Titans and sex goddesses: on Tim Ferriss and Helen Gurley Brown

January 14, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Posted in Anti-ageing, depression, health, Living creatively, nutrition | Leave a comment
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What do you have for breakfast? This is one of the questions that Tim Ferriss asks those he interviews in his Tools of Titans: the tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers (Vermilion, 2016). Protein shakes are popular with many of these titans.

Tim Ferriss (See www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog ) is the best-selling American author of The Four-Hour Working Week: escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich (Crown, 2007) and other books and podcasts.

Tools of Titans is ‘a compendium of recipes for high performance’. Some of these ‘recipes’ are intriguing and some sensible. Some of them I do already and some I can’t wait to try. Continue Reading Titans and sex goddesses: on Tim Ferriss and Helen Gurley Brown…

Hope and optimism in a world of worry

January 7, 2017 at 8:06 pm | Posted in creativity, decluttering, Inequality, politics, writers' health | 1 Comment
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A single word

Rather than making a list of New Year’s resolutions, someone I know chooses a single word to guide her through the coming year. It could be ‘simplicity’ or ‘generosity’, ‘creativity’ or ‘serenity’. Careful thought about the choice of a meaningful word makes decisions during the year easier and quicker.

Even though a glance back at last year, especially politically, could plunge us into despair, there is a case to be made for choosing ‘hope’ or ‘optimism’ for 2017. You know how certain people float into your mind at odd times? I’ll recall them while cycling on quiet bike paths or in the shower or swimming laps at my local pool. Sometimes they’re people who give me hope.

Some Churchill Fellows in my book, Inspiring Australians (www.churchilltrust.org.au/shop ) are often on my mind because of the positive difference they make to this country, like environmental experts Hugh Lavery and Peter Cundall – more about them later. I also think about Al Gore. I’ve never met Al Gore but it’s because of his TED talk from last year, ‘The case for optimism on climate change’ – that I keep recalling him.

(See https://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_the_case-for-optimism_on …)

He presents some bad news (of course) but much more significant good news about climate change. The bad is catastrophic and Gore presents the facts in accessible language. He asks, ‘Must we change?’ and ‘Will we change?’ and answers with the evidence that justifies a ‘Yes’ to both questions. It’s not too late to act – and we are acting.

Solving the crisis

‘We are solving this crisis,’ he says, pointing out that in China, Europe and the US, coal plants are being cancelled at a massive rate in favour of renewable sources of energy. Even though fossil fuels are still subsidised by many governments, solar energy is growing exponentially, so that renewables have achieved grid parity and are getting cheaper all the time.

He shows pictures of solar panels on grass huts and we learn that microcredit schemes enable even desperately poor people to buy them. At the other end of the scale (and this is my observation, not Gore’s) money is the only language some people understand – well, Al Gore presents the evidence that now there is more financial profit to be made from renewables than from coal and gas.

We’ve known that investing in renewable energy and not digging up more coal is backed by science, we’ve known it’s backed by reason, and now we know that it’s backed by better investment opportunities and financial profit. This last is what is now changing things in a hurry.

Hungry for decent leadership

People’s motives for abandoning fossil fuels don’t matter – what matters is that it’s finally happening, and Al Gore’s stirring words ring in my head: ‘The will to act is itself a renewable resource!’ In a world hungry for decent leadership we’re lucky to have some people like him showing breakthroughs like this and inspiring people to action, demonstrating a leadership rarely seen these days.

We don’t see leadership in most of our politicians and we’ve come not to expect any. Too many of them have vested interests in maintaining the status quo, to put it mildly and politely. Some visitor to Australia said recently, ‘They say a country gets the politicians it deserves, but nobody deserves Australia’s politicians!’

From their abusive treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, to say nothing of our own Indigenous people, we can see that most of our political leaders are morally bankrupt. If decisions are left to them they will soon bankrupt our nation financially too because of the same limited vision that causes their racism.

The only leadership we’re going to get is from ordinary people. Hugh Lavery AO, an early Churchill Fellow, from Queensland, with environmental qualifications, experience and awards as long as your arm (see www.churchilltrust.org.au/shop for Inspiring Australians, p. 76-77), learnt much from stockmen and fishermen, as well as those developers who ‘are informed and smart and who keep out of the news’. He maintains that the quality of the environment is ultimately delivered by the people and he agrees that ‘now, we have tough times. But it’s a good time for opportunity.’

Peter Cundall AO (Churchill Fellow, 1974) is optimistic about the future of the planet and about the wisdom of ordinary people once they see that things are wrong. He sees the environmental movement growing stronger every day and he believes that it is beyond politics. He says that people all over the world are improving the earth and the planet and they are doing it themselves: ‘The politicians won’t do it; the people have to.’

Life-changing magic!

What can we do? We can live more simply and harm the environment less. The program called ‘A Simple Year’ is a good one – it’s inspiring and keeps you on the right track. They focus on a different theme for each month, like January’s is ‘Clutter’ and February is ‘Busyness’. (See http://simpleyear.com/ )

See also Courtney Carver’s www.bemorewithless.com and Sarah Wilson’s blog on living a healthy and sustainable life, every Friday: www.sarahwilson.com

You could also check out the Australian Conservation Foundation’s website at http://www.acf.org.au and see how they focus on five big ideas, such as clean energy; laws to protect our air, water and wildlife; and putting the planet before profits.

Living a simpler, more sustainable life frees up your time and resources to do more meaningful and creative things, creating a happier you and a healthier planet. Does that sound saccharine? Well even if it does, I’m not deleting it because it’s true. Healing the planet is up to us – ordinary people, and it’s amazing the difference living simply makes.

Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less blog is where I discovered Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Ten-Speed Press, 2014). See my 2 Nov. 2015 blog post. This book is whacky and funny. The translator seems to have preserved the young author’s voice of originality and verve. If you go to the initial trouble of following her unusual advice, it really does make your life easier and happier. Before you know it, with the free time and mental clarity you have, you’ll be full of hope and optimism and chipping large chunks away from that world of worry the media keeps flinging at us every day.

Beyond all rights and wrongs…

August 25, 2013 at 12:22 am | Posted in alexander technique, art, Books, tai chi | Leave a comment
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‘Beyond all rights and wrongs, there is a field – I will meet you there.’

Rumi said that. I found it in Richard Brennan’s Alexander Technique: Change your posture, change your life. It’s in the Canberra public library system and fairly recent. It’s a good book with some wonderful quotations in it. Who was Rumi? Sounds a bit Sufi. I almost don’t want to do the research because I want to retain the mystery for myself. The quotation sounds like someone promising to meet one after death. Even though I don’t understand that quotation I keep coming back to the poetry of it. It sounds profound; I just don’t know exactly why yet.

It’s something to do with there being no judgement, just pure acceptance. It makes me want to sigh with a deep sense of expansive, relaxed happiness. Even if I did the research and thought about it, and teased out and analysed the quotation to the Nth degree I suspect that a part of it would still elude me, and that’s fine. Part of the power of art is its mystery. It must retain some enigmatic quality if we are to keep wanting more of it, keep coming back to it, keep watching it or listening to it or yearning for it.

It also reminds me of some psychic once saying that all those young soldiers who died on the battlefields who were on different sides – there are no sides where they are now; those boys from opposing countries are on the same side now and having a good time together. (Now it’s girl soldiers as well.) No matter what your beliefs in the afterlife are, I reckon it still puts things in perspective. One of my beliefs is that our similarities are much stronger than our differences. It’s not in the interests of certain politicians and the big weapons dealing corporations to have people think like this but left to their own devices, most people would.

‘Beyond all rights and wrongs, there is a field – I will meet you there.’ I just want to repeat it. Such a peaceful and beautiful thought. Like that famous line from one of my favourite poets, Andrew Marvell: ‘To a green thought in a green shade.’ From his poem The Garden. You just want to repeat that too, don’t you? – á green thought in a green shade.’ And sigh with bliss at the perfection of that line.

Back to more prosaic things, in the same Alexander Technique book by Richard Brennan, he quotes Ram Dass: ‘Life is not an emergency.’ p. 78. It does our bodies and minds much harm to rush through life. I have rushed through a lot of my life, but I’ve achieved heaps! Makes me feel good, even though in the writing field I’ve probably published about a tenth of what I’ve actually written! I’m proud of finishing my degrees and of my careers and achieving stuff in spite of life always throwing massive obstacles in my way. But someone always is there to help me – fantastic counsellers etc. who come into my life just at the right time. And then you really must slow down – there is no rushing some things. But my instinct is to rush! Driven by curiosity and a hungry impatience to know. However, I’ve learnt to slow down more these days and it feels good.

Brennan writes that posture is the outward expression of how you feel inside. It’s not something many people in our society are aware of now. The author describes what we get from the Alexander Technique as a feeling of lightness and ease that is brought about by all the parts of the body working in unison rather than in conflict. This gives a sense of peace, oneness and awareness.

It sounds like Sarah Wilson on meditation, which she does every day. See her recent blog on it at http://www.sarahwilson.com.au

Tai Chi is a kind of meditation too. It certainly is at the pace that my teacher does it on the DVD I bought. It’s really hard for me to slow down that much! I can do all the moves okay but I want to race through them! That is not the way you’re supposed to do it. I’m learning but it’s hard. It’s something you can improve at every day though, and that’s always a good feeling.

Playing with language and playing with food

June 9, 2013 at 2:18 am | Posted in Books, food, linguistics, nutrition | Leave a comment
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This blog is about language and literature and health and life so today I’m going to share the websites and blogs of three people who improve our mental and physical lives by their brilliant ideas – the first one is Jules Clancy, the second Sarah Wilson and the third a Canadian guy called James Harbeck.

The first two are wonderful young Australian women who have great ideas on things like nutrition and cooking, chocolate and health, and how to save time and have more energy. All three are really good writers. I notice that about Nigella Lawson too – she was a journalist before she was a food presenter and cook book writer, and it really shows. At our house she is popular for a number of reasons, but one of my reasons is that I can curl up on the sofa with one of her cook books for the sheer pleasure of reading her prose.

Reading the prose of the following three people is a joy too.

Jules Clanchy looks like this (photo didn’t paste but you can see it on her website) and has the following to say about herself:

: Ready to discover the secret to quick & easy cooking?
Stonesoup is all about helping YOU become the best cook you can be.
The thing is, you can make delicious, healthy meals without spending hours in the kitchen.
This is her website:
http://www.stonesoup.com.au

Jules Clancy is a country girl and her recipes are fabulous – easy, quick, nutritious and she makes a feature of vegetables. She makes them really exciting.

Sarah Wilson’s website and blog can be found at http://www.sarahwilson.com.au
This is a quote from her site:
I’m a journalist + TV presenter. I write about how to make life better. If I had a resume it would list the following: editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, host of MasterChef Australia, Sunday Life columnist, host + producer of the Lifestyle YOU channel (under “hobbies” it would say: eating + riding a bike).
I’m on a mission to find ways to make life bigger, more meaningful, nicer, smarter, heartier.

James Harbeck can be found by googling his name or his blog, Sesquiotica. Many of his monologues are on You Tube. The linguistic analysis of seven rude sounds teenagers make is a favourite of mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY2R_K3NFPo

These three make life richer and funnier and better in so many other ways. Bon appetite!

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