Lesson’s Learnt from a Fearless Unicorn

 

I have a very dear friend who I believe is a Unicorn in disguise.  To me, a unicorn is a rare, mythical, magical and extremely colourful creature that brings joy, happiness and love to all who are near it. My friend Gary is precisely that. Gary, 36, was recently diagnosed with having Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and despite treatment, cancer has spread. Through his greatest battle, Gary has unknowingly given all those who love him the greatest gift of all; a poignant reminder of how fragile life really is and how important it is the make the most of every moment.

 

I first met Gary almost 20 years ago, he was an aspiring Fashion Designer at one of Sydney’s most prominent design schools and I was still deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up. Gary never had it easy and was raised by his single Mother who had more expenses than money but did the best she could with what she had. As an eccentric gay European young man living in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, Gary never felt as though he fit in. I remember him telling me once that when he was little most of the boys were playing with trucks and guns, while he was dressing Barbie. Proof right there and then he was a unicorn in the making.  On the other hand, I grew up in Sydney’s North Shore, was offered a private school education (didn’t really make the most of it) and was given everything I wanted.

 

As the years went by and I finally did grow up, we always stayed in touch. It never ceased to amaze me how hard Gary worked and how determined he was to build his own brand. His work became quickly recognised and he was often featured in the press as ‘a designer to watch’. While everything looked great from the outside, not many people realise how hard Gary worked to keep it all going. With no outside investment, Gary often had to work two jobs and put everything he earned into keeping his dream alive. Not to mention the fact he would often live and work in the same space, tirelessly creating and never giving up on the dream he had fostered since the days of dressing Barbie. Meanwhile, I was living in a luxurious city apartment with the help of my parents and quite frankly enjoying a very cushy existence.

 

Every time we caught up, Gary would be sporting a new hair colour and a fabulous new pair of kaleidoscopic glasses. His outfit never matched theoretically but it always worked on him. Just being in his company made you want to go out and buy a new wardrobe filled with crazy colours and perhaps even a touch of glitter. Gary had, and still has, his own personal style and has never been afraid to flaunt it. How wonderfully vibrant, rich and colourful the world would be if we all had the courage to dress precisely how we felt at any given moment.

 

It reminds me of a night out I shared with Gary only months before he was diagnosed. On this particular night, he would teach me a lesson I will never forget. We were at a dinner party in the city and he agreed to walk with me to my car to top up the meter (oh how I love Sydney parking). On the way back Gary needed to use an ATM and the only one available was in a pretty rough looking pub. This time I think I was the one protecting him. As we walked in, I was shocked at the looks we were receiving. Gary’s purple and green hair and unconventional outfit seemed to rub several people the wrong way. As we walked out I even heard a few derogatory remarks shouted out above the dingy room.

 

I was so bothered by the encounter and started telling Gary how upset it made me. To which he replied “Don’t you remember what you once told me. Remember you said it doesn’t matter what people say or think about you. They will only think about you for a minute and then forget. Remember, only you are the one who thinks about you all day every day”.

 

I was gob-smacked, first of all, because he had remembered a conversation that had taken place years and years ago. Secondly, here he was, a living example of that very lesson. I was good enough to say it but not brave enough to live it. Even though my own life journey in comparison to Gary’s was a walk in the park, here I was the one held captive by limiting beliefs and an overwhelming fear of other people’s opinions.  His magical unicorn powers once again shone through and illuminated my world.

 

If there is anyone who can pull through the challenges Gary faces today it is Gary himself.  His spirit has proven time and time again to be stronger than anything life can throw at him. In the meantime let us not waste the invaluable lesson that is on offer. That being, no matter who you are, what you have been through and where you are now, you are unique, you are valuable and your life is special. Make the most of every day and never stop believing in your ability to make your dreams come true.

 

Dearest Gary,

 

As much as I did say that people would only remember you for a minute and then go on thinking about themselves; that only really applies to those who don’t know you. To all those who know and love you, however, you are unforgettable and we are all praying for your full recovery. Thank you for being a colourful guiding light and without even knowing it, inspiring us all to really stop, reassess and be grateful for our life and especially for the fact you are in it.

