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December 2013



Welcoming the New Year

All too rapidly we find ourselves at the end of another year. As one year passes into another, it can be valuable to reflect on what the past year has brought and to make clear choices about what to create in the new year.

If we are to make good choices, we need good options. This is easier said than done, particularly for the major things in life. Consider your job if you have one. In recent times around Melbourne, there have been a number of business closures, particularly in the manufacturing domain. Whilst it is never easy for anyone to lose their job, it is even more of a challenge if they do not see they have any other options to pursue. The majority of people only consider the possibility of a new job when they have to do so - when they are retrenched, when they are starting to find working in a place intolerable or when an unexpected job offer comes along.

Although it could be said that we make a choice to go to our job every day we do so, this is more a habit than a choice. Even if we do make a conscious choice, it is likely that we are not making it in relation to the best option from a set of options but a simple choice about whether to stay or not. This is a "moving away" choice and unlikely to improve our lot in life other than by chance.

So, here is an invitation for you for the new year. Consider what your options are in life. Take your work for instance. How well do you know what you are worth to others outside of your current position? How strong is your network? If you lost you job tomorrow, what would you want to do in the future? Create some options for yourself and make a choice. It may well be that from those options you choose to stay where you are. This is a fine thing to do in itself as now you are actively choosing where you want to be. It may well change how you feel about your work.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts each month. I hope they have brought some benefit to you and given you some food for thought.

From all of us here at Talking About, we would like to wish you a wonderful 2014. May it be filled with love, happiness and success.

On Listening - Being Present

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

… Ernest Hemingway (1889-1961) US journalist, novelist and short-story writer

Last month, I touched on the idea of whether you feel that people listen to you or not. I have no doubt that this is a subject that is very relevent for many of you as feeling listened to by others shows up as a fundamental aspect of our sense of self and is directly related to our core concerns such as status, autonomy and relatedness.

When two people both feel listened to by the other then there is every chance of developing a good relationship. However, listening to others is not something which most of us are specifically taught. Rather it is something that we just pick up as we go through life.

We see this reflected in our work training coaches. One of the exercises we ask people to do in our coach training program seems simple on the surface. We ask them to simply sit and be still for five minutes each day. We invite them to just experience being themselves. To be present with themselves. For those people who do not practice meditation, this is often a major challenge. So much so that this is often one of the more difficult practices that our students undertake.

Why is this?

One of the key aspects of listening to being able to stop the chatter in our own heads and attend to the other person and be present for them. It seems that the fast pace of life that many people experience makes it difficult to stop and listen to someone else. We are so busy thinking about what we want to say or do next that we do not give others the space for us to listen to them.

So, here is another invitation as you start the new year. Take five minutes each day and just sit and be present with yourself. There are no rules to this other than taking the time. Just see what shows up. Most people who begin and maintain this practice find themselves far more present with themselves and then by extension with others. This can be a great first step to becoming a better listener.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.

Play Create Elevate

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

"So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it and give it expressive meaning."

… Aaron Copland (1900-1990) US composer

Survive or Thrive…

When reflecting on the stories people have about mind health it often sounds like an all or nothing scenario. It is a life ruining scenario or you recover never to visit the darkness again.

Mind health, like life, is not that simple. Anywhere from self-awareness, diagnosis, treatment through recovery can be fraught with challenges, relief, moments of joy, backward steps. It can be like a roller coaster ride of self-admissions, treatments and conversations – some you’d really rather not have. Although it can be uncomfortable to hear about stories of mind health journeys that are tainted with darkness and sorrow I invite you to reflect on this one by a young woman in Western Australia who works on the land.

“The cold seems to shroud her with an unfathomable indifference to her surroundings. Her muscles shake and shiver uncontrollably, attempting to warm her from the inside out. Her body fights to emanate that heat throughout her but it's fighting a losing battle. It's as futile as pouring rain back into a cloud. The numbness she feels stems from within, from the deepest darkest depths of herself. Her physicality does not stand a chance against such a force, the enveloping indifference stops her feeling warm, feeling joy, feeling hope. She has nothing but a cold exterior to give to the world, a facade to hide the abyss of pain that yaws within her. It swirls and sucks as a black hole would, pulling her down into it, making her succumb to the fears and the doubts. It feeds off her inadequacies and the longer she spends stuck in the darkness the colder she gets. The more distance she puts between herself and others, because who could ever want to reach through all the darkness, the fear, the doubt and the bitterness to try and help her see the light? This is a battle she fights alone and it starts with warmth, with a shred of comfort, with a thought so small and so fragile, yet so filled with hope. Maybe...

The screen door slams with an almighty thwack as she walks back into the house. She squats down in front of the firebox with an easy strength and manoeuvres the kindling and the paper she set there so many days ago. She reaches for the matches, slides open the drawer and selects one. There's no criteria, no favouritism, it's just random selection and yet she can't help but wonder if one of the other matches would set her on a different path, a better path. As her muscles spasm from the aching cold again, she quickly strikes the match watching it flare into a radiant brilliance. It mesmerises her, the way it lights up and flickers and sways. No darkness and no pain, it dances down to her fingertips and it's not until it burns the very tips of them that she realises she hasn't lit the fire. She shakes the flame off her fingers and stares at the twisted blackened remnants of such a beautiful, light, joyous dance. It doesn't resemble that shining beacon in the slightest anymore, it's merely a shadow of a moment, smouldering in the remains of such an intense beauty. Blackened and twisted into the sooty mess that comes after. Mentally shaking herself by the shoulders she gets a grip on the next match. Maybe... Maybe this one? She strikes it and is careful not to let its seductive dance mesmerise her again, setting it to the paper she watches the flames lick across each other. She smiles as they meld into each other, creating a bigger better warmth, sending light into the sooty mess of the fireplace and her soul. As the small twigs are consumed by the heat and the light, she watches them fade into nothing but swirling ash and she feels the tug at her heart. The most blinding lights fade into the darkest shadows. At least she's lit it now though, that's more than she's done in a long time. Maybe... Maybe she thinks.”

Emily Charlotte Ann writes about her experiences on the land and you can read her blog here: http://emilycharlotteann.blogspot.com.au

The more we can speak openly and comfortable about our mind health the faster we can reduce the stigma associated with mood disorders.

You can read Jacqui’s Blog at http://www.playcreateelevate.com.au/Blog/

Please check out the website, www.PlayCreateElevate.com.au, and let Jacqui know what you think.

More on PCE next month!

The Monthly Diversion

Some plays on words for your amusement

  • Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
  • A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
  • Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
  • Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
  • Shotgun wedding - A case of wife or death.
  • A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
  • Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
  • Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
  • Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
  • When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
  • A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
  • What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead give away.)
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
  • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
  • If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
  • The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
  • You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
  • Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.
  • Every calendar's days are numbered.
  • A lot of money is tainted - taint yours and taint mine.
  • A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
  • He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
  • A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
  • Once you've seen one shopping centre, you've seen a mall.
  • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
  • Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
  • Acupuncture is a jab well done.

"Humor is a universal language."

… Joel Goodman

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn and share any insights you may have. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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