Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Bug on the Windscreen


 ©Lyn Murphy 2011

There was a bug on the windscreen of the car.

We had stopped, during our Sunday drive in the countryside, to have a look at a quaint little knick-knack shop. As we pulled back into the traffic on the Highway, we spotted the bug on the driver’s side of the windscreen.

Don’t ask me what kind of bug he was. He was orange and black, with an angular body and long, stick-thin legs. Right then, those stick-thin legs quivered with the effort of hanging on to the windscreen as the momentum of the car increased the flow of air around him.

We expected he would soon lose his grip and fly off – back to his home patch. But, instead, he hung on for grim death and he stayed hanging on for at least another ten kilometres or so, until he suddenly disappeared during the brief moment when our attention was diverted elsewhere.

 Now ten kilometres for us, when travelled in a car, is hardly any distance at all. But, to a little orange and black bug with stick-thin legs – it could well be like being transported to another planet. I guess it didn’t occur to him that every minute spent clinging to that slippery glass windscreen was taking him further and further away from everything familiar to him. From his family (do bugs live in family groups?) and from his major food source (whatever that might be).

All he had to do was let go. Yet he stayed there, clinging on with every ounce of his strength, until he simply couldn’t hold on any longer.

I doubt that bugs have the ability to reason. Whatever his reason for continuing to enduring the G-forces of travelling on the windscreen of our car – I’m sure it was all to do with an instinctual fear of the unknown.

It’s the same kind of fear that keeps us clinging on to things that are really of no benefit to us either. And we do, don’t we? We cling on to hurts and grievances from the past, to wrong attitudes and unfounded, unrealistic fears and anxieties. We hang on with the same grim determination of the bug on the windscreen – even though every second that we continue on this journey is often taking us further and further down the road to our own destruction.

We hang on because we don’t know how to let go, or what will happen when we do. We most certainly have the ability to reason that this kind of behaviour is not good for us, and yet our fear often outweighs our common-sense.

Now I could have told that bug ‘If you let go now, before the car picks up speed, you will be able to flap your wings and escape the drag of the car.’ See I was able to see things from a much different perspective than the little bug. And sometimes we need to seek out people who can help us too – people who can see the bigger picture and advise us accordingly.

© Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Reflections


It’s been a difficult week.

For starters my new whizz-bang weight loss plan just stopped working. All those shed kilos were suddenly hopping right back on again – but why? I was eating the same food – doing the same exercise?

My long time back and neck problems kicked in with vengeance – which necessitated taking pain killers just to get through the work day. The pain killers in turn created their own rather nasty problems, which we won’t go into in any detail.

My hair, which I am currently growing out of a very short cut and into a Bob, took this opportunity develop a stubborn resistance to anything that could be remotely called a style. I tried Mousse, I tried wax – I tried all sorts of products with names like Fudge and Muk – and all I achieved was hair that now looked oily and dirty as well as very untidy.

I had a few major melt-downs and strongly considered giving up on this whole healthy-living, medication-free lifestyle. My poor husband was probably considering substituting my morning Vitamin pills with my Anxiety medication.

Then, today, we went for a drive up into the hills. As we travelled up a very steep incline I caught a glimpse of a chaotic tangle of vegetation eking out an existence right where the hillside plunged down to the valley floor.

There they were – an assortment of trees, vines and other vegetation – all clinging to this impossibly steep hillside. Each day they would struggle to find enough water, as the rainfall would quickly drain away from their questing roots. They would battle against soil erosion – choking in the exhaust fumes from the cars on the roadway.

Yet that patch of vegetation overlooked a glorious panorama – purple-hazed mountains in the background – deeply forested hills bordering a rich green valley, with splashes of rich purple, from the Bougainvillea, and fiery red from the Flame Trees.

I guess trees and vines and bushes do not have the ability to revel in the beauty of their surroundings.  For them it is all about the constant struggle for survival. But it doesn't have to be that way for me.

 I felt rather silly when I thought how I had just spent a whole week totally focussed on my weight and my hair and a bit of pain and discomfort. Frustrating though they may be - these things are not matters of survival and they certainly shouldn't blind me to all the beauty and all the good things in the world around me.

Actually, this morning (before we even went for our drive) I discovered the weight loss had started again. And I also got the scissors and trimmed up my fringe, abandoning the idea of wearing it swept across to one side. Amazingly enough just that little trim up made the hair much more manageable.

And now, after my little lesson from the hillside vegetation, I’m ready to face a new week in a much better frame of mind.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm Grateful For


©PinUp Toons  # CDO-2389

I’ve decided to join in with Maxabella Loves and the I’m Grateful For link.

This week I’m grateful for my Blogger friends.

I don’t actually know most of them and yet we interact on a regular basis. I read and comment on their posts and they on mine.

Sometimes they inspire me – especially with these Linky Ideas.( Friday Funny is another one) It’s so much easier to come up with regular posts when you have a specific direction to follow.

They share their wonderful families with me Dancing Again.

They show me the world from another point of view with their wonderfully imaginative styles of photography. Me and my Tikiboo, and The Happy Shutterbug.

I’ve chosen but a few of my Blogger friends here but only as a matter of economy of post size. They are all equally important and special to me.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Reflections


Last night the young people living on the corner of our street decided to have a party.

Each time I approached the brink of sleep I would be rudely yanked back to awareness by the shouts and the bursts of raucous laughter; by the car tires howling as some guests departed and still more arrived.

I tried to block it out by listening to the soothing sound of the ocean on my MP3 player – the waves crashing on the shore, the water lapping gently. But even when I couldn’t hear the racket, I could still feel it. The persistent thumping beat of the music pounded its way across the street and up through the floor, taking up residence in my belly where it pulsed and throbbed like an alien invader.

Now the party was still in progress at 5 am. To give them their due, the revellers had made a small concession to the comfort of their neighbours by moving it inside the house, instead of sitting out on the veranda in the still night air.

Of course, by this time they had all consumed enough alcohol to completely drown any inhibitions they may have had to start with. Now every spoken word was possessed of such a degree of hilariousness that it was greeted with ear piercing shrieks of laughter. It seemed as though everyone felt compelled to express just how much fun they were having by uttering frequent whoops of delight – the longer and louder the better.

Needless to say, being inside the house was now doing little to contain the noise.

Today we are tired and feeling ragged around the edges. Our first thought on rising this morning was just how satisfying it would be go across to the house across on the corner and serenade the now passed-out occupants with a symphony played entirely on my pots and pans.

We didn’t of course. It wouldn’t just be the party people who were jerked awake at 6 am by our auditory assault. We just had to take comfort in knowing that one day, the revellers would probably outgrow their youthful need to spend Saturday nights ingesting as much alcohol as humanly possible. And then, one night when they are feeling a bit weary and looking forward to a nice sleep – the people across the road from them will crank up an all-night party.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pushing the Boundaries


In an earlier post I explained how Paddy, our parrot, couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of getting to where he actually wanted to be by simply following his beak.

Well Paddy has had a break through. Now, when we go to work, leaving him in his open cage in the laundry, we will come home to find Paddy in the drawer of his filing cabinet in the lounge room. It’s finally dawned on him that there is absolutely nothing standing between him and his beloved filing cabinet except his own willingness to spread his little wings and fly.

He even extended his new found freedom a few days ago by flying into the bathroom so that he could peep out the window and watch Dad working in his vegetable garden.

However, despite his minor triumph, Paddy still has much to learn. For example he still doesn’t understand that, if he’s hungry or thirsty, he can just as easily fly back to his cage in the laundry. If I am in the kitchen cooking, he will sit in the lounge room and squawk because he wants to come and see what I’m doing, and if it involves anything edible for birdies.

He will even climb down onto the floor and walk across to the sofa. He will climb up on the back of the chair and sit there and squawk at me. Yet the silly boy only needs to walk about another metre and he would be right there in the kitchen with me!!

Life is all about learning for us too. We never get to a point when we know it all – when we have complete understanding of the way it all works and exactly what can be accomplished if we just take those extra few steps.

