What happens after traumatic childhood experiences?

Continuing in from Blog 1    Blog 2

What happens after all my trauma? My father had died in a fatal trench cave-in at work. His mum died mowing the laws. Massive heart attack. I was very close to her and stayed with all the time on weekends after my father’s death. My mother was an emotional wreck and had no idea how to deal with me and had a number of less than ideal boyfriends. She finally settled with an alcoholic who became my stepfather and offered her twenty years of misery and tears.

Well, my first decision was to leave school at fifteen and go to work. My first job was with my uncle stacking pailings all day in a sawmill. I slept on his couch and he was a kind heart fellow but he and his wife lead a crazy party lifestyle. It includes domestic violence and they had five dependant child too. This was a short-lived experience because I said to myself, ” there must be a better way to make money”?

I heard there were a painting and decorating apprenticeship going on the little country town I lived in. So I went to the local pub and asked the potential employer for the job. I was successful and started my new job as a house painter. I thought this job was a walk in the park in comparison to the sawmill experience! Scanned Image 102760008Anyway, I lasted about two years and my life was just a mess still in terms of alcohol abuse overnight stays in jail for drinking underage and confusion about my moods and sometimes hallucinations. I was a very confused and lost young adolescent. The place I lived was beautiful in terms of country life and money was not an issue. Country life in Tasmania is lovely, however, my internal world was a mess and my understanding of life was death and misery.

I was suffering from extreme loss and grief and experienced abuse on so many levels as a young teenager. I will not get into the abuse detail, however verbal and physical was the commonly used and it has left a devastating neurological and physiological puzzle for me at times to piece together. This puzzle about who I thought I was and what I thought life was about lead to some decisions that would stay with me for many years to come.

I left my apprenticeship after two years. I had to get out of Tasmania in my opinion, hypothesising, these people and this place is adding to my confusion and emotional pain.  I phoned my unite in Melbourne, my father sister, she did not hesitate in letting me move into her place with her family. I stayed on a top bunk for fifty dollars a week and found a job painting almost immediately with a cousin who lived in Melbourne for two hundred and fifty dollars a week, I was set. I  rode my uncles push bike to the cousin’s house about twenty minutes away then get on the back of his motorbike to travel to work. This was not an issue because I saw life as a big adventure and this was just fun and an exciting new life and experience.

I was about eighteen at this stage and I was still wondering what hell I should do. This house was full of alcohol abuse and violence too. My grandfather had a room there. This was my fathers-dad who I was glad to see and very fond of. Three children, four counting me and three adults in a four-bedroom home was fun on so many levels most of the time and the same old story in terms of poor adult behaviour. I was started to think I need to get the fuck away from all these crazy relatives, family friends and anyone I know.

So, the Royal Australian Navy is my next chapter.

You will see how this crazy confused kid navigate life through with mental illness if you continue following my story.

 

How my spiritual journey started with my father fatal work accident.

This is going to be an ongoing conversation, the first part was here My first Blog on my father’s death

A couple of significant things happen after my father died. Things I would call supernatural. Medical mental health professionals would argue its just normal grief phenomena. Key point my dad’s mother whom I loved dearly died shortly after her son mowing the lawns.

  1. Seen an “Orb”  from what my research seems to call them it was clear sphere shaped on my bedroom door.
  2. Horrible nightmares and feeling of the room expanding or thickening as best explained.
  3. My father and grandmother spoke to me very clearly in a dream. My Grandmother, dads mum is profound in terms of philosophical content.
  4. Experienced what would be called a haunted house experience by some.
  5. Insomnia and fear of the dark became life controlling due to supernatural activity, which as an adult under the care of a psychiatrist; who would categorise it a hallucination.  ” Spiritual hallucination” is the term widely used in her discipline of work and study.

The orb was the most terrifying thing I experienced. I have no idea why it scared me it just moved down my door and did not harm me. I guess the unknown to a 12-13 year boy was terrifying.

What happened? well, I woke up in the middle of the night because I was having trouble sleeping. I was not scared or alarmed at this point just awake. We lived in a little three bedroom house adjacent to the block my father was killed onScreen Shot 2018-06-06 at 1.07.27 pm. We had sold the land to a couple of guys who in hindsight were gay. Being gay in Tasmania in the 70s was illegal and people treated such persons badly generally speaking. These guys were the nicest fellows I new and treated me well and often help calm me down when I was inconsolable and naughty as a child. My mother would just fall into a emotional heap trying to deal with me. Consequently, these guys helped her out regularly and made me feel better too.

