Tag Archives: compassion

Connection: Biophilia In All Its Forms


The Routeburn: Towards Harris Saddle

This weekend, I ran away. I’ve been burning the candle at all sorts of ends – it’s basically just a puddle of wax on the floor. I’m consistently over-ambitious, over-extended, and aching all over. But I’m more energised than I’ve been in a really long time.

I’m not ashamed to say the last six months have been tough. At times a bit of a warzone I’ve had to battle through, struggling to keep my head up. But if they’ve been a battle, this last month’s been a revolution.

Being broken up with out the blue is a lot like being dropped from a team for no reason. You’ve lost a connection. But the main thing to keep in mind is this: However much a better person someone else makes you, it’s possible to lose them and still become an even better one. Another thing to remember: Just because you’re now flying solo, it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.

In the last couple of months I’ve got back on board with the Queenstown Creative Writing Group, taken photos with the Snappers, joined the triumphant TEDx Queenstown team (the videos are up!), jumped on wheels to spin around with the Roller Derby squad, and hit the ice to become a part of Queenstown’s first and currently only women’s ice hockey team. I’ve also spent time with friends who have cemented into a crew to wind up and down the days with – making a living, of course, taking up the multitude of hours in between.

I’ve been out the loop a little with #1000Speak and the gang, but I’ve been keeping up with posts and marvelling at the continued energy that has turned into monthly efforts to foster a world-wide community dedicated to compassion. The theme this month was connection, so I’d like to add my belated mite.

Being part of a team, whether sports squad, arts gathering or friendship group, is about connection. Connection is what makes us human; it’s what keeps us compassionate, empathetic, enthusiastic – it allows us to come together with a common purpose and achieve common goals as well as individual ones. Being part of team, being connected to anything – it motivates us, lifts us, cheers us. Completes us.

Sometimes, like this weekend for me, you want to get away from the maelstrom and wander about in the quiet. I went with a friend, but it could be you’d rather spend some time alone. Whichever way, there’s still connection there. Wherever you are, even in silence, you can find connection with your surroundings.

Biophilia translates as ‘love of life’. It was coined by Erich Fromm to describe an innate psychological attraction to what is alive and vital – to nature. It’s something I certainly experienced this weekend as I walked the Routeburn, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, to show-stopping views such as those captured above and below.

Whatever you’ve been through and wherever you’re going, make sure you pause to consider the connections you’re making along the way. Make sure to embrace them. Make sure to love life.

Where have you been lately? What have you been doing and with whom? Do you ever pause to contemplate how we’re all connected?


The Routeburn: Coming up the highest part of the track


The Routeburn: Also known as Middle Earth


Glenorchy Lagoon: A warm-down walk at sunset

1000 Voices For Compassion: A Stranger Held Me In The Street


Image Credit: www.theqwietmuse.com

Today is a special day. Over one thousand bloggers all over the world are raising their voices in chorus on the subject of compassion, under the label #1000Speak. They hope to inspire readers to think about it, to delve into its many facets, to ponder its meaning and makeup… But, above all, to show it. To practise as well as preach.

Over the last month of build-up, I’ve been amazed reading the compassionate content that’s ensued since the idea seeded, meeting like-minded people brought together by this common cause – championing something good in this world that is sometimes so cruel.

Then, last week, I fell out the loop a little. I moved country, again. Found a temporary home, again. I picked up old threads and more than one G&T and tried not to crash and burn in the process of coming back to a place where circumstances used to be so different, trying to block all the punches that unwelcome changes can hail on your heart. I also had some fun.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I feel things deeply. And, while we often go around trying to present our best faces to the world, sometimes we can only survive by being brutally honest, with others and with ourselves. In the circles I’ve become a part of since I started my writerly journey to authordom (fame and fortune to follow), I’ve seen people bare their souls on screen more often than I can count, not least through #1000Speak, and it is a good thing. A powerful thing.

Think about the painful things that have happened to you. Everybody has them, to whatever degree. For better or worse, these experiences, along with the good, make us who we are.

Have you ever seen someone crying in the street? Have you averted your gaze, thinking they’d rather not be bothered? Have you pitied, or even scorned? Have you really seen them, this other person who has a life just as you have a life? And have you wondered what it is they’re going through that it would evoke such a public display of their sorrow? Have you wondered out of voyeurism or from the heart? Have you stopped, or just stared and walked on, caught up in your own problems?

Reaching out to someone may be rebuffed; it certainly may not help with the actual issue. But it may make that someone realise that things might just be okay.

Compassion is the moment a stranger holds you in the street while you cry and tells you everything is going to be all right. Just living in a world where a complete unknown would interrupt their natural absorption in their own life and the lives of their nearest and dearest to reach out an unsolicited but comforting hand makes me hopeful, despite all the horrible, ugly things that can happen around us.

