I am grateful for…

Water lily
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All the kind people that are helping me with my book marketing, for without them things would be a lot harder for previously unknown authors ! I am so glad to be living in this era of social media and networking on line! It sure opens up a lot of previously hard to find opportunities for people like me. I know if it was not for computers, I don’t think my book would have ever been published!
Check out this wonderful blog that kindly listed “Looking @ Life” among some fantastic books!

https://brittneysahin.wordpress.com/authors-to-read/authors-to-read-multiple-genres-here/

Who knows, you might find your new favorite read or best Christmas gift idea amongst it!

With lots of gratitude,
Pollyesther

PS I would love to hear, and for you to leave a comment if you found a book to your liking there!

The dead Tree

Dead tree 2007
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The picture above is of a dead tree in 2007, along the road to the ski resort I have been working for every Winter since. The reason I took that picture is that I was drawn to it because of its balanced look and almost perfect shape, despite having died probably many years prior. It seemed that time had not touched it much since, leaving me to enjoy this amazing natural sculpture. It was almost like it spoke to me on a subtle level, taking me on a journey in my mind.

I cannot help and wonder what that tree has seen passing while it was alive, from the old prospectors looking for gold, the old coach that connected the small villages on both sides of the mountain range, to the first snow enthusiasts that went up on horseback and traversed the mountains on foot in search of the perfect powder stash to slide down.

Next came the road workers that turned this slick muddy track into a more user-friendly road. Development was not far behind with the first basic lodges being build and ski lifts being installed.

Nowadays there is a bustling ski resort attracting thousands of visitors every year, who probably pass this tree not even noticing it being there, in their rush to get to their destination in anticipation of some rails, jumps, turns and party time…

Dead tree 2010

Dead tree 2010

The next time I felt like taking a picture of this tree again was during a snow shower on my way to work in 2010, when the light just seemed perfect to highlight the beauty of this old dead tree with the snowfall adding to the feelings of magic this tree stirred in me.

Not much seemed to have changed in the last three years and again I stood still and admired it for a brief moment. How long had it been standing there before it spoke to me the first time? When had it died and why? Was it old age, maybe drought or disease had made it to what was left, or had it been affected by the bushfires visiting this area on a regular basis or a lightning strike?

Dead tree 2012

Dead tree 2012

In 2012 it started to show that even dead trees are not immune to the wear and tear of time as branches keep snapping during every storm that passes, leaving it noticeably bearer than when I saw it for the first time, five years prior.

This makes me ponder about the thoughts this tree has put into my mind over time and continues to do, which brings me to the following verse that ‘jumped’ out (not unlike this tree), when looking at the Dao Te Ching for more understanding about the most recent atrocities in the world.

Verse 76, Dao Te Ching:

Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.

When I read this verse, a memory came to me suddenly about an elderly Shaolin monk performing his daily stretching routine on a stage during their show in Melbourne, many years ago. (more about this in my book) His message really hit me at that time as my age was already showing a few minor signs of leaving youth behind in the not so far foreseeable future.

He said that by stretching every day, he kept his old body soft and supple, to avoid becoming brittle and break limbs. He metaphorically compared it with a young sapling that bends with the breeze, whereas an old tree becomes brittle and the branches snap! 

Had he maybe studied this old book, written by Lao Tsu over 3000 years ago, and taken this verse as advise on staying healthy in old age? Is it just meant physically? Or could there be a psychological truth behind it too? Is it maybe a combination of both that is the secret to a healthy and active old age? Is there an even deeper layer to the meaning of this verse that points to the way countries are run?

Whatever it all means, I know that regular stretching, ever since watching the elderly monk and taking in his advice, has kept my body flexible and supple as well as developed better coordination and strength. This in turn has contributed to feeling better, younger and more vibrant now in my late forties compared to when I was in my twenties! Time will tell if it is still beneficial for me when I get to the age where a lot of people really start struggling with their bodies not cooperating, but I have a feeling that it will be from what I saw the monk do! Whatever is going to happen, for the moment I like to stick to my daily stretching routine and hold onto my dream of getting a free season pass for the ski lifts when I turn 70 and become an elderly “ski bum”!

By then the old tree will be probably be reduced to a pile of timber, covered in moss, providing a home for small animals and fungi. Will it still hold stories and provoke thoughts, or will they too have been nibbled away by the small creatures that keep nature in balance?