It’s much too easy to be imprisoned by the limitations of our own imagination. To think, ‘This is it. This is as far as I can go!’

Now if Paddy set his sights on flying off to Brisbane for the day (about 28 kilometres away), then obviously he wouldn’t make it. Unlike a wild bird, Paddy could only ever fly short distances, from one room to another or a couple of laps around the inside of the house. But, if he doesn’t give up, he will soon figure out how to cross the chasm between the back of the sofa and the kitchen.

And ridiculous aspirations aside, if we just keep pushing the boundaries of our world, who knows what new things we might learn and achieve?

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday Reflections


It’s now 16 days since I started on my Paleo Diet and it is 17 days since I’ve taken any medication. I’ve lost 5.2 kilos and 7 cm from my waistline. I’m now losing weight at the rate of about 300- 500 grams a day, and that’s without a great deal of extra exercise outside of my normal work routine.

Get this – I do not suffer with those dreadful hypoglycaemic attacks any more. It used to be that, in spite of eating a hearty breakfast, I would find myself suddenly overwhelmed with hunger a couple of hours later. I would get weak and shaky, start perspiring and even suffer with pins and needles down the side of my face.

It made me so angry! Here I was desperately trying to stop the kilos from piling on and I was always hungry. I knew I shouldn’t eat Lollies, but what else do you do when you are in the middle of cleaning job and an attack of the munchies leaves you shaking and unable to concentrate?

Yes, I have had some dark times with my Anxiety/Depression. It’s so much easier to just pop a pill when the mind tears off at a million miles an hour, fretting about this and that and everything else. Or when it plunges into a pit of depression –

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I’m going out to eat worms!

 I’m sure you know how that goes.

It’s really helped to have my Blog and to be able to talk about all of this. I was touched by the level of support I received from some Blogger friends as well as personal friends and family as well. I guess I don’t have to eat worms after all. Although they would be a good source of Protein I imagine. LOL.

Of course the real test will come when I face the inevitable storms of life that affect us all at some time. Will I stand strong, or will I make a bee-line for my little stash of pills in the bedside cabinet? Right now I see myself standing firm, arms akimbo – my superwoman cape flapping in the wind behind me.

So it’s (mostly) all good. In fact it’s even a bit exciting. We really do need something to aim for, don’t we? It doesn’t matter what it is – losing weight, learning a new skill, taking up a sport – we just need to be going somewhere.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Funny Friday


 I'm linking up with Tropical Mum in the Friday Funny Post 

We’ve been working together long enough to be able to fit seamlessly into a routine with each other (well usually)

Today Pete was finishing mopping the corridor leading up from the toilets while I swept the entry hall at the end of the corridor. I spotted a small pile of dirt just near where he was mopping and went quickly to sweep it up.

But suddenly Pete thrust out a hand towards me and yelled


I froze. Now I know I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately so perhaps I had suffered a lapse in concentration and was about to do something dangerous, or just remarkably stupid. My eyes darted about, hither and thither, trying to spot the reason for his warning shout.

And then he grinned – albeit a little sheepishly.

Apparently he shouted because he thought I was about to swipe the mop right through the neat little pile of dirt, scattering  it all over the freshly washed tiles – not to mention dirtying the mop head and filling it full of grit.

Of course then he realized that he was the one with the mop!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Dark Place


I’m down in the dark place with my dark thoughts.

I know I need to try to climb up and out of here, but it really seems like an impossible task. I’m tired. I have no real inspiration. After all, what is there to look forward to except the endless repetition of work, eat, sleep and getting older?

People who have never experienced clinical depression will snort and tell me to ‘suck it up’ – that I have to learn to be in control of my emotions and not to let my emotions control me.

They may point out that my life really isn’t so bad – and of course they are right. I have a lot to be thankful for. But see that is the mistake they make because they think this is a situational reaction. They think I’m feeling a bit down because I’m under stress – because something bad has happened to send me spiralling down here into the darkness.

Even people close to me – people who have heard the words about how this is to do with a chemical imbalance – they’ve heard the words but unless they have experienced this for themselves then that is what they will remain – just words.

I mean I can imagine how devastating it must be to lose a child or a partner to illness or accident. But imagination and experience can be worlds apart.

Yes, I stopped taking my meds. I’ve embarked upon a quest to lose weight and get fit – not just a diet and exercise plan but a new way of life. And part of that new way of life is to be medication-free if possible. Of course I acknowledged that there might be hurdles to overcome – withdrawals etc. I started talking the medications because I  really needed help to cope with the disorders. I knew I couldn’t expect the underlying conditions to have simply evaporated into thin air.

But I guess I had forgotten just how bad it can be. How deep and heavy is the pall of depression and how scary the nights can be when your dreams are full of nonsensical threats – when you’ve woken with a terrible start for the tenth time, heart pounding, drenched in a cold sweat.

Many, many years ago, when I gave up smoking, I kept a packet of cigarettes on top of the kitchen dresser. They were there if I couldn’t resist temptation – if I couldn’t cope with the withdrawals. Do you know that packet of cigarettes was still there, untouched, about five years later when I finally decided to throw them out?

We are such perverse creatures, aren’t we? If I feel I am forbidden to have something, then that is the thing I will crave most in the world. But if it comes down to a matter of my own choice – then I am more likely to stay strong. So the medications are still there in my bedside drawer. I have repeat prescriptions so there is a plentiful supply available if I so desire.

And yes, I fully understand that there is a difference between defeating an addiction, like smoking, and asserting my willpower to regulate a chemical imbalance in my brain. But it is still my body. And if I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, then what better test is there than this?

And, every time I feel on the brink of opening that drawer, I will take a moment to think about the 4.2 kilos, (and the 7 cm from my waist measurement) that I’ve lost so far.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nice to be Appreciated


 ©Lola Palacios

Sometimes it is just nice to be appreciated.

I’m sure most of you know by now that we are cleaners. We are generally ‘set-and-forget' people. No one wants to have to think about the cleaning. They just want to find someone to do it and not have to worry about it again.

In the last few weeks we have received urgent summons from three different clients. Could we possibly drop everything and rush to their aid? New owners moving in – important people visiting – big meetings next morning. We heaved a sigh and mounted our white steeds.

To our surprized delight we received verbal and written notes of appreciation from all three parties. We are talking about super busy people here – and yet all three made a point of letting us know how grateful they were for our willingness to be flexible and our prompt response.

Now we don’t gallop to their assistance out of the goodness of our hearts. Of course we put in an invoice for our efforts. So it would be easy for the clients to say ‘Well – it’s their job after all. They get paid to do it.’ In fact this is the response of most people we’ve worked for over the years. If they call to demand an extra, short-noticed visit, we have two choices. We can go, or we can tell them we are busy and can’t make it. If we go, then fine. If we don't, well when it comes time to renew our arrangement they might just decide to look elsewhere.

But how nice it is they recognise that we have made an extra effort here and they respond in kind by making an extra effort of their own.

It makes me glad for every time I've thought to show a little appreciation for services rendered and it makes me think I ought to try to do it a whole lot more frequently.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Sunday Reflections


©PinUp Toons CDO-2389

I had been making excuses for ages. I’m only a few kilos overweight and besides – I’m sixty years of age. I can’t expect to look like I did in my forties and still pencil thin. And, at my age life is already jam-packed with restrictions. You can’t wear that – you’ll look like mutton dressed up as lamb, or that, because you have to hide the upper arms and disguise the no-longer-flat tummy. You can’t sing along and shake-your-booty to the music, because the young people will make gagging noises. You have to dress and walk and talk in a dignified manner which is appropriate to your age so that you don’t embarrass anyone. So, considering all of that, the last thing I wanted was to have to apply restrictions to my eating as well. Surely I am entitled to some little luxuries in life?

But then I had a check-up before a minor surgical procedure and the specialist pointed out, in the nicest way possible, that I might want to address the issue of the steadily creeping kilos before it became a real issue.

