Click HERE if you would like to join me in the Creativity Challenge!
Today my challenge will be to write a short post about the following topic:
“What is the best lesson you have learned?”
When I was in my early 30’s my marriage broke up and I found myself in a situation where I had few possessions (including money) and three young children to take care of. I was also living in a remote Aboriginal Community in Northern Australia.
The lesson I learned is that I am stronger than I think I am. Sometimes I just pretended that I was strong and often that was enough. I also learnt that I was the only person I could rely on to get through the difficult time.
When I rang my Mum to tell her what happened she said that I shouldn’t even think about coming home. I was quite shocked at the time but now I realise that the path I did choose turned out to have a lot more going for it than if I had returned to my home town in Victoria.
That was about forty years ago. My sons grew up with me in Western Australia. We did miss (still do) having extended family close by but it forced me to go out and meet people and in many ways enabled me to rebuild my life without the constraints and limitations I would have faced if I had returned ‘home’.
As I get older I see many people on their own – having lost their partners and perhaps their extended families. I do feel passionately that we need to be aware that some people suffer from loneliness and isolation. This is even more so with Christmas approaching. I find Christmas a bit challenging however I try to make the most of it and put in a little effort! I don’t think I am alone in this!
Well I have heard of people who have ‘near-death’ experiences where their life flashes before their eyes. I didn’t know that having a 65th birthday could also bring on this phenomenon!
A little bit of background – nearly ten years ago we moved from Perth to the South West of Australia. I didn’t have much prior knowledge of the region so there are not a lot of cues for past memories. It is a bit like living in a bubble where much of the past fades almost to non-existence.
For my 65th we decided on a family catch-up in Perth with an overnight stay at Joondalup Resort. As it happens I used to be a regular guest there every Monday evening in my role as President of the Joondalup Rotary Club. I used to work in Joondalup too. The next morning we had breakfast in the street where my old office was. It was across the road from the Chinese Restaurant where I often went for a $5 lunch special (in the 1990’s). Also in the same street is where my original office was and I met a lady who came to see me looking for work. She had only been in Australia for three months. I was able to assist with some contract work and she stayed on for over 20 years. She is still a good friend today and actually outstayed my time at the Department.
We traveled to Kalbarri after breakfast – approximately 600kms north. We passed through Yanchep where I often took my three sons when they were little. Lots of happy memories there. Further along we passed through Geraldton where I lived for a short time in 1993-1994 until my marriage broke up and I moved to Perth.
Our destination of Kalbarri held some memories too. While working in the region I visited there to assist a community group who had funds from the Department to set up a local bottled Spring Water enterprise using unemployed youth. Then there was the Greenough Village where we investigated an employment project.
I won’t go on as it is probably boring to anyone except me! I felt the need for the trip to come to terms with reaching 65 years old. I am grateful that I have reached it and hope to have a few more decades yet.
The Philosophy discussion group that I facilitate considered Confucius last week. Who would have thought that the topic would be so relevant – the 70th anniversary of Communism in China and the unrest in Hong Kong?
Some of the comments that came out of the discussion included: ‘Confucius spoke of unity but what we see in China today is uniformity’; ‘it is so difficult to examine an Eastern Philosophy when we (in the group) all grew up in Western democracies and can only try to consider Confucius’ (and China’s) ideas from a distance’ :
An article written (Why is Confucius Still Relevant Today?) for the National Geographic in 2015 interviews writer Michael Schuman, author of Confucius and the World He Created shone some recent light on where Confucianism sits with modern China. I did find him to have quite set ideas though.
Over the past week I became quite distressed at issues happening throughout the world and I know I am not alone. I have been looking hard for the positives but today I came to see I am powerless to change anything. I think I need to detach and let go … I found the quote below this evening and thought it to be relevant.
Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.
I am thinking about next year and where to focus my interest and my energies. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions or for setting goals but I like to pause and consider what I want to include or change in my year ahead.
