Why Kindness And Goodness Matters

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
Roy T. Bennett

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle. That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you. The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact on our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually, some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Sending love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

Girl, stop askin’ dem questions. Listen!

Wandjina by Lucy Ward

Wandjina by Lucy Ward

“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” ~ Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

 

The next installment in my Kimberley Story

Many years ago, when I lived in the remote Outback on a million acre cattle station at the top end of Western Australia I learned a number of important lessons. One of them was about questions and answers.

It took me a while to understand the etiquette involved in directing a question to an Aboriginal Elder. At first I just did what I’d always done. I looked the person in the eye and said exactly what was on my mind. Politely, of course. Respectfully. I would then wait for my answer. If they seemed to misunderstand I would reform the question in my mind and ask again in a slightly different way.

Somehow that didn’t work for me once I moved to the bush.

One of the first things I did was ask the Aboriginal Stockman what was so important about me seeing owls. At night I watched the owls as they came to the trees around our campfire. If I went on a moonlit walk they followed me. Owls had suddenly become a big part of my life.

He ‘hmmphed’ at me and turned on his heel, slouching off in the opposite direction. My question? Ignored. After that I was too shy for a long time to ask again.

As I became comfortable with Aunty and Grandmother, two Aboriginal Elders who came visiting, I decided I needed to ask about the owls once more. I was seeing so many of them now. There were usually seven at the camp fire each evening, sometimes nine. Two always followed me as I made my way back to my room or out for a walk with my dog. It seemed a bit weird.

“Aunty?” I started one afternoon as we drank tea in the shade of a big tree near the camp kitchen. “Can you tell me about the owls?”

Aboriginal Art - Image from Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal Art – Image from Wikimedia Commons

Aunty ignored me. She sipped her strong sweet tea and scuffed dirt with her toe. After a while she took a hard gingernut biscuit and dunked it in her tea before slurping at it noisily.

I tried again. “Aunty, I did ask the stockman about it. I asked him several times in fact, but he won’t tell me.” I looked across at her but I couldn’t catch her eye.

Grandmother, who was much younger than Aunty, nudged my arm. “Not his place.” Her voice was gruff with disapproval. “Dat question for you to ask women. Dat question women’s business. You rude girl to ask him. Make him feel very uncomfortable.”

My cheeks burned with embarrassment. I’d made a huge cultural gaff. “I didn’t know! Oh goodness, I’m so sorry. I should go and say sorry at once.”

I stood up, and Aunty put her hand on my arm. “Sit, girl.” She laughed softly. “You aren’t to know our ways.” She went back to dunking biscuits in her tea. After a long silence she said, “Hurry-hurry answers no good for a big question.”

“Is it a big question?” I asked stupidly.

Aunty reached for another biscuit. She dunked it in her very sweet milky tea, turned it and dunked it again. Then slowly she nibbled around the edges in a neat circle. The remaining biscuit she placed on her spoon, lowering it into her mug of tea and watching it carefully. After a few more minutes she brought it to her mouth and slurped the soggy mess with great satisfaction.

I sighed. We weren’t getting anywhere.

“Aunty, I keep seeing owls. The Stockman asks me how many I see but he won’t tell me anything about it. No-one will tell me anything about it. Why is it important? Why is how many I see important?”

She put up her hand to stop me talking. “Girl, stop askin’ dem questions. Listen!” The old lady then resumed her biscuit dunking.

Image from yum2three

Image from yum2three

Listen? To what? No-one was talking. In the background I could hear the hum of the station’s big diesel generator. In the kitchen Cookie was clanking pots and pans and whistling badly to some tune on the radio. Down in the yards one of the men was breaking in a horse and I could hear the occasional crack of a whip. The afternoon breeze rustled the leaves above us.

I was really getting frustrated with this cultural divide. Why wouldn’t they talk to me?

“Need more tea,” Aunty finally said.

I took the empty pot into the kitchen, and was surprised when Grandmother followed me. “Girl, let me teach you how to do proper asking. Okay?” Her eyes were kind.

I nodded.

“Aunty a very old lady now. Elder for our mob. She holds many many things inside her. Big job to do that. You want to ask something? Go up to her, not looking in her face. That shows respect. If she sits, sit beside her, facing same way, looking out. If she stands, stand beside her. Not too close. Look out like she is looking out. Then ask your question.”

I’d been doing it all wrong. I felt sick with shame.

