Friday, 30 April 2010

Taming The Wild Horse

A few years ago, my father-in-law performed Reiki on me (a form of energetic healing). He laid his hands on my stomach and after a short while he saw an image flash before his eyes.

He described it as a wild horse raising its head in a fiery upward thrust. He said it was kicking and convulsing in what looked like a struggle to be free.

At the time, I was dealing with a massive upset and his vision didn't surprise me. Whilst I found it fascinating, I did not consider that it might have extended beyond my then current distress.

Something profound happened today, reminding me of that Reiki vision.

While I was jogging to my playground today (aka gym), I felt a calm come over me. A deep calm from the pit of my stomach. The chatter had stopped and I no longer fought against myself. It was though I had surrendered, as though I had tamed the wild horse within - the one that my father-in-law had witnessed all those years ago.

At that moment it all went 'click'.

I had flashbacks of pivotal moments when I've wanted to make changes in my life, yet my intentions to move forward was met with chronic resistance. Each manoeuvre to charge on was combated by a hundred wild horses pulling me in the opposite direction.

For as long as I can remember, to as recently as Wednesday's Weigh-In, I'd use words like 'inner conflict', 'turmoil' and 'dilemma' to describe what was going on. This disharmony often manifested in sickness and depression, which had me feeling unwell, unhappy, tired, irritable and confused.

So how did I tame the wild horse?

In one word, persistence.

In my attempts to become unstuck and absolve the resistance, I tried everything from the gentle approach (understanding, compassion and coaxing in a loving, nurturing way) to sheer brute force (fear tactics, intolerance and insistence). I cannot say one way works better than the other, I believe the overall taming was the result of that one word - persistence.

While I am uncertain whether once tamed, it remains so (this is all new territory for me), I am conscious of how overwhelmingly peaceful I feel right now. I can only imagine how far I can go when all of me - mind, body, spirit and inner wild horses - are all in agreement.

Until tomorrow, may you also experience this peaceful state of surrender.

Grace xx

PS. A personal thank you to my friend, Brad. You inspired me no end yesterday, which I believe played a role in taming the gee-gee.

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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tick-Tock the Clock Knocks

I invested some time this afternoon looking at some recent photos of my gorgeous nephew and niece (courtesy of Facebook).

It confirmed without a doubt that they are indeed gorgeous (I am not biased).

The little rascals live 755km (470mi) away in rural South Australia, which means that I don't get to hang out with them as much as I'd like. Whenever I see photos of them, I'm always a little stunned - it's like time just did a massive leapfrog.

What have I missed in between?

It saddens me to think of it.

This leapfrog phenomena contrasts to how I experience life that immediately surrounds me. Days seem to merge into another and before I know it weeks, months, years and decades fleet past (a bit like little droplets of water filling up a bucket, sink, bath, swimming pool).

So today I started thinking about time.

Time would have to be the most precious resource (besides food, water and shelter). Each second is a premier, a debut never to be repeated. We cannot buy it or save it - but we sure do spend it. Do we spend time frivolously or invest it wisely - or perhaps a bit of both?

This is what I am pondering right now.

How do you spend your time? Do you consider it a wise investment?

Until tomorrow, may the tick-tock of the clock remind you of life's other precious things.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A Matter of Balance

On any given day, you'd typically find me perched at the far end of the seesaw of life. I'll either be high on optimism and happy as Mr. Smiley, or down in the dumps and as blue as Mr. Grumps.

It's exhausting.

I have read, heard, watched and sensed that balance is a state we should all strive for - though in all honesty, it's something I've found the most difficult to achieve.

Since embarking on Project Grace 2010 58 days ago, I am making regular attempts to centre myself. While I can't say I'm brilliant at it (yet), I know that focus, intention and practice will make me better at smoothing out the bumps in the road.

Today is my mother's birthday and we are off to celebrate at a nearby restaurant. I have a few things to do before I leave here, so I'm keeping it short today (in order to maintain balance).

What I'd love to know, is how do you maintain balance in your life?

Until tomorrow, may you master equilibrium and share it with the world.

Grace xx

PS. Click link if you want to view this week's Wednesday Weigh-In

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Okay, here it is... the moment we've all been waiting for...

In the early months of 2008 I called for a meeting with the national distributor of my first (and to this day, my only) children's book, 'Nubsy McNoodle Wanted A Poodle'.

My plan was to learn more about an industry I had just entered. I felt like a new girl at school and wanted to get the low down on how things worked. I was talking to an 'expert', someone who'd been in the industry for over 30-years. I was in good hands, or so I thought.

By now, I'm sure you know me well enough to envisage how bubbly I become when inspired. I have as much eagerness and enthusiasm as a child whose anticipating a visit by the Tooth Fairy. Despite being toothless and looking a little goofy - I AM EXCITED!

I walked into the office of a partner that I hadn't met before. We introduced ourselves before I proceeded to explain my plans for that year. I wanted to know cut off dates so I could plan the production of the next three titles, which I already had manuscripts for. My goal was to have them completed in time to be featured in catalogues, and in stores by Christmas.

He seemed bemused by my wide-eyed fervour and was quick to interject, asking "How many did you print?" to which I answered with smiley, "10,000 copies" (coming from a print packaging background, this was considered a small run in my realm). "Well that's 8,000 too many," he replied in a monotone voice.