2018 was a pretty good year for me. It was very busy and enjoyable year with my U3A (University of the Third Age) commitments. It was one of those years where, at times, I became more of a human-doing rather than a human-being.
For the year ahead I would like to give more attention to my relationships with people in my life. I have moved around a fair bit in my life and have often lost touch with people in the process. I grew up in Victoria and have now lived in West Australia for 36 years. I have lived in the Kimberley region, Pilbara region, MidWest/Gascoyne region, Perth, Goldfields/Esperance region and now the South West. Each time I moved I had to start again and make new friends and set up new networks. It gets to the point that I get itchy feet if I stay in one place too long.
I think 2019 will be about putting down some roots, building relationships and accepting we are here to stay. And being grateful that I can enjoy life in such a pleasant environment.
Lately I keep catching myself thinking about some unpleasant things from the past (I am sure we all have them). The other day I objectively looked at it and realised that my thoughts were 40 years in the past! I keep reminding myself to look forward and not backwards. Even better if I can spend my time in the present moment.
Last Semester I ran a course for U3A called Retired:Now What? As part of that course we looked at unhelpful thinking styles by looking at and thinking about a resource I found online. Click HERE for a link to the site and for more information.
I identified that recently I am personalisinganything and everything and thinking it is my fault. I sometimes joke to friends about the extremes I take this to – e.g. conflict in the Middle East!
The point is that I have identified this recent pattern and can be on the alert when these unhelpful thoughts invade my thinking and choose to think differently!
My eyesight had deteriorated quite a lot recently and was making it hard for me to read – especially on my computer. Initially I was to wait until October to get in to see an eye specialist. Fortunately there was a cancellation and I had an appointment yesterday with a visiting (to the region) specialist.
I was diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts in my early fifties. I was not impressed. These things only happy to OLD people! The cataracts were removed and my eyesight was near perfect afterwards meaning I didn’t need to wear my glasses after many years of being very short sighted.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that I can see much better today and I greatly appreciate the science that produced the technology to correct my vision without having to even touch my eyes!
There is so much pressure for us to get involved in stuff. I find it all the time. I think it is about time I accepted that I like my life the way it is!
I am surrounded by people who are always off on holidays. Normal conversation involves talking about where you have been and where you are going next. I feel a bit inadequate not being able to contribute.
I am not into sport either – or the theatre. I am happy to stay home and watch some good programs on Netflix, read good novels and the like.
Perhaps it is in part due to be an introvert. I can spend hours researching obscure topics of interest.
So I think in future I will remind myself it is okay to have a small life – as long as I am happy with it the way it is. No problem with other people having busy lives if that is what makes them happy!
As I look back over my life there are probably a dozen incidents or more that were a significant blow to my equilibrium. The sort that makes everything else seem petty and unimportant.
I am sure that we all experience these things from time to time. My first experience I remember was when my school friend’s father died. He worked at our school and was very popular with all the kids. It was my first encounter with death and the aftermath.
I have since experienced marriage break-ups, sickness and deaths in the family, tragedies such as a five-year old neighbour’s child drowning, losing my brother and sister-in-law too soon …
I am not unique – similar things are happening every day to people around us. When I am in my ‘happy space’ I may not even be aware of others’ suffering.
I don’t know what I am trying to say today – just that life can be tough at times – we need to love and care for each other.
*According to writer, Andrew Solomon, it is vitality! That makes a lot of sense to me.
I listened to his talk on the video below and could relate to much of what he said. I had my first encounter with depression when I was in my 20’s and have experienced it on and off over the years. I have used a variety of methods to help me feel and do better.
Solomon raises the issue of “psychological vs physiological” and proclaims that we don’t have enough scientific evidence to choose either one. Maybe in time there will be a better answer.
Most of the time my depression is not noticeable to other people. I function quite well. I remember learning about “putting one foot in front of the other” and another tip was “just keep breathing” – these sayings were helpful at times.
Anyway, I won’t go on about depression apart from asking you to be aware among your family and friends and be brave enough to ask them if they are okay and be prepared to listen to their response. Thanks 🙂