Sunday, November 28, 2010

Experience suggest that while you cannot do everything, we can always do something

It seems that wherever you are, there is always someone or people out there who are seeking or in need of someone to help to them. And while it is easy to say yes at times, one has to wary of how much one can offer and how effective you can be in helping them out.

As you may find that you may be biting more than you can chew, nonetheless, they need all the help they can get right? The answer is yes and no, and only you are really the best judge as to how helpful you can or may be to someone and/or group. As it depends on your skills, capabilities and the type of help that is being asked or seems that you are able to offer them.

What I have found that sometimes, although difficult, is that sometimes you just have to say 'no'. Now saying 'no' is not always easy, as the causes, initiatives and projects out there can seem so worthy, yet what I have come to realise is that you can't do it all. Sometimes saying 'no', just as you need to go beyond the sake of doing something for the sake of doing something, and doing nothing for them may allow them to instead find someone perhaps more appropriate (not that you aren't but you may not as readily available or committed as they require).

For yourself, judging too many things can become difficult, you may find too many things clashing and you're being unable to make commitments here in there, needing to sacrifice things here and there and potentially finding that you've burnt candles at both ends which may lead you to burn out - something you'll need to be very careful of. 

When you realise and/or know that you're starting to loss your effectiveness then sometimes you may find you may need to take a breather. It's almost like taking a holiday from work/ study at times, particularly since you may find that you can't help others until you've helped yourself. So if you're burnt out, then it's very difficult to help yourself let alone others. The only solution for that is rest. 

Anyways, essentially what I wanted to say was that you need to be mindful of what you may want to support and help out with, sometimes it's best to say no. And since there are so many possible initiatives and projects out there to support you need to find the one that fits your skillset, knowledge and interests best. Prioritise, sometimes try out and see what you like best and make whatever you do worthwhile and focused!

I will leave you will another one of my favourite quotes, and it refers to understanding that while we all would love to do everything in life, we can only really do some. But you can focus on certain things at a time then change them, just not all at once. 

"Experience suggest that while you cannot do everything, we can always do something" - Douglas J. Soccio

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beyond doing something for the sake of doing something...

We often live very fast paced and busy lifestyles, always going to work/ school, catching up with friends, running that odd errand here and there. Sometimes doing things back-to-back and neglecting sleep. It just seems expected of us.

We are always making choices, sometimes very simple other times, quite more difficult. From the simple choices about what we want to eat, where we want to go, how we undertake that piece of work, should we be reading this blog or not, etc., to the difficult decisions about whether to accept this job offer, propose, etc.

Yet amongst all these choices, where we can find ourselves stuck for choice, as we often focus on needing to doing this and that - doing something. Yet in reality, even though we each live busy lives sometimes we whether we realise it or not we can stop and actually do nothing, if we want to...

Just as you often would do with your emails. Because if you think about it, when someone sends you an email, you may briefly skim (read) over it and then you decide how you'd like to act. You can choose to reply, reply to all, forward, delete, flag, or as simply do nothing. Sometimes do this subsciously without even realising it, or even just because we forget as we want to read all new mail and then it simply gets lost in the mass of emails we have.

So when you reach a moment when you need to make a conscious decision about something, what you may find is that stopping and doing nothing may be the better choice in that situation. As inaction may be the better course of action, then doing something for the sake of doing something (as our general habitual feeling may be to do so).

While I'm not saying that doing nothing is always the best course of action, it is something good to keep in mind as another option (choice) when you need to make a conscious decision...

Calendar of cultural and religious dates

Ever had a friend or colleague that suddenly has to take a day off work, can't do this or that or needs to take care of something after work/school? Only to find out later that it's as they are having a religious/cultural period like Lent or Ramadan.

Well here's a useful website that may come in handy in giving you an insight and heads up on the national cultural events and holidays that come up that you may not be aware of. The great thing is you can sort it by month, event, and country/ event/ festival.

Here's an example of next month - December 2010.

DecemberBack to top
1 WedNational DayCentral African Republic
1 WedNational DayRomania
1 WedChanukah - Festival of Lights +Jewish
2 ThuNational DayLaos
2 ThuNational DayUnited Arab Emirates
5 SunThe King's Birthday AnniversaryThailand
6 MonIndependence DayFinland
7 TueMuharram (Islamic New Year) +Islamic
8 WedImmaculate Conception +Christian
11 SatNational DayBurkina Faso
12 SunJamhuri DayKenya
16 ThuNational DayBahrain
16 ThuNational DayKazakhstan
16 ThuAshura +Islamic
17 FriNational DayBhutan
18 SatNational DayNiger
18 SatNational DayQatar
18 SatInternational Migrants Day +United Nations
23 ThuEmperor's BirthdayJapan
24 FriCarols By Candlelight +Festival
25 SatChristmas Day +Christian
26 SunBoxing Day +Australia
27 MonWoodford Folk Festival (to 1 Jan) +Festival
31 FriNew Year's Eve +Festival

The link is

Another good resource is

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teens left behind by economic recovery...

