carnivores are more cruel toward other animals. Perhaps the animal carnivores have no choice but to kill their fellow animals as a source of food for survival. Humans, however, do have a choice and can make one.

What can you do?

The next time you take a bite of that suckling roast or barbequed meat, spare a thought at what the animal may have endured before reaching your plate as described in ‘Earthlings’:

• “branded on the face with red hot irons [cows]
• dehorned with pliers and tail docked [cows]
• ears clipped, teeth cut, castrated – without pain killers or anesthetics [piglets]
• de-beaked and hoisted upside down and throats slit to bleed [chickens]
• electrocuted [food and circus animals]
• burnt [pigs]
• beaten
• shot
• tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing [calves]
• shackled alive, suspended on a bleed wheel where their throats are slit and immersed in scalding tanks to remove their bristle, with many still struggling as they are dunked upside down where they are submerged and drowned [pigs]
• skinned alive for furs and all leather goods
• harpooned [whales].”

And for dolphins unlucky enough to get caught in the waters of Japan? Some are cut in half while still alive!

Excluding the whales and dolphins, these are factory farm animals. What do you think happen to strays or once-loved pets which are impounded? Some are packed very tightly in gas chambers and gassed as this method is less expensive than the quick and lethal but more humane method of injection.

For the love of animals, face the inconvenient truth: partaking a piece of animal flesh—albeit in sanitised, spiced, cooked, packaged or beautifully-presented form— is tantamount to being complicit in their continued deprivation, suffering, abuse and painful death by human hands.

I no longer want to take part, even indirectly, in this sadistic and disrespectful treatment of animals.

I now refuse to be a part of the meat industry’s continued existence. [Watch Earthlings, Sam!]

And this without fully knowing yet the meat industry’s role in climate change and on the damage to our environment, water and air.

I feel genuine pity to those whose livelihood involve killing or butchering animals. Get out of that hellhole called abattoirs or slaughterhouses. Surely, there is a better way to make a living.

We are thinking, compassionate and loving human beings. We have the power to spare the animals their lives. Let them die a natural death and not directly or indirectly through our hands.

In human hands, animals suffer in millions, daily, all over the planet. It’s time to stop creating hell on earth for animals.

Open your eyes, heart and mind.

It’s time to decide and choose: either you’re FOR the animals’ rights or AGAINST them.

As far as the animals are concerned, there is NO in between.

For more information, check out:

Animals Australia

Exposed: The long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse

Why Eating Meat is Like Butchering the Rainforest

Animal Visuals

James Adonis, who I thank for sharing the link to the video which led me to open my eyes to this long-ignored reality.

Lover and Loves

As part of my process of sharing my thoughts and of tackling love themes, here’s a just-for-fun, amateur poem about my loves and interests.

I am a LOVER of…

Words
I string them together as musings for my blog
Place them side by side
To play scrabble or Upwords

Non-fiction books
Magazines, blogs and e-news
Voraciously devouring
Every written thing I could

Fun
Like playful banters
Tongue-in-cheek jokes
Giggles and laughter

Food
I’ve got a sweet tooth
How else did you think
I ballooned?

A good drink
Guess what I’ll evoke
In the right atmosphere
It’s vodka and coke

Roulette
Winning big a few times
I won’t admit though
To losing a few dimes!

Music
Metal and rock classic
Singing my heart out
To my neighbours’ detriment

Philosophy
Often preoccupied with things of the mind
As deep meaning in life I seek
But the answers go over my head!

Life
Now seeing the world afresh
My new canvass is spread out
For me to colourfully illustrate.

P.S. I have other loves, of course!
I’ll share one of them with you in my next post, a more serious topic.

Unzipped

Once more with feeling…

istockphoto.com

[This was originally a guest post but have since got the rights back to publish in my blog. I thank Joe for allowing this.]

For those of us who desire to be more comfortable in our own skin but don’t have the courage to do so, writing is the next best thing.

Well-known author and poet, Paulo Coelho, tweets writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.

When I started my personal blog, a few people told me I was being brave. I didn’t realize it then, but they were really telling me I was needlessly exposing myself to the entire world.

For a nude prude like me, showing too much flesh doesn’t come naturally. So why the sudden disregard for modesty?