The “orb” Believe in them or not? I think it was,  appeared on my bedroom door. It was about the head size and at first glance, I thought it was the moon reflecting through my window. I soon released this was impossible and it was moving down the door towards the floor. My window was a little opening out a type with the old handle that locked into a pin. I use to leave it open for our cat to come in and out. However, this night it was closed and the see-through white blind was pulled down.  My bedroom and the once spare block is on the left in the picture. This house has not changed much since I was 8 years old. I am 50 now and remember the experience like yesterday.

What happen? I screamed and ran at it..Go figure :)). I woke the whole house up as was shaken and in disbelief what I have experienced. My mother said, ” you must have been asleep and had a dream.” I explained I was wide awake and no it was real! Poor mum had enough going on without me seeing a ghost or something in my room. She was only 18 when she had me and my father died when she was 26. The whole experience was very traumatic for her and I was an impossible child at times.

I went on a mission to find out what I saw and what I can do to prevent seeing it again. Asked all my teachers and friend and their parents. Nobody offered any solutions and I felt lost and confused and terrified of the dark. I had to sleep with a lamp and radio on. This all happen on the couch in our lounge room and I refused to sleep in my bedroom. In hindsight, it could have easily happened again in the lounge :))…  I just hated that room and refused to sleep there.

I was not bought up religious and never went to church. I have over the years been involved with churches and had some fun. These days I do not belong to any Christian faith communities. However, a friends mum gave me across, it had magnified glass in the centre where if you held it the light you could read the lords prayer.  For the non-religious here it is Lord’s prayer I could never remember the prayer so I just made it up to sound similar. I would hold this cross in my hand and say ” Please lord help me sleep and forgive me for my sins.”  Beleive it or not at some point I slept better and lost the cross in the river swimming as a teenager. I have never really felt comfortable at night and often certain houses I have slept in give me unusual feeling or a better way to say it I do not like the energy I sense there.

I will continue to tell my story because you will see how it has shaped my spirituality and why I am not a religious person, here is a picture of me in high school as a young kid at about the age of all my insomnia. I just noticed then the cross in this picture is still around my kneck…wow never noticed that before 🙂Scanned Image 102760014

My fathers fatal work accident. ( Graphic picture warning)

My father was killed in a fatal trench cave-in working as a trencher when I was eight. He was laying sewerage pipe in our small country town Evandale. Evandale is in Tasmania, geographically it’s in the north and central on the island. Consequently, it has plenty of frosts in winter and its build basically on the South Esk riverRiver which the longest river in Tasmania. I spent my childhood swimming, camping and kayaking on the Souther Esk. It is my fondest memory as a child and provided so many wonderful adventures. The picture you see below is recent. The local government in recent years decided to clear out all the willow tree. I am no sustainability scientist but apparently, it is more beneficial with fewer trees!? To this day I find peace and happiness near water. I have a deep spiritual connection with water. I was a fisherman back then too and caught many trout, eels and perch in this river. However, playing in the river was the norm and camping on the banks was my outlet away from troubled adults and confusing adolescence

 

 

As a fifty-year-old man, I know this was all impermanent and changed for good reason. For many years I wanted the old days back on the river and wanted to move back to the little town! Truthfully though, deep inside I knew it was not the external world that was going to make me feel better.

” Look into your mind. If you fervently believe that all your enjoyment comes from the material objects and dedicate your entire life to their pursuit, you’re under the control of a serious misconception. This attitude is not simply an intellectual thing. When you first hear this, you might think, “Oh, I don’t have that kind of mind; I don’t have complete faith that external objects will bring me happiness.” But check more deeply in the mirror of your mind. You will find that beyond the intellect, such an attitude is indeed there and that your everyday actions indicate that deep within, you really do believe this misconception. Take a moment now to check within yourself to see whether or not you really are under the influence of such an inferior mind. A mind that has such strong faith in the material world is narrow, limited; it has no space. Its nature is sick, unhealthy, or, in Buddhist terminology, dualistic. ” 

by Ven. Lama Thubten Yeshe

Edited by Nicholas Ribush

 

 

