Difficult Relationships

You have been enjoying your endeavours and working well enough for your boss to be pleased with you. As a result you are enjoying some success with a rising profile in the office. Unfortunately, you find out that a workmate who was previously friendly with you is sabotaging you by speaking about you behind your back and making you look bad. It seems that person is jealous and is trying to make herself look better by making you look bad. As a result you are now the target of resentment from some of your colleagues and your professional credibility in being undermined.

All the gossip behind your back is making it very difficult for you to do your job unhindered but worse than that is the knowledge that you are being unfairly targeted and that what is being said is nothing but lies. It makes your days in the office untenable and your stress levels have gone through the roof. You are not sleeping and so every day you lack energy and you continually feel ill about going to work because of your anxiety. Like most targets your confidence has suffered and you are having panic attacks. You also catch yourself being irritable with work colleagues and you are finding it hard to concentrate. As a result your work commitment has suffered and you are no longer enjoying life. Something has to be done, but what?

You have a choice. You can give in to your feelings, remain on your guard each day and become an emotional wreck which may lead to you having to find another job or you can confront the situation and react in a positive way to your workmates. You should not allow antagonistic and jealous workmates to bring you down and keep you from enjoying your job. More especially, you cannot afford to allow them to jeopardise your opportunities for advancement. However, it won’t help your credibility if you become angry and demand loudly to know of everyone in the office what is going on behind your back.

If you choose the former option your stress levels will make it impossible to enjoy your job and, indeed, to carry out that job at an optimal level. Not only that, but when you allow stress to take hold it will also have an effect in your personal life, affecting your relationship with family and friends outside the office environment. Stress, at the very least can be unwelcome and unhelpful and at its worst it can be quite debilitating because of its demand upon the capacities of both your mind and your body. It is well to remember that it isn’t so much the events that determine whether you are stressed or not, it is your reaction to those events.

Thus, you have within you the capacity to decide whether you will allow stress to win or whether you can use stress to your advantage. You can use it to your advantage by choosing an attitude of “So what! – These misunderstandings have arisen so what can I do about them to bring about a good result?” Remember that your thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on your results. It will be necessary to be optimistic in the face of your difficulties and shift your perspective by changing your internal mindset so that you can come through the difficult situation. By maintaining in yourself and directing your thoughts toward a good result, you will be able to find a solution to allow better relations between you and your workmates.

Once you have your mind right, it is time to take action. Learning how to deal with difficult workmates can be very tough. You may not like confrontation and try to avoid it but it is necessary that the situation is addressed and dealt with effectively. Once you resolve the problem you will feel so much better about yourself and your work environment because you may be able to find common ground towards a positive working relationship. When it is all over you will be able to get your career back on track and you will have grown on both a professional and personal level.

At this point it is a good to take some practical steps to deal with the situation. First of all you could sit down and write out all the positive attributes of your co-worker. You will need to be objective in your appraisal and include what value you think your workmate brings to the company. Then write down how this person affects you and your job in a negative fashion. Again, try to be objective. Next, write down a list of possible scenarios about how you could and should handle the situation.

Now write down how you are interacting with this person and, perhaps, when the backbiting actions began to take place. Did anything happen to give the person a reason to begin gossiping about you? Perhaps she thought you were getting too popular with management? Remember there are always two sides to these matters and there may have been unhelpful reactions from you to her. This situation has obviously negatively affected the workplace, so be honest with yourself and look for a way to objectively solve the situation.

Your decision now is about whether you need to discuss the situation with your manager or whether you will be able to speak directly with the person involved. Managers are busy people and don’t like being drawn into staff disagreements unless absolutely necessary. If possible, therefore, you should be able to discuss the matter with the person directly and the best way to do this is to speak to her calmly and in private. It is important that you are composed and unemotional. The conversation could be as follows:
• Share with her the positive qualities you feel she possesses and show appreciation for them.
• If you are sure she is the initiator of the gossip and rumours you can explain to her that you have heard that she started a rumour which is untrue and hurtful.
• Mention the problems that have arisen with other co-workers because of the gossip and tell her that you would like to work through the difficulties to improve your working relationship.
• There may be valid reasons that led her to do what she did. Don’t take exception to what is said and don’t get down to her level if she is rude.
• Keep the conversation about the situation – never move to a personal level and don’t become emotional, just stick to the facts and be professional.
• Let her respond to what you say and listen carefully to what she has to say.


