Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.

~ Anthony Robbins

I’m in love. I wake up in the morning happy and I go to bed happy and everything in between has a kind of soft rosy glow, even the unexciting and unglamorous bits.

I’m in love… with life. I’m happy.

And I’ve realised a thing or two about happiness. Happiness does not mean being constantly ecstatic, or that nothing bad ever happens, or that you don’t have any problems or obstacles to deal with. Rather, happiness just is… it just floats there as a presence, even in the presence of all the normal problems and emotions of every day life. Happy exists like a constant backdrop against which all else occurs – you can be happy and still have moments of frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness. Happy doesn’t disappear in those moments. It just sits there and is present to the issue, while still being somewhat detached from it. Happy, as I am using the word, isn’t an emotion. It’s a state of being. Perhaps “peace” would be a more accurate word – but I like happy. Happy feels like the right word for how I feel about my life right now.

And I’ve realised that happy is always present, happy doesn’t go away, we all have that steady ball of happy sitting right inside of us all the time. All you have to do is learn how to be aware of it, to hold it always within your awareness. And sometimes, I have learned, you have to give yourself and your life a good shake up to really awaken that awareness. You have to give yourself a good jolt, pull yourself out of your comfort zone, away from Safety and Security, to really become awake to that little place of Happy sitting there right inside you.

I have heard it all my life,

A voice calling a name I recognized as my own.

Sometimes it comes as a soft-bellied whisper.

Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency.

But always it says: Wake up, my love. You are walking asleep.

There’s no safety in that!

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I feel like I have woken up. I feel like I am awake for the first time in so very long. I am no longer walking asleep. I still have things to deal with – lack of money, being tired, physical pain, occasional loneliness – but none of these diminish the Happy… rather they occur on the backdrop of it.

So back to the point at which I left you. When you last heard from me, I was about to leave Oxford for London, into the great unknown. I hopped on the train to London and an hour later, I was at Paddington Station, with very little money, no job and nowhere to live, my life in a backpack on my back, knowing barely a soul. I didn’t know anything beyond the next hour. It was stressful, it was full of uncertainty – it was exhilarating.

If travel has taught me one thing, it is this: the universe is magical. Magic exists and it is all around us, everywhere. If you let go and trust, the universe always has your back. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen in London, how I was going to find work, where I was going to live… but I just went and I just absolutely knew that it was all going to work out and I would be fine. I just had faith. I had utter faith and I can’t explain why. I just knew that the universe was my homeboy and it would always have my back.

I think sometimes the best thing you can do in life is just fall out into the great big cushion of the unknown with the utter unwavering faith that the landing is going to be softer than you could ever have imagined.

Of course, you have to do this in the full awareness that there will be some very difficult moments and a lot of hard work required on your part. You have to put yourself out there, and you have to do everything you can possibly do with what you have, where you are. My flute teacher used to always say that success was 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, and a truer word was never spoken. You have to be willing to put in the perspiration. Ah, but that 1%… that’s where the magic happens.

So basically, my recipe for life is this: do everything you can possibly do, with what you have, where you are. Then – let go. And have faith.

But back to my story. One of the recruiters I had emailed from Oxford turned out to be a small specialist recruiter for Kiwi medical secretaries – who would have thought that even existed?! I didn’t even know that when I emailed him! Anyway, he contacted me straight away and met with me within just over an hour of me having gotten off the train from Oxford. All I did was stash my stuff in a hostel in Hammersmith and then met up with him straight away, hot, sweaty and stressed from lugging my stuff around, flustered and stressed from the fact that I had no money, no job and nowhere to live.

This recruitment guy ran his own small agency and he seemed adamant he would find me work. He also gave my number to another girl who had temped with him for a few years. She rang me the next day and said “So, I’ve been told you need a friend.” I, who hate hostels with a passion and had found one night in this particular one quite long enough, gasped a quivery “Yes I do!” into the phone. Within a few hours, I and all my belongings were on a train to met her at her apartment near Waterloo Station. She had said she would cook me dinner, I could stay the weekend, oh and by the way, she was moving out in a week, so if I liked it, I could take her place. I met her off the tube and as we walked the few seconds to the apartment block, I looked up to my right and there was the London Eye. Right there in front of me – not in the distance, but right there. I had never seen it before. It was very exciting.

The awning marks the front door of my apartment. The big ferris wheel thing is the London Eye.

Within half an hour I was having a glass of wine in my new flat and I’ve been living there ever since.

