si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Month: July, 2011


Today I woke up and there was honest to god, real life snow, just lying everywhere, being all lazy.

Even though it’s winter, around these parts there hasn’t been snow since 1995.

So, what better way to spend a Monday morning than to go for a walk up a local hill? (rhetorical question)

Yes. A hill. With actual snow.

This hill, unsurprisingly.

Muppet gloves

Mum brought her gloves, made from 100% genuine Muppet, and we were away!

We passed a couple of ducks. One looked like this:

Duck. One. Not to scale.

The other looked different. Grumpier (I think).

There were also some wild quail. They hopped away in that bizarre quailly manner, which can’t really be explained. They weren’t particularly scared of us, so I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of quail hunters in this suburb. As a side note, guns are rather damn difficult to get your hands on in New Zealand, so that probably helps. I’m not sure, exactly, how quail keep up with current gun legislation, but they did seem to have a   handle on it.

New Zealand is also very green (you may have heard).

Here's one of the green bits

There’s plenty of green to go round. Lots of other bits look like this too.

Mum got very excited by the first bit of snow we found (I did mention it’s rare here, right?)

There was (spoiler alert!) more snow to come, but compared to zero snow, this was LOTS

It was also crunchy under foot (always a nice sound).

The first of many snowball fights

I told Mum I was going to take a photo of myself throwing a snowball at her. Thus, this is blurry – as I’m frantically clicking with one hand & biffing with the other. However, note, just left of her left shoulder – voila! Snowball! In the air! I claim victory! (even if this one did miss her, dammit)

We also saw lots of crazy gorse. Flowering (in winter), in the snow:

Pesky Gorse

Gorse is something of a huge pest here in NZ. This is similar to many innovative & brilliant ideas we gained from the British, who brought gorse over to use as hedges. They didn’t allow for the fact that NZ is on the other side of the planet (surprise!), thus has a completely different climate.. and voila! Gorse The (now) Noxious Pest took  over the country. See also: rabbits, and possums. Thanks England! (I’m signalling my disapproval with two thumbs up!)

Gorse is, however, rather pretty (aww).

We’re also pretty good at growing ferns over here:

Mum loves ferns. Doubly so when covered in snow.

Mum insisted I get this pic. The framing is crazy coz the ferns were so giant, and the track so small, the only way I could get the pic was by holding my camera over my head (ie, I really had no idea where it was pointing).

When we got to the top, there were a ton of gums & pines (it’s forestry area, sorta), all looking as pretty as a picture:

Ooh look, trees!

So, you know, here’s a picture.

I also made a snow man (I said I would!). Well, a snow alien:

Snow Alien (I like his antenna the best)

He was tiny but cute (kinda like me – at least some of the time).

Mum reckoned he was starting to look like a rabbit, but No! He’s An Alien!

Mum did her best to look like an alien too

Mum did try to twizzle her hair up into antenna, but since everything was pretty wet by now (snow! it’s wet! who knew?) it didn’t work so well. I reckon she’s got the arms pretty much perfect though.

Which was good timing, coz about a minute later one of the arms fell off the alien (who obviously didn’t have quite such a strong grasp on the whole arm/body concept).

The view from the top was pretty spectacular:

Look! Snow! Also, Wellington off in the distance

You can just (if you tilt your head and squint) see the blue of the sea, right off in the distance between those two hills. Trick is, the river runs down into it. They do that sometimes, I’m told.

I also took enough shots to get a panorama of sorts, but I need to figure out how to do that (without wasting hours of my life painstakingly aligning everything & adjusting brightnesses etc).

Aww, pretty!

Everything in general was pretty damn pretty.

Also, we had coffee from a thermos, which made everything more awesome.

This gum was quite beautiful too:

Don't leave it stuck to your bedstead overnight

I’ve always had a soft spot for gum trees, but I think five years in Australia has made me love them more than ever.

Oh, and proof that the five or six snowball fights weren’t all one sided?

Covered in snow. Thanks Mum!

All that snow on me? That was after I’d brushed myself off. I was covered in it! All thanks to my Mum. Sheesh! I used to think she loved me! What a meanie.

One reason I’m laughing so much was that she’d never used my camera before, so picked it up the wrong way. She was about to take a giant photo of her face – which of course I could see perfectly, since the screen was facing me. Oh Mum!

On the way back down, we found a giant branch that had fallen onto the road, so we dragged it off to the side so no-one would come round the corner & drive their truck into it.

