Archive for the ‘Kev’s Blog’ Category

5-Jan-2015 Bundeena makes the SMH

Monday 5 January 2015 Leave a comment

Bundeena made the papers today. OK it was the Real Estate pages and you an never trust them, as it always written as a puff piece – buy now, buy now, never been a better time etc. But if you have never heard of the place, then click the link as you get some photos.

Anyway the article is here:

The sun is shining on Bundeena.

In property terms this often overlooked hamlet an hour south of Sydney’s CBD is enjoying a bumper summer following a strong 2014.

“The market is very strong with interest across all prices,” said Wendy Hewitt of Century 21 Beachside.

The Domain Group reports a 14 per cent increase on Bundeena’s median house price in the past year to $712,500. Compare that to another Sydney fringe beach getaway, Palm Beach. Its median for the past year is $2,625,000.

Larissa Reed of Payne Pacific Estate Agents said much of the interest is coming from young families and first home buyers circling the houses in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. “I could sell one a week if I had the stock.”

“You can catch the ferry to Cronulla or it’s a 20-minute drive through the National Park to Sutherland then you jump on the express train to the city,” said Ms Reed. She also notes that unlike Palm Beach, all Bundeena’s waterfront property faces north.

Ms Reed said a lot of people have never heard of Bundeena. She’s doing her bit to put the beach idyll on the map through her Bundeena-Maianbar website and facebook page.

Long-term rentals are as scarce as hens teeth but short-term holiday lets keep Bundeena attractive to investors and holiday makers alike. One house on Loftus Street is earning its owners $5000 a week over the summer break.

Here’s a selection on homes on the market now:
15 The Lambeth Walk
$2.85 million +

You’ll know you’re on holidays if you wake up to this view every morning.

The new three-level house has direct access to Gunyah Beach (that’s the local’s favourite swimming spot). There are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a vast covered north-facing terrace overlooking the water and just about every mod-con to make this a dream getaway or permanent paradise.

Contact Payne Pacific Estate Agents, 0411 124 546.

52 Brighton Street
$1.2 million +

Outside Byron Bay, Bundeena is home to Australia’s largest community of artists and musicians. This four-bedroom, two-bathroom house is home to the award-winning painter, Bob Marchant.

Surrounded by semi-tropical gardens and with a view of the beach, the property comes with a studio with its own entry. Hordens beach and the ferry wharf are a two minute-walk through the park.

Contact Payne Pacific Estate Agents, 0411 124 546.

18 Loftus Street

Replace the chain-mail fence for timber pickets and ditch the aluminium windows and hey presto! You’re on your way to the dream beach cottage. It has two bedrooms, a carport, garden shed and an 18-metre street frontage. Best of all, it’s only 150 metres from Jibbons Beach.


3-Jan-2015 More thoughts on New Year Resolutions

Saturday 3 January 2015 Leave a comment

new year

I read this on someone’s facebook feed (so a tip of the hat to the author Neil Gaiman). The reason for posting here, and not on my recent post of 2015 resolutions, is that I want to wake up and think of this daily. I always want to keep pushing my limits.

I remember telling Dawn back in my teens that I didn’t want to be “middle-aged, middle-class and middle of the road”.

I just need to keep pushing myself and others to push me!


2-Jan-2015 Weight

Friday 2 January 2015 Leave a comment

I did actually weigh myself yesterday, 81.2kg (12stone 11pounds or 179 pounds), so a little down on a few months back. I am not sure why I feel the need to comment on it, as it is just a number.

But I feel that since I don’t run as much that I have got a lot … well … heavier and I don’t really like it. I have upped my other exercise and tried to be very cautious in what I eat and drink.

Maybe I see gaining weight as a middle-aged thing and I try to ignore that I am not a young person anymore. Not sure.

My lightest when I ran my fastest times was 61kg but for much of the last decade I have been 75kg or thereabouts, mainly less, until the last 4-5 years when it has crept up at the same time as my running has decreased….


1-Jan-2015 New Year’s !

Thursday 1 January 2015 Leave a comment

Last night I met Dawn after her work and we went to see the 9pm fireworks from Sydney Park near Newtown. Maybe it was way the wind was blowing but it was difficult to see them, but lots of smoke. We weren’t as impressed as in previous years. We walked into Newtown to get a coffer and/or something to eat, it’s always lively there even on New Years but this time a lot of places were closed.

I read in the paper that:

Bars and hotels citywide reported their quietest New Year’s Eve in a long time. Locals said streets were a “ghost town” on Wednesday night.

As well as Bondi, the number of visitors at pubs in Surry Hills and Leichhardt was about one-fifth of the normal New Year’s Eve crowds.

Oh well, we got a coffee anyway and drove home. Thanksfully (!!) all the kids were out so we had a hot bath and watched the midnight fireworks on TV. Luckily the kids came home in one piece soon after from being at a local beach.

Today was a late start, very hot, over 30C and quiet although all the beaches here were packed. We went to the beach 3 times today too cool off!! I did some reading and some gym work and went to a 2hr walk through the bush and along the cliffs. Then we had a family dinner in the back garden over a fire – not that it was cold – we were all sweating !!

Anyway new year’s resolutions still intact !



