• Category Archives Soul
  • Bless you Ellen Burstyn

    A new wind has blown through my reading habits. Prior to finding Ellen Burstyn’s “Lessons in Becoming Myself”. I had been trawling through myriad self help books gaining some insights here and there but without finding much that touched my soul. I seem to find the books that connect me to something deeper on the bargain tables in book stores and it happened again. There was something in me that just had to read this.

    As in “UP” here was a shining example of what I like to think of as Creative Mythology. On the first page there was a reference to Mnemosyne, the Greek Goddess of Memory, mother of the 9 Muses fathered by Zeus. Somehow fitting as each of them seemed to touch her life in some way. Music, dancing, history, love, comedy, tragedy, epic and lyric poetry, and astronomy were all under the governance of the Muses.

    The book worked on different levels. Ellen appears to follow a couple of perspectives, that of her spiritual journey and also her journey as an actress. Both combine to evoke a profound life. Simply read as autobiography it gave wonderful insight into Ellen Burstyn and if I’d been unaware of who she is I might have thought I was reading a novel.

    Ellen models beautifully the way to craft a life, showing the way to follow a dream, of letting go of the riverbank and moving into the flow. Sure, along the river there are rapids where the ride holds peril and Ellen’s story is not short of those. There are stretches where the river slows and the flow is gentle, allowing her be more conscious of how life is unfolding and she recounts these with keen attention.

    I was moved by her struggles with addictions and relationships and how they mirror my own. She spoke of them with detachment observing them from the writers perspective seeing how she was touched by them at that time but now no longer. I’d like to say that for the me that’s still working with them.

    I was enchanted by her life. So much so that I had to read it a second time. I noted passages and pages that spoke to me. The one that is sitting with me now is one I didn’t note. She talks about working with and being mentored by Lee Strasberg of the Actor’s Studio. The feeling I got from the passage was that what is happening in the moment whether part of the performance or not, is perfect not only for the performance but also perhaps for the actor’s life outside of her art. And so it is for all of us being able to perceive the perfection in the present moment. That was brought home for me as I watched the trees from the kitchen window seeing them in the early morning light noticing a nuance I hadn’t seen before and reflecting on Ellen’s perceptiveness as she notices the nuances of characters as her roles evolved.

    In another profound passage she tells of being drawn into learning through doing crossword puzzles and as she discovered new words she was initiated into study. I can imagine there was a sort of a family tree evolving as she was led from a reference in one book to seek out another. Looking always for what might be the ultimate truth, that truth that will allow us to live fully in the present. And being aware, as Sartre said, of a “God-shaped hole in my heart.” Wow.

    Ellen confronts her fears and has epiphanies on her journey. She meets some of the 20th century’s more famous people outside of the acting fraternity and is touched by these encounters.

    Her strong connection with Sufism as a spiritual path because it honours the wisdom of all religious traditions again mirrors my own experience.

    Ellen never shys away from seeking help in understanding herself when confronted by an aspect of her psyche with which she was uncomfortable and thence taking another step to becoming fully alive, fully present.

    The photos from her personal collection show Ellen’s evolving radiant beauty while her roles show the diversity of characters she played.

    The latter stages of her path were spent without companionship. It was a beautiful ending to find her under the auspices of the god Eros.


  • Up: Part Two

    Cue the entrance of Russell the “Wilderness Explorer”, a boy scout type character seeking to do a good deed for Carl to complete his “Assisting the Elderly” badge which will take him to  “Senior Wilderness Explorer”. Each of the three times he suggests doing a task for Carl he is greeted with an emphatic, “No”. I found this reminiscent of encountering an entity I am unsure of in a shamanic journey. When this happened I’d question the entity three times asking if it had come tp be of benefit to me. If the answer was yes I’d seek more information from it. The feeling about the story was that Russell was a representation of Carl’s inner child.

    Russell remains on the porch of Carl’s house. He has interrupted Carl’s plan to use some old stock left over from his time as a Balloon salesman. Carl begins filling the balloons with helium and the house wrenches itself from its piles and starts floating away with Russell still on the porch. Again he knocks at the door. This time there is no turning back and Russell is along for the adventure. Carl is flying his house to Paradise Falls.