 

 

Love and magic

 

Carlii xx

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How Fainting on the Yoga Mat changed my Life

Firstly I have to admit the heading of this article is a little misleading. I personally never fainted on my yoga mat, someone else did, but the part about it changing my life is absolutely true. Here is how it happened.

 

I love yoga and have had an on and off again relationship with it for almost 15 years. Recently it has been entirely on and I try to get to class at least five times a week. For me the opportunity to ‘exercise’ my mind, body and soul simultaneously is too good to be true, it is multitasking at its best.

 

I have also recently spent time studying the history of Yoga and the philosophy of the practice. It really is a way of life as opposed to a series of difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, poses on a mat.

 

In all the classes I have attended the one thing I hear the teacher say is ‘this is not a competition’ and ‘do not focus on what others are doing around you, yoga is a personal journey’. I get it but have to admit I find myself comparing my abilities with those around me. I feel pride when I can stretch that little bit more than my neighbour, and shame when I struggle to even contemplate doing a handstand, while the woman beside me looks like she could read a book upside down. I don’t mean to be competitive but too often my competitive alter ego takes over.  

 

This week, however, things may have changed for good.

 

Yesterday I entered the class like any other day, rolled out my mat and took my place in the front row. Soon after, a tall, stunning blonde woman walked in and set up proverbial camp behind me. I took in her perfect composure, designer attire, meticulously manicured nails and flawless everything (including the huge diamond on her left hand). She looked like she belonged on the pages of VOGUE. My competitive alter ego started to raise its little head.

 

The class started and as we went front child’s pose to downward facing dog to warrior 1, 2, 3 and every other warrior in between, I would every so often catch a glimpse of my competitor, though she had no idea she was participating in a competition.

 

My head started to swell as we moved into the more difficult poses and I realised I was ‘winning’. I smiled to myself and as we all took a big forward bend, I pushed myself as hard as I could, willing my head to touch the floor between my open legs and hoping she would see how much better I was. That was of course until there was a large thump on the ground and we all quickly stood up to see what had happened. At first, I assumed someone took the forward bend too far and literally fell forward. I was horrified to see my competitor was down, out, cold on her mat. She had fainted from the heat.

 

In that moment I was shaken out of my stupidity and into the reality of caring about this fellow human who was suddenly so vulnerable. We all kicked into action, had her positioned on her side, called the ambulance and cleared the studio while a few of the women did all they could to bring her back to consciousness. Our greatest fear was that she had fallen on her neck and done irreversible damage. She came in and out of awareness and would cry out in fear each time. She may not have been aware of it but she was surrounded by so much care and love.

 

When the ambulance officers arrived, we quickly found out she was pregnant and in the heat, it had become too much. She did fall on her neck but thankfully she had movement in her arms and legs. We were all so genuinely worried and relieved when we were assured she would be fine. The ambulance took her for observation and we were all left with the experience.

 

I personally learnt a lesson that I will never forget. May sound dramatic but sometimes, big lessons come in small packages. What stood out in my mind is how dramatically my perceptions changed of this woman as she went from ‘competitor’ to ‘comrade’. Nothing on the outside changed, it was all in my head.

As a ‘competitor’ I scrutinised every little thing about her, as a ‘comrade’ I celebrated and supported who she was.  As a ‘competitor’ I made myself feel as though I was less and she was more, as a ‘comrade’ we were equal. Had she not of fainted, I would have undoubtedly continued to play silly games in my mind. I would have wasted my time and not to mention the opportunity to relax, reflect and reward my body with yoga. In the beginning of the class I convinced myself that the only way to win was to compete, but by competing I was losing in every way.   

 

I found a little quote on Instagram that sums this sentiment up perfectly ‘You’re not in competition with anyone but yourself. Outdo your past, not other people.’

 

As you peel away the layers of our outward appearances, take away the clothes, the material objects we define ourselves by, and go beneath our skin to the core of the living cells that make up our body, there is a light, it is the energy we call life. It is the same energy that every living being shares. It is our greatest gift and without it we have nothing. Everything else is insignificant in comparison and certainly not worth competing for.