“One more thing,” Grandmother stopped me in the doorway. “If your question little question, not very important, Aunty tell you straight up. But if question big-time question, big important one for you, she make you wait so you will respect the answer. If it’s not your question she say nothing at all. She just look away. If not your time she look down. That tell you one day it can be your answer but not now.”

I wrestled the information in my head. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t how I’d been brought up. I grew up with teachers and libraries, encyclopedias and dictionaries. I’d been encouraged to learn, and to seek answers everywhere. I was used to information on demand, or as a result of how hard I worked. How could I succeed in a system where I couldn’t make things happen as and when I wanted them to happen?

Banging through the screen door I brought the teapot back out to the table. Aunty was still sitting in her chair, so I dragged mine around to her side of the table. I looked out to where some lorikeets were playing noisily in a blossom-laden tree.

I poured more tea and we watched the birds. I waited, agonizingly patiently, before starting again. When I spoke I looked out at the birds, and kept my voice calm and moderate. “Aunty, why are the owls important?”

She blinked and nodded her head slightly, indicating that she’d heard me.

“Well?” I wanted to yell. “Why can’t you just tell me?!!!” But of course I didn’t. I sat there patiently all afternoon.

Aunty never gave me an answer that day. When they said goodbye she put her warm hand on my front, over my heart. “You got to listen. Dat big heart of yours can listen. Dat heart know tings. Too much head, too much hurry-hurry no good. No good for you.”

As I lay in bed that night all I could think was that somehow my question was a ‘big-time’ question. But she hadn’t looked away, and she hadn’t looked down. She WAS going to give me an answer. Not in my time though. In her time.

Sigh.

How long would it take?

Image from White Wolf Pack

Image from White Wolf Pack

To be continued…

The Mullumbimby Chocolate Shop

Not far from my farm is a wonderful place which comes straight from the realm of childhood dreams. It’s the Mullumbimby Chocolate Shop, and it’s dear to my heart for many reasons.  I sometimes pay a visit and get a little bag of lollies, and then sit outside at a local cafe and write, sipping tea and fortifying myself with the occasional milk bud, cobber, or malt ball.

Stripy bags of happiness…

 

I so love this magical shop.  Sharon Allen owns it, and runs it with her mum, Ruth.  Sharon and Ruth’s own brand of personal magic is one of the reasons this little place is elevated from plain old yummy to extraordinary.

It’s a place where old-fashioned manners and courtesy are the norm. There’s a little step for tiny children to reach the counter, and they let you buy just one of something, if you want. Sharon and Ruth don’t care how long you take to make up your mind, or if you only have five cents, and they treat everyone with love and kindness and respect.

Sharon is the kindest, most lovely lady – and as knowledgeable as Willy Wonka himself!

All your childhood favourites are there, and many more confectionary treasures you’d never even imagined!  I’ve never come away from a visit without having been offered a taste of something new.  Yesterday it was Butterballs, the visit before Sour Mandarins.

The shop is as popular with adults as with children, and as I was waiting in line yesterday for my musk sticks and licorice, I watched two burly road workers on their break getting a two-dollar bag of mixed lollies each, and agonising over their choices as much as they probably did when they were six or seven!

Sharon was in the store alone yesterday, while her mum is off celebrating her 70th birthday.  As usual, she was full of stories about local life, and all the funny things that happen in her shop.

So many choices, and all of them delightful!

She told me one story that I’m still smiling about…

A little boy came in recently with his mum, who let him buy lollies for his upcoming birthday. They they sat outside at a local cafe Lulu’s, to eat some lunch.

While they ate, the little boy kept coming back into the shop, waiting patiently for his turn, so he could ask Sharon questions.  After each question he’d go back outside to his seat for a while, then think of another question, and come back in again.

“Excuse me, do the lights for your shop stay on all night?”

“No,” Sharon answered.

The next question: “Excuse me, do the toilets here stay open all night?”

“No.”

A bit more thought and then: “Does the air-conditioner stay on?”

“No.”

And one more: “How many people can fit in your shop?”

Sharon had to think on that.  Quite a lot of people can fit in her shop.  She’s even had a band do a gig in there!

Finally Sharon went outside to the little boy and his mum, to ask if she could help them.  It seems Mum had promised her son that he could have a sleep-over with some of his friends for his birthday. And the little boy had presumed Mum had meant a sleep-over in the chocolate shop.

Imagine his disappointment when he realised the birthday sleep-over was meant to happen back at home instead!