So, after much grizzling and griping, I finally decided to start on a sensible eating plan with moderate exercise. I fired up the Treadmill and got myself some Protein Powder to snack on – after all I know from experience that the High Protein, low carbs approach works. I lost twelve kilos back in early 2009.

Well what’s this then? I was doing everything right and to my horror, I found I was gaining weight instead of losing it. How can that be? What hope is there for me then?

But, if there is one thing I am it’s determined. First thing I had to look at was my medication. I’ve mentioned previously that I have been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and I was currently on two different types of tablets. However my life has undergone some pretty big changes lately and most of the real anxiety triggers are no longer on the scene (like my husband’s brush with bowel cancer and having to get up at 3.30 am each week day to drive into the city to work) I figured I could at least give it a try – to stop taking my medications and see if that made a difference. If I found I was unable to cope without the tablets – well I could cross that bridge when I came to it.

To my great delight, it did work. I stopped the tablets and I was noticing a reversal of the weight gain within a day’s time.

Now a very close friend of mine had mentioned something called The Paleo Diet – eating the way our ancestors would have eaten way back in the caveman days. I decided to do some research and as is always the case when you start delving into Health and Nutrition issues, there is a dearth of conflicting information. But I gleaned the basic principles and they made an amazing amount of sense to me. And not only does it make sense, but the food allowed in the Paleo diet is mostly all stuff that I love.

Don’t worry – I’m not about to start preaching at you or trying to convert you. The way I see it, this is something that appeals to me and, even if no one else in the world agrees with me, this is something I am going to put into practise and see what happens. I’ve actually lost nearly three kilograms in two-and-a-half-days. The best part is that this is a lifestyle change and not just a diet. I’m not relying on meal replacement shakes and I’m not restricting myself to eating lettuce leaves or rice crackers.

This style of eating may even address my long-time problems with hypoglycaemia, or perhaps it might be best termed exaggerated insulin response. I suddenly get very hungry – weak and shaking; breaking out in a cold sweat and having great trouble concentrating. I've been tested and they tell me 'Good news. You're not diabetic.' And yes, it is good news, but it doesn't help to fix the problem.

Oh – I am going to be following what they call the Cheaters Diet, which means I have one free day per week during which I can eat whatever I please.

This is for three reasons –
1. To spike my metabolism and to encourage my body to burn fat more efficiently.
2. To avoid the woe-is-me syndrome (the thought of never being able to indulge in all those yummy, no-no treats again) and
3. To keep my husband happy. What fun would it be for him to have to eat his pancakes-for-breakfast and home-made-pizza-for-dinner all alone on a Saturday?(Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. LOL)

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Reflections


 ©Mist by VSC

So we are back to staring at blank pages!

I keep thinking I must find something to write about or people will get sick of coming to my Blog and finding nothing new. But I wrack my brain for some kind of inspiration and find the cupboard depressingly bare.

Perhaps I could get on board with the current trend in the Blogger Kingdom and have a Theme Day? My Blogger friend, Thea, always has a Sunday Session, where she posts clips of her favourite music. Other friends take part in Wordless Wednesday, where they post a picture, generally without a caption, because they feel it has something to say all by itself. It’s Sunday, so I’m thinking I might sum up my week and call it Sunday Reflections?

H’mmm. Is my life really of sufficient interest to anyone else for this to be a viable option? Well, probably not. But then again, this is my little corner of the Blogosphere and that means I have carte Blanche as far as content goes. And I actually drop by regularly to the Blogs of other people and read about what is happening in their lives. It’s just as it would be if I was able to visit these people personally and share a cup of coffee and a bit of a chat. We might not discuss anything of earth shattering importance, but we would be getting to know each other by sharing something of ourselves. We would be building a friendship.

So, here goes!

We had a minor triumph this week. Due to illness and family issues, our work-related situation has been up and down and all over the place for the last couple of years. Just recently it looked like we were about to plummet down yet another dip in the roller coaster when the lady who owned the business to which we were subcontracting, (I’ll call her Nellie) decided to sell up for health reasons.

But to our amazement Nellie asked if we would like to take over this particular cleaning round and manage it ourselves. Now Nellie has only known us since June of this year when we started to work for her, but apparently she gave us a glowing reference when she spoke to the Office Manager. We had a meeting with the same Office Manager on Thursday and she, plus other staff members, gave us a very warm and friendly welcome.

So it's a real feather in our cap that we are not the 'subbies' anymore - we da contractors now, man!

Of course I know better than to crow too loudly for fear the hen house might just collapse on my head. So I will just smile very broadly instead.

It wasn’t all that long ago I was mortified to think we might have to go back to working at B Street

©Lyn Murphy 2011

PS. Incidentally - if you've dropped by for a visit please leave a comment - even if it was just to say Hello. This would be very much appreciated and, if you have a Blog, I would be happy to come and visit with you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten Things


I’ve been invited by Cheryl at Number Five to come up with a Blog entitled Ten Things You May Not Know about Me. (and probably couldn’t care less about anyhow, but never mind, it’s all a bit of fun) So here goes:-

1. As a child I dreamed of being in the Movies and starring in a musical. I used to practice for hours singing songs from classics like Oklahoma and South Pacific.

2. I also wanted to be a writer and spent endless hours writing great rambling sagas about a pirate boy, Billy Bland and his sister, Becky. They were kidnapped from their mother by their estranged father who had become a pirate, and taken aboard his ship. They managed to escape and took up residence on a deserted island.

3. I used to call Rhubarb, Barbroob.

4. I once embarrassed the heck out of myself by telling someone that a friend had just had a tubal
 LITIGATION instead of a tubal ligation.

5. I have no sense of direction.

6. I’m afraid of heights and yet I love travelling in an aeroplane – even a small, two-seater aircraft.

7. As a teenager I used to have dreams which came true to the detail. It was only in later years, when the ability faded, I understood that this is not a regular thing.

8. I’m hopeless at math. In my final exams at high school I got something like 19%. Yet now we have our own business and I do all my own bookwork.

9. I have an enduring interest in Health and Nutrition. I regret not having discovered this interest earlier in my life as I feel I could have pursued a career in this field

10. The main reason I write a Blog all about cultivating a positive attitude is because I am, by nature, a pessimist. If I need to be constantly reminded how important my attitude can be in the overall scheme of things, then I believe there are plenty of other people who might need reminding too.

Well there you go. Actually this turned out to be a interesting exercise; trying to come up with ten things to write about myself. Why not try it and see what you come up with?

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Follow Your Beak


You’ve met Paddy, our green-cheeked Conure before. He’s the parrot who sometimes thinks he’s a dog.

Well Paddy also has some other strange perceptions about himself. He seems to think he is this helpless little creature who needs to sit and squawk until someone comes to carry him to wherever he wants to go

Now Paddy was fully-fledged when we got him. His wings are not clipped and he will certainly fly if he is startled. I’ll admit some of his problem is caused as a direct result of Mum and Dad being a bit too protective and over indulgent. We’ve treated him more like our baby than a pet. But apparently this problem is fairly widespread among domesticated parrots – they really do forget how to fly, except as a response to fear.

We watched the parrot training videos and tried to retrain Paddy to fly – but he refused to cooperate. Now we’ve hit on the idea of at least showing him that he can walk from place to place. When he squawks to go from his cage to the filing cabinet where he loves to play (yes, he has his own filing cabinet to play in), I will take him down from the cage and put him on the floor. I will then walk along in front of him and encourage him to follow. It’s a slow process and he will often head for the nearest chair to climb on rather than to complete his journey to the filing cabinet. But he is learning.

This morning he was in his filing cabinet, but I was in the kitchen doing the breakfast dishes. He started kicking up a fuss because he wanted to come and see what I was doing. So I decided to teach him that the reverse applies. He can walk from his cage through the kitchen, into the lounge to his filing cabinet, and so he can just as easily walk from the filing cabinet into the kitchen. For some strange reason this new concept seemed to completely throw the little fellow. He sat there on the floor, squatting and quivering and wanting to be picked up. Finally, instead of taking the extra few steps involved to get him into the kitchen, he climbed up onto the back of the sofa and squawked at me to carry him from there.

