“Gratitude is like digging a hole for abundance to fill.”
Diary of Eden
“Gratitude is like digging a hole for abundance to fill.”
Diary of Eden
I heard on the radio the other day that our brain actually sends us reward signals when we blame someone. I normally think of reward signals being related to primitive survival instincts – so how would being right and feeling indignant about it help our survival?
Letting me be right certainly helps my husband’s survival and I have to be honest, after hearing that on the radio, I definitely can relate to feeling better if I have someone to blame for my circumstances. Even if something annoying happens, like my sleeve getting caught on a door handle, I’m looking for someone to blame; and I can get pretty creative about how something great or small can be my husband’s fault. But the other night it finally clicked to me what my major problem with him is, and its ridiculous. Let me give you some background.
Now I don’t think this problem is unique to us, we had a second baby, we all had less sleep, I was at home wishing I could go to work and have a lunch break and go to the toilet unchaperoned; he was going to work envious that I’m at home all day not having to follow company protocol and make money for shareholders. I’m not going to expand on this first year of my second daughter’s life, partly because it really doesn’t need reliving and mainly because it is such a hazy fog there are not many specific memories in there.
The trouble with getting rewarded by your brain for apportioning blame to others, is that when a newborn baby is the cause of your distress, or your first baby who is now older and wakes the newborn baby – then who can you blame? The children? ‘You were born and now I’m tired so it’s all your fault.’ Not only would such comments screw them up but the older one especially would probably be smart enough to tell me why it’s not her fault. So who is it easy to blame? The only other adult in the house, in this case, my husband.
We have made huge changes since then, quit jobs, sold a house, moved countries, started a business – all for the better. BUT, if small things get annoying I still try to find a way to blame him. Take the weekend, we woke up and decided to do a day trip ‘I might go to the gym,’ I said, ‘Just go later, let’s just get up and go,’ he replied. 3 hours later we were finally ready to leave the house. I was packing some snacks and water bottles while he was watching something on the iPad, silently fuming I was saying to myself ‘Don’t be angry, don’t be angry, he’s probably just looking something up about the trip’ (he wasn’t). Finally, nearly everyone was ready, I put a top on our youngest and he said ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit hot for that?’ That small comment was enough to spark the simpering flames of my anger into a full-blown rage. The fact that I would have had plenty of time to go the gym and get back, the fact that I was getting everything ready while everyone else was pissing about, the fact that he could have got her dressed instead of looking at Sasquatch videos on the iPad, the fact that he was absolutely right the top would be far too hot but it was the only thing clean that matched and that is why I’d chosen it. So of course I lost my shit threw the top at him and proceeded to spit flames at him. He chose an unmatching but more suitable t-shirt and we were on our way.
I felt stupid about the outburst because it really outweighed the size of the issue, but I definitely feel a kind of release when I can choose a target to blame for my personal irritation. And sometimes I would rather get that out, be a dick, and then apologise or laugh at myself, than pretend I’m not angered by the drip, drip, drip effect that those small irritations have on me.
Something I have been doing recently when I get into bed at night, is thinking about my day and being grateful. I’m grateful for where we live, for the food we got to eat, for time at the beach, for beautiful moments with each of my kids, that we are all healthy. But often I would lay there and realise I hadn’t actually spent any time with my husband that day, especially if I had tried to go to bed early so we had no evening together and the children had monopolised all of our waking (and sleeping) hours. The simple thing of thinking about my day had made me realise where I needed to focus a bit more time and attention in order to make my life feel more fulfilled. Time with the man who was at one time my partner in crime for all things fun and crazy.
The combination of this thinking about my day with gratitude, and the losing my rag about the baby’s top incident, and the radio show I’d heard about blame; made me think to myself ‘What do I actually blame him for?’ What should he have been doing when I was getting the snacks ready, should he have been getting them ready instead, then what would I be doing – dad things? watching YouTube? but that’s not really me. And for some reason this thought just clicked for me: I BLAME HIM FOR NOT BEING ME. How ridiculous is that. All this time I have been thinking he should be doing things my way, how I do them, do the things I do – ideally before I’ve done them. But where would that leave me? I do the things I’m good at, I think ahead, I plan things, I give the kids my view of the world with the answers to their questions, I’m silly when it suits me, I’m bossy when it suits me, I like their clothes to match – I’m their Mum. Do they need two of me? No. Do I want to live with two of me? Hell no. So if I can just stop myself from blaming him that he isn’t me, and appreciate all the him things he brings to the party, his interests, his talents, his passions, his view of the world when the kids ask him questions, his practical approach to clothing, his Dadness; then the final piece in my gratitude puzzle may have just slotted in.
