If you are involved in an inter-religion soccer competition and you have the choice, challenge the Buddhists first, they are the ones most likely to offer you the victory. Intended as a joke it conveys a misunderstanding that suggests that they are the easy beats and, in some way, soft and weak. This misapprehension needs to be addressed so a more accurate understanding that Buddhism is tough may be recognized. This toughness is based squarely on the teachings that prescribe the most searing of investigations into self, framed in the unrelenting reality of the situation of our lives.
The Buddhist study demonstrates what at times appears to be contradictory lessons. How can an enhanced familiarity with death improve the quality of our lives, how can a knowing of impermanence improve our enjoyment and how can the act of giving enable true receiving?
The first teachings of the Buddha are the Four Noble Truths, the first of these speaks directly to the suffering nature of our circumstance.
That we are born, age, and suffer sickness and die, a death that will inevitably occur and that its timing is unknown, therefore we are faced with a fundamental uncertainty. This uncertainty underpins every waking moment and with understanding has the potential to enhance that moment, such that it is valued and truly appreciated. How fortunate are we to have such excellent circumstances?
The second of the Noble Truths speaks to the cause of this suffering and for this we must accept responsibility, that it is our misdeeds that give rise to our unhappiness. This immediately strips us one our most preferred defences, that is blame. The family violence perpetrator blames the victim’s behaviour as the cause, the gambler blames bad luck and the protestor blames the other for all manner of suffering. The acceptance that we are responsible enables the consideration of transforming behaviours to better achieve happiness.
The teachings on impermanence is yet another example of how a deeper understanding of the true nature of our circumstance can improve the quality of those circumstances.
To purchase a new item is fraught with misunderstanding, the whole concept of new, a misapprehension. What component of the item is new and how quickly does it cease to be new? Our acceptance that all things deteriorate, a deterioration that commences immediately enables us to appreciate the item as it changes, not to be at some time shocked by its deterioration. The new flash car ceases to be new in the misdirected perspective only when it’s scratched or damaged. Once again, the greater the understanding of the true nature of us and the things we surround ourselves with the greater our capacity to find happiness.
The next aspect for consideration is the insistence that the Buddhist practice is elaborated by introspection, an honest look at self. The self that is self-centred, discriminative and is infused with feeling, such that every awareness registers as happy, unhappy or neutral and our responses to the feeling that can provoke love, consideration or envy, anger, jealousy and a whole range of thoughts, speech and behaviours.
What makes Buddhism tough is the honesty of looking and adjusting to live in the real world, that sees our reliance on all others and one in which we take responsibility for the consequence of our actions. Working to make the intention of those actions to benefit all others so we experience a more enduring quality of happiness.
Drol Kar Buddhist Centre was initially established in 1999 by Geshe Sonam Thargye and a group of his students in Geelong. It is a not for profit Incorporated Association with the sole purpose of providing Tibetan Buddhist teachings, dharma practice, meditation and study, in the Mahayana tradition.
Zhuang Zi from the 3rd century BCE said “We are born because it is time, and we die in accordance with nature. If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy, sorrow cannot affect us.”
This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.
In our modern world, we hear a lot about leading a balanced life. We hear so much about balance it can almost lose its true meaning. Often it is code for being very busy and trying to fit everything in. Not really balanced at all. One of the ancient philosophies associated with Chinese medicine is Daoism which suggests we live in a state of flow and be less focused on controlling the outcome of our lives. The paradox being that the things we do achieve will be true to us and what indeed supports and serves us, enabling us to share more of ourselves, in our work and private lives. One of the very welcome benefits of living this way is good health, physical and emotional health, even longer life.
Daoism speaks of change as a constant.
We see it daily in the turning of the day, as night becomes day. We see it as we move through our lives, it never stops. But we can become very attached to the way things are, sometimes so connected we cannot see the way to the next place, or what the next best step might be. So, attached that we stick with what we know even if it is not serving us well. It is familiar, safe. Sometimes life must shout very loudly at us so we can hear what is on offer. Things can become very out of balance as this process unfolds. It can affect our physical and emotional health significantly.
