Category Archives: Values

Joyful June

A new month, a new Action For Happiness calendar.

I am starting with Day 10 – take a photo of something that brings you joy and share it🧡 New books to read spark so much joy for me And I have so enjoyed rediscovering my love of sketching in recent weeks.

Meaningful May

Just a quick post to wish everyone out there a Meaningful May.

You can download a pdf version here – https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/875756/may_2020.pdf

I have found Action for Happiness an incredibly useful resource in these crazy days we are living.

Today I am being thankful.

Thankful for my life’s story so far and having had 30 days worth of travel memories to share in this space.

Thank you to those for joining me on my virtual wanderings down my travel memory lane. I am so grateful for your company.

Thank you to all those brave souls around the world who leave the comfort of their bubbles every day to carry out essential services and provide care for the sick and vulnerable. Your daily courage is such an inspiration.

Thankful for the courage that wells up within to face not knowing what tomorrow may bring.

Keep calm. Stay wise. Be kind.

actionforhappiness.org

Wanderings Day 26

Botswana Part 1:

So I got to call beautiful Botswana home for a few years. In particular, Maun and the heart of the Okavango Delta.

This isn’t just a travel memory. These next 3 days of virtual wandering are about highlighting moments in a chapter of my journey. A chapter that has shaped me profoundly.

Most of these “shaping” moments involve magical wildlife encounters. But this is also about people. People I still miss every day.

These “shaping” moments are bitter sweet. They are about love and they are about loss. A chapter of my life truly lived.

To me Botswana has a deep beauty. A rawness to her purity. A pure wild heart. I have never felt more myself anywhere, ever so at home. Here my soul sings.

My time in Botswana taught me this (even though I didn’t have these words then):

Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

Susan David PhD, author of Emotional Agility

Wanderings Day 25

So day 25 of this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.

From tomorrow, for the last 5 days of these wanderings I will be tackling the “big shaping” journeys of my life so far.

In light of that, I thought today would be a good opportunity to pause. Returning back to NZ for a retreat “travels with mom” reminisce. We stayed in the Valley Hut at Kōmanawa. A pure space if ever there was one.

I have already posted a few pics from this retreat into the NZ wilderness last year – https://purespaces.co.nz/a-middle-earth-retreat/

Today these pics have helped me soak up that retreat “atmosphere” once again. In these last days of lockdown here in New Zealand and with it being Anzac Day too, there is much time for reflection.

Time for this quiet revolutionary to take stock, re-evaluate and keep dreaming. I still believe in magic…. the magic that makes hope float up.

That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.

“Hope Floats” (1998) – Sandra Bullock as Birdee Pruitt

Wanderings Day 3

Day 3 and we are still in the Kgalagadi. This time highlighting landscape, light and colour. 

Light and colour would change constantly during a day and with the seasons or the mood of the weather.  I was profoundly captured with each change – a spiritual experience.  More a feeling than just using my sense of sight.

And the stillness, the quiet was incredible too.  Standing atop a red sand dune staring at the infinite horizon – serenity… You need to be comfortable with silence in the Kalahari, in my experience. 

There is a purity here I have never felt anywhere else – it is a soul journey. 

My Kgalagadi time actually inspired the name of this blog. 

But it wasn’t always serene.  There is a harshness here too.  It is a place of extremes and paradox… as so much of the human experience is.

The Space Between

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

COVID-19 lockdown day four here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Time at home to really consider the space between stimulus and response.

I wanted to share with you some of what I’ve been reading and watching. Trying to make sense of all of this – where is our opportunity to grow.

However, I should say first that not all of us are in a position to reflect on this current situation in the way that I am able to.  Self-care and self-compassion will look different for each of us at the moment.  Some of us out there will be dealing first hand with the tragedy that is this pandemic.

So, it is to those of us who are simply doing our bit by staying home, physical distancing and encouraging being together apart, that I address these reflections to.  And reflecting is important right now as Nature has given us this space between.

I really appreciate what Niki Harré says about reflecting in her book The Infinite Game: how to live well together.

“Reflecting is not a lazy way to avoid moving forward; it is a crucial part of untangling ourselves from the dominant cultural patterns that are so easy to replicate when we ‘just do it’. Reflecting takes skill”

Niki Harré

Let’s start with what seems to be the unravelling picture of the causes of the unprecedented time we now find ourselves in.

Bill Gates’ TED talk 2015 – this is a link to Bill Gates’ eerily accurate prediction about epidemics and what we would need to prepare.  His suggestions mostly focus on building capacity for epidemiologists, innovation, health ministry preparedness and government collaboration.  Much of this seems to have fallen on deaf ears and the work hasn’t been done.

