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Category Archives: Life

Staying Happy, When Everyone Else is Doing it ‘Better’

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The truth is that they’re not doing it better. They’re doing it different. A day after David Bowie’s death, the radio played a snippet of one of his interviews. Bowie talked about how his most successful albums were his least favorite to create. He only made them because he thought that was what everyone wanted. Those albums WERE what the fans wanted, but it didn’t make David Bowie feel satisfied.

As a blogger, I used to get this feeling of needing to write something that would be huge, that everyone would want to read. I’ve only been writing for a few years, so the whole writing thing was new to me. Somewhere along the line, I had almost 2 million people so far, read my articles! Two million reads seems pretty awesome to the non-writer me of a few years ago. Yet, somewhere out there, in the land of blog writers (and that land is vast), I see that somebody is always getting more likes, views and shares on their posts. There’s always somebody out there who is writing stuff that’s funnier, more well researched, more sappy, sweary, is juicy, more articulate, or somehow appeals to the greater public more than my writing does.

And, what if I tried to write like those people? Would it get me more attention? Yes. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It worked! I got lots of attention and I knew exactly who I would submit these attention grabbing articles to. But, it wasn’t me. It didn’t match the core values that I hold so dear to myself.

Thinking that everyone is doing it better than you applies to ALL areas of our lives. Our jobs, our choice of partner, number of children, house, car, what we do in our spare time, hobbies, etc. We’re all doing the best we can, but we think that others are doing it better. In reality, we don’t want ANY of these things… we just want to be happy, right?

Social media is the worst for smearing ‘I have a perfect life‘ phoniness all over the place. Don’t believe it when it looks like ‘everyone‘ is doing it better. In fact, I just took a trip to America and it was awful. I was really sick almost the whole time and had major culture shock (even though I am American). Yet, when people asked about my trip, they said, “It looked like you had a fantastic time in America, tell me all about it!” I had been posting a bunch of smiley pictures with national icons in the background and people perceived this perfect little family holiday. Wrong. You can’t judge what is going on from internet-space.

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Looks like a nice picture, right? WRONG! I was so sick, I felt like I could fall on my face. The deception on social media is real!

Honestly, my mind can get really swept away with jealously when I see someone doing it ‘better than me‘. If I can catch myself, I avoid falling into a wallowing pit of ‘poor me‘, by remembering that you can’t take it with you. Everything that brings you joy on this earth can also bring you pain. Money, fame, cars, big houses, clothes, your looks, fancy stuff, number of children, happy marriages, and so on… can be taken away at any moment. Artists, celebrities and politicians are always in trouble. They always dream of being popular, but once they gain the popularity, they get stressed from trying to keep at the top. Just because someone has everything you want, remember that what they have is temporary and if you gained those things, your possession of those things would also be temporary.

So, again, nobody is doing it ‘better‘, they’re just doing it different. If you have something to learn from someone, then take what you need and move on, with no regrets. There are certainly times when we need influence, advice, feedback or direction from someone who has more experience. But don’t sell yourself out. The actions you choose in order to match someone else’s success, will never feel authentic.

We did have some really good times, but I was still SICK! You can't tell, can you?

We did have some really good times, but I was still SICK! You can’t tell, can you?

Success is different to everyone. Some people measure success in attention, money and items. Others measure success in happiness and the ability to positively impact society. Find out what your goals are. What is YOUR vision and why is it important that you do the things you want to do. And, unless someone’s going to pay you millions of dollars for doing something you’re not crazy about (or you’re David Bowie), then stick to your big vision. Drop the feverishness that everything has to be perfect. Accept. Accept. And be happy.

 

What ‘Little Old’ You and I Can Do About Terrorism

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I found myself getting swept away with this feeling that terrorism is a huge unsolvable problem; that only governments with big artilleries and lots of manpower can fight against. For short term solutions, maybe that’s what’s needed. But, terrorism is a grassroots (or sometimes individual) movement. So, the true, long term solution, must also be grassroots. There are only a relative handful of terrorists compared to the BILLIONS of the rest of us kind, friendly and upstanding citizens of the planet. The media is focused on terrorism right now and the biggest danger of all, is thinking that individual people are too small and insignificant to do something about it.

Make Everyone Feel a Sense of Belongingness

Where do you think terrorists recruit their fighters from? Many from our backyard. Why? Because whatever the terrorists are offering to their recruits (acceptance, respect, honor, etc) is more than what they’re being offered here. I’ve taught many bright, educated Muslim boys, and I hope and pray that I don’t see their face on the next suicide bomber news article. These kids are not evil heartless killers, and nor are their families… but the society they live in lets them know that they’re ‘different‘. We need to be friendly to each other and honour our differences. Respect each other’s cultures.

