Dear 43 Things Users,

10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.

It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.

As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.

- The Robots.

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Never lose my sense of self


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MariumahSilly girl, lmao

You did it again. Molded yourself around another, when you knew you were the stronger and the better. You let your own wishes get lost in another’s weak tea theories, and you let yourself down. You did.

All is not lost though. Cuz SHE knew she couldn’t handle you, and you know she’s right. She can’t. And that’s ok.

There is another who will know it’s not about handling you at all. It’s about partnering with you, sharing your joys and sorrows, and walking beside you in this jungle of life.

It’s ok. Your friends are around you. Your children are around you.

You are stronger now than ever before. Rise! 5 years ago

MariumahIt Starts In Europe


The basis for the EU is formed. The last American soldier leaves Vietnam. J.R.R. Tolkein dies. The largest Arab-Israeli war to date takes place. The King of Afghanistan is deposed. Abortion is legalized. Federal Express begins service. The American Psychiatry Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Pearl Buck dies. Pink Floyd releases its album the Dark Side of the Moon.

I am born. 5 years ago


this is the story of my life, of all lives, of women everywhere, and of men too; it’s the story of life in general; of finding something out of nothing; of courage when there is only cowardice, of hope when all you see is despair…

it’s about growing up and moving on, even if you don’t know where you’re headed; it’s everything and nothing at all, it’s grimy and gutter-spun, reaching out for anything, god, anything that’s pure—... Read More

it’s the story of finding something beautiful and turning that beauty into YOU. 5 years ago


I wanna tell you about struggle and fear, and the choice to go on anyway, I wanna tell you about love that transcends the stupidity of living, I wanna tell you about strength that pushes you forward and into life, I wanna tell you about adventures that make you believe… 5 years ago

MariumahI'm going to lick my wounds

and then I’ll move on. However that is. 5 years ago

MariumahThis seems to happen to me..

...when I have a partner.

It’s something I struggle with. 5 years ago


‘Cuz I did, once. And it almost cost me everything to find me again.

Now I’m busy working on learning how to hold onto me, the deep, true quiet place inside, and live in this hectic little planet of ours.

It’s a good challenge. 5 years ago

GukkorI'll pass, thanks.

Many religions and belief systems make the self out to be the source of all suffering in the world. Take Buddhism, for example. One of the major goals is to eliminate one’s sense of “I,” the idea being that this is the only way to get rid of one’s suffering.

Personally, I don’t see this as a wise attitude to have. In fact, as I see it, our self-awareness is a precious gift, for it is what allows us to experience and enjoy each other and the world we live in. What are compassion, charity, and love without a self to experience and apply them in interaction with other beings? What is peace without a self to be peaceful? True, suffering emanates from the self, but so do virtue and joy! Without the self, there is nothing. Some find that a comforting concept, or even something to work toward; I do not.

I think that one of the main reasons for our being in this world is to learn how to responsibly exercise our sense of self, to learn to use it to protect, love, and give to each other, rather than harming, hating, and taking. Our world is not perfect; there is suffering and there is pain. However, because we are aware of ourselves and each other, we have the ability to improve the world, to lessen each other’s suffering, and we can use our own suffering to learn how best to do those things.

Trying to extinguish one’s sense of self is an attempt to escape from life, and regardless of what the future may bring, I’m not running away from it. I choose to embrace my sense of self, as well as that of others, for I refuse to scorn the wonderful gift we have been given. 6 years ago

Travelling LifeA dry leaf rolled

A new season, a new chapter… how amazing life is in the way it subtly and almost without notice renders us defenceless to the winds like a dry leaf and takes us on a journey of change and positioning. The skies once bluish take on a definite shade of blue, the colours shine with deepened vibrancy in the glow of the sun and the north breeze, whilst disturbing the peace of our natural inclinations, soften us to recognise beauty, truth and life. As the thermals life us in silent strength, we realise that the world we leave behind becomes more diminished in size until some aspects of our earthly home are lost from sight forever… it is then time to embrace a new season of change.

But is freedom found in our drifting? Can the vast views of an illimitable sky capture our gaze forever or must we come down to rest? With new horizons in view, what we had always perceived to be freedom incarnate becomes, upon reflection, a fabricated mirror of our own disillusions… true freedom we discover is not cradled in boundlessness, isolation, independence and limitlessness – it is in fact fostered in trust and a strong unwavering confidence in the powerful destiny of our lives.

In the last two months, the underside of my life has been rendered completely vulnerable to the elements of change. Every known reality has been confronted; each tiny seed of trust has been brought under scrutiny and my spirit has been wrenched in every soul entangling emotion imaginable – the equilibrium of life has changed. Letting go always takes a vulnerable-posturing soul-rendering step of courage… to release to the kite strings of forever the aspirations, thoughts, people and places that have defined our lives thus far and position ourselves willingly to embrace the coming winds of change. And yet we must… 7 years ago

Travelling LifeArmy pants and Pearls

The personification of who we are is always delineated between two extreme opposites. Just as the equilibrium of life is always diverging between extremes of environment, circumstances, and states of being – so too do our lives reflect this changing state of adaptation.