How Young People are Faring (HYPAF) is the pre-eminent national report on the learning and work situation of young Australians. It's been written by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), and reveals that young people continue to feel the negative impacts of the global financial crisis, despite Australia’s economic recovery overall.

Here are some highlights of the report which shows that:
·         for 15 to 19 year-old males, the level of ‘disengagement’ rose from 15.3% to 16% in 2010;
·         the unemployment rate for teenage males not in full-time education rose from 18.2% in 2009 to 18.8% in 2010, this compares with the current adult unemployment rate of just 5%;
·         the number of teenagers starting apprenticeships and traineeships dropped by more than 15,000 between 2008 and 2009, with two thirds of these being in male-dominated trade occupations;
·         the teenage unemployment rate fell slightly from 18.5% in 2009 to 17.9% in 2010, but remains well above the 12.2% level seen before the financial crisis in 2008;
·         almost one quarter of 20 to 24 year-olds are not engaged in full-time work or full-time education in 2010, a slight improvement over the situation in the previous year.

Dr Lucas Walsh, Director of Research at FYA, said, “This report tells us that while Australia leads the global economic recovery, there remain far too many young Australians who don’t reap the rewards of education or employment. It can take 15 years for the teenage unemployment rate to recover from a recession, so urgent action is needed to make sure young people benefit from our current economic growth.”

“Teenage males have been hit particularly hard by the ongoing affects of the financial crisis, with a spike in unemployment and a drop in apprenticeships,” Dr Walsh said.

A copy of the 2010 report is available for download at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Overcoming life's challenges

Life brings challenges and obstacles onto each of us that can seem quite overwhelming at times. Through the process of reflection and self-assessment, I believe each of us has the potential to grow in own unique way. So instead of just seeing challenges ahead of us, these challenges should be seen as opportunities to put ourselves outside of our comfort zone and to realise own true potential. When we do that, we transcend ourselves!

I hope that gives you a different perspective in life!

Credit cards can be your friend if used wisely...

Have you noticed the banks pushing out their debit card products more and more of late? Well they say "cashflow is king" and with the credit becoming increasingly difficult and more expensive to come by it's no wonder the banks are encouraging customers to use debit rather than credit.

That is, since you're using your "own money" to purchase goods and/or services rather than "borrowing" the banks money the banks will have more money to lend, and consequently do not need to borrow as much from the international credit market (as while deposits from individuals and businesses do account for money banks lend out, in Australia they also need to borrow money from overseas as well).

The keyword here is "borrowing". Whenever we do use our credit cards we are borrowing their (the banks) money for the hopefully (if you choose your credit card plan appropriately) period of 55 days interest free. If you think about it, you get to use and borrow up to whatever your credit limit is pay the bank back 55 days later. So while you are "borrowing" the banks money to pay for goods and/or services today you can also be earning interest on the money you would have otherwise already given up if you used your "own money" via your debit card and/or cash.

For example, say I spent ("borrowed") $1000 on my credit card for a new TV. Then I have 55 days to pay back the $1000 to the bank, but in the time, my $1000 sitting in my high interest saving account is earning interest on that $1000 earning say if 5% p.a. interest rate a little over $5 for the 55 days.

In contrast, if I'd my "own money" used cash or a debit card then I would not be able to earn the interest ($5 in this example) that I would have earned from a 55 day interest free credit period.

While the benefits aren't terribly enormous in this example, over a period of time it does all adds up. Enough to make banks change their strategy and focus on promoting debit cards rather than credit cards. In business, "cashflow" truly is the king, since you always need to remain solvent (cashflow positive) to continue operating and this means that paying back lenders and bills in time to avoid late fees, interest, remain solvent etc. is important.

What's important to keep in mind that taking advantage of credit cards does require strong discipline and self-control so this is probably not for everyone. As there is potential to spend beyond your means and borrow more from tomorrow to pay for today. This strategy puts you in "temporary" debt so you must stay within your own bounds and know your limits and not extend your normal spending habits. Please consider this carefully and seek further financial advice as required.

So if you use your credit cards "wisely", they can actually be your friend...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step

Too often we want to have all the right information, the right things around and available to us to use here and there. But at times that may not be possible, or if it is, by the time you have it, it's too late.

This idealism may be due to a tendency within us to be perfectionalists, but sometimes always thinking that it's not the right time now, I'll start it when I have it all, can be all that holds us back from actually carrying out the task/ initiative. Having done say 80-90% of something is generally always better than have done nothing at all...

So even though today may not seem like the ideal day/ time to start, tomorrow may not be either! And every step counts, so why not start your journey with that one first step today :)

"The journey is the destination" - Buddhist proverb

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still 'all in the mind' a year on...

A year later, and it seems that it still is 'all in the mind'. As the desire and the will to complete a potentially heartbreaking 50km was embarked by over 500 runners and walkers only a couple of days ago. All the while, the weather throughout the day had been forecast as gloomy and horrible.
One wonders how, knowing this, these individuals still awoke from their warm cosy beds and found themselves trekking through the endless hills and the open plains which scattered the paths before them. ponchos and umbrellas were the norm as the clouds emptied it's contents onto them.