I show you my father in his deceased state in the trench for the benefit of highlighting the reality of workplace safety and understand the journey I have been on and the things I have processed internally over the years. Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 2.47.10 pm The white cloth is covering his head. You can see the depth he was working at and the absolute risk he embarked on getting in the trench. This happened on our own land. How? Well, he purchased a double block in Evandale. It had a weatherboard three bedroom house on it. The idea of owning a double block was to grow vegetables on one half. He had been trenching all over Evandale doing the new sewerage pipes and ironically it caved in on his own land. Go figure!. I am going to write a series of blogs to tell my whole story and add more photos to give clearer pictures of the era and the cultural settings. How did I get this picture? I requested the full coroner’s report a couple years ago and it was posted to me with no complaints at the cost of $20:00. When I first saw this picture I thought the white sheet he was under was a blemish in the old photo. After a couple of days, I decided to zoom in and realised it was my father up to his neck in the dirt.

I am going to elaborate on the impact of this tragedy and the effects on my life. I was born with a mental illness with no understanding of mental health challenges. I will explain how this presents and unfolds amongst tragedy and loss.  I was a very confused child and grew into a confused adult. Its a story worth sharing and I will endeavour to make the time to share my journey through tragedy and poor mental health.  Why? to help others find hope and come to the understanding that it’s not impossible to manage and have a relatively normal life up against unimaginable circumstances and complex medical conditions.

‘Some people might think,“My basic psychology is sound. I don’t have faith in materials; I’m a student of religion.” Simply having learned some religious philosophy or doctrine doesn’t make you a spiritual person. Many university professors can give clear intellectual explanations of Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity, but that alone doesn’t make them spiritual people. They’re more like tourist guides for the spiritually curious. If you can’t put your words into an experience, your learning helps neither yourself nor others. There’s a big difference between being able to explain religion intellectually and transforming that knowledge into spiritual experience.’

by Ven. Lama Thubten Yeshe

Edited by Nicholas Ribush

Scanned Image 102760005

To be continued ……

 

How do we treat and think about our selves?

I have had extra time lately and have been reading more. I love reading and see it as a privilege to live in such a time with so much available. Some say we are bogged down in data and so many ebooks. However,  I think it’s fascinating that people still come up with new books and research.

I personally think it’s important to keep learning and always stay open to new ideas and listen to other views even if it’s ” Not you’re cup of tea ” really. I am not rationalising or subscribing to a craving for knowledge. I am articulating the importance of never thinking we have learned enough. I am turning 50 in a few days and I have spent my forties studying mostly. This has come at a financial cost and also has limited my earning capacity. Still, I am grateful and appreciative for all my opportunities to improve my education and thankful for the lessons its provided.

I often find things that I think are worth sharing and rarely do. However, this self-care wheel I stumbled on is a great way of keeping yourself in check.Selfcare wheel

I think its beautifully designed and the wheel reminds me of the concept the Buddhist use in terms of the Dharma wheel.

Dharma Wheel

It’s not linear, its a circle and you work on all these aspects at different times. The idea of linear learning when it comes to spirituality or emotional any many another aspect of life is unmanageable. I have often learnt things in my life that seem in reverse. However, when I sit with it and meditate and contemplate on, it was in perfect order. I think our minds like the idea of linear because sits with our logical mind better. Nevertheless, we all know life is not unfailingly logical.

All too often in life, logic fails to help and things happen outside our understanding and control. Grief and loss are a great example of this; it was thought for years that it operated in stages when in reality it oscillates. What I mean is you can feel horrible and happy all in the one day or even ten minutes when you are grieving and nobody knows when it will end. Consequently, this makes you feel on days you are back to where you started when the person or pet passed.

I think self-care is similar, we often feel we have great weeks then we feel like all our hard work has ended up back at the beginning. Especially in term of exercise, and spirituality. One day you think, “I have grown so much in my spiritual life” and the next minute you call inconsiderate drivers F@$#^&* idiots. Likewise, with exercise and diet, we train hard then one week of a cold and bad eating we think we are right back at the beginning.

Of course, it’s not true, you have bad weeks and learning things can be difficult if you start thinking in levels and stages all the time. The secret I have found is to be consistent in just keep the small steps, even when you feel like its all failed. Some tips I have found helpful; if you are trying losing weight have a cheat day once a week. That’s a day when you indulge in some foods you like that are not helpful in losing weight. Likewise in our spiritual practice, sometimes you need to lighten up and not take yourselves so seriously.