In Chinese medicine, we observe that the different organs are associated with mixed emotions. When we are living in harmony, each of our organs is supported and can function optimally. The heart, for example, is said to house the spirit, it has a strong relationship with a bright, alert mind, clarity of thinking. When things are out of balance, there can be anxiety, insomnia and general agitation, even mania.
The liver is said to oversee the free flow of things, it is also the strategist. When our lives are happy, we can plan effectively. When they are not anger can become a problem.
The kidneys have a strong relationship with fear.
When we overwork and constantly push we deplete the kidneys vitality and our own life force. The spleen can be taxed by overthinking, going over and over and over things. This can cause a foggy head, fatigue and a feeling of melancholy. The whole body can feel heavy and damp. It can feel as if we are living in a fog and are stuck not moving forward.
However, when the flow of life is respected the organs support one another and importantly support the whole being. Life is vital and alive. The energy of our lives flows and changes with grace, and we are able to live a fully productive and balanced life.
About Philippa Youngs
Philippa Youngs has been educated and trained by some of the world’s most experienced Chinese Medicine Practitioners, Acupuncturists and Myotherapists at Australia’s prestigious universities. The dynamic natural health practitioner has spent decades honing her craft with a passion for helping families achieve their goals. To find out more about Philippa go to: http://philippayoungs.com.au
So what gets your knickers in a twist? What cooks your wig?
Are you about to have kittens? Are you all horns and rattles? Madder than a cut snake? Are you going to lose the proverbial? Get your dander up? Perhaps you are up in arms about to blow a fuse, a gasket and bite someone’s head off? You might be tempted to get someone’s goat and fly off the handle while giving someone a tongue lashing- but we urge you to ponder. Why?
Humans can be at times- how shall we put it? Complex. Some of the time they are in a state of ascerbic reaction. Or as this wordsmith puts it: arseholicism. Yup, it’s my word. Coming in a close second is anger. All the heavy stuff.
Underneath the surface of almost all humans is the need to be significant in some way.
The good old “default modes” we have learned, the sum of all our experiences and perceptions drives our behavior.
We are born as a fresh new being, shiny and new without any learned behaviors. Then the learning begins, and the filter kicks in. The filter through which we view the world is different for everyone. So what happens when one filter bangs up against another in opposition? Chances are it can lead to anger.
How does one deal with anger in an emotionally intelligent way?
Do you act in accordance with what makes other people comfortable around you? Do you behave inappropriately, blaming others for triggering you?
Anger can be traumatizing for the empath.
The air will crackle with it in tiny waves, you can almost taste it in the air. If you are not the passive-aggressive type, what comes next? An outburst or a big internal swallow where it can be like a bad seed ready to grow a vine?
So we did like all good ponderers do, we sought an international expert on positive psychology.
Aussie author and applied psychology coach Catherine Bell explained to us what anger is and how it impact our lives.
1. Anger can actually be beneficial for a few reasons:
a) It lets us know when boundaries have been violated. That is, we feel angry when someone has done something that violates our personal boundaries like physically hurting us, or emotional / values / ethical boundaries – like when they do something that we think is wrong, and it makes us angry.
In that way, anger can be very useful in showing us what’s important to us, and telling us where corrective action needs to be taken. When we strike back in anger without thinking, we often hurt the other person, which can be negative, but really all we’re trying to do is re-establish our boundaries and make things “right” again.
Anger, expressed appropriately, is assertive but not aggressive – it makes clear what is, and is NOT acceptable, and re-establishes firm boundaries.
b) It is useful also in fight-or-flight scenarios, where survival is at stake because it helps us focus our energy and power towards defending ourselves and our loved ones and re-establishing the “right” world order.
Unfortunately, we can tend to suppress anger, which just builds up over time, and instead of positively and assertively dealing with small boundary violations, we wait until that LAST time where we can’t take it anymore…and then completely overplay our hand!