We are not two dimensional persons… our personalities reflect a gamut of emotions, interests and sometimes paradoxical temperaments that never cease to confound and perplex those who remain silent observers or bemused participators of our lives. In every way we are multi-dimensional; we embrace unconventionality over conformity, rebellion over obedience, we seek adventure rather than safety, we wear camo army pants and pearls, we dine in fine restaurants but relish the simplicity of a humble meal, we love driving fast, wielding power tools and testing the narrow limbs of life yet become timid in the face of vulnerability, we love exploring the far reaches of the globe but fail to pay heed to the sensitivities of the soul, we admire the delicate simplicity of a dafodil yet ignore the revered beauty of a rose, we climb mountains and attend black-tie board meetings, we espouse philosophies then learn to live them, we converse confidently and intellectually with people of great influence and we posture ourselves gracefully to speak simple encouraging words to the impoverished and lonely, we heighten our stature with heels but love the freedom of bare feet, we are adventurous in life yet apprehensive in trust, we love creating but despise being the object of someone’s creation, we live life at its fastest pace but allow our hearts to be stopped by the beauty of a sunset, we are tenacious in our pursuit of truth yet relentlessly evasive in speaking it, we hate the cold yet love the snow, we break every rule yet in quietude learn submission, we love the game yet are terrified of its demands to relinquish control, we drink scotch yet retreat from social benders, we are fiercely independent yet find inspiration in like-mindedness, we love the heights of competition yet hate the turning of its back, we are methodically focused and yet inclined to spontaneity, cultured yet expressive, wise yet irrational, bohemian yet conservative, disciplined yet free-spirited, impulsively intolerant yet meticulously patient, openly artless yet contemplatively reserved, strong yet compassionate…

Our lives are a complex web of contradictions and paradoxes, there is no formula for their self expression nor is there an imposed ceiling to their eccentricities or unconventionality of behavior… we are unique. Our lives are not always to be understood by ourselves or by others, but they are to be lived out loud. We cannot forsake who we are to simply blend into our environment like a chameleon but neither can we be too brusque, insensitive and inconsiderate in imposing our self-learned behaviors and philosophies on others – therein lies the delicate thread of balance. Immature in wisdom but courageous in my openness to learn I know the journey for me has only just began and a lifetime of learning and growing lies in wait. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeLeft Brain or Right Brain

In trying to assimilate who we are out of the chaos of life… we tend to compartmentalize and categorise ourselves. By streamlining our interests and tightening the reigns on alluring diversions, we seek to disband that which is inharmonious and incongruous to our “apparent” talents or those pursuits deemed worthwhile. In essence we typecast ourselves to fit a certain formula to which we hold onto with adamancy and unbending resolve. What is the driving force of these self-imposed limits? Is it an attempt to gain a tighter control on our lives? Or is it rather a way of reducing the risk of failure… staying close to the safe harbour of familiarity rather than braving the storms that gather over the open seas?

I was recently inspired by a friend who, recognizing the imbalance of attention dedicated to left brain thinking – logic, analysis and accuracy, sought to rectify it by pursuing a creative outlet. Though realizing himself to be embarking upon completely foreign territory, my friend went to an art shop, bought a ‘learn to paint’ kit and, last night e-mailed me with a photo of his first painting. Being a right brain thinker and endowed with natural creativity, I never really comprehended the challenge of transitioning one’s thinking until now. Any such choice which flows against our natural instincts does require us to leave the safe harbour… to render ourselves vulnerable to an alien world of thought and deliberation and see where the winds will take us.

Sadly, few people take this risk. They categorise themselves as being “not creative” and therefore forfeit the great delight of reveling in the art of self expression and creative realization. A red and orange hot air balloon floated over a running desert brook and its alluringly peaceful imagery painted my mind with a new perspective of art and of life. How rarely we see beyond the ceilings of our minds and awaken our imaginations to another way of exploring life… how much of life we miss. 7 years ago

Travelling LifePlaying Life Hard

When does life end? When does it begin? The August Half Iron-Man in Yeppoon inspired some reflections on this very question as it embodied the very essence of a ‘no age mindset’. The cross section of people who participate in this event stripped away pretences of what ‘old age’ is meant to be like… and any preconceptions of a sedentary and passive lifestyle were suppressed as I bore witness to 65, 75 and 80 year old men and women competing in an event which would make most ‘young’ people feel faint even thinking about it.

As the observant bystander, I could only be inspired by the tenacity and endurance of this older generation… Stephen my brother, on the other hand found himself humiliated as people no less than 50 years older than him swam and rode past him at a torrent pace. What made these men and women want to push themselves to such a limit? Wouldn’t they have more excuses than anyone not to compete in such a gruelling test of physical and mental strength? Would anyone judge them for sitting at home in front of the television as we suspect many ‘old’ people do? What made them put away the white hats and lawn bowls leaving the manicured grassy green behind and walk two kilometres down a long beach at 7:00 one Sunday morning at Yeppoon to begin a gruelling 7 hour physical challenge? What made them choose to redefine the stereotype of “old”?

Someone once asked the question ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ That is a defining question of our generation – how would we live if there was never a benchmark set, an expectation defined or a stereotype imposed upon us that insists we “act our age”? The stamina and willpower of these 70 and 80 year old athletes reinforced the fact that our capacity is limited only by the height of our determination. The secret of their success when they crossed the finish line after 6 or 7 hours of intense competition could be summarised in one single sentence ‘live life to the full’. Don’t retire from life because it’s the norm, don’t give up competing with those who are younger because they might overtake you, don’t refrain from participating in the race, don’t hold back from “redefining” life on your own terms. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Impalpable Yardstick of Success

What is this human condition that causes us to benchmark ourselves against others’ achievements? By comparison we draw conclusions of our progress and status and by critical analysis of other’s successes – we rate ourselves accordingly to mark our place in the grand spectrum of life. Our yardstick becomes not the ceiling of our own aspiration or talent – rather it becomes the perception of another’s ‘success.’