 

 

This Christmas focus on that light in yourself and others, celebrate the power of life and don’t waste time focusing on the things that really don’t matter. At the end of your life, when that little light is about to go out, you will have no choice but to recognise the magic and beauty you always had within you.  

 

Love and Magic

 

Carlii xx

3 ways to Quieten your Inner Drama Queen (or King)

 

I am a professional storyteller. As a publicist, I get paid to embellish the truth and spin a story to be as positive or as negative as possible, depending upon the intention. I like to think I am quite good at what I do, but even I am an amateur compared to my Inner Drama Queen (IDQ). You see my IDQ can turn a simple event, such as someone not calling me back, into a conspiracy theory and movie length story that would surely stand a chance for an Academy Award.

 

We all have our own IDQ and it exists because somewhere we have convinced our self one, or both, of the following ideas are true-

 

  1. ‘The universe revolves around me’
  2. ‘There is no such thing as a simple explanation’

 

There is what happens to us in life, and then there is what we tell our self about what has happened. Often without us consciously deciding what we believe, our IDQ takes over and turns a molehill into a mountain.

 

Let me give you a recent and amusing example of my IDQ in action.

 

I have a friend I have known since high school. We do not see each other often but I have always had a real soft spot for her. She is incredibly likeable, down to earth; and one of those rare individuals, that can make anyone feel comfortable in her presence because she is genuinely lovely.

 

We both had babies around the same time and I remember clear as day her coming over for a play date and telling me all about a business idea she had to help mums get back in shape after having babies.

 

Fast-forward five years and she has created a fitness empire, she has featured on the cover of magazines and is about to launch her business internationally. I could not be happier for her and it is so exciting to witness her success.

 

Even with all this said, my IDQ was able to turn this beautiful friend of mine into a foe. Here is how it unfolded in my mind –

 

I had a business opportunity that related to the world of fitness and I knew this particular friend would be perfect to speak with. Given she had been so busy building her empire we had not spoken for a while. Instead of calling I decided to send a message and make a time to see her in person. I waited patiently for a reply.

 

A week later and still no response, my IDQ went into overdrive and had me start to think along the following lines- I was no longer good enough to be her friend, she had changed and not in a good way and it was better for me to simply let go and accept our friendship had ended. Crazy right?

 

This was all until I received a message from her husband apologising on her behalf and letting me know her Grandmother, of whom she loved dearly, was close to death. My friend had stopped everything to spend the last precious moments with a woman who had shaped her life in everyway.

 

My heart broke for my dear friend and all I wanted to do was give her a hug. Beyond my initial shock, I took the time to become aware of the crazy thoughts I had entertained all because I had not received a message back. This was the work of my IDQ, so pointless and potentially damaging.

 

We all do it and as much as we might say that is just the way we are, it is not the truth. Each of us has the power to control our mind and put our IDQ in her place. In my own life I have found the following 3 actions help me bring about a new perspective and keep centered in truth-

 

  1. Write it out- put pen to paper and write out the conspiracy theories, stories and excuses that are circling in your mind. Most of the time you will see how ridiculous they are. It also gives you an opportunity to literally rewrite the thoughts there and then.

 

  1. Give it a positive spin- instead of simply going along for the crazy ride my IDQ was taking me on, I had the option to stop and create other possible reasons my friend had not got back to me. These could have included- she was busy brokering an international deal or travelling the world and in a different time zone. If you are going to make up a story, why not make sure it is positive and one that makes you feel good.

 

  1. Go with the flow- I went from feeling offended to upset to angry all because my IDQ wanted to create drama. I could have easily said to myself, she will get back to me at the perfect time and that would have been the end of it. Life unfolds as it is meant to.

 

The difference between a simple life and a complicated one is what happens in your mind. The long and short of it is drama is not necessary. 

 We all fear the unknown to some degree and I believe drama is our way of filling in the blanks. If that is the case I would like to suggest we fill in the blanks with stories of love, hope and gratitude. Basically if you are going to make something up, do it to make you feel good.