If all else fails, go for a walk, sit in the sun for a while. Do what you need to do to get your mind in a better space. Sometimes a cup of tea with a family member or friend helps. Whatever you do, do not give up on your self. Your wellbeing and mental health is your most important asset.

I have written blogs about my mental illness and for those unaware, I have Bipolar type 1. I manage this exceptionally well; due to great support, and excellent mental health professionals. I lead a normal life after years of struggling.Mental health This is due to great self-care and a commitment to small victories and persistence. I have had some dark times in my life, however, those have often lead to epiphanies and breakthroughs. Some learning takes years of setbacks and often it feels like we will never improve or even worse we are doomed to stay in the same confusion forever. We all suffer from poor mental health and some like me mental illness. This does not mean it not manageable and it does not mean we fail. It presents some challenges and often causes us to feel like quitting things. However, always remember you must never give up on yourself. You treat yourself like you treat your loved ones. You deserve your love and care and always give yourself grace. Also please remember to offer yourself understanding and space to grow and understand your self better. We are very complicated and paradoxically simplistic.

 

“Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj ~

 

Is end of life a Bioethical crisis or Spiritual Crisis?

Great article.

HOSPICE CHAPLAINCY

John Hardwig.

When I am dying, I am quite sure that the central issues for me will not be whether I am put on a ventilator, whether CPR is attempted when my heart stops, or whether I receive artificial feeding. Although each of these could be important, each will almost certainly be quite peripheral. Rather, my central concerns will be how to face my death, how to bring my life to a close, and how best to help my family go on without me. A ventilator will not help me do these things-not unless all I need is a little more time to get the job done.

Unfortunately, however, bioethics has succumbed to the agendas of physicians. Physicians face ethical concerns about treatment decisions-when to offer, withhold, and withdraw various treatments-and treatment decisions have been the focus of bioethics as well. But the issues that most trouble patients and their…

View original post 2,160 more words

Is beauty really skin deep?

In a world of mostly superficial nonsense. What does a beautiful woman or handsome man do when it all starts to fade? What do any of us do when our body sags and  the inevitability of aging shows. It can seem hopeless as we get older to find beauty in our physical appearance anymore. Then once you go outside you can see all the young beautiful people everywhere reminding us of the days gone past.

For some it fitness, nutrition and beauty products. Others it’s just a fact of life and some completely let themselves go. For me, life is always about having a balanced approach. I like to exercise, eat well and use some moisturising creams and cover-up in the sun if I am going to be exposed for over 30 minutes. I am not overly worried about aging in terms of my appearance. My major interest in aging is keeping my mind active and never giving up on the idea of having a beautiful mind. The writing below is a section of a PDF its only 128 pages, fascinating read and very helpful if you would like to read all of it I can email.

“Thubten Gyatso (born Adrian Feldmann) is an  Australian monk and was ordained by Lama Thubten Yeshe in the 1970s and was one of the first Westerners to become a monk in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is a Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition veteran who has been instrumental in establishing a number of Dharma centres in FranceTaiwanAustralia, and Mongolia.[1]

Born in Melbourne in 1943, Adrian Feldmann graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in medicine. After practising medicine in Australia and overseas, he travelled for several years through Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eventually finding his way to a Tibetan monastery in Nepal. After much study and soul-searching, he became ordained as the Buddhist monk, Venerable Thubten Gyatso. Since then he has run a free medical practice in Nepal, taught Buddhism and meditation in Nepal and in France, establishing monasteries in France and in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia.[2] ”   Wiki

Our Minds are not Limited.

‘There is, however, no limitations in enhancing the beauty of our minds. And the most beautiful mental qualities are loving kindness, compassion, wisdom and patience.All of the virtuous minds, the mind which cherishes others. Although we cannot see it with our eyes, we can feel it with our hearts, when we are with someone. There is no reason why any of us cannot develop this inner beauty. And it does not cost anything. You know, we do not have to by all these magic pills. A lot of us think that alcohol can make us like that, and other drugs too. We actually crave that ability. I think one of the things that we like about alchol is that its does reduce our inhibitions, in some ways, maybe it does give us the ability to be more friendly. But of course, it is at a cost. And also, it is a transient state of mind that is associated with confusion. We want to be more friendly and we drink more alcohol. The sometimes our anger starts and our hold on emotions becomes unstable. We should be aware that taking physical substances effects the mind and there is a danger of becoming addicted to the substance and losing control. It is artificial. But sincere loving kindness and compassion, cultivates in our minds and combined with wisdom and by following the Path, is progressive.”