That was it.


That was when my happiness balloon burst (again).

It is only now with hindsight that I realise this was just another rendition of '99% Equals FAIL', and the feelings that accompanied the experience were identical to the primary instance. I was shattered. What's most interesting is that just as my maths went from bad to worse, until I chronically failed and eventually dumped the subject, my book sales seem to be taking the exact same path - down the gurgler.

Instead of dismissing what he said as merely one person's less than optimistic opinion, I made it mean something about me. I felt stupid and childish. I thought myself an idiot for believing that my work could be good enough to succeed in the publishing world. Though I tried to continue on believing in myself, it was forced. My conviction eroded to a point where I felt as gullible as the days I believed in the Tooth Fairy - who on Earth did I think I was?

Consequently, this has been a thorn in my side. This is where I'm stuck. I have 8,000 books (funny that...?) remaining and I have no energy, passion or spirit to do anything more about it. Just as I became known as the 'math's dummy' (which I now know is crazy considering at one point I got 99%), will I also become known as the author who printed 8,000 too many?

Right now, I still cannot face those 8,000 copies. I don't know what will happen to them (or the other three titles that have been in production for the last two and a half years). I'm hoping that just by letting it out, externalising it, will help the healing process. Perhaps one day it'll go 'click' and the path will become clear, for I have already started to realise I'm not bad at maths... so perhaps those 8,000 copies will turn out to be not too many after all.

Until tomorrow, may you only listen to those that serve you and dismiss those that don't.

Grace xx

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Virtual Shrink's Couch

Project Grace 2010 is turning out to be somewhat cathartic and as a result, I've been receiving a number of phone calls and emails from loving, caring friends checking in on me and making sure I'm okay.

I am okay.

Thank you.

Rather than explain myself a dozen times, I've cut and paste a response that I wrote earlier today to my friend (and No.1 commentator) Garrie...

What I'm finding is that once I've externalised my 'issues' by posting it on my blog, a miracle happens - it stops festering in me.

This whole blogging exercise is like an emotional purge and when it comes out - it's out for good.

Every sensitive topic that I've covered no longer causes pain when I think about it. I don't even want to talk about it anymore. I have literally said to people in conversation, "I really have no desire to recount the story, if you want to know details go to the post titled..."

I could never have anticipated how profound the experience of blogging would be in resolving issues of the past. What I'm finding is that I don't want to point fingers or blame people. I want to share my experiences, how they've impacted me and ultimately - I just want to be heard.

Isn't that the reason we visit counsellors? To be heard? Has my blogging turned into a virtual shrink's couch (VSC)?

The interesting thing about my daily visit to the VSC is discovering that I am not alone. By openly sharing my experiences and how they've shaped me into who I am, I'm learning that so many of us are shaped by similar experiences. We are more alike than I'd ever imagined.

Until tomorrow, thank you for lending me your ears, allowing me to be heard and making me realise I'm not a freak.

Grace xx

PS. You know the emotional blind pimple I was talking about yesterday? Well, it's not quite ready, so if you wore your raincoat today, make sure you've got it nearby tomorrow. Who knows when this baby is going to pop.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010


We honour you.

We thank you.

Lest we forget.

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Emotional Zits

WARNING! This is gross and may cause stomach upset. Proceed with caution.

When I was a teenager, my youthful skin was covered in blemishes (zits). Some were mature, others were ripening just beneath the surface, and then there were those I called 'blind' pimples.

The latter often took a while to be discovered. They weren't 'obvious', just a slight pinkish tinge to the skin. They may have felt swollen to touch, but were generally invisible. I probably would have never noticed them if it hadn't been for the PAIN. They were by far, the worst.

I would spend hours in front of the mirror 'dealing with' my pimples. It provided me with enormous relief once the pressure was released. The blind ones were intriguing, intensely painful and required the most patience for they weren't going anywhere till they were 'ready'.

Not wanting to cause you to puke all over your computer, let's just say that blind pimples were always met with several confrontations over a few days - the first attempts where just warm ups for a huge grand finale.

My Mum (we say mum not mom) would berate me for 'ruining my skin' but to me, the post extraction redness was worth the effort. While I might have looked worse off immediately after squeezing, I felt so much better - at least until the next batch were ripe for the picking.

Then one day, in my early 20's, they were all gone. Forever. I might get the odd zit here and there at certain times of the month but for the most part, I had clear skin. Even to this day people comment at how smooth and lovely my skin is (sounds like I'm doing an infomercial doesn't it?).

Project Grace 2010 is turning out to be a lot like bursting emotional zits. Some have been easy 'pops' - ah, relief, and it all goes away. Others have been like the dreaded blind pimple. First you discover it, you feel it growing underneath the surface. It throbs and it hurts but you can't stop fondling till it develops a head. Then you become determined to eliminate its contents, and continue with focused intention until BANG! It finally explodes, thus leaving you with an enormous sense of release (literally and metaphorically).

It can go two ways after that; 1. Vanish into nothingness, or 2. Swell into the biggest dermatological monster you have ever seen. You need to let it rest a while before launching the final attack.

Well my friends, it turns out that '99% equals FAIL' was not only a Top 10 hit in the last 30 years, but is also a classification '2.' blind pimple. As my posts indicate, I've been fiddling with it for a few days and instead of disappearing, it is swelling. I can feel the pressure of an enormous eruption brewing under the surface. I can feel that it's only a matter of time before the grand finale.