    Significant in my life are the storms that have arrived shaking me up and whipping me onwards.  They are also beset by a storm which does the same and carries them close to their destination – they land on top of a ravine overlooking Paradise Falls. With their combined weight as ballast they begin to trek round the ravine pulling the house along with them. It seemed as though Carl was doing most of the work even though Russell was also attached to the rope that was connected to the house.

    Reminding me of hero’s journey on the trek there are areas of wasteland, they encounter allies, in the form of a dog called Dug that has a collar enabling speech and also a colourful bird that Russell names Kevin. There are also challenges on the path. The bird turns out to be the one also being sought by Charles Muntz who has become obsessed over it to the point of paranoia. He has a pack of vicious dogs that are searching for Dug who was sent out to track Kevin. I can see in the image of Muntz the seeming obsessive requirements of consumerism and materialism, always wanting the next best thing, not knowing how to let go of the need.

    I see the character of Dug as a representation of innocence, a key step on a journey towards a soul consciousness. Kevin, this colourful mythical bird, I believe symbolizes the soul itself and Muntz’s obsession with discovering it actually denies him the experience. It is Carl’s humble embracing of adventure to honour Ellie’s memory and his acceptance, albeit grudging, of Russell a motif for his inner child that has allowed him this one-on-one encounter with his Soul.

    Things deteriorate as Muntz becomes psychotic when he discovers Kevin is with Carl and Russell. Muntz flies his airship to the Falls where he makes off with Kevin and sets Carl’s house on fire. The flames dowsed Carl heads off in pursuit of Russell who followed Muntz to get Kevin back.

    This seemed to be a key moment in the movie for me as Carl has to ditch all of his household effects to allow the balloons to lift the house off and after Muntz and indeed this maybe required by the soul wanting us to be conscious of it – the releasing of attachment to material things.

    Carl catches up to Muntz and following a duel, Russell, Kevin and Dug are saved while Muntz falls to his death. Kevin is returned to her chicks. Carl, no longer grudgingly, but lovingly accepting of Russell takes him back to the city where he stands in as a father figure when Russell receives his badge and becomes a Senior Wilderness Explorer. Carl has a new lease on life becomes a volunteer in the community providing mentorship to not only Russell but also other young people.

    Akaroa Heads
    Akaroa Heads

    I took this prior to producing this post and the sense is that soul consciousness is like sailing out past the heads to the ocean beyond. There maybe an initial sense of emptiness. But within that there is also a sense of potential and possibility with new waters to navigate and new lands to discover when we leave the safety of the harbour and engage in our new found awareness of life.


  • Up: Part One

    Click Here for the Trailer

    I am quite fond of the word constellate. It aptly describes the way ideas form as I consider a new post. The inspiration for this came from seeing UP from Pixar. A brilliant example of Creative Mythology.

    Three generations of our family have seen it and thought it was magic. The animated format sat well with my nephews. And both my sister and mother were touched by it.

    The first half of the story tells of two childhood friends, Carl and Ellie growing up, getting married, coping with the discovery she can’t bear children, allowing their life to unfold without manifesting their dream, the wife then contracts an illness and dies. This connects me to my own mortality and my own seemingly frustrated aspirations. The second half follows the husband drawn into an adventure with a young boy who needs to assist an elderly person in some way to enable him to become a fully badged “ Senior Wilderness Explorer”.

    This second act of the story triggered my imagination seeing it as symbolic of a journey to be become fully conscious. While the opening seemed to form the background for the rest of the story as I considered it more deeply I found it held as much symbolism as the second. There was much to stir both thoughts and emotions.

    Thomas Moore describes children in Soul Life his audio retreat as being “raw carriers of soul”. This attribute was borne out by the curiosity of the two children in “UP” and their first meeting in the derelict house. With further thought I see them as the male and female elements of the psyche and the house as being the soul before one begins to sense a connection to the divine. An attitude of curiosity is essential as we walk upon the earth even though it may lead to injury as happened to Carl as he listened to Ellie daring him to be adventurous in this rickety old house. Carl winds up in hospital.

    They are both excited by an explorer, Charles Muntz who is introduced early in the movie having found the bones of a previously undiscovered bird and he then goes off to “Paradise Valley” to search further for a living specimen telling everyone he won’t return until he has one. Consequently he disappears. Carl and Ellie wish to search for this childhood hero, find “Paradise Valley” and the bird. Ellie begins a scrapbook for this adventure.

