Sometimes when life gets so busy it is good to get away from it all. We need to remember it doesn't need money, an airflight or a long drive. Often we can lose ourselves in the history and learnings of our own area. This was our lesson today. The sun was shining and we wanted time to escape together. We drove 20 minutes to Helensburgh to start investigation of the abandoned railway tunnels of the 1880's. As we investigated the history we realised how hard the pioneering groups had it. We might think life is hard now but families had to move to a new environment and learn new skills , often living in tents, as the colony expanded south. The work often had to be done by hand and everyone faced so much uncertainty. Uncertainty and ambiguity is not new. These pioneering families and companies were trying to plan for what would occur. They couldn't imagine how the South Coast would grow, The railway tunnels didn't serve well. The gradient in the main tunnels couldn't cope with the heavier trains that would need to service the growing economy and population. After 40years the tunnels were abandoned. The tunnels were a great get away for us today. We needed to see new things, immerse ourselves in exercise and conversation. Reminding ourself that taking time out together is a precious gift and one that re energises us and allows us to continue to give to others . Remember taking time out is a precious gift and you don't need to travel far to learn about our world
A week of many lessons. Starting with the biggest challenge of my career. A global perspective of connection and powerful debate as we face into long term thinking and accountability. Starting with an international conference of Financing A Resilient and Sustainable Economy.
The weekend starts with a rich Nan Tien East meets West ceremony and valued family time.
The survival of our world will require us all to build bridges between areas of knowledge, differences of opinion, to take time for our family and friends. In summary, take the time to care to what matters .
An amazing start to the week as we brought together the United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative with Australian and NZ Banks,Investors, Not For Profits, Insurers and Governments. A solid exploration on how get the capital flows in the financial system supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. It is not about charity but about true shared value. Most of us in business really care about how we invest in long term environmental and social value. We challenge ourselves every day how we can we make a difference.
I started my career as an Occupational Therapist, really thinking about what it takes to help people be aware, adapt and thrive.
In business we need to step back and be aware of how we connect with others and reflect on what we can do to bring the strength of our connections, knowledge and experience.
Nan Tiens Bridge Ceremony is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved. 17 years of building a temple (the largest Buddhist in the Southern Hemisphere) and private funding ensured a bridge built between the temple and Buddhist University. We were reminded it was more than a physical construction it is about broader connection and reminder of tolerance. It was the most inclusive , uplifting ceremony I have ever had the privilege of participating in. Opening with the Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony. Recognising the original owners of the land. Allowing for Hindus , Christians, Muslims, to speak and all sides of politics it was an important reminder of communication, understanding and connection.
Family time with my nephews, nieces, sisters reminds me about family connections and they are the most important connections of all.
Happy Mothers Day to all the Mums. A big thank you to my Mum who has been there for me when it mattered most. Today my beautiful daughter reminded me that being a Mum is about being there when it really counts. As working Mums we often feel anxious about the role we play. Are we there enough. Kirsten reminded today that what really matters is how we understand the needs of our children no matter what the age. In her card she reminded me of a situation 6 years ago . Kirsten was studying in Australia and we were living in NZ. Being challenged by our own transition and stresses of supporting a country post Earthquake. Kirsten had flown through her subjects but was really challenged by a subject called Metatheory. Her solution was to go and get as many books and articles as possible and she was overwhelmed. As we all would be when we overthink any situation. We flew home for the weekend. I sat and went through a whole semester of work and then coached her. She passed! Today she reminded me what this meant to her. "You provide me the love and support and guidance that I need. Remember without your assistance love and support I would still be buried under a growing pile of books trying to get through meta theory. " She is now a Registered Psychologist helping families and children and happily married. I am so proud of her. What she doesn't realise is how since the day she was conceived she has helped me get through a lot of tough stuff. Being a Mum puts everything into perspective. Making choices. The choice to be there when it really matters to both of you. Of course I am so much richer by now knowing meta theory........Knowledge that is yet to come in handy!
