Ponder This

SmileSmile! It’s good for your health.

October 03, 2014
There is a good reason to smile today: It is World Smile Day. Harvey Ball, the creator of the Smiley Face in 1963, introduced this day in 1999 to give greater meaning to the smile than the commercialised emoticom his Smiley Face became. Although Harvey Ball died in 2001, his message lives on in the celebration of World Smile Day…


dr-martin-luther-kingNon-violence or Non-existence?

April 04, 2014
On this day in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It seems ironic that only the night before he told hundreds of people in a speech at Mason Temple in Memphis, “It is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence in this world. It is non-violence or non-existence.” Words that are still painfully true today, rang…


Peace on EarthPeace on Earth: An Interview With Daisaku Ikeda

March 28, 2014
Japanese peace builder and Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda has a unique perspective on the path humanity needs to follow to achieve Global Peace. Ikeda is President of Soka Gakkai International ( SGI ) a Buddhist Association founded in Japan in…


Seagull in ColourUpdate on Richard Bach’s Recovery

Final Update: March 04, 2014
It is now eighteen months since Richard Bach crashed his seaplane, Puff, coming in to land on San Juan Island. With Puff rebuilt as good as new, the author of best selling book Jonathan Livingston Seagull has also rebuilt himself to again soar in the skies and write of his near death experience in…


When the Knight FallsHow to Change Your Life

February 21, 2014
It is often not until some personal crisis that we will confront ourselves and change. Yet how do we take charge of our life and guide it towards inner peace? A young man stopped me while walking up a flight of steps in New Orleans many years ago, to ask for twenty-seven cents. His breath reeked of beer, evoking an…


Enjoying a storyThe Family that Stays Together

January 29, 2014
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life,” wrote Richard Bach in Illusions. “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” My earliest family memories are playing with cousins on the lawn of our quarter-acre block during birthday parties, and games of hide…


America's CupHow ‘Losing’ is also A Win

October 01, 2013
An email from an American friend, who once ribbed me about Australia losing the America’s Cup in Perth, made an important point about this year’s cup final: Up 8 -1 and then loss, unbelievable. And the founder of Oracle only spent 500 million to secure the cup. I don’t know why anyone even bothers to watch, it’s as bad as our elections.


Sophie Cannon in the kitchenCooking for Ramsay was Chef’s Dream Come True

May 04, 2013
When Sophie Cannon, acting head-chef at Te Whau Vineyard Restaurant, was told that she would be cooking for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, a dream collided with reality.  She shook with great excitement until tears came to her eyes. To cook for Ramsay had…


Wheelbarrow RaceThe Best Christmas Gift

December 24, 2012
Christmas days often blur into one when I look back. The excitement of opening gifts, the floor covered in crumpled gift wrapping, roast dinners cooking in the Australian summer heat, a house full of relatives all talking at once… While the toys and other gifts my parents gave me over many Christmases merge into this blur of…


SeagullA Tribute to Richard Bach

September 15, 2012
Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, has delighted many with tales of his growing relationship and travels with Puff while flying from Florida to Washington State. I now pause and reflect after his crash to send thanks to a person whom I have never met… See Final Update.


Sophie and JulietStaying Young

August 15, 2012
From Palm Beach to Miami the ‘snow birds’ come each year to escape the cold winters of the north. Most of these ‘snow birds’ are retired elderly people who arrive en masse to fill holiday resorts and restaurants. The memory that stays within my mind – even after twenty years – is seeing their struggle to get out of cars to shuffle…


Botany Bay-New Year's Eve, 2001Depression Has A Safety Net

February 07, 2012
Flashbacks of negative experiences can play in your mind in a similar way to the movie scenes that repeat on a DVD menu when you don’t make a selection. Not only can this keep you awake for hours at night, it can send you headlong into depression. If you were traumatised or abused as a child – especially by family members…


Pohutukawa at Onetangi BeachThe Spirit of Christmas

December 21, 2011
Are you caught up in the commercial hype of Christmas with its tinsel and glitter? Are you rushing around frantically with last-minute shopping, crossing off things from your ‘to do’ list, and becoming stressed? Has Christmas turned into the Coca Cola manufactured image of a white bearded man wearing a red suit – one that…


ZeehaenGifts Found in Unlikely Places

October 13, 2011
What you may call a disaster could actually become the greatest gift in your life. This is what I learned when Zeehaen, an eighteen-meter steel yacht my husband and I had bought to sail the world, foundered on a sandbar while at anchor, flooding the interior when she rolled into deeper water. After the high drama of a fight with salvagers…


MarkMaking Dreams Come True

May 30, 2011
For many years, as Mark Sommerset wrote songs and played his guitar and drifted through life, he had a dream of writing children’s books. Then one day he wrote the first few lines of a story about a boy who saw a magnificent cherry tree on the other side of a river. Each day when the boy stopped to admire it he said, “If only I…