    They get married and buy the derelict house and begin to do it up. A jar with the words “Paradise Valley” on it sits on the mantle piece and they put all their spare cash in it for the trip. Life intervenes and the money they’re putting aside gets used for other things.

    Doing up the house could be seen as working on our relationship with the sacred and the marriage as the union of the divine male and female.

    Ellie becomes depressed when she finds out she’s infertile. I sensed the tragedy and sadness. And yet in these times of consumerism and materialism perhaps it points towards the rejection of our inner children. The playfulness and wonderment seem to get lost in the striving for the next best thing.

    Life carries on then Ellie gets sick and the doctors are unable to do anything for her. Perhaps we’ve also lost connection to the feminine energies in our strivings. Carl sadly lays Ellie to rest and seems lost without her, taking on the aura of a grumpy old man. Until one day there’s a knock on the door…..

  • From Akaroa to Auckland and Alice

    Enigma has thrust its hand up and asked to be counted again. I covered it a couple of posts ago and it seems I’ve yet to come to the end of the thread. It doesn’t seem enigmatic to go from Wainui on the Akaroa Harbour that has a full time populace of about 15 people to Auckland, a city of about a million people. Though they are worlds apart I shift easily between them. Different cultures, the rural and the urban co-existing within me.

    View of Auckland from Kelly Tarltons
    View of Auckland from Kelly Tarltons

    From the quiet of a rural and fishing community surrounded by the smells of the bush, songs of the birds, the vibrant spring greens of the land to the buzz and busyness of the Auckland CDB.

    From simple functional food when I’m not feeding groups at YMCA Wainui to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out. Street cafés, food courts, restaurants all calling me to taste their delights.

    006a/Sam, Zach & TimI’d planned the trip a couple of months ago to meet up with my son, Zach and daughter, Sam complete with new boyfriend Tim in Auckland to see Alice Cooper on his Theatre of Death tour. The description enigmatic was made for Alice.004a/Alice

    I’d heard somewhere that he led a bible study group and this was confirmed in an episode of Rove Live I’d watched a week prior to the concert. Definitely enigmatic. Then there’s his passion for golf. In an interview with Peter Williams he described how golf had become his saviour after he’d committed himself to rehab. He told of waking in the morning and starting the day with a drink, a classic sign of alcoholism. He had great hand-eye co-ordination which served him well playing baseball as a child. When seeking an outlet to substitute his addiction he was drawn to golf and the hand-eye co-ordination came to the fore again. After a first lesson his coach called him a natural. He plays off a handicap of 4.

    I was interested to hear him differentiate between being cured and healed of his addiction. In his shift from rehab back to everyday life with his attraction to golf he felt this was a healing rather than a cure. That there was something of a higher power involved rather than simply a cure.

    An addiction healed, golf, bible study, theatre of death. All these coexisting in one person. He said something else that stuck with me in the interview as he considered the difference between his experience and that of a couple of his contemporaries whose addictions had taken their lives, “Don’t become your image”. He felt that in trying to live up to their images others of the rock fraternity had got lost. In projecting an image to the world it is mirrored back through the expectations of those you connect with. Are those towering buildings with mirror glass reflecting the world around them trying to tell us something?

    BNZ Tower mirroring adjacent building
    BNZ Tower mirroring adjacent building

    The beauty of enigma is that it poses questions. It is deeper than a simple riddle and therefore requires us to question the deeper parts of our psyche. Who am I when I let go of an image I’m hoping the world will see? Am I being all that I can be when I see Alice Cooper being all that he is? Is enigma another way of saying eccentricity?

    Having said all that I’m not sure whether it was the exertions of the working week or perhaps in the midst of the raw energy of the rock performance an overstimulation of the senses but yours truly found himself wanting to close his eyes and go to sleep. Now that seems enigmatic too. I love the music of Alice Cooper and here am I wanting drift off. Strange. And it was brilliant to be a part of the experience.

