words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Instant smile

Ok, I’ll admit it. I play Song Pop.

For those of you who are closet Song Pop fans, there is no need to explain the game. Just skip down to paragraph 7.smile

But for you who have not yet discovered the delights of Song Pop, it can also be titled “Guess that Song” or “Title and Artist”. Basically, you get a snippet of a song and you have four options to choose from. The options could be the title of the song or the artist (or the TV show or musical that the song is from). And there are different playlists to choose from — all centring around a theme.

One of the playlists is called “Instant Smile”. I can only assume it’s because when you hear the snippet of music, most of the songs bring a smile to your face. For example, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, “Mamma Mia” by Abba and “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees.

However, I do question songs such as “Kung Foo Fighting” by Carl Douglas and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon being on the list. Who smiles at those?

But I digress.

The very title “Instant Smile” seems to be, for the most part, a good description of the songs. Which led me to wonder….

What else gives me an instant smile?

You know, those smiles that just come out, without effort. I’m not talking laughs. I’m talking genuine, eye-crinkling smiles.

So here are some of the random things that bring an instant smile to my face:

  • A warm, sunny spot on a cold winter’s day
  • The smell of freshly mown grass
  • Getting into bed at the end of a long day
  • Little notes and drawings from my two children
  • That first cup of coffee for the day
  • Improving on my PB at the gym
  • Showering after being at the gym!
  • Rainbows
  • Glorious multi-coloured sunsets
  • My son telling me he loves me
  • Dark, foreboding clouds of an incoming storm
  • The sound of waves crashing on the rocks
  • A cup of tea and my current book
  • Watching my daughter dance
  • Listening to my daughter sing
  • The thought of spending time with good friends
  • A bunch of roses
  • Going to sleep when it’s pouring with rain outside
  • My husband offering to rub my feet
  • A beautiful piece of music
  • Cuddles with my kids
  • The knowledge of a job well-done
  • Birthdays
  • The promise of a sleep-in.

Oh, and beating my Champion Friend on Song Pop! (You know who you are!!!)

What gives you an instant smile?

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Are you a dream-weaver, or a dream-stealer?

Many of us have dreams, goals, things we want to accomplish. Unfortunately for most people, their dreams only ever remain that — a dream or a wish.make your dreams come true

Why is that?

Imagine what our world would be like if we all went about achieving what we were truly capable of. Seriously… take and minute and think of all the unlocked potential in the world (or at least in your immediate circle).

I’m sure you have had at some point, some goals you wanted to achieve. I’d also hazard a guess that many of these are unfulfilled.

If we really want to achieve something, then why don’t we just get on with it?

I believe it is because we’re afraid of how others will react.

After all, what do most of us do to people who succeed? We cut them down!

What could they possibly be doing that’s legal, to be earning that much money?
Who wants to be that obsessed with exercise and eating for the rest of their lives?
Who do they think they are, boasting about their new house?
They must have stood on a lot of people’s toes to get that promotion.

So we are left feeling scared of being different to the pack. After all, we don’t want people to talk about us like that, do we?

What if things were different? What if we surrounded ourselves with people who cheered us on instead of stole our dreams

Even better — what if we supported others in their dreams and goals, instead of pulling them down?

Something I have learnt over the past few months is the value of building people up. It has a surprising knock-on effect.

Since January this year, I have been part of an online group who all share similar goals — we want to be fitter, stronger, faster and healthier. Some of us just want to lose excess weight and to build muscle; others are chasing their goal of competing on stage. There is one inspirational woman, who at 57 years of age, has set her goal at competing and winning a medal at a Masters Powerlifting competition!

We are all at different stages of our journey and all have different hurdles to overcome. However, the amazing thing is, we celebrate each other’s successes. We encourage each other when the task seems too difficult, and we ask for (and give) advice when needed. I am continually amazed at the genuine enthusiasm, encouragement, care (and dare I say it), love that exudes from this group.

The most amazing part about it, is that most of us have never even met each other!

What this group has shown me is that by building others up, we actually build ourselves up. For every person who you look up to as an inspiration, there will be someone looking up to YOU for inspiration.

Imagine that! Someone finding YOU inspirational.

Just because you haven’t reached your goal yet, doesn’t mean you can’t inspire others.

The mere act of persistence, patience and hard-work, day after day, can inspire others.