If you've read this far, here's a second warning: Next time you check out Project Grace 2010, make sure you're wearing a raincoat.

Until tomorrow, may you whittle away at your emotional zits (if you can stomach it) and you too can have clear skin.

Grace xx

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Saturday, 24 April 2010

A rewind moment

Have you ever had a rewind moment?

It's like time stands still while a whole bunch of memories are played back in slow motion. You observe happenings of the past as though you're watching a flashback movie montage. Only this time, you know the ending.

You notice all the little details that you missed the first time. It all becomes clear. A bit like gazing at those magic pictures and all of a sudden you have a separation between the crazy pattern and the 3D picture. Once you've seen it, you can't believe that it took you so long to 'get' something that's so obvious. You have what I call, an 'aha' moment.

Well THAT'S exactly what happened to me today...

Saturday mornings, an hour before my French class, I go to a local café to do my homework and practice ordering breakfast with the lovely French waitress (is 'waitress' politically correct nowadays...?)

This morning I bumped into someone whom I haven't seen in eight months. Needless to say, we had a lot to catch up on. She asked what I was up to and I naturally progressed to talking about Project Grace 2010. The conversation turned out to be like a 'best of' compilation album that got stuck on track No. 48, 'When 99% equals FAIL'... and then it happened - the 'aha' moment.

I had a flood of memories, which felt like watching reruns of Count Down (Australia's MTV of the 70's and 80's) where I reminisced the many renditions of the aforementioned popular tune. I could see cover versions of the original (being the 99% maths test) that played out in different scenarios - a bit like having a different band, different film clip, but essentially the same song.

Not only had this song been playing in my life over and over again like a friggin' broken record (or skipping CD for you young bucks), it's been in the Top 10 for nearly 40 years - holy poop! (word 'poop' courtesy of Christy's comments - cheers)

Just as I went from 99% in maths to chronically failing, I could clearly see scenarios where the dreaded '99% equals FAIL' had contaminated specific areas of my life - which to this day, is still a problem. It's that bloomin' song again, playing in the background like drab, hypnotic ambient music.


My weight issues and frustration over Nubsy (my abbreviation for 'Nubsy McNoodle Wanted A Poodle', the children's book I wrote and published in 2007) are two major sticking points in my life right now - and I can pinpoint the actual moment when a pivotal conversation took place that popped my happiness balloon. Essentially, it was the precise moment that DJ Poop started spinning that cruddy song, "99% equals FAIL" - and I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT!!!


With this insight, I feel like 'I've seen the magic trick' (thanks for that metaphor Gaz). What opens up is possibility and freedom. I have taken over as DJ and am tossing out that outdated track. I am choosing what songs I want to play and when.

Until tomorrow, be your own DJ and play the songs you choose.

Grace xx

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Gracey Goes to Bollywood

Last night I finished my web design course (yes, I know many of you saw it written down a gazillion times on my Facebook page - but not everybody is on FB).

Since the first week of March, said course had been occupying my Wednesday and Thursday evenings (not to mention my mind every other time). Now that is no longer the case, I want to embark on something else, something new, something... BOLLYWOOD.

Yes, I am going to start Bollywood dancing and am SO excited! I've been wanting to do it for a while, but the Wednesday night classes clashed with my timetable. Not anymore. Woohoo!

In my jubilant state, I jumped on my Mac eager to put together an image that aptly reflects how the prospect of Bollywood dancing makes me feel - joyful, young at heart and totally digging the idea of bling bling dress ups!

While searching our personal library of 50,000 India photos, I came across this fabulous shot of a typical Indian street scene complete with giggling girls, basket-carrying man wearing a traditional dhoti and of course an animal - in this case, a wee little donkey. Refer Exhibit A.

As for the cute little girl, it's a montage of my grade prep head shot (we call our first year of school 'prep' - abbreviation of preparation..?) sitting on the shoulders of my gorgeous three year old niece, who incidentally played Bollywood dress ups with me a few weeks ago. As much as she's totally delicious, I won't be publicising any photos of her on my blog.

I think India is the country that reflects me the most. We could each be described as a 'masala' - a spicy mix of many things that people find interesting (not to mention crazy, extreme, generous, warm, quirky, colourful, bright, frustrating, thrilling, hilarious, grounding, solemn, moving, inspiring, poetic and spiritual). Incredible. The importance of family, traditions, and the modern independent woman's battle to free herself from obligations, also strikes a chord with me. As for the abundance of all things glittery, pretty and girlie - that's me to a chai.

So next week marks a new chapter in Project Grace 2010 and that is, Gracey Goes to Bollywood.

Until tomorrow, think about what you can do to spice up your life.

Grace xx

PS. Did you know that the Indians use the term 'masala movie' to describe a film with everything - drama, romance, comedy, tragedy and thriller? And that Indians call all tea 'chai' and the spicy mix that we're familiar with is called 'masala chai'? Perhaps the person who coined the idiom 'variety is the spice of life' was really talking about garam masala ;-)

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Which weight will it be?
(There's always an alternative)

I came across these photos the other day and I just love them! Obviously I want to share them with you, but feel they need to be accompanied by either a humorous story (lightweight) or life enhancing message (heavyweight).