I live in a two bedroom apartment with 5 other girls. It sounds crazy, and if you’d ever told me I would be in this situation before now I would have laughed in your face, but it totally works and I love it. The girls are lovely, it’s cheap, and it’s right in the very centre of London.

The very day I moved in, the recruiter rang up with a week long temp assignment for me for the following week. So within a day of being in London, I had a flat and a job, albeit a temporary one, and a new friend or two to boot. I told you the universe was magical!

The following week I did a week’s worth of medical typing work in a public hospital in north west London. It was very good money and I was very grateful for it – and I was very good at it. But within a couple of hours I realised that it was exactly the job I had left at home and I was bored out of my tree. I realised that the whole reason I left my life in New Zealand and came halfway around the world was because I wanted to do something different, wanted to shake myself and my life up, feel somehow more alive, awaken to myself.

The assignment was only a week, so the following week I was sending out lots of job applications and went to a few interviews. The interviews I had all went well and I could have had a nice cushy well paid office job. But the thought of it just made every fibre of my being silently scream. I felt like some essential part of myself was suppressed inside me, squashed into a tiny box, and was screaming at me: Let me out, let me out!!! Give me expression, give me freedom! This is what you came here for!

“To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.”

~ William James

So on the Thursday afternoon, I was sitting on my computer looking at job ads and suddenly I was sick of just sitting around waiting for someone to find me work or give me a job, I was sick of it being in someone else’s hands. And I couldn’t bear the thought of being in an office again. So I got up, got my bag, left the house, walked across the bridge and walked into the Australian bar that is about 20 minutes walk from my house. It kind of went like this:

me: “Hi, I was just wondering if you had any work going?”

manager lady: “can you come in tomorrow at 11 am?”

Well, basically – you get the gist, anyway.

So I started at 11 am last Friday, was put onto the roster full time, and have worked there every day since, except my one day off yesterday. It’s a mad lifestyle and has taken a little getting used to. It is on your feet, physical work and it is a very busy bar, especially with the soccer World Cup on at the moment. I’ve been working til close every night, so I’ve had a strange cycle of working all night, getting home at some odd hour of the morning between 3-5 am, being starving and not sleepy so I sit and have a snack and read for a bit, get to bed as the sun is coming up (it comes up very early here!), sleep through the morning, up around lunchtime, and then start the cycle again! The work is fun though! It’s really hard work, it’s tiring, my feet hurt (although they’re getting used to it), it can be stressful, and the pay is crap – and it’s fun, the people are cool, and I’m loving it!!

So I have ended up having exactly the bar experience I wanted when I came over here in the first place. We do serve food, but it’s not a restaurant like the place I was at in Oxford – it’s just a bar that sells burgers and some meals. I don’t waitress, I work behind the bar, and I love it. I make snakebites and Jagerbombs and laugh with/at drunk people. It’s great!

I can’t say enough how much I LOVE London. I have loved it from the moment I arrived here, even through moments of stress and uncertainty – it was love at first sight for London and I ,and the love just keeps growing. It just feels so vibrant, so alive, so vast and buzzing. I still can’t get over the fact of how my life now is, I feel like I’m in some kind of waking dream – but a dream in which I feel more alive than I ever did in my old life. Every day I leave my apartment and walk a few steps to find myself directly under the London Eye, I walk along Southbank and across the footbridge over the Thames river, looking out to my left at the Eye on one side and Westminster and Big Ben on the other as I cross, then a few moments further down along the river and I am at my place of work. And then I see it all in reverse on my way home again, feet and body aching, tired but exhilarated. This is my life! How did this become my life??! I am lucky, lucky, happy and blessed. I am very very alive.

Walking home from work at 4:30 in the morning.

And you know what?  I’ve stopped worrying about “what I’m supposed to do with my life.”  Because I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and I’m doing it right now.

I’m living it.

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like. There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time!
~ Coco Chanel


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The important point of spiritual practice is not to try to escape your life, but to face it – exactly and completely.

~ Dainin Katagiri

I have spent so long in the search, that I decided a different approach was needed.  After all, it is futile to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  Chasing, searching, questing… this has not worked.  In fact, I get the feeling that this has only clouded and masked and been a running away from the very thing I was searching for.

