Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Today is Gratitude Day!

Continuing my list of '100 Gratitudes', I am grateful for...

45. Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition - this exhibition is on every year at the Natural History Museum and I always love to go. The photos are always amazing. I especially like the nature shots - when photos show how remarkable, and beautiful, Mother Earth is I can't help but be filled with gratitude and awe for this planet of ours.
Here are the links to my three favourite photos from the 2010 competition -

46. 'Conversations with God' by Neale Donald Walsch - when I first heard about this book I admit I was sceptical. And I wasn't the least bit interested in reading a religious book about a man talking to God. But years later I was browsing in a bookshop and it caught my eye. I read the first few pages...and I was hooked! This book isn't a religious text at all. It's a spiritual book filled with New Age ideas. God is love. God is life energy. God is everywhere and everything. This was the first book that spoke those words to me. This was the first time I was offered an alternative definition of 'God'. No longer was 'God' a white-bearded man in the sky. 'God' became an energy that is within us. This was my first glimpse of my own divinity. Reading this book helped me discover how magnificent each and every one of us is - that 'God' is not some special person we should all hope to be. We are all God. We are all divine. Already.

47. 'Avatar' - Ok, so plot wise this movie is predictable, but what I really loved about this film was its spiritual message. The Na'vi people live in harmony with their planet. They are one with Mother Nature. They communicate with animals. Everything and everybody is connected; they share a spiritual bond. Life is what matters.

48. my warm puffa coat - ahh my down-filled coat; I love you! It's like having a doona (that's a duvet for all you non-Australians!) wrapped around me all day long. And yesterday it was cold enough here in London to wear it. Yesterday my puffa coat had its first outing for the season. Freezing cold weather not something to be grateful for? Come on, winter is inevitable. We may as well enjoy it. Summer will come around again. It always does.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Today is Gratitude Day!

Continuing my list of '100 Gratitudes', I am grateful for...

41. 'F**k It. The Ultimate Spiritual Way' by John C. Parkin - this is one of those great books that gets you laughing, and yet it also has a profound message in it as well. Parkin suggests that life is fun, life is meant to be enjoyed, and that using the phrase "f**k it" is a strong way to remind ourselves of this fact. Parkin says fill your life with the things that give you pleasure and bring you joy. Life flows along, without any help from us. So wouldn't it be better to let go of fear and stress and just flow with life? Life is far too short to spend it worrying all the time. And that's what I love about this book because it's so true - I often find myself worrying about little things, flooding myself with tension and anxiety, and for what? How does this serve me in any way? All it does is make me feel awful. And that's no way to live. So F**K IT!! Let go, relax, and move on.
To quote Parkin - "F**k It is a most profane way of saying the most profound thing: that when we relax and give in to the simple flow of life, we will experience the ultimate freedom."

42. bookshops - I've always had a thing for bookshops. I can spend hours in them, just browsing. I love to see all those books lining the shelves, or stacked on tables, or being displayed in the windows. It's not only because I one day hope to see a book I've written on a shelf in a bookshop, but because I simply love books. All books. There is something comforting about diving deep into the pages of a book. I've learnt a lot about life by reading books. Some books inspire me, some books entertain me, some books help me grow a little wiser. Books bring me joy. So when I walk into a shop that is overflowing with books, I'm instantly filled with excitement!

43. 'Fragments. Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe' - this book was just published recently and I snapped it up quick smart! Marilyn Monroe has always intrigued me. I've read a lot about her life. I've seen her movies. But this is the first time I've read anything written by her. Marilyn wrote many notes and poems, as she tried to make sense of her world and of life itself. She wrote down her feelings, often in poetic form, in an attempt to heal herself of past pains and to understand herself better. This speaks to me because I have always done the same. Long before I turned my attention to fiction writing, I kept a journal of my thoughts. Writing has always been my way of working things out. In that sense I will always be a writer, whether my novels ever find publishing success or not. Writing is a way of life, and reading Marilyn's musings and poetry has helped remind me of this fact.