So now you know how I come up with some of my posts - love a picture, then tell a story. It also goes the other way - love a story, then find (or create) a picture. I find this way (photo first) infinitely more intriguing (and challenging) as even I don't know where it's going.

So which weight will it be today? Hmmm, let's see...

The main photo was taken in January 2009, when I was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Port Douglas. The stylish all-in-one Lycra outfit I'm donning is called a stinger suit, and is mandatory sea attire during 'stinger season' (October - April).

Stinger is the colloquial name for the potentially lethal Box Jellyfish that inhabit the reef. Their excruciating venom can kill victims if they're not immediately treated after being stung.

The smaller (round) photo was taken in 1998 when I was learning to SCUBA dive in our Fijian resort swimming pool. As it turned out, I wasn't able to equalise in one of my ears and consequently was never given the green light to dive (I have since discovered ear candling and plan to have another go).

Whilst I was frustrated over not being able to SCUBA dive, I realised there are other ways to explore the beauty of our underworld. Glass bottomed boats, underwater scooters and snorkeling are just some of the alternatives one can choose from.

I fell in love with snorkeling over coral reefs, which I'm fortunate to have experienced in Fiji, Jamaica, Thailand and of course, our great Great Barrier Reef. Despite the odd duck dive or three, I particularly like floating above the reef and colourful fish. When I'm totally relaxed I go into a meditative state, giving me an odd sense of flying. I could do it for hours, days and quite possibly weeks.

Finding alternatives is how we appease ourselves (lightweight) or conquer the limitations we face in our lives (heavyweight). Some of the most inspiring stories I have seen are of people with disabilities, disfigurements and disadvantages who have done the seemingly impossible by employing alternative means. For those of you who are up for a bit of heavyweight inspiration, please see the video below. Amazing.

Looks like my photos became lightweight approach in sending a heavyweight message.

Until tomorrow, may you find an alternative to whatever is limiting you - no matter whether it's lightweight, heavyweight or a little bit of both.

Grace xx

PS. This video makes my inability to equalise seem somewhat insignificant, yet the point remains the same - there's always an alternative.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

If life begins at 40, then I guess you can say that this is my first ultrasound!

I'm starting something new...

I am venturing into the land of YouTube, and posting a video every Wednesday to track my progress.

The video says it all, so I'll stop typing now.

Until tomorrow... the video says it all (is there an echo in here... here... ere... ere...ere... )

Grace xx

Please note: No radio stars were killed during the making of this video ;-)

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Yesterday I woke up with a brainwave...

"I'm going to change the way I view my time at the gym," I announced to my husband.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I don't like referring to gym as Jim and that I'm off to have an affair. It was funny in the beginning, but it doesn't work for me anymore. Plus, I like it when you come along with me."

"Then we'll have a ménage à trois," he said triumphantly - lightly chuckling at his jest.

"No. That's not it. You see, I really like the way I feel after the gym. I ALWAYS leave feeling better than when I arrived. It's just getting there that's the problem," I continued...

"It's like an obligation, something I have to do - and that's not inspiring to me. I need to repackage what the gym means to me so I am inspired to go. When you're inspired, you don't need to motivate yourself because you're itching to do it. Self motivation is draining. Being inspired is the opposite - it's energising. Instead of having to coax yourself to start, you're having to force yourself to stop... or at least pace yourself. That's how I want to feel about the gym. "

"Geez it must be hard being you," he interjected.

"It IS hard being me," I sighed. (That's before I had my 1% breakthrough)

I took the time to reflect on my attitude towards being active as a child. I was always outside playing. From the moment I returned from school it was off with my uniform, complete any obligations (or negotiate deals) for my 'get out of jail free' card, and I was out the door quicker than you could say "Have you finished your homework?" We played till sunset and begrudged the familiar call of "Kids, dinner's ready!"

It didn't stop there. Every wedding, family BBQ or staff Christmas party I was running around with cousins or newly made friends till I collapsed (usually under the table at the feet of my mother). I remained sedated till being carried upstairs and laid to bed (occasionally I would awake when our car reversed into the garage, but I adopted a charade so I could get a free lift to my room - very naughty).

Kiss chasey, tiggy (aka tag), backyard cricket, football, roller skating, riding bikes, British bulldogs, elastics, down-ball, hopscotch, skipping rope and 'mothers and fathers' (the latter probably the least active, but the most creative). I couldn't sit still for a second.

So, with this in mind... plus knowing how good I feel after I've been to the gym, I have now repackaged it as 'Play Time'. That's what the gym is for me. It is PLAYTIME - Woohoo! And the best thing about it is that I don't have to finish my homework before I go. Now that I am an adult (well, that's what my age indicates), I can choose to have my playtime before I start my obligations - isn't that fabulous?

So far, so good.

This morning I leapt out of bed and asked Patrick (my husband), "Do you want to come out to play?" to which he declined. Then I ran off (literally) and played anyway. Right now, I am feeling as happy as I did when I was that little girl who ran and ran and ran till she faked being asleep on her Dad's shoulder.

Until tomorrow, may you repackage whatever it is in your life that needs a new attitude.

Grace xx

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Monday, 19 April 2010

When 99% equals FAIL

You may be disturbed to learn that ever since I was eight years old, I deemed 99% as failure.