To answer that question, let’s compare how I see getting undressed to writing for blogs:

1. There is supposedly an art to undressing; while writing is definitely an art.

2. Unbuttoning your clothing is like uncovering your innermost thoughts so you can prepare to write.

3. Removing your top is like getting rid of unnecessary mental baggage and putting it on paper.

4. Unzipping your trousers or your skirt is like opening up yourself and your life, and risking being scrutinized.

5. Slowly removing your undergarments is like slowly stripping away self-consciousness and the fear of embarrassing yourself, as you risk being criticized.

6. As you dance to the music and strut while peeling off each layer of clothing, in writing you silently peel away your personas and reveal facets of your more authentic self that you don’t dare show many people, sometimes even those close to you.

7. Being naked makes you feel vulnerable; but so does writing and disclosing your secret life.

So what good does exposing figuratively and/or literally in public do for writers? Writing is liberating and therapeutic. In the right place, so is undressing and being naked.

I quite enjoy writing and wish I did it sooner. I’ve been laughing a lot, sometimes almost to tears, reminiscing funny incidents that have happened in my life. I’ve also cried my eyes out, though not too many times, remembering sad and painful moments that are best forgotten.

I highly recommend it, writing I mean. I can’t say the same for getting naked, but you’ll surely laugh yourself silly looking in the mirror and seeing how funny you appear. Either that or you’ll cry your heart out dwelling over real or imagined imperfections.

My life, little parts of it at least, is now an open book, or should I say an open blog. So in my husky voice I dare say, “Look at me in all my naked glory – moles, scars, warts and all!,” while I stumble as I strut in my red stiletto shoes and pretend to be comfortable writing my life away.

P.S. I don’t really have warts. 😛

Interesting reads:

Writing (by Paulo Coelho)
Art of Writing
Writing Naked

Conscious Acts of Love

istockphoto.com

A friend kindly shared this with me about her better half:

Every morning, when I come downstairs after getting ready for work, Gary has fed our bird, got our dog’s food ready, put bread in the toaster for me, or whatever I’m having at the time, and is eating his own breakfast.

On occasion, he will say I love you, and it’s always wonderful to hear it, but all these things he does, he does to say I love you!

* * *

Words of love are sometimes expressed far too casually. Acts of love is my preferred ‘default’ mode.

People somehow feel insecure when you don’t affirm your love through words and take for granted other deeper, meaningful ways you demonstrate it to them.

To people who know me but have never heard me tell them I love them, let me count the many other ways you can be reassured:

1. See it in my kindness and random displays of thoughtfulness.

2. Hear it in my giggles and laughter in my constant attempt and desire to amuse you or those times when I’m amused by you.

3. Smell it in my willingness to help, even in small or insignificant ways.

4. Taste it in my quiet and sometimes inaudible words of appreciation for every little or big thing you do.

5. Be touched by my support and encouragement (more often than not) for what your heart desires to do.

6. Accept it in my periods of generosity and little hint of selfishness.

7. ‘Get it’ in my deep reservoir of patience and appreciate not many are as patient.

8. Listen to the gentle way I speak, which others mistake for meekness.

9. Observe it in my being polite regardless of your status in life, and rare* outbursts of anger or rudeness.

10. Know it each time I give in and indulge you, even if it seems I do it more often than you.

11. Notice it in my tolerance of many things, even in those times I shouldn’t tolerate them.

12. Understand it in the absence of nagging, especially in those times you’d more appreciate silence.

13. Sense it in my being considerate and understanding, even if sometimes you don’t know why I do what I do.

14. Detect it in my instinct to tell the truth and be as honest as I possibly can.

15. Appreciate it in my sense of fair play and devoid of any thoughts to deceive or use you.

16. Feel the love in how I treat your loved ones and friends.

I could go on and on…

My point is love can be expressed in more ways than one. Words of love don’t guarantee true love. I ‘ooze’ love through these every day and sometimes deliberate actions. Acts of love, if done consistently and consciously, are more real and convincing.

I wish more people were like Gary in the quote above. No matter how often you say it, marry loving words with consistent loving actions.

These are my perspectives on love. What are yours?

* I’m lucky that only few people rub me the wrong way.