31-Dec-2014 New Year’s Eve

Wednesday 31 December 2014 Leave a comment

Another New Year’s Eve. I dropped Dawn off at the station as she was working, so we left home at 5.10am. Not a good start but other than a swim with all 3 girls I haven’t done much. I like it like that. I am meeting Dawn as she comes home later tonight and we will go out then.

My resolutions for the coming year ? In general I think I have improved myself over the last few years. But here’s my main aims :

  • Drink more water – I probably don’t drink enough. I don’t drink cordials or sugary fizzy drinks and drink just an average amount of coffee. But sometimes I am more dehydrated than I should be.1
  • Drink less alcohol – as it happens I drink very little alcohol, as in the past year I probably had 20 standard drinks over the whole year spread reasonably across the year (a bit more in the December social season). However I really dislike drinking and I usually feel like crap even after one drink. I would be totally teetotal other than I only drink to fit in at social occasions and should just have the balls to say “no”.
  • Running consistently – When I get back to running, I want to aim at consistency and probably fewer races as I think that a lower level mileage and big races is contributing to me getting injured. Certainly when you can’t run, you would trade all the races in the world to just be able to run injury-free again. The simple pleasures in life!

Anyway here is an article I clipped from last year, which got me thinking most of this year about drinking less. Not that I was ever like this, but I like being hard-core about stuff like this.

Sobering night out highlights the horrors of our lushy lifestyle

Like a great slab of the population of Australia, I got rotten this festive season. I’m talking wobbly in my heels, slurring and gibbering sloshed. And while I thought I was having fun at the time, I wonder in hindsight whether I really was.

I certainly know I wasn’t the morning after, when I was woken by a stranger who had crashed on my couch, asking me to let her out of the locked front door. When I couldn’t find my handbag – which I hoped still held my keys – in any of the usual places, my new friend/couch surfer said I should retrace my steps after coming home. But I couldn’t. It was all a blur.

Eventually the bag was found under a pile of jackets that didn’t belong to me. They were next to several half-empty bottles of wine and a dishevelled display of empty beer cans. It seems I had hosted an after-party to the Christmas bash I had attended. Which was very generous of me, considering I couldn’t instantly recall who the guests were.

Some might laugh hearing this, others simply zone out because it’s the same old thing they hear day after day. The reality is that right now, there are literally thousands of Australians recalling how wasted they were last night, believing their excess to be amusing. But here’s the sad fact: it just isn’t.

I don’t think it’s funny I lost count of how many shots I downed on my recent night out. I don’t think it’s humorous that someone I barely knew slept on my lounge – it was reckless and dangerous to allow it. And I don’t think it’s in any way a laugh that I couldn’t immediately recall getting home.

I’m also sure that in all of the gibber I no doubt spouted there was little that would have been relevant or interesting. And I don’t think for one minute that I would have looked chic with panda eyes, Joker lipstick, red-wine teeth and bird’s-nest hair, looking and smelling like I’d just stepped out of a skip.

I could say I’m too old to act this way, but that’s irrelevant. No one looks good smashed – no one. I don’t care how young, pretty, handsome, affluent or intelligent – all drunks are the same: ugly.

I say this because since my big night, I have been abstaining from drinking – well, OK, limiting myself to safe driving levels of consumption. And oh, what a bloodshot red eye-opener it has been.

Take, for example, a pre-Christmas catch-up with dear friends this week. After struggling to find a park, I had to walk several blocks to the restaurant. It was 7pm and already I saw young girls in dresses too short and heels too high staggering and screeching on the streets. They were surrounded by young men similarly messy, some shirtless. They seemed to be heading out rather than returning from their night out.

And so, after a lovely dinner, I headed back to my car. It was probably 11pm and I swear that in the four or five blocks I had to walk, I witnessed the following: a girl with her dress hitched to her waist urinating in the gutter in front of a group of laughing onlookers; a young man vomiting against a tree; a loud, violent scuffle outside a bar between two blotto men; a couple pashing in full view of outdoor diners, the man’s hand down the clearly inebriated woman’s bra; a middle-aged man with an open pizza box dropping slices as he staggered, before being tripped up by a pesky gutter.

I also saw a woman screaming obscenities at her boyfriend before kicking over a garbage bin and leaving its contents strewn across the road. When I asked the woman if she intended to pick up said rubbish, she told me I could ”f—” myself and called me an ”ugly c—”. Charming.

Then, to top things off, there were three men loitering by my car who, as I approached, asked if I would like to fellate them.

Is this really what a fun night out has become? If so, I’m staying in and staying sober because it not only disgusted me, it left me feeling depressed.

Why? Because I realised that the atrocities of the few blocks I had travelled were being repeated all over Australia; that this is what now constitutes socialising in this country. And it made me despair for the generations to come, because even though drinking to excess was a rite of passage for my generation too, things have deteriorated.

This is not just a case of me being older and believing, vainly, that I wasn’t that bad, statistics show that binge drinking is increasing, especially among young people.

A 2012 report by the Victorian Auditor-General revealed alcohol-related violence and health problems cost the state $4.3 billion each year. It showed that ambulance attendances to alcohol-related incidents had increased by 219 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12. What’s more, the increase was 329 per cent for people aged up to 21. Add to this a 93 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (191 per cent for those up to 21) and it’s pretty clear we don’t have a problem with drinking in this country, we have a full-scale epidemic.