And if you’re interested we went to see a waterfall, but there was no water – and it wasn’t even my husband’s fault.
Eating is one of life’s basic needs, and yet in today’s western world it has become an extremely complicated issue. I don’t think I have ever met anyone that has never made some kind of comment about their weight or size, what they should or shouldn’t be eating, or about a new kind of diet they are following; most of the comments are self-depreciating and most of the diets are not based on any kind of professional advice or personal body analysis, more often it’s an extreme approach hoping for extreme but long-lasting results based on a celebrity trend. All of this negativity and the mixed messages we send our body are not helpful, for this most basic need, let’s go back to basics.
The study of anthropology has shown that there was a time when humans ate the perfect diet for their health; this was when we were living as hunter gatherers, eating from about a 20km radius and catching some meat about once a month. This of course would mean eating seasonally and perhaps a bit of travel at certain times of the year to move towards a more abundant or favourite food source, or closer to fresh water. This lifestyle was active enough that additional activity was not required to sustain optimum body size. Study of bones from this era show no food or deficiency type illnesses were present, and no-one was overweight.
Then humans worked out that they could farm, they wouldn’t have to move around as much as long as they had a fresh water source, perhaps the appeal of more permanent shelter inspired this change of lifestyle, or maybe it was something as simple as realising seeds grew new trees and plants – that may seemobvious to us because we are taught it from a young age, but there would have been a time before humans new this. The nomadic lifestyle is also not as suitable for the eldery or those injured for example, and perhaps the care for certain tribe members was enough to encourage stable dwellings, who knows, it could be a combination of many factors that led the hunter gathers to become farmers. The trouble with farming is people tend to farm things that grow easily and they farm animals that won’t run away, so not always the best food sources and not much variety. It is from this period that major health issues due to diet were found in the human bone studies.
The amount of cattle we have today has created a hugely negative environmental affect, there just simply shouldn’t be this many cows in the world. Now I eat meat and I drink milk so this is not about me preaching a point of view – I have just found it really helps to think about the journey your food has taken and to appreciate what is involved in producing it.
Back to the basics of how we eat. A lot of us have such busy lives that we may rush food in our mouths on the way to somewhere, we might miss meals and end up shoving the next high calorie thing in our bodies because we are desperate for some quick acting fuel, we probably stay up late looking for answers to why we are feeling like we are missing something and thinking those answers are in the fridge. I’ve done all these things. Now most people know these habits are not ideal and they are probably the very people who occasionally take extreme measures to change their diet only to find it impossible to maintain, but what IS manageable for everyone is small changes, and small changes over time make a big difference.
The saying that the first bite is with the eye is true, the sight of food actually gets your digestive system ready to eat, ‘mouth-watering’ over a TV ad or salivating at someone else’s meal being served to them in a restaurant is something I’m sure we’ve all experienced.
Touching food is also meant to part of the process of eating that aids the digestive system to get ready to do its job, it is also something we often miss out on by using cutlery, so maybe we should feel less squeamish about handling food if it’s that kind of meal. [Food therapists that work with fussy eaters often get them to experience difference textures through their hands or feet to help them initiate the link between feeling with our skin and eating more variety.]
As you can imagine, rushing around, eating food without even looking at it, having to make choices because we are in a rush, eating nothing for large parts of the day and then bingeing – all make for a stressed out digestive system. Going back to our ancestors, in times of famine their bodies would store fat, not knowing when the next meal would be coming; our bodies today do the same thing.
My small suggestion is this: try to make the first thing you eat in the day something that grows, like a nut, or a piece of fruit, or a vegetable, something in its most natural, unprocessed form. Before you eat it just look at it, feel it in your hand, marvel at its form (there are some crazy shaped things out there), think about how it grew, what stages it went through, look at its individual cells, think about the plant it grew on (if you know), imagine the sun shining on it, think about the water it used to create itself, where did the water come from. Maybe even think about the person that picked it, or was it a machine, where did it grow, has it travelled far, where did you buy it from, what people were involved in getting it there?
And now eat it (hopefully you’ve picked something you enjoy eating), really savour it, complete every mouthful before you take the next, feel grateful for the energy that went into growing this food and feel grateful that you are getting to enjoy it and in turn getting energy from it today.