Thubten Gyatso

Do you have great compassion for yourself and others?

“Loving kindness see being equally and identifies with their happiness and their unhappiness. It has great compassion to remove their unhappiness and great love to bring more happiness.” – Thubten Cyatso

I have lots of PDFs and Ebook publications from Buddhist writings. I acquired all this wonderful resource while doing the first unit of my MA in Applied Buddhism. I have felt a bit flat the last day or so and I decided to read some of this literature. This reading which started a 5am this morning inspired this blog.

What do you do when life is getting tough or things are confusing?

Thubten Cyasto – ‘The path of wisdom the opposite of confusion of not knowing reality. The wisdom sees conditions as things are impermanent, that they change moment by moment. Since birth, we have in our minds the misconception that we are permanent, that we will last forever. ‘

This misconception is devasting to many of us, including me. The clinging to things external to us and assume things will stay happy for the rest of our lives or chasing the mythical perfect love. We can experience love and happiness, I do in a wonderful way. However, let us not forget that our suffering is constantly at our door and things we hold and cherish will fade and disappear.

Lifes growth, however you understand this, is hard at times looking back can even be worse. The things we overcome should make us more compassionate and understanding of others. Seeing all people equal is a challenge for people in affluent societies, still its a necessity. Also seeing us as all connected, may not appeal to many but we are in the grand scheme.

Often all of us including me think life is useless and what is the point. We should disregard this out of our minds as quickly as possible. Thoughts like this are of no use and cause paralysis metaphorically in our minds. We need to keep learning about our suffering and the cause of it. We need to embrace all of life’s experience whether pleasant and unpleasant and learn from them.

I live in Australia, and the adverting here is all about achieving happiness. Buy this car, have this holiday etc.; all this will add happiness to your life. Happiness like suffering is temporary in terms of a lifespan.  What do we do when it ends? How do we process failing love or separations and loss of income or even worse unemployment?

These questions are not easy to answer here in a short sentence, however, our therapist’s counsellor is doing a great business and let not forget the breweries. Plenty of options for escapement from reality in Austraila.  Sadly, our adolescence indulges in drugs and mindless hours of gaming; these two among many are all ways to avoid the pain of life instead of looking into suffering and learning.

Wisdom and Ethics   I found this diagram helpful in understanding a better approach to life-based on the Buddhist teaching around the Dharma. Samadhi is conscious meditation. So, we have ways of dealing with the reality that will set us free from this endless cycle of confusion and hiding from the sadness. Meditation and looking after ourselves are are a great start in facing the world. Facing the world and being honest about our fears is a difficult step.

” Thubten Cyasto – ‘Nothing can guarantee that our jobs, our material possessions can stay forever. They are always impermanent. Comming and going. Because we grasp at them to be permanent we suffer so much.”

A great analogy or metaphor I read was this – we are like children playing outside and laughing and running and enjoying the moment. Then mum says, ” Come inside now” We start to cry and feel sad and get frustrated and angry because we thought it would never end.  Are we all like children at times?

 

Our needs and caring for ourselves.

When I was a young guy in my twenties new to the Christian religious world and full of ideolology and predominantly  fundamentalist in nature; I was mostly with friends and family a  pain in the arse. Also, I always put myself last and considered my needs inconsequential in the grand scheme of life and pyramid of needs.

However, now I am turning 50 in May and more life experiences and more educated I certainly am no longer interested in being last on the list or just interested in Christian views on life or subscribing that the Christian scriptures are the ultimate truth out there. To think one religion has cornered the market in truth and certain ancient texts are the ultimate truth is certainly a challenge for most of us.

I know I may have Christian followers who will be outraged to hear I do not hold the bible as if it is the only truth. I have read it for years and love its depth and always found it fascinating and in general life-giving. However,  if you do not know ancient Hebrew or ancient Greek there is a high possibility you being misled in English. This applies to The Buddhas writing as well, it serves you better to understand Sanskrit. All these ancient texts require knowledge of the original language to fully understand context and application in our modern world.