It is disturbing to think of just how many Australians suffer the short-term effects of alcohol – hangovers, headaches, nausea, shakiness, vomiting and memory loss – on a regular basis. Then there’s the behavioural problems – falls, assaults, car accidents, unplanned pregnancies, loss of valuables, overspending, time off work, relationship breakdowns. This is before we even get to long-term health concerns, such as addiction, liver and brain damage, and death.

I am grateful that my recent binge made me sober up and realise that while a few drinks with friends is fun, more than that is not.

So, with New Year’s Eve approaching, I plan to have a happy one, which means no hangover the next day, no strangers on my lounge, and no ouchy regret. I wish you and yours the same.

25-Dec-2014 Christmas Day

Thursday 25 December 2014 Leave a comment

Being Christmas and we have no family here other than ourselves, and we were off work & School we could get up late. Kody would have preferred we got up earlier, like 6am, but it was closer to 10am. I think the older kids were ok with that! We then opened our presents, I always like to think we don’t over-do it, but then I see the pile and am not so sure. We then had a coffee, of course, and had a family group photo shoot in the garden. We went for a longish walk to the recently-done up aboriginal engravings & had a swim at Jibbon beach on the way back, all together and really lovely. Had dinner on back deck about 30secs before a big thunder & lightening store. Then Skyped my Mum and Dawn’s sister Carol in the UK and made a few other calls to family.






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24-Dec-2014 Christmas Eve

Wednesday 24 December 2014 Leave a comment

Christmas Eve and the house seemed to be running off adrenaline, except Dawn of course who was working. It was the first day of my holidays and the kids despute being older teenagers, were still excited for Christmas.

Ko & Jaz drove Dawn to Sutherland station leaving approx 5.10am, then they went onto Greenhills to go surfing.

I left about 6.45am with Chelsea, although I was swimming with the people at South Cronulla – the SIPS – Shark Island Psycho Swimmers. We pretty much always swim out and around Shark Island, I would guess approx 1.5km total, depending on the conditions. The waves were BIG today out the back of the Point and out back of Shark Island. I was frankly a little scared and just did what everyone else did and came through it very happy.

The kids were waiting for me as I finished and we all had a nice breakfast together at the Barefoot on the Beach. As a sign of them growing up, I left them to go shopping at Woolies whilst I went home to do the cleaning up and wrap my final lot of presents & generally chill out whilst listening to the BBC World Service.

Later in the afternoon I went Boxing with Jaz at the beach which had emptied by then. Me, Jaz and Ko also played soccer and catch. A great time together and I really appreciated it.


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13-Dec-2014 Hard work beats talent

Saturday 13 December 2014 Leave a comment

I saw this picture here. I think it sort of sums me up – not very talented but work hard. And I have seen talented people waste their talent by being sloppy & lazy and ultimately get overtaken by people who show up every day and keep plugging away.



6-Dec-2014 Bhagavad Gita Quote

Saturday 6 December 2014 Leave a comment

I read this quote the other day :

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna, “ Let go of the fruits of your actions. Your job is to act as perfectly as you can—My job is to take care of the results.”

I really like that – my interpretation is “act as perfectly as you can – and don’t worry about the rest, it will sort itself out“.
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important Hindu scriptures, a bit like the Bible or Gospels if you are Christian (which I am not).

But then I looked at another translation and couldn’t find the same quote exactly – this seemed to be closest:

You are only entitled to the action, never to its fruits. Do not let the fruits of action be your motive, but do not attach yourself to nonaction. — Chapter 2, verse 47

In fact it turns out that translating the Bhagavad Gita is a pretty random exercise, refer this link, although no doubt there are many other places where they discuss varying translations.

Anyway, its good to stuff to ponder on, whilst I lay in my hammock on the back deck!

The main reason for posting this is that it is soooo close to my preferred and most favourite mantra. If you know me then you will know that I try to live this each and every day :

5-Dec-2014 How I write my blog/journal articles

Friday 5 December 2014 Leave a comment

In general I read an awful lot of books, magazines, websites, blogs etc – reading is something I have done incessantly since being a little kid.

These days I make notes in Evernote – a great app for any decent phone and of course bookmarks in chrome or on delicious. I often do this on the train, as I have a 35min commute to and from work each day.

At some point later I write them up, but I usually prefer doing it on a decent pc with keyboard, hence I am often days, weeks or months later.

Also if you receive an email each time I make a post, it’s what I would call a draft as I often go back in and make edits.

No doubt as time goes on, I will keep changing my process.

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4-Dec-2014 Your Attention Please

Thursday 4 December 2014 Leave a comment

I saw this quote here :

I have have always lived my life in this way since I was a teenager, maybe that was a sign of a good upbringing – I knew no one was going to help. It’s just me and all my faculties – for better or worse – versus the world. So I try to be as self-sufficient and non-needy as possible.



28-Nov-2014 Summer Season of Swimming

Friday 28 November 2014 Leave a comment
Although I have been swimming in the sea  all year sans wetsuit (haven’t been in a pool for years) and I even did the Coogee Ocean Swim last weekend, Today marks the actual start of the Summer swim season ie went to Cronulla and swam round Shark Island with the group. Its about 1.5km and took a leisurely 40mins with calm conditions. Very clear water and a few (non stinging) jelly fish. It was 21.0C in the water so very warm. Only Steve came from the work group but in total there was approx 15 of us in total. Coffee at Barefoot at the beach cafe afterwards. Just sitting there looking at the view and listening to Jack Johnson’s chill out music. Temperature was warm & sunny. How good is that? Caught the train to work afterwards.
After work I did a 6pm gym class – Kinesis then the 6.30pm HIIT then 30mins in steam room and sauna. Needless to say I was wrecked by the time I got home !!