We also found the perfect picnic spot:

The perfect picnic spot!

And that was in the middle of a snow storm! Now imagine how beautiful that’ll be in the summer!



    A Night Of Bad Dreams

    I had a bunch of bad dreams last night. This is very rare for me. Typically these days I might get a single mildly bad dream maybe once or twice a month, if that.

    But first let me wind back a bit.

    A few days ago I hung out with a friend of mine. This is someone I’ve known for a decade or longer, so there’s a lot of history there. Mostly pretty good, but some very dark times too. This guy has very strong energy. Historically, he’s affected me enormously.

    Now, he’s going through some shit at the moment (aren’t we all?) The catch is, within about 15 minutes of hanging out with him, I could feel his energy making me feel, quite literally, physically ill.

    Ok, so that’s not good. What to do, what to do?

    I tried putting up separation roses, to energetically divide us. They didn’t stick. Maybe we just have too much history, we’re too strongly connected. Maybe he’s just too energetically grasping. I don’t know.

    I could feel giant clumps of dark energy coming off him and coming towards me, as he was describing the various troubles in his life. Nothing I tried was helping, and things were quickly spiralling downwards.

    Interesting situation.

    Then I settled on the simplest possible solution.

    I focused on the clump of darkness, and simply said “I love you.”

    Yep, just that.

    The super cool thing was, the darkness immediately dissipated. My feeling of sickness left, and (very interesting) he perked up and started talking about something else altogether.

    For the rest of our time together, every time I felt negatively affected, or could sense dark globs of whatever appearing, I’d just address them, say “I love you” and watch them disappear again.

    Very. Interesting.

    Now, in Ho’oponopono (A Hawaiian healing technique), you cycle through four phrases:

    1. I love you
    2. I’m sorry
    3. Please forgive me
    4. Thank you

    But I’m starting to suspect, if there was one single prayer to say for the rest of your life, it should be “I love you.” The single most powerful thing you can say in any situation.

    Since then I have (of course, you know me!) been doing the exact same thing to anything that’s appeared – in myself, or those around me. Said “I love you” to it (in my mind) and let it go.

    So, to last night.

    pic by Cesar T Sanchez

    Ever since I started tapping out nightmares, the frequency with which I’ve experienced bad dreams has dropped precipitously. They’ve just stopped happening.

    So last night was pretty interesting. I had 10, maybe 15 distinct bad dreams in a row.

    Why? Who knows (and really, who cares?) Maybe I just unblocked something big enough that it was time to wash a bunch of related remnants out of me. It really doesn’t matter too much.

    Anyway, in each of these dreams, I settled back, said “I love you” to whatever was happening, and the dream disappeared. Sometimes I needed to repeat it a few times, but every single time the dream would dissolve, along with whatever it was that had been bothering me.

    Best of all? I woke up feeling like a million bucks. Now that is a first after a night of bad dreams.

    “I love you” – said calmly and with intention – it’s continuing to amaze me just how powerful that phrase really is.


      Random Thursday Night Adventure

      I was sitting at home the other night, minding my own business when a text message flashed in on my intra-planetary communicator:

      “I’m coming to pick you up. I’ll be there at 9:50pm. Pack a toothbrush”

      Well, okay then.

      (Secretly? I adore these kind of spontaneous adventures.)

      On the agenda? Sitting in an outdoor jacuzzi half the night; a glass or two of red wine; catching up on old times; watching the lights from the ships coasting in and out of the harbour:

      This was the jacuzzi view.. except, you know, black. Night time, see.

      We eventually crashed about 4ish. Then up at 8 for breakfast in bed (bacon & mushroom omelette, toast, camomile tea) and a quick drive into town.

      I suspect the breakfast was to buy me off so I could drive my mate to an appointment. He went to that, and since it was a super gorgeous day I grabbed a coffee and walked along the beach.

      Beach! (well, obviously) Also: City.

      As isolated as New Zealand is from the rest of the world, it really is one incredibly picturesque place. As the song goes, you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.

      the local marina (was looking for a friend's exquisitely restored 1800s boat, but couldn't find it)

      As I was wandering around, i got to thinking about mistakes. Now, I have (historically) been something of a type-A personality. Hard charging, ambitious, etc. The upside is, you get a lot done. The downside is you tend to be a pain in the ass to be around, but that’s a whole other conversation. Oh, also, there’s the ever-so-slight issue of perfectionism and the attendant self-criticism.