Who wouldn’t want a sleep-over in a lolly shop?

If you’ve ever in the Byron Shire, and you find yourself in Mullumbimby (or Mullum as the locals call it) I do recommend a visit.  I also recommend the chai tea at Lulu’s.

Living where I do has much to recommend it!

Jars of sweet pleasures. Which ones will you choose?

Invisible Acts of Love and the Importance of Uplifting Others…

Image by Michael Leunig

‘Tis the everyday things that really count,

And the everyday people we know;

And everyday kindnesses go very far,

Toward making a heaven below.

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle.  That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you.  The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact in our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

Image from optimestric.blogspot.com

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Image from creativeeating.wordpress.com

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love, and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

When is it okay to break a promise?

Image from blog.chasebrammer.com

I take giving my word very seriously. Promises made are never made lightly, and since childhood I have rarely needed to break one.

But I’m going to break one now. This isn’t information I’d normally share, but I have given so much thought to this that I felt my musings might be helpful to someone else in a similar situation…

A while ago I blogged about knowing when to let go.  Today I realise that for me, with one relationship, it’s time. Why now?  Because where I find myself is not what I signed up for.  Let me explain why I’m walking away.

Image from timshome.com

When I came to your aid you were drowning. Drowning and calling my name. I jumped into that seething river, (as any reasonable person who could swim might), held up your head, and with all my might I edged us back towards the shore.  As you stopped panicking, as we moved to shallower water and your feet touched bottom, you quit struggling and began to help yourself.  Finally we got to shore. You thought that was the end.  I knew it was only the beginning, and I pledged to stay.

We moved further up the bank, away from the danger. Others came to help.  You were safe. And after a while I quit holding my breath and trusted you.

But you keep throwing yourself back in that damned river.

And you expect that I will keep jumping in after you.

So far I have.  Every single time. And each time you’re sorry.

And then you do it again…

It has worn me out. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t uphold a promise when you won’t value it yourself.

To keep jumping in after you puts ME in danger. As much as I have a responsibility to you, I also have one to myself.

Image from safetybanners.com

So I will stay here on the bank. You know where to find me.  I can help you from here. And we’ve been in that river enough times now that YOU know how to navigate the hazards and get back to shore.

I’m not giving up on you. I’m still loving you.  But it’s time to love yourself.  That’s one thing I can’t do with you, and I sure can’t do for you.

Image from kcgraphics.tumblr.com

If you give up on yourself I’ll feel so sad for you. But it won’t make me save you at my own expense. I’ve learned to love myself more than that. I pray one day you learn that too. ♥

Image from loversinvain.blogspot.com

Hey Sister, You Okay?

Image from holmsteen.dk

I was looking forward to Saturday. In the last few weeks I’ve supported a friend through the end stages of terminal cancer, holding her hand til she passed, ridden the roller coaster of supporting an addict in recovery, and juggled my daily work and writing. Saturday was this wonderful window of calm in front of me like a soft pillow to lay my weary head.

Nothing went to plan for me. My do-nothing day of leisure and self-replenishment which I had so looked forward to became about helping others through various crises and melt-downs.  It’s okay.  The Universe obviously cleared my calender so I’d be available for the people who needed me most.  But it was an emotionally draining day, capping a difficult few weeks, and it left me wrung out.

I was driving through the inner city late yesterday when the traffic suddenly slowed.  Cars tooted their horns.  People yelled and gestured. I though there must have been a dog on the road.

The traffic slowed to a stop.  I couldn’t see what was happening, so I said a quiet prayer, asking that the animal be okay and be guided back to safety.  Finally the cars began moving again, swerving around something in the middle of the road.  Some stopped to hurl abuse as they drove past. I craned my neck, trying to see what was obstructing our way.

Imagine my horror and disbelief when I saw an elderly aboriginal woman in the middle of the road.  She was just sitting there, a shopping bag beside her on the ground, one shoe off, grazed knees.  I pulled my car over to the side as soon as I could find a park and raced back to check on her.

“Hey, Sister,” she croaked at me as I got closer. “Can you see me? All the rest of your mob think I’m invisible.”

“Hey, Sister,” I called to her.  “I see you. You okay?”

She swung her head towards me, squinting in the sun, but said nothing.  I waited for a car to pass and crossed over to her.

“Hi, I’m Nicole.  Are you okay?  Do you need some help?”