Paddy understands how to climb across the furniture from his filing cabinet to reach us at the computers, and even how to reach us by walking across the floor and climbing up Dad’s leg. But he doesn’t grasp the concept of extending his walk to reach the kitchen or any of the other rooms. He can see them. But he seems to feel trapped within the small area in the living room, or on his cage and play pen in the laundry.

Eventually, with a lot of patience of our behalf, Paddy will come to understand that he can actually go wherever he wants to go. Even if he doesn’t want to fly, he can always walk. He just has to look in the direction he wants to take and follow his beak. Right now his only limitation is his grasp of directional travel.

And isn’t that exactly what it’s all about for us too? It’s not enough to know what you want to do and where you want to go in your life. You need to take the necessary steps to get there. You are really only limited by your own confidence, and understanding of the principles involved.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

R U O K?

Apparently Thursday is R U O K? day.

Because of the rising number of suicides in this country, it’s been suggested that everyone make an effort to text, email, or phone at least one someone and ask them the question – ‘Are You Okay?’

There are a lot of people out there to whom you would never need to ask this question, mind you. They will make sure that everyone knows exactly how they are feeling at any given moment of every day. But there are also a lot of people who tend to keep it all inside. They don’t feel comfortable opening up and sharing. And it is usually those people who end up being completely overwhelmed by their problems.

We are all so busy. The days scoot by with alarming speed and all those things we really meant to do just stay undone. We think – I must call so-and-so. I must email; I must pop around to visit. And then we find out that our friend, our family member, our neighbour has been going through some dreadful ordeal and we feel all guilty because we should have been there for them, but we were too busy with our own affairs.

Not everyone is going to appreciate an R U O K? text/email/ phone call. If fact you might just get some very suspicious reactions – ‘What the heck do you want?’ But this is not something you do for your own gratification. It is meant to be a way of reaching out – of offering a life raft to someone who might be in danger of sinking.

Now I think R U O K? is a great idea. But, at the same time, I hope it will not just be a ‘one-of’, where we all rush around calling or texting everyone we can think of and then forgetting about them for the rest of the year. I really hope this concept of ‘keeping an eye out for each other’ can become part of our everyday lives.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Difference!

It was my birthday; I was probably about six at the time. My Dad came into my room that morning and picked me up to carry me back into the Master Bedroom, where I would open my presents. The first thing I wanted to know, when he lifted me up, was ‘did I feel any different now that I was six?’

I remember Dad laughed at me and I suppose I was a bit disappointed. Surely turning a whole six years of age meant that there would be some discernable difference in me?

Of course when we are children we are in such a hurry to grow up. Each birthday is looked forward to with great anticipation and delight. Yes, it has something to do with the thought of getting presents – but there seems to be an accompanying idea that each birthday marks the start of a brand new adventure.

Then, as the years roll on the glorious anticipation of ‘birthdays’ turns to dread.

I was certainly dreading the last birthday. How could I possibly be turning 60? Where did the time go?

Well the big day was yesterday. This time it doesn't seem even remotely disappointing to find I don't feel any different at all.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diabetes in Cancer Link


This was the photo of Pete and Paddy which appeared in this mornings Courier Mail, and this was the general gist of the story that followed

AN AUSTRALIAN study has identified a link between type 2 diabetes in men and a significantly increased risk of bowel cancer, triggering calls for diabetics to have regular checks. Researchers tracked almost 1300 people with type 2 diabetes, recruited in the 1990s as part of the Fremantle Diabetes Study, for up to 17 years, then compared results with Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics. They found men aged 55 to 84 with type 2 diabetes were 87 per cent more likely than the general population to develop bowel cancer. Study author Tim Davis, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, presented the findings at the Australian Diabetes Society annual scientific meeting in Perth yesterday. He said more research was needed to explain the link. "It might be that the risk factors for the two conditions, including obesity, are the same and that they develop independently of each other or it may be that factors associated with diabetes trigger bowel cancer," Professor Davis said. Prof Davis said that based on the study findings, faecal occult blood testing every one or two years should be considered for men aged over 55 attending diabetes clinics. Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggens said the study added to existing evidence linking the two common diseases.
Peter Murphy, 63, of Margate, north of Brisbane, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 and bowel cancer eight years later. He said if he had known about the link between the two conditions, he would have had regular colonoscopies after being diagnosed with diabetes. The 63-year-old had surgery and chemotherapy as a result of the cancer.

It was a long day and Paddy didn't like the photographer snapping away at him and blinding him with the flash. He really didn't want to cooperate at all.

Pete had been going to see the Dr complaining of niggling bowel problems for well over a year before his emergency surgery.  But, despite the fact that I was convinced there was something really wrong, the Dr's kept insisting that the discomfort was caused by a hernia pressing on the bowel. Not once did they suggest a colonoscopy to investigate further. If Pete's cancer hadn't manifested itself as it did, he could well have gone undiagnosed until it was too late.

Maybe now that this link has been found Dr's will be more willing to order further testing if a man with diabetes presents with bowel problems.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Three-Ringed Circus


We have the day off today. There just wasn’t any work available and so we thought we would  get some chores out of the way and otherwise relax. Little did we know our day would be turned into a Three-Ringed Circus.

Actually it started yesterday with a call from Bowel Cancer Australia. In case you don’t know, my husband, Pete, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April of 2009. After two surgeries and 30 weeks of chemotherapy, he is fine and there is no trace of the cancer. However he also has Type 2 Diabetes and it has recently been discovered that there seems to be a link between Type 2 Diabetes and Bowel Cancer in men.

Pete was asked if he would agree to do a recorded interview which will then be played at an upcoming Seminar. Then the phone seemed to ring incessantly for the rest of the day and even for part of the morning today.

There was a phone interview, and then we were told that an ABC news crew would be visiting the house to do a filmed interview. Later we were informed that the Courier Mail would be sending a photographer to snap some shots of Pete and he was emailed a copy of the Press Release that will be used.

Today we’ve had calls from both the news crew and the photographer as they are all running late and have had to reschedule the visit to later in the day. There was a call from the interviewer to advise Pete on the procedure, and to make sure he understood that there was no pressure; there was plenty of tape so the crew could splice and edit and he doesn’t have to worry about making mistakes. Then there was a call from Ethical Strategies to make sure Pete had been given all the necessary information.

Usually when the phone rings I answer. Right now I don’t bother because it will definitely be for Pete. He is really the ‘man-of-the-moment’.

Initially he registered with the Bowel Cancer Society because he wanted to be able to help other men diagnosed with the disease. He wanted to be able to convey the importance of maintaining a positive attitude throughout the course of the treatment. He was quite disappointed when the opportunities to do something like this never seemed to happen.

But now it has. It hasn’t happened as he expected but that’s irrelevant really. The important thing is that he is finally able to contribute to the ongoing research into this deadly disease.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011



Paddy, our green cheeked Conure, has learned a foreign language. Once upon a time, when we asked the question

‘Little birdies go….?’

He would give a wolf-whistle. These days, when we ask that question, he barks.

‘Woof. Woof.’

Parrots learn by rote. If they hear something often enough, they begin to imitate the sound, (We have a lot of dogs in this neighbourhood, some of which bark incessantly, day and night)

Conures are known to recognise sounds appropriate to certain actions and events. For example, when Paddy sees and hears us gathering up car keys and mobile phones etc, he will say,

‘Back soon!’ He recognises that we are leaving to go somewhere and Pete has always made a habit of saying this to him when we are leaving the house.

When we return from work or an outing, Paddy will greet us with

‘There’s the birdies. Hello.’

(Yes, he does use the plural (birdies). For some strange reason Paddy tends to pluralise many of his words)

Those are just a couple of examples of how our little bird has learned to respond to both verbal and visual prompts.