Dead tree 2015

Dead tree 2015

Is there anyone else out there that has an appreciation and fascination for dead trees? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

PS: If you have downloaded my book and like my stories, I would appreciate it if you take a moment to leave a short review on Amazon!

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther

Free e-book for 2 days only

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Dear Friends, Fellow Bloggers and Followers,

 

First I would like to thank everyone that helped me out, downloaded the $0.99 preview version of my very first e-book “Looking @ Life” and wrote a review for me today!

The official release is now starting with it being available for FREE for TWO DAYS only, after which the price will go up!

I want all my friends, fellow bloggers and followers to take advantage of this, so grab a copy now if you have not yet!

http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0184CLSOW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a review on Amazon after reading.

 

With Gratitude,

Pollyesther

 

Request

Looking @ Life
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Dear reader and follower,

My shortest blog post of all:

I have a late notice request for all my followers.

You have probably wondered why it has been so quiet on my blog lately?

Well… I have been finalizing my book!

Yes that is right, it is on Amazon right now for you to preview, and in desperate need of some reviews before the big launch on November 19 and 20.

I hope some of you can help me out and purchase a $0.99 copy of my very first edition of “Looking @ Life”, read a few chapters and leave a comment in the next 12 hours or so. Thanks and enjoy the read!

You can find it here:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0184CLSOW

Forever grateful,
Pollyesther

You have a choice!

Sunrise at the ski lodge
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15/8/15, 5.30 am. The alarm rings and I push the snooze button a couple of times. I love waking up slowly before my feet touch the soft sheep skin rug next to my bed in the ski lodge. It is only 6 am and at least another fifteen minutes until the rising sun announces the start of another day during the Australian ski season that runs from mid June to the end of September.

Quietly I walk to the kitchen to get my breakfast essentials out from the fridge. I squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass of water and grab the tub of yoghurt, to which I add some muesli once back in my room. The lemons have helped me with keeping the usual “lurgie” at bay, which strikes most mountain staff at some point over Winter. There is nothing worse than having to go out in a blizzard with heavy clothing, struggling to breathe from being clogged up by a cold that just will not clear up in those conditions.

My usual routine in the morning is to check my emails, work schedule and the weather forecast during ‘brekkie’, because at nighttime the lodge is often busy with exchanging the adventures of the day’s past and keeping the fires going among other things like waxing ski’s, showering and cooking.

I love the peace and quiet of the early morning. The sunrises can be spectacular from our lodge on the ridge of the small mountain. It sure is worth getting up early for.

This Saturday morning I find a sad email from a close overseas family member, someone dear has passed away overnight. This news comes as a bit of a shock, seeing I had not heard any news that she had been close to leaving us. It was a little comforting to know it was by choice and despite the difficulty in achieving this, peace was now with her. Still, I did feel sad and also a little useless for not being there to support my grieving family.

Straight away I wrote a short email back and looked forward to catching up by phone soon. It took me a bit of time to find the right words, but felt there was no rush seeing no one had rang to notify me of any early lesson bookings. To be sure I did try logging on to my on-line schedule a few times in between, only to find an error message. Some days it is a little temperamental and that is why normally I get a backup phone message, if I have to be there earlier than normal.

Upon arrival there is heavy wet snow coming down and the local slope manager rushes up to me to tell me I did have an 8.30 lesson. My phone goes off while trying to jump into my ski boots with a call from the big boss and a voicemail regarding that booking as well… The fact that I was now half an hour behind schedule, meant that I had to extend my lessons into the towies/lifties lunch breaks for whom I normally cover, so they can have theirs! Thankfully the manager was able to help out making sure they all got a decent break.

Not only that, but when the 10am group lesson starts, I find out that there are 16 people booked in! Normally they allocate two instructors for such a large number, but my helper was already flat out doing private lessons all morning. “Ah, well, just do what you can”, I tell myself, knowing that the calmer I can keep myself, the better I will be able to deal with it. Group lessons are mixed with adults and children on this small beginners run and for that reason they normally only allow children of six and over in the lesson. Under that age they have not fully developed their finer motor skills and need a lot more hands on help with balancing, edging and putting ski’s on, which would consume too much of the instructors attention away from the adult participants. This morning somehow a five year old snuck in! It seemed that everything that could go wrong was happening! Yet, despite my grief and heavy workload, I knew that I could only cope by staying calm and fully focused on the task at hand.