Christchurh has many beautiful parks and gardensChristchurch, and what can be learned from disasters

March 05, 2011
The second earthquake in Christchurch happened nearly two weeks ago (on February 22, 2011), but for many, the memory of it and what they have lost, will haunt them for years to come. My heart is with those who lost loved ones, for they can never be replaced…


Jimmy-Buffet-photgraphed-by-Jean-PagliusoJimmy Buffett: An inspiration to share your talents

January 30, 2011
The news that Jimmy Buffett injured himself after falling off the stage at the end of his last concert in Sydney, would have dismayed many people looking forward to his concert in Auckland last night, which was cancelled. Thankfully he is recovering okay and promises…


Finding UtopiaFinding Utopia

January 13, 2011
It was the noise that started it…my sudden desperate search for Utopia. It began to intrude upon me like an unwelcome guest the day air brakes squealed and whiffed repeatedly as a huge truck manoeuvred a house onto new foundations at six one morning, early last November. The steady noise of hammering and…


Gifts come in all shapes and sizesGifts Come in All Shapes and Sizes

December 22, 2010
I am sorting through old files and rediscovering little gifts of wisdom from the many people I met on my travels twenty years ago. It causes me to wonder, would I have ever readSeven Arrows if I had not met Jim in an art gallery in Florida? Would I have worked in that gallery if it wasn’t for a car accident that stranded me in Lake Worth? Would I…


KoruNew Zealander of the Year

December 11, 2010
Emma Woods, voted this week as New Zealander of the Year, embodies all the above qualities, and what Christmas is really about. She found the courage to move through her grief and anger to a place where she found forgiveness by getting to know the teenager who lost control of his car, causing it to mount a footpath and…


What Jade Goody had to Teach Us

August 19, 2010
Occasionally when boredom strikes in endless supermarket queues, I cast my eye over the frozen smiles on magazines covers.  Sometimes candid shots show celebrities with no makeup, or as waiflike figures going through a relationship break-up or a fall from grace on drugs. Often the headlines are enough to…


On top of the worldDon’t Quit

August 03, 2010
After a long walk along A-1-A to admire the houses with their exotic gardens of palms and trees with twisted roots around trunks, I returned to my motel and stood on the balcony to admire the view. I thought about going out for the evening…about being with someone who could treat me like a lady, since it is the title of the book…


I’m sorry. I love you…

24 July, 2010
You just never know how a seemingly minor event can have a huge impact on your life years later. In 2006, on a little island called St. Martin in the Caribbean, I went along to a meditation evening run by Indian nuns. They spoke of loving oneself, the five values of the soul (love, peace, happiness…), and the five needs we have…


Learn from each other

14 July, 2010
I remember standing in front of a class of eleven-year-olds some years ago and telling them I had just as much to learn from them as they had to learn from me. They gave me mystified looks, but that year I learned more about patience, love and caring than I ever had before. Rather than using an authoritarian front to hide my fears…


Facing our fears we can learn to love

02 July, 2010
In the following extract from a friend’s letter is a reflection of how many people live their lives in fear of being hurt. “I used to change myself when I felt inadequate in social situations. Now I’ve got another philosophy. When something bothers me I no longer change myself: I flee the situation… So with my girlfriend I am pleased…


Be patient with anger to learn what’s behind it

27 June, 2010
“One moment of patience can ward off a great disaster. One moment of impatience can destroy your whole life.” I have never forgotten these words from a Chinese fortune cookie. They sum up how I feel about the destructive release of anger.Anger often arises from…


Be HappyWhat do you want to do that for?

18 June, 2010
“What do you want to do that for?” was the response to my unbridled enthusiasm about writing a children’s book on self-esteem. It echoed within a hollow past of stolen dreams until they collided with similar words that had silenced my tongue as a child. At eight, while watching my father dab oil paint onto the watery streets of Venice…


Help others to help themselves

13 June, 2010
Nellie lived in a tiny room at a health Ranch where I worked in Florida many years ago.  The room had no bathroom, just a wash basin in one corner and an old wooden potty chair next to her bed, which gave the room a very unpleasant odour. Sometimes we chatted when I delivered her dinner.  She told me how she’d been confined to that…


A Child is Like a FlowerBe positive about mistakes

05 June, 2010
Perhaps I will mostly be remembered by my students as that ‘crazy’ teacher who used to say, “I want you to make lots of mistakes.” I could always feel myself grinning inside each time I saw their astonished faces. I mean, mostly parents and teachers get mad when children make mistakes, right? So I told them that by…


The Courage to ChangeDealing with self-doubt

27 May, 2010
Self-doubt immobilizes our actions and retards the development of our greatest potential. For years it stopped me from sharing the writing that was most heartfelt to me, for I was afraid of exposing myself by becoming vulnerable and open to criticism and misunderstanding. And then a guest at a health ranch where…