 

Sure our IDQ may come in handy when writing the script of that Academy Award winning movie length story but other than that, let go of the drama and keep it simple.

 

Love and Magic

 

Carlii xx

A Spiritual Practice inspired by Vanity

 

 

Ever heard the expression ‘it is written all over your face’, well I would like to suggest that ugly thoughts create an ugly face. No amount of expensive designer face cream, Botox or whatever else is available, will hide thoughts of self-loathing, shame and anger (to name a few). Last week my thoughts were the ugliest they have been for a very long time and the mirror did not lie.

 

I sunk to my lowest of lows. I had been feeling flat for a few months and it felt as though I hit my emotional rock bottom. Nothing in particular triggered the downward spiral, it was a combination of unmet expectations, several missed opportunities work wise and a sudden realisation I am aging like the best of us (I truly wanted to believe I was immortal and convinced myself I would remain fresh faced and young forever).

 

I am the first to admit I was suffering from first world problems but what I felt was real. Aside from feeling physically low and emotionally out of sorts, every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw. I stared into the eyes of pure anger, regret, shame, hurt, sadness and pain. On this occasion the feelings were a direct result of the ugly thoughts looping inside my head.

 

I have dedicated much of my adult life to self-study and even in my lowest of moments; I attempt to remain aware of everything I am thinking and how it impacts me on all levels of my being. The few days I spent battling with my demons and looking worse for wear, there were five distinct and extremely ugly thoughts circling in my mind repetitively. Here they are in black and white-

 

 

  1. I am nothing
  2. I am worthless
  3. I am ugly
  4. I am old
  5. I ruin everything

 

As you can imagine, these horrible thoughts had a direct impact on my appearance. The usual sparkle in my eyes was no longer there, my face was the colour grey, the edge of my lips dipped down, the frown lines on my forehead became prominent and everything seemed to droop. Even my husband commented afterward that the gloomy energy literally made me look like a different person.

 

Several heartfelt pep talks, inspirational reading, prayer, meditation, yoga and time spent in nature (a haircut, manicure, pedicure and a little shopping) brought me back to light. I am no Robinson Crusoe; we all journey through ups and downs. I realised on this recent trip to the dark side that it actually has allot to offer. Wisdom, compassion, empathy and gratitude are only a few of the souvenirs I brought back with me. Not to mention inspiration for this blog.

 

We live in a society obsessed with appearances spending billions of dollars attempting to create a holy grail of youth. I am not afraid to accept my vanity and I sincerely believe there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your very best at all times. The point I am trying to make here is if you are truly dedicated to looking your best, you need to think your best. You either control your mind or it controls you. Last week I lost all control and my mind went on a wild and dangerous rampage. I did not exercise my ability to step outside of myself and recognise I was focusing on all of the wrong things.

 

You have the power to decide what you think and how you speak to yourself. I would also like to add, that angry, hateful and nasty thoughts directed at others have much the same effect on your physicality. Reason being on a soul level, whether you accept it consciously or not, we are all one. What you say and do to others, you are essentially saying and doing to yourself.

 

Aside from wanting to feel good, another incentive for thinking positive, soulful and loving thoughts about yourself, others and life in general is that it makes you look good. It is important here to note that the benchmark should be your personal best, not an airbrushed illusion of perfection.

 

One of my much loved go to books is Louise Hay’s ‘You can Heal your Life’. In the book there is a dedicated section listing the ways our thoughts affect our body, and how we can train our mind to ensure it is in a positive way. Here are some of the affirmations I love most-

 

  1. I love and approve of myself
  2. I am worthwhile
  3. I forgive myself and love myself
  4. I give myself permission to be all that I can be
  5. I am at home in my body

 

 

Imagine if every morning, as part of our beauty routine, after we have showered, put on our face and done our hair, we took a few minutes to intentionally direct our thoughts to self-love and gratitude. I would go as far as saying it is the most important part of our beauty routine, without the inner beauty, there can be no external beauty.