You might say this is over the top, well consider the miss translations around women in the Bible with gender hieratical issues. The Buddhists have the same issues as all the major religions do, generally speaking, historically women have been subordinates. Cleary with better education around the context of when old the religions writing is dated, fascinatingly, most date 2000 plus years ago. One might consider a few things have changed.

Anyway, this blog is about my new watch. This is not any old watch it a Suunto TraverseIMG_0687

Watch web site  It was on a clearance from $700.00  down to $600.00 and it is really a hiking GPS watch. One review said, ” Geeky outdoors type”  Not sure if that is me but I love to play around with technology and this has some fun functions. I once would have thought this is too expensive and selfish of me to indulge in. These days I think my needs are extremely important in terms of self-care and loving myself. This means I take good care of myself and enjoy my life and its blessings. It does not mean overindulgence and gluttony or narcissistic tendency. Its a well-balanced view of embracing all of life and this includes buying some personal item that I enjoy and can afford. What is the significance of the watch? Well, it is an early 50th birthday present and it adds to my collection of jewellery. Yes, my collection is as follows, the ring in the picture above, a wooden bead bracelet and a necklace on its way in the mail. I will be getting another ring on my other hand at some point.IMG_0688

What is with all the new jewellery? Well, I have changed in the last few years and now like these types of things. For many years I worked in a messy job and this stopped me from wearing anything nice. Now my hands are always clean and I spend most of my time writing or talking to people. No chance of damaging my jewellery.

The idea of being in service to everyone else and neglecting your own needs is an epidedemic in the Christian caring professions and churches, plus many other community roles in my opinion.

Another quote from a fascinating author.

“The cultivation of awareness and presence is the single most important route to increased consciousness. Practising awareness is learning how to be present in our lives rather than unconsciously flowing down the stream of life. In any of its forms, awareness is the essence of meditation.”

Benner PhD, David G.. Human Being and Becoming: Living the Adventure of Life and Love (p. 4). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

What is my IQ, furthermore should I care?

Mental deficiency used to be divided into the following sub-classifications, but these labels began to be abused by the public and are now largely obsolete: Borderline Deficiency (IQ 70-80), Moron (IQ 50-69), Imbecile (IQ 20-49) and Idiot (below 20).

Next time we call someone an idiot or moron we should consider what we really are saying based on the IQ measurements.  I am of average intelligence apparently according to this $20.00 test I completed with full PDF overview and certificate.Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 8.26.21 am  I know from life that knowledge does not mean much without experience. Furthermore, intelligence is of no use unless it is used in real-world circumstances.

My tertiary or university studies would fall under humanities apparently ( we all know Wiki is accurate :))))

The philosopher Plato – a Roman copy of a work by Silanion for the Academia in Athens (c. 370 BC) Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of humansociety and culture. In the renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social, sciences as well as professional training.[1] The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element[2]—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences,[2] yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central discipline.[3] The humanities include ancient and modern languagesliteraturephilosophygeographyhistoryreligion,[4]art and musicology.

I get the sense, based on my Australian experiences, in our technological age, high intelligence is assumed and admired within science disciplines and consequently, university courses that lead to high paid employment. My studies, not surprisingly have influenced a more simplistic lifestyle. Admittedly my low income and lack of interest in economics in general made this an inevitability. My life has not been influenced generally by social engineering or neo-liberal economics. I read this article yesterday
I was researching and journaling my number one value openmindedness. My latest inward work has been concerning my values and openmindedness is at the top out of ten top values.  There are many benefits of being open-minded and this is a favourite
Letting go of control. When you open your mind, you free yourself from having to be in complete control of your thoughts. You allow yourself to experience new ideas and thoughts and you challenge the beliefs you currently have. It can be very liberating to look at the world through an open mind.
I believe my openmindedness and my  IQ is partially a result of the last ten years of study. I was a disturbed child and a high school drop out ( considered an idiot by many for sure). Furthermore, have no high paying job or obtained any measurable or noticeable wealth directly from my last decade of education. Some many may consider I have been misusing my time. Possible wasting it away in books and universities, studying old theological and philosophical disciplines that have no application in a modern world. My latest challenge is a  Masters in Applied Buddhism, it has no direct career path other than personal interest, ( mind you I sense a profound desire to investigate and participate) and opens my mind more to eastern thought and culture.
Unquestionably, in my evaluation of the last ten years, the personal growth is immeasurable;  including the gained wisdom and tools to help me navigate this magnificent planet, full of diverse and extraordinary people, this has developed immensely. Furthermore, the study and reading have added a level of sophistication and depth to my life that is impossible to document here in this short blog.
Remembering this is from a guy with average intelligence and more than likely missed a turn or two on the road or misunderstood the purpose. Conceivably some may have assumed because of my average intelligence and possibly my troubling Bipolar type 1 at times that I have never understood the meaning of life at all. I do appreciate one thing about life that is clear, we have to understand and love ourselves and intelligence has little to do with that.
This quote is an old favourite and some of you might like to steal it too.