The act of setting goals and doing what is required, even when you don’t feel like it can inspire others.

Having the courage to go after something, when the odds are against you, can inspire others.

Most importantly, being full of encouragement, praise and genuine happiness for someone achieving their goals can be inspiring. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realise this.

Not all achievements come easy. Some take years and years of hard-work, commitment and dedication. Certainly, amongst our online group there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally)!

I can personally testify that changing my body composition (e.g. the amount of fat and muscle I have), changing my eating habits, and training regularly involves hard work and sacrifice. There have been times when I have doubted myself, doubted the process and wondered if it is all worth it. Some days, it just seemed all too hard.

However, by being a dream-weaver myself — encouraging others, celebrating their successes, using their achievements as motivation for my journey — rather than being jealous of them, has helped me achieve success in a way that I never thought possible. It has helped me stay focussed on my goals. It has also helped me not to worry so much about what others may think.

Most importantly, it has led to other people supporting me in my dreams and goals. People who understand what I am trying to achieve, and the hard work required to get there. And that is where the power is.

As a group, we support each other, laugh with each other, encourage and praise each other. As a group, we achieve so much more than we would individually. As a group, we are powerful. And as a group, we are realising our unlocked potential.

While I still have a long list of goals I want to achieve, I am slowly ticking them off.

The lesson learned is this: you won’t find people to support your dreams, if you are busy stealing the dreams of others.

Supporting and encouraging others in their dreams, whatever they may be, opens your mind to more possibilities, more opportunities and more creative ways to make your dreams come true. It also opens your heart a little, so others can be there for you.

So what are you?

A dream-weaver, or a dream-stealer?

The search for inspiration

So school holidays are over and the kids are back to school. While part of me was a little sad to see the end of pyjama days, sleep-ins and Mario Kart Wii Championships, another part was a little excited.

It meant I could have my coffee in peace. There would be time for me. Time to write! inspire

But as I pulled out the school bags and organised uniforms on Sunday night, I despaired. My inspiration was gone. Just like that. Nowhere to be seen.

Did I leave it somewhere in the movie theatre, amongst all the popcorn on the floor and the seat? Maybe it went to hide in a quiet cupboard during my daughter’s 8th birthday afternoon tea. Or perhaps it disappeared among the mess on my lounge-room floor. Wherever it was, I couldn’t find it.

So I set about looking.

Hmm. Nope. Not in the kids’ school lunch boxes and not in the evening meal.

Maybe I accidentally wrapped it up in my daughter’s birthday presents. Damn. Will have to wait for the morning to find out.

No need to panic. I’m sure after a good night’s sleep, I’ll remember where it was.

I was wrong.

Monday

It wasn’t at the gym and nor was it amongst my daughter’s birthday presents. I didn’t see it at school assembly either and nor did I spy it while getting a few groceries.

It must be here somewhere!!!!

So I roamed about the house looking for my inspiration. It certainly wasn’t in the piles of birthday gifts distributed around the house. It most definitely WAS NOT in the ironing basket.

Think. Think. Where did you leave it?

Aha! Maybe it’s in the pantry. Hmm. Let’s see. There is a lot of stuff in there….

Actually, no. It’s probably not here. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s not in the container of left-over smarties used to decorate a butterfly cake. And it’s probably not in a piece of that left-over butterfly cake either.

I sighed as I shut the pantry cupboard with empty hands.

I continued that way for most of the day. Searching, searching — looking for my inspiration.

The light faded and night fell. When it was clear that my inspiration was not going to be found in my Monday night fix of MasterChef, I decided that the search party would be disbanded until the morning.

Tuesday

To be honest, I forgot to look for my inspiration when I got up. Normal routine kicked in. Workout, shower, wake kids, breakfast, get organised for school and good-bye kisses at the door.

No time to look now because I’m off to the hairdresser. Perhaps I’ll look later.

And while I was sitting back having my hair shampooed and my scalp massaged, it hit me. My inspiration! It was back!

All of a sudden, I was writing again.

Not with a pen and paper, or a computer screen, but with words rolling around in my head. It was as if dozens of thoughts simultaneously collided with each other and exploded into smaller pieces, creating a myriad of new thoughts and ideas.

It was crazy.

My inspiration had never been in any one particular place. It had been hiding in many things.