Following a busy year and a fun time celebrating Christmas with family and friends Michael and I headed off to explore Cambodia. What a wonderful experience. One we can say is really life changing. We explored the recent and ancient history of the country. A true reflection for us is how people who have experienced so much trauma through war, poverty and so much change can continue to smile and importantly, trust. Their faith and Buddhist beliefs seems to be the basis of strong values. We felt very safe and this was a result of how we genuinely cared for by restaurant, hotel staff and impressively: the local tuk tuk drivers. Last year there continued to be so much debate about trust and why is it eroding across society. My trust of others strengthens when they deliver against what they will say they do and when they do so from less self interest but really caring about my needs. It is why my family bonds are so strong. We have very strong commitment to being their for each other and being relied upon. However, back to our holiday! The Cambodian Tuk Tuk driver really taught us about trust even in difficult conditions. Many have had to come to the cities leaving children and wives behind for them to earn money to provide for their family. Often they are self educated and without extended family . Remember many have lived through being a chid trough the Pol Pot Regime. Whilst on holidays two beautiful connections made us realise we can learn from people in all walks of life. Andy The Friendly Tuk Tuk Driver (described by his Facebook page and on TripAdvisor!) came to collect us within an hour of email contact with his recently cleaned tuk tuk and took us from Phnom Penh to the Silk Island Koh Dac. On the way he thought of places we might like to see and spent time explaining the history or cultural context. He was in his late 20's. He was putting his brother through university and supporting a wife and new baby. He saw his purpose was to work to educate his family. It was obvious he loved what he did . He drove safely and was very engaging. Even buying a coconut for us to drink after a full day exploring. Wherever we went he could be relied upon to be where he said he would be, and to think of our needs rather than his own. Our second example was a little more confronting for us. Mr Dee in Siem Reap ferried us around to the Angkor Archeology Park for 2 days. At one point we returned to our Tuk Tuk to see Mr Dee reading a book on Hitler. He told us he loved history and reading and felt it important to understand what makes evil people do what they do. He then explained to us that he wasn't really sure of his real name or age as he was child when he was forced with his mother and sisters to march from their family home to Battambang. Where they then had to work in rice fields. His father had been taken away. On the way they contracted Malaria and his mother and sisters died. He recovered but had the experience of being orphaned and put to hard labour. He then escaped with a few other orphans to the border near Thailand where they were cared for in a UN camp. Many of his friends were sent overseas but he was raised by a local woman . He spoke fondly of her. He now has two adult children of his own and loves sharing Siem Reap with his customers. He made sure we appreciated what we were exploring, even having a book that helped us every time he took us to a temple. It was important to him that we could understand what we were seeing. We were paying for transport but he took it onto his self to deliver for us a much richer service . He took it on himself to really look out for our needs and Mr Dee helped us get so much more from our holiday. He provided water,wet towels and a real personal connection. He has every reason not to trust others after his life experience but he is quite the opposite. Trusting and investing in relationships with others. In this way making our holiday so much richer. In two days we quickly realised we could trust him unconditionally. He was always where he said he would be and was always on time and in addition thought of our every need. Thank you Andy and Mr Dee for helping us fall in love with your country and how, despite conditions and the length of time you spend with someone you can invest and form trusting relationships.
I admire the Acknowledgement of Country we are now more routinely building into the opening of events here in Australia. I love it when it is a heartfelt acknowledgement and not a "script". Acknowledging the traditional owners of our land pays respect to those who were the original custodians of the land - the most resilient race with over 60,000 years of continuous occupation of a country. We can learn a lot from their connection to country. It was something that we also valued in the 6 years we lived in New Zealand. We learned our "mihi" - a way of describing our place, our river, our mountain and our ocean.
This year as we had a family break at Lake Crackenback I was reminded that a sense of place and connection does not only relate to where you were born or live. It can be a place that emotionally connects you, your emotions, your family and friends to a landscape or a place.
Over 15 years ago we started to go to Lake Crackenback with our best friends and their daughters. Our girls all learned to ski together and we all were there to connect and support each other whatever was happening. Mostly it was love and laughter. As Kirsten and Matt became a couple we had the opportunity to connect with who was to become our future son in law. When Michaels Mum died we went away to Lake Crackenback to grieve. Now as we take time to switch off and connect we go to Lake Crackenback with our newly married daughter and son in law. When you connect so deeply to a place you ease right in and connect more easily with each other. When you lose the connection to place you can become lost and alone. This is what we must remember. This is why we must be respectful and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we can enjoy because of their care and respect for it.