In this rapid cognition of comparison, we do not permit ourselves to be happy or conceivably ‘successful’ until we have satisfied the egotistical criteria of ‘human nature’ and the misguided perception of ourselves. Happiness, we perceive is to be found when we reach this unnamed, unquantifiable, impalpable and illusionary state of being; when we become like…, when we achieve…, when we obtain… when we are seen as… when we arrive at… We perceive our life will be happy, complete and fulfilled at such a time when… However, with this mentality as the focus of all our hopes and endeavors, it is more than likely that ‘when’ will never come. We shall always be in a state of waiting, of hoping to arrive at that station which proves ever elusive and indefinite.

The yardstick of human nature is, however, rather misgiving in its capacity for applause and true recognition… and so, along the way, we become discouraged by our lack of progress and true satisfaction. The bountiful meadows of joy and contemplated happiness are spread out before our eyes like an enchanted dream, yet such a destination seems to continually allude us as long as we indulge in this self-flagellating battle to ‘compete’. Opinions and expectations, whilst they may weigh heavily upon our shoulders in the immediacy of the moment, do tend to in the longevity of life – fade into the grey cloaked realm of insignificance. The intensity of emotion, fear of judgement and subjectivity of opinion which confronts us at our crossroads of life appears no more than a mere speck of dust on a distant horizon when viewed though the telescope of past memories.

The notion of ‘success’ is shrewd, intransigent and unrelentessly sympathetic to independence of thought or inspired direction. It demands of us a single-mindedness of occupation and focus and seeks to enforce upon us a set of laws by which our lives should be governed… ‘Meet this criteria, check these boxes, reach this status and your life shall be perceived as happy and successful.’ We strive our whole lives to meet this ideal – to say the right things, to meet the right people, to make the right grades and follow along the yellow brick roads of life alongside the inspired direction of others… but what do we have to gain?

Have we found happiness within ourselves? Have our lives collided with the selfless beauty of our dreams or have they followed the ‘rulebook’ of other’s expectations? Have we felt the fresh soulful winds of endless possibilities blowing upon our faces or have we long been hemmed in by the dull and lifeless stone wall of the confined life? Have we known what it is to give with unexplainable generosity of heart and feel the inexpressible delight of moving beyond ourselves? Have we learned the art of gratification and fulfillment in the face of adversity and poverty of body or spirit? Are we aspiring to others’ definitions of success or are we forging our own lives, drawing our own blueprints, reaching for ideals previously unsought after, aspiring to dreams which are intuitively our own? Success cannot be calculated by the yardstick of another’s accomplishment, it can be measured only by the innate capacity in each of us for greatness and in what degree our lives reflect that which has been entrusted to our care. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Hues of a Water Colour Painting

The world is silenced by so many unsaid words and fuelled by the cognitive energy of thoughts. Our thoughts justify reason and rationalize decision, they substantiate our lack of explanation, validate our interpretations and clarify misunderstanding by means of analytical elimination and exposition… in a complex DNA of explicable irrationality and illuminated confusion, thoughts are born and are the means through which our lives are translated.

Thoughts can inspire, they can ignite passion, motivate behaviors and compel the soul to surge upward towards the ever-enticing materialization of success. Yet, overanalysis of such things can also cause us to define too rationally the definition of ‘success’. In seeking to meet the lofty heights set for us by well-meaning friends and critics, we disband ourselves from that which inspires and fulfills us most to reach another’s interpretation of “happiness”.

It follows then, when such heights seem far from reach, we retreat into the void of escapism. As we fail to reach those lofty expectations, our lives seem to cloud and wash away like a chalked painting beneath a rain-laden sky, every surity – everything we know and understands begins to lose its depth and clarity. In trying to recover that which was lost, we run away and seek to re-create a new picture with bold markings of bright and glorious colours. We identify the greatest flaw of our past as that of allowing the world to see its creation and so, we seek to avoid that trap again by hiding away in a cave.

Though this new rendition may be beautiful and its artistry inspiring… it will never be so glorious… for it will not carry with it the strength of admiration and critiquing that the other demanded. The first painting, whilst being vulnerable to the elements, was expressed ‘wide-open’ for the world to love and admire… yet this second creation, in all its beauty is hidden within a darkened and solitary cave which bears the promise of a rainless future but excludes the world from viewing its creation.

In the beautiful outworkings of our confused minds we rationalize the thought that when… our picture is complete, when… the colours are as glorious as we imagine them to be, when… our artistry can be esteemed to the likes of Picasso or Da Vinci… then we shall emerge and unveil to the world the beauty of our creation. Yet in this dark and hollowed cave we have not the light to see clearly and our lines begin to blur, our drawing is not so precise as it was in the clarified brightness of day and our colours do not draw such beauty as they possessed when reflected by the canopy of blue limitless sky. Days draw into weeks, weeks draw into months, months draw into years and still our masterpiece is unready to unveil to the world. What we fail to realise is that every day that passes only widens the great chasm between the artist and his dream. In trying to reach perfection in the eyes of his audience and achieve that sanctified state of ‘success’, the artist is only paralyzing himself from living a fulfilled and happy life.

Let the world see the journey – not only its end, let it be inspired by the grit of the challenges and amused by the colour of its adventure, let it be lifted by the hopes and dreams beset by the young artist, let it humbled and reverenced by the mistakes, but most of all – let the world be a part of its creation, for it is the journey which creates and makes beautiful the masterpiece, not the momentary success of the unveiling of a picture.