The great feeling I had at the end of my workout. The beautiful view out of my kitchen window as the sun was rising. My warm bowl of oats and cappuccino for breakfast. It was there between the pages of my magazine. It was in the beautiful winter sunshine.

It was only when I stopped looking for my inspiration, and went about doing the things that I loved — the things that gave me peace and made me feel relaxed —  that true inspiration came flooding back.

Welcome back little one. I’ve missed you.

Words – (part 1)

Some people see patterns in numbers. I never can see them which frustrates me a little. But give me a bunch of letters and I can make all kinds of words with them.

I have always loved playing word games.  It doesn’t matter what kind  – if it’s a game with words, I’ll play. But Scrabble would be my favourite.

Growing up, my family would spend three weeks at my grandparents’ unit in Caloundra (QLD). Of course we went to the beach, read books, ate ice-cream, had fish and chips and enjoyed our daily trek to the bakery. But among my favourite memories is playing Scrabble with my mum, dad and brother. My sister was really too little to play, but she liked to ‘help’. And we would sit there, looking out at the ocean and play with little lettered-tiles.

It wasn’t uncommon for us to play 2-3 games a day!

In fact my memories of Caloundra and Scrabble are so strong that on a holiday there late last year, I bought a necklace at a market. Part of it was made from an old type-writer button with the letter “N” on it. Another piece was an old wooden Scrabble tile with a butterfly on the front. (Butterflies remind me of my Nan whose unit we stayed in.)IMG_1862 On the back was the letter “N”. It is my happy necklace. It reminds me of happy times. Especially the Scrabble tile and typewriter letter!

Words are strange things. They are everywhere. They have the power to tell stories, to impart knowledge, and bring back memories. They have the power to uplift and to hurt. Something  uttered many years ago, when thought upon today, can take us back to the place where we originally heard it. And remind us of how we laughed, or cried. Words are powerful.

There are however, some words in the English language that I wouldn’t miss if they were wiped out completely. There are some that make me cringe, shudder or feel slightly ill.

Other than the usual profanities people utter, some of the most grating for me are:

  • FROCK — I know it is used to describe the gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) dresses spotted on the red carpet, but I cringe at the word. When I was little, an old-fashioned, rather large aunt (great aunt I think), commented on what a lovely frock I was wearing. To this day, ‘frock’ is what old, fuddy-duddy ladies wear.
  • SLACKS — similar to the reasons above. Just plain old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy
  • BLOUSE — didn’t women in the 70s wear them? Probably with flared slacks.
  • PEDAL-PUSHERS — another remnant of the 70s. These days they are just known as 3/4 pants
  • CHUCK, CHUNDER, HURL and BARF— actually any word that reminds me of the horrors of gastro
  • INFESTATION — just brings to mind a few scenes from Indiana Jones movies. You know the ones where there were gazillions of cockroach things, or the large pit of snakes. Which brings me to my next word….
  • SNAKE — the only thing worse than one snake is multiple snakes. That’s all I have to say.
  • SECRETION and DISCHARGE — just makes me think of bodily fluids that are not particularly nice
  • HOSIERY and PANTYHOSE — the only thing I picture when I hear these words are the tan-coloured, thick, support-like stockings that larger ladies used to wear. Or the type that old ladies wore that wrinkled around the ankles.

There are also some words or phrases that I find are over-used, and have become cliche. These phrases are often used in the work-place. You know, the ones that make your eyes roll.  For example:

  • at this particular point in time — why not just use the word ‘now’?
  • at the end of the day — that’s when we go home, right?
  • bottom-line — yep, everything comes down to that
  • get on board — on board what? Train, bus, plane????
  • benchmark — makes me think we are in the gym
  • touch base — I didn’t know we were playing baseball
  • win-win — no, that NEVER really happens at work, does it?
  • hit the ground running — no one has ever done that in my experience. People usually hit the ground with a thud.
  • think tank — totally ridiculous.

In fact I once knew people who would play ‘work-place lingo bingo’ during staff meetings, they were used that often! Certainly made their staff meetings more interesting, if nothing else. As much as I would have loved to have played (after all, it was a word game), I would never have been able to play with a straight face.

So there you have it. The words that don’t usually make it into my vocabulary.

Tell me, what are the words that you could do without?

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