Most things don’t just happen to us. Many times we have some sort of early warning, alerting us to impending danger.  For instance:
  • It is rumoured that your new Beau, Brian is an unbridled philanderer
  • Helga comes home later and later with dilated pupils and enough track marks to host the Indy 500
  • Small children run a mile when Uncle Gareth is near
  • We tell ourselves that the lump in our breast is nothing
  • Paul calls you the rude word for a vagina when you’re late to dinner
  • Ralph’s cheque bounces, again
  • During speed dating, Pattie says she likes tipping people out of wheelchairs and stomping on kittens for fun

Our external warnings are supported by our gut feelings, inklings, suspicions, premonitions and hunches. They are designed to give us time to adjust our trajectory. I call them red lights because they summon us to stop and draft a new plan.

Sometimes, to our peril, we ignore these precious cues and clues. We disregard lipstick on the collar, stay quiet in team meetings and avoid saying, “You cannot be trusted.” 

However, folks who triumph in the game of life accept the signal to act. They don their super hero outfit and do what is required, even if it means causing a scene.

What hot leads is life showing you?

With respect and love,



Our energy makes everything that is important in life possible. We need physical replenishment, mental arousal, relationship mastery and spiritual refreshment for a contented life. 

What can you do today to stimulate a wellspring of zeal?

(Source: libertycoaching)

A face like a bulldog chewing a wasp

Katherine Knight was the first Australian woman to be jailed for the term of her natural life.  You have to be peculiarly grim and detestable to be incarcerated forever in my country.  Usually we can sell drugs to children, steal oodles of money and manhandle ladies and get away with it.

But Katherine liked to push the judicial boundaries and stabbed one of her husbands thirty-seven times.  Afterwards she wholly skinned him and hung his ‘suit’ in the doorway of their lounge room. Then she oven-baked his buttocks and boiled his head in a soup pot with an assortment of root vegetables. The judge said her crime was “beyond contemplation in civilised society” so she’s been jailed for eternity.

When I read about Katherine in the newspaper, I declared to my husband, “She reminds me of my grade one teacher. Mind you she didn’t boil our body parts on a stovetop but she was super-mean and had an unfortunate face - she looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp. She used to belt us across the back with her one metre ruler. Those were dark times for me, honey.” 

Katherine and my teacher got me brooding over the ways we foster meanness.  I, for one, could fill a book with tales about my miserable, unruly behaviour.  Eons ago a boy invited me to the cinema but when we got there I said something like, “I’m just dashing to the toilet, be back in a jiffy” and I utterly deserted him. Another day I filled a paper bag with dog poo and set it alight on my neighbour’s porch.  I could go on but I won’t, in case I end up with zero friends.

But once I was studying psychotherapy, my teachers encouraged decision makers to consider ‘self, context and other’ whenever we make a choice.  

Now if we explore Katherine Knight’s attempt to turn her hubby into a winter stew it is pretty darn obvious that she was bat-shit-crazy and didn’t think about him for a second.  But if she’d been sane enough to ask, “I wonder how Mr Knight will feel about being chopped apart?” she might have come up with another way to meet her needs.  Likewise, if I’d stopped to consider what it would be like to have a date disappear without saying goodbye I could have saved him from confusion and me from shame. Also, the wasp-chewing bulldog might have kept her ruler for rulering and I might have placed the poop in the compost. 

Sometime in my marriage I was asked out by another man.  He was very alluring and hung on my every word like people do when they want to charm your knickers off. I considered him for a moment and then I thought about my husband (other), our marriage (context), my integrity (self). And I didn’t flirt with danger for long.

Clumsy, mean and regretful behaviour almost always starts with careless thinking. 

With respect and love,


Mental Gymnastics

Last week I went to a handful of exercise classes. (I make myself move so I can be hardy enough to hold my own in a wrestle and fit in to one seat on planes.)

Anyway, one coach was very chirpy and playful.  He arrived with a portable disco light and said, “I hope y’all enjoy the class, I feel very fortunate to be here.” He included card games in our workout and gushed encouragement. He was chummy and cordial from beginning to end.

Instructor two was not the same. He shuffled in eating yoghurt and wore a hood over his head.  It looked like the Grim Reaper was making a dairy commercial. He turned to us and said, “I’m really tired but at least I get paid to be here, I can’t believe you hand over money for this.” He tried to turn on the cooling fans which required coaxing and he said, “These fans hate me.” I sat there thinking, “I hate you too.”  

For most of us there’ll be times when we’re all rosy and chipper and lit up like Christmas trees.  In other moments we’ll behave like the love children of Ivan Milat and Ursula the Sea Witch.  But we can learn to control the swings by pausing to ask, How would I like to be remembered? It takes a smidgeon of self control to ask the question but it helps put the brakes on unruly behaviour.  