Your relationship with your adult children is troubled. One of them is not working full time and usually only comes to you when he wants money. He drinks too much and you think he may be dabbling in the drug scene. You have tried to help him in various ways but he is unpredictable and generally irresponsible. He often becomes angry with you because you have found it necessary to refuse to give him money when he asks. You know it will be spent on the wrong things so you have told him he needs to stand on his own two feet now and earn his own money. His brother is altogether different; he has a job and takes responsibility for his life. However, because you have stopped helping the wayward son his brother feels you have done the wrong thing and thinks you are cruel. This, therefore, has caused difficulty in your relationship with both sons. You still love them but their actions make the relationship very difficult.

Where did it all start? You tried to rear your children to be independent and well adjusted by instilling in them values to live by; so what went wrong?

Some children are born with a difficult temperament. I remember a family who lived opposite us. The young parents had 3 children. The 2 eldest boys, about 12 and 9 years old, were exemplary children always well-behaved. Then the parents had a third boy who was a very active child. From the time he was born they had problems and as he grew into a toddler, he became naughty and more and more difficult to handle. He loved to irritate his older brothers by hiding their clothes and their schoolwork. As he grew older he would get up in the middle of the night and steal food from the kitchen. He had to be watched carefully as he often tried to run away. That boy would have grown up by now and I don’t know whether he ever outgrew his bad behaviour. Certainly he came from a good home, full of love and care for each other and all the children. What I have said is merely an illustration that some children seem to come into this world with aggressive tendencies that are difficult to control.

Other children may start their lives with promise and deteriorate because of problems in the household or difficult behaviour may begin after a particularly debilitating illness. Some children may be autistic or demonstrate a disorder such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are those children who have been given every advantage in life from a very loving household and yet they opt out of school and later seem to opt out of life and particularly out of the lives of those who loved them. The latter may be what has happened to you.

The reality of life is that things often do not work out the way you may want them to. “So what”, what can you do? Do you give up on them both and walk away to live your own life? Do you try to come to an understanding with the “good” brother and forget the one who has gone off the rails? Or do you keep trying with both of them? There is no magic “right way” to act but giving up on another human being, particularly your own flesh and blood, does not seem the way to go.

The choice is yours. It would seem to be easy way out to walk away from a difficult situation but when that situation concerns family, it becomes very complex. There is always a bond between a parent and son, however hard one may try to break it. A strong and positive relationship, however, needs both parties to contribute to that relationship to make it work. So you may be in a quandary about what to do. If you allow the whole situation to play on your mind you can become upset and depressed and make things worse. If you allow your emotions and thoughts to run rampant you may walk away and never see either son again. That is a worst case scenario. There is a better choice – that, without interfering in their lives, you keep on doing all that you can to draw both sons back into the fold as responsible and loving adults.

A lot of adult children are the way they are today because behavioural problems were never addressed as children. It may also be necessary for you to look long and hard at your parenting skills and any problems that may have arisen during the years of raising your children. It is obvious that no parent is perfect, but, if you honestly look back over those years, there may be a time or times where one particular child ‘went over the edge’ and was unable to handle some emotional areas in his life. There may be a combination of factors such as genetics, the environment or some particular experience that happened that had a deep impact on a young mind. Only do these exercises with the attitude that something that happened in childhood may aid you to help your sons now and build a better relationship with them. It is important that you don’t apportion blame to anyone, including yourself and certainly don’t move into the area of having feelings of guilt.

“So what” do you do? Do you stand your ground and tell one son to ‘get a life’ and pull himself together, clean himself up from drugs and get a job? And do you tell the other son that he is being unfair to you by taking sides with his brother against his parent? That would seem to be trying to win a war by meeting the other army head on. You might win some battles but there are going to be a lot of casualties along the way – and one of them may be you!

If you want to win the war it may be better to come in from the flanks. It will be a matter of using your mind to your advantage and using wisdom to work out what can be done. When family is involved, never withdraw your love from either son. That doesn’t mean being wishy-washy; it may mean hard love at times. Throwing money at the wayward son will not help but keep the door open to your home to both sons. Offer meals to him and a bed sometimes when he really needs it but don’t question too much. Allow time for him to trust you again. Once trust is re-established you may be able to help him by getting him to drug rehabilitation classes. By taking the softly, softly approach you may also regain your other son’s trust as he sees you are trying to help. It is important to have him on side by telling him you want to help his brother get back on track and you need his help. It may take time and a lot of effort and it will need both of you working together to make any impact.

In the long run, both sons are grown, emancipated men and they hold the key to their own lives. As a parent, never give up on them and always be there for them.
Perhaps those sons never got around to learning the importance of gratitude. When you have a thankful heart and you are grateful for what you have, good things happen to you. Life is peaceful, relaxed and harmonious and flows along bringing favourable opportunities. Take time to say “thank you” to parents for the years they have given you and for their teaching; thank your partner and children for their love and thank friends for being faithful. It is only a little word but it has a world of meaning.

