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  • Martha Travis

What lessons are you missing from right in front of you?

In the Imagination Age, most of us work hard to continue to develop our knowledge, skills and expertise, by consuming books, articles, TEDx Talks, podcasts, YouTube and webinars.


While there is certainly nothing wrong with any of these mediums for learning, by being focused on screens and books, we might be missing out on learning some great lessons from what is all around us.


Here are a few examples of what I've learned from my immediate vicinity...

Gypsy ... she's 18 today (ish); that's about 90 years old in equivalent cat years. She was around 9 weeks old when we brought her home from the cat refuge in December 2001. Despite now being an elderly cat, she has a very full life.


My lessons from Gypsy:

  • Ask for what you want in life... what's the worst that can happen? The most successful people in the world went out into it, faced rejection, and kept asking until eventually someone said "yes".

  • Age is just a number. Make time to play; chase a ball, or run around like a boogie man is after you... after all, it's fun!

  • Spend time with people you love. Don't miss the opportunity to appreciate being near them, even if you are doing different things. The companionship that comes from spending time with your loved ones is great for your health and longevity.

  • Sleep. Getting a good amount of quality sleep will give you the energy to play and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. You should never discount your sleep.

Wisteria... this grows from our front garden over the fence and on to the pergola in next-door's yard. A few years ago, when the wisteria had grown along the fence and onto our side-verandah, pulling both down as it grew, we cut it right back and at one stage I was worried we might have cut it back too far. At this time of year, the wisteria goes from being a pile of twisted bare vines to a riot of coloured blooms and glorious perfume within a few days.

What I've learned from the wisteria...

  • A heavy knock can actually help you thrive... even when we think that what we are going through today is too much; the experience can build our resilience and help us make the most of the next opportunity that presents itself.

  • Bare to blooming is possible in the right conditions. Sometimes life can be tough and leaves us feeling bare and vulnerable; but with the right situation (read: occupation), the right care, attention and opportunities, we can really blossom as a person, finding our passion, our niche and feeling like we are truly making a difference. This is where we are happiest and work stops feeling like a chore.

Street Garden... I was in Summer Hill the other day and saw this delightful little garden making best use of available soil out the front of a block of terraces around a nature-strip tree. The little plot contains herbs, rocket and even a run of snow peas. (I hope no-one steals all their snow peas before they can enjoy them!)

What we can learn from the street garden:

  • We can create our own opportunities. We often live in limbo, wasting our moments, waiting for the "whatever" that will make us happy. Why wait? While our imagination may well create an image of perfection "when ___ happens"; the reality is that we will likely be slightly dissatisfied even if we get whatever it is that we are waiting for. Just start. It may not be perfect, but you will be closer to achieving your dream if you take that first step.

  • There will always be a risk. Don't be frozen in to inaction by what could go wrong. Yes, someone could steal your great ideas, methods or product concepts. So protect it. But don't stop yourself from moving forward because of fear.

Mum... when she sees this article, she will be mortified! When you're a well-bred lady of 84, poking out your tongue is not acceptable! Nonetheless, my Mum has taught me many lessons over the years (not just about what you should or shouldn't do if you're a well-bred lady). As she has aged, both her mobility and cognitive function have declined, but at this stage, she can still be silly, and laugh about how pink her tongue is from eating beetroot.


What lessons I have learned from my Mum:

  • Love unconditionally. If you enter into every situation with the aim of giving, without asking anything in return, or with strings attached, you will be rewarded. Even if the only reward is the satisfaction from giving.

  • Your hands are an extension of your heart. When your hand touches someone, it can heal, comfort, reassure. Give others what is in your heart through your hands, even when it's a business hand-shake.

  • Live each moment. We sometimes need reminding that our lives are finite. Appreciate today. If you look too far ahead, you may stumble on what is right in front of you; and we all know that you can't change the past.

  • Treasure your memories. It's your memories, not your possessions, that will give you joy and satisfaction at the end of your life. You might also want to write them down, or capture them with media, in case you forget (hopefully not, see next point).

  • Move. Our bodies were designed to move and if you don't use it, you'll lose it. You may not want to run the City to Surf, but by moving every day you will increase your chances of living a long and full life, with independence; while retaining those precious memories.

Wine... no doubt you have seen all the memes and plaques that extoll the virtues of a good wine and how it can enhance your life, connect you with friends and family, improve your heart health and just give you something to look forward to at the end of a rough day... and I'm certainly a believer!


What I've learned from wine...

  • "Whether you think your glass is half-full or half-empty, the important thing is that there is room for more wine"... this is one of my favourite sayings which I stole from someone/somewhere but can't recall where... but it reminds us about our mindset. How we see various situations is a choice. If we want to allow it to bring us down, then it will; however, if we focus on the positives, it can bring greater joy and contentment to our life.

What lessons can you learn from what is around you? Your kids? The traffic? A terrible (or good) cup of coffee?


I would love to hear your stories, please share in the comments!



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