Will it be the limit of our thoughts or the defyingly courageous expression of our lives which will ultimately set the blueprint for our future? 7 years ago

Travelling LifeKnow Thyself

Of Shakespeare’s many sonnets… it is these two simple words that have born the greatest truth in my life “Know Thyself.” Sometimes we lose who we really are in a quest to conform to some other ideal, some illusion of who the world says we should be. Many of my posts reiterate the tragedy of becoming a copy of someone else… because in many ways that is my greatest fear – that I should one day look back and realise I was not true to myself, I didn’t express who I was as an individual.

I met up with someone for lunch a few days ago. I did not know her well but for some reason felt to give her a call and suggest that we spend the day together. Over a sumo salad we discussed the philosophies of life and she said something to me that I shall never forget. She said that before she had even met me, by observation alone – she felt I knew exactly who I was. ‘Don’t confuse it with independence,’ she said, ‘I know you are fiercely independent, but it’s not that which sets you apart. It’s the way you compose yourself, the way your views carry boldness and strength of conviction, the way you are “you” no matter where you are or what situation you find yourself in. You know who you are.’

How do we ever engage in the pattern of thinking that we have to be someone else to be accepted? That we have to dress differently, think more philosophically, draw more artistically or work more methodically? Over the years I have changed, I have grown and matured, but it is not my core self that has changed… it is that my core strengths have been developed and the audacity of my dreams has been enlarged.

When we get to know someone else more intimately, our views of them change – our perceptions are given more ground and our opinion more authority, we become more relaxed in their presence and more respectful in their absence because we have made a personal connection. This analogy is true also for ourselves… when we know who we are, our opinion of ourselves and of others changes, our self-belief is given wings, our self-esteem is given validity, our dreams become tangible realities, our giftings are given qualified distinction and aloneness transcends from a fearful threat to an enticing respite. It is only when we know who we are that we can truly know and understand the world around us. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Power of a Moment

Are we ever truly conscious of our lives? Certainly we reflect on events that have shaped our lives, words which have had powerful ramifications or moments that define victory or defeat… but what of the smaller moments? Those insignificant fragments of time which give to us no glorious rendition of enlightenment, glamour or success but are merely slow-passing moments which constitute the most part of our “journey”.

As I was driving home last night, I became acutely conscious of my life at that very moment in time. Falling rains distilled the silence of the evening, coldness had availed itself upon the earth whispering in its winds the promise of an early winter and streetlights became like golden flames made alive by the periodic swiping of windscreen blades. Yet it was not only the physical surroundings to which my awareness was drawn but rather what constituted my life at that very moment – my ever-present thoughts and challenges, the clothes which I was wearing, the current songs which hallmarked this period in time, the house in which I lived and how it felt – however normal or mundane it may be envisioned – to drive up my driveway, habitually lock the car in carefree fashion, turn the somewhat rusted brass knob of my front door and walk in. Will I have this car in a few years time, will the house I now call my home be the very same one which I enter five years down the track and will I still step into a darkened noiseless hallway or will it be filled with light and the sound of voices? What books am I reading, how are they changing my views? What friends do I call dear, how are they investing into my life and developing me as an individual? What thought are impressing upon my mind, will they even be relevant a month or year from now?

If life retains its consistency of change and forward movement as it always has… it is virtually impossible for us to maintain our lives as they are now for any lengthened period of time. Our opinions and ambitions change as our mind matures, our circumstances re-invent themselves and bring with them new challenges and opportunities, our dress sense is influenced by the seasons and fashions and are minds are continually broadened by politics, social movement and societal expectations causing us to adopt new thought, philosophy and heightened ambition.

With the view that indeed our lives will be different a day, a week, a month, or a year from now… I think it important for the moment to relish in what defines us TODAY. To recognise who we are not in 10 years time but in this very moment, for inevitably that realisation and recognition is what will give depth, perspective and enrichment to our lives in the future. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeLife poses before us two choices

Life sometimes poses to us, decisions that must be made which will direct the course of history. Their consequences delicately balance upon two very diverse and opposing outcomes – one of considerable threat to the emotional balance of our universe, and the other being silhouetted in the promise of unmatched opportunity and unknown freedoms. The most comfortable choice venerates painlessness, esteems complacency and almost always guarantees a certain emotional stability in its retreat; however more often that not, this so-called easy choice compromises our very belief system and distills in us an insuppressible absence of peace.

It is the second choice that we fear the most. For though its promises far outweigh those guaranteed in the safe realm of living, its hardships are equally extreme. Though unequalled breakthrough may be the assurance of our choices, rising forth from the shadows are murmurs of quantifiable threat and momentary instability, isolation of thought and fierce battles of mind and in the dark of indecision rumors grow of the toils and threats that confront the paths of the ruthless.

Some abandon the pensive thoughts that plague them by suppressing any notions of change into a quiet and darkened room of their mind. There, these agitations are compelled to stay in silent protest until another moment convenes sometime in the future that seeks to bring their case to justice. Others however count the cost, though great it may be, and reprieve these unsettled issues of mind of the imprisonment which they suffer. They launch into the deep waters of the unknown and stake themselves at the very edge of vulnerability, realising it to be the only way of being granted true freedom.

In the movie Tomb Raider 2, there is a dramatic scene which seeks to juxtapose the two strongest of emotions – love and conviction in face-to-face combat, and challenge which is the stronger of the two. In the silence of a moment with tears running down her face, Lara Croft pulls the trigger and shoots the very person she loves in order to stay true to her convictions and the responsibility that has been endowed upon her life.