 

They say all road leads to Rome, well if Vanity Highway takes us to the higher ground of our being, then so be it. Once it becomes a habit and you experience the energetic benefits of thinking loving thoughts, looking good will only be the cherry on the big, beautiful and delicious cake of your life.

 

If the inevitable lines on our face were to be regarded as the map of our past, lets ensure it tells a story of love, joy and peace. Fill your mind with beautiful thoughts and your face will reflect the beauty within.

 

 

Love and Magic

Carlii xx

 

The Day I Saved a Life by Pressing Send

 

One nagging thought followed by a heartfelt email saved the life of a loved one. If you have ever questioned the importance of letting your friends and family know how much you love them, I suggest you learn from my lesson. It all started from a serious hunger.

 

Over ten years ago I embarked on a trip to Koh Samui, Thailand, to undertake a ten day fast. Some might say that was a long way to travel to eat nothing however this particular spa was renowned all around the world for its detox programs.

 

It was the first time I would experience fasting for such a long period and several friends warned me it could end up being quite an emotional experience. Not emotional because you are crying on the inside from hunger, emotional because when you detox your physical body, you also detox your emotional body.

 

I was prepared for the worst and explained to my close friends and family that I would not be contactable over the 10-day period. I wanted to purely focus on myself and become acutely aware of everything I was thinking and feeling. I armed myself with a journal, a pen and really not much else. There would be no television and definitely no cell phones.

 

The spa was situated in the mountains of Koh Samui and as soon as I arrived I loved everything about it. It was not luxurious or pretentious, in fact the accommodation was very basic but the surroundings were exotic. I had a private cabin at the top of a hill (not great on day 4 of the fast) and I felt as though I was a world away from everything (especially food!).

 

My friends were right my emotions ran wild. Up until day 3 or 4, I found myself thinking about things in my past I had not remembered until then. While the setting I was in was the epitome of peace and quiet, my mind was anything but that. On day 5 my mind seemed to calm down and a certain sense of serenity washed over me.

 

That is when it happened. All of a sudden I got a nagging feeling to contact a particular loved one. I could not shake it. It felt as though it came from a deep place within me. I kept trying to convince myself I was just missing home but that did not stop the sense of urgency. Every time I thought of this particular person I felt heavy and all I could see was the colour black.

 

Resigned to the fact I would not stop thinking about this until I did something about it, I made the long journey to the Spa’s reception area and decided to send an email. Since my intuition had got me this far, I decided to leave it up to my intuition as to what I would write.

 

My email went on to tell this person how much I loved them, that I could not see my life without them in it and that I was always there for them whenever they needed me. I reminded them that being grateful for what you have and focusing on the good, is one way to get through a challenging moment and that it was important never to lose hope.

 

I want to add here that I had not had contact with this person for a while, I just went with my gut (extremely empty at that point) and wrote what I felt needed to be said.

 

A few days later I received a response that I will never forget. 

 

My loved one explained things had become so bad and they were feeling so down that they had considered taking their own life. The very same day they contemplated taking action on that fatal idea was the day they received my email. It changed the course of their life as much as their response changed my life forever.

 

I learnt two lessons that day. First, never ignore your intuition. It sounds dramatic but sometimes it may be a case of life or death. Learning to sense the difference between your mindless chatter and intuition is definitely an art and there are some wonderful resources on how to refine that skill. The more you listen to your intuition, the stronger it becomes.

 

Secondly, never withhold feelings of love, appreciation and gratitude from your friends, family and even acquaintances. Let them know how you feel and offer your compliments generously. I recently read a quote that encapsulates the sentiment perfectly- “Always tell someone how you feel, because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regrets can last a lifetime”. How true that is.

 

Of course I will never know what would of happened if I decided against my better judgment and not sent that email. I can only learn from the outcome I experienced.

 

It is not always easy to tell someone you love them, I suspect the fear of rejection might get in the way. We might assume they know we love them and that our actions speak louder than words. While that may be the case, I know myself how special I feel when my Husband, Children, Mum, Dad, Brother and close friends tell me they love me. It is the greatest gift they can give me and it never gets old.

