“Flogging a dead horse”

26 June 2019

Week 4

This idiom is just an old English analogy meaning to “try very hard to make an impact but failing anyway”.  Knowing the exact point when one is indeed attempting to make a dead horse run faster by beating it, is a masterful craft that many of us do not have. How DO you know? Isn’t it every success-seeking person’s goal to “try, try again”, to aim high and keep on “having a go”? When and how do we step back and realise that the path we are on may not be conducive to our well-being, or is a step in the right direction towards success? Speaking with successful people and discovering that they too have chosen dead-end paths, sometimes many wrong turns which brought them to the brink of bankruptcy, reading endless accounts of the endeavours of others is a sure way to begin to judge for yourself.

Alone time

Yet, there is no “how to” manual, no definitive guide for each person’s life choices and while one person may have success at something in similar circumstances, we ourselves may fail to achieve the same results. Knowing when to pull back and re-assess where we are headed is a very complex task and can depend on personal circumstances, knowing one’s self, trust in one’s self, good judgment, and sometimes plain old exhaustion can play a part.

In my own case, I have recently had two week’s holidays from study, from work, from looking for work, from exercise, from all the daily and weekly tasks I have steadfastly repeated on my path to finding stability in peace of mind, my health and financial resilience. It was my first holiday in over three and a half years, I had no big plans, just wanting to catch up with my family and loved ones, but I got sick on the first day with a very nasty flu and have spent the whole two weeks not feeling quite right.  So, in this delicate situation of being run-down and eventually spending time totally alone with no work to go to, no family to be with, no friends around me, I began to feel full life-sadness. I let myself actually and fully “feel” what I was feeling for a day or two, unbound by the need to get up and perform tasks in fitting in the workaday mould.

We humans generally hide our emotions because we must soldier on, we must get on with life in a happy state or the world turns their back on us. Nobody truly has the emotional capacity to be around someone who is perpetually sad. We protect ourselves from societal isolation by seeking happiness, seeking mind-numbing or fulfilling work or cheerful activities to plug the hole, seeking purpose to fill our days so we do not have time to feel the gnawing sadness.  Yet emotions are so very important in our human psyche; they are what set us apart from undertaking base animal actions.

In allowing myself just to “feel” I explored the powerful effects on my thinking. Some would call it self-pity; I call it self-empathy. My strength is always going to be more powerful than my weaknesses, I know this of myself. Many do not have this fortitude, and I have personally witnessed self-destruction in people I love. In constantly feeling sadness and letting it win over, we are self-destructing. However, in feeling sadness in suitable measure, in appropriate situations, it can help us to think, to make decisions about our life goals and to make changes objectively.

Today, I am re-assessing the direction of my study, as the past two years have taken me away from loved ones and from my passion for art and nature. With four more years of part time study on the cards with the university course I have chosen and with my life situation demanding I can only study part time, I have now had a chance to realise that this is not taking me where I want to be. I could not have realised this is a “dead horse” if I had not allowed myself to feel emotions fully.

Be kind to yourself too.


Seeing the same scene from a different perspective.

“Attachment constrains our vision so that we are not able to see things from a wider perspective”. Dalai Lama

9 June 2019.
Days 6 to 9.

Have you ever looked at a view of a sunrise on the horizon say from sitting on the sand at the beach, or from in the water and from on top of a mountain nearby? This is an analogy of seeing the same view from altered angles; looking at an object (or a problem or an experience) from different viewpoints and discovering how unique it can seem depending on where you are standing (or in this case depending on how you are looking at it and how you are feeling when you look at it).

This is how I am going to approach finding solutions to becoming free from financial stress and worry and free from being under-utilised in my occupation. When I say “occupation”, I not only mean the place I go to work and get an income as reward; I am referring to what occupies my life, my purpose and my passion whether it is for fun or for profit or to offer my services to make the world a little bit better every day.

Looking through adverts and applying for hundreds of jobs on the internet or dropping my resumé into businesses has not landed me more work, and even applying several times to the company which I already work with has not had any success… I did not stand out! So herein lies the problem, how to make the viewer see me from a different perspective. Also, how to view the experience I have differently, so I can formulate a unique solution and direction.

My issue may not at all be that I am not where I want to be financially, although this IS a truth but not the whole story; my problem may be that I am not being resourceful enough with the skills I already possess. I am searching in the wrong place, which in my story, I am trying to get a break back into administration-type roles, but in a different industry, because that is what I have always done. I have always looked at a view from the same standpoint!