Changing a Belief system

We were not born with our belief systems in place; they were built up from our childhood with input from our parents, our environment and our friends. Since those beliefs were put there we can change them. However, it took a long time to establish those beliefs and it may take some time to change them. How long? Well that depends on how deeply they are ingrained into your system and how much effort you are prepared to expend to make the necessary changes. If there is a belief system in your life that you know is holding you back and you are prepared to change, you can do so by taking your thoughts captive and concentrating on the new thoughts consistently. Like children, your thoughts need parameters so don’t allow them to run rampant and take charge of your life. Don’t allow yourself to serve your thoughts by allowing them to roam wherever they will. Unrestrained thoughts bring unrestrained actions so train your thoughts to obey you.

You can only think one thought at a time, so determine to keep your thoughts in the realm of constructive thinking by concentrating on your assets and focusing on your strengths. Make an effort to free your mind from distracting thoughts and restless thinking. Doubt and skepticism will try to intrude but stay aware of them and deliberately concentrate on the good that can come out of a situation.

The key is to replace contrary and pessimistic thoughts with new, positive and beneficial thoughts. Repeat silently to yourself the thoughts you want to retain and then speak them out over and over again. Thoughts on their own, however, will not make the change; actions which mirror the new thoughts must be repeated enough times to embed the new beliefs into your subconscious mind.

For example, it may be necessary for you to change your beliefs and thoughts about money. If you are ‘desperate’ to make money you may find you are pushing away the very opportunities you are looking for because you are unable to control your focus. The more emotional you are the less control you have. Your attention and focus needs to be on enjoying what you do and giving service to others rather than on the money itself. Money should be seen merely as a tool to get you where you want to go. It is important, therefore, to let go of your desperation and become emotionally detached. This will take a change in your thought life and in your attitude toward money. Change your thoughts from ‘wishing you had money’ to ‘believing you will have it’. The former attitude will keep you poor; the latter attitude will allow you to let go and become relaxed enough to be able to work toward what you want and prosperity will follow.
Be careful of the words that come out of your mouth. What you say is a good indication of your belief system and if you speak negatively such as, “I can’t do it” or “nothing ever goes right for me” then you are cementing that belief deeper into your psyche. Rather change the words to “I can do it” and “everything is going right for me” and keep it up. Whenever the wrong words come out, stop and say, “That is not right” and repeat the affirmative version several times. If you do this consistently, stay focused and confident and believe in yourself, you can throw off a restrictive belief system and win. When you change your beliefs you change your life.

Positive thinking on its own doesn’t work: It is very important to remember that, first of all, positive thinking is a mindset – a way of looking at the world around you. It is not something you do, like repeating a mantra for days or weeks and waiting for something to happen so you can get what you want. It is not a form of bargaining that says if I do this then I should get that in return; it just doesn’t work like that. Instead, it is a way of using your thoughts to help you move forward creatively rather than letting them run rampant in an unco-operative manner, making you feel discouraged and trapped. Your mindset doesn’t pretend the obstacle isn’t there and it doesn’t do the work for you but it does remain open to change and to taking action by finding a detour around the problem. So the switch that makes positive thinking work is ACTION! When you are up against an obstacle, a positive thinking mindset helps you recognise opportunities that will remove the obstacle where others merely see a brick wall – but then you must ACT on those opportunities.

That is why the “So what” system works so well. It gives you the right mindset to recognise opportunities which will bring about a forward-thinking and achievable result. Practice it many times and when a disappointment or crisis occurs you will be ready to meet it head on and come out the other side confident in your capacity to live life to the full.


What is a “So what” mindset? It is an attitude of mind which says “I will not be defeated. There is a way around this difficulty and I will find it. Things happen in life and I will deal with the problem, clean up and move on.” The “So what” mindset does not trivialise what has happened but it does understand that there is a choice; that there are a number of ways to handle everything from disappointing situations to major crises.

The first way is when people begin to feel sorry for themselves and think, “Why me? It is the end of the world” and make themselves thoroughly despondent and drown in a mire of self pity. That way spirals downwards into illness and eventually depression. They only make their life, and the lives of everyone close to them, miserable and anxious and they are actually inviting more obstacles into their lives. Those who like to live with their misery eat too much, think too much, fight with the family and become angry at the smallest slight. When these antagonistic reactions take precedence, no action can be taken and so no way out of the problem can be found. Unfortunately this type of thinking becomes a habit and forms a self-perpetuating cycle of circumstances.