Long story short, I once scored 99% in a maths test (not a typo, we say 'maths' in Australia) and was falling over myself with eagerness to share the thrilling news with someone whose opinion I held in high esteem.

Instead of receiving the cheer and pat on the back I'd anticipated, I was met with a very blunt "Which one did you get wrong?" At that point, my happiness balloon burst (stabbed by a javelin en route to my heart). I began to deflate immediately.

As if being kicked in the guts when you least expect it isn't bad enough, I was brought further to my knees by something along the lines of "you have no grounds to celebrate till you get everything right" (excuse me if I can't quote verbatim as things seem to go in slow motion when one is stunned like a mullet - the fish not the 80's hairstyle, though the latter is equally stunning).

From that moment on, something was inscribed into my subconscious - 99% equals fail.

I've realised how much this belief has shaped my life. I've spent so much energy and focus aiming for that 100% and if I'm so much as 0.25% short of the mark, guess what? - FAIL!

Not wanting to remind myself of the failure I am at 99% capacity, I opt to walk away and start something anew hoping that maybe THIS time I'll achieve that illusive 100%. Consequently this has seen me jump from job to job, industry to industry and gym to gym.

Okay, this is where I fess up.

Since breaking my butt, my gym attendance has been less than perfect (subliminally translating to "I've failed"). Another balloon burst. The pattern that generally follows goes something like this:
Feeling despondent, I spiral downwards from mild embarrassment to utter shame. I reach a point where I can no longer face the staff, eventually ceasing all attempts to 'redeem myself'. Then a few years pass and I'll be on the look out for another gym where I will try once more to be 'Little Miss 100%'.
Isn't that insane?

This time I'm breaking the pattern. I am turning the equation on its head. Instead of 99% equalling fail, I'm equating each 1% a success. It is far more uplifting to build on increments of triumphs than it is to aim for the seductive 100% mirage and risk another balloon bursting.

I know what I'm attempting to do is not unlike retraining myself to write with my left hand. After being right handed for 39 years, I'll instinctively revert to old habits. But with constant self coaching (courtesy of Project Grace 2010) and frequent reminders that it's the 'one percenters' that count, I feel I'm on the path to recovery.

Until tomorrow, may you accumulate over a million one percenters in favour of a hundred.

Grace xx

PS. I never bounced back after that test. My maths results went from bad to worse, till eventually I chronically failed (academic fails, less than 50%). I dropped the subject as soon as I was allowed to and ultimately became renown in the family for being 'bad at maths'.

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Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Polyfilla

I've just learnt that Polyfilla is not an Australian-only product... it just SOUNDS so Australian that I couldn't imagine it being anywhere else in the world. Poly-filla. Love it. Happy to be wrong.

Polyfilla is a jovial term I often use to articulate when I'm filling in gaps. It can be filling in the silence of an awkward conversation, or time in between appointments and so on.

Well today I was going to fill in the gap between Australian time and US time. You see... at the moment when I post a blog on say the 19th (my time), the published date states the 18th (US time). Originally I liked the idea, it felt like I had a 'day up my sleeve'... but now it's beginning to annoy me.

So today, I'm going to do two posts about an hour or so apart. One will be before midnight US time and one just after midnight and voila, the second one will have a published date the same day I post it - magic!

I know, I know I can fiddle around with settings each time I post but honestly, this is the best and quickest way.

So this, my friend, is the Polyfilla. It's to fill in the gap.

Until about an hour's time... may you fill whatever gaps you have in your life.

Grace xx

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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Dawn's Gift

The first word I said, or at least thought, this morning was WOW!

I was experiencing one of those rare phenomena when the colour of dawn drenches the entire interior of one's abode.

It was like the sun took a little excursion and was shining from the inside of my walls. The entire space was filled with an intense hue of vibrant rosy orange.

Simply amazing.

I dashed to the window to witness a spectacle that had me in complete awe. I was mesmerised and filled with inspiration. So much so, that I was compelled to grab my camera and share the vision with you (see pic above).

I live a bohemian existence, calling a first floor of disused offices my home. It is a colourful space with furnishings and trinkets from my late grandparents that give me great comfort. Though the word 'kitsch' may be an accurate description, I find it both amusing and warming.

The view from my window is less than beautiful, with concrete being a major feature. However this morning's sunrise made me realise that while the surrounding buildings didn't change, the light altered their appearance. For the first time, what I saw out my window exceeded beauty - it was divine.

This reminded me of something I already know, but often forget.

Concrete blocks and power lines are, let's be honest, less than desirable to gaze at on any given day. These seemingly drab and static objects are transformed into something of pure poetry when they're painted aglow with dawn's magical light.

Dawn's announcement of a new day is our opportunity to start afresh. The sense of optimism and promise is uplifting. Perhaps when we sleep through dawn's awakening (or are too busy in the shower or getting ready to notice), we do ourselves an injustice. If we are not present to receive dawn's greeting, we miss out on the gift - starting the day with a clean slate.

How many times have you made a special effort to see dawn when you're on holidays and marvel at the beauty of where you are? What about if I told you that dawn has the power to make everything beautiful wherever you are. We can all create profound holiday-like moments of positivity, enthusiasm and utter beauty every day... all we have to do is get up when dawn stirs and look out our window.

Until tomorrow, may you rise to receive dawn's gift.