Better to recognize anger for what it is, and use it as an indicator that it’s time to establish boundaries EARLY, respectfully and assertively, rather than waiting to go crazy and then regretting it!
c) It is a great motivator, and has a lot of energy about it – so can be harnessed for positive results. For example, the person who gets angry at themselves for putting on 5kg then uses the energy of that anger to motivate action, like exercise. But again, it’s all about balance – a little anger is great to motivate, but it’s not sustainable if it becomes your ONLY way to motivate yourself. Then, it becomes an unresourceful pattern.
I like it when I am (temporarily) angry about things because it shows me how much I care about this thing and that I’d better get on with doing something about it! I have learned to harness my anger to help me achieve great things with energy.
2. Unexpressed and unresolved anger can be very detrimental to our physical, emotional and mental health. Unexpressed or suppressed anger has been linked to a number of health risks including increased risk of anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, digestion problems, insomnia, depression, heart attack, and stroke.
This is due to the chemical and metabolic changes that occur in our body when we feel anger and don’t find a way to healthily release it. From a social side, your relationships can be damaged too, as unexpressed anger can change our communication patterns and quality of relationships.”
So what comes next?
Well for this little Vegemite, time for more growth and a whole lot of grace, contemplation, and letting go of certainties. Some of the most challenging and stressful moments in our path can lead to the most magnificent vistas and mountain tops. Trust me on that one.
If you are a joy junky like myself, reveling in life and experience and love- the heavier emotions like anger can be harder to handle. I am enjoying the learning that strong emotions present an opportunity to identify and access positively for growth. Not suppressing. As always taking a pause to ponder and seek answers about our humanity should always win in the end. We are a complex design after all.
As the dusty and crater filled road sweeps around, edged with thick green forest an outcrop of buildings emerges, opening to a carpark with an OM symbol on a signpost.
Kangaroos laze like families on vacation, noses twitching, passing the time. A kookaburra starts laughing.
Burning wood and the warm scent of oranges drift to meet the nose. A plate of orange peels sits on the wood-fired heater. Shoes are removed and the next wave of smells drifts in– spices, cumin, herbaceous and welcoming. A faint waft of incense is in the air. However, it is not strong. It is an element.
We are greeted warmly.
The kitchen to our left is a bustle of activity. Not noisy. There is a busyness, but I observe this is a quiet calm busyness. There is no hurry. No eye contact.
Clean, crisp, worn and trusted, are the words that bubble up in my mind.
It is raining this day. Gently, then heavily. While we wait for our host, we sit in a mud brick temple, glass hobbit like windows peeking at the greenery outside. Beads and ancient symbols decorate the walls, and the rain falls down like a soothing pitter-patter- Why is rain so soothing?
We go for a walk amongst the abundant market garden, a destination for global specialists, botanists, and horticulturalists.
Every section planted and plotted as it has been done for thousands of years continents away. A gardening hut sits at the entry of the garden. Inside are saved tins containing harvested seeds, 50 years worth. Heirloom seeds. A trove full of jewels. Do these seeds capture the genetics of lost nutrition? A lost nurturing of the passionate gardener and gatherer of goods?
It feels tribal here.
Why am I here? A dear friend and mentor recommended the Ashram to me at a time of turmoil 2 years ago. My experience is this is a place outside the hurry curry of the world. A beautiful bubble where you can sleep, you can rest and learn. Learn so much… How not to rely on the feedback from people. How to be on your own in your own thoughts in a space where it is perfectly acceptable not to interact on any level other than- where do I wash my dish? No pressure. Acceptance from that which comes from within whispers.
Some people welcome it, some brave it, some reject it.
Sometimes our inner noise is confounding and deafening, we need the hectic of life to fill the void, so we don’t need to have a conversation with ourselves. Those convos can be deep. Too deep. Life changing deep. Or it can be a gentle getaway for those seeking quiet.
Every time I go there if it is for morning tea and a meditation session or a 3-day stint- something of incredible value is gleaned. Unpacked gently and quietly in the comfort of beautiful nature.