The gun I held in my hand not so long ago possessed no physical properties, only symbolic intent. It took every bit of strength within me to pull the trigger but, with tears rolling down my face – I did. I chose the road less traveled, forfeiting the siege of heart-drawn emotion to stay true to the strength of my convictions and my inherent responsibilities. It’s not an easy choice to make but looking back a few weeks later with a sense of unexplainable peace – I will always know that it was the right choice. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeWe each have a Story

When I was in Amsterdam in 2002, a group of us traveled to the city markets where I was, much to my chagrin, given the assignment of initiating conversation with three random individuals to gain a wider understanding of the demographics, background, ethnicity and cultural diversity of the famous multi-national European hub. I considered the mission to be a meaningless diversion which would achieve little more than social malingering but, discarding my personal indifference; I complied with the task given.

It’s paradoxical and seemingly ironic that when I reflect on my travels through Europe, my excursion to the Amsterdam market lingers as one of the most poignant memories of my time abroad. In my disconcerted rationale, I had approached the task in a sterile and diagnostic fashion – seeking statistics, information and ‘data’ but had overlooked the very object itself – humanity. I talked to a lady selling watches who told me her story, how she came to be in Holland, how she forfeited a life of wealth and affluence for the price of love, her travels as a young girl, her experiences as an older woman… I was humbled by the realization that information and ‘data’ will be forgotten and superseded in days, months or years but I will forever remember this woman’s story as long as I live.

Everyone has a story; a narrative of their lives that is unlike any other. Some stories are tragic, others are heroic, some command the admiration and following of thousands, others evoke hatred and revulsion. Whether they are revered, spurned, remembered or forgotten – every story is unique. War, suicide and human tragedy is interwoven with adventure, family and love, Kindness is juxtaposed with iniquity, abundance with poverty, weakness with strength. Some fight for liberty, for their voice to be heard, for freedom, constitution or independence, others simply fight for their right to live.

We live in a world of diverse experiences, freedoms, rights and histories, yet somehow we think that everyone should be or is ‘just like us’. We stereotype others based on ‘information’, our relationships border on superficiality, our conversations are steeped with substance-lacking statements and pleasantries and our motives are almost entirely self-serving. My experience in Amsterdam and the memory of people met in countless nations and situations of my life remind me daily that the fabric of humanity is distinguished not through the transposition of information or emotionless ‘data’, but rather through the uniquely compelling and inspiring stories of individual’s search for meaning, direction and truth and their bold assertion of self, regardless of prevailing circumstances. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeAn Artistic Interpretation of Self

We are inspired by that which we admire and like. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Charles Dickens and Mozart have inspired a following because their art and their talent convey emphatically the essence of who they were as inspired individuals. Excellence of talent, inspiration of mind and colour of personality is interwoven into an art form which now commands the title of ‘a great masterpiece.’ There are other artists whose art equally demands veneration yet is more open to individual interpretation such as Sylvia Plath’s dark prose and poetry and Pablo Picasso’s more abstract pieces of art. Picasso’s work is not so universally accepted as Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces simply because it is not so easily interpreted or understood. Some art critics admire the complexity and depth of his art whilst others dismiss it as being unrefined, too nonfigurative or lacking in meaning. Despite however, differences in personal taste and preference few would ever question the genius and talent of the two artists.

On this train of thought… though I respected and admired Picasso’s work – If it did not inspire some creative thought of my own or communicate resonance and meaning into my life, should I have it on my wall? Would it represent me and my tastes or simply be an adaptation and acceptance of what others perceive as a brilliant and unequalled masterpiece? An admiration of excellence or quality should not, I believe be confused with personal taste or preference. The fact that Louis Vuitton is recognised as the leading French design label in women’s accessories does not give justification enough to buy a $2000 handbag that could not command a $2 donation (without the label) at the local op shop.

These random thoughts were given rise to questioning recently when my better judgment on a purchase was swayed by the preference of someone who’s considered opinion and personal tastes I sought and admired. In bending to his reasoned judgment and enthusiastic passion, I discarded my personal instincts and compromised my ideals to fit the new image of someone else’s “Picasso”. Though I initially went ahead with the purchase, it didn’t take long for me to realise in a deep soul searching torment of unrest that this Picasso did not inspire me, it did not resonate with my creativity or personal tastes. Marked by a high seal of excellence with workmanship that commanded admiration – many would have considered it the Michelangelo of its genre. Yet, when I searched the deep recesses of self, I discovered that which I had always known but had suppressed in light of higher opinion? it didn’t reflect who I am. It didn’t encompass my views, it didn’t reflect my personality or tastes, the Michelangelo or Picasso of others was, in my eyes, just another painting that was beautiful in its own right but meant nothing to me.

I reversed my decision on the ‘Picasso’ and all anxiety and unrest faded into oblivion… My views were again my own, my personality and creative tastes possessed once more full reign of my decision-making functions and I regained my true sense of self. In retrospect, the scenario demonstrated the vulnerability and fragility of our minds to accept the views of others and compromise our own. It reiterated to me the necessity of knowing who I am without question, without judgment and sometimes without even understanding and never swaying from that poise. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Perfection of our holistic selves

Is it our environment that invariably controls who we become or, conversely, is it a superior instinct within us that surpasses all other external influences? I don’t think there is a right or a wrong answer and that both philosophies hold some measure of truth and validity. We like to put ourselves into boxes, perfectly angular in shape and diametrically exact enough to ensure full enclosure. Within these perfectly formed boxes is contained our perception of who we are as individuals… our perfectly rounded personality profiles, the telling influence of our star signs, the colours that compliment our skin type and the way we like our steak cooked – well or medium rare. Also contained within this box is our profile judgement as assessed by our circle of friends and our measure of wealth that ultimately pertains to some ranking of social success or economical distinction. So long as our lid is perfectly closed, we think ourselves immune to criticism or objection and observe our lives to be in perfect balance and rhythm.