 

If someone does reject your genuine attempt to show your love, it is more than likely they find it challenging to love their self. Keep telling them you love them anyway, sooner or later it will get through and in the meantime you will feel better for letting it be known.

 

Life is short and life is fragile, we do not always know how each day will end which is why we need to make the most of every moment. Imagine if we were to treat every encounter with our loved ones as though it was the last time we would see them. The world would be a very different place that I know for sure.

 

Say it out loud, make the call, send the text or compose the email, it doesn’t matter how you do it, all that matters is that you do.

 

 

Love and Magic

 

Carlii xxx

I don’t believe in Ghosts but I do believe in Kookaburras

 

The Kookaburra, also known as the laughing Kookaburra, is a Native Australian bird famous for its unusual call. Unlike the sweet tweet of a canary, the Kookaburra’s territorial call is better described as a big cackle. I have always loved them and in recent years they have played a significant role in my life. The following stories beg belief and I don’t blame you if you put them all down to coincidence. I prefer however to think that life speaks to me in all kinds of wonderful ways, as it does to you.

 

My Grandmother, whom I affectionately called ‘Nanna’, died several years ago. She was sick for many years and although we were all prepared for the worst, the day she passed felt as though it came much too soon.

 

My Grandmother was the matriarch of our family and we all felt very much lost without her. She was warm, witty and had an irresistible sense of humour. She was a strong woman and only after she died did I learn of all the ways she gave selflessly to the community. The kitchen was her haven and she was a master baker. I dearly miss her famous Christmas pudding and Passion fruit Cheesecake. According to my Grandmother, sugar gave you energy, cream was a good source of calcium and butter, well that just made everything taste better.

 

Soon after my Grandmother passed, my Grandfather noticed a baby Kookaburra would come and visit him every afternoon. In no time at all he began feeding his newly found friend. When my Grandfather told us about his cheerful encounter, we all suggested it was Nanna making sure he was okay. It made us all happy to know he found comfort in this new daily event.

 

The first Mother’s Day after my Grandmother passed, the entire family came together to visit my Grandfather and honour our dearly missed Nanna. My grandparents lived on a river and we all decided to have a picnic by the water. When we arrived down to the picnic area my Mother called out “where should we set everything up?”; As if from out of nowhere, a beautiful big Kookaburra flew down and sat under the shade of one of the biggest trees. We knew immediately that was the place. We acknowledged the synchronicity. Whether it was the spirit of my Grandmother or not, we some how felt connected to something greater.

 

 

If that was not enough for me to read the signs, the next encounter had me convinced. My husband and I were facing a challenging time due to a health concern he had and we were considering making a sea change. I was so worried and confused, as I was driving home one day I said out loud “Nanna I am so confused, please tell me what we should do”. As I approached our street, I gasped in amazement and could hardly believe my eyes; There sitting proudly on our street sign was a magnificent, almost ethereal looking, Kookaburra. I knew immediately there was no need for us to move and that everything would be okay.

 

Today we rarely go to a park without meeting a Kookaburra and every now and then one sits in the big Eucalyptus tree outside our back door. My children affectionately call every Kookaburra they see ‘Grandma’ and in some ways it is comforting for them also. Though it may all be wishful thinking, I see every encounter as a magical whisper from another dimension.

 

I believe Life is constantly trying to talk to us in a language we can understand. Have you ever turned on the radio and the words of a song seem to speak to you personally? Or had your attention drawn to a book and picked it up only to discover it offered you answers to something you had been questioning. Think about that feeling you have when your awareness stumbles across these magic moments, you know it must be more than pure coincidence, but your not sure what it is, it is Life. It is that source of life that we are all connected to and I believe our soul remains connected even beyond our physical existence. It is why so often we hear people saying they feel their loved ones close even when they are gone. 

 

Life is magic and when we open our mind, heart and soul to the possibility that there is more to this world than meets the eye; we may discover a whole new reality we could never see before.

 

I will never stop missing my Grandmother but from now until that time comes when we are in the clouds together, I will look to the trees and listen out for the famous cackle of a Kookaburra and know she is nearby. 

 

 

Love and magic

 

Carlii xxx