‘Time to change how I challenge this. I was lucky enough to be given a book a few days ago which has several excellent examples of finding solutions and a new direction for living through using design principles for your life; the subtitle gives it away “How to build a well-lived, joyful life” (Burnett and Evans 2016).

I have already been living the suggestions of which I have been blogging; I have been networking, researching, asking for help, practicing meditation, being who I want to be, living more purposefully instead of lurching from day to day. I believe people are generally kind and will give help when they can, but if they do not know there is a problem, they cannot offer assistance.  

So, this book has shown up at just the right time in my life as a gift from one of my sons, and now with the help of some like-minded people, I intend using some of the principles to re-design some elements, and look at life a little differently than I have for the past fifty seven years. Another of my children has also given me ideas for using my love of art in ways which I had not considered. Ideas lead to generating more ideas, which if one is open to continuous improvement, can lead to unusual and un-thought of keys to success.


Good book reference:
Burnett, Bill and Dave Evans. 2016. Designing Your Life. Random House Audiobooks.


“My Mama told me there’d be days like this…” Van Morrison 1995.

Not every day is a smashing success, or even a winner, but I try to remember to not let harsh moments become a hard day, they are only short periods of time, and the rest is how I manage the feelings. Sometimes we need to re-assess, take stock of the road ahead, rest and recuperate. Today was a beautiful day, some moments more productive than others, but tomorrow is another day…here are some pretty pictures from my soul-mending, head-clearing, endorphin-building walk this afternoon.


Getting others to believe in you.

“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time”.  From “Desiderata” ~ Max Ehrmann 1927.

5 June 2019

Day 5

“Water Lilies and Reflection”. Acrylic by GPC

Selling your skills so others believe in you or your dream does not come easily to many people. There are those who are naturally shy, those who have suffered repeated setbacks or made many decisions which did not work out to plan, or some have even suffered belittlement, non-support or even abuse from significant others which leads to consequences for a person’s self-confidence. We should never assume that someone who is not confident in their own abilities, means that the ability is not valid. Some people must learn to be brave and realise that we must market ourselves and our strengths first, and then market our abilities.  

Learning to take compliments is a great place to start. When somebody says, “great painting” or “great presentation”, the best reaction is a straight-up “thank you” response. No over-analysing, no shyness, no putting yourself down, no saying “thanks, but…”.  People who want success need to train themselves to take the compliment and enjoy it!

Marketing yourself requires seeking external reassurance and validation; interestingly many of my introvert friends tend to need less validation or mental stimulation from external sources than do extroverts, and I would call myself an introverted extrovert (I am comfortable on my own in my own space for extended periods of time needing no outside stimulation, but thrive in a team when there is a common goal.) I also love receiving rewards for work well done either on my own or in a team, so maybe that is my extroverted side.

Believing in yourself and your own achievements can be difficult when you are not in the place you imagined yourself to be in, or things around you are not going to plan. Stay flexible, keep searching but enjoy the moments of the now, and never stop learning. All those frustrating instances are lessons in disguise. All the disappointments, near misses and slow-moving plans are getting you one step closer as long as you look for the lessons, stay focused on the objective, keeping eyes, ears and the mind open to possibilities. Sometimes failures are opportunities in disguise.

Projecting to others what you want them to see about you and your endeavours starts with your strength in believing that you are unique and authentic, your work is of value, and your efforts are undeniably positive and productive. Be yourself; allow others to see you how you want to be seen.

Gabe (GPC)

Determination: (noun) definition – firmness of purpose. Synonyms: steadfastness, will power, tenacity, boldness, courage, resolution.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” Leonardo da Vinci.

To be determined to get back up more times than one falls down is an admirable trait; a virtue that all champions around the world have in common. People who have succeeded after many failures have true grit in the face of adversity; people like inventor Thomas Edison, film maker Stephen Spielberg or writer Dr Seuss all had their ideas rejected time and time again, but they persisted, and in the end they triumphed.

The world is full of stories of persistence, bravery and determination to win against the odds, to be heard, to be seen, to have an innovative idea accepted, or they had a whole-hearted belief that their ideas could change the state of the world. On a global scale there are people who refused to back down or to give in, people who had seemingly radical thought and ideologies of the time which went against the status quo, like Emmaline Pankhurst one of the leading suffragettes for women’s rights in the U.K, and Nelson Mandela a stoic campaigner against apartheid in South Africa. Both were arrested and suffered for their opinions and their actions against the mood of society at the time, but in the end won favour and changed the world.