She nodded her head yes.

I helped her up, and over to the footpath. She was unsteady on her feet and I wondered if I should call an ambulance.

“Sorry, love. I’m real sorry.”  She leaned heavily on my arm.  “I just live along here. Too late eating lunch and my strength’s gone. I came over all dizzy. I’ve got sugar,” she said weakly.

“You’re diabetic?” I asked as we walked up some steps to a small flat.

“Yes.”

I got her inside, and she asked me to make her a sandwich, while she ate some jellybeans.  Then her neighbour popped in and said she would make her friend a cup of tea and stay with her until she came ‘right’ again.

Before I left I asked if there was anyone I could call, or if she wanted me to take her to the doctor.

The old aboriginal lady patted my hand. “I’m alright now I’m home. You know, you’re a true nice girl,” she said.  “Brought up proper. Your mother and grandmother, you do them proud. Here….”  Reaching over to a box she pulled something out. “This is for you.”

She opened a small drawstring bag and put the contents in my hand, one by one.

A bag full of treasures

“This shell, it’s from up my country.”

She placed it on my palm, and tiny grains of sand stuck to my fingers.  I wanted to hold it to my nose and smell the sea.  Suddenly I was homesick for my little farm at Byron Bay with a physical ache.

“Got this stone from the river.  See how nice and smooth it is.” It was a piece of clear quartz, tumbled milky, and still luminous. I felt such comfort, and thought of Angels.

This one,” she held up a twisted grey rock, “I got this one off the beach. It reminds me of a baby wrapped up tight in his blanket, trying to talk to you. Feels real nice in your hand.”

“This one – it’s coral.  Looks like an alien head with them two eyes.” She chuckled. “Friendly fella for watching over you.”

“And this last one, he’s a fossil crab, real old from the old times.  Good for protecting your soft heart.”

I left with brimming eyes, embarrassed by her kindness.

And I never asked her name.

Today I’m holding these precious treasures in my hands and feeling humbled and awed. I wonder if she knew how much these things would mean to me, or what they symbolise after so hard a day, so hard a week.

Hey Sister, you okay?

I feel like it was HER watching out for ME.

Rainbow Dreaming. Rainbow Tribe. We are One. ♥

People will be who they are…

People will be who they are.

Sounds like a bit of a crazy statement doesn’t it, but if you ignore this truth it is often you who becomes crazy…

I have a friend who was in great emotional pain over her relationship with her mother. Each time they meet she came away upset, or disappointed. Her mother was always so critical. This had been going on for over fifty years. My friend kept hoping that just once her mother would be supportive, or approving.

Image from chocolate-fish.net

I have a friend who was in great emotional pain over their relationship with their partner. They went through a pattern of honeymoon and then abuse, honeymoon and then abuse, honeymoon and then abuse. My friend kept hoping their partner would change.

image from dhcs.act.gov.au

People can change.  And they can also, at times, act out of character, but…  mostly people will be who they are.

Each person is driven by their own beliefs, values, education, experiences. They will have their own pattern of behaviours and responses. Once you begin to understand this, life becomes easier. Relationships become easier. Why? Because when you accept what is, you can make choices based around truth rather than desire.

People will be who they are.  They will not be the way we hope they will be. They will not be the way we fear they will be. They will not be the way we want them to be, or expect them to be, or need them to be.

People will be who they are. This, of course, goes for us too, and this is the important bit.  We cannot change others but we can change ourselves.  We can change our responses, our expectations, our level of tolerance. We can also choose to walk away.

Knowing that someone behaves or thinks in a certain way, but wanting that to be different, sets us up for disappointment every time. Or perhaps worse.

If you are honest with yourself about the true nature of your relationship with another, you begin to create new freedoms around those old expectations.

My friend with the critical mother? She has accepted that her mother will never change.  She still spends time with her, and since she no longer waits for the approval or support, her relationship with her mother has actually improved.

My friend in the abusive relationship? Had some counselling, ended the relationship, and is now with a loving partner who treats them with kindness and respect.

image from phil-islands.com

Needing someone to be different, expecting them to change, also prevents us from loving and accepting the other person as they are, which is all anyone ever wants.

(How many times have you wished someone would love and accept you as you are?)

People will be who they are.  If this works for you, embrace it.  If it doesn’t change your expectations, or move on.

 

♥ Life is too short, and too precious, not to give yourself every chance at happiness. ♥

image from shutterstock.com