After only fifteen minutes to eat half of my lunch and no time left to eat my usual mandarin for an extra energy boost, I got into the afternoon session. The snow thankfully got a little drier and less heavy. Half way through, another booking comes in for the last two hours of the day till 5pm, making this the longest day ever, with seven and a half hours teaching beginners in ski boots. As I walk ahead of my group of private lesson customers a tear rolls down my cheek forcing me to remove my goggles to wipe it away quickly. I am feeling exhausted and emotional and my feet seemed to have swollen well beyond where my boots allowed, giving me serious discomfort. How am I going to give them a good first lesson experience in this frame of mind? Focus and realize they may only be here for one day! Somehow I manage to hide my emotions and distract my mind from my worries…They had a good time, a great lesson and achieved a lot for a fairly un-athletic group to start with.

Sunset driving home

Sunset driving home

I got home just on dark, feeling exhausted yet happy for not giving in and feeling sorry for myself, but managing my feelings to benefit the customers of the past day. The result was that my day went a lot smoother than it would have, had I not done that. Of course I was still sad about the loss, but having achieved control over my emotions made me feel a whole lot happier. I even felt grateful about the amount of bookings, because it forced me to keep my mind off my own worries!

Next time you feel down and hard done by, think to yourself and ask if getting down and out about it all is helpful in any way, or is there another choice that makes you feel better?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

I entered a Dutch writing competition…

What keeps me awake at night
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It was the end of 1995 when I stopped writing Dutch after immigrating to Australia. The only time I did, was an occasional letter to mum, but we preferred talking on the phone. Recently I met another Dutch writer on Word Press (https://peterbouchier.wordpress.com/) and stumbled via his links on the Dutch on-line writing scene. It felt good to think back and reminisce about my old homeland even though I’d become convinced that living in Australia was the preferred choice for me.

There was one competition that stood out for me among a long list of fiction story ones. The story had to be between 750 to 1000 words and be relevant to the theme “What keeps me awake at night”. http://www.schrijverspunt.nl/overzicht-schrijfactiviteiten/waar-ik-wakker-van-lig I decided to have a go at it and enter to see how my style of writing would be received there.

After writing so many English blog posts it took quite a bit of effort to find the right words to convey my thoughts, but with a little proofreading help from some family and friends back “home”, I am happy with the end result.

Please do me a favor and check it out if you happen to be able to read Dutch (this was one of the prerequisites) or pass this link to someone you know that can. http://www.schrijverspunt.nl/overzicht-schrijfactiviteiten/waar-ik-wakker-van-lig/4875-duisternis-en-stress

If you enjoyed it, leave a rating please ;).

 

With Thanks and Gratitude,

Pollyesther

 

P.S. Feel free to leave some feedback in the comments below, thanks again!

Mother’s Day and Forgiveness

Bunch of Tulips
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While most people are celebrating Mother’s Day today, remembering all the good things mothers do and have done in their unconditional love for their children, I saw a post on Face Book by someone who did not share this experience. It was obvious that the mother in question had caused a great deal of pain and Mother’s Day reminded her of all this past hurt, rubbing salt in her wounds.

I felt for her as I saw some connections with her previous posts and looked for quite some time on google for the right article expressing the thoughts going through my mind to make her feel better. From years of research to find answers and solutions for my own (different) issues, I felt I may have some insights of interest to her, but failed to locate an article able to express everything I wanted to tell her.

Many years ago a Tibetan Buddhist Monk told me that they believe that stress creates poison arrows in the body. At that time I was going through a stressful period and did not understand the mechanics of this, however could see the negative results it had on my own health. In my quest for answers I read many articles based on scientific research and learned that the body produces very different chemicals in a state of stress than when feeling happy and in harmony. These chemicals cause indeed a lot of havoc from digestive problems to psychological disorders and can eventually even lead to terminal illness, if not corrected in time.

In my case most of my stress was caused by habits absorbed into my subconscious during my early childhood. How this exactly works is very well explained by Dr. Bruce Lipton, (https://www.brucelipton.com/about and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pJwYcK08iQ) for anyone wanting to understand the mechanics better. I absorbed these habits by observing my mother and yes I did blame her a bit for raising me into a stress filled person, until I looked at our family history in more detail.

She had been through a very stressful period in her own life not long before I came along. She was the sole caretaker of 3 elderly men, including my quadriplegic grandfather, after her mother passed away from a stroke at the age of 53. My grandmother also had been through a lot of difficulties during her short life.