I am not suggesting that I or anyone else should need to be so anti-normative in challenging society to achieve freedom in the context I am addressing such as finances, career and independence. I am suggesting that with refusal to give up, using courage and determination to succeed, comes the will and the power to make it a reality. Never giving up means that one keeps searching no matter the odds, and eventually a solution or a transformation takes place, whether it is within the problem or within the person, with action comes change.

It has also been known that serendipity intervenes; one is in the right place at the right time, an influencer understands the struggle and offers a lifeline, an introduction leads to a job offer, a vital book is discovered which leads to different solutions, or the teacher appears when the student is ready. But one must stay in the game, keep searching, never quitting, always confident that success is possible and will happen.

True grit will get you there.


Finding Your Purpose.

“To know yourself and what your life’s design is meant to achieve, is to know the divine purpose.” GPC

If, and when, you find your skillset, what do you do with it?

In this Western capitalist world, to gain the comforts of life above a subsistence level takes either capital to start a business, great marketing skills, good luck and great timing, a competitive edge, or a knockout skill or product that very few have or can compete with. Making a living is based on Commerce; it is a simple premise of supply and demand…if what you have is not in demand, or there is a glut in the market, what else can you do to contribute? Could you become better at marketing yourself, or adjust your course? Explore and promote another talent you already have, or learn another skill?  

“Ocean Storm” Watercolour 2018 GPC

Giving up is not an option, not for me anyway; my challenge is to make something more of my skills, with no investment capital to start a business, just my time and my belief in myself that I have so much more to offer. I will succeed in finding freedom from stress whether it is financial or existential.

First things first: which skills are in demand and which skills do I have that the world wants? Sounds simple right?  Starting with what one loves to do, what ignites the passion, what has in the past or still does make one jump out of bed every day? These are the things I will first search for purpose. Today I contacted a local Community Garden Group; I have always loved gardening and I now find myself without my own piece of dirt to grow food. I love art; I could seek out a local art group or theatre group to paint backdrops; it is an awesome way to network, doing what you love with like-minded people. I also love to cook, so could search for a community kitchen to be involved with. Whenever my life has been at a loose end, I find solace in being involved in community projects. To me this is what humanity is; help others where you can.  So, if you are reading my blog, and you too are at a crossroads, you don’t know what or where you are supposed to be, try volunteering; it is extremely rewarding, for you AND for those you help.

In the meantime, believe in yourself; we all have something special, we all have our story, let it out.  



2 June 2019

Day 2

Network: (verb) definition – meet with like-minded people to exchange knowledge and connections for mutual business or social benefit.

Synonyms: connect, link, interact.

No man is an island, entire of itself…” John Dunne


It has been said that to be truly successful in life takes a supportive team; therefore connectivity, conversation, encouragement and mutual respect are the way to achieve success. In my search for financial freedom (and freedom to be worry-free, freedom to be useful, freedom to make a difference), I realise I will have to learn to network with like-minded people, find mentors or a community of people who will encourage me, teach me and hear me.

My first steps towards this end have been to study a degree in Community Development over the past two years whist working in the community in aged and disability care. This has taught me to be brave, to value my input into these vulnerable people’s lives in making a positive difference. Opening one’s self up to scrutiny in the provision of service is daunting, as client’s may rightly say that I have not experienced what they are living. This is where empathy and reflective listening are paramount to understanding others; thinking critically before responding, keeping a kind heart and clear mind, trying to stay right there in the moment is how one helps those in need.

So within the search for my own freedom particularly in finding a way to be independent, to be financially viable and of benefit to society, I have found courage; courage to fail, get back up and build resilience, courage to focus on who I am and what I have to give and not on negative opinions of me or my skills, courage to continue to strive in the face of adversity, and courage to never give up, ever.

Being brave and putting one’s self “out there”, being unafraid of negative opinions, finding courage to network and to connect with those who have succeeded, with those on the same path, or even with those who tried and failed, courage to be vulnerable but steadfast and to listen, share and learn; these are traits worth building and are surely positive steps to freedom.  

“Fortune favours the brave”. (From “Phormio” by Terence 161 B.C.).

P.S. as it is the weekend, I have been cooking up a storm of wholesome and nourishing food. Today is my Lime and Thyme Marinated Mushrooms with cream cheese on sourdough.