You will not find cappuccinos or fancy yoga gear. Comfort, ease, and lack of adornment are at the face level of this special place.
Today I get to sit and palaver by a fire withSwami Atmamuktananda, lovingly named Atma by those that know her.
She has returned this year from the Camino, a 330 km, trek – 20 km a day. A pilgrimage thousands of people from across the globe take each year to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. Camino Information Click HERE
The mantra she spoke every day was for peace and wellbeing.
So how did this delightful human become a Swami?
After traveling the world as a young woman for 7 years across continents and oceans, Atma returned to Australia looking for something different. 10 months into running a vegetarian restaurant in Perth a Yoga person came to visit. Life was never the same again. Atma was seeking completeness that she could not find in the Western World. She traveled to India and stayed for 10 years. Her journey leads her in 1976 to become the caretaker of the Rocklyn Ashram. India’s sister Ashram in Daylesford Victoria.
42 years later here we are.
In India the positive impact Ashram life has on its local community is immeasurable. Tonnes of rice and vegetables are provided for locals, children can come and eat whenever they like, distribution of medical supplies and blankets as well as building houses and shelter are just some of the services provided by the Ashram.
The wageless life of a Yogic Life is filled with gifts says Atma. She is looked after by having a roof over her head, warmth, access to good food, and fulfillment. There is no superannuation, no medical but there is contentedness. The Ashram is self-sufficient and relies on the caretaking of its inhabitants and visitors to make it available for the general public to enjoy.
So what is a Yogic lifestyle? Is it sweating it out in our Lorna Janes, bending ourselves into pretzels and stretching those muscles? Well, this is a western interpretation of the original lifestyle practice made up of many facets that began thousands of years ago, but to give you the very simplified version-
Hatha Yoga is primarily concerned with bodily purification practices which tranquilize the mind and discipline the body, based on the principle that one can become aware of higher states of consciousness by manipulating the different forces and systems in the physical body. Hatha Yoga considers the body as the temple of the soul and as such should be kept in excellent condition.
Mantra is chanting or repetition of sounds which have an effect on the mental and psychic consciousness of man. This is a powerful way of approaching meditational states, for the mind is rendered calm and at the same time concentrated on the mantra.
This is the yoga of dynamic meditation or action performed with meditative awareness. Karma Yoga is doing work with complete awareness but without attachment to the fruits or outcome of the work. The work is not the means to attaining some reward, payment, etc. It is selfless work. It is work in which one loses identity with one’s ego. One merely becomes an instrument. When visiting the Ashram, it might be gardening, preparing vegetables, folding blankets or sweeping the paths. Think Mr. Miagi wipe on, wipe off.
It goes on from there with various practices, but for the beginner, these are the daily practices at the Ashram.
As a Christian woman I have never felt my beliefs have been at threat when visiting the Ashram and in fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. I ask Swami Atmamuktananda why this is so.
“Yoga is not a religion, and it need not be a threat to any belief system, because it is a science of the body-mind lifestyle. It is science, not religion. People become stressed and need a place to stay, a place with a structure and simplicity, a place where personal reflection can be heightened when there is no life clutter. There is nothing personal at the Ashram, it is open and unobtrusive. There is a level of comfort where all is provided, a nurturing comfort zone if you can allow yourself to let go and accept the environment for what it is- you can experience Ashram life and the gift it has to offer.”
“This offers stability and routine each day, there is a regularity to daily life, of re-establishment we all need. There’s no having to rush, everything is there for you. These practices and this environment allows you to enhance whoever you are.”
The simplicity of the Rocklyn Ashram is no accident. There are no televisions, radios, and phones are respectfully asked to be left switched off.
“Not having the senses so wildly exaggerated as they are in the outside world helps to see within. Externalisation makes people stressed and confused, the outside world bombards people with all of the noise, this is not natural to our state of being. So we are honored to provide this space in Victoria for people of all denominations and walks of life to come and practice Yogic living to help rebalance and harmonize themselves. People tend to seek acquirement instead of peace, and this can be a very lopsided journey. A Yoga lifestyle helps to restore and rebalance this,” says Atma.