For instance, one day my young lad was being all fancy and creative and the craft paper I’d laid in front of him was, unbeknown to me, insufficient for his artistic gifts.  Keenly searching for more innovative ways to use his imagination he drew a picture on my new curtains. He proudly showed me the stylish drapery and said, “It’s a bottom with eyes, I drew it for you, I knew you’d really love it.”  I wanted to retort,”Do you know how much those curtains cost? When you have a house you can draw all-seeing-arses over the window coverings but not here, you dummy!” And then I wanted to wail like an opera singer because I was sure that the curtains mattered more than life itself.  But then a miracle occurred; I looked at his enchanting face, all majestic and kind-hearted, and I heard him sigh with contentment and I was smart enough to ask myself, “How do I want him to remember me?" and instead of calling him a drapery murderer I told him, "Tell me about the amazing picture."  Now, this doesn’t mean that we totally skipped the conversation about appropriate artisanship but I didn’t growl or lecture and I avoided humiliating him. 

How do you want to be remembered? It’s a good question, eh?

With respect and love,


Mirror mirror on the wall

There’s a confronting theory in psychology that whatever we see in others is a reflection of our inner world and behaviour.  No matter whether we like it or not our judgements and opinions provide a road map to the parts of ourselves that we’d rather ignore. 

When I first learned this theory I hoped it was just a very bad joke or that I’d eaten some raw sausages and was hallucinating.

But then I read, Count Your Blessings by John Demartini and honed in on one of the exercises in his book:

Write three character traits you admire in other people.

Write three character traits you dislike in other people.

Provide three specific examples of times when you’ve exhibited the character traits that you admire.

Reflect on three specific examples of times you’ve exhibited each of the character traits you dislike. 

Think of three things for which you have criticised other people, and for which others have also criticised you.

I know, if you bother to do it properly it’s a pretty awful exercise. 

With respect and love,



Apparently 43% of women have declined an opportunity to visit the beach or pool because they were troubled with how they look.

On the day the ladies were being ashamed their hearts pumped about 100,000 times, they took 20,000 breaths and their blood flowed roughly the distance from Paris to Auckland. They also perspired to keep cool, and their bladder kick-started a host of signals to remind them to take a bathroom break. If the sun was too bright their pupils contracted to keep them comfortable. 

If only they had known they are an absolute miracle. Then they might have frolicked about, chest puffed up, feeling dishy, intelligent and spectacular. 

With respect and love,


Silver lining

This morning I read the saying, every cloud has a silver lining and my mind went straight to a client, Mr X who not long ago declared “I’ve just been given a colostomy bag because my large intestine is riddled with ulcers!  It’s bloody fantastic, I never have to wipe my own arse again! Want to see?” And he proudly displayed the bag of poop like he was Cate Blanchett winning an Oscar.

It was clear that Mr X used his sense of humour and a dash of gratitude to dissolve his fear.  Finding merit in our messes is important for meeting challenges. When we can see the benefit of a crisis we return to a place of equilibrium. 

You and I can be like Mr X too.  

Hark back to a particularly knotty problem from the past. (Make sure it was rich with drama and difficulty.)

Make a list of opportunities that arose from the experience. How did the trouble help you learn and grow? 

Bring to mind a current issue.  List ways you are benefitting from the experience. 

With respect and love,


The Social Periphery

In any given moment, at least one in five people endures intense loneliness. Loneliness can be explained as an acute feeling of sadness blended with the absence of kinship.  The impact of living on the social periphery is profound.  

You might need to sit down before I tell you that loneliness increases our mortality risk by a whopping 45 percent and before you can say, “Gee, that’s second rate!” here’s another beastly statistic: isolated older people are 64 percent more likely to foster dementia.  Lousy, I know. So with this in mind:

  • Seek out a coworker or neighbour you only know a smidgeon about. A few years ago my son dropped fresh bread on the doorstep of our elderly neighbours.  His impulsive kindness kick-started a long lasting friendship.
  • Say hello to the people beside you at nude yoga or Segway racing. You could even start with a compliment, “Your vagina looks lovely, like a neat little coin purse. Mine is more like a container ship captain’s rugged old duffel bag.”    
  • Tempted to text? Push delete and dial them instead. 
  • Use Skype and show off your new haircut/cold sore/Justin Bieber tattoo to your isolated cousin.
  • Smile at strangers.  My young son likes to give homeless people chocolate, warm tea and hugs.
  • Your barrister knows how you have your coffee?  Ask how they like theirs.
  • Reach out to the old and wise. Years ago I offered an impromptu ride to the train station to an elderly stranger. I couldn’t resist, she was wearing a hand knitted sweater and had a mauve perm. Today, when we come across each other she introduces me as her “friend”. 
  • Spare some kindness for the young too. Gaggles of teens hide their loneliness behind the deteriorating quality of social media. Then in my work room they weep with loneliness. 

I’m sure you get it.

With respect and love,