The Happy Starfish

Living Mindfully & Celebrating Health, Happiness & Peaceful Living


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Ditch the New Year pressure

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We’re only a few days into January and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked what my New Year’s Resolutions are.

The cashier at the supermarket this morning looked baffled when I said I don’t have any.

‘I’ve put on weight over Christmas,’ she blurted out, ‘And I’m going to join a gym.’

Why do we do it? Heap unnecessary pressure on top of our often frantic lives, only to face crushing disappointment when we can’t achieve the impossibly high standards we set ourselves.

I have goals, dreams, aspirations. Everybody should but I strive every day to be better than I was yesterday, to always be kind, compassionate, grateful and mindful, no matter what day or month it is. To be the best version of myself I can be; to pay it forward whenever I can, and love. You can never have enough love. And that’s the only resolution I need.

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What if …….?

 

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‘But you don’t know how,’ taunts doubt.

‘You’re not good enough, strong enough or clever enough,’ whispers negativity.

‘But what if you tried?’ urges hope fluttering its tiny wings, vibrations course through me, propelling me forwards.

It is time to make a choice.

I stand on the precipice of fear, close my eyes and jump.

I fly.


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Dr Maya Angelou – A brave and startling truth

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Dr Maya Angelou, one of the most influential women of our time, died at her home yesterday, aged 86.

Although renowned for many things, activist, singer, teacher, actress it was her words that touched me most. ‘I know why the caged bird sings,’ is a book that stayed with me long after I had turned the final page. It taught me a lot in terms of living fearlessly despite difficult circumstances. I wrote Maya’s quote ‘You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them’, in the front of my journal following my accident and it inspired me to remain positive.

Here is a poem of Maya’s that I love. You can read a full biography of Maya at her official website.

 

A brave and startling truth

Maya Angelou

 

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet 
Traveling through casual space 
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns 
To a destination where all signs tell us 
It is possible and imperative that we learn 
A brave and startling truth 

And when we come to it 
To the day of peacemaking 
When we release our fingers 
From fists of hostility 
And allow the pure air to cool our palms 

When we come to it 
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate 
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean 
When battlefields and coliseum 
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters 
Up with the bruised and bloody grass 
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil 

When the rapacious storming of the churches 
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased 
When the pennants are waving gaily 
When the banners of the world tremble 
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze 

When we come to it 
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders 
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce 
When land mines of death have been removed 
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace 
When religious ritual is not perfumed 
By the incense of burning flesh 
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake 
By nightmares of abuse 

When we come to it 
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids 
With their stones set in mysterious perfection 
Nor the Gardens of Babylon 
Hanging as eternal beauty 
In our collective memory 
Not the Grand Canyon 
Kindled into delicious color 
By Western sunsets 

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe 
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji 
Stretching to the Rising Sun 
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor, 
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores 
These are not the only wonders of the world 

When we come to it 
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe 
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger 
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace 
We, this people on this mote of matter 
In whose mouths abide cankerous words 
Which challenge our very existence 
Yet out of those same mouths 
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness 
That the heart falters in its labor 
And the body is quieted into awe 

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet 
Whose hands can strike with such abandon 
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living 
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow 
And the proud back is glad to bend 
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction 
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines 

When we come to it 
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body 
Created on this earth, of this earth 
Have the power to fashion for this earth 
A climate where every man and every woman 
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety 
Without crippling fear 

When we come to it 
We must confess that we are the possible 
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world 
That is when, and only when 
We come to it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What you believe you achieve

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My young son made a profound decision last night as we watched The Voice, the singing show.

“When I grow up”, he decided “I am going to be a judge on The Voice because they look like they have so much fun”.

Ok, possibly a tad unrealistic or is it? The fact is none of us know what opportunities are going to arise for us on our journey through life. The truth is that many of us, as adults, close the door on them. We have this long internal list of why things shouldn’t work, couldn’t work, won’t happen. We think we don’t deserve it, couldn’t achieve it, wouldn’t be able to sustain it and out of fear we turn away with a “it wouldn’t have worked out anyway” shrug.

I love having a young child in the house. It’s a great reminder every day to live in the moment. They believe good things will happen to them every day and you know what? They usually do.


Philosophy on the farm

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“Beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost”.

The teachers at my youngest son’s school were on strike today so we made the most of our unexpected day together with a trip to the farm.

There was a maze which my son dashed into joyfully without any hesitation. By the time I had reached the entrance I could see his hands triumphantly waving at me above the hedges from the middle.

When he made his way back to me I asked him if he had been scared on his own not knowing the way. “Of course not” he explained, “I knew that even if I took the wrong path I would still end up where I was meant to be“.

Simple.

In life we can sometimes get too caught up in where we think we should be heading and how we think we should get there. Then, if we don’t get to where we wanted to be we can feel regretful and look back wondering what we could have done differently. This can be a great source of sadness.

There are no wrong paths. Opportunities are always present, even if they are not the ones we are looking for, and we can sometimes be so focused on what we think we want we don’t see them.

The next time I feel I have gone astray I will remember today and the trust of a young child that he would end up where he needed to be, after all beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost. 

 


Pick yourself up, dust off and start all over again

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“Pick yourself up, dust off and start all over again”. Frank Sinatra 

I heard an interesting conversation on the radio this morning about Lent when the presenter stated he believed the purpose of Lent was to fail and learn some humility.

I don’t have the religious knowledge to pass comment on this but it did get me thinking about failure.

Failure can be construed as a negative word but it always brings with it a chance to reflect and refocus and try again. Having the patience  and self-belief to never give up on your dreams is what drives many people to success.

Walt Disney was once sacked by a newspaper editor as “he had no imagination and lacked good ideas”.  Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’, but that didn’t put him off, he tried 1000 times to invent the lightbulb before he got it right. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her reporting job as she was deemed “unfit for tv”. Fred Astaire was told he ‘couldn’t act, couldn’t sing and could only dance a little”.

Next time you are feeling demoralised, click on the link to play the song and start all over again.

Frank Sinatra – Start all over again.


Little lights

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“We’re born with millions of little lights shining in the dark

And they show us the way

One lights up, every time you feel love in your heart

One dies when it moves away”

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I love listening to music, even more so when the lyrics really resonate with me.

One of my favourite albums this year is Passenger’s Little Lights – (watch on Youtube)

The title track is beautiful. It refers to ‘little lights’ we are all born with in our hearts. When something negative happens to us or because of us one of the lights will extinguish but through love and living a good life we are always igniting more.

I love the image these lyrics instill. It’s true we are born with infinite love, our lights shine brightly with no judgements or expectations in place to diminish them. As we grow and develop a belief system we begin to lose our connection to our inner stillness and we may not shine as brightly as we once did.

As life progresses it’s inevitable we love, we laugh, we cry, we grieve, we feel hope and disappointment, but no matter what life throws at us we always get the chance to light a new light. Each moment is a new beginning, a chance to ensure we are never in darkness.

How brightly are you shining today?