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Friday, 7 October 2016

The best thing you could do for anyone that you love, is be happy!


Yesterday was my 10th wedding anniversary. Though to anyone outside of my marriage, it would appeared to have been any other day.
There were no cards or gifts, no getting dolled up to go out for a fancy candle-lit dinner. In actual fact, my husband and I only saw each other long enough to have a hug, a kiss and to say goodnight.
From outside our very solid partnership, it may appear as if we have fallen out of love, lost our spark, or worse. Au contraire!
You see, my husband and I are both going through an extremely busy and somewhat stressful period in our lives. We discussed traditional and modern 10th Anniversary gifts we could buy for each other, and what we might do to celebrate. We both came to the conclusion that it was one more unnecessary task on our burgeoning ‘to do’ lists. Participating in the traditional anniversary expectations was an added stress that neither of us needed nor wanted. And more to the point, neither of us felt the need to do these things in order to express our love for one another.
So we both agreed that the most loving thing we could do to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary was absolutely nothing!
For our special day, my husband went to work came home did a little housework and enjoyed some peace and quiet and a glass of wine with his dinner. I flew home from an interstate work trip in time to drive straight to my yoga class and arrived home at bedtime. We gave ourselves, and each other, permission to do what we really wanted to do not what tradition dictates we should do.
My dear friend Green Queen wrote about a similar situation in her recent She Brisbane article which you can read here. I totally agree with her sentiments. Sometimes the wisest decision is to buck all trends and social expectations and do precisely what your heart tells you.
Being true to ourselves, and totally honest with each other, was in actual fact the best anniversary present either of us could receive.
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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.

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Monday, 15 February 2016

I can tell you from experience the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.

Have you ever stopped to think about the impact you have on other people’s lives every single day? Sometimes it’s tangible and you are fortunate enough to see the evidence of it, but in many cases you will never know how something you did or said has touched a person’s life.
Somewhere out there is a woman who through the simple act of hand-raising an orphaned Kangaroo changed my life. 
As a child it was clear that I was an “animal person” but one seemingly inconsequential moment turned animals from an interest into a life’s passion and career for me. 
On one of my family’s regular weekend jaunts to the Gold Coast, Mum and I went to browse the shops while my Father and Brother stayed at the beach to make the most of the waves.  At one shop we wandered into, there was an orphaned kangaroo joey peeking out from the back room. I was instantly besotted with this little creature which was only just learning to stand up, and sat on the floor watching it wobble, scratch and stretch while my Mum perused the dresses. The shop assistant explained that she was often called upon by the local wildlife sanctuary to look after the orphans until they could be released back to their natural habitat. I was so taken with the joey that I demanded my Mother take me to the sanctuary on the spot and find a joey for me to take home and hand-raise (there are so many things wrong with this given what I know now!) 
After some clever verbal sidestep, we drove home sans orphan, however my wonderful Mother sought a more suitable outlet for my new passion. The following school holidays I started as a volunteer at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I loved every minute of it and spent my entire weekends and much of my school holidays there until I was old enough to be employed. That was the start of over 10 years working in zoos, a zoology degree, and a further decade (so far) of educating others about animals and the environment and training similarly passionate people to pursue a career in the industry.
Fast forward to a few months ago, when a little voice inside my head said “start a daily Face book post called 100 days of gratefulness”. I’m not entirely sure where this voice came from and why it was telling me this, but I have been working on paying closer attention to my intuition. So for the next 100 days I wrote a daily post about one thing I am grateful for on Face book. This is nothing new, plenty of social media pages exist where people are doing similar exercises, usually to help promote a book or inner peace or something. My purpose was simply to honour my directive, nothing more, so it never bothered me that I didn’t receive a huge number of likes or comments. Over the last few weeks, however, so many of my friends and family have taken the time to inform me that they enjoyed reading and gained so much from my 100 days of gratefulness posts. I didn’t realise just how many people were actually reading them!
If someone has had a positive effect on your life and you haven’t told them yet, what are you waiting for? There may come a day when you wished you had have but it’s too late. If it were possible, I’d so love to track that shop assistant down and show her just how many lives she has touched!
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 Superb Fairy-wrens. © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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Sunday, 18 January 2015

I live in the paradise of my own creation. (Why taking care of yourself is not optional!)