This morning I found myself thinking about how I respond to certain prompts. For example, those of you who read my Blogs regularly will know I was all excited about taking a course in Copywriting. I signed up and paid for the course and I was anxiously awaiting access to the materials so that I could start work.

Unfortunately, the company in question has been having some serious technical issues with their server. When the material didn’t arrive after what I considered a decent amount of time, I emailed to ask what was going on. I received an apologetic response and an added bonus file. The problem should be fixed by that night I was told, and the materials would be available online the next day. But it didn’t happen.

Yesterday I requested a full refund and the money was returned to my Credit Card within a couple of hours. I received another very apologetic email telling me that they were as frustrated with the whole affair as I was and wishing me well.

So the fact is no real harm has been done. I have my money back. I’ve even gained some bonus materials for free.

But I feel so deflated. Here I was all revved up with no place to go, as the saying goes.

Still once upon a time I would have fallen in a big heap. I would have been saying things like ‘Why do I even bother? Things never work out for me.’ But this time, disappointed though I may be, I can see that this was just ‘one of those things’. If I really want to go ahead and learn Copywriting, then I have a good start in the bonus materials I received and I can take it from there. This is just a minor hiccup, not the end of the world

See, I’ve learned a foreign language too. It’s the language of Optimism.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rainy Sunday


It’s raining.

We’ve had such glorious weather for the last couple of weeks, and now, suddenly, winter is back. The sky is leaden; heavy with thick, saturated clouds and the whole world has turned a sad sort of grey. The wind howls periodically like a tortured beast and the birds sit huddled in the dripping branches, looking miserable.

Today is a day for comfort; slippers and socks, track pants and a fleecy top. Today is a day for watching the world through the window, and not really feeling the urge to take part in the goings on out there.

Later we will make coffee and toast and wrap ourselves up in fleecy blankets; watching a movie or two. Paddy, the parrot, will love every moment of it. He will burrow under the blankets and play. He will pop his little head out every now and then to make sure we are still there.

This evening Pete will make pizza for dinner and we’ll have it with a glass of wine.

Tomorrow is Monday and we will be back to work. But, for today, we will just enjoy being on the warmer, dryer side of the window.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011



Firstly, thanks to the people who took the time to comment on (and email me regarding) my last Blog. I have decided to go ahead and do the course, even if it is just to broaden my horizons.

In my research to find out a bit more about the world of copywriting, I came across a recorded Seminar on copywriting, the guest speaker being the legendary Ted Nicholas. Now in case you don’t know, Ted is one of those amazing ‘rags-to-riches’ people. He started out at 21 years of age, a high school drop-out with nearly $100,000 worth of debts. He borrowed money to buy a shop and started a confectionery business and, by the time he was 29 this business had 30 franchises.

Ted went on to write countless best selling books; to found, and sell for an enormous profit, more businesses than you can imagine.

Now Ted talks much about the importance of attitude on the pathway to success. He posed a question to his audience.

‘What is it that you think about most of the time?’

His answer?

‘You think about your fears,’

For me this is certainly the truth. I don’t go around each day trembling in anticipation of a Nuclear Holocaust or an Alien Invasion. But I do tend to think about the same kinds of things that many other people think about.

What if my husband or I get sick and can no longer work?

What if we lose our major earning contracts?

What if the landlord prices us out of living here when he next raises the rent?

These are all perfectly legitimate concerns. Yet, do you see what I’m doing here? I’m preparing myself for failure. I’m working on strategies to rescue myself after my life falls in a heap.

Ted then gave an example of his much more positive way of thinking. He pointed out that with modern medicine we are within a decade or so of breakthroughs that could see us living for more than 100 years. In fact Ted fully believes that he will live until he is 110.

There is not much point, he says, in living that long if you are feeble and infirm. So Ted keeps himself to an exercise routine and a healthy eating plan. He also explains that he plans to never retire; he believes that it is his work which keeps him full of enthusiasm and excitement.

Now he is so convinced that he will live until he is 110 that Ted handed out passes to each of the members of his Seminar group - passes that would gain them entry to his birthday celebrations.

I am not sure I aspire to live until I’m 110. But I can most definitely see the benefit in Ted’s incredibly positive attitude. He is planning for the realization of his dreams and ambitions, not his failures. He is working on strategies for celebrating his achievements and not recovering from his disappointments.

Ted states that we are what we think about the most. He is a success because success is always the foremost thought in his mind.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lessons From the Rainforest


On Sunday we went for a drive to a place called Gardners Falls on the Obi Obi Creek, which is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. At the far end of the creek is a deep pool, surrounded by high rock walls and fed by the largest of many small waterfalls dotted along the stream. There’s a rope swing, accessed by clambering up a very steep embankment and, in the summer months, the youngsters use it to launch themselves out above the water, plummeting down into the depths with shrieks of delight.

Despite the lovely, sunny day, there were no swimmers in the creek yesterday. We were content to walk along the pathway and enjoy the scenery; taking photos whenever something particularly caught our attention.

I stopped to admire the dense rainforest crowding in on the pathway and on the opposite bank of the creek. I saw the tallest trees standing strong and proud, reaching up towards the sunlight. But their intertwined branches created a canopy which effectively plunged the forest floor into semi darkness.

Now, of course, the myriad of smaller vegetation that lives on that forest floor is also in need of the sunlight to flourish. There is no way for them to compete with the big guys, so they find their own ingenious ways of getting what they need.

I saw trees growing sideways. They were so bent over that the tips of their branches brushed the ground, but it was ground dappled with sunlight. They will never stand tall and proud. They are spindly and gnarled and deformed, yet they live, which was their only objective. Unlike us these trees won’t ever be concerned with body image; won’t ever feel ashamed that they aren’t as tall and as smooth trunked as their forest mates.

I saw a vine which had grown down from a very tall tree. It had managed to slither across the sharp rocks, across the pathway, and over the bank of the creek and now it could finally dip it’s tendrils into the cool water. How did it know to do that? How long must it have taken for it to grow far enough to reach the water? But unlike we humans, the vine didn’t waste time envying other vines for which the basic necessities in life seem much more readily available. It just got on with the arduous journey to the water.

And then there was the tree which had toppled over and lay prone on the sloping ground. The soil had been eroded away from its root system until there was nothing to hold it in place, and so it fell. Part of its root ball was mercilessly exposed to the drying sun. The tree might have been down but it certainly wasn’t out. Even from its prone position, the trunk was sending up new shoots, new branches bearing tiny flower buds. Trees don’t have pity parties - don’t get hung up concentrating on handicaps; on coming up with reasons as to why they can’t do things. If there is any life left at all, then they will live it to the fullest.

The world is a tough place and we can’t all be the big guys soaking up the lion’s share of the sunlight. Sometimes we might have to work a bit harder, or try a different approach. Sometimes it might even seem as if we have completely lost our footing and fallen in a heap. But even if we can’t readily get back up again, we can find a way to carry on from where we are.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011



It’s Saturday!

We had a leisurely breakfast of pancakes with sliced banana, blueberries and maple syrup, washed down with coffee while we shared the morning paper. He likes to read the Sports section, I like to read the lift-out magazine.

I’ve done the vacuuming and the washing and there is a casserole bubbling away in the slow cooker for dinner.

Now I’m sitting at my computer with a cup of lemon juice in hot water, and the day is mine.

The sun is shining, the birds are singing. Even our little bird is happily playing in his filing cabinet (yes, the spoiled bird has his own filing cabinet as a cubby house where he spends many a happy hour).

It’s so peaceful and so nice.

To be truthful, most of my Saturday mornings should be like this. Despite whatever problems we may have faced in the past, our life, in general is not overly stressful now. And yet last Saturday morning I was about as miserable as I can get. And why? Had some great disaster befallen us? No, not at all. I am just one of the many people who suffer from GAD, or General Anxiety Disorder.

I used to think that people with ‘bad nerves’, as my mother would have called it, just needed to toughen up a bit. Life is full of ups and downs and there’s not much we can do except ride it out. It took me years of putting unnecessary extra pressures upon myself to realize that an anxiety disorder is not a weakness, but an actual medical condition.