Despite our belief or in some respects ‘hope’ in this packaged-box lifestyle, there comes a time when we will inevitably become disappointed and disillusioned with our small contained lives. We are holistic individuals, we were never created to be flat-packed persons with only one side and no dimension, yet we’ve become experts at promoting ourselves and believing ourselves to be one-sided people. I believe that though we have a core system of self beliefs and strengths and personalities, we all have variations of ourselves. Circumstances have the power to bring out in us a certain side of our personality or outward expression of self and as circumstances change – so too does our ability to adapt, learn and explore a new side of who we are as holistic individuals.

Were I an artist, undoubtedly my style of dress would change somewhat as would my circle of friends. I would not be deviating from who I am as a unique individual; rather I would be expressing a different side of my individuality. Were I an archaeologist, my occupation would necessitate a change of scenery, attire and pattern of thought but would I be changing the essence of who I am? I believe not. The other question to be asked is whether, through these adaptations of ourselves we can maintain those friends and acquaintances who perhaps have only seen the one side of who we are. Is there any longer a relational foundation, a common system of beliefs, a respect for the individualistic nature of the other, an identification of personalities and interests, or… have suddenly two worlds been divided?

A strong sense of self… a phrase that transcends circumstances and overrides occupation, interest or circle of friends, an ideal that aspires to an internal centeredness regardless of external influence and expectation, a guarantee that all who wander are not lost and that the very ideals which they are seeking will some day be found. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeBending to Societal Expectations

I think sometimes we inadvertently lose ourselves in the unwritten laws of the ‘status quo’. Call it ruthlessness, insensitivity, eccentricity or social disregard… but I refuse to believe that our lives should be ruled by what society deems as socially acceptable and expected behaviour. I have a barrage of romantic comedies because sentimental romanticism is appropriated as having appeal to all women regardless of age, nationality or professional status. I detest romantic comedies – I feel they are shallow, unsubstantiated and generally a waste of the viewer’s time and effort. They present views that are fictitious, feelings that are adulterated by erroneous sentimentalism, idealism that bequeaths little regard to the real world, relationships plagued with soft-clad immorality and plots which lack resilience, pragmatism and substance.

I seek not to pass judgement or ruling on the mass of women who live for idealism and romance… but rather to question my own flawed judgement in disregarding my own sense of self in favour of the majority, succumbing to social expectations in direct contradiction to my own partialities and standards. There is however no time to lament and wallow in self-criticism and regret… I have now taken the necessary measures to eradicate from my DVD collection every film without merit or interest to myself… each disposal being justified solely on this simple question ‘is its viewing worth 2 hours of my life?’ Few met the criteria and therefore my collection has been lessened somewhat.

For me the exercise was simply an illustration of how bound we can become by ‘the flow’ and how important it is to measure our lives not by what society deems socially acceptable but rather by our inner values and self-interpreted individuality. 7 years ago

Travelling LifeA Reflection of Truth

I was speaking to my aunt this morning about a close friend of hers whose husband had just passed away. (for the sake of this analogy, I will call the woman Dorothy) Though it had been two weeks since his passing, her grievances were still very great and yet rather than dwelling on the barrenness of her circumstances – she had decided to embrace life.

Dorothy showed up at a Christmas Party a few days ago in a beautiful shirt – one that received an overflowing of compliments and yet seemed so out of character for the somewhat conservative woman. When people started to enquire what prompted her to buy the shirt she replied ‘my husband never liked loud colours and so I never wore them, yet with his passing I feel that I need to be who I am, not who I was ‘with him’. Her husband had liked black coffee and his aversion to anything new or different had persuaded her to like the same, yet now she says ‘I’m trying all the new flavours, I have a whole cupboard full of flavoured coffees and syrups and I love it!’

It’s amazing how we become what others want us to be, we adjust; we compromise; we submit and we learn to change who we are in order to fit someone else’s expectations of us. I cannot say that this is the wrong way to live, for sometimes, no matter how radical we are inclined to be – we do need to find some grounding and stability with those around us in order to maintain social cohesion. A marriage would not work if both partners sought to do only what they wanted bearing no consideration for the other, nor would a work relationship benefit from two obstinate and belligerent employees who refused to embrace change or submit to the differing creativity of another.

The movie ‘Elizabethtown’ provides a somewhat abstract view of relationships. One angle of the story is a woman grieving over the death of her husband. To overcome this grievous state, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, trying to fill the hole of his absence and in doing so – fill some of the holes in her own life… those things she’d always wanted to try but never had, those classes she’d always wanted to take but never had the time. She started to dance, to take cooking classes, to learn how to fix a car and get to know her next door neighbors. Through his passing, she in fact discovers who she is.

I never want to reach a day like these two women did when I realise that in the subservience of compromise and necessity to adapt… that I have in fact lost the essence of who I am. That I have conformed so much to someone else’s lifestyle and expectations that I no longer have a strong sense of what drives me, what delights me, what inspires me and makes me the person I am. Our identity is not only made up by our key decisions of life, our personality or jobs… it is also made up by the small inconsistencies and preferences that make us unique. It is our favourite food, the way we always read the ending of a book first or insist on reading the credits of a movie even when we don’t recognise any of the names. The perfectionist manner in which we make our bed or mathematically formulated plan of doing the dishes, our unjustifiable loyalty to German coffee or our addiction to Turkish delight, our fascination with collecting rocks or snow globes or inbred desire to skydive on every continent… all of these eccentricities make up the blueprint of our DNA.