      Now, as an example: I know I look good when I have about two days of beard growth. Now, I don’t think of this as attractive. No, I think of it as “optimally hairy.”

      In other words, except for about 6 hours two days in, my facial hair is permanently sub-optimal. Wow, self-criticism much? *laugh*

      Walking in the sun, I suddenly realised that I haven’t been making mistakes my whole life (or having sub-optimal facial hair, now we’re on the subject). What I’m really doing is experiencing previous karma. In other words, there’s no way, at any given time and place with the knowledge and experience I had then, that I could have chosen otherwise. This is stuff I have had to get wrong, so I could learn from it.

      Of course, we do dumb shit, suffer the consequences & thus (hopefully) grow, heal, unwind that karma. That is how we progress through life.

      The key point is this: We may have to experience the same “mistakes” over and over and over. This isn’t because we keep making them. It’s because we have to keep growing, until such time as everything is in place, and we’re finally ready to learn the whole lesson, not just the obvious, surface stuff.

      The mistake is in looking too closely at any given action. “Oh, I went out with the same kind of shitbag again.” What we’re missing is that we’re learning a ton of other things, and we’re just working our way down through the layers, little by little, at a pace which is right for us.

      Things are always perfect, even when they suck. All we’ve gotta do is just keep paying attention. Keep learning when we can, and keep loving ourselves.

      Why? Because giving ourselves a hard time just adds to our misery. It doesn’t help us learn, or grow, or heal. As much as our ego might like to convince us otherwise, it also doesn’t prevent us making the same mistake in the future. Healing, learning and growing does that, not self-flagellation.

      When we’ve truly grown past it, the opportunities for that mistake generally won’t even appear. The shitbags disappear (of their own volition) out of our lives. And trust me, I’ve seen this, ohhh, many times.

      So, you know, mini-satoris like this are always nice, but I still had more heavy duty walking around to get done!

      Also, mental note: Buy a beard trimmer.

      Because I’m such a raging narcissist, I simply had to take a self pic.

      Self portrait, with boatsheds (note the Very Important Peace Sign)

      I learned everything I need to know about posing for photographs from the Japanese tourists who used to endlessly harass us when I was training Aikido in Melbourne. (You have never seen such polite & deferential harassment in your life.)

      For reference, these are the best swings (that I know of) in central Wellington. Look at the view from the top – wow!

      I spent a LOT of time on these swings when I was last in town

      I didn’t get a chance to have a play – but that’s ok, cute blondes take precedence, and anyway, I had to hurry along.

      I also saw a perfect family outing:

      Mum with the baby, daughter, dad

      How cool is that? Dad’s on a long board (kinda like a skateboard, but super long and very flexible). Note also his beanie: Official Hat of Wellington.

      Oh, and if you were curious just how far my home is from here? (ie, looking in the other direction for once):

      land of the long white cloud...

      See those clouds, right off in the distance there? I’m staying juuuuust to the right of centre, right back there. Wouldn’t want to swim there – for a start, the last 25kms is over solid ground. Luckily there’s a motorway.

      After that, I picked my mate up, and we went for a picnic in the gardens of Isengard (you remember them, right?)

      Picnic. Not shown: food.

      Those are my boots. I’m being utterly shameless today, I know.

      Oh, and how could I possibly go past this?

      Flying fox! FLYING FOX!!!!

      This scared the living crap out of me when I first went on it (age: maybe 8 or 9).

      It’s quite vigorous when it hits the end.  Ok, ok, so these days I take a running jump off the platform to get maximum speed up, but still! It’s definitely an activity that stands the test of time. I.e., still awesome. I love it!

      I also saw a bunch of fantails, skipping around and being all fantaily (as is their wont)

      Three guesses why it has the name it does...

      They’re an Australasian peculiarity, although this type is only found here in NZ. They’re super cute, very flighty, and about the size of a sparrow. One came up to within a foot of us eating. Pretty amazing.

      Bet you never thought you’d learn about birds coming here, now did you? Do I make you ‘orni, baby?

      And on that note, something utterly ridiculous. This is a local stationery company:

      Seriously guys, buy a dictionary. Please.

      It’s like the company was named by someone who’d never used a writing implement before (*cough*illiterate*cough*). The. Mind. Boggles.

      All in all, quite a delightful Thursday night/Friday morning adventure. A+++ would run delightedly out of the house clutching my toothbrush again.


        Three high states, three lists

        There are three super high states of being: Courageousness, Acceptance and Peace.

        I first talked about them here.