Even now; now that I understand the problem, I still tend to dismiss it a little too readily at times. For the past year I have been stop-starting with my medication until my Dr had some serious words with me just recently. She pointed out that if I don’t take the tablets regularly, then I will continue with this seesawing of emotions indefinitely.

The trouble is, when things are good like they are on this beautiful Saturday morning, it is just too easy to think that maybe I am just being a bit of a ‘drama Queen’. Maybe I don’t really have a disorder at all. Maybe I’m just a bit too ‘highly strung’ to borrow another of my mothers terms. So I stop taking the tablets. Why should I continue to pour chemicals into my body if I don’t need them? And then…wham - the symptoms reappear and I am reminded, quite rudely, that this is for real.

Sometimes, the first step towards dealing with a problem is in the agonising decision to face up to it in the first place. We can’t ‘pretend’ serious issues away. See, my mother was constantly on medication for ‘bad nerves’ and I never wanted to be like that. I wanted to be seen as strong and capable and resilient, not standing at the counter in the Chemist shop picking up a prescription for Prozac.

It was bright and sunny last Saturday morning. The birdies were singing just as prettily. But I was sunk in gloom and needless despair all because I wanted to prove how tough I am. How silly is that?

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nice People


We’ve recently taken on a couple of domestic cleaning jobs. Now I’ve never liked domestic cleaning. Clients often fail to recognise you as a ‘real professional’, and to understand that this job, be it ever so humble, is actually your bread-and-butter and not just some way of making a bit of pocket money.

But our situation was such that we needed the work and we took the jobs gladly. And now I can hardly believe how fortunate we were to find them.

It’s the little things that make a difference. At one of the homes we clean, if the clients are out, they sometimes leave us a note. Now people usually leave notes for the cleaner when they want to complain about something, or to ask the cleaners to do a bit of extra work. But these ‘notes’ are little letters. The ‘Hi, how are you? Nice weather we’re having’ type of letter that you would expect to get from a friend or family member.

Both marriage partners and their little girl treat us as part of the family. The young woman has a serious back condition, and she often has to retire to her bed to rest while we are there. Such is the relationship between us that there is none of the usual awkwardness that would normally occur in a situation like that.

And the second most recent client works from an office at a complex of about fifty townhouses. The last time we cleaned for her, she was on the phone when we were ready to leave. Rather than interrupt her, we packed up quietly and left. We were driving home when my mobile rang and her name appeared on the screen.

Our first thought was that she was ringing to complain about something. What could we possibly have missed? But she was actually ringing to say ‘sorry I didn’t get to see you off. Thank you for a job well done and I’ll see you next fortnight’.

Maybe I’ve been moving in the wrong circles all these years? I have really never known people to be as ‘nice’ as the people I’ve met lately.

And what about the complete stranger who purchased my little eBook on Smashwords, and then made mention of me and my literary efforts on his Blog, along with another first-time eBook publisher? He was remarking on the fact that both of us had a vision - we wanted to write and publish and eBook - and we had seen it through to completion. I was so encouraged by his words and so very grateful to him for giving me the bragging rights for having sold a book. Even if I never sell another one - no one can ever take that away from me now.

I think life, or God, or the Universe, or whatever you might want to call it, is trying to show me something; that there really are some wonderful people out there. And perhaps, instead of hanging back and nursing my hurts from the not-so-caring people I seem to have met in the past, I should just get out there and start being a ‘nice’ person myself.

I should start seeking out others who need a bit of encouragement and appreciation. I should start showing them that there is still kindness and warmth and love in this often cold old, uncaring world. I may not be able to rush off overseas and start building wells and hospitals; or bringing about world peace. But I can be a little ray of sunshine for someone in a dark place. I can be a helping hand for some one who is down or a shoulder to cry on.

I can just try to become one of the nice people.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ark


Perseverance pays off. Even the snail made it to the Ark.

I saw this quote on a notice board outside a local Church and I couldn’t suppress a chuckle. Sometimes life really is all about ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ The trouble is, of course, we live in an ‘instant’ generation when we expect everything to happen right here and now.

Sometimes too we tend to mark our progress in great leaps and bounds; rather than acknowledging the baby steps. It sounds much more exciting to be able to say you’ve lost 20 kilos instead of just 2. And it’s much more impressive to boast of running 10 kilometres over a 10 minute jog in the park.

But, of course, it is always much harder to achieve the big steps, and much easier to become discouraged and defeated too.

I became discouraged and defeated for a while. We had some problems; family and work issues, and it all just got on top of me. I even considered taking down my Blog. Who really wants to read anything I write, after all?

My ultimate aim had been to build up a following; attracting readers who might then be interested in reading some of my short stories if I made them available. But, after nearly two years of Blogging, I have 11 followers and only about 2166 views. That’s couldn’t really be called ‘setting the world on fire’, now, could it?

But then I read another quote that made me stop and think.

‘A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.’ Junot Diaz

Two years ago I didn’t have a Blog and I certainly couldn’t boast having my work viewed 2166 times. Baby steps perhaps - but progress all the same.

And today I uploaded my first eBook. It’s a short story that I’ve been trying to write for the last eight years. Imagine that? Eight years and the finished work is only just under 14,000 words.

Will anyone actually buy my eBook? It would be nice if they did, of course. It would certainly do wonders for my ego. But this would be more about the leaps and bounds of progress rather than the baby steps.

For now I need to be content with having made it to the Ark.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

To check out my eBook, click on the link below
The Doorway

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Positivity Mantra


‘Don’t worry. We will be okay’

My husband is the eternal optimist. No matter how bad things may get he will continue to chant this little mantra.

‘Don’t worry. It will all work out,’

I used to get so annoyed with him. It seemed to me that he lives with his head in the clouds, quite removed from reality. The sky could be falling down on our heads, and the earth cracking asunder beneath our feet, and he will just continue to assure me.

‘It’s okay. Don’t worry’

Naturally he did not deviate from his eternal optimism during our recently impending disaster. We were under threat of losing the bulk of our workload; being left without even enough money to pay our rent. There was every possibility we would have to return to a much hated job cleaning up disgusting messes in a very unsavoury work environment, for very limited remuneration.

Oh, I had a few sleepless nights, my mind in turmoil with anxious thoughts and imaginings. But, on the whole, I was actually able to maintain a reasonably positive attitude. For once I believed Pete when he told me everything would work out. And, I figured, even it didn’t, what was the point in worrying myself sick? Would that really serve to accomplish anything towards a successful solution to our problem?

Then, at the eleventh hour, I received a phone call. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we would be required to continue with the cleaning contracts for a few weeks. The very next day I was told that we would now be required to continue working indefinitely; that there was even another small weekly job to be added to our roster.

Pete just smiled and said

‘See? I told you it would be okay.’

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Round And Round


B Street (not its real name) is a large Public Housing Complex. It caters mostly to those on Welfare payments, and those in very low paying employment.

Many of the residents have problems with substance abuse; have prison records and anti social behaviours that render them undesirable in the private rental market.

We were the common area cleaners at B Street for four-days-a-week over a period of more than four years. We cleaned up after drunken parties and fights – the broken bottles and the blood smeared on the doors and walls. We cleaned up the kitchens after the late night efforts to cook up a feast while horribly inebriated. And we cleaned up the bathrooms decorated with all manner of bodily fluids.

We choked on the fine powder from fire extinguishers deliberately discharged in fits of rage. We glanced anxiously over our shoulders as we heard the sounds of breaking furniture and voices raised in anger.

We were threatened and abused. We called ambulances for seizures and drug overdoses. We saw the Police rush in to attend to domestic violence reports, and we witnessed people escorted off the premises in handcuffs.

How incredibly glad we were when we had an offer of another job - a job where we would be cleaning offices – nice, clean, quiet, civilized offices. Our last day at B Street was a great cause for celebration. We handed over the keys to the new cleaner and heaved a massive sigh of relief. No more B Street, we told each other. How wonderful.