Bill Gates’ TED Connects March 2020How we must respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  In this 50 minute conversation with Bill Gates a lot of ground is covered with regard to testing, therapeutics, vaccines and other logistics around managing the pandemic.

What I love is his pragmatic optimism, his belief in humanity and his unswerving belief in our creativity in terms of science and innovation.  But I do wonder, if we are not in that particular creative sphere, on that sort of scientific front line, where do our responsibilities lie?  As just average global citizens, what difference can we make, if any?

The next piece of the puzzle for me is why would a pandemic of this nature be an inevitability as Gates suggested in 2015?  Well, from my research it seems we have brought this on ourselves – the sheer numbers that make up the human population, the amount and the way we consume, the biodiversity loss and ecosystem service disruption we have caused, the accelerated climate change we have induced.

Here are some links worth reading/watching:

John Scanlon, African Parks Network has written an eloquent article on wildlife crime and the link between wet markets and disease spread.

A short video titled How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirusPlease note this is from early March so the statistics quoted are out of date.

This from the World Health Organisation.

And this from the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Now including a policy document.

If ever there was a time when Mother Nature herself was speaking up and giving credence to what scientists, researchers and conservationists have been saying for years, it is now.

But what can we do?  What hope is there?  Are there individual actions we can each take that will make a difference?

Yes, I believe so!  What follows are a few ideas that range from the deep and reflective to the more light-hearted, surviving lockdown ones.  All ways to consider the space between.

At times like these it is useful to pause and consider our values.  Values are our guiding forces.  They are quite individual to each of us, although will be influenced by our culture and upbringing.  My values are very much based on the environment and how I see my relationship with other living things and the planet in general.  Many people have values based on how they value their social relationships and still others may focus on themselves and their individual well-being.  Or a combination of these values.  None are right or wrong. But what I think is interesting is that no matter where your core values lie, we can no longer deny the need for change as the human species – behaviours and actions.  Setting a new norm that will impact on individual health and wellbeing, the good of humanity and future generations, as well as the planet we are so intimately connected to, is imperative.

If you want to read more about values and how values influence our decision-making, I highly recommend checking out the Barratt Academy for the Advancement of Human Values.  There is also a really useful values assessment tool on this website.

That was the deep stuff.  On to something more practical.  If we are mindful of how we are living on the planet and the impact we are having, we can take practical steps to mitigate and reduce negative impact.  For a super interesting read on a scale of solution focused ideas to address climate change, check out Drawdown.  I think there is something for everyone here, no matter your circumstance or where you find yourself in the world.  I found this information incredibly empowering!

Then, I really think we should be thinking about what we eat and how it is produced.  Regenerative agriculture makes the Drawdown list at number 11.  Here is a one farmer’s perspective – Angus McIntosh talks about the case for regenerative agriculture.  As I mentioned above, living mindfully is key and knowledge is power.  Food for thought 😉

I have another quote from Niki Harré’s Infinite Game that I think fits here:

But the idea kept popping into my head that life is based on radical cooperation. Cooperation fitted because the actions of each life form supported the growth of other forms; and it was radical because these actions were at the root of both individual survival and the functioning of the entire ecosystem.

Niki Harré

And what about surviving right now?

How about a coping calendar from Action for Happiness

Or travel virtually… my friend Carla from the Blue Sky Society Trust is currently taking us on an epic African Safari experience… get involved!

As for me…. Painting calms me down… here’s some new ones…

And that about wraps up a very long post.  I will be back in April hoping to post most days with photos and short stories from my travels over the years.  Join me for some virtual wanderings.

Take heart, dear ones.  All will be well.  Our collective courage, compassion and kindness in this space between will make it so.

Leaving you with a couple more quotes from the hugely inspiring Infinite Game which seem written for a time such as now….  Thank you, Niki Harré, for sharing your wisdom 💙

“This is what being an infinite player or a community that cares about our lives together means. Getting up each day, remembering what matters, and trying like hell to live that in the confusion of real life. It does not mean knowing what is right. Sometimes it might just mean rejecting that which is clearly wrong (as far as you can tell). And, I humbly suggest, this process may be aided by imagining life as an infinite game. Not because it is, exactly, but because imagining it so might help to focus us on what truly matters.”

“Love is at the heart of the infinite values. Radical cooperation is a way of translating this into the mind-set of an infinite player. It involves trying your best to let go of the belief, trained into us by our society’s emphasis on self-promotion and self-acquisition, that security lies in what you have cordoned off for you and your descendants. Insofar as security exists at all, it is better understood as lying in how well we cooperate with each other and the natural world in which we are embedded.”