If you are rushed first thing in the morning then choose a time where have 5 minutes to feel calm and do this exercise. Do it once, if you get no value from doing it nothing lost, but if you can take small steps to appreciating what you eat, thinking about your food’s journey, marvelling at the expertise of nature or considering the care of the people who have farmed it for you, and be truly grateful that you are able to eat today; then you will slowly begin to awaken to the importance of not only what you put in your body but to actually appreciate the process every time you eat.
If you’re going to eat cake or a chocolate bar do the same, savour every bite, marvel at its creation, think of the separate ingredients and where they came from, who made it. If you have to shove something in your face without looking because you feel guilty about eating it, then should you really bother? Enjoy it, admit you enjoy it, because if you enjoy all kinds of food and actually are fully present when they are going into your body, then your body will be ready to process them, and your body will be able to send you messages about other kinds of food it needs for optimum function.
Being mentally present when you are eating is a great first step towards improving your whole eating process and to improving your attitude towards food. And learning to be present when doing something so instinctive, that we have done since our first day on earth, is also a step towards being more present in all parts of your life.
Have a go, what have you got to lose..
Let’s look at some popular desires people would fulfill if they won the lottery.
PAY OFF THE MORTGAGE: if you own a home you probably have a mortgage, if you don’t own a home you probably have the goal of owning a home as a financial investment for your retirement. Let’s imagine you can pay off your mortgage tomorrow, when you wake up whats actually different? Actually its nothing, some zeros have been moved on some computers, but may you feel different, maybe you feel a sense of freedom, you will have more money for other things now.
If you were going to sell your current property to buy a bigger one you would make sure all the small things were fixed, that the garden looked nice, that the house was clean. Maybe you’d have a clear out of surplus furniture, buy a new piece of art or some candles and flowers – do that this weekend, see how much better you feel.
Okay what other things do you want?
PURCHASE LUXURY ITEMS: So you want a flash car, a boat, a bigger house, designer clothes, luxury holidays. These are the things it’s really interesting to keep asking yourself why you want them. Do you want these things so you can have fun, so you have more space, so you can make other people feel jealous, so you can show loved ones they are valued, so you can prove you are worthy?
Let’s be honest about a few things, expensive cars soon become more of a pain – why not hire one for a day and get the experience without the hassle, same with the boat. Most designer clothes aren’t very flattering if you are buying them for the pure reason they are in fashion, get a personal shopper to help you with your purchases they will choose things that suit you and will be timeless, often this service is free in big department stores whether you end up buying anything or not. A bigger house, that’ll be more rooms to clean, but we can hire a cleaner; and there will be more room for our visiting family and friends that we don’t see enough of – but we will when we are rich right. And the luxury holidays, time to relax, spend time with your loved ones with no day-to-day distractions that sounds perfect – but I can only do that in a different country of course…?
Now look back at the last paragraph, lots of those things we can incorporate in our lives today at zero cost (spend more time with family, visit places with space, relax with loved ones), and others if you have a bit of income you could also do (hire a nice car, hire a boat, hire a cleaner, use a personal shopper). It is an illusion that you need to be extremely wealthy to be able to improve your life. Your lifestyle could make a big upgrade from where it is now if you just take the time to think where you feel it is lacking and why, and then thinking what you can do about that today.
QUIT MY JOB: This is a good one. And a great one to keep asking why. Do you want to quit your job so you have more time for other things,hobbies, families, your health and fitness? It is a possibility there are more hours you can pull out of your day already, try this: If you work for 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours then there are still 8 hours left of the day. Now some of you will have to travel to work, look after family members, prepare food, household chores etc. but if you booked an appointment or tickets for something and you had to pay whether you went or not you would most likely go; so do that for yourself, book an appointment to indulge in your hobby or improve your health and show up no matter what, maybe even fine yourself if you don’t go and give the money to charity.
If you ban yourself from the internet for a whole day a week or even certain times of the day you will claim so much of your time back. For a while I wouldn’t let myself pick up my phone in the morning until I’d done some exercise, it definitely motivated me to get it done.
If you want to quit your job because you truly, truly hate it and you struggle to make yourself go every day or the people there are damaging to your psyche then you should start job hunting today, or retraining, or moving cities or whatever excuse that will allow yourself to make this positive change. Planning your lottery win will help you think how you really want to spend your time, and if it is a hobby you are already good at then maybe you can make that your business today. Research inspiring stories of people who quit the city to become personal trainers or left accounting to become a photographer. We all have a unique talent and if you are passionate about something you will be committed enough to make a success of it. Don’t wait another day – start now.