24-Nov-2014 Karma Yoga

Monday 24 November 2014 Leave a comment

I often mention in this blog about doing household chores like hanging out the washing, doing the washing up, cooking & cleaning, sweeping the floors. I don’t mind it as it’s for my family and it’s a relatively peaceful activity that allows me to think and reflect on what I am doing and why – it’s an expression of live for my family, and house. I am grateful for all I have. I didn’t realise that in yoga traditions this is called Karma yoga. Manual work like this, for an hour or two per day is not so bad and it’s a way of making you feel grounded. Even if I was rich enough to pay someone to do my share, I would want to do these chores. Maybe that’s where the world goes wrong – people think they are too good to do menial work like this. They are busy … on facebook, at the pub … There was a great article I read in the Yoga Journal magazine:

In the West’s never-ending quest for high-speed, user-friendly spiritual growth, an ancient solution to the problem, karma yoga, is usually overlooked. The Bhagavad Gita touts karma yoga—the Hindu path of service to others—as the fast lane to spiritual fulfillment. So comprehensive are its benefits that one of India’s most widely respected gurus, Neem Karoli Baba, gave just one instruction to his devotees: “Love everyone, serve everyone, remember God”—six words that encompass the whole tradition. “Everything he said to us was focused on loving and serving,” says Mirabai Bush, one of his best-known American followers. “He said if you want to meditate or do asanas, fine, but he never really taught us those things.” These ideas are much on my mind as I sit in a small apartment in Phoenix, Oregon, watching hospice volunteer—and novice karma yogi—Stephanie Harrison with her patient, Dorothy Armstrong. Harrison has seated herself on the carpet at Armstrong’s feet, a calming hand embracing the 73-year-old woman’s ankle. Slumped in a brown recliner, Armstrong suffers from congestive heart failure and advanced diabetes. At her request, her doctors have ended aggressive treatment and are just trying to make her final months more comfortable. But even that is becoming difficult: Liquid morphine no longer does the trick, the stout, white-haired woman says, and the pain rarely quits. Harrison has stepped into the breach, having been paired with Armstrong by a local hospice agency. A pert brunette, Harrison visits at least weekly. Often, the two women just chat, like girlfriends. But Harrison also helps out by doing light housework, running errands, and tending to Armstrong’s Lhasa Apso, Pokita. In addition, Harrison has insisted that Armstrong phone her at any hour if she feels the need. Recently, Armstrong was jarred awake in the middle of the night by intense pain that overwhelmed and terrified her. Harrison rushed over from nearby Ashland to stay with Armstrong and hold her hand. “There’s no feeling like knowing that someone cares about you like that,” Armstrong says, her voice breaking. “She’s a very special person.”

Serve Somebody

All major religious traditions stress the importance of service to others: being a companion to the sick and dying, cooking hot meals for the hungry, collecting warm clothes for the poor, and so on. But that doesn’t make karma yoga a universal spiritual practice. In yoga, service is not just a spiritual obligation or the righteous thing to do, as it’s promoted in many churches and synagogues. It is also a path to self-realization, making it a supercharged version of the adage that when you give, you also receive. So does that mean you’re guaranteed enlightenment for doing some volunteer work? Can anyone sign up for this amazing program? How else will your life change if you do? You won’t find pat answers to these questions—because, as described in the Gita, karma yoga is a mysterious process that reveals its true nature only to those who pursue it. The first mystery comes wrapped in the definition of karma yoga, which doesn’t, strictly speaking, mean “service” (often referred to in yogic circles by its Sanskrit name, seva). Instead, the desire to do service is part of what’s revealed on the karma yoga path. Karma yoga is usually translated as “the yoga of action”—that is, using the ordinary actions of your life as a means of “waking up.” Essentially, everything you do—from household chores, like washing the dishes, to “important” duties, like your job—becomes a way of nourishing the universe that nourishes you. At some point, however, the distinction between ordinary actions and service, or actions to relieve the suffering of others, disappears. Yoga teaches that as we develop spiritually, our awareness and compassion grow, making us more alert to suffering around us and less able to turn away from it. In essence, the pain of others becomes our own, and we feel driven to relieve it, much as we’d instinctively act to end pain in our own body or heart. But karma yoga doesn’t always begin so deliberately—in fact, another of its mysteries is that it’s as likely to choose you as vice versa. Meredith Gould, former director of marketing at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, and author of Deliberate Acts of Kindness: Service as a Spiritual Practice, believes that for many, karma yoga starts as a sort of inner tug. For Ram Dass, whom many consider America’s preeminent karma yogi—he has written and lectured widely on the subject and helped launch several key dharma-related service nonprofits—the call came person-to-person. In 1967, while searching the Himalayan foothills for holy men, the former Harvard psychology professor, then called Richard Alpert, was introduced to a small bearded man wrapped in a blanket, who turned out to be Neem Karoli Baba. Just one day later, Maharajji, as his followers called Baba, “assigned” Ram Dass the task that has dominated his life ever since. “[He] said to me, ‘Do you know Gandhi?’” Ram Dass says. “I said, ‘I don’t know him, I know of him.’ He said, ‘You—be like Gandhi.’ I got the little glasses first. That didn’t do it. And then I found a quote that said, ‘My life is my message.’ If I can be like Gandhi with that message, that makes my whole incarnation a service.” Which, of course, it has been, especially to the millions who first took an interest in Eastern spirituality thanks to Ram Dass’s books and lectures in the ’60s and ’70s; the countless folks who’ve benefited from his work with the Prison-Ashram Project, the Dying Project, the Seva Foundation, and other such efforts; and the graying legions inspired by his work on conscious aging.