    Visiting Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World the following day also turned an idea I’d had about the world upside down and at the same time seemed perfect. Watching 240 kg Stingrays, the same species, one of which had sunk a barb into the chest of Steve Irwin killing him, placidly circling on the edge of the tank appearing to play up to those watching. Seeing their carer place her hand in their mouths to feed them had me feeling I’d love to get in the tank and help feed them when I’m next there. I had to ask the question and was blessed with a yes. Awesome. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Not so curious but interesting was going to Victoria Park Market and expecting it to be the vibrant entity it had been been when I was living in Auckland only to find it a shadow of its former self.

    And the precious – spending time with my children all grown up and doing their own thing. Looking forward to the next time we gather for an event and making a weekend of it.


  • Gossamer

    As I looked again at the photo of the tree in my last post the word gossamer came into my mind and made up a bed. It’s been pacing up and down waiting for sleep to overcome it. It doesn’t seem to want to rest until I do something with it. Thoughts have been swirling around nearly three weeks now.

    Standard dictionaries say gossamer is derived from the words goose and summer. I much prefer the definition in Brewer, The Dictionary of Phrase & Fable where the source is thought to be from God’s seam. Legend has it that it is the ravelling of the Virgin Mary’s winding sheet which fell to earth as she ascended into heaven.

    That seems somehow apt with the first stop on my walk the other morning being the cemetery. The view is stunning and a deep sense of peace touches the place as though those who are buried there are truly at rest.

    As I continued my walk around the Wainui community the universe offered up the perfect gifts.

    The word gossamer also evokes memory. Like the thread from Mary’s winding sheet, memory weaves our lives together, creating a picture on the tapestry that will become this lifetime.

    The words of Led Zeppelin’s “All of My Love add to this metaphor with the lines “with the glow the weaves a cloak of delight/ there moves a thread that has no end”. And “yours is the cloth, mine is the hand that sows time.” For me the thread that has no end is the thread of divinity that runs through us all and connects us not only to each other but all things. It is the thread of our memory of all that is sacred within and without.

    Memories of silk and satin, of babies skin, of cobwebs in the early morning, the first touch of sun on hills, and shining through the plumage of a hawk on the wing, the point where light meets shade.

    As I was pondering Gossamer I had a conversation about being kept awake by thoughts and I remembered a passage from Your Sacred Self by Dr Wayne Dyer.

    He has this wonderful way of fading out one’s inner dialogue using the imagery of a pond with unlimited depth. He conceives of 5 levels in this pond and imagines a pebble or shell sinking through the water. On the surface is a place of turbulence where everyday life has an immediate effect on our consciousness. The next level is a little beneath the surface slightly removed from the incessant distraction and analysis of your thoughts. Deeper still is the third level where you arrive at the flow of awareness experiencing an acceptance of what is without needing to comprehend it all. As the pebble or shell shifts to the fourth stage the pond is in a state of stillness, totally removed from judgment and entering an experience of joy. At the fifth level he describes being in essence, open to the prospect of infinite possibility in your life. At this level he proposes that “you will have a sensation of knowing God”.

    It seems almost paradoxical that if we allow the weight of our thoughts to carry us down to deeper levels of consciousness we experience the gossamerlike touch of Godness.


  • UnLearning

    “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth”.

    Umberto Eco

    Enigma. The losing of a wallet. I was looking forward to finishing work on Friday. The thought of escaping to Akaroa and catching a movie made the afternoon fly along.

    A beer was sitting on the picnic table as I got home. Everything was coming up roses. When my roomie headed back to Christchurch for the weekend I still had time to make it to Akaroa. And then I couldn’t find my wallet. The enigma of losing a wallet.

    Is there an underlying truth to it? What if there isn’t. I know there were things calling to me. A phone call to a friend, a letter to write to another, this post to write. Things I probably wouldn’t have done if I’d taken that escape.

    The title and theme of this post has been sitting with me for a two or three weeks and it all began constellating last weekend as I was cleaning out the laundry in the Wainui Heights building.

    Wainui Heights
    Wainui Heights

    When I first set foot in a kitchen and began a career in cooking I didn’t imagine that cleaning laundries would be part of my full time employment. It was certainly part of my Air Force career but done outside of work hours. Most of what I’d been introduced to in that 20 year career has had to be unlearned over the last few years. Ways of doing things had become habits, habits that weren’t relevant in other kitchens, in other relationships. Habits are the ego keeping me safe.