Most people react from their subconscious the majority of time (research suggests 95%) and are unaware of the origins of most of their responses, because they relate to a part of their life that has very few conscious memories left! This is due to the fact that the mind works in a different state after the age of 6, compared to when a lot of these memories were made and “recorded” into the subconscious before that.

Understanding this, it becomes clear that my stress response habit was subconsciously “inherited” from at least 2 generations before me, if not more. Thankfully I also absorbed a lot of good habits, that show to me that subconscious habits are extremely important for functioning well overall.

I am grateful that nowadays access to this sort of information is so easy using the internet and that I found an understanding that there was really no one to blame for my predicament because the people that had passed it to me were in reality victims themselves! The good news is, I was able to break this chain by educating myself and work on changing my subconscious patterns.

Going back to the start, how can this post help the situation of the person suffering pain from the childhood memories? The understanding that this mother inadvertently may have been a victim herself, reacting unconsciously out of subconscious habits, can possibly transform her pain and grudge into compassion and forgiveness.

Pain and grudges cause stress resulting in disease, whereas compassion and forgiveness lead to health and happiness! Education, understanding and awareness are the key to healing the past! Maybe today is a good day to break the chain of past suffering and start healing?

Happy Mothers Day!

 

 

The Flame of Freedom

Ignition of the Flame of Freedom, courtesy of http://www.susantouwphotography.com/
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Today, May 4rth, is the day to remember the suffering of the past in the Netherlands. After last weeks post it may seem a little repetitious, however to me, feeling privileged holding two nationalities, it is important to appreciate the freedom I have enjoyed my entire life.

There will be a minute of silence to connect to the past and remember all the people that lost their lives in WW2, victims as well as freedom fighters.

Tomorrow, on the 5th of May, the freedom regained is celebrated in honoring all those foreign and Dutch soldiers that contributed.

Picture of Dutch citizens celebrating freedom after WW2, borrowed from http://www.piqueshow.com/bevrijdingsdag/

Picture of Dutch citizens celebrating freedom after WW2, borrowed from http://www.piqueshow.com/bevrijdingsdag/

2015 is the 70th anniversary of this event and it is good to see that the gratitude is still alive among the generations that have never been through it, that can only imagine what it was like to live under occupation of a dictatorship compared to what they are experiencing now.

A group of young people, from several countries involved, recently went on a bicycle tour, taking the “Flame of Freedom” to revisit several memorial monuments:

While remembrance is far from a fun thing to do, it is important to remember that we can do the fun things because of the sacrifices made. It is important to have gratitude for what was achieved in order to maintain the liberties and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Only if things go back to what once was, will they have suffered in vain. We can choose to embrace our differences with compassion and understanding the connection all humans share, that ultimately we all want freedom and happy lives.

Unfortunately it takes those unhappy events to give us the perspective to recognize what happy free lives look like and appreciate what we have. Lets keep the Flame of Freedom alive!

What would we think of the light if there was no darkness?

Yin/Yang World picture courtesy of: http://feng-shui.lovetoknow.com/Yin_Yang_Pictures

Yin/Yang World picture courtesy of: http://feng-shui.lovetoknow.com/Yin_Yang_Pictures

Top image (Ignition of the Flame of Freedom) courtesy of http://www.susantouwphotography.com/

 

Anzac Day

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Why reblog Jack Easons post about remembering war heroes in a blog that aims to uplift? As an Aussie now, how can I not?

These questions took me a while to get my head around as I do not feel glad the Anzacs had to give their lives following orders for a mission that in hind sight was a bad idea. I do not want to go down that depressing road.

Jack is right however about the importance of remembering this day. There are people nowadays that say: “How long do we have to remember them for?” What significance does something that happened 100 years ago have now, in a completely different world?

Or is it?

Yes, technology has altered our lives dramatically, but did we learn from that experience? Has the world overcome violence and war?

We do have the power to change that as soon as we focus our thoughts NOT on the cruelties that happened, but what they happened for.

The Anzacs signed up so we could all live in harmony in a free country. They achieved a part of that, now it is up to us to keep working and focusing on harmony so history will not repeat again!

Lest we forget…

Pollyesther

Have We Had Help?

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

We Will Remember Them.

***

If you grew up in New Zealand and spent the vast majority of your life there as I did before returning to England, the land of my birth, Anzac Day is the most important day in the calendar for any Kiwi or Aussie…

 

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Rest in peace my brothers…

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