44. 'Mslexia' - this is a magazine 'for women who write'. I enjoy reading the interviews with women who have achieved success with their writing - it helps to keep me inspired and motivated. And it reminds me that the dreams of a writer can most definitely come true.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Today is Gratitude Day!

I am grateful for...

37. Cherry Blossom trees - this year my partner and I were in Washington D.C during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Hundreds (or even thousands!) of these beautiful trees surround the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. We sat in the shade of the cherry blossoms and had a picnic, with the delicate pink petals that had come loose in the breeze raining down on our heads. It was magical!

38. green valleys - as I've said before, green scenery in nature makes my heart sing.

39. yoga - I love yoga as exercise - it's the perfect combination of movement and meditative breathing, and it always manages to calm me. But there is much more to yoga than exercise. I'm still learning about yoga as philosophy, rather than just its westernized association with Hatha Yoga and physical exercise alone. I've read that yoga translated from the Sanskrit means 'union'. As I understand it, yoga philosophy is about self-realization leading to connection to spiritual consciousness and union with the Supreme. A true journey of enlightenment. Just what the spiritual me is looking for in life!

40. meditation - I have a few different meditations that I try to include regularly in my daily routine. I use Reiki meditations, chakra-balancing meditations, crystal meditations and even the good old focus-on-your-breath meditation. I use visualisations to help me switch off my thinking brain and connect to my deeper consciousness. I use meditation to remind myself that life is about the present moment, the here and now, and that sometimes we just need to take a step back and breathe. Our mind will still be there after we take a moment to relax, but hopefully it will be a little calmer, a little less stressed.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Today is Gratitude Day!

I am grateful for...

33. 'Friends' - yep, I'm one of those people who watches Friends repeatedly. I can't help myself. Even though I've seen every episode at least fifteen times, and I own the entire series on DVD, if Friends is on TV and I'm at home I'm most likely watching it. You know the great thing about Friends? No matter how much I watch them, the jokes still crack me up. It's like I'm hearing them for the first time. That's brilliant comedic writing, if you ask me!
I can't say I have an all time favourite Friends line; because there are way too many hilarious ones. But here are two that spring to mind right now -
i) Joey: "You don't own a TV? What's all your furniture pointing at?!"
ii) When Chandler and Rachel are eating cheesecake off the the floor and Joey walks up, looks at them curiously, takes a fork out of his pocket and says "All right! What are we havin?"

34. New York City - I've been to NYC four times, always with my sister. I can't imagine being in NY without her; it's almost as though the city was created just for us! And I can't really explain why I love NY so much. But it does something to me, that city. It makes me feel like the world is my oyster and that whatever I dream of in life can be mine. I think it has this affect on me because travelling to NY the first time, in 2004, really was a dream come true for me. I'd watched the city in movies (and on Friends!) for years and then there I was, being bustled by the crowd in Times Square, walking through Central Park, gazing down from the top of the Empire State Building, catching the Staten Island Ferry. I was livin' the dream! :-) NYC has also played an important part in the direction my life has taken, because it was while I was there in 2004 that I realised I wanted to write. I was a bit lost at the time but New York City inspired me to choose a path and here I am, six years later, still following the dream!

35. London - another inspirational and significant city in my life. London is where I met the love of my life. London is where I discovered who I really am and who I want to be. London is where I finally grew up. London is where I opened up to my spirituality. Without London, would any of this have happened? Without London, would I still be me? Just how much does our location in the world influence our very being? From my experience I would answer - immensely. Living in London has changed me for the better.

36. St James' Park - one of my absolute favourite parks in London. I consider it special because of the afternoon I spent there when I'd first moved to London. I was alone, sitting under a tree in the shade, notebook on lap, pen in hand, and surrounded by a city that was proving to be an exciting discovery every single day. And do you know what I felt as I sat there? Do you know what feeling was flooding my body, almost bringing joyful tears to my eyes? It was freedom. I was in a new city, embarking on a new stage in my life. I was twenty-one years old; the world was full of promise. Even now, years later, that same intense feeling comes back to me whenever I'm in St James' Park.