There is another way which says, “I will just mark time and do nothing, hopeful that something will happen or someone will come along to help me”. That is a lazy way to approach any problem and when no action is forthcoming the results are obvious. When nothing happens, so often those people become angry and blame everyone else for their own ineptitude. Attitude is a driving force in our life and without the right attitude life becomes rambling and tortuous. Where there is no action there can be no result.

The best way is a totally different attitude of mind. There is an expectation that a solution can be found, a determination to find it and to use any difficult situation as a learning curve. That is a winning attitude. It is essential that you have enough faith in yourself that you expect to overcome any obstacle that comes across your path; expect to win at the game of life. That attitude does not come easily. It means being prepared to take responsibility for our attitudes and to become accountable if we are to create any real or lasting changes in our reality.

We are all so used to losing that we have to totally change our way of thinking if we want to have a winning mind-set. It means not allowing your thoughts to speculate on the worst that can happen but taking each thought captive and focusing on what you want to achieve. It can add up to a total renewing of your mind which includes a major change in attitude so that you have total confidence in the power and your ability to overcome problems and difficulties. The “So what” attitude says, “I believe in myself” and I will exercise my mind to improve the existing situation and find a solution to the problem.

So take hold of your dream with force, hold fast and don’t let anything take it from you. Eventually you will be able to seize it and say, “It’s mine! No one can take it from me.”

A Major Disappointment

It is just before Christmas and you were asked to a party at an upmarket restaurant and while walking through the foyer you slipped on a fruit drink spilt by a staff member and broke your leg. Now in theatre circles when they tell an actor to “break a leg” they don’t mean it literally. They mean that the actor should “have a wonderfully successful night and have the audience eating out of your hand”. To break a leg literally is something quite different and a lot more painful!

The very act of breaking your leg means that you will be on crutches and possibly have to use a wheelchair for at least three months. You also know it will entail a lot of physiotherapy when you are back on your feet. In the meantime the accident means you will have to curtail many things you intended doing. For example, you intended to travel interstate to spend Christmas with your family and you had a lot of things organised with them.

You are within your rights to be very angry at the members of staff who were quite negligent, not only in spilling the drink but failing to make sure no customer went near the wet area while someone organised the clean up. Not only has it wrecked your restaurant experience, it will interfere with your life for the next 3-4 months.

How do you react? Does anger well up inside you; do you feel trapped and frustrated? Do you take out your frustration on the dog and others around you? Perhaps you think these things always happen to you and that you are always unlucky? Such reactions will only make the situation worse for you. It is like being stuck in quicksand with no way to move forward to a bank that is just out of reach.

You can spend the next 3-4 months wallowing in self-pity, thinking about what might have been and expecting everyone around you to wait on you hand and foot and generally making life difficult for others, as well as yourself, or you can change your attitude and change your life. A cheerful disposition will, for a start, make you a much nicer person to be around during a difficult time and your determination to master a burdensome situation will encourage those around you.

Dealing with a disappointment is meant to help you grow and to remind you of your priorities. You might find that it is actually fortuitous that you did not travel at Christmas and you may be able to organise a better time in the future to be with family. Perhaps there is a special birthday coming up and if you were there at Christmas you would not have been able to make the trip for a very special time later that cannot be repeated.

A broken leg may also give you a chance to be proactive. Think of the books you can read and the rest you can get. It can also give you time to finish things that have previously been put aside and not completed. You can make those phone calls and contact friends and family you have been meaning to get in touch with for months. Most importantly it can be a time when you reconnect with your family and spend much needed time in each other’s company.

When a disappointment arises, check your thoughts. Is your thinking defeatist or resolute? Are you thinking only of yourself or are you thinking of others? What are you concentrating your effort on; the disappointment or making the most of the time you have been given? When you are prepared to focus on the up-side of a difficult situation you are making a choice to say, “So what! This will pass”, and stay in control of your life. When you are back on your feet again you will be able to look back and laugh about the situation and the vagaries of life.


The desire to live a good life is a common need. We would all like a peaceful environment incorporating fulfilling work, a happy family, pleasant friends and, of course, good health to enjoy it. Many of us, however, would like to expand that kind of life to include prosperity and success. Such a life might include having a successful business and being able to travel extensively, as well as to help those less fortunate than ourselves. There is only one way such success is going to come to pass and that’s if you take action to make it happen.

Let’s be very clear that a “so what” attitude should not have any negative connotations. It is not a “she’ll be right, mate” attitude that says you can be lazy and not do anything. On the contrary, it means accepting where you are, making peace with your situation and then moving on to where you want to be without looking back. The only way you can move forward is by taking action. Visualization is part of the process but action is an outward movement of your imagination and it expedites results.

