What’s your likeability?

More and more I find that I’m trying to re-create a positive view in my mind of social media. But it’s a challenge because for me it’s always been a love, hate relationship. I mean how many of us critically judge our likeability based on our amount of likes? We return to our screens every ten minutes after we make a post, curious to see how many of our friends have responded with a thumbs up. If we don’t get enough blue thumbs, we start to question whether we’re attractive enough, interesting enough or whether people even care anymore. Explain to me the positive points of this destructive behaviour so many of us are caught up in? That I’m caught up in.

I cringe every time I see a selfie stick. You know, those people that parade around the earth like they’re lost in some kind of virtual bubble, completely disconnected from the world around them. I’ve had a passion for photography ever since primary school, and simply loved to document life and find some way to freeze a memory. I want to hear more stories for this same desire.

And I can see that for others (the selfie stick others) that there is that little element that lives inside of them. But the art has well and truly become lost in a meandering course ofselfie-stick-827879_640.jpg attention seeking behaviour. Have you ever watched a bus load of tourists pull up at your local beach? These days, so very few actually take in the beauty of their surroundings. Rather, it’s straight to winding up the selfie stick to capture their overly joyful smiles in front of a scenic background.

I was sitting in a café in Timor recently, where fifteen or so Indonesian tourists came in, each clutching a selfie stick or the latest oversize iPhone. There was no acknowledgment at all for the wait staff, instead they pushed their way straight to the back of the restaurant, pulled out chairs and started snapping up photos of them pouting in front of a well presented selection of art work. There was no intention for purchase of food. Once enough photos were taken, they then proceeded straight out the door, much like the coming and going of a destructive tornado.

And then there’s friend requests. Unless that is what they are, a friend who you know through and through. Perhaps you’ve met someone on your travels whom you formed a spiritualdeep connection with, and wished to stay in touch. I’m not talking about these genuine ones, I’m talking about a person you may have once met at a party, or spoken to on a bus, or even seen from across the room.

If you do decide to accept the request, then you could go months, or even years without a single exchanged word, but you still allow them to sit there, because the number of friends you have somehow gives you comfort. I’m sure by now you’ve realized a lot of these people are more concerned about the attention they can get from their incredibly intriguing posts than to care what you’re doing with your life.

We have become so fluid as to expose our entire lives to strangers. With more than one billion people around the world being active on Facebook, I wonder how many of them are living a life of illusion, forgetting the true meaning of authenticity and connection. Just don’t forget to live your life as it presents off the screen.

 

 

 

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Why women were born to surf.And have babies

I recently caught up with a pretty special lady that I met through a mutual friend out in the surf. We each shared our vastly different experiences coming back from Indo trips over the years. Let’s just say her Bali belly was of a different nature to that of a non-refrigerated plate of nasi goreng.  In fact, she’s the only women I’ve met where I’ve recognized the striking connection between surfing and childbirth. I was rather intrigued by her sophisticated transition from a lady surfer to a baby’s mamma. As we sat over lattes at her local beachside café, she gracefully caressed her now six-month old, revealing her lavish smile as she retells the most defining chapter of her life.  

And that’s where it struck me. We jokingly made mention of our cupcake baking besties and their direct experiences of childbirth, and how they differed from those that she knew as surfers. The environment is more of a rough, testosterone filled line-up, where your cute bikini doesn’t mean much in the often dog-eat-dog habitat. And no I’m not talking about the dance of male pursuing female, although I now see it reads alike. I’m actually referring to all the risk factors of surfing, and how it’s a few notches above a mild burn, off a torn oven mitt pulling out that tray of freshly baked cupcakes.

She distinctly remembers hyperventilating on her hospital bed as the nurses attemptedhealthy living to relieve her immense pain with a gas mask. Through belts of laughter, she explained how she ran for the hospital door, ripping out all of her monitors, screaming ‘I can’t do this! I’m leaving!’ as the nurses ran after her.

After realising there wasn’t any going back, and the birth was in fact happening, like right now, she managed to calm her mind, and in turn her pain, from a very different source. One that’s not available in your regular hospital medical cabinets.  She vividly sketched the surface of a calm ocean surface in her mind, breathing deep as she remembered the silky feeling of a summer’s sea caressing her arms and fingertips, as she carelessly paddled through the line-up.

In describing surfing, she explained the all too familiar burning sensation of shoulders and arms, as you desperately desire that one perfect wave. The lifetime of deep fin slashes, bruises, burning reef cuts, jelly fish stings, infections and all other aspects of surfing that seem to add a coat of armour, to what could have been a life baking cupcakes. Not that we hold anything against our cupcake baking queens.

She was of the firm view that women who surf have a higher pain threshold. But I think32204_400218545167_814411_n it’s much deeper than a physical element. Mentally we hold those magical moments out in the ocean in the forefront of our mind. Often drifting off into daydream, far away from our current reality. And I know how much of a lulling effect that has upon flashback. I think the power of the ocean continues to live within, no matter how long it’s been since your last session.

I’m sure there’s that special kinship of once developing in the wound of salty fluid yourself, and that connection to the salt water as a surfer. Something I’m yet to describe in words. As for surfing with a young baby, constantly craving mum’s presence, I’ve never seen a girl so excited to get out into the surf at any given opportunity. It just makes me smile so big. But she just knew in her heart when she was ready. That pivotal moment when she realised there was something bigger to life than just surfing. As for the link between surfing and pregnancy; does it make us invincible? As much as we like to think that, I’m sure nothing will compare to the pain and challenge, we’re just equipped with a certain set of coping mechanisms, that are as unique as our salted gills, absent in our non-aquarian counterparts.

The complexity of nutrition

Nutrition is complex. I’ve now been writing health articles for over two years. Sure, a relatively short time, but one that’s involved a wide array of compelling projects from many different clients, proposing assignments from every corner of the globe. All striving to influence others’ lives in a positive way. Each helping to fuel my burning desire to create change.  What stands out to me most, is that nutrition is simply not black and white for everyday people. If the health world was a chess game, some of those claiming to be experts, seem to sit pretty as Kings and Queens, fear-mongering those who make poor food choices, while the laymen remain squirming little pawns, preferring to tune into TV advertisements promising quick health fixes, than to focus on their game plan.

Some days it can be easy to blame. To blame those that choose to eat all the upsized burgers, greasy fries and chocolate. But there’s a big element of lack of education and hidden truths.  I also find a lot of challenge in a predominately flawed Western medical system. A system that only deals with health at surface level. Where it aims to mask symptoms through magic little pills. And they do work. Almost too well. At least until thewestern medicine problem re-emerges and another layer of paint is needed to hide the cracks- by way of second, third, fourth prescription handout.

It creates a mammoth challenge in the changing of behaviour. A challenge big enough to engulf the entire health world. However, bit by bit, the walls of understanding are being broken down. Habits can be engrained for a lifetime and they can be very difficult to turn around, usually without a major life event, such as disease or sickness; to truly be shaken at heart level.

Slowly but surely, more and more Eastern approaches are being carefully intertwined into Western medicine, where the body is treated holistically, not as fragments of a whole.

I don’t hold any qualifications in nutrition, nor do I claim to be any fraction of an expert. Rather, I focus on bridging the gap between latest scientific findings around nutrition, surf lifestyleand the average Joe reading my articles.

I guess you could say that I “speak to experts”. Often health studies don’t make it into the public eye, rather they sit in the vault of medical journals. But these studies can be vital in putting your habits into perspective. I often find myself wading through multiple complex pages written in another language, a language of science, before reaching into my toolbox of words and finding ways to present jargon into bite-size pieces.

I’m deeply motivated to make changes in the way people go about their day in terms of their health and eating habits. I know first-hand how much energy can be obtained from beach girlsparticular food groups, and I want to spread that knowledge far and wide. Life’s too short to be dragging your feet around, viewing your days as hum-drum experiences full of must-do’s. Have you ever noticed someone on a sugar-high or caffeineed up to their eye balls on espresso shots? It’s a manic type of energy that usually has me walking a large circle around them.

One good place to start is in learning about a pH diet..Positive Health Wellness has a great chart here

I’ve seen health content making a difference. I mean the type where readers are inspired to make changes, no matter how small. Where they can paint a clear picture through captivating word form, of what a healthier lifestyle looks like. I can only hope that my work continues to feed that vision.

 

 

 

 

The Progression of Gratitude

Spiritual junkies will tell you that gratitude is one of the key foundations to ultimate enlightenment.  And I’m not judging them because I’m a junkie too. But what happens on those days where everything just seems to fall apart, and all of what your life is made of is seemingly crumbling before your eyes? Well you’ve simply found yourself out of alignment from where you’re supposed to be. Practicing gratitude by starting in a place that feels good, will provide a little bit of fuel to break out of your bad energy, and back into alignment with that best version of yourself.  

I don’t see any point in practicing fake gratitude. Sometimes you’re not even conscious that you’re doing it, but when you realise you are, you find it as counterproductive as no 65169_10151137360180168_400812489_ngratitude at all. “I love my job, I love my guy, I love my dog”, won’t get you anywhere if your boss keeps throwing overtime at you, your partner is finding all your triggers to frustration and your dog just pooped on the lounge room floor. The universe will simply align you with more of your dominant vibration, when your words don’t match how you feel at heart. In other words, you’ll get more of the same stuff that’s got you stuck in that point of frustration in the first place.

The universe does not care for the words you mutter; they will simply fall on deaf ears as it only cares for the energy that you vibrate.  

You want to perhaps imagine a life without your job or guy or dog. What would that picture look like? Sure you had to clean up that smelly poop from the floor, but what about when she gives you the saddest puppy dog eyes you ever saw, as you leave the house for work. Where you can see nothing but love in her eyes, and happiness in her wagging tail, when you return home from a long day in the office. Nobody said that gratitude can’t be broken down into smaller bite-size pieces. Just as many jigsaw pieces make up a finished puzzle, so too are many elements involved with each person, object or situation. It all comes down to your point of focus.

As long as you keep the bigger picture in mind. I always understood gratitude to be the cheekythought of blowing the gifts, the love, the connections, the positive circumstances and the miracles in life, so far out of proportion that it ignites an incredible wave of new energy that just overrides life’s nuances. Gratitude has a magical way of pushing away negative aspects of life from your mind. Because you know all too well how easy it is to make a mountain out of a molehill. You just have to choose what hill you want to build higher.

Practicing gratitude takes time and practice to truly nail it. To allow your vibration to match your inner muttered words about how incredible your life is, and everyone and everything that’s in it. As soon as the words and vibrations match- that’s when the magic starts to unfold.

Eastern v Western Medicine

The human body forever captivates me in all of its beauty to carry out its millions of functions, each and every day that you venture around this earth. It baffles me the commitment that the body has to keep someone ticking over, even when they completely abandon their health, poisoning themselves with cigarettes, alcohol and food that doesn’t deserve to even be called food. But the body can also hold a lot of darkness when it comes to disease.  When the body has had enough, it clearly lets you know. I felt this in what some might consider to be subtle, but nonetheless has opened my eyes more to my commitment to health and nutrition.  

One CT of my esophagus, a handful of blood tests, more radiation by way of a procedure in hospital, called a barium swallow, and a whole lot of worry, drew doctors to the diagnosis of acid reflux. Here I was thinking I was dying a slow death, when a sensation of something being stuck in my throat, sporadically occurred over the course of this year.throat.JPG While it ended up being a minor diagnosis, that’s very easily treatable with lifestyle changes, it still woke me up to take more care of my health. I imagine that other diseases on people have the same effect, although I know of many that still choose to ignore the warning signs.

East v West treatment

I very rarely go to visit a GP, perhaps once a year, at least when I’m not head butting reefs in the Philippines. I’ve been very fortunate to find a doctor that practices a blend of Eastern and Western Medicine. His name is Dr Ali and he loves Ayurvedic approaches, one of the most ancient medical systems in the world. It pre-dates Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine combined.

Dr Ali is happy to print me a script of antibiotics, but he’ll forewarn me that it’s a last resort approach, running through the various side effects, such as the destruction of good bacteria in my gut and increase in free-radicals. He will even go so far as handwriting traditional Chinese remedies, or supplements to take if I choose to be prescribed with the antibiotics, in a bid to counteract their damaging effects. The Eastern and Western divide can be described in the following extract from National Institutes of Health:

“Western medicine, while excelling at acute care and surgery, puts great emphasis on the chronic use of drugs to suppress the symptoms of illnesses. What is forgotten is that our bodies have a natural wisdom and intelligence; they have an intrinsic knowledge of how to grow, heal, maintain balance, restore homeostasis, and regenerate. Our bodies have evolved over aeons with these capabilities, but when they are suppressed, for example, when nutrition, exercise, and diet are not given adequate attention, or people ingest toxins, then “lifestyle-related” diseases including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are much more likely to arise”.

Unfortunately, the divide between East and West has become all too much for Dr Ali and as he was helping me in my plan to tackle reflux, he told me he was taking off to Colorado in two weeks to study genetics as he’d had enough of the practice.

The Western Approach

I had requested blood tests of my own will, to rule out any issue with my thyroid and of course I was itching for the results. On the day of my appointment with Dr Ali, he had called in sick last minute, so I had to re-book with another unknown doctor.

Let me tell you, he was one of the coldest humans I had ever met. Even his white skinwestern medicine looked cold, as he pressed the dispenser of the antibacterial gel, that sat atop of his desk, lathering his hands in eliminate-all-bacteria, while his eyes glanced over my breasts and legs.