Serve the Soul

Not being a membership organization, karma yoga also taps the shoulders of those outside the fold, like Stephanie Harrison. Having grown up watching her parents assist needy families who patronized their grocery store in Houston, Harrison began volunteering when her children were young. At first, she assisted at her firstborn’s day-care center. Later, she led tours for children and adults with disabilities at a local museum. “Starting when I was young, I had a sense that we needed one another, that we couldn’t make it by ourselves,” she recalls. In her mid-40s, Harrison began exploring contemplative spirituality, and her volunteering changed in kind. A Methodist by birth, she started practicing Thomas Keating’s “centering prayer,” which resembles Eastern-style meditation, after hearing the noted monk and author speak in Houston. She also simplified her life, minimized her creature comforts, and began attending retreats at convents and monasteries. Eventually, she adopted the church’s Rule of Benedict, a comprehensive approach to spiritual living in which service plays a key role. After moving to Ashland, her involvement with the hospice exposed her to the Buddhist perspective on living and dying. The teachings rang in her like a bell, and she soon integrated them into her daily practice. Harrison’s volunteering now drives her spiritual development as much as formal doctrines do. In the cozy front room of her home, Harrison talks about how observing people die has altered her view of the living. Her voice is hushed with wonder as she describes one patient’s passing. A Hispanic man separated from his wife, the patient was just “skin and bones,” Harrison says. He never had visitors and rarely spoke. “One day, he opened his arms and began to pray in Spanish,” she recalls. “His whole face changed—there was a light in it that came from inside out. His body heated up. And there was such joy and peace and glory that he radiated. It was probably less than 24 hours later that he died. But there was some connection he made that really pulled him out of this world into the next, gave him courage and almost took him by the hand. “I’m so clear after seeing people dying that we are all the same,” she continues. “There’s a part that sheds and a part that’s there after the shedding. In my interactions with others now, I’m able to see beyond their superficiality and respond to that deeper part of a person, which often transforms the whole communication.” To Ram Dass, the same change that Harrison describes in herself captures the difference between karma yoga and what might be called ordinary volunteering. He notes that most of us are dominated by our egos, which is the shallowest level of our being. That is, we base our identities and sense of worth on our physical bodies, personalities, jobs, reputations, and possessions, and see others through the same lens. Ordinary volunteering is often performed, despite the volunteer’s altruistic cover story, to fulfill the ego’s needs: to alleviate guilt, seek praise or respect, prove our power to “save” people, and so on. Inherently, it centers on unequal relationships—pulling someone up from the depths or fixing them in some way. It also involves a negative judgment, because a helper’s ego can only conclude, based on the evidence that egos understand, that the ego is superior to those who receive its help (they’re dirty, I’m not; they’re addicts, I have self-control). If those being helped sense that they’re being judged, it only increases their pain. Volunteering looks much different, Ram Dass says, when it’s performed from a higher level: soul to soul. In fact, it looks like Stephanie Harrison’s involvement with Dorothy Armstrong—one person sharing her wholeness with another, with no other agenda. When he does his own hospice work, Ram Dass says, “I wait until my soul takes over—my spiritual self, my witness to my incarnation. And then I walk in. I don’t find an AIDS patient; I find a soul. I say something like, ‘How’s your incarnation?’” When one soul serves another, there’s no need to give advice or lift up or heal. But along with that comes a certain acceptance of the status quo. “I think we all want to fix, because it gives us a sense of control over something we have no control over,” says Gail Straub, author of The Rhythm of Compassion: Caring for Self, Connecting With Society. “I think it’s healthier and more sustainable to serve with the idea that I can’t eliminate that suffering. It’s a Hindu and Buddhist idea that there will always be immense suffering in the world around me. What I can do is offer my kindness, knowing that I’m not going to solve anything.”