        These may not be the utterly highest states possible (how much bullshit wankery do we want to get into, really), but they’re damn good to aim for.

        Acceptance is a higher state than Courageousness. Peace is the highest.


        Is described as “The willingness to move out without fear or hesitation – to do – to correct – to change wherever needed. The willingness to let go – to move on.”

        You can super easily get yourself into this state by just repeatedly & forcefully saying “yes.” It truly is that simple. Of course, getting into a strong, powerful posture also helps


        “No need to change anything. No judgements of good or bad. It just is and it’s OK. It is beautiful as it is. I have and enjoy everything as it is.”

        This is the “It is what it is” state.


        Summed up by “I am – I am whole, complete, total unto my Self. Everyone and Everything is part of my Self. It is all perfect.”

        A much argued over term that encapsulates this is enlightenment. We’ve dropped all our crap, or at least  we’re holding a steady state where remaining crap continues to drop effortlessly.

        Now, there are three lists that describe each of these states.

        The Courageousness List

        Adventurous. Alert. Alive. Assured. Aware. Centred. Certain. Cheerful. Clear. Compassionate. Competent. Confident. Creative. Daring. Decisive. Dynamic. Eager. Enthusiastic. Exhilarated. Exploring. Flexible. Focused. Giving. Happy. Honourable. Humorous. I Can. Independent. Initiating. Integrity. Invincible. Loving. Lucid. Motivated. Non-resistant. Open. Optimistic. Perspective. Positive. Purposeful. Receptive. Resilient. Resourceful. Responsive. Secure. Self-sufficient. Sharp. Spontaneous. Strong. Supportive. Tireless. Vigorous. Visionary. Willing. Zesty

        The Acceptance List

        Abundance. Appreciative. Balanced. Beautiful. Belonging. Childlike. Compassionate. Considerate. Delighted. Elated. Embracing. Empathetic. Enriched. Everything’s Okay. Friendly. Fullness. Gentle. Gracious. Harmonious. Harmony. Intuitive. In Tune. Joyful. Loving. Magnanimous. Mellow. Naturalness. Nothing to change. Open. Playful. Radiant. Receptive. Soft. Tender. Understanding. Warm. Well-being. Wonder

        The Peace List

        Ageless. Awareness. Beingness. Boundless. Calm. Centred. Complete. Connected. Eternal. Free. Fulfilled. Glowing. Light. Oneness. Perfection. Pure. Quiet. Serenity. Space. Still. Timeless. Tranquillity. Unlimited. Whole


        How can you use these lists, to help propel you into those states of being?

        You can simply say any of the phrases below, while focusing on each word in turn. I’ve used all of these phrases (and other variants), depending on my mood at the time, and found them all to be super helpful.

        • I am that I am [emotion]. I release and let go of all disapproval. I approve of you Si. I love you.
        • I am that I am [emotion]. I drop all disapproval. I approve of you Si. I love you.
        • I am that I am [emotion] yes! I drop all disapproval. I approve of you Si. I love you.
        • I love that I am [emotion] (my personal favourite)

        (replace with your own name, obviously)

        Feel free to tweak the words till they resonate most strongly for you. Your own intuition is always the best guide.

        After you say each phrase, feel the emotion, and picture it in your head. This helps connect you to it more strongly, and drop any opposing resistance.

        Generally it’s good to do courageousness in the morning, acceptance in the middle of the day, and peace at night. It breaks it up so they’re not overwhelming, but also gets you back into a high state for more of the day.

        Yep, the first time you go through the lists, they take forever (well, ok, maybe 40 minutes). They’re worth persisting with, it gets much faster as you get the hang of it – down to maybe 10 minutes.

        I’ve also found tapping while doing it helps (either full tapping, or just on your fingers). Oh, and going through the video shown here, one emotion per point (as you like). That way the whole list only takes 8 minutes – super quick.

        I’d recommend doing this for a few weeks. I went through the lists daily for a coupla months (not perfectly of course, I missed lists all the time, as life got variously crazy).

        I can look back and see these lists providing a phenomenal amount of momentum. Clearing lifetimes of junk out, and getting me in a really high, very consistent state of being.

        I also noticed – days when I missed my morning list were always, somehow, much worse than days when I didn’t. Even if I only managed to do the first list, it would always get me into a (surprise!) courageous state of being, where I could get up, get out & kick serious ass in the world.

        Kickin’ ass. It’s recommended, encouraged even.