The Rocklyn Ashram attracts schools, VCE students, Backpackers, CEOS, Doctors, Nurses, Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents and Retirees, every walk of human has passed through those doors from around the world.
I ask Swami over all of the years what is the biggest issue facing people right now in 2018.
“Financial status and image, we find it very difficult to detach from these things. Never before have I seen such an attachment to physical appearance, an impermanent state.”
It has been my understanding of the philosophies of Buddhism and some Hindu practices that we need to “not attach” and practice detachment to gain insight and enlightenment.
Atma says “we cannot avoid attachment, we are human beings and it is is in our nature to attach, and there is nothing wrong with this. We get into trouble when detachment comes into being. We don’t know how to detach. The detachment of external factors can cause problems in paradise. We attach ourselves to things of impermanence- knowing very little about our realness, and it is when these things disappear, it leaves us in trouble. We don’t understand where our central self is and we depend on that impermanence.”
I consider this. It is easy to fall in love, but not always easy to detach from it.
We love life, but we find grief and dying a problematic concept. I took up smoking easily as a teenager but found quitting difficult. My eyesight was expected, something I took for granted but losing it was detaching from this natural expectation that I should be able to see. My life is mine to keep…Hmmm.
What is the funniest thing to witness at the Ashram I ask Atma because for me it was the abundance of porridge and fruit that made people fart in Yoga class-torture for me to not burst into idiotic giggles over?
“Sometimes the Mantra process can really bring joy up in people, or they have experiences where joy, grins, and laughter may erupt or anger. People can become quite funny when they get cross. It is funny the expectations people sometimes have, their interpretation of things can cause a reaction which can at times be amusing.”
So is there life after death Swami?
She smiles warmly, “There are pointers to indicate a continuation, there are thoughts and beliefs that there is a proposed system of continuance. Don’t you ever get the feeling you are picking up where you left off Kirsten?”
The Ashram offers a range of retreats to cater for everyone’s circumstances, from:
day visits to weekend or midweek courses,
personal time out stays and
retreats of one week,
one month, three months or one year.
Visitors require no prior experience in yoga and are encouraged to participate in the general daily program with the Ashram residents. The program includes a morning yoga class, Karma Yoga (a practice of awareness), Yoga Nidra (a deep relaxation practice), evening meditation and varied evening programs.
I think that TURMERIC is genuinely one of the marvelous spices in our world. You don’t need a bicycle basket and manicured beard to know this is true.
Turmeric uses and applications are abundant, and we are just starting as a western society to recognize these.
So pull up a recycled chair with a handstitched Guatemalan cushion and let me tell you the real deal about Turmeric- the decadent product of nature.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a herbal spice that is held in high esteem for its bountiful health endorsing properties as well as its culinary uses. It has always been a favorite herb of Chinese, Ayurvedic and traditional medicine and the methods of TURMERIC as a therapeutic herb dates back thousands of years.
Turmeric is not only the most pleasurable form of latte (according to me) that has ever been invented (recipe at the end of blog) but one of the best treatments for so many and varied health conditions.
The energetics of turmeric on our human body is warming and bitter, so this makes it a fabulous circulatory stimulating herb as well as a liver and gallbladder stimulating tonic. Let’s face it when we are getting around everywhere on a unicycle or a vintage bike we need all the sustenance we can get right?
The wonderfully bright cadmium yellow of TURMERIC comes from its primary active ingredient Curcumin. It’s a boss.
Even though the active ingredient is Curcumin, as any good herbalist will tell you we don’t just use one element of a medicinal herb when we are using it as herbal therapy, as it is the constituents of the whole beautiful herb that has been born to work together to achieve the beneficial result. Herbs, when used for herbal medicine, have energy derived from the plant source. Therefore it is much preferred by the human body than chemical-based medicine and TURMERIC is a prime example of one of these herbs.