Also remember that terrorists are not just young Muslim boys, they come in every color, race and religion. Creating a sense of belongingness needs to extend to every member of our society. Look into the eyes of any person in the street. Are they really so different from you? No. Reach out to people. Smile. Be friendly. See that they are in the same boat as you. It sounds small, but creating a sense of belongingness is probably one of the most powerful things we can do to end violence in our society.

Uproot Ignorance, Hatred and Prejudice 

If we want them to change, we first have to look at our own actions. Are we smearing hatred, doubt and poking fun of people all over social media and in our daily conversations? That needs to stop. Do we all know little about the different religions and cultures in the world? Are we teaching our children tolerance and acceptance? An education means nothing if the education does not include a little bit about human values, such as love, acceptance, belonging and compassion.

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

Terrorists have just as much access to social media and the internet as we do. They know the stories that catch the bait. Do you need to go on reading story after story about what happened? It’s not to say that you stick your head in the sand and ignore everything that’s going on. But, the more energy you give to their actions, the more it fuels their fire. Also, the more you read and share these stories over and over, and the more you talk about how the world is an ‘evil‘ place, the more these things start happening. Your mind gets consumed over how ‘bad‘ everything is and you’ll notice that you walk down the street with a frown on your face.

Meditate, Pray, Keep Your Vibrations Positive

We are all connected to each other and feelings and emotions are catching. There are scientific studies to back this up. If you walk into a room with a grumpy miserable person, how do you feel after a few minutes? You’ll most likely also find yourself feeling grumpy. Alternatively, if you walk into a room where everyone is happy, you will also begin to feel happy. The more we keep ourselves happy, the more the people around us will have a better chance of keeping happy… and so on. Our actions affect the people around us. Happy people, connected to the society, don’t kill other people. So, whatever you need to do to keep yourself from brooding over the past or feeling miserable, find a way! It’s our responsibility to this planet to keep our own attitude positive so that we can positively influence others. Of course, we all get down in the dumps sometimes, and it’s not easy to pull yourself up, but we need to find a way to not get stuck in our negative emotions. Whatever it is; meditation, praying, singing, dancing, doing community service… do it! Uplift yourself and those around you.

Don’t for a second believe that you are not strong enough to do anything about terrorism. You have a heart. You have a brain. You have been blessed with life on this planet. You can make a difference. Be helpful to others. Be friendly. Have compassion. Be aware that your actions affect others.

 

 

 

 

My Family

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I *think*’My Family stickers are going out of style, right? But, I still see them often enough that I have this itch to write about them.

These stickers don’t particularly bother me. I’m actually not jealous or annoyed of the family wanting the world to know about their 6 kids, 4 dogs, 12 cats and 3 guinea pigs. I also have nothing against the girl with a sticker of herself and her pet goldfish. All of us have our own thing going on and it’s fair enough to want to be proud of it.

The thing is… putting My Family stickers on my car seems too small a gesture to me. It’s so limiting. Who is ‘in‘ my family? Is is the people who are related to me? Or, who live under my roof?

No.

I feel a much deeper connection with the other human beings on this planet. How often have you ever felt like you were with family, even though these people were not ‘family’… Even amongst strangers I’ve felt this connection.

My Family stickers don’t sit well with me because I realized that if I wanted to put My Family stickers on the back of my car, I would need a window that could fit 7 billion little white stick figures (plus additional room to fit the billions of animal creatures in the world).

Why are we so limited to the people (or animals) that live under one single roof, or who share the same last name?

Imagine if each and every one of us could feel that the whole world is our family… now that will be something great! How much more peace, harmony and trust would there be in the world, if we all feel that connection.

I could never put a My Family sticker on the back of my car because the whole world is my family, not just the people who live in the same house as me.

“Where Are You From?”

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Does my accent sound a little funny?

Is my skin a different color?

Do I dress differently?

Eat funny food?

Where am I from?

I’m from planet Earth, just like you!

In case you may have forgotten, we all reside on a mini-scopic island, surrounded by an endless sea of space.

It’s innocent small talk, I know. And once we get to know each other, ok, sure, ask away and we can tell stories about what it’s like to live on opposite sides of the world. But don’t let that question be one of the first things to leave your mouth when we meet. That question unintentially divides the human race. Puts categories on belongingness.

No matter where you come from, you should still have the same human values in common. Love and diversity. Compassion and trust.

Do you see me as different when you ask me where I come from? Tell me, what is really so different?

The world has become a small place. It’s no longer strange to see people from other places on your streets. Yet we still ask, as if to say, “You’re different. You don’t belong.