Yet through it all, with the kindness of the Upstream Foundation, checkpoints were plotted along their paths, offering salvation to these runners and walkers. Fruit (oranges and apples), water and cheers set these individuals, groups and families on towards the end.

But the end was not without it's last challenge, for beyond the main course and the only thing left between them and final salvation, warm and comfort was but one last steep hill for each runner/ walker to overcome and so they did. And these salvations included hot foods, drinks, toilets, massages, and comfort from family, friends and many fellow runners/ walkers.

Yet beyond the event itself, this great fun run raises money for several organisations and these include Camp Quality, The Leukaemia Foundation, Entrust Foundation, Leprosy Mission Australia, and Samaritan’s Purse :)

Some swimming tips

Just been going through some core swimming principles and that I think you may find handy. 

'Hand out of a pocket' concept - When swimming freestyle (frontal crawl), it can be useful to think of the idea of taking your 'hand out of a pocket' after each arm stroke. To assist in remembering the best technique for this. 

Backstroke with eyes closed - After mastering the backstroke, you can try to swim backstroke with your eyes closed to perfect it further, as your eyes can mislead you so it'll encourage you to trust your intuitions more while backstroking. 

Some physics principles you may want to keep in mind: Newtons Law of Motion and Bernoulli Lift principle, 
  • Where the former (Newtons Law) is about your arms and legs creating the 'external force' that moves your body through the water (since the Newtons Law of Motion refers to an object remaining  in a state of rest or uniform motion (constant velocity) unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force). 
  • While the latter Bernoulli Lift principle refers to an object will always travel from an area of relatively high pressure to an area of relatively low pressure, thereby causing eddy resistance from the space left behind (e.g., after you swing your arms/ kick your feet).

Focus on the basic foundation, i.e., maintaining a good head position and constant kick
"One of the best things a teacher can ever do for a student is to establish a streamlined, high body position...developing a good head position and constant kick - [is] the essence of the desired position...adding arm movements and breathing patterns before this fundamental technique is mastered, may greatly reduce the chances of achieving efficient stroke skills down the track" - Ross Gage, CEO of Swimming Australia

Friday, November 12, 2010

Doing more to be free

I just watched a TedXChCh speech from an old friend, Linh Do, who seems to be "everywhere" I go! Her speech is ever so inspiring and something I'd like to share with you. I hope you enjoy it :)

In essence, she elaborates on one of my favourite quotes quite well, which is:

"If we only do what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free" - Cicero, an ancient philosopher

Basically, I view this as each and every one of us doing more than what the "social norms" are persuading us to do. As often the social norms, that is, the normal ways of doing things can be seen as the "easy" way to living our lives. It is often "safe" and keeps us in our "comfort zones" as someone has been down that path before, and while we do so, we are in essence, becoming a slaves by "conforming" in this way.

Yet, the moment we do more, we take personally acceptable "risks", "extend ourselves", and pursue the socially expected impossible things in life, that we can truly seize the moment and be free! And for me, that had been running marathons and ultramarathons in the past, then taking a year off work to participate in youth and community projects and work.

Sometimes following the social norms is something we do subconsciously, yet if we "actively choose" to  do more, something that noone is expecting us to do than we are truly making ourselves free. Kids often do this so easily, saying that they want to be an astronaut, become a pilot, build a house out of grass, etc., yet years later the social norms take over.

Each of us would and could do more if we choose to, so try do something that you desire for yourself that doesn't necessary fit within the restrains of society's social norms. As the moment you dream again, just as you would as a kid, you may find that the impossible isn't always impossible, and that it is can be possible if you believe it isn't ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some interesting questions...

Here's some interesting questions that should get a few giggles from you as well as thinking about some of the things and ways we live our lives.

So see if you can you answer the following questions:
  • Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up every two hours? 
  • Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat? 
  • Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet? 
  • Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
  • Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him? 
  • Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?
  • What is the speed of darkness?
  • Are there especially reserved parking spaces for "normal" people at the Special Olympics? 
  • If it's true that we are here to help others, what are the others doing here?
  • Do married people live longer than single ones or does it only seem longer?
  • Do you cry under water?
  • How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage? 
  • Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground? 

Did you ever stop and wonder......
  • Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these pink dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?"
  • Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there... I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta it's bum."
  • Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?
  • Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
  • Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is? 
  • Why does your Obstetrician, Gynaecologist leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway ?
  • Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs !
  • Can blind people see their dreams? Do they dream??
  • If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests? (This one kills me !!!!)
  • If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?
  • If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons ?
  • Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on . .. . . . .. . ..
  • Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?
  • Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?
  • Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster? 

Oriah Mountain Dreaming

This is quite an interesting poem to read, I first read it at RYLA late last year. The main message is whether you are truly comfortable with yourself, listening to your own thoughts when you attempt to block the distractions of the world around you.

The Invitation by Oriah 
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperONE, San Franci