        [edit, Mar 2012: After almost nine months of doing these lists every day, here’s what I’ve settled on – it’s super fast, and clears deeply.

        Tap your karate chop point (side of hand), and say “I love that I’m not [emotion].” If an obvious negation pops into your head – eg emotion=secure, negation=insecure – then use that, otherwise just “not [whatever]” is fine. If you get a resonance on it, keep tapping, saying & releasing whatever comes up. Then, when the negative side is clear, tap & say the positive “I love that I am [emotion].”

        It’s also more powerful if you’re sitting up, rather than, say, lying in bed being lazy.

        This is stupidly fast (< 5 mins) and clears very deeply.]


          Catching A Bus

          At the moment, I’m living in the gardens of Isengard.

          You what?

          The Gardens of Isengard (See? Hair! Staffs! All magic like!)

          Yes, these gardens.

          Well, ok ok, I actually live in a cottage. The gardens are (quite literally) across the road.

          This is where my parents live. Rivendell is just up the road, and yep, in general the area is every bit as picturesque as in the movies (Lord of the Rings, in case you’re not a complete nerd).

          It’s also kinda neat to be able to spend serious time with my family. This hasn’t happened since I left home, twenty something years ago. It’s super educational, and a great growth opportunity (which, of course, I simply love).

          It is, however, quite a way from the nearest decent sized town (they call it a city, but I’m not 100% sold. Maybe city-lite?)

          So how far away is it?

          Well, the other day, I went to catch a bus.

          Catching a bus is something I haven’t done in… Well, I think the last time I caught a bus was in Seattle, in 2006.

          That was the time some crack head woman started screaming at the top of her lungs then climbed out the window into traffic… and people wonder why public transport is so unpopular?

          Anyway. I’m sitting on this bus. It’s not particularly exciting as buses go. It looked like this:

          This is a bus (note: no crack heads)

          Right, now stare at that for (spoiler!) an hour.

          The bus is ricketing around so much I can barely send a text message. I definitely can’t read. Well, I could if I didn’t mind losing my eyeballs, but I prefer them inside my head. I’m a bit of a fusspot like that.

          Why was I even on the bus in the first place? The short version: my local drivers license got eaten by the gaping maw of Australian bureaucracy. I just need to order a new one; I simply haven’t got around to it yet.

          So, no driving = public transport time for moi. Thus, the bus.

          If I was driving, it would take about 20 minutes to get into town. By bus? An hour.

          The bus does not take the direct route. Colloquially this is known as “a tiki tour” – ie, a trip that appears to go everywhere & nowhere (much like life, I suppose).

          Town's to the right, behind the tree..further..a little further..40km further..

          After about twenty minutes, we were driving past horses. Seriously, horses live closer to the city than I do. Horses!!

          So there I am, being jiggled around like popcorn in a pan, getting increasingly frustrated as the driver leads us deeper and deeper into suburbs unknown.

          Then I suddenly had what my Sensei likes to call a mini-satori.

          Why was I so annoyed by all this?

          It was the thought of having to catch this bus on a regular basis. Wasting all that time, being unable to do anything about it. The thought of all the choices I’ve made that lead me to this situation.

          But wait, this was the first time in my life I’d ever caught this bus. For all I know (who can predict the future?) it might well be the last time too.

          I was getting all wound up about something that may or may not even happen, in the future.

          I was being upset by stuff I couldn’t change anyway, in the past.

          The actual situation itself was, well, fine.

          How often do we get our knickers all twisted over something that isn’t even happening?

          Often. VERY often.

          As soon as I realised that, I was back in control.

          I’m the boss of my brain.

          I let go of my past decisions. For better or worse they’ve been made. For all my self-analysis, I know I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at that time.

          It’s always easy to look backwards (or stand outside) & judge. Any fool with a newspaper can do that. So, there’s no value in criticising ourselves for the past (Learn from? Sure. Criticise? No)

          And the future hasn’t even happened yet.

          I was feeling crappy for something that might never even occur.

          Wow. We sure give ourselves a hard time. Well, I do, you’re welcome to speak for yourself, of course.

          The great news is – just realising it set it all free. I immediately relaxed. Prepped some peppy music. Laughed as the bus driver waved hello to all the families in their driveways (I swear, he knew the entire suburb). Sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous views rolling past.

          Simple as that I was filled with an overwhelming love for the entire situation.

          Maybe there really is something to this whole “present moment” mumbo jumbo. All those hairy old dudes, they can’t have been right all this time, surely?

          Nah… That’d be too easy.