From what I can tell the things we think we need to be wealthy in order to change, can actually be changed before we get the money. And if we think about it it’s not actually the money that we want, what is money anyway, grubby bits of paper, smelly coins or these days just numbers on a page; what we want is freedom and the best way to achieve this is with your state of mind, think about what it is that is making you feel trapped and unless you are incarcerated then you can change this because you can change everything. You can leave a job, a relationship, a house, a country – and if you can think of reasons why you can’t then that is your thinking and your choices that keep you there so until they change your situation will remain the same. If you truly want change it is available to you, and the people you care about.
We want more fun. Describe having fun, does it involve laughing, does it involve friends, does it involve feeling joyful and in love with the world and hopeful and exhilarated? Well guess what all those feelings are free. Owning things may make you feel good for 5 minutes (have you ever bought a child a new toy?) but you can’t take things with you, all you take with you are memories and experiences. You never truly own anything, it is all just borrowed for the brief bit of time we are alive, even the proteins and minerals in your body will move on when you’re done with them.
There is no point waiting to win the lottery before you live your best life. There is no worth in suffering in situations that can be changed; if you think you are doing this for others then you can guarantee your sacrifice is not only going unappreciated but possibly scorned. Being your best self, pursuing your dreams, letting yourself be happy, making today ‘one-day’ and remembering the things you liked doing before life got in the way is the best possible thing you can do for yourself and therefore everyone around you.
Act like you have already won the lottery, revisit your options, you might have more than you thought.
See part 1 for an exercise to help you get this thought process in action.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Theresa
I love this quote; it’s so simple, yet so obvious and actually so achievable for alot of us. Reading this quote is almost a relief for me, I’ll explain why.
I’m a stay at home mum (not that i only stay and home and not that I’m only a mum, I’m more like the CEO of domestic enterprises and I’m all the things I was before I became a parent and now a whole lot more too); however grand or belittled you make the title, there are certain limitations when a household of people rely on you to care for their very existence, and a lot of what needs to be done for them is tedious, boring, repetitive, tiring, and mostly goes unappreciated.
The things that you think might be enjoyable about being a parent are in reality a very small part of the job. I think my own idyllic vision of parenthood would be a family camping holiday with two joyful children aged approximately 8 and 10 who think the world of their parents. There would be campfires, star-gazing, beaches, romantic moments between the parents, meeting other joyful families..
So if we consider this one specific two-week period I have imagined, compared to say the number of loads of washing, meals to prepare, tantrums, sickness, nights of lost sleep, ruined social occasions, damaged furniture etc. then the ratio is not that favourable.
When you have had a life before children, where you could travel on a whim, move cities without thinking of other people, earn money, spend all of that money on yourself, commit to a job with any hours, socialise spontaneously, complete projects, work with others, work on your own, study, retrain, have a lunch break, poo in private; then memories of this life definitely stir a certain nostalgia.
But also when you think about the world beyond this personal level, when you think about your whole community and there is domestic violence, depression, addiction, child abuse, poverty, old people dying alone. And then you think about global issues of famine, and orphans, and refugees, and war, and climate change, and Donald Trump.
And also if you are the kind of person that thinks beyond this world about the meaning of life, and our purpose, and why the world began, and when it will it end, and about your own mortality, and the unavoidable experience of grief, and the possibility of eternal life, and how spirituality serves us, and the importance of the evolution of mankind, and all the while fuckers are still blowing each other up… and there you are, cleaning weetbix off the floor for the thousandth time.. Then sometimes as a stay at home mum you feel pretty useless.
When you then consider Mother Theresa’s words, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”, it makes perfect sense, if we all just turned our energy inwards towards loving our families, then more individuals would be emotionally supported, and spiritually nurtured; and as a result so many of our communities problems would lessen, and even our global issues would ease because there would be less unbalanced individuals about.. then maybe, just maybe, what I’m doing is already important, and worthy, and therefore rewarding and humbling and something to cherish.
So if small people want to watch me poo, then I’ll let them, as long as they don’t run off with the toilet roll.
We are Rango fans in my house, funny characters played by well-known actors such as Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy, a nice message and some catchy music. I am always surprised how the movie has captivated both my daughters from a young age, especially as the characters are more ugly than cute; but anyway this post is less about kids movie quotes and more about water.
Here are some interesting water facts for you: 97% of the earth’s water is salt water, 2% of the earth’s water is frozen (mainly at the polar caps) and 1% of the earth’s water is fresh water we can drink. A third of the human population do not have enough fresh drinking water available to them.