Many people think that changing a small element of who we are for the sake of “fitting in” is no big deal, but a compromise no matter how big nor how small somehow tends to breed further compromise ‘for the sake of our loved ones’, more slight adjustments or amendments ‘for the greater good of mankind’, more shifts in thinking ‘to avoid arguments and altercations’, a degeneration of views and opinions ‘so not to rock the boat’ and further sacrifice of personal preference ‘because it’s not conducive to the current environmen’... until one day we discover that in all the minor adjustments – we have in fact lost ourselves.

There is a delicate balance to be found in ‘standing alone in the midst of a crowd’ – maintaining the essence of who we are in the midst of differing views, environment and opinion. There is no formula to be found for it attainment, it depends rather upon the wisdom and intuition of the individual and the ever-important pursuit of finding, apart from all other controlling factors, our own ‘sense of self.’ 8 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Outward Expression of Confidence

Confidence is something that is both elevated and abused in our emerging society. The rising generation has more opportunities for personal growth than any past generation; we are inundated with resource & information and surrounded by a climate that is ever-evolving and progressing forward. Special needs are met in the classroom environment and achievement rewarded with certificates and accolades, there is a wider acceptance of differing views on the political and social scene and unlike centuries ago, creativity and out of the box thinking is encouraged and fostered in our cultural climate and communal environment.

Yet counteracting these seemingly affirmative movements there are cumulatively greater negative pressures than ever before. Societal peer pressure has increased dramatically in the last 20 years due to a number of factors including the progression of our materialistically driven society, the emergence of Hollywood as a trend-setter to the rising generation and the influence of 21st century icons on the music, Hollywood, artistic, political and cultural scenes. Eating disorders, suicides, teenage depression and teenage pregnancies have become more commonplace as self-esteems have been floored by the oppressing environment. I spoke to a girl a few days ago and her first words were ‘It’s just Nicole’ in a small timid voice. It’s just Nicole? Since when do we become so inferior that we regard our importance to that of a second class citizen?

This small example once again reiterated the importance of this goal in anyone’s life. ‘Never lose your sense of self.’ For with a sense of self, we have never valid reason to lack confidence or assurance in who we are, we are never given cause to be played by the world’s standards and expectations nor pressured to succumb to the pressure of our environment. When we remove the just, we have an identity, a name, a standing in the world that is beyond reproach… our views start to have validity and our words begin to be heard, we become asserters not only of the opinions we hold but also of ourselves. When we start to lose respect for who we are, others start to lose respect for what we have to say. 8 years ago

Travelling LifeHow do you like your eggs?

There are few people in our generation who have grasped a true idea of who they are as individuals. We live in a consumerist society that continually plugs the newest trends, the most advanced technologies and the fashions and modernity’s that are in vogue. Yet with all these numerous diversions of opinion, thought and popular trends, it is so easy to lose ourselves in it all.

In the movie ‘Runaway Bride’, this issue of self-identity is explored in a somewhat unconventional manner, it is masked behind the question “how do you like your eggs?” Julia Roberts, the lead character in the movie cannot respond with any assurance to that question, because all her life she has opted for ‘whatever they’re having.’ With the priest she liked them scrambled, with the first fiance he liked them fried, with the bug guy she liked them poached and now – egg whites only. She has gone ‘with the flow’ for so long that she does not have a mind of her own even in regards to something so trivial as the way she likes her eggs cooked.

I cringe every time I hear that popular assertion ‘I’ll have what she’s having’, or ‘I’ll have the same.’ Though there are times and places where our preferences fall in line with those of another person, more often than not – these similar states of minds are in fact just the easy way out. As Richard Gere points out in the movie, ‘it’s called not having a mind of your own.’ Not having confidence enough to sustain your good opinion, not being brave enough to be the odd one out or have a preference that is not conducive to that of the company you’re with. It’s not about the eggs – it’s about knowing who you are and what you like; having formed opinions, views and preferences and standing by your convictions in decisions no matter how large or how small they may be. 8 years ago

Travelling LifeThe Sacrifice of Success

Somewhere there exists this unwritten expectation of society that we must in every endeavour meet other’s ideals of our own ability, education and distinction. Somehow with this view in mind, we walk our lives in light of everyone else’s expectations of us. We lie to others to cover up our own inadequacies giving them the impression we have succeeded with flying colours. And to ourselves, we justify our misrepresentation of the truth with some feeble excuse that we could have done better if… if what? By trying to be someone we’re not or trying to achieve (or seem to achieve) something we didn’t – how does that better others opinions of us? In fact, how does it better our own? The truth is, we degrade our faith in ourselves and should others at some point realise the truth themselves, we also degrade their faith in us. Every time we try to be ‘that person’ that (we think) others want us to be – we lose another little bit of ourselves.

We live in a society that puts success on a pedestal, that embraces status quo as a reality and conformity as a rationalized stance. However, should we rise or rather fall to these expectations, we sacrifice every effort we have ever made to create ourselves as an individual, we throw away every reputation that is worth something, every honour that has been entrusted to us. All in all, I would rather be inadequate, to be a failure in light of others expectations than pretend to be someone I’m not. For if I fail as me, it is a position far better than succeeding as someone else! 8 years ago

Travelling LifeBuilding our House

I was inspired by this short story for it questions our dedication to excellence in every sphere of life. So often we are tempted to take shortcuts or take an inferior approach to a task when it’s not something we really want to do. In our own lives we resolve to shoddy workmanship and inferior materials to the detriment of ourselves and others. In essence, we shortchange ourselves of all that life has to offer. The unanswered question in all of our lives is simple – what is our dedication to excellence, where does it start and where does it end.

If we were building our own “house” or “business”, would we perform at a much higher level than when we are building for or working for someone else? The answer to this question is a reflection of our character and integrity of spirit, it will expose the true motives of our heart…

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire.

