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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Spring is in the air!

On Sunday after church I drove over to Cornwall Park - one of the most beautiful places in central Auckland. It was a gorgeous day and the park was filled with people enjoying it. Lots of happy families picnicking, riding bikes, walking, running, strolling... all ages, many nationalities. It was so heart-warming to see and a great reminder that not all in our world is doom and gloom.

Here are a few random snapshots from my own enjoyable ramble:
 I discovered this magnolia grove for the first time. Obviously others were enjoying it too!
 The daffodils in Twin Oak drive were past their best - already!
 One Tree Hill without its 'one tree'! Will it ever be replaced?
 I love this one. It made me think: "Who are the 'little lambs' here?"
Music to add to the festive atmosphere!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is true freedom?

A recent newsletter from Amnesty International featured the case of Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human right lawyer in Saudi Arabia. He has been imprisoned several times for his pursuit of the right of all people to have freedom of speech. He is diabetic and in his current imprisonment was being denied the medications he needs. After many people protested at this treatment via Amnesty actions he was allowed medication (and books to read which had also been denied). Then this quote from the current report:

"When he spoke to us he said the public prosecutor assigned to his case had offered on several occasions that the king would release him, with a catch of course - he would have to repent for his so called 'crimes'. His response gave me goosebumps: "I'd rather spend today reading in a prison as Saudi Arabia's freest man." It made me think what I would have done, faced with so much cruel oppression. I can't help but think what an inspiration he is. I can't help but think of the conditions he must be sitting in right now."

What would I have done? 
What is true freedom?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Morning glory

Above my bed is a photo on canvas called Morning Glory. It was taken by a very skilled New Zealand photographer, Peter Latham. The location is Cheltenham beach at sunrise. I love this photo and the fact that he called it Morning Glory makes it even more special.
Yesterday it struck me that the view from the chair in my bedroom every morning also represents "morning glory". I eat my breakfast in this chair looking out of my window with the sunrise behind me. 
I am filled with gratitude for a steaming cup of tea, nourishing food to eat, time to savour the beginning of the day, the colourful Wattle outside the window, my favourite sculpture reminding me of intimacy with God who is Love...  this time it is my photo capturing an experience of "morning glory"!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

When there's nothing worth watching on TV...

.... which is often the case - then here are a couple of things well worth listening to instead:

Click here for A conversation with Gangaji about how to handle disagreement, anger and hatred with both wisdom and respect. In the context of so many horrific world events and the current presidential elections in USA this is a very thought provoking and intelligent 30 minute discussion.

If you have an hour (and who doesn't watch TV for an hour without demur!) then listen to this Podcast with Tami Simon and Iyanla Vanzant called Truth is Light.
Iyanla Vanzant
Tami Simon

I have appreciated Gangaji for many years. Her wisdom is matched by her presence when you see her in person. She has offered several retreats in New Zealand over the years. This is the first time I have been aware of Iyanla Vanzant although I've often listened to Tami Simon's interviews with people. (Tami is a superb interviewer!) I'm intrigued by Iyanla. I'd love to know more about her life and background. She does have a website but so far I haven't explored it.

I enjoy the fact that these two women are people I would never have come in contact with from my own background but through the wonders of the internet I am privileged to connect with them.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Loving the life you have

I certainly do love the life I have right now and I am constantly grateful for it. But... (did you see the 'but' coming'?!)... I'm in a transitional stage that I call "semi-retirement". In this enjoyably more spacious place a little background niggle keeps surfacing. It says: "Shouldn't you be doing something more purposeful, more useful, more productive with the extra time you have?" I can answer that voice with all sorts of sensible and worthy answers - the sort of answers I'd offer someone else! Yet somehow that niggle goes right on niggling.

So when this morning I came across notification of a Spirituality and Practice course based on the book Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have I thought I might sign up. However, I quickly found I could get a Kindle copy of the book for a fraction of the cost of the course so... admission here! ... I bought the book with "one click" and have already read the intro and the chapter I was most drawn to (about meaning and purpose). It is spot on and I'll quote a bit soon. But the main reason I'm blogging about this is that deep down I really do "trust the process" of life as it unfolds and I'm in awe of the series of serendipitous events in the few hours of this day so far. The niggling question... the email with the name of the course... the ease of getting a Kindle copy of the book... the spacious time (!) to read immediately... It is a rapid reminder of one of the key themes of the book: "Live into each present moment exactly as it is and what needs to happen will happen." Those are my words but here are a couple of quotes from the chapter on meaning and purpose:
"If you are fully immersed in the present, aware of life streaming through your body, then life is so meaningful that the question of meaning and purpose doesn't even arise. ... This is what the sage Krishnamurti meant when he said: 'This is my secret: I don't mind what happens.'" Roger Housden

So back to enjoyment and gratitude... today I am grateful for the unexpected stepping stones that responded to my "niggle" so fast that it's not yet 3pm!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brisbane Holiday 3

The last few days of my holiday I stayed with another niece, Tanya, a bit further out of the city in Narangba. She and Johan took me on a wonderful "full day tour" of places north including the amazing Eumundi markets, the Ginger Factory and Noosa headland.

 Once again there were lovely walks just behind their house, one of which led to a fascinating "outdoor classroom" with four "stations" along the road with pictures and information about Australian animals.
One plaque encouraged children to use all of De Bono's "Thinking Hats": 

I really like Brisbane as a city and with so many lovely places to explore both in the suburbs and further out.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Brisbane holiday 2

While in Brisbane I stayed most of the time with my friend Dawn. We worked out we've known each other for 22 years and we've been on several holidays together. This time we did some lovely local trips to scenic places:
The beach at Bribie Island

 North Lakes
The beautiful gardens at Roma St Parklands

As well the day trips there is a lovely walking track close to the house and there were definitely signs of spring!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Brisbane holiday

For the past ten days I've been on holiday in Brisbane. I've stayed with a good friend and caught up with two of my nieces and their families. Over the next few days I'll post some pictures and highlights.

I don't suppose the first couple of days could be called a highlight when I came down with what turned out to be "viral gastroenteritis" according to the very nice doctor at a visit that cost $153 and had no "magic bullet" medication! But what was a highlight was finding some flowers and a lovely "care package" left at the door of my friend's house by one of my wonderful nieces! How thoughtful is that!!

So continuing on that theme - a few days later I was well enough to meet up with said niece and do some great things together. We went with her three boys to South Bank in the evening and rode the Brisbane Wheel. These photos were taken professionally as we entered so even though we rode at night they cleverly put some photos on a daylight background.

Another day Sarah and I went to Queensland University Open Day and had a day out together just the two of us. I didn't do very well with photos at the university though it is a beautiful campus. But later we cruised around on the free ferry on the Brisbane river which was a relaxing way to enjoy the city.

And I can't leave this post without introducing you to another member of this family - Rose the much loved pet snake: