Goals – Visualising and Pretending that you have Succeeded
In September 1976 I went to America for a year. I won a scholarship with the English-Speaking Union, through all the debating and public speaking competitions I took part in at school. Winning meant an exchange year. My year in New York was, of course, unbelievably fab.
For the first time ever, I was alone in a different country. I was nervous about how I was going to cope in this big bustling city and so I employed a technique which still serves me well today. I imagined myself as someone who relished new exciting opportunities, who was utterly unafraid and perpetually optimistic. It was a kind of reinvention. Everyone I met was new. These people didn’t know me, there was no shared history, so I could be anything or anyone I wanted to be.
My theory was that if I behaved like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me, it wasn’t fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person who writes a book! So I do. It’s a process of having faith in the self you don’t quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them, and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that’s it. The further I walk, the stronger I become.
Challenges in Life and Forgiveness
We have been good counsel for each other through many phases, I think. There have been so many times where you have been the one who says the key, opinion-changing, intelligent thing which provides the pivotal moment. The start of the new thinking process. The change of the mindset.
When Len and I went through a rough patch, I talked endlessly with my mum, my BF (best friend), Fatty, my brother, all of whom were supportive and helpful, in so many ways. But you were the one who spoke to me about what forgiveness really means. How it isn’t something you withhold for power purposes if you truly love someone, about what a weight it is, how much lighter you feel the more of it you give away. Give it freely, you said. Not recklessly, make sure to learn from what’s happened, but don’t amass a backlog of fury because it will kill you. Be generous and understanding and kind. That’s what you told me. Don’t judge, just heal. Help each other to heal. It was the only thing that made sense to me. It was right, and good advice.
You also reminded me of what a remarkable man he is, just at the moment I could have tipped myself, for an inviting wallow, into a vat of Len faults. You nipped that in the bud, which was a tad frustrating at the time. We all enjoy a good self-pitying moan, don’t we? But you knew it wouldn’t help and would only serve to extend the unforgiving time. The dangerous time in any conflict where one person takes a higher ground from which to do their superior judging. A waste of crucial time when both of us needed to be together, equally, making decisions about how to move on. You reminded me how much Len loves me ......
Death, Suicide and the “Eternal”
It feels difficult to finish these letters. Even the simple act of writing ‘Dear Dad’ at the start of a letter has been comforting and has given me a closeness to you I have missed so much. Dad. It’s such a short, dapper word. Just like you. The palindromic perfectness of it is beautiful. Dad. A little word that contains a whole world of meaning. Like ‘Mum’. I use that word often, I use it on the phone to her, I call it out when I’m with her, I use it to check if she wants a coffee, or to see how her day is. I use it to write in my diary about her, or to include her in a list of things to do, or an invite, or on a note that goes with flowers, or a card at Christmas or on her birthday. Or for a thousand reasons. I’ve written that word ‘Mum’ so often. But I haven’t written ‘Dad’, I don’t think, for about 30 years when it’s directly to you. I write it now – ‘Dad’. There, with such tenderness. It’s a treat to write it, an excellence, I want to keep on writing it, ‘Dad Dad Dad’. It’s like a jewel, a precious thing, I don’t want it to stop …
But it must. It must stop because it’s time to properly say goodbye, isn’t it? After your funeral, when I was 19, I stood on the shoreline at Rock, feeling entirely bereft without you, feeling that you were gone with the waves sinking back into the ocean. Writing these letters to you has helped me to wade out a little way and dive in. That’s all I needed, to swim about and play for a while. To connect with you and feel your nearness again. I’m surprised how easy it is to do. I didn’t know how near you are. You are close by, aren’t you?
About five years ago I went to Skibo Castle and one evening a medium from the Black Isle came to tell us our fortunes and read our tarot cards. It was all for fun, a light hearted distraction. I went in, a little worse (or maybe better) for whisky and sat down. She was quiet, and then she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, I see your dad is with you!’ This shocked me. Just for her to say such a thing shocked me. ‘Yes, there he is, standing right behind you with his hand on your shoulder. I hope you’re not offended by this but he’s calling you “Dumpling” and “Moo”.’ (“Moo” was a childhood nickname). I had to leave. I wasn’t offended, I was heart-thuddingly touched. How did she know? Was this trickery? I went for a walk outside and sat on a bench in the clear moonlight. I don’t know if you, or some form of you, was there, I don’t really hold with ‘all that’ ordinarily. Actually, it doesn’t really matter what she said or saw, her words to me transcended the rational. What mattered that night, as it has mattered to me through this whole book, is that we are always connected, you and I. Always. It’s the memory of you and the love you gave me that remain. Death is merely the horizon, the love is eternal. Undoubtedly.
Comments from Sandy
Were you thinking that the writer of these stories had attended my seminars? No – not at all! The stories are the experiences of Dawn French written in her book Dear Fatty. Dawn (you'll possibly know her as "The Vicar of Dibley") has actually written this book as a series of letters to people, describing her life and I thank her in absentia for these wonderful “Living Life” examples.
The Creating Happiness Intentionally (CHI) seminar is all about determining your Life Purpose and working towards it (see details at my site www.lifepurpose.com.au). Said another way the CHI Seminar is really about integrating all the tools and techniques that I teach into your own life. This means that you will not only make living life easier for yourself, you will definitely be able to direct your life the way you want it to go.
If you would like to have a look at a little bit more about “Goals – Visualising and Pretending that you have Succeeded” have a look at my video at this link.
Forgiveness is a huge issue in life. Often it is misunderstood and yet it is essentially for yourself – so that you can move forward in your life. I have written quite a bit about it and you will be able to find out more at any one of these 4 MIND MATTERS NEWS Reports
Death, suicide and the "eternal" can entail trauma, grief and loss and I think that my own experiential feelings on this are best described in my MIND MATTERS NEWS Addressing Grief and Loss.
So Sandy, I know that Peaceful Place techniques are powerful and will assist in “Living Life” by making life easier. If you haven’t read the MIND MATTERS NEWS reports above I suggest that you do - yes I know it is a lot of reading ….. and it may be worth it.
A Special Example of Applying Peaceful Place techniques in Life
I received a letter from a recent Creating Happiness Intentionally participant (the June 2010 BALI CHI) which is a wonderful example of stepping forward and committing oneself. In Goethe's words “A whole stream of events issue from that decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforseen incidents and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.”
I am doing pretty well, thanks to you. I am sticking to the plot… I go through my Life Purpose Plan every morning – to set me up for the day. I also use your meditation CD at least once a day, and sometimes twice. Fortunately for me I have time to do this!
As a result of my Life Purpose Plan I have found all sorts of interesting “things” that would not have jumped out at me otherwise:
* I have joined a book club at the local library and met some new people.
* I have joined a group called SOLACE (for people who “lose” their spouse - dreadful expression, sounds so careless) – ditto re new people
* The Art Class lady mentioned that Norman Doige, the author of bestselling book "The Brain That Changes Itself", will be talking in Perth on 20th. So I have enrolled for that day. I am interested to know what we can do to help ourselves in different ways.
* I have applied for the University of WA for information about enrolling for a PHD, and received a bucket of data today! I also intend to contact Prof Penny Schofield in Melbourne re her studies on how HOPE (as opposed to Optimism) seems to be very important in keeping people engaged and alive. I think this runs close to what I think that the medical profession are so careful NOT to give - any message of hope - to terminal patients that they are actually instrumental in killing them. (Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but you get my drift). You can either look at the transcript or listen to the audio.
* I have found a Creative Writing Diploma offered by a QLD university that I might well enrol for in the New Year. (The creative writing class at the local library turned out to consist of three incredibly ancient people, and I didn’t have the fortitude to join in with that particular group).
* I have applied to be a Home Tutor for new migrants. I now have a form with a million questions to answer so that I can apply for Police Clearance!!
* I also finally got Probate for my late husband’s estate. We hadn’t realised that by having the car in his name (and not both our names) this would cause a probate issue. Anyway I finally got it last week, put the car on the internet, and sold it in three days! Sad to see it go as it was the car in which we travelled around Australia, but glad in a way as it sort of closes a door.
* I haven’t joined the gym. I keep talking about it. I am creatively avoiding it. But I will get there!
I am keeping busy. I am going to UK for 4 weeks to see my mum who just turned 97 this week. I had originally intended to be there to celebrate that, but events here prevented it. I needed to sell the car and sort out the Will (one thing dependant on the other) before leaving. When I get home I intend to get going with the Home Tutoring, Art classes and working out how to (dare I say “move forward”) get going on PHD research, and to work on my CV so I can apply for Board positions. Alison WA