Grace xx

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Friday, 16 April 2010

My Light at the End of My Tunnel

Sounds like a classic book-come-movie title doesn't it? The looming sense of drama made only bearable by the glimmering hope of it all ending well.

Are we driven by the prospect of a happy ending? Is that what keeps us going, despite the crap that keeps flying at us? Is this an intrinsic human survival mechanism that keeps us from being extinct?

In 1997, I resembled Jamal in 'Slumdog Millionaire' after he took a dive in the sewer in order to get his Bollywood idol's autograph - I was covered in sh*t. Not literally, but metaphorically, I was up to my eyeballs in it.

I was studying wine marketing full time at university (fun but fraught with danger of 'overdoing it' in the tasting department). I held three jobs. I was learning to be an announcer and disc jockey (I love that word) at a local community radio station. I was hosting professional wine master classes twice a month. I partied every weekend operating on two hours sleep. I had recently separated from a five year relationship and in the shaky beginnings of a new one. And to top it all off, a very close and beloved family member was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer.

I collapsed.

After several visits to my doctor complaining of extended PMS (pre menstrual syndrome for readers who haven't come into contact with it - lucky you) I was given the diagnosis: clinical depression.

What followed was months and months (and months) of a terrible battle, which took place at the bottom of my emotional cesspit. I refer to this period as my 'Dark Ages'. Even now those days merge into one murky memory that's best described as sludge. While I cannot be clear on what happened when or with whom, I do remember one thing - my light at the end of my tunnel.

My light was someone very close to me and my family who suffered a mental illness. I have vague memories of this jolly giant whom I looked up to with awe and pure love. I was always greeted with surprise lollies (candy), which my little hands would dig out of a deep pocket.

When I was five, something horrible happened; that beautiful light was extinguished. What's worse, is that their warming glow was taken from us by their own hand. Even at such a young age I could feel the tragic sense of loss. The impact and devastation was clear, it was palpable.

In my darkest hours (there were many of them), I would remember my wonderful jolly giant - my light at the end of my tunnel. If I couldn't go on for me, then I had to go on for someone other than me. I had to create a purpose greater than myself that made it worth the effort to keep going. I could not allow my loved one's flame to be extinguished in vain. And so, despite my compromised mental state, I deemed that my life was worth saving for theirs.

Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us like real-life happy endings. Perhaps it's a reminder to us all that no matter what challenges we face, we can rise above adversity. Searching for a light at the end of the tunnel is the hope we seek to make our trials and tribulations endurable and worthwhile. So if you are (or someone you know is) having a dark moment - ask yourself, who is the light at the end your tunnel?

Until tomorrow, may your light continue to shine.

Grace xx

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Puppet on a string

Sometimes I feel like I am at the complete mercy of the weather...

The last few mornings I woke up feeling gloomy. I dragged myself out of bed, glanced out the window and noticed the weather accurately reflecting how I felt - grey and glum.

No matter what I did, I just could not shake the blues away. It's days like these that I want to run away to a tropical island. Failing that, I opt to hide (whenever and wherever possible).

This morning, I woke up feeling inspired. I sprung out of bed and skipped to the loo my darling - okay, probably didn't skip, but I was light footed nonetheless (BTW loo is Aussie for toilet). As I was on my way, I noticed golden beams of sunlight piercing through the gaps of our bamboo blinds. I stopped in my tracks.

Interesting. Very Interesting.

I felt bright, bubbly and sunny - and so did the weather. This had me wondering... am I so in tune with Mother Earth that I can sense her moods before I even start my day? Is she so influential on the way I feel that I'm nothing more than but a puppet on a string?

Then I had a Jim Carrey 'The Truman Show' moment. Perhaps the weather doesn't control me... maybe I control the weather? Could the weather be a complete reflection of me and my moods? Is that at all possible? Is that something our 'Indigo' grandchildren will chuckle sweetly at us one day and say, "You, and generations before you, would complain about the weather. Little did you know that you caused it".

I guess that's something that only time will tell - perhaps, I'll write about it in Project Grace 2050...?

Until tomorrow, may you always feel the sunlight even when it's nowhere to be seen.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A picture tells a thousand words

Sometimes you come across something so funny, you simply can't keep it to yourself.

I laughed so hard when I saw this video (below) that I just had to show you.

I'm currently busy working on a 'beginner' website, which will be assessed next week as part of my web design course, so excuse me for today's brief post. Hopefully the hilarity will more than make up for it.

As you know, I tend to follow up light blogs with juicy ones to keep the overall balance - so stay tuned and watch this space!

Until tomorrow, may you continue to see the funny side of things - especially when they look like a sausage and two meatballs.

Grace xx

PS. I discovered how to create a search button AND a form where you can subscribe by email - woohoo! So, if you're looking for something I posted a while ago or would like to receive my blog posts in your inbox, go right ahead and use the new features (top left). Feeling very clever right now.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The fabric of life

Why do we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries every year?

Granted, there are some cultures that don't celebrate them, however I can only speak for myself and on behalf of those like me.

What is it that we are really celebrating?

As years go by, I care less for gifts and more about those I choose to share these celebratory times with.

To me, these annual celebrations are a cause for reflection. It's like stopping midway trekking to look back and see how far you've come. It's not about reversing or dwelling in the past, a few pensive moments are quite enough.