He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favour. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

_When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house, he said, ‘my gift to you.”
The carpenter was shocked!! What a shame!! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so much differently._

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we’d do bit much differently. But we cannot go back. You are the carpenter.

Each day you hammer a nail, place a board or erect a wall. “Life is a do-it-yourself project,” someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the “house” you live in tomorrow.Build it wisely!!8 years ago

Travelling LifeHeroes of Life

The more I seek understanding in life, the more I realise that courage is mandatory. Courage to be ourselves, courage to not defy who we are in order to become something we are not, Courage to speak out against injustice, to sail against the winds of conformity and never lose sight in the whirlwind of life what we were put on this earth to achieve.

The more I think about my ‘heroes’ in life, those exceptional few who have by their words, deeds or examples touched my life in a profound way… the more I realise that not one of these men or women were conformists. My admiration lies not only in the great things they have accomplished in their lifetime, but an inner gratitude for who they are. It is hard to admire someone who wears masquerades for we never know exactly which face we are admiring. In truth, our heroes of life are the people who have proclaimed to the world that they are individuals worthy of their own name and reputation. They have not suppressed their failings nor denied their weaknesses. They have neither changed their personalities nor their character to conform to the world’s expectations and they have not allowed a ceiling to be put above their hopes and aspirations.

Courage to be our true selves is perhaps once of the biggest challenge we will ever face and keep on facing. Self tolerance and appreciation defies the world’s lie that ‘to be successful, you must fit in’. Instead it forges its own unique path, scrutinized by many yet accountable to none. Self exploration and expression does not however exclude us from being labeled like the rest of the world. Instead of being ‘clones’ or ‘conformists’, we are labeled a ‘rebel’ ‘misfit’ or ‘loner.’ Many of our heroes would have at some point in their lives being looked upon as having one or all of these characteristics, yet now they stand head and shoulders above the sea of clones all aspiring to stand out and be different but not having the courage to take the first step.

Lao Tzu once said ‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’ In order to become the best person that we can be, we need to know ourselves well enough to know what to let go of. We need to dismiss our preoccupation with ‘fitting in’ and purposely decide to ‘stand out.’ 8 years ago


Women have strengths that amaze…

They carry children, they carry hardships, they carry burdens, yet they hold faith, happiness, love and joy.
They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.

They volunteer for good causes.
They are pink ladies in hospitals, they bring food to shut ins.
They are senators, educators, childcare workers, executives, attorneys, truck drivers, pilots, stay at home moms and your neighbors.

They fight for what they believe in. They stand up against injustice.
They write to the “powers that be” for things that make for a better life.
They don’t take “no” for an answer when they believe there is a better solution.

They can wipe a tear, cover a cut and pat you on the back at the same time.
They go without new shoes so their children can have them.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.

They tell people that need to be told to straighten up their act.
They lend a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen
and a voice to make suggestions.

Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They have sorrow at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.
They can round up energy, even when they are tired.
They can stay up a little longer to talk to someone that needs a friend.

Women do more than give birth. They bring peace and hope.
They give compassion and ideals.
They give moral support to their family and friends.
They weep with joy when their children excel,
and cheer when loved ones get awards.

Women want people to grow into the best person they can be.
They want to touch you in a way that will make you share your goodness with others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair … true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The heart of a woman is what makes the world spin!

Anonymous 8 years ago

Travelling LifeIdentity vs Reliability

The biggest mistake I believe we can make is forming our identity around someone or something. For when we reflect back on our lives we realize that people who once played a significant role in our journey have for whatever reason ceased to exist in our worlds. Circumstances which once governed our every day are now but memories of something that once was.

The world is transient; it is ever changing, ever revolving and ever rejuvenating. When who we are becomes subject to the world around us, we too become transient, ever changing and ever losing our sense of self. Through a strong sense of belonging and identity we have the power to change our circumstances, to control our influences and to determine our future day after day after day. For indeed that is the only assurance we have in this life. 8 years ago

Travelling LifeRemember When

You were born a daughter.
You looked up to your mother.
You looked up to your father.
You looked up to everyone
You wanted to be a princess.
You wanted to own a horse.
You wanted your brother to be a horse.
You wanted to wear pink.
You never wanted to wear pink.
You wanted to be a veterinarian.
You wanted to be president.
You wanted to be the president’s veterinarian.
You were picked last for the team.
You were the best one on the team.
You refused to be on the team.
You wanted to do well in algebra.
You hid during algebra.
You wanted boys to notice you.
You were afraid the boys would notice you.
You started to get acne.
You started to get breasts.
You started to get acne that was
bigger than your breasts.
You wouldn’t wear a bra.
You couldn’t wait to wear a bra.
You couldn’t fit into a bra.
You didn’t like the way you looked.
You didn’t like the way your parents looked.
You didn’t want to grow up.
You had your first best friend.
You had your first date.
You spent hours on the telephone.
You got kissed.
You got to kiss back.
You didn’t go to the prom.
You went to the prom with the wrong person.
You spent hours on the telephone.
You fell in love.
You fell in love.
You fell in love.
You lost your best friend.
You lost your other best friend.
You really fell in love.
You became a steady girlfriend.
You became a significant other
You became significant to yourself.
Sooner or later, you start to take
yourself seriously.
You know when you need a break.
You know when you need a rest.
You know what to get worked up about, and
what to get rid of and you know
when it’s time to take care of yourself,
when it’s time to do something that makes you
stronger, faster, & more confident.
because you know it’s never too late to live life and never too late to change one.

Anonymous 8 years ago

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