It is important, however, to be aware that every action has reaction and that your actions today form the consequences of tomorrow so when action is needed it should be well thought out. Before you act, train yourself to think, “What is best for me in the long run?” Too often we fail to think about the future and the long term results of what we do. So, although action is needed, it should be considered, carefully thought out, action. That should not be an excuse, however, for not taking action at all.

Most of the problems in life stem from failing to take action. Many of us have a problem with getting ourselves to follow through with ideas so that we produce something concrete and sometimes taking action is harder than it may seem. It can, therefore, be easy to make excuses not to mobilize ourselves. Procrastination is often a major hurdle because deep down inside many people are lazy or afraid of failure if they do step out. So they tell themselves the conditions are not yet right to move ahead and continue to wait for the ‘perfect’ conditions to appear. Conditions will never be perfect; there will always be something that is not quite right. It takes courage to succeed and action will always take you out of your comfort zone, but if you don’t step out you will never accomplish what you set out to do. Recognise any defeatist thoughts for what they are. Acknowledge them but then determine to change those thoughts and move on and do what needs to be done. You didn’t get where you are today without taking some action.

Many, many people will tell you that ‘knowledge is power’ but that is only a half-truth. What good is knowledge if it is not used? It is completely wasted. If you wish to utilize your knowledge you must put it into action. The adage should therefore read, ‘knowledge plus action is power’. Only action applied with your knowledge will give you the results you are looking for. Inventors have wonderful ideas and pictures in their mind but if they didn’t act on ideas nothing tangible would appear and there would be no inventions.

You can be the most talented person and have the best ideas, yet if you don’t take action you won’t achieve anything. The only value in an idea is when it is implemented so if you have an idea that you really believe in, do something about it. The natural Law of  Attraction says that whatever thoughts you put out will be returned in kind. That means if you do nothing, nothing will happen; if you do little, little will happen; if you do much, much will happen. The bigger the action you take the bigger will be the results. If you commit to act on an idea, more ideas will be created.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the most prolific geniuses in history. He lived to the age of 82 years and his literary output included 142 volumes spanning the fields of literature, theology, poetry, drama, humanism and science. In his dramatic masterpiece, Faust, Goethe reveals the secret to his great productivity: “Lose this day loitering – it will be the same story tomorrow – and the next more dilatory; each indecision brings its own delays and days lost lamenting over lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute – action has genius, power and magic in it. Only engage and then the mind grows heated – begin it and then the work will be completed.”

How do you take action? First, “begin it” even if it is a small start. Ideas are transient – they vanish from our mind if we don’t do something about them immediately, so if you don’t take some action you are just a dreamer. Taking the first step is very important because it leads you to the next step and so on. Once you have taken the first step the next steps will seem easier to take. The most important step to activate a great idea is to act on it immediately by writing it down. Then tell someone and brainstorm your idea – do anything to keep it alive. You could then write out a practical plan which includes definite stages to make your dream a reality. Following that you will need to implement your plan. Don’t wait for inspiration and don’t wait until you are ‘in the mood’. Reinforce the habit of ‘doing’ by taking action when you are not in the mood. If you want to achieve something you can’t let life just ‘happen’; you need to set your goals, make your plans and action them.

It is easy to talk about taking action but there will be times you may not know what to do or how to do it. At times like this it is wise to seek counsel from someone you trust and who has the wisdom and experience in the area that you need help. Always be prepared
to ask if counsel is needed.

We have discussed at length the fact that everyone will encounter roadblocks on the road of life, not once or twice but hundreds of times and that difficulties and crises will only have an ongoing contrary effect to what we want if we do nothing about them or act on them in a pessimistic fashion. The key to a happy and fulfilling life is in knowing how to use your mind to clear those roadblocks and how to take positive action to get back on track.

As I have mentioned before, positive thinking on its own will not work. Many gurus say, you should think positively, say affirmations, and then believe that something will happen and you will receive. None of that can help if action is not included. I read somewhere the following saying, “affirmation without implementation is self delusion” and I must agree wholeheartedly. If you find that your thinking tends to move to a negative plane when difficulties occur you need to make an effort, change your mindset and turn your thinking around and back on to a constructive and beneficial plane. Once you have your mindset firmly set toward an effective solution, you will be able to think clearly about what action you can take to change the circumstances to give you a successful conclusion. Remember, your actions can control your circumstances. You will need to use your mind in your favour to think about and analyse the problems; about the mistakes that have been made and ways to improve your existing situation. Write down your thoughts and decide which ones have the best possibility of succeeding then follow them through and act on them.