    Maybe the terrible thing is an ego that wants everything to have a underlying truth for its life. Creating an underlying truth may become a habit leading to complacency. There’s nothing like hitting an animal on the road to erase complacency. Rushing. In a hurry to a meeting. Late. A hare in the headlights as I came round a bend the previous Sunday night, a sickening thump and the feeling of driving over a lump. I was aware during the afternoon that part of me didn’t want to attend the meeting and so I didn’t leave ‘til late. I have to say I was creating an underlying truth for not wanting to attend. A self worth issue. The immediate truth I created was the death of one of our four legged friends. Sadness and soul searching. And at the meeting? That underlying truth I imagined was unfounded.

    If the underlying truth of life is that our thoughts create our reality then I find it hardly surprising that it could seem enigmatic at times. I often wonder at the events that arrive in my life. What are the thoughts that have attracted them to me? Especially the ones that seem detrimental. Have I always been the protagonist in the detrimental or have the other parties in the events played a larger part than my own? (Separations, relationship breakups, job changes etc.) If the power of a single person’s thought creates their reality imagine the power of a thought that engages collective energy.

    Rather than being an underlying truth I imagine that thoughts creating our reality could be an overt truth both collectively and personally. This being true I marvel at my friend Elisabeth’s direction to our group when she was our shamanic teacher to have “exquisite awareness” both when we were in the middle of a shamanic journey and also in any moment we were experiencing physically.

    To do this one must engage the present moment with innocence and humility. These are prerequisites of the unlearned state. When cultivated they provide each moment with its own unique textures allowing it to become an absolutely new experience whatever we may be doing.

    Look to the moments when life has worked you to standstill. I was at a low ebb this afternoon after a busy weekend feeding the masses. As the group left and we continued to clean up I could feel my energy waning. The excitement was over. The doing was done. And as we left the complex and headed back to the house the moment began to take on a new flavour. I was moving into being. In that beingness I was open. In that quiet openness I saw this tree arrayed in light.   I hadn’t seen it that way before and it captivated me.

    Precious Moment
    Precious Moment

    I found VisionQuest to be not only a powerful experience of exquisite awareness but also of unlearning. The power of being in the present moment without preconceptions in a 4 metre diameter circle for 96 hours in nature. You carry with you an awareness that everything that happens in the circle is a teacher. Openness and innocence is required for you to be present to what the circle is offering you as teaching. At some point your focus is drawn to the minutiae of the physical – ants, caterpillars, spiders, trees, rocks, bushes. I hear it said that the devil is in the details, know that the Creator is there also.

    For those entering the VisionQuest circle a sacrifice is being made and for this they are under the protection of the Creator. The energy generated by a questor ripples outward touching the surrounding areas with peace. Spare a thought for those questing at this time. At present there are people around the world – in the US of A, in Germany, in Australia, in South America; and even a couple here in New Zealand questing and creating peace.


    “There is a road that can’t be seen

    No map can guide the way.

    Winding between thought and flesh

    Changing every day.”

    Thanks Isabelle


    P.S. The Wallet is found.

  • Coming to the Edge of my World.

    I went for a walk on Monday. Banks Peninsula juts out from the East Coast of the South Island. I was hoping to reach the edge of the cliffs where I could look at an uninterrupted ocean, the wide expanse of the Pacific, an unknown horizon.

    I didn’t quite make it to the edge but saw it further on. I’ll give myself more time when I next venture out there. The road is precarious in places and icy during the winter.


    In view of the point I was surprised to receive a phone call. I didn’t imagine there’d be cellphone coverage that far out. It was one of the sales managers that service the district. She rang to tell me that she was leaving the company and moving on to another firm. While I was looking at the horizon, she was seeing a new horizon in her work.

    A goal is a horizon that has yet to be reached. Sometimes there is no landfall visible as we seek the goal. It is unknown and yet we set a course to where we imagine that landing point will be. As we sail outwards we may be caught in storms, tossed by seeming savage waves as we struggle to keep the boat on course. We may have to tack from side to side to make headway as we endeavour to keep going forward though we have as yet no sight of land. We may become becalmed, no wind moving us wondering, wondering, wondering…..

    And when the breeze stiffens behind, rushing us forward the feeling of wind through our hair, the coolness of seaspray on our skin; the excitement of the impending landfall filling our souls.