I have always lived places where clean, fresh water is available from the tap. I have been on holiday to a few places where water needs to be purchased bottled in order to drink it, and you need to avoid ice in your drinks in bars, but that’s as far as it goes for me personally with regards to have fresh drinking water available. When you watch movies like Rango and there is a lack of water it really does make you thirsty!
The human body is about 60% water, this goes up if you’re a man and down if your a woman (because they tend to have a higher % of body fat and less muscle), children have a higher water percentage than adults and babies under 1 are up to 75% water.
The brain and heart are 73% water, the lungs are about 83% water, the skin 64% water and muscles and kidneys 79%. *
The reason why I’m talking about all this, is that so many of the common health problems we suffer from can be avoided or limited by making sure we intake enough water. Most of us are chronically dehydrated, and we are so used to it as our ‘normal’ that our body’s signals simply do not register with us as a need to drink more water. Infact, we probably address the signals with even more dehydrating habits eg. I’m tired I’ll have a coffee, my head hurts I’ll take some medication, I’m constipated I’ll take some more medication, I fell under stress I’ll drink some alcohol, I’m grumpy I’ll ‘treat’ myself with some high calorie or salty food. Although it might seem backward, water retention and bloating is another symptom that can be reduced by drinking more water.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist so I wont go into it any more here but water is vital for so many functions in the body and we are all so bad at drinking enough of it, that we have probably all suffered the side affects of dehydration with either short-term small complaints or long-term or more serious suffering.
So how much do we need? We need to drink about 2 litres of water a day, and that need increases if its hot, you are exercising, or consuming lots of caffeine or alcohol.
I too am guilty of not drinking enough water, and I like water, I don’t need to hide it under flavours (although I have lived a few places where the tap water doesn’t taste great but thankfully not at the moment). Nice cold water is beautiful, BUT, I also like coffee and wine, and margaritas and..!
While I’m on the subject of alcohol lets discuss where I am getting to with this post. Lets talk about Champagne. Real Champagne from the Champagne region in France is roughly $100 a bottle upwards depending on where you live in the world, and the more expensive it is the more people relish drinking it; I truly believe that much of that enjoyment comes from knowing it costs a lot. Enjoying something that is expensive brings with it a feeling of opulence, decadence, hedonism even. But tap water, the bringer of life, the curer of ills, the very structure of our being is pretty much bottom of the list on the luxury scale.
So here is my idea, a way to trick yourself into drinking more water… PRETEND WATER COSTS $100 A GLASS. Relish it like it was the rarest and finest tipple on earth. Guzzle it like there is not enough to go round. Enjoy it like your water supply is being turned off tomorrow forever. This is already the case for some people, and even if they had $100 to spend on a glass of fresh drinking water, one would not be available to them. So honour those that don’t have access to water, honour your marvellous body, save yourself the trips to the doctor and the pharmacy, make yourself look more youthful with fully hydrated cells and most of all make yourself feel as fabulous as you do when you’re sipping champagne – maybe even put it in a champagne flute.
*H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry taken from the USGS website.
Welcome to my blog, here is what I intend to write about and what’s behind the name…
The Garden of Eden, The Garden of God, The First Garden, whoever calls it what is not my real interest in the name; and whether the place is fictional or existed in some form is also not my concern. What interests me the most is the concept, the idea of perfection, the thought that at one time the world and the people in it had things so in balance. That all nature and the creatures that existed were so in harmony with themselves and each other that nothing required change and simply existing was enough, not just ‘enough’ – but blissful.
It is this concept of bliss, and whatever that means to each of us on a personal level, that through this blog I will consider. The day to day diary of the small and big thoughts that can move each of us towards our own version of perfection. Whether they are deep or light hearted there will be musings on health, fitness, personal wealth, community, family, career, parenting, beauty, fashion, ageing, wisdom, spirituality, friendship, all kinds of love, dying, living, and whatever crazy insights might float through my mind as I consider the small footsteps we can take towards our own personal perfection.
I will not claim that every thought I have is original – because how do I know what everyone else thinks about?! Just like when you talk to kids from other schools far away from yours and you find out they played the same games as you in the playground, how did they know lol (this was before the internet of course). If I am inspired by others I will always share their wisdom and give credit to the words that resonate with me.
In this age, more than any other time before us, more people than ever can access shared knowledge and unfiltered opinions. The more ideas people share, the more we all have a chance to make this lifetime the most progressive, beautiful, crazy, emotional and profound we have ever had. I hope you will join me and we can share our journey ,towards our best life, together.