It takes initiative and courage to take action but it is the only way to get things done. Whether you have just had a wonderful idea that you wish to market or whether you are thinking about how to overcome the latest hurdle in your life, nothing will happen until those ideas are implemented. Focus on what needs to be done and get down to the business of ‘doing something’. When other people see that you are serious about getting things done they may want to join in and help you. Once the ball is rolling you will build confidence in yourself and in others and the journey will become easier. It’s all about applying that little six-letter word called “action”.


It is something that touches every family on earth but that does not make it any easier to bear; particularly if you have been very close to that family member. It can never be a pleasant experience. It is doubly difficult if he or she has been taken early in life by an accident or disease.

The death of a parent is a particularly difficult experience and it can affect you as the child, whether young or adult, in a number of ways, but one thing is the same; a void has been created in your world which you feel can never be filled and it can shatter you. You may feel that your life is spinning out of control with no way of coming to a stop in the near future. Your grief will entail heartache, pain and sorrow, often in immeasurable amounts and all these feelings have to be dealt with as time progresses. Grief can be compounded when there are siblings and other family members who are also expressing their loss in various ways. It can actually help you if you can help them through their grieving period. Helping others can be quite therapeutic.

It is very important to grieve for that person but it is also important that you do not stay in that state continually. It may be the most difficult season for you in your time of grief, but it will pass and when it does, if you keep the right attitude, you will come out on the other side stronger than before.

Often, the grieving process can contain phases which include very deep anger, denial, bargaining, loneliness and depression. You know you are coming out the other side of that process when there is acceptance and eventually peace about what has happened.

We know there is a grieving process that we must all go through in varying degrees but it is how far one allows the grieving process to take over their life that decides whether they spiral down into depression or whether they take a deep breath and get on with living. It is sad just how many people allow the death of a loved one take over their life, withdraw within themselves and refuse to embrace life fully again. Queen Victoria was one of those people who did just that. She lost her beloved husband, Prince Albert, after only 21 years together and mourned his passing for the rest of her life.

Grieve for a loved one lost, yes, but do not withdraw from life. You may feel stress during this time which is normal; knowing how to manage it, however, can help you move forward. Distress is caused by a pessimistic attitude and becomes a negative response by the body when stress continues without relief. It can cause illness by upsetting the internal balance of the body which show in many ways such as blood pressure problems, headaches, insomnia, panic attacks and anxiety.

Instead, make an effort to think and do uplifting things to help you move on with your life. This can be done by interacting with others, especially those who have lived through and survived a similar experience. Also do things with people who nurture, comfort and recharge you. It can be helpful to plant a tree or flowers in memory of the person you have lost and make time to relax and think of the good times you had with them without allowing those memories to overwhelm you. Instead, perhaps you could fill a scrapbook with letters, notes and poems or put together a photo album of their life with all the good memories; such things can keep your thoughts balanced and positive.

Give yourself permission to feel sad and allow tears to come; if you feel angry, allow yourself to vent steam in private; it may help to get it out of your system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let people know your needs. Don’t ever think of yourself as being a burden to others; most people get immense satisfaction from being able to help someone in need whether that need is practical or emotional. Give yourself plenty of exercise; just walking can help to relieve the stress and tensions you feel and it can help to improve the way you think. Also sleep and eat properly and remember to laugh. All these things help you draw on your strengths and give you a positive attitude.

As hard as it is for you now, you will survive. There are others who are close to you who depend on you to take the right attitude and to be prepared to help them along the road that is life. Take the attitude of “So what! I can go on and I will live life to the full.” You will never forget your loved one, but if you fill your thoughts with happy memories you will be able to enjoy life and move on to bigger and better moments.

Appreciate Australia

In a country as modernised and multiculturally inhabited as Australia, we really can find the best of just about everything the modern world could ask for.

We have wonderful food, a fair and democratic system of government that recognises women as being equal to men, and we have a beautiful, clean environment with one of the cleanest and most stunning environments ever seen or existed on earth.

Our legal system is strong and enables us to live quite safely, knowing that our rights and obligations in society are fully protected under this system. Our crime rate is comparatively low in relation to that of other nations which is one of the reasons that Australia is very popular for immigrants and tourists alike. Visitors find our people warm and hospitable while our fellow citizens find us to be supportive and loyal.

When people come to Australia they are impressed with our wildlife and our love of being outdoors, enjoying the health benefits that being in fresh, clean air brings.

Rare is the voice that is not impressed with Australia’s people, diversity, hospitality and environment. It really is the “must see” nation of the world.

Causing damage to public and private property is disrespectful, thoughtless and insensitive, and in some cases can be dangerous as well. Damage to public property costs the Australian Government millions of dollars every year in repairs and replacements, so we must not damage the public or private property. We must appreciate Australia.