The one you are looking for is the one who is looking

~ Deepak Chopra

So I decided I would try something different – I would try stillness.  No more running.  Anyway, I am tired from the running, from the searching.  I felt I needed to learn to just BE.  To sit still long enough to hear what came forth from the silence.  Our truest selves, I believe, are always to be found in the stillness, in the quiet place deep within, that is only found when all else falls away.  Cast off the thoughts of should and could and didn’t and must.  Cast of the voices of your parents and your friends and the strangers you think are judging you – or should I say, cast off the voices you ascribe to them.  Cast off your conditioning and your childhood and society, move out of the haste and the scrabble.  Find a quiet moment, find a quiet place, find that empty space – and just sit.

And thus I find myself where I now am.  I work as a typist.  I feel like I have to somehow learn to be ok with that before I can move on.  I have just moved into a one bedroom house by the sea.  It is my sanctuary.  It is my place to just BE.  Sometimes that is frustrating and lonely.  Somehow I feel that is part of the process.  There is silence there.  Always in the silence, the self can be found. 

So many of us are disconnected – from ourselves, from our bodies, from our Earth.  So many of us live lives of “quiet desperation”, feeling faint unease or dissatisfaction, without really being able to pinpoint why.  I believe it is because we have lost touch with who we really are, with the voice that whispers quietly from inside us in a language we’ve forgotten how to understand, drowned out by the cacophony of voices, the busy rush, the magnitude of concrete that fills this modern world around us, this modern version of life.

So many people have said to me – as I have engaged in different ways in the quest to find my true path, my authentic life – that your job does not define you, your job is not who you are.  Your job funds your life, your job is not your life.

To be honest, I don’t think I agree.  At least, not for me.  I don’t think I can live that way.  How sad, I think, to spend such a majority of your week, your time, your precious life, being someone else, being disconnected from who you truly are and what you came here for, from your truth and your joy.

I want what I do with my life to be a definition of me.  I want the way I spend my time to be an expression of myself and who I am and what I believe in.  I want to live authentically in every single action, in every moment, in every breath.  Not just after work, not just on the weekend, not just when I’ve fulfilled other duties.  I believe the duties in our lives are the ones we have chosen to have there – I want to chose those which reflect my highest truth, which say something about who I fundamentally am, which are an expression of my very self.

When we meet someone new, one of the first questions we ask is: “What do you do?”  I think this is actually fair enough, because what you “do” for a living is actually what you spend a huge majority of your time and energy on.  The question really is: “How are you using your life?”

I want to be able to answer that question with words that resonate with the deepest truth I have about who I am and what I am here for.  I don’t want to utter the answer with the lingering impulse to add imploringly “but I am not just that, I am something else, I am so much more!”  I want the answer to sum it up, to be me in a nutshell, to say something about who I am and what I stand for.

In reading something the other day, I came across three words that have haunted me ever since:

Live Your Truth.


So the point of the silence is to let my truth be heard, to become so familiar with the tone of its voice that I will always know what resonates with it.  And then to live it. 

Because at the end of the day, it is the living that counts.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

~ Henry David Thoreau

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

~ Henry David Thoreau

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I am finding that, as someone who has created such an identity for myself out of being lost, it is hard to become acustomed to being found.  There are still moments of doubt, of questioning, of starting to search elsewhere – almost as if I can’t imagine life without searching.  It is unfamiliar to me, and so I find myself tempted to move towards the familiar, towards the search again, the place I have spent my whole adult life.

I believe we can often become comfortable with the situations we say we don’t want.  On one level, we want to find what we’re looking for.  On another level, finding it is so unfamiliar to us, we can be in danger of rejecting it in favour of the comfort of being lost or unhappy.  We begin to define ourselves by our unhappy state, so that chancing upon happiness leave the ego uncertain, leaves our whole definition of ourselves in question.  That can be a scary place to be – because it begs the question “well, who am I then now?” 

Who am I, if not searching, if not questing, if not lost?  That is how I have unconsciously defined myself for so many years, it’s as if I don’t know how to be at peace with being at peace.  NOT being at peace as become so much a part of my self definition, that peace itself has become scary, happiness has become scary, actually being in the place I have been searching for is unfamiliar, scary terrain.

In order to move forward, we must be able to let go of the persona we defined for ourselves around our pain.  We must let go of the little labels we have learnt to live by.  We must let go of being ‘the single person’, ‘the depressed person’, ‘the sad person’, ‘the unhappy person’, ‘the lost person’, ‘the searching person’ – we must let go of these self-created personas we cling to (decrying them all the while) if we ever hope to find out what is beyond them.  Who am I if I am not that persona?  The only way to find out is to push through, be uncomfortable, sit with the unfamiliarity of the true self hiding beneath the labels.