Our worth

“I grew up believing that our worth is defined by our achievements, our usefulness to others and society. That we are inherently worthless but can earn worthiness by gaining qualifications, wealth, popularity, and success. And that we are only deserving of love and friendship if we sacrifice ourselves to please others. But I was wrong because the truth is that we are worth personified. Worth isn’t the result of our actions, accomplishments, and possessions; it isn’t increased by self-sacrifice. It is the essence of our being, the foundation of our existence. And it is our task to remember. To let go of our society’s misunderstanding and wake up to the exquisite value and deservedness that is inherent to all of us. To realize our infinite worth that does not depend on any outside factors. We are worth. And as long as we treat others with respect and kindness we will always be good enough to deserve their love—without sacrificing our happiness, damaging our bodies, and betraying our values.”

~Berni Sewell

Complex health issues do not stop me living and enjoying my life.

As a child and a young teenager, growing up in Tasmania my sister had a horse that  I was allowed to ride sometimes. I also had access to other horses. I was never formally trained and I just picked things up from watching my sister and others handling and riding horses. I had no fear of horses, nevertheless, I have met people who are terrified of them. I suspect they know the average horse is 600 kilos and having a mind of there own at times; makes good sense why people don’t trust them. Although, this never troubled me, because I found them fascinating and magnificent creatures.

I had my struggles of course; I fell off a donkey riding it bareback, I was trying to impress a young blond teenage girl whose parents owned a donkey farm. Plus I experienced my share of stubborn and disobedient horse behaviours. Plenty of times larger horses pulled me out of my saddle over their necks to eat some green grass. After all, I was only a small teenage boy who in reality had perceived control. I was riding larger horses regularly, from memory, and never had been on ponies or horses under 14 hands.

In Hindsight, I was not a good ride in any formal sense. I did canter and gallop, however, me trotting would have been a sight and unquestionably far from graceful. Essentially I just held onto the main and reins and hoped I did not fall off. It may be hard for you readers to believe. I rode a horse that was ex-pacer (Harness racing horse) and had no shoes and was extremely stubborn. This horse was over 16 hands and disobedient mostly. I think it only allowed me because its paddock had no green grass and I would ride it to places that offered green grass. I rode this stubborn creature at about 12 – 13 years of age. No helmet, no proper riding boot and through a small country town mostly on sealed road and gravel. In today’s world, this is unimaginable, however, in country Tasmania back in the 70s nobody cared what I was up to, as long as it was not criminal or harming anyone else.

Fond childhood memories motivated me to try riding again. So recently I decided with a couple friends to go horse riding. I am nurturing a couple of degenerative lower discs in my back.  Thankfully after years of Yoga and regular walking, I am much stronger and able to manages more exercise. However, I was not sure about the horse riding. I turn 50 in may and have lost a considerable amount of weight in the last twelve months which has helped enormously. Mostly due to new medication for my Bipolar and more exercise. So I feel great and thought why not give it a go.

I have been twice, and the second time was a two hour ride through the bush and we cantered and negotiated obstacles and some defiant horse behaviours. I was placed on the largest horse they had ( Over 16 hands) and she is a beautiful creature. They offered some formal riding tips and the whole experience was life-giving for me.

The purpose of this blog is to encourage anyone who enjoyed doing something and stopped, to attempt it again if feasible. Don’t allow fear and age stop you. Granted, we must use wisdom and be sensible, though lets not making ridiculous excuses to withdraw from life-giving experiences. I recognize the risks and I am a realist in terms of mortality and injury. However, I am also conscious that life is for living and not letting analysis paralysis and unhealthy fear stopping me from participating.