He remained expressionless, as he asked me why I had requested blood results for an issue with my throat. Before I could even answer, he found ways to talk over top of me. Scrolling through the results, he uninterestedly told me all my vitamin levels were fine and he couldn’t see anything worth concern. With a CT of my esophagus and blood tests showing nothing, I knew I had to book into the procedure in hospital.

The Eastern approach

After my results came back from hospital and I returned to the welcoming rooms of Dr Ali, the diagnosis of reflux was noted, but he also told me my blood tests were not great. My vitamin B and folic acid levels in particular, he described in his words as “ratsh*t”! On a running scale of worst to best, I had just made over the worst rating, which apparently was enough for the cold doctor to clear me of any concern. Something he had been taught in medical school Dr Ali mentioned.

The thing that shocked me most, was that the doctor had a discussion with Dr Ali asking chinese medicineif he had followed some particular code of practice, that again. had been taught in medical school in Australia. Dr Ali carrying over 30 years’ experience, in his unique blended approach and  practicing all over the world, mocked his colleague in his chest-puffing capabilities.

Dr Ali went back in the system and read the clinical notes of that doctor, from my visit to receive the blood test results. They were utterly appalling.  Any of the words that I managed to get out that day, throughout being cut, were recorded in the notes in quotation marks as if I was mad, and his final recommendation was to prescribe me psychotropics! Dr Ali laughed and said “well I won’t be doing that anytime soon”. My only guess is that as reflux can be triggered by stress and anxiety, this doctor’s approach was to prescribe me some anti-depressants! That shall fix the problem! I think I’ll stick to my yoga and meditation.

Holistic treatment

Of course a giant wave of relief washed over me as I found out that I was in fact, not dying. Relief turned into excitement in finding ways to better improve my already pretty good diet. The most uncanny aspect about the whole event, is that I’ve been writing health articles for a client on acid reflux for the past three months. I also had a gut instinct long before diagnosis to increase my vitamin B’s (being vegetarian) and had ordered PH test stripsnatural medicin for saliva months before.

Dr Ali handwrote his prescription of various supplements and Chinese Medicine that I could order to best treat my reflux. He also wittingly drew a map to the nearest fresh food market with the best raw treats in town.

It’s only been one week since I got my results, but I feel so full of life and energy, from mindfully increasing my intake of fresh fruit, vegetables from my garden, and Chinese teas containing a mixture of various healing plants and flowers. I’m yet to receive my supplements from an online order, but I think life will become even richer when I do.  I’m so proud of everything that I’ve learnt on holistic approaches to health over the years and everyone that has influenced that. Even though Dr Ali will be off overseas, on another journey and no longer there to guide me, I’m forever inspired to seek out alternative practitioners for any future health issues, and avoid prescription medications at all cost.

Nature’s own rhythm

And I could sit on the shore and say that the tide’s all wrong, the wind is up, it’s about to pour with rain and the waves have no form to even consider riding. All was true. But my desire to be out there with an ocean to myself was too much to resist. Then I remembered I could still feel the warmth of a summer just passed, the water wrapping around my body as I sit alone being rocked in an ocean so vast and empty. White puffy clouds taller than any man-made tower soar on the horizon, igniting the purple tints reflecting from a sun soon to set.

I remembered it all but at the same time forgot so much.

I forgot what it was like to sit alone as the weather started to turn.

Beating to its own unmistakeable rhythm.

Black clouds arrived seemingly out of nowhere, as though they were ready to perform at a circus. The calm air quickly turned into a ferocious wind, as if to introduce the storm-front lashing the ocean to the north. Any colour from the horizon drained and transformed to229327_10151038233085168_1203521898_n shades of grey, like an artist knocking his brush water over his fine watercolour canvas.

Rain whips my soft skin and beats so heavy I lose sight of the shore I once was sitting on. I shield my hands over my eyes as my vision is pierced by the dagger-like drops of rain. Why am I worried that a wave will come that I simply can’t see? I felt it a hundred times before but how could I forget.

Amidst the chaos, I couldn’t help but begin to laugh out loud as a shiver of joy ran from head to toe.

A wave suddenly peaks as I laugh at my own joke and I have to paddle hard to make it safe to the other side. As I dive deep into the warm green water, I briefly escape the piercing rain drops. Returning to surface, the entire water is encapsulated by a blanket-like cover of soft mist, revealing the perfect curves of the ocean. Misguided lines of swell roll in, regardless of what the heavens had planned.

And as quick as the ocean was torn apart, the air calms as the little pocket of storm moves further south, as if to follow the second storm front moving in sync along the mountainside in the distance. You could never tell me that you used to surf, for you were never a surfer in the first place.