Emotional Agility

It is the 15th of March.  One year ago today the Christchurch mosque attack happened.  One year ago Cyclone Idai devastated the coast of Mozambique.  I am sure many other tragic events eventuated that day.  However, I am pausing to reflect on the two events that impacted my world then.  But like I wrote in my blog post at that time, the impact on me was minimal and only caused some inconveniences to my plans.

In the year that has been, countless other traumas and tragedies have occurred across the world – personal ones, community ones and now global ones.  How do we cope with the sorts of emotions that surface at times like these – fear, anxiety, hopelessness, dread, anger, denial, grief, loss?  These feelings are uncomfortable to say the very least and it would be so much easier just not to feel them at all. Right?

But here’s the thing, life never promised us a positive-only ride.  If we tell ourselves that the difficult emotions that come with difficult circumstances are unfair, bad and to be suppressed or avoided at all costs, it really only makes things worse.

A year later and things are certainly not very rosy in the world at present.  What we are experiencing now requires all the tools we have as human beings to lean into the discomfort we are all facing. 

And so, I am reminded of what I have learned from two incredible women.

Brené Brown PhD in her book Rising Strong shares the wisdom her social science research has revealed about the benefits of showing up and leaning into discomfort.

“We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend…We can’t rise strong when we’re on the run.”

Brené Brown

Susan David PhD has been an absolute revelation to me.  I guess I relate to her because of the similar background and accent! 😊

Her TED talk is definitely worth a watch. 

“Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility”

Susan David

What a sentence!  Another quote that stands out for me is –

“Research now shows that the radical acceptance of all of our emotions — even the messy, difficult ones — is the cornerstone to resilience.”  

Susan David

“Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion, and especially the courage to take values-connected steps.”

Susan David

So, at this time of great turmoil and uncertainty I am trying to practice emotional agility…. And find the space for hope and gratitude.

Today I am wishing humanity emotional agility…. Let’s be agile!

Finishing off this post with a favourite quote from Brené Brown, this time from Braving the Wilderness…

Getting an Education

It’s been a while since my last post. I seem to be needing time to settle into this year and all it has held for me already.

I have been quite overwhelmed by the whole Kikki K Dream Life experience so far. There has been something so comforting in having those three big dreams on paper in the Dream Tin perched on the Vision Wall. They are there with their respective Master Action Lists attached, goals and milestones in the diary…. everything my organised mind could wish for.

And then… serendipity! Two things have popped up this month most definitely not on any Master Action List. But two things which beautifully match where I am at with working towards all three of those dreams coming true…. the Universe in perfect alignment with my Dream Life!!

So, while there is something delicious in the structure of this particular dreaming process, and having dreams written down, and to do lists in place, there is something equally intriguing about being open to boundless possibility too.

One of these serendipitous events has been enrolling in two different online courses.

Exploring Conservation – free courses through National Geographic. Nothing particularly new for me content wise but so thrilling to see how many people from all over the world are looking into this wanting to understand more!

The other course is through the Civic Ecology Lab, Cornell University. It has been wonderful to really study again. To reflect on lectures and webinars, to keep up with the readings and fill a notebook with ideas and reflections.

And here, again, unexpectedly finding a tribe – a group of humans literally all over the planet on a similar quest for knowledge and the tools to share their message and their passion for Mother Earth.

So, right now I’m taking the advice from my previous post to “Educate yourself for the coming conflicts” Mother Jones.

Learning is a life-long journey that is for sure.

Hope your 2020 has started on a positive note too.

Educate Yourself

Poster that used to hang in my classroom. Quote by Mother Jones. Illustration by the brilliantly talented zenpencils.com

Its been a few years now since I taught in a traditional classroom in a traditional school system. For awhile now I have turned my attention to the likes of Sir Ken Robinson. His book Creative Schools is a fascinating read and definitely, for me, the direction I think education should be moving.

Anyway, in this quiet start to my year it was time again to look through boxes of old teaching files and papers and decide what needs to go.

A special box put aside to place items that hold significance – valuable memories of that time in those classrooms and the young people who walked through my life then.

But other than that, stuff has to go. Another one of my all important rituals – taking stock, paring back and letting go.

Back to the poster. I had forgotten about this powerful message til I stumbled across it again in this tidy out. I used to look at this message on the wall everyday – strengthening and inspiring. Once again it resonates so deeply with me…. so I wanted to share it with you.

Sit down and read

Educate yourself

For the coming conflicts

Mother Jones