Serve Wisely

Although karma yoga is associated with selfless service, it can also be thought of as “should-less” service. In the Gita, Krishna describes the karma yogi as one who “feels pure contentment and finds perfect peace in the Self—for him, there is no need to act.” This, with classic yoga logic, creates the perfect foundation for acting: “Surrendering all attachments, accomplish life’s highest good.” But that’s the ideal. Along the way, most of us will butt up against what Straub calls “the shadow side of service.” This takes several forms besides the above-mentioned need to “fix” people or situations. For instance, we may become service workaholics, neglecting our families or our own needs. The suffering we see may make us so cynical about the world’s condition that our service grows literally dispirited. Conversely, we may approach volunteering so arrogantly that we think we can save the world. “The shadow is based on an illusion: that we’re either better than the people we’re serving or not good enough,” Straub says. “Either way, our shadow is bound to make us feel impotent, and that will dry up our compassion.” While the shadow can tear the heart out of ordinary volunteering, it plays a far different role in karma yoga. It’s engineered, brilliantly, into the process. “The same stuff that comes up in meditation—monkey mind—comes up in karma yoga,” Meredith Gould says. “‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’ ‘I hate this job.’ ‘I’m looking at the clock—that means I’m not a good person.’ That’s all grist for the mill.” Of course, that also means that because we aren’t perfect, we’re going to screw up sometimes and do harm instead of good. But again, in karma yoga, that’s by design. “The question is, when we mess things up, what do we do with that? Because there’s always growth in screwing up. How else does anyone grow?” Gould adds, laughing. Inevitable as the shadow is, though, we can still make things easier on ourselves, and be better volunteers, by using common sense—for instance, tailoring our commitments to the contours of our lives. Straub notes that our capacity to serve changes at different stages of our lives. Someone with a demanding job or raising small kids can’t spare as much time as a retiree or a college student on break, and the wise volunteer will honor that. Most places overflow with opportunities to make a difference, especially if, like a good karma yogi, you let go of the need to save humanity. For ideas, just flip through the volunteeringpages in your local newspaper or type volunteering into your web browser. Scale doesn’t matter, Gould says; whether you work for world peace or find homes for abandoned cats, “I don’t think one gets more angel points than the other.” Nor does karma yoga have to be done through a formal commitment, she notes. It can even be an extension of your normal job—as with a dedicated science teacher who creates exciting projects for her students in her garage at night. Keep in mind that lovingkindness—acting with heartfelt concern toward others—is part of karma yoga too. When your service undermines other parts of your life, you’re bound to feel resentment and anger, and to spill some of it on those around you. “The spiritual aspect of service is doing what your heart calls you toward,” Straub says. “The pragmatic aspect is what you have time for without jeopardizing your family, your work, and your own inner balance. If one afternoon a month is all you can manage, that’s just fine.” Following her guru’s lead, Mirabai Bush, coauthor (with Ram Dass) of Compassion in Action, puts it even more simply. She offers this boiled-down guideline for would-be karma yogis: Be brave, start small, use what you’ve got, do something you enjoy, and don’t overcommit.

Serve Yourself

While it’s true that karma yoga is a mysterious process that you can’t direct, that doesn’t mean you can’t help it along. The Gita advises us to bring balance and equanimity to every situation. Apply that to volunteering and you’ll always bring your best self to the job. You’ll also make your service more personally sustainable, Bush says. To her, this means combining karma yoga with contemplative practices such as asana and meditation. When you do this, she says, “you begin to see that not acting is a very important complement to acting, and that being still shows us the right way to act when the time is right to act.” Both Bush and Straub work with social activists who’ve never developed their spiritual sides, leaving them vulnerable to what Straub calls “compassion fatigue.” One of the darkest parts of service’s shadow, the term refers to those who work so hard at caring that they empty their tank and the caring stops. Straub is convinced that daily spiritual practice is crucial to anyone who volunteers, not just karma yogis. “If there’s no inner life,” Straub says, “there’s a despair that says, ‘Nothing ever makes a difference.’ I think the spiritual life helps us hold the paradox of hope and despair, joy and sorrow, making a difference and feeling there’s not enough time—all those contradictory feelings that are part of deep service. It’s really hard to grapple with them with just the intellect.” But while spirituality helps prevent compassion fatigue, it’s no panacea. “I feel I have a pretty good balance most of the time,” Straub says, “but I definitely have my periods of feeling fried. It’s almost inevitable for a really engaged human being. Balance is a messy business. The key is to listen to the rhythm inside us, which of course spirituality helps us do. I might need to be enormously engaged at one point in life, and I might need to go inside and just take care of myself in another cycle, and there might be cycles where I can balance both.” Fortunately, in karma yoga, the volunteering furthers the inner work, as well as vice versa. Stephanie Harrison discovered years ago, when she first began hospice volunteering, that service was the key to her satisfaction and growth. “Dealing with death and people in a ravaged state scares me sometimes,” she says thoughtfully. “But it hasn’t stopped me. Something inside me says, ‘This is part of life and who we are.’ I believe that in everything we rub up against in this life, there’s a teaching and a possibility. A lot of times it’s uncomfortable, but that’s what being human is to me. I don’t know if I’d want to be around if I couldn’t be in this world in this way.”

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24-Nov-2014 Mumbai Vegetarians

Monday 24 November 2014 Leave a comment

I read a great article in the LA Times about some Mumbai vegetarians. In a very meat-centered world, it is great to notice people somewhere, anywhere tipping the balance back towards vegetarianism. When I was in Rishikesh and Vrindavan in India the whole city was vegetarian (and alcohol-free) and it’s just great to feel part of the majority rather than the minority.

The rest of India is still about 50/50 with vegetarians so is just great to travel around.

Mumbai’s strictly vegetarian enclave gives flesh-eaters the evil eye

In a roughly 2-square-mile patch containing some of India’s priciest real estate, a firm and sometimes militant vegetarianism prevails. Most residents of this old-money section of South Mumbai are Jains or devout Hindus, and not only do they not eat flesh, but they also don’t want it anywhere near them. Eateries serving meat and seafood are all but banned, and stories abound of certain apartment buildings refusing to consider prospective residents who are what Indians call ; sometimes with more than a soupcon of judgment ; non-vegetarians.