Holistically the herb works so well because it needs every part of its chemical compound to function optimally. (Say that 10 times quickly with a mouth full of marbles.)
TURMERIC’S bio-availability(the proportion of a drug or other substance which enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so can have an active effect) is quite low though, so taking TURMERIC with black pepper is advised. Black pepper (Piper nigrum) contains piperine, and this acts as an excellent bio-enhancer and may increase TURMERICS bio-availability up to an astonishing 2000%. You only need to use a pinch of black pepper for this result to occur.
Most of us know TURMERIC for its anti-inflammatory properties but did you know that TURMERIC is also
anti-coagulant (reducing the risk of blood clots)
decreases blood cholesterol
improves protein digestion
increases ligament flexibility
reduces period pain
blood sugar regulator
assists with settling down the inflammation associated with asthma (2)
is a potent antagonist of numerous cancer-causing cells (1)
immune system supportive
aids in metabolic health
may be favorable to healthy thyroid function
may promote longevity
may be supportive in decreasing inflammation of irritable bowel syndrome.
There is even evidence suggesting that TURMERIC may inhibit replication of H.I.V.1! (2)
So herbal medicine strikes again and in a form available to us all every day.
Enjoy your latte! x
RECIPE FOR TURMERIC LATTE
½ to 1 teaspoon of organic turmeric
½ teaspoon of organic cinnamon
grated organic ginger to taste
pinch of organic black pepper
honey to taste (add when finished boiling)
1 cup of milk (organic cows, almond, rice, coconut )
Blend all powdered ingredients into the milk of choice
Place in small saucepan and bring to boil.
Pour into a hand pottered cup with a saucer made from repurposed banjo strings and most of all-
References(1) FOOD YOUR MIRACLE MEDICINE, Jean Carper, Collins Publisher(2) DR. ATKINS VITA-NUTRIENT SOLUTIONS, Robert C. Atkins, Fireside edition.About Susan Byrne
Susan Byrne is absolutely passionate about health and
well-being with a focus on people being empowered and
lifted in the knowledge that they are healthy and happy.
Susan a specialization in Women and children’s health.
Susan has over 20 years of health experience and in-depth
qualifications in Nutritional Health, Herbal Medicine,
Supplementation and Flower essences including a
Bachelor of Health Science, Dip. Herbal Medicine and Dip.
Nutrition as well as being a member of the NHAA. She is a
well known public speaker on Naturopathic subjects and
is an advocate for women’s welfare.
It’s not every day you get to meet an Australian of the Year. Or the head of a large foundation backed by some of the world’s most prestigious sponsors. I did my due diligence and researched my interviewee. The more I read, well let’s just say the more overwhelmed I began to feel as the accomplishments and accolades, not to mention the adoration from others- built up brick by brick like a mighty wall of quivering anticipation and nerves. This is one chic that may have a little more than a handful of accomplishments under her surgical belt.
What happened next left me smiling and uplifted.
Ponderers I would love you to meet Professor Fiona Wood. Fiona is the incredibly impressive Australian that I think is better than Vegemite, as impressive as Bradman and has won the hearts of many. What this woman has done for medicine in Australia, the world and burns patients will leave you in awe.
The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization responsible for some of the most impressive pioneering in burns, wound care management programs in the world. One of Fiona’s mentors Harold McComb was the original name-bearer of the Foundation- then known as the McComb Foundation in 1999 with scientist Marie Stoner. It was renamed the Fiona Wood Foundation in 2012 in recognition of her work in the field of burns medicine.
One of her most well-known joint achievements was the creation of “spray-on skin” and her involvement in saving the lives of many after the tragic 2002 Bali Bombings.
The mother of six and avid cyclist has so many dimensions, and within moments of chatting, her warmth and infectious positivity and wit were bouncing in a contagious frequency. My nerves and sense of intimidation evaporated as quick as water on a hot Perth pavement. I instantly liked her and was grateful for her time. There was no sense of imposition, but rather a willingness to share and be human together.