We all eat, breath, sleep, live and die.

You’re from ‘here‘ and so am I.

Is there even such a thing as ‘here‘ and ‘there‘? The entire planet is our home. Nature, the Earth, doesn’t discriminate against you. Categorizing people according to where they come from is a human invention.

There is no ‘here‘. There is no ‘there‘.

There is only one.

You are my family from the human race.  You feel pain, happiness and sorrow, the same way I do.

You belong to me and I belong to you.

I used to ask this question a lot too. But, I can’t ask it anymore. I’d rather enjoy the moment we have together. I don’t need to know where you come from. I’ve gotten really good at guessing  from your accent, but I don’t need to ask because right now, you are here, in front of me, and that’s all that matters.

Photo by Art Baltrotsky crappypics.com

Can You Really Raise Kids in An Apartment?

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First off, let me define the meaning of ‘small living space‘… because I lived in the back of my station wagon/tent, for a year, in my early twenties.

Apartments are relatively huge compared to a station wagon. On top of that, some of the JLL Residential Development Germany apartments are bigger than most houses and they’re much more stylish!

Better for the environment
Taking up less space, means… taking up less space. It means you leave more room for nature to be nature. There are 7 billion+ people on this planet, most of them live on top of each other. If we all wanted to live in a house, with a yard, we would all be squashed in an endless sea of tiny fenced in yards. Living in a small space means you use up less resources (building materials, energy for heating/cooling, etc.). When you live in a small space, you are also more conscious of buying unneccesary items (because you have no room). The less ‘stuff‘ we buy, that we don’t *really* need, the better for the environment. The production, the transport, and eventually, the disposal of the items we buy for our house, all have an impact on the world we live in. If you can find somewhere like a Space station loft apartment to live in, this is much better than taking up a crazy amount of space with your own house when it is not really necessary. Read the rest of this entry

Stop Everything. Some People Don’t Rinse the Soap Off Their Dishes!?

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For years I ignored it. It just couldn’t be. In the staff room, after lunch, those soapy dishes left in the drying rack… I mean, surely, someone was going to come along and rinse them, right? The soapy residue taste when I ate a friend’s house… well, I must have been imagining it.

Head.in.the.sand.

When I moved to Australia seven years ago, everything was new anyways, so what was a little soap on the dishes?

When you witness something that’s borderline sketchy…. what do you do?

I dared not speak up. Read the rest of this entry

A Hundred Compliments and An Insult

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I just finished teaching two weeks of a winter semester university course.

It was a blast.

Each day I had a different group of students and I was teaching iPads, which is like, the most fun thing ever. All day, I heard, “Wow!” “This is so cool! This is awesome!”

There was lots of laughter and groups of students collaborating together. We played games and learned how to tap into technology as a teaching tool. By the end of every lesson, many of the students went away thanking me. They gave me all sorts of compliments and told me that this workshop had been so fun and useful. “The best class they had gone to in a long time!Read the rest of this entry

Being Ok With Being ‘Average’

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I’ve always felt like I had to be doing ‘something‘. Something incredible, exciting, being the best, etc. But, no matter what, there’s always somebody out there who seems to have one up on me. Always someone who seems to have their stuff together and whose life seems perfect. Always someone I’m just a ‘tiny‘ bit jealous of. My husband tells me I’m crazy when I mention it, but I can’t help it, I’ve felt this way all of my life.

Read the rest of this entry

This New Year: Stop Postponing Your Happiness!

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For myself and many others, this year seems to have been tough, compared to the previous years of relative smooth sailing. It’s been a year of limbo. Of waiting. Of exhaustion. Something stressful mixed with a whole lot of confusion. I mean, it just happens sometimes and I’ve had truly miserable years as well, this wasn’t too bad. You have some good years and some not so good years. If all the years were good ones, we would have nothing to compare with, so how would never even know what a good year really is! From our failures, our troubles, our growing pains and even from our devastation, we can take the good things with us and see how strong our experiences have made us. But… you’ve already heard this right? What I really want to know is… are you happy? Read the rest of this entry

The Art of Slowing Down

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It was hot. Steamy summer stinking hot. No breeze. And, I, had to walk 4km (2.5 miles) totting two kids to get to playgroup because I was the one with the key and I had to open the building up.

If I had gone in my usual fashion, which is to rush out the door at the last possible minute and walk as fast as I can, I would have arrived at playgroup in an frantic puddle of sweat. So, on this particular day, I left five minutes early and called a friend of mine who could intercept me on the way to grab the key off me if I didn’t make it in time.

On this day, I refused to be in a hurry. Read the rest of this entry