I love to create experiences where we can (justifiably) put our world on pause and fully indulge in the present for such occasions. By creating special moments, we honour the historical happenings of our lives.

We are no less important than those we dedicate a minute's silence to.
Remember that.

We're often reminded to stop and smell the roses - but in reality, how many times do we do that? Our annually recurring celebrations are wonderful opportunities to pencil in some time for ourselves and those we love. If we can't stop to do that, then we really are walking past the most fragrant rose garden without taking so much as a sniff.

Since I started purposefully creating special moments in honour of celebrations, I have noticed that with each passing year the memories become cumulative.

It's like decorating a piece of fabric with beaded embroidery. Each day is a stitch and on the 365th needle, a new sparkly bead is added. While each bead is beautiful in its own right, it's their clustering that make them really spectacular. What's lovely is that they're all joined by a common thread - and that is the fabric of our lives.

Until tomorrow, may you continue to decorate your fabric and infuse it with the sweet perfume of roses.

Grace xx

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Monday, 12 April 2010

Never too old

Have you ever uttered the words "I'm too old for that"...?

Well here is an antidote.

Please allow me to introduce you to my husband's grandmother, Lil Ruffle (pictured far right). This photo was taken in India just two weeks before Gran's 86th birthday.

We were cycling from from east to west coast in January 2010 when Gran had an unfortunate accident, breaking her thumb and cracking her pelvis.

We aborted our Indian trip and flew to Singapore so Gran could recover enough to make the rest of her journey back home to Adelaide. Gran visited us last month and I'm happy to report she's back on the bike again.

I know of people decades younger than Gran who have said, "I'm too old to travel" and other's declare "I'm too old to cycle". Gran proves to us that we're only as old as we think we are, and that a healthy youthful attitude gives us a healthy youthful mind and body.

Here are a few remarkable feats that this super great, great gran has achieved:
  • Cycled 100,000km (62,137mi) in seven consecutive years during her 'prime time' - her 60's

  • In October 2004, she rode the 'Bay in a Day', cycling 210km (130mi) in 10-hours, just ten weeks before her 81st birthday

  • Cycled an official stage route of the Tour Downunder, a very hilly 134km (83mi) in the 2008 'Challenge Tour' two weeks after turning 84 years young

  • In November 2009, two months before turning 86, she cycled Adelaide's challenging 100km (62mi) Amy Gillett ride, which included climbing non-stop up the unforgiving Willunga Hill
So the next time you think you're too old to do something or learn something new (Gran was 68 when she learned to snow ski and 76 when she first rode a mountain bike), cast your mind back to this post.

Until tomorrow, may you continue to drink from the fountain of youth

Grace xx

ps. Gran also suffered from a rare life threatening autoimmune disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis (WG) in her late 60's to early 70's. It robbed her of her hearing and eyesight, paralysed her for several weeks, caused ulceration throughout her body and reduced her to less than 25kg (55lb). Gran insists that anyone who writes about her also mentions this illness to raise awareness. If WG remains undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, it can be fatal.

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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Gandhi and Me

If I could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, it would be Gandhi.

I would ask him what was he like as a child, and what did he imagine he would be when he grew up.

Did he have any idea he would lead India's independence? Would he have ever imagined his image would feature on the Indian Rupee?

And what about his philosophy, strength and will power - was it something he had since he was a little boy or did he develop it with age?

I wonder if he had moments of soul searching throughout his life or did he always know his path, his destiny if you will.

I also think of his parents - did they know from when he was a baby or a young child that he'd be an influential political and spiritual figure that changed the course of history?

I am so fascinated in how people become who they are - especially those who have made such a profound impact on our world. When I look at children I can't help wonder where their path will take them.

As for me, I always thought I was destined to be a part of something big - though till this day, I still don't know what that is. There's long been a restlessness in me, searching for my life's purpose. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm delusional, but then I'll read a numerology report or a personality appraisal that supports my intuitive feelings (of purpose, not delusion).

Back to Gandhi.

After our meeting, I would like to go for a walk with my new friend and tell him a few things about me, starting with the intriguing fact that I was born 1 century, 1 year, 1 month and 1 day after him.

Until tomorrow, may you find your life's purpose before talking to ghosts.

Grace xx

ps. Photo was taken at London's Madame Tussauds wax museum in 1992.

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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Pseudo foods

Isn't it funny how we still want to consume what we love minus the things that make them considered 'bad', thus rendering them unlovable... and yet we go ahead and order them anyway.

Skinny soy decaf latte with sweetener translates into something like 'I love coffee, but know I shouldn't have caffeine, dairy, fat or sugar... so I'll render it to something of it's former self in an attempt to satisfy my palate whilst playing by the rules'.

Why do we do this?

It's NOTHING like what we love, and yet we're prepared to settle for it.

Why not opt for moderation and have a small amount of what we love with all its deliciousness and naughtiness?

Perhaps it's the moderation part that stumps me... maybe I don't know what moderation is with 'illicit' foods. Perhaps saying I can have a little is like a 'get out of jail free card' and I treat is as an 'all you can eat' allowance because tomorrow I'm going back to being 'good'.

Why oh why oh why do we torture ourselves?

I'm hoping my upcoming sojourn to France will reveal how they manage to balance cheese, patisseries, coffee and wine into their svelte stylish selves.