Life is full of disappointments. We found out that our marvellous new job was about to end unexpectedly.

For a day or two we reeled from the blow. But then we got right down to the business of seeking alternative employment. We put ads in the paper. We contacted the company for which we had previously done sub contract work. and we put the word around in general that we were back in the job market.

Then today I got the call. They are tentatively offering us B Street again. It’s certainly not a done deal as yet, but, considering the circumstances, I just know it soon will be.

I should be breathing a sigh of relief. We are not going to be out on the street after all. But how can I rejoice at the thought of going back to that???

If you’re a praying person, please pray that our newspaper ads and our private enquiries bear fruit. Even if you don’t pray – please just send heaps of positive thoughts our way. We won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If it is our lot to be back cleaning B Street, then we will accept it and be grateful.
But oh to have another option?
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Difference Is


                                                                                    ©PinUp Toons CDO-2389

I entitled my Blog – ‘Attitude Matters’, and, every now and then, something happens to make me realize just how true this is. In fact, we are in the middle of one of those ‘now and thens’ right now.

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, just when we thought things were really looking up, the rug was pulled from under us and we are looking up alright, but from the bottom of the barrel.

It occurs to me now that we have two choices. We can drown in a sea of self pity; we can stay angry and bitter and bemoan our lot as ‘victims’. Or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.

And that is actually the only difference between us and a lot of the people out there living on the streets – our attitude. We have determined to be survivors.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying ‘Why us?’ Why do things like this keep happening to us? But why not us? What makes us any more special than anyone else? We may look at other people and think they have it easy. We may think their lives are perfect – the big, beautiful home, the high paying job, the closeness of their relationship with their partner and their family. I once heard some one say that if you scratch the surface of anyone’s life, you will inevitably find a multitude of problems. Some people just hide it better than others.

Life will go on – regardless of what is happening in our little world. We really have no choice but to go on with it. It’s our attitude that will determine in what state we complete the journey – defeated and broken, or strong and confident that we have given it our best shot.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Are People So Unkind?


Why are people so unkind?

This was a classic quote oft used by singer Kamahl, and it was the first thought that popped into my head today while Blog Surfing. A lady had poured out her heart regarding a hurtful family situation. Some one had come along to launch a really spiteful attack, to the extent where this anonymous reader called the blog author ‘mildly psychotic’.

Now everyone is entitled to their opinion. And because Blogs are very public forms of expression, they do leave the writer vulnerable. But if you come across sentiments expressed in a Blog that don’t agree with your own personal views then, for goodness sake, just move on. Don’t take the attitude that it’s your God given right to school this Blogger in the art of living their life according to your beliefs and standards.

Oh, you could see where this ‘anonymous’ person was coming from. Obviously they have experienced a very similar family situation, but from the other side of the coin. The trouble is there are ways of expressing oneself without going straight for the jugular. What did this ‘anonymous’ expect – that the Blog author would respond by thanking them for their incredibly insightful and life changing input? Surely they must have realized that all they would get was a return volley?

For all the ‘Anonymous’ people out there, if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Reflections


‘Easter is a time for reflection and counting your blessings’

This was the opening line of a blog I chanced upon yesterday. And I realized this sentiment should definitely apply to me.

On Good Friday, two years ago, my husband, Pete, was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. An emergency surgery revealed a ruptured bowel. The cause was determined to be cancer.

We had so looked forward to that Easter. My son, his wife and my only grandchild were coming to visit. It was years since we had seen them. But, instead of a happy family time, the next few days were a blur of hospital visits.

There followed thirty weeks of chemotherapy; weekly blood tests; and endless Dr’s appointments. We lost our largest cleaning contract due to time restrictions – it was just impossible for me to service the contract on my own. Our income plummeted and the credit card balance skyrocketed.

Due to my anxiety disorder, I hadn’t driven for six years. I had never driven in Brisbane. I had never driven our current car. But suddenly I had to drive into the city to work, five-days-a-week. For three long months we were totally unsure as to what the future would hold for us. 

Those were dark and scary days.

But, two years later, Pete is now fully recovered from a second operation to restore normal bowel function. His frequent follow up medical appointments show him to be cancer free. Even his other ailments, Type 11 Diabetes and high cholesterol are now under control by medication.

Workwise, we have picked up enough work to keep our heads above water without overtaxing these poor old bodies too much.

This Easter may not be filled with exciting plans for family get togethers. But we have so much to be thankful for. There are so many others for whom the outcome of their own particular tragedy has not been so positive.

So, on reflection, this is a very happy Easter for us and we are very grateful.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disengage the Auto Pilot


‘Where you are going, Mum?’

My son’s voice snapped me back from whatever dreamland I had been visiting.

‘I’m taking you to school,’ I was about to reply. But then it struck me. I was heading for the Primary School, when my son had been at high school for nearly a full year.

Now I might have driven my son to the High School for nearly a year, but I had been driving him to the Primary School for seven times as long. For some reason, on that particular morning, a moment of inattention had me reverting to old habits – retracing patterns and paths from the past.

In the course of my life there has been a succession of people who always managed to make me feel that I was somehow inadequate. Rather than being clever enough to use this as fuel to fire me up and prove them sadly mistaken, I let it drag me down and did stupid things which only served to prove them right.

But, we all reach a stage in our lives when we have a choice as to what path we intend to follow for the rest of our days. I believed that I could break the cycle of failure and despair. While I may never have become the person that others expected me to be, I have certainly become the person that I am comfortable being.

The trouble is that I was that ‘other’ person for a large part of my life – and I’ve been this new person for a much shorter time. And sometimes I forget. Sometimes I find myself retracing old patterns and paths from the past; reverting to old habits.

There is no one in my life now who expects me to be anyone except who I am. There is no one who doesn’t see me as capable and efficient. In fact, dare I say it, there are even some who suggest I might be … talented???

But I make a mistake and immediately I am operating on Auto Pilot – beating myself up for being such an idiot; so incompetent; so careless. I take a little longer than normal to do a job and I am making excuses – must be getting old and slow; I wasn’t properly organised etc.

And my husband looks at me with bewilderment in his eyes instead of the disapproval I seem to be expecting and says

‘Okay. So you made a mistake? So what? You took a bit longer than normal? So what? I wasn’t timing you anyway.’

Thankfully, the only person who expects too much of me now is me. And that’s good, because, after all, I am the only person I can really change. I just need to learn to disengage the Auto Pilot.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Surprize


A couple of weeks ago, at one of the offices we clean, I noticed the air conditioning vents badly needed attention. Until I started to clean them, I didn’t realize just how dirty and dusty they were. I ended up with sheets of dust all over me and all over everything around me.

I then spent a considerable amount of time trying to clean it all up, moving everything I dared to move so that I could get into all the nooks and crannies. I even returned to that particular area before I left and went over everything again, hoping to get any dust that might have settled.

In spite of my best efforts I guess there was still a considerable amount of dust floating around in the air and it must have settled overnight – all over the desks and computers etc. We came in to do our next clean to find the Communications Book out on the reception desk and the office supervisor had written a scathing note.

He acknowledged that the air conditioning vent had been cleaned. However he was of the opinion that we had simply brushed the dust and dirt from the vent and left in sit on the desktops for the office staff to clean up themselves. He then went on to say that he felt our cleaning efforts were less than satisfactory and we needed to review our contract and the requirements there of.

I have to admit I was stunned by his reaction. I could definitely understand his annoyance at finding dust over his desk. But considering this was obviously something that didn’t normally happen and in fact something for which even he had a logical explanation, I thought his response was a little ‘over-the-top’.

My supervisor contacted the office supervisor and sorted it all out. The office supervisor rang me later to discuss another matter and he was perfectly nice and friendly. Still, the incident left a bad taste in my mouth, and, on each visit I was expecting to see that dreaded Communications Book left out with another scolding note.

Then, last night, it happened. There on the reception desk was the offending book and I immediately felt sick – trying to think what on earth I could have done this time to earn his disapproval?