Perhaps we have to realise that to be happy, we have to not only want to be happy – we have to be able to accept that happiness when it comes along, even if it feels scary and unfamiliar at first.

I found this passage by Paulo Coelho the other day, and it resonates so much with me, I feel goosebumps reading it:

In many oral traditions, wisdom is represented by a temple, with two columns at its entrance: these two columns always have names of opposite things, but in order to illustrate what I mean, we will call one Fear and the other Desire. When a man stands at this entrance, he looks at the column of Fear and thinks: “my God, what will I find further ahead?” Then he looks at the column of Desire and thinks: “my God, I’m so accustomed to that which I have, I wish to continue living as I have always lived.” And he remains still; this is what we call tedium.

– Can a person remain his whole life in this situation?

He can be pushed by life, but resist and remain there, always complaining – and his suffering will be useless, will teach him nothing.

Yes, a person can stand for the rest of his days facing one of the many doors he should go through, but he must understand that he has only truly lived up to that point. He may continue to breathe, walk, sleep and eat – but with less and less pleasure, because he is already spiritually dead and does not know it.

Until one day when, as well as his spiritual death, physical death appears; at that moment God will ask: “what did you do with your life?” We must all answer this question, and woe betide those who answer: “I remained standing at the door.”

We must be willing to sit with the strength of both our fear and our desire if we wish to move forward and do something with our lives. 

I believe we are all called to something in each life.  I believe you can miss the calling if you don’t give it the space to make itself heard.  I believe many people spend their whole lives running away from or ignoring their calling.  A calling doesn’t have to be noble or grand.  It can be something that seems quite small or “silly”.  The calling is whatever whispers to you from your heart in the quiet moments.  Remember – the calling at first may just be “the blank urge“.  I believe we have to just keep following that urge and it will clarify itself in the living.

And there is the key.  The clarity comes about by living into the call, the blank urge.  Not by sitting around thinking about it or lamenting the lack of it.  The clarity comes about by just getting out there and doing somethingSolvitur ambulando.   If you don’t know which door to go through, just pick a door.  Pick the door you are most afraid of, the door at whose threshold you feel both Fear and Desire screaming at you the loudest.  Pick a door, any door.

When it is my time, I still don’t know really what my answer will be to the ultimate question: “what did you do with your life?”

But whatever I do, I know one thing – I will not remain standing at the door.

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Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek,
but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

~ Martin Luther King Jr

For years, I had a blog called “Emily’s Quest”.  I decided that the title of that blog, which has summed up my entire approach to life so far, epitomises exactly why I have had so much struggle with life.

“Emily’s Quest”.  It suggests that I am somehow searching for something I don’t have, ‘questing’ for some answers I will never find.  It suggests I am wanting some kind of destination or answer more than I want the moment I already dwell in.

I decided what I need is not a change of circumstance but rather a change of mindset.  I do not need to reach some specific goal or destination.  There is no holy grail at the end of the quest, without which my whole life journey has been in vain.  Rather, I have looked down and realised I have held this holy grail in my hands the whole time. 

I am already alive.  In every moment, I have arrived.  I don’t need to wait for life to begin.  It is already here, and every moment is available to me to enjoy or not, as I please.

So no more questing.  But that does not mean to stop living or to stop exploring – quite the opposite.  It means to view each step along the way as worthy in and of itself.  It means to love each moment as it is, rather than as it was or should/could be.

For all my pontificating on the value of the present moment, it has only really hit me in the last couple of days what it really means to live that truth as a reality.

So instead of questing all the time for something else, instead I choose to say YES to life, and YES to every moment within it.

For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

~ Souza

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This quote pretty much sums up the conclusion I have come to about life at the moment.  It is widely attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, although this attribution may apparently be false.  Whoever it was to first say it, I reckon they had their head screwed on and actually got what life is about.  I think this is my new mantra to live by.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

It gives me goosebumps.

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The Universe has only 3 answers to our wishes:
1. Yes!
2. Not yet!
3. I have something better for you!


(a reader’s comment on the blog of the mighty Paulo Coelho)

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My friend just texted me this quote in awareness of the profundity with which it explains her life.  I couldn’t help but feel it’s aptness equally.

“My dream is now realisable, but if I try and fail, I don’t know what the rest of my life will be like; that’s why it’s better to live cherishing a dream than face the possibility that it might all come to nothing.”

~ Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

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