    As I set out for YMCA Wainui I wasn’t aware of what was going to stir my soul there. Around the same time I was moved to read the Ringing Cedars series. The story of a woman, Anastasia, who lived in the Siberian taiga. Untarnished by living in an urban environment she has extraordinary powers honed by the embrace of living close to nature. She posits a change in the world through Russian people being given a hectare of land where they’d build what she calls a kin’s domain. A place for a family to create a space of love which would enable them to feed themselves in perpetuity.

    The series stretches to nine books each building on the previous one. What was proposed sat well with my heart and I began to think of ways that could be introduced here in a small way. A visit to an eco-expo further raised my expectations to what might be possible. Having a week’s leave has given me a new perspective and this week I have begun to finally see some of what is already present where I am. When my focus changes I see what I had previously been blind to.

    A bay tree, oregano, marjoram, parsley, silverbeet, lavender, rhubarb, rosemary. It’s a start. A first landfall on a beautiful journey.

    “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
    Albert Schweitzer

    I was uncertain why I put this quote here and as I’ve sat with it, it seems as if he’s talking about coming to edge of one’s experience and and not knowing what comes next. At this edge we may well be imagining the fire is dying and we may meet another human being; but just as likely we may encounter another place, another event, book, or idea that creates a renewed enthusiasm for life.

    I also get the feeling that in some way we are always coming to the edge of our world. One moment begins to fade in its significance as we begin to converge on the edge of a new moment. A different set of circumstances arises of which we need to be mindful to grasp the fullness of the experience.

    There is an ecstasy in the fullness, not an effusive ecstasy but an ecstasy that secretly touches our souls with an inner and eternal knowing.

    Back up Akaroa Harbour
    Back up Akaroa Harbour


  • Lost the Blogging Mojo……

    Forgive me Father for I have sinned! Sinned against the writers motto. “Never a day without a line”. I fell in love with instant access internet and now it is no more at least for the moment. No longer am I able to retreat to my desk and put together my thoughts, embed youtube and photos to illustrate my experience. Shame on me.

    I had the title for this post in my head for a few days aware of how I’d allowed my blog to take a backseat while I found myself in a new job with limited internet. It wasn’t about the blogging really. It was plain laziness using the challenges of the area as an excuse! It was other habits pulling up chairs round the table that is me and saying we’re still here!!! And of course me, being the person I am said, have a beer, stay for a while. Ok, so they may have overstayed their welcome. It’s time to be getting back to what I enjoy. Writing with the added bonus of putting it in a blog. Complete with the odd photo.

    I’ve continued taking photos when I’ve been moved by the scenery, seeing that in some way these have deepened my thoughts about what I’m creating in that moment. So I’m still being moved by my inner yearning to experience a beautiful world. And yet I find I’m out of the habit of putting words to these feelings because circumstances have changed.

    I still have a computer, I still have the writers paraphenalia – pens, notebooks. I have no excuses. I notice that other habits are filling the space I used to have for blogging – food, nicotine, television. There seems to be something habitual about the way I’m approaching these things at present. Though I am able to remain detached in my thoughts as I see these habits present themselves there is something a little frightening in seeing them become more firmly embedded.

    Is it an oral fixation, a hangover from childhood? Perhaps my being able to articulate my world view through blogging led to a freedom from feeling the pull of addiction. It was certainly there in the background but not as strong as it is now. The feeling of having a positive effect on others through this internet medium seemed to soften the winds of addiction to a gentle breeze rather than the storm that seems to brewing at present.

    I’m also feeling the stress of having to give a presentation later this week and what better way to not only clarify my thoughts but also to give you, my readers some food for thought.

    I’ve been asked to speak at The Forum, outling my book Life’s a Banquet and leading a guided meditation.

    Life’s a Banquet grew out of my career as a chef and an ongoing relationship with personal growth. I took on studies in counselling, psychotherapy, life-coaching and shamanism without seeing any of them through to a diploma. Self directed study in mythology, the soul and motivational tools also added flavour to the mix. One of the elements of the mythological Hero/Heroine’s journey was particularly enlightening and I began to see how it was tied in to what I was doing as a chef. I revisited the elements of my training and saw how I could put together a personalised coaching program through adhering to the precepts of the chef’s training.