A Land of Contrasts and Extremes

Australia is a land of contrasts and extremes. It is a land of great antiquity but a very young country; the smallest continent and the largest island in the world; the flattest continent and the most sparsely populated for its size. Its climate encompasses a range of weather patterns from tropical to temperate and in some southern mountain regions, subAntarctic. It can go from hot to cold, dry to wet forming vast areas from desolate terrain to beautiful rainforests; it’s a land of debilitating drought and flooding rains. Australia is the creation of nature’s mightiest forces working in a variety of ways. The great ocean currents, sun, winds and rains that have etched out the land making it the driest continent on earth, as well as its isolated position, have combined to make Australia unique among the countries of the world and given it a character of its own found nowhere else.

Despite Australia’s large size its people live mainly in the fertile coastal belt because nearly one third of the continent is desolate terrain and arid desert, unable to support large populations. Usually we think of the “The Red Centre”, as it is fondly called, as a landscape of sand, stunted trees and rocky outcrops with occasional areas of green where there is a protected water source. Its colours are browns and greys with granite reds and ochre yellows, forming strong contrasts. The biggest contrast, however, comes with the northern rains. When they come, they begin during the tropical “rainy season” and move south over thousands of kilometres through an immense river system, transforming the arid desert to a carpet of many shades of green topped with the multi-colours of a plethora of beautiful desert flowers. Life in its many forms returns to show the Centre is never really “dead”. Birds in their millions come to the rivers and lakes that overflow their banks and animals, reptiles and insects appear, seemingly from nowhere. For a while the land produces food in abundance, then as the rains stop and the relentless sun dries the landscape once more, water stops running and slowly evaporates from the creeks and rivers. The waterways become muddy holes and the birds and animals, the grass and flowers disappear and the land returns again to the harsh beauty of its arid deserts and mountain ranges.

Rich and Diverse Flora
The flora of Australia is rich and diverse in native plants that have developed in isolation from the rest of the world. There are those that have adapted to heat and drought and to the soils which, in many parts on such an old continent ravaged by the elements, are thin and nutrient deficient. They include the Bottlebrush and Kangaroo Paw. Another distinct element of flora is to be found in the rainforests of the northern areas of Australia. These include a wide range of ferns and palms, orchids such as the Cooktown orchid and the Illawarra flame-tree. The third type of flora to be found in Australia is that found in the southern mountain areas of New South Wales and Victoria; tall trees such as Snow Gums and Mountain Ash and small flowers like the snow daisies.

The dominant Australian trees are eucalypts of which there are about 500 species and varieties. They grow almost everywhere on the continent from the wet coastal wetlands and the arid interior to above the snowline of the mountain areas. They dominate almost 90 percent of Australia’s forests and they are the tallest hardwood trees in the world, some growing to more than 200 feet. The Acacias are also widespread and some are used for cabinet timber. The most well-known of these is the wattle, a tree that has been celebrated in poetry and books because of its unique feathery leaves and gorgeous round bright yellow fluffy flowers which herald in spring. It even has a special day – wattle day is the 1st September. Other wonderful and distinctive native plants include waratahs, banksias, hakeas and spider flowers as well as heaths and boronias.

Remarkable and Distinctive Fauna
Many of Australia’s animals can be found nowhere else on earth, survivors from remote antiquity. It is the home of some of the world’s most ancient surviving types of mammals, for example, and some of the strangest are the platypus and the echidna. They both have hair and they produce milk for their young; they are also the world’s only two egg-laying mammals. Other unique mammals include Australia’s wild dog, called the dingo and the dugong found in Australia’s northern waters and often affectionately known as the sea-cow.

Australia is also the world’s main habitat for marsupials which is a mammal that gives birth to its young in a very immature state, then carries and suckles it in a pouch. These include kangaroos, wallabies and potoroos. The Red Kangaroo, which grows to over two metres (7 feet) in height, is the largest marsupial. Of the other marsupials, the most wellknown and best loved is the Koala, often wrongly called a Koala Bear – it is not a bear. Other marsupials include native cats such as the Tasmanian devil as well as the bandicoot, possums and wombats.

Australia’s Heroes of War

When Australians think about war, the first battle that they think about is Gallipoli. Unlike the European armies at that time, the Australian Imperial Force was formed from volunteers who came heeding the call of duty. The main force for Gallipoli was made up of Australians and New Zealanders and became known as the ANZACs.