But then I noticed something else. Sitting on the edge of the book was a collection of two foil- wrapped chocolate Easter Bunnies and two tiny Easter eggs. There was nothing written in the book, so I guess it had been left there just so that we would know the Easter eggs were meant for us – the cleaners.

I suppose the point I’m making here is that we often waste a lot of emotional energy expecting the worst. None of us can get through life without copping a ‘tongue-lashing’ from time to time. The fact is I know we are very competent cleaners. Perhaps the office supervisor was just having a bad day? Or perhaps he is one of those people who just don’t know how to address an issue without launching a personal attack?

I left a thank-you note and drew a smiley face. A Communications Book shouldn’t be all about negative things, now should it?
© Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chain Reaction


We were staying in a lovely cabin near the swimming pool in the holiday park.

Every day, for hours on end, there was a group of five, ragged-looking, dark skinned children, who would come to play in the water. They played Marco Polo, they plummeted down the slippery slide, and they played piggie-in-the-middle with a tennis ball.

The youngest of the group was a bit too small to join in most of the games, but she splashed about happily in the shallows with a tattered piece of towelling which seemed to be her favourite toy.

I was amazed at how well behaved these children were – how well they got along together. The older children kept a close eye on the little one, taking turns to come and play with her, opening the pool gate for her when she needed to visit the toilet.

On the third day a new family arrived. They had two little girls, all blonde curls and painted fingernails to match their designer bikinis. They came giggling and prancing to the pool, where they stood at the edge and surveyed the dark children with looks of absolute scorn.

One of the older girls in the pool called out to invite them to join the game, but the speaker for the blonde girls tossed her curls and replied.

‘We don’t want to play your stupid games!’

No, but it seems they had games of their own to play. First of all they focussed on the littlest girl in the group, asking her why was she talking to that smelly piece of towel and threatening to come and take it away from her. When the baby started to cry, her older sister called to the new girls to leave the little one alone. But the blonde girls called back to ask if her mother got the bathing suit she wore from the rag bag at Saint Vinnies?

There followed a volley of name calling, with the blonde girls obviously superior in the art of delivering an insult and calling very heavily on racial slurs to make their point. The oldest boy finally lost his temper and lunged at the blonde girls, sending them screaming and running back to their parents.

The parents of the blonde girls complained to the park manager, who then came and shoo-ed the dark children away, telling them to ‘give some-one else a go’. The blonde girls shrieked and splashed in the water for about ten minutes and then, after a screaming fight with each other, they both flounced off back to their cabin, leaving the pool deserted and strangely silent.

There followed a noisy altercation between the parents of the exiled children and the park manager, and, when that failed to achieve the desired results, another noisy altercation between the parents of both sets of children.

The parents of the blonde girls drew on the same brand of racial vilification used by their daughters to make their point. This incited other park residents to join in with everyone taking sides according to the colour of their skin. Eventually the manager called the Police and there were threats of eviction for several permanent residents as well as some of the tourists.

“You are an integral part of Creation. Your thoughts and actions set off far reaching chain reactions that you cannot fathom.” Cynthia Occelli at LIFE

I guess the parents of the blonde girls thought they had the right to their opinions relating to different races and they had no qualms about passing on these opinions to their daughters. I’m sure they never envisioned their daughters would then take those thoughts and turn them into actions which would totally destroy the peaceful, fun atmosphere of a coastal caravan park.

But that is how war’s start, isn’t it? Chain reactions set off by the promotion of certain ideals and beliefs.

‘Thoughts have power; thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking’. ~Susan Taylor~

The trouble is, it’s not just about what your thoughts can do to you. The power and energy of your thoughts and actions extend far beyond your immediate circumstances.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Keep It In-House


Today, while I was busily dusting an office, I overheard a very distressing conversation. This conversation took place between a visiting ambulance driver/paramedic and the regular office staff – and I guess I was the only one who found it distressing. Everyone else seemed to find the subject matter absolutely hilarious.

The ambulance driver was updating everyone on the terminology used within medical and rescue services. Apparently Doctors use what they call the DBI – or the Dirt Bag Index to describe some of their patients. The DBI rates people according to
1. The number of tattoos
2. The number of body piercings
3. The number of teeth missing
4. The number of days without a shower

There is also a category known as CRP – Circling Round the Plughole – to describe what they deem the dregs of humanity; the only fitting treatment of which would be to flush it down the drain.

It appears that the rescue workers also have their codes and signals and often the signals have nothing to do with the patient’s treatment, but are more to do with amusing fellow workers by communicating little in-house jokes at the expense of the patient.

Now having worked for six years in a Call Centre Environment, I am well aware of the need for employing coping mechanisms. But I also remember a training session in which the supervisor related the story of a CSA (Customer Service Advisor) who, during a phone conversation with a particularly obnoxious customer, put the person on hold and turned to her fellow workers to say

‘What a BLEEPING loser!’

Unfortunately for her, the Hold button didn’t work. The customer heard what she said and was understandably quite indignant, demanding to speak to a team leader.

“Keep it in-house!’ was our supervisors advice that day. We are all ambassadors of the industry in which we work. Yes, we need to have our release valves; ways and means of taking the pressure down a notch or two, of dealing with the stresses. Often this is going to take the form of the in-house jokes and little ‘bitch’ sessions about the people who really push our buttons.

But keep it in-house. Don’t do it in front of an open telephone line. And don’t do it during lunch break in the corner CafĂ© – because you just don’t know who might overhear. For all you know the BLEEPING loser might be sitting at the table right next to you. And don't, whatever you do, make it public knowledge by sharing it with others outside of your working environment.

See, the office staff may have laughed uproariously at the descriptions of codes and signals used by the ambulance drivers and rescue workers. But, what if one of them was involved in an accident this afternoon on the way home from work? Would they find it so funny if those codes and signals were being applied to them? Would this inspire them to feel a sense of confidence in the people who had been dispatched to cut them out of their crumpled vehicle and transport them to hospital?

Now of course there are many caring professionals out there who really do see their patients as human beings in need of care and attention. But it’s hard not to let my attitude be coloured by what I heard today. Just as the customer in the Case of the Faulty Hold button would have left that telephone encounter with an uncomplimentary opinion of our company.

Have your little jokes and your team gripes, by all means, but please, for the sake of the people to whom you are providing a service, keep your conduct professional.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Now That Makes Sense!


‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.’

The above quote (origin unknown) came as part of an email I received this morning and it really spoke to me.

While it would be wonderful if we could simply change everything about our lives that causes us grief and concern, in truth there are many things we just have to learn live with. And how else can we do that unless we are able to change the way we think about those things?

I’m what you might call a ‘sensitive’ person. In other words I tend to take things personally and be easily hurt.

Back in my early days as a cleaner I found it very difficult to cope with those inevitable complaints and criticisms. When some one complained, I took it very hard. I would seesaw between anger and depression. How dare they infer that I wasn’t doing my job properly? What if I lose my job now? Oh what a sorry specimen I must be – that I can’t even manage to do the most menial of jobs to a satisfactory standard?

But, eventually I learned that some things never change. No matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you try, there will always be people whom you simply cannot please. And ‘clean’ is a concept very open to personal interpretation.

People often expect way too much of us humble cleaners anyhow. They ask you to mop a floor and expect it to come up as though it had been stripped and resealed. They expect a white-glove clean for a whisk-with-a-feather-duster price.

So if I intended to continue as a cleaner, then I would have to learn to deal with complaints and criticisms or I was going to spend the rest of my days in this turmoil of depression.

Then a friend pointed out to me that cleaning is my job – it is not who I am and it is not all there is to my life. A complaint or criticism about anything I do is, after all, one person’s opinion and not necessarily the truth. That same friend advised that I should always listen to what is said to me; take what I feel is useful and constructive, and throw the rest in the garbage.

Am I now totally unaffected by criticisms and complaints? Oh, far from it. But at least I have learned to differentiate between a criticism of my work and a reflection of my worth as a person.

©Lyn Murphy 2011