    Considering the criteria for marking on our practical exams I found the following would be useful for putting together a coaching program. Skills, Personal Presentation, Workplan, Efficiency, Cleanliness, Wastage, Group Areas.

    Whatever your background you’ll have skills relevant for creating a coaching program for yourself. Your personal presentation, having a workplan, being efficient, adopting an attitude of cleanliness and orderliness, being aware of how you may waste time or resources, being aware of how you work with others; all these are relevant to creating the life that is a fitting extension of who you are at a deeper level.

    From motivational theory we have the concepts of gratitude and appreciation, clarifying vision, being directed from within, passion, action, letting go of attachment to outcomes, and becoming aware of our unconscious recipes. Follow these and adopt an attitude of seeing beauty and good in all. Life will return the gift. Look more deeply into the multiplicity of who and where you are right now, and find your soul being nurtured in ways you never imagined it was.

    road sign at night
    Road Sign at Night

    Blessings, and beware of signs stepping in front of your camera at night.

  • Haunted by the Future: Part 3

    I sometimes feel the need to make a grand statement about who I am. And this post was going to be one of them. I imagined writing about the Collective Consciousness, Unconsciousness and Conscious Evolution. These are abstract concepts and it is really in the details of our lives that we may find the precious gems of grandness.

    Yesterday I was struggling with what to write here. It has been a fortnight since I last posted and life has been extremely busy. I’ve been working long hours preparing for functions both at AMI Stadium and at the Christchurch Convention Centre.

    Last week we had the Ellerslie Flower Show here and the work was intense. I don’t think there was a day I did less than 12 hours. The most I did was 16. And others worked longer than me.

    The event was held in Hagley Park luckily not too far from the Convention Centre where the food was being prepared and then transported. There was an army of workers providing food from upmarket restaurant and cafe fare, to pizza stands, stands offering steaks, pies, fries, coffee, sandwiches, muffins, scones. Most of the time it felt like a battle to keep the food flowing from the Convention Centre kitchens to the Flower Show.

    Over the first couple of days the queues were huge. It started on Wednesday the 11th and went through ’til Sunday 15th. By the weekend things seemed to have got a little less busy or was it that we had adjusted to what had been chaos the first couple of days? By working through the chaos had order begun to make itself present? There were aspects though that could have been more efficient through better organization.  Attention to communication around the different areas could have averted overruns in production. This was already being discussed for the next one by management.

    Associated with overruns especially around food is waste and the disposal of. In such a tense and busy atmosphere conscious disposal of waste is the last thing on everyone’s mind and mostly whatever has been finished with is thrown in the nearest bin. There are recycling programs and receptacles but this becomes secondary to getting the food to the customer.

    The aspect of waste created by the event was most haunting for me. It is something that needs to be more embedded in consciousness. Systems need to be put in place so it is both user and environmentally friendly.

    9781438905686_cover.inddI am reading an interesting book at present called Who Owns The Future? by an ex-pat Kiwi who in one of the chapters uses the analogy of a caterpillar gorging itself on food before it enters the chrysalis state on its way to becoming a butterfly and likens it to the state we find the world into today – perhaps unconsciously gorging ourselves before entering the pupa stage of a new state of being. Working a large event such as the flower show certainly brings a consciousness to that idea though on a smaller scale.

    Light & Shadow
    Light & Shadow

    And how does the picture to the right figure in all of this? I took the picture on the left only yesterday. The one on the right was taken on Feb 6 for my post Waitangi Day. In it I refer to what I witnessed in the sculpture (image on left) then as a shyness.  And as I look at it now I see an element of fear, of trepidation. Interesting that I experience two different feelings about the same object on different days. I imagine that is engendered by the hauntedness that I’m supposing for this post and the fear that often goes along with the concept of haunted. Am I looking at the future with trepidation?

    Anyway to the light and shadow of the event. What people attending see is the light. The creations, the exhibits, stall holders, food outlets, etc. These are where their eyes are drawn and yet behind the scenes, in the shadow, other elements or persons are working to bring the event, the stall, the exhibit, food outlet into their immediate consciousness. And in some cases deeper in the shadow there are others providing service to those servicing the event.

    Not only that there is also the work done after the gates shut and then open the following day. The tidying of the site, removal of rubbish, replenishment of stock. All create a pleasant atmosphere for the event to unfold.