Every young Australian who jumped ashore at dawn in that little cove near the Dardanelles on 25 April, 1915 was a hero. Instead of being landed on a flat beach with easy access to cover, as was the plan, they were landed in the wrong place and faced steep cliffs and constant barrages of enemy fire. Many young men were cut down as they left their boats and tried to run to the safety of the cliffs and thousands of men died in the hours and days that followed. Those who remained spent the next eight months literally digging in – digging kilometres of trenches from where they could fire at and shell the Turks, day by day trying to make more ground. It was here the phrase “Australian ‘diggers’” was coined. The fighting became a stalemate and the ANZACs eventually had to retreat on 20 December, 1915. By that time 18,000 soldiers had been wounded and over 8,000 soldiers killed.

The ANZAC legend is seen, not as a great victory, but as courage, endurance and dogged determination despite poor leadership and bad strategies. The Australians were an independent lot who did not take kindly to orders from above but they were bold, fierce and relentless in battle and used ingenious methods to stay alive against the odds. They also forged a bond of ‘mateship’, looking after each other in dire circumstances.

The best known story of courage that comes from Gallipoli is the story of Simpson and his donkey. John (Jack) Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in the United Kingdom and had only lived in Australia four years when war broke out. He joined the Australian Army Medical Corps under the name “John Simpson” as a stretcher bearer hoping it would be his passage back the UK; however, their unit stopped in Egypt to train for Gallipoli. When they landed at Gallipoli, Kirkpatrick was the only member of his bearer section of four to reach the beach unscathed. During his time stretchering the wounded to safety he noticed donkeys near the beach and decided to use them to carry soldiers out of NoMan’s Land. He was known to lead his donkey with the wounded, seemingly quite nonchalantly, despite continuing firing from the enemy. Three weeks after he landed at Gallipoli, Kirkpatrick, or ‘Simpson’ was taking two wounded soldiers down Monash Valley when they came under machine gun fire and all three were killed. Kirkpatrick is buried in Beach Cemetery at Anzac Cove and was mentioned in Despatches for “gallant and distinguished service in the field”.

The Gallipoli campaign was seen as a defining moment in Australia’s history where Australians went to war as a group of independent rebels and through their baptism of fire returned home with a new sense of national identity.

Respected and loved by all who knew him, Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop was a giant among men not only for his height of 6’4” but for his great courage and the love and compassion he showed to people of all races.

Edward Dunlop grew up in country Victoria and following school accepted an apprenticeship with the local pharmacist. Edward won many awards after graduating top of his class in Pharmacy and then began studying medicine where he excelled in his studies and in sport, playing for ‘The Wallabies’, Australia’s national rugby team. He joined the Citizen Military Forces and then enrolled into the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps where he was commissioned as a Captain. It was here he was given the nickname “Weary”. Due to his height he had to lean over to operate and he looked “weary” although he was quite the opposite. Edward continued post-graduate training in England and at the outbreak of World War II saw action with an Australian Unit, first in Palestine, then in Crete and the Middle East.

In 1942 ‘Weary’ Dunlop was sent to Java, Indonesia to help treat allied and Australian troops who were there to thwart the Japanese threat. Very soon the Japanese captured his hospital. He could have escaped but refused to leave his patients and became a prisoner of war (POW) and was taken by the Japanese to Singapore and from there to Thailand. The Japanese wanted to build a four hundred kilometre long railway from western Thailand into Burma (now Myanmar) and so they used POW’s and native labour to complete it; a project which became known as ‘The Railway of Death’ because it cost around one hundred thousand lives.

‘Weary’ Dunlop was Commanding Officer and Surgeon in the camp with responsibility and care for over one thousand men. As Commander, he had the daunting task of deciding who was fit enough to work and as a surgeon he often had to work on them after their hours of heavy labour. His medical skills, dedication and compassion were legend in that place and he was extraordinarily courageous in trying to ease the harsh living and working conditions in the camp. There were very few medical supplies and no correct instruments for surgery so they had to improvise to help the men survive. The prisoners had just rice to eat with weak tea and ‘Weary’ said, “I’d see these fellas off at the crack of dawn, just carrying their rice for the day, and then they would drag in any time until midnight, some of them on their hands and knees”.

He would stand up to the Japanese officers and was often beaten and tortured for his efforts to protect his men. More than once he stood between them and Japanese bayonets until their life was spared. His courage and kindness was well respected by everyone, including the Japanese. After the war ‘Weary’ Dunlop returned to work as a surgeon and was later knighted in recognition for his contribution to medicine. His compassionate nature enabled him to forgive and even meet, some of his former enemies. He died in 1993 just short of his 86th birthday.

One of his most famous sayings is, “I have a conviction that it’s only when you are put at full stretch that you can realise your full potential”.