Last week marked one year since I went to my first Yoga class. This was not a rash decision, I had been wanting to start a yoga practice for many years, but had always used the excuses of not having enough time or money to go to a regular class. I had even bought an instructional DVD (you can't go wrong for $10 right?) vowing to use it at least weekly but the reality was it was dusted off and popped in the DVD player only very occasionally.

Digging for the real reason could prove painful. The truth was that, even though I had spent a whole year studying Cheryl Richardson's "The Art of Extreme Self Care", I just didn't place enough importance on taking care of my own needs. What can I say? For someone with a university degree, I can be a slow learner.

Enter a mystery virus in early 2013. Initially, it struck me down for six weeks. During extended time spent in bed, the work was still pouring in and stockpiling on my sleeping laptop. On returning to work, it  hit me like a tsunami; six weeks backlog with the added pressure of a manager needing it caught up with ASAP. No prizes for guessing what happened next: virus resurfaces, more time off work and a toxic cycle begins . . .

So for the first time in my life, I actually did the right thing. No, not working harder to get on top of it all. At the end of that year, I walked away from that which didn't serve me (read the full story here). Yes it was scary, terrifying in fact, but it was the smart choice. Who knows where I’d be if I had taken the other path at that proverbial fork in the road?

Around the same time I also started a regular yoga practice, and quickly realised there was a good reason I had felt drawn to do this for such a long time. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and produces monumental benefits of mind, body and spirit. There has not been a single class to date that I didn’t gain something from. I have more energy, feel more peaceful, and am stronger and more flexible. The best part? I proved that I actually do have the time and the money, and more importantly that I’m absolutely worth it!

Oh and there’s also the bit where my family and friends tell me how good I look, that’s pretty awesome too!
So what do you do to create your paradise? I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment  J  (select “Anonymous or “Name/URL” if you don’t have a google account)

P.S. If you are interested in Cheryl Richardson’s The Art of Extreme Self Care click here.

       The web page for my fabulous yoga teacher in Brisbane can be found here.

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Main Range National Park, Queensland. © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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Monday, 1 September 2014

One Step

"The journey of one thousand miles starts with one step."

Quite a few of my close friends and family members have, at one time or another, taken a leap of faith, and it has worked out for the best. My Dad started his own travel agency many years ago. He will retire this month after many fulfilling years running a successful business. A dear friend moved half way across the planet to be with the man she loves, and my Brother has recently done the same to be with the woman he loves. Eleven years ago, my husband and I spent right down to our last dollar to buy 10 acres, then built our dream home from scratch as owner builders (get the full story here).

In December last year, I took another massive leap of faith that felt more like pole vaulting off a cliff, and probably made no sense to everyone around me. I had been working in a stable, government job for over 10 years. It was safe, comfortable, the type of job you could easily spend the rest of your working life in, and many people do. Though it seemed more than a little ludicrous at the time, I took just one step. I walked away from the safety of that job, with no real plan on what to do next, because it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Fast forward eight months and I am healthier, happier, fitter and more fulfilled than I have been in a very long time. I have enjoyed having the time and space to be myself and do the things I love to do. To be totally honest, concern has been starting to grow about when (not if) the next step would appear. A job I really wanted narrowly slipped through my fingers, and I applied for many others that were much less appealing. Then one morning, an advertised vacancy appeared in my inbox that seemed tailor made just for me.
In a few short days I had applied, been offered an interview, then the position and accepted. I start in my new role in a few weeks and couldn’t be more excited. It looks like I have landed squarely on two feet. When have you taken a big step and it's worked out for the best? I would love to hear your comments!

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this quote by Lao Tzu, it's an excerpt from the Tao Te Ching, what many say is the wisest book ever written. The next line is: “Take the step.”

Happy Monday J

Simpson desert, Queensland. © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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Friday, 1 August 2014

The sun shines unconditionally on all of us.

There’s something special about the feeling of sunshine on your skin.

How it warms you right to your core when you’re feeling cold and energises you just when you need a pick me up. How it can lift your mood from glum to contented. I can easily recall so many times when the sun’s rays have given me a boost right when I needed it.