They’re pretty fascist about it, says food writer Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi. I’ve seen Bengali friends and others complain that they’ve tried to move somewhere and the building says, ‘Oh, you are fish-eaters, you’ll smell up the place, so we won’t give you the apartment.

A menu by prominent restaurateur Sanjay Narang that included tandoori chicken and lamb curry ticked off neighbors in an apartment building on an exclusive boulevard fronting the Arabian Sea. Narang shuttered his ground-floor establishment in 2005 after residents above reportedly spat on his patrons, dropped nails on them or keyed their cars. So what’s a global food and beverage behemoth to do in such circumstances? If you’re Starbucks ; which seems intent on cracking every lucrative Indian market ; you go with the flow. The coffee chain’s new outpost off palm-fringed Marine Drive doesn’t sell the local-style club sandwiches or murg kathi wraps ; flatbreads stuffed with spiced chicken; found at dozens of other Starbucks in India. The brightly lighted display case contains only meatless fare: a hummus and pita platter, a spicy red bean sandwich, a mushroom and sun-dried tomato filling on ciabatta.

There are no potatoes, onions or omelets in sight, either, in deference to Jains, who eschew not only meat but also eggs and root vegetables plucked from beneath the earth. Muffins, cakes and pastries made with egg are clearly labeled, in keeping with Indian law.

It’s a Jain area, explained Sanjay, a young barista. Their preference. Starbucks’ Indian office did not respond to questions. But the menu is clearly in line with snack shops and ice cream stalls in the neighborhood that bill themselves as 100% pure veg, including doughnuts that come in eggless varieties. If you open a non-veg restaurant there, said Sanghvi, even if they don’t force you to shut down, you will shut down eventually because the richest people in the neighborhood are vegetarian and your business doesn’t survive.

India may be overwhelmingly Hindu, a religion that regards the cow as sacred, but national surveys suggest that less than half the population is vegetarian. Mumbai, as India’s long-standing commercial capital, is home not only to native Marathis but also sizable minorities of Muslims, Zoroastrian Parsis, Christians from western India and Bengalis from the east ; all generally non-vegetarians. Some of the city’s best-loved dishes include meat and seafood: Persian-inspired lamb cutlets, aromatic chicken biryani and the pungent dried fish known as Bombay duck. But perhaps because of metropolitan Mumbai’s sheer density ; 21 million people packed into a narrow strip along the Arabian Sea ; residents have carved out enclaves where they can live among those who eat and worship as they do.

The penchant seems to run strongest in South Mumbai near Marine Drive, a sea-hugging thoroughfare that in British colonial days was dubbed the Queen’s Necklace because its streetlights resembled a string of pearls. Patrons line up outside Veg and Proud restaurants that promise Jain Food Available. Many of the gently decaying old apartment blocks are occupied almost exclusively by Jains or well-connected merchant families from the neighboring state of Gujarat, who are strict vegetarians. (Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Gujarati, served visiting heads of state an all-vegetarian menu at his inauguration in May.) The influx of these groups has not sat well with some native Marathis.

Marathis don’t get accommodation of their choice because they are Marathis and non-vegetarian, local lawmaker Nitesh Rane said recently. He was attempting to explain a tweet in which he urged Mumbai residents to start cleaning up all the Marathi hating gujjus from there once for all.

The Starbucks sits near a series of Gujarati-owned diamond boutiques and sweet shops and next to the Shree Krishna Hindu Merchants Club, a members-only establishment named for a Hindu god. The club naturally forbids meat (although it was long known for hosting underground high-stakes card games). To the west lies Malabar Hill, the city’s toniest district and site of a famous Jain temple, where many grocers don’t stock eggs and the handful of stalls that sell frozen meat and fish have faced occasional pressure to close. Basant Todi, whose family runs Kurries and Burries, a fast-food place across from Starbucks, said: Ninety percent of the people in this lane are Jains. If you have non-veg items, they will avoid you.

His tiny, colorful eatery features a typically eclectic Mumbai menu, including nachos and tom yum soup. But whereas its first location, in a suburban office park, serves Thai curries and khao suey, a Burmese noodle dish, here it has excised those dishes because they require onion and garlic. You can’t make a Jain khao suey, Todi explained. There are rare exceptions to the meat-free zone. An outpost of Domino’s Pizza, which once took chicken toppings off its menu, is currently non-vegetarian. And then there’s the venerable Kobe Sizzlers, which has been serving chicken, lamb and seafood stir-fries out of a buzzing ground-floor location for 35 years. Owner Urmila Sheth, a Gujarati grande dame wearing pearls and a giant diamond-studded nose ring, said hers was one of the first stir-fry restaurants to open in Mumbai. As the neighborhood has become more gastronomically conservative, her meat-heavy menu appears to have been grandfathered in. Yet even Sheth has recently converted to vegetarianism after deciding she couldn’t stomach the idea of a chicken being slaughtered. Her son, who helps manage the business, eats everything, she sighed, but Sheth no longer dines at her own restaurant.

I can’t stand anyone eating fish at my table, she said.