K: Fiona you are no doubt an extremely busy lady! Where on earth do you get all of that energy?
FW: Good sleep, eating well, fitness and nutrition are everything to being able to keep everything in balance. It can be pretty rigorous work being on call so health is so important. Daily exercise in the early morning makes you feel great. I enjoy cycling and pilates, swimming not- (she starts laughing heartily) – you know I look like a demented seal trying to catch waves. But I really do believe that fitness as well as choosing a positive attitude is absolutely everything to balance and being healthy and happy.
K: It is an exciting time in many fields of Medicine in regard to improvements and evolution of technology and long-term research coming to fruition, isn’t it? What are some of the aspects of this you are enjoying?
FW: In short- So much! Seriously though, there is a LOT of knowledge to be harnessed, the bit I like the most is the improved quality and outcome for patients, the quicker recovery times and people are surviving more serious injuries. The goal posts are moving. Mind you, for me personally they can’t move quick enough, as I don’t want to stop working until it is even better again. When I was younger I had this idea that you would go to work, solve the problem and everyone can all go home, and all would be well. This was not the case! Every single body as such is unique and technology needs to be integrated individually, burns are so very complex. The differences in scars is where data analysis has a future, and there is a new wave of medical ideas and research that is working. Burn injury and inflammation affects the whole body, so it is so very important that we continue to reach for complete scar recovery. The quality of a scar being worth survival is the goal.
K: I can hear the passion for what you do in your voice, it’s so infectious! This can’t all be nature, there must be some nurture in there. Many people I interview with that kind of insistent passion for doing hard work and persistence for a goal are influenced in some way by another person or mentor. Who was yours?
FW: My parents were incredibly hard working. We were brought up to work and the joy of work for work’s sake, to be useful and to find joy in work, to get that great feeling from a job well done and that has really been a big influence. My parents were passionate about hard work along with the idea that education provides freedom, that it creates choices. They really pushed that. When I started working in the field one of my mentors was Harold McCarb, an incredibly dedicated surgeon. So I have definitely had my influencers.
K: I love hearing you say this! We have always told our three children that even though sometimes education feels like a task, it is a gift and if you start to enjoy learning as a tool and a source of growth it provides opportunity and flexibility as an adult. You never stop learning! The ability to have choices means you are giving yourself your very best opportunity to have fulfilling experiences in life. It looks like we are both pro-work and education. I have been accused of being a high achiever, and sometimes it worries me that this sense of urgency has rubbed off on my kids. Do you find the same thing with your brood?
FW: I don’t know that this is a negative, to be honest! I had 6 children in 8 years and they are all older now, and every one of them is a high achiever and they all love sport, even more than me. They are happy. One of my sons is a multi-athlete, and they all strive to be better. But I don’t think this is a negative thing. It ‘s nice to make great choices and feel positive and joyful in what you do; it is important to feel a sense of purpose. Setting goals and achieving them is great!
K: What would you tell your 25 year old self if you were talking to her now?
FW: Get up in the morning and enjoy what you do, you will do well and better.
K: What are you looking forward to?
FW: I look forward to the beach in the morning, and the kids all over for dinner in the evening. I am looking forward to the results coming through for experiments we have done, it’s a 7 year piece of work that has just been recognised after doing work in Canada, and it’s a wonderful feeling when your team’s work is validated. You just want to do your best surgery, and best work and it’s transforming. I really look forward to that.
K: Finally Fiona- what do you enjoy reading?
FW: I really enjoy science fiction especially futuristic style!
Fiona’s entire focus while we talking was her passion for her patient’s comfort and quality of life, the recovery and the repair. I was aware that she was on a time limit, yet not once did she impose it and I felt we could have spoken for hours. Her positivity was bubbly and effervescent, she really is an extraordinary person extraordinarily serving the world. I love it when you chat to someone and walk away feeling like your heart is full and running over with a kind of bubbling presence.
Fiona said “You can choose every day to actually choose your view on things” I think this is worth such a ponder. Don’t you?