Like the time when I was cleaning pathways at Lone Pine early on a cold, dull Winter’s morning. It was a boring, unpleasant chore and my brain was only making things worse by contributing thoughts such as “I’m freezing!”, “bed would be so nice and cosy right now”, “it’s too early to be outside on a Sunday”, and “I really dislike this job”. Then I looked up and saw the first rays of sun shining through the mist and lighting up the trees. It was so beautiful that everything changed in an instant. My heart spoke: “you don’t get to see this from underneath a doona”, “I love my job!” My brain fell silent.

Once in my teens, when I was feeling rotten with a particularly bad virus, my wonderful parents took me to a resort at the coast for the weekend. They plonked me in a sun-drenched banana lounge by the pool to recoup. It was the best medicine in the world!

Of course, this blog post is a very literal take on some insightful words, you can draw numerous metaphors from them also. The awesome thing is that the sun doesn’t shine for some people and not for others. Even when it the skies are overcast and dreary, you just know that the sun’s rays are still there, waiting to reach you as soon as the clouds dissipate. And if you’re really lucky, they might just make a rainbow while they’re at it!

Happy Friday J have a fabulous weekend.

This post is inspired by Dr Pee Tek Chan whose wisdom has helped me in so many ways and whose words are quoted on the image

Photo Bay of Fires, Tasmania. © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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Friday, 18 July 2014

War hurts. It hurts no matter which side the bombs are falling on.

This morning I turned on the morning news while having breakfast. Before long I was totally engrossed in the unfolding horror overseas; two separate tragedies in two different areas of conflict far away from the safety of my living room. This comes on top of a third escalating situation in another part of the world which dominated yesterday’s news.
While hanging on every word, I could feel my energy being drained. So many gruesome details were being recounted in language chosen specifically to dramatise a situation which really needed no embellishment. Before long, I realised that 2 hours of my day had disappeared into a deep, black hole never to be recovered. And I was feeling pretty low.
It’s hard not to get caught up in all the hype. It’s even harder not to be deeply affected by knowing that such atrocious things are going on in our world. But on the other hand it’s also extremely important not to lose yourself in grief, anger, negativity or despair. That only makes things worse, much worse.
I’m not suggesting that we should all pretend to live in a fairy world filled with unicorns and rainbows, where bad things never happen. But enough is enough!
So please, help spread some kindness, positivity and joy today. If you have anything uplifting to say, say it loud and proud! Share a joke, funny story, cute photo or a bit of good news. Help balance all that bad news today with a little bit of good.
Thank you J
P.S. If you’re looking for a bit of good news click here
Photo World War 1 Trench, Ypres, Belgium © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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Friday, 27 June 2014

If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.

When you first looked at this photo, did you see a dead animal on the side of the road? Or did you see a beautiful blue sky with a couple of wispy clouds, the gorgeous colours of Queensland’s outback and trees growing out of dry, red earth?
There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s just an observation of how your mind works. You see, your mind is a powerful thing. It helps create your world and determines how you experience every facet of your life.
At times when everything’s good in your life, it’s easy to think positively, to see all the beauty and good around you, and to be grateful. Like attracts like, so the result is you experience more of the types of things that help keep your thoughts in a positive light. The more good experiences you have the more happy thoughts and so it goes . . .
Of course, there will always be times when not so wonderful things are going on in your life and these times are where the real test is. It can be extremely difficult to stay upbeat and we often get dragged down into whinging, beating ourselves up or thinking everything is hopeless. The result? Well you’re going to spiral quickly into an even worse place. Like a tornado sucking in all the dust and debris from a landscape, before you know it you have more to complain about, and so it goes . . .
The thing is, there is always, always something you can be grateful for, even if it’s just waking up in a bed under a doonah and not on a park bench. You can be upset about having to work on a Saturday or pleased that you actually have a job. You can be disappointed that your partner burnt dinner or delighted that they saved you from having to cook tonight. You get the gist of it.
So, are you a cup half full or a cup half empty person?
I recently heard someone say “If your cup is half full it means there’s room to pour more wine in”. Now that’s thinking positive!!!

Happy Friday J
P.S. Just as I finished writing this blog post, a fantastic 15 minute TED talk appeared on my Face Book feed which perfectly demonstrates the power of the mind and positive thinking. Talk about timing! You can watch it here
Photo Outback Queensland © Renee Chamberlin all rights reserved.
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