23-Nov-2014 Coogee Wedding Cake Island Swim

Sunday 23 November 2014 Leave a comment
Today was the bi-annual Coogee Wedding Cake Island Swim  – it’s about 2.4km. The November swim is called the Cold Water Classic and in April it’s the warm water. In November it’s often only 17C but today it was almost 21C. I met Michael & Mel from work.
There is a very cool video and photos that OceanFit put up here (owner is Andre who i know from Burning Palms Surf Club).
I finished in 53mins 36secs which was good for 685th from 1032 finishers – about 66% down the field which is about normal for me.
The times don’t matter a lot as the course and conditions vary from year to year so not a lot of point in comparing them, that’s why I usually track my %.
Afterwards I went to have a coffee at Gustos in Coogee then went home and zonked out on the hammock for an hour or so before going to Yoga in Caringbah with Dawn.
It was weird as it was very clear when we started the swim but by the time we finished a sea mist came in and obscured everything. Photo below is after the swim and after coffee, you wouldn’t notice the swim had ever been on – still very hot and lots of people on the beach.
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22-Nov-2014 A Busy Saturday

Saturday 22 November 2014 Leave a comment
I was up early this morning to drive and pick up Dawn from work at 7am (it’s a good one hour drive). She went by train but didn’t want to come back by train as there was trackwork and she didn’t want to drive on the Friday night as that is a busy time to cross the city.
We stopped off at Ramsgate farmers market on the drive back as that was just opened – we always like it there, one of the few places you can get fresh turmeric root.
At home I did a few chores then drove to Newtown for the 12noon Jivamukti yoga class. Afterwards (by now very hot) I went to the Sadhana cafe just up the road in Enmore. Raw, vegan and the very bet smoothies I have ever tasted in the whole wide world!! Then I drove to the Cornersmith cafe & picklery – it’s the first time I had ever been there. Pretty good and bought some pickles. Afterwards, sort of one the way home, I stopped for a swim at Cronulla. Yes was very tired by the time I got home maybe 5pm.
Photos of graffiti in Newtown:

21-Nov-2014 Boules Social with work

Friday 21 November 2014 Leave a comment

Today was our annual Boules day at work where our company plays against Telstra, our main provider. We go late morning to a place near the harbour at Pyrmont and have lunch and play. Today was absolutely roasting and for once I remembered to take a hat and sunnies. Not bad as opposed to a day at work in the office, and it was free!

I left about 3.30pm and walked back to work for an hour or so’s work. It was a VERY hot walk back.



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18-Nov-2014 After Work Date Night

Tuesday 18 November 2014 Leave a comment

I went to the Gym after work and then, the same as the last few weeks, I met Dawn at Town Hall station so we could go back home together, mainly to share the car as Jazmin was using the other one.

However today, instead of going straight home, we went out to a cafe for coffee. but not an ordinary one, it was like a Japanese one, and certainly the times I have been there I was the only non-asian. It’s always very popular. Dawn ordered a Matcha tea, as per the photo, like a straight bitter espresso. They did a lot of matcha’s and green tea ice creams and things like that – lots of strange concoctions! I ordered a soy ginger chai latte. It was good and Dawn even preferred that.

Got home approx 9.30pm.



9-Nov-2014 Swim with dolphins

Sunday 9 November 2014 Leave a comment

Dawn was at work today, so I had a quiet morning doing chores, then in the afternoon I kayaked over to the White House, but as I was injured I went for a walk instead of a run. I walked to South Cronulla along the coast path, then went for a swim round the buoy. The sea was quite rough. Amazingly a dolphin swam underneath me. To be honest when I first saw the fin and flash of grey it scared the life out of me. When I looked up I could see it breach the water with it’s fin out – really beautiful once I’d calmed down.

I then got changed and had a coffee at Grind, then walked up to Wanda beach and then back to the White House and kayaked back home. I felt quite sore & tired.

In the evening, I was fiddling around with my new phone, the Samsung Note 4. After Dawn came home I took the first selfie – below.


5-Nov-2014 RIP Jackie Fairweather-Gallagher

Wednesday 5 November 2014 Leave a comment
This report was in the news today and also posted on CoolRunning where I first saw it. Also refer her Wikipedia page.

Triathlon community mourns death of Jackie Fairweather

Canberra’s sporting community is in mourning over the death of elite triathlete and marathon runner Jackie Fairweather.

Social media was awash with tributes to the Canberra-based Australian Sports Commission performance manager on Monday night.
Fairweather (nee Gallagher) was a former world champion and Commonwealth Games medallist. She had been married to Australian Olympic archery champion Simon Fairweather since in 2004.

News of her death has rocked Australia’s triathlon community. Numerous tributes were posted on social media from Monday night in which she was described as an Australian sporting legend and a loving person and remembered for her strong contribution to the triathlon community.

I had met Jackie a few times and emailed her quite a bit when I was race director the Six Foot track Marathon. Obviously I didn’t know anything about her depression, and she seemed to me that even though she was an elite athlete, she was really nice and most of our conversations were about her plans to run as part of a large entourage of Canberra runners – she was very much focussed on everything working out for her friends and husband Simon who also ran. It just brings home to me, once again, that outside of a couple you never really know anything that is happening in people’s private lives. It’s all very sad (and she is not at all the first person I have known to have committed suicide).
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