Until tomorrow, may you enjoy cream with your coffee minus the guilt.

Grace xx

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Friday, 9 April 2010

It's not about the paper

I'm about to get ready for my cousin's wedding this afternoon, and it's stirring up some feelings...

I love weddings. I love how they bring out the best in people (and marvel how they also bring out the worst, though usually that's leading up to the big day).

I love to see what the bride is wearing, the bridesmaids, their flowers, hairstyles, accessories, shoes and most of all, the ring!

I must admit, I'm not quite as enthusiastic about eyeing the guys - unless of course they're outstandingly amusing, stylish or cheeky... or break into a dance as they head down the aisle (see video below, again if you've already seen it).

Aside from aesthetics and dances, I love how weddings bring out emotions and connect people. They often become mini reunions, which is a far more preferable than catching up with long lost loved ones at funerals.

I think weddings are often scoffed at, perceived as an obligation or inconvenience - and I think that's sad. Weddings are not only a celebration of the union between bride and groom (or bride and bride, groom and groom wherever applicable), but they celebrate love in general. Parents look at their children with pride, children return the gaze with gratitude and siblings, friends and family honour each other with nostalgia - it's just beautiful.

I remember thinking marriage was just a piece of paper until, of course, I went through it myself (for real). There's something potent about declaring the way you feel about your intended spouse in front of those you love. It's like shouting your feelings, dreams and promises from a mountain top for all to see and hear. It takes courage, and that in itself is worth celebrating.

Perhaps I'm getting all warm and fuzzy because Monday (12th April) marks seven years since Patrick and I shouted from our mountain top - though technically it was a hill - a lovely one at that, in Tasmania, and we stood under an enormous tree (pictured above). Apparently there's an itch associated with that (the 7 years not the tree), but so far so good.

There are two journeys associated with this union; the one leading up to declaration day, the wedding, and the other is what happens after - the marriage. While the aim of the wedding is attaining that piece of paper, I discovered that is not what marriage is about. Over time, the piece of paper fades into something like 'I've been there and have the Tshirt to prove it' - it becomes more a nostalgic reflection rather than a defining document.

I love both the wedding and the marriage. Just like any worthwhile journey, each takes focus and intention. It can be challenging hard work, but if you each push yourselves through the tough bits and get through the other side - the views are stunning.

To my cousin Peter and his bride to be, Angela - I wish you both a wonderful wedding and a fulfilling marriage.

Until tomorrow, may you never be afraid to shout your feelings from the rooftops... or hills, or mountains.

Grace xx

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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Talking French

Psssst.... can't talk...

I'm in a meeting (literally) about Le Tour de France and it has gone on for much longer than I anticipated.

I am sooooooo excited and will tell you more about it soon.

What I will say, is that I'm hosting a tour of non-riders and you will be (virtually) with me the whole way - as Project Grace 2010 will continue in the land of escargot, berets and Champagne!

Until tomorrow, may you find the time to do things even when you don't.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I am revolting!

HOLD ON!!! Before you rush off to send me soap, scrubs, perfumes and deodorants, I am actually referring to:

revolt |rɪˈvəʊlt|
1. [intrans.] rise in rebellion
as opposed to:
2. [trans.] cause to feel disgust

Though I cannot guarantee this will avoid the onset of definition No.2, I'll do my best to prevent it.

So with reference to definition No.1, why am I revolting? Because, quite frankly, I have to save myself from the jaws of insanity.

You see... I'm beginning to feel like I am talking to myself, which I've heard is one of the first signs of going poco loco. When I go two days in a row without receiving a comment, I start loosing my mind!

Thoughts like, "That's it, it's all over... nobody likes it (me) anymore... I'm boring... I suck... what a waste of time (mine and everybody else's)... why am I doing this ridiculous blog anyway..." and it goes on and on and on. I'm millimetres away from rocking backwards and forwards, mumbling random abusive comments in very Tourette's-like impulses.


Why am I so desperate to have feedback? Is it because I lack belief in myself? What about the old adage, no news is good news. Should I assume that just because I haven't heard anything, that everything is a-okay? For me the opposite is true. When I don't hear anything, I assume the worst.

Is that wrong? Am I wrong? (happy to be wrong at this juncture)

According to new age literature, what we seek must come from within - which at first, I agreed with. But over time, I began to question that rationale - does that mean performers should not seek applause, dogs need not vie for treats, primary (junior) students forget about the gold star (or scratch and smell sticker, my all time favourite) and, here it comes... bloggers not want for comments?

One of the objectives of Project Grace 2010, is to be able to ask for what I want powerfully. Now this isn't easy for me, so it's going to take practice, practice, practice... and more practice.

So here it is, in writing (as I screw my face up and cringe as I type)...

I would like to receive at least one comment at the bottom of each blog. That means if you're the first, I am asking you to scare yourself and leave a comment (go on, you can do it, I know you can). Facebookers have an extra challenge of leaving a comment outside of our grey-blue friend - yep, we are upping the ante folks (Gaz, you're excused for the time being as you have enough frequent commenter points to fly you to Mexico).

Phew, done. Uncomfortable? Yes. As I said - practice, practice, practice.

Until tomorrow, practice asking for what you want, avoid insanity and bypass the revolting route.

Grace xx

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