As the world gets busier and more complex it can get more stressful as we navigate through our own life choices and support those of others who we love and care for. On a recent visit with family to Rainbow Bay in NSW I reflected on the role of Lifesavers. They watch over us making sure we don't get into trouble if we get in out of our depth, get caught in a rip or encounter sharks. Unless it is really dangerous they don't keep us out of the water. Instead they keep assessing the risk whilst letting us enjoy the experience. It seems to me we can juggle a lot more stress and risk when we have our lifesavers around us. Who are they in your life? Have you people who will help you be brave, go in the water but help you if you get in too deep? In the last month I have realised I am strong and brave because I have many friends and family who are my lifesavers. They literally save me from myself when I can't see the danger I am getting into by stretching myself too far or taking on too many of others responsibilities. I am really grateful that so many people care about me allowing me to care for others and try to help make a difference in our world. Our lifesavers might not always be as visible in red and yellow so look for them and once in a while thank them for the role they play for you
I was reminded today of the anniversary of the death of a leading U.S photographer. Minor White. He reminded us all that photography can be about what we see and feel when we take the photo, what we feel when we see the photo and what others see and feel when they see the photo. It resulted in me reflecting on how many photos I have taken in one of my favourite places - Nan Tien Temple. When I look at the photos of the visits with friends I remember the love and joy of friendship and the love in my life. I have celebrated Mothers Day here at the temple, had fantastic discussions with my work colleagues and enjoyed the conversations and time with dear friends. When I look at other photos I have taken when I have visited alone - when I have felt lost and alone and I have been consumed by choices I need to make for the future I can recall the deep emotion of the control we need to take in our own lives. Balancing our own needs with those of others. When I look at the photo on our dressing table of the magnolia tree taken at the temple in 2010 I remember the decision I was making to go to NZ and all that followed. The tree was in full bloom but I was feeling so confused and conflicted with so much happening in my life. I guess when others see this photo they see the wonders of the magnolia tree in full bloom. Minor White was right, it depends on your emotion and circumstances when you see the photo on how you interpret the image. A great quote that inspires me with my photography " At first glance a photograph can inform us. At second glance it reaches us". My photography is a therapeutic medium helping me connect with family, friends but most importantly connecting myself with the world around me and helps me keep grounded in the present and all I have to be grateful for
Over the last few months there has been so much happening around me and in the world that can raises questions on how we can face the challenges that come our way. Members of my family have faced the joy of the birth of a new daughter only to have the devastation of a cyclone impact on their home, their business and their community. We were in Paris at the time a policeman was killed on the Champs Elysees, and then there was the awful situation in Manchester where people were killed at a concert by a suicide bomber. It would be easy to be dismayed and paralysed by all of this sadness. I was privileged to have a dinner with Tim Costello, advocate World Vision, on Wednesday night. He has been a mayor, a Baptist minister, an author, the CEO of World Vision. He has always been a leader I have admired and he has helped me navigate many difficult times in my own life. He has authored a book called "Hope". His ultimate belief in the difference an individual can make in the world is an important reminder for us all. He reminds me of the "purpose ladder" that can run beside the "career ladder". He also reminded us on the importance to all of us on the importance of belonging. Many issues arise when we lose our sense of place.To me family gives me such a strong sense of my place.
It does not matter what we may be facing on any given day. The sun does rise in the morning. We just have to get through the night. This is easier said than done when we feel overwhelmed and challenged by choices we may have to make. What is important is always to know what is important to us. Our own purpose. This will help guide and give us strength. This morning I was reminded that you can search far a field and the beauty can be right where you are. I went to Bulli to support my husband in the Bulli Burn. 5 minutes from our home was the most spectacular sunrise and sun rays over the beach. I truly felt lucky and blessed. I no longer felt aggrieved about getting up at 5.30am on a Sunday morning after a tough week. Instead I was there supporting the most important man in my life and watching the sun come up. A sense of place and purpose!
On the Eve of International Womens Day I am pausing to reflect on how women become strong and independent. I am convinced the choices we make along our journey is critical. I am very proud of my daughter and the difference she is making already early in her career as a Psychologist. I watch her make choices about how she lives her life and how she stays true to her passions, loyal to those that matter to her. It is nearly a year since her marriage to her best friend. Choosing to wear purple tango shoes under her wedding dress summed up the statement she wanted to make about the life she was choosing. She wanted to be herself - independent but committing to a partner for life. I know that part of the strength she has comes from the constant focus Michael and I have had on our own relationship and how we work to understand each others needs. Through good and tough times. His willingness over the years to not only "help out" in parenting and household commitments but to really embrace this as a shared responsibility. Do we have expectations at home as well as work to ensure equality for both partners? This focus has ensured I could pursue the choice of my career and education. Interestingly he sees that this has also contributed to him feeling equality as a parent. Knowing Michael was by my side no matter how tough the going became, even when the workplace in the 80's and 90's often made me feel isolated and different. Not just because of my gender, but the difference of my career background, socioeconomic status. All that come together to make up who I am. His encouragement and strength gave me the strength to be me. Maybe I didn't wear purple tango shoes at our wedding but the greatest choice I made was my partner for life. This, combined with embracing opportunities at work, no matter how scary, when they presented has ensured every choice I make has contributed to my strength personally and professionally #BeBoldForChange
Over the last few months I have heard constantly how time is flying by and people can't believe it is September already. In 3 months Christmas will be here. I do wonder if by constantly focusing on time we forget to experience the special moments in life. Think about it. Most of us now have several devices with us constantly that remind us of our calendar and the time of the day! I reflected on this yesterday . Michael and I made the most of a beautiful spring day and spent time walking between the lookouts on the Illawarra Escarpment. We left our phones and watches behind. We marvelled at such spectacular views over our village of Austinmer. We smiled at the sign identifying an hour to walk to Austinmer. Measuring this walk by time rather than what we could see,smell, or hear . Valuing the richness of the conversation we could have with each other without distractions of the busyness of life. What a waste we only measured the walk by time! Lets start to think of qualitative measures of the life we are living rather than the quantitative measure of time.