    Also in the shadow lie the unfortunate happenings – dehydration, cuts, burns, exhaustion – problems the public doesn’t get to see. One of the interesting stories I heard following the event was of one chef who had been rearranging her kitchen and putting items in her oven in her sleep during the proceedings. We laugh it off as an extraordinary circumstance. Had it gone on any longer though I’m guessing it could have turned into a mild form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Exhaustion of workers was apparent and it was interesting to note the effects of it. For some their coping mechanism was anger and others became funny, laughing sometimes uncontrollably at the smallest of things. Its great when two of the funny get together, not so good when a funny person and an angry person are in the same space especially for the angry one. It brings to mind the amusing drunk and the violent drunk and how what may be going on in their psyche comes to the surface when the liquor takes hold. I’ll side with the funny people as I get that way myself though I do hold concern for what maybe hiding within the person who gets angry or violent when their defences drop away.

    With the onset of exhaustion a person can also become more open if they connect consciously with that space. That funny or comic self, angry or violent self are coping mechanisms and yet as I experienced through VisionQuest exhaustion can be a portal to the whisperings of your heart.


  • Waitangi Day

    Water Lily
    Water Lily

    The day we commemorate the birth of our blended nation, New Zealand.

    On February 6, 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. For more information.

    The words blended nation set off some insights for me as I thought about these times of blended families. When two divorcees come together to create a family each bringing with them their children. The insights were around the dysfunction that can happen under these circumstances. And the birth of the nation was not much different. There was dysfunction. Two cultures coming together and the expectations that each felt had been inherent in the Treaty had different connotations when considered in the language each was written in. There was the Treaty written in English as well as the Treaty written in Maori, the language of the people native to New Zealand before the English arrived.

    What the Maori interpreted from their translation, was different to what the English interpreted in theirs. Much like the difference in values that might be expected in the joining of two families considering each was originally bought up in a different environment. And it has taken time to get past what has been at times an ugly relationship. War, disease and repression have been manifestations of the misinterpretation of the original spirit of the document. We are still working to iron these out and make reparation for the ignorance and misunderstanding that brought injustice and heartache to the Maori.

    Today I came across this beautiful sculpture prepared by a Maori carver, Riki Manuel, to honour the opening of the new Christchurch Women’s Hospital a few years ago.

    Mother and Child
    Mother and Child

    This aspect shows the child open to the world while the other side depicts a beautiful shyness with the child peeking out from behind the mothers legs.

    That shyness, that innocence is a wonderful way of approaching anything new, without staunchness, without an egoic superiority, but with a coy interest in seeing how another is present in their reality and hoping that will be reciprocated as that other views us in a similar fashion. Through that coy interest we hopefully gain an appreciation for the other without having to change them to fit our world view.

    It is a magnificent day here and I’m experiencing the sense of being led rather than leading and the absolute perfection of what I was led to along the way.

    I returned via my beloved Botanic Gardens and was amazed as I walked across the lawns there my mp3 player going, headphones on, taking in some great Kiwi music. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a woman rocking a baby in her arms seemingly moving to the rhythm of the music that was running through my head. There was sense of disbelief, so I had to check in with the music again and I wasn’t mistaken. A wonderful sense of the oneness of all things in that simple moment. Wish I’d had taken video and added the music to it. But perhaps I’d never have gotten that synchronous moment to come together as it did then.

    Botanic Gardens - Rolleston Avenue lawn
    Botanic Gardens - Rolleston Avenue lawn

    Today has been a great example for me of doing what I love and seeing the perfect unfold through doing that. I spent time this morning going through my email, looking at the site I’ve been working on, feeling uninspired until moved to hop on my cycle and get out enjoying the freshness, the peace, the beauty of how life is manifesting away from the house and neighbourhood.

    Inside the canopy
    Inside the canopy

    I guess this picture encapsulates that feeling – although there are times I enjoy being inside at my computer there are other times when it becomes an obstacle to full enjoyment of life. There’s always a ray of sunshine waiting whether literal or figurative.

    Just to round the day off perfectly for a good Kiwi bloke we have the first day of the IRB Rugby Sevens in Wellington and a One-Day International Cricket Match with our traditional rivals across the Tasman, Australia.

    Absolute Blessings for me and for you.