Use your experience of pain to make you more sympathetic to others and what they might be going through, whether they show their heart on their sleeve or not. When the same treatment – empathy, kindness, comfort – is accorded to you, you realise how much it counts. Humankind has capacity for great evil, but it also has limitless capacity for compassion. Show some compassion in your everyday life: to yourself, to your friends, to your colleagues, to a stranger on the street. And everything will be all right.


In the run up to publishing this post, amongst the scores of compassionate content starting to hit the webs, I clicked on Dani’s story first because I caught sight of the title. Would you like to read the other side? Would you ever hug a total stranger and mean it?

It’s not too late to get involved.

To join the group and meet the movement, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

#1000Speak - Listen

Show Compassion – Save A Teddy Bear


Meet my teddy bear, Nicki (an avid reader). I’ve had him since I was born in Coventry, at which time he was bought in Hamley’s. And that’s a long time ago, as I’m turned thirty now (the Internet says so, so it must be true). I love him in a way I love no other inanimate object. A teddy bear can be so much more than a possession. A childhood companion, friend – even family. Nicki’s come with me round the world, when many of my friends and family could not fit in my suitcase, so, in a way, I’ve spent more time with him than anyone. I’ve lost many things – but I’d be heartbroken to lose him, and I’m fully grown now (perhaps even shrinking, which, at five foot nothing, doesn’t seem fair). Losing him as a child would have been Armageddon.

Compassion can wear many coats, but it often involves placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, and doing what one can to make those shoes more comfortable for their original occupant. I know many people who don’t adore social media – it’s not their cup of tea. For others, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. I’m one of the latter – ever sold on Facebook since someone found my wallet in the street and then found me on FB so they could send it back to me, from Edinburgh to London, declining my reimbursement of postage.

A post popped up yesterday comparing Facebook to a fridge – you know nothing’s changed, but you go and open it every ten minutes anyway. Working on my own, online, it’s often a welcome break that can clear my mind for a few seconds before getting back to it. And sometimes, magical treats have appeared in the fridge while I wasn’t looking.

A case study in point. A child lost their teddy bear, Ratty, and the story popped up in my newsfeed because of a local trading group I belong to in sunny Queenstown. It made me happy (not the child losing their teddy bear – I’m not a monster – but the story’s ending. Hmm, spoiler). This adorable photo is reposted with permission.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.43.21 am

People sympathised. And someone who’d seen a stray bear piped up. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the one.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.43.30 am

But then another did the same. And it was.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.43.34 am

Compassion can be big or small. It still counts. It can be a case of being big now, but remembering how much bigger small things were, when you yourself were smaller. It can be not walking past something that is lost, ignoring it because it is meaningless to you, but instead picking it up, because you know that it is meaningful to someone else.

Another treat in the fridge today? A case study from Lizzi, to whom compassion is first and second nature. It was sparked by seeing someone putting themselves in someone else’s running shoes. Look around you. Is there someone doing the same? Could you help? Is there a teddy bear lying in the corner, lost and alone? Maybe pick it up.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and meet the movement, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, return to Lizzi, whose inspiring post beats like a heart in our village-centre, and check in with Yvonne, who called forth a body of builders to grow around it – now over a thousand strong.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

#1000Speak - Listen

A is for Adelaide, B is for Beauty, C is for Compassion


I came to Adelaide three months ago, a little bit broken. I’m leaving now, a little, well, less so.

This is due in part to an unwillingness just to curl up in a corner and not participate in the world, in part to the uplifting beauty to be found all around, but, most of all, it is due to compassion.

Compassion is someone holding out their hands rather than putting them behind their back. It is someone offering you their home rather than muttering a platitude. And then putting up with you every day in that home, while you un-mire yourself.

It is patience; it is kindness; it is observance. It is empathy; it is companionship; it is hope.

The world is a mess. It is depressing. Sometimes, it seems hopeless. The news is overwhelming. The small hurts and the big hurts form a league of reasons to bury your head in the sand.

I read a post a few days ago that made me dig myself out of the sand, because I saw others sitting up, taking note, and doing it too. Within a week, there are so many people digging that tunnels through the world, connecting all sorts of countries and people have appeared. Pop through those tunnels and you find writers worth knowing – because a common strand has resonated with them and tied them together. And it’s the idea of compassion.

Showing compassion, and talking about it, writing about it, championing it – this is one way to make the right mark on the wall of the world. It is one way we can lift up the people around us, rather than trampling them, rather than ignoring them. It is a call to action. So that more and more people can feel the vibrations, pop their heads out of their sand patches, and start digging themselves.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and start digging, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, go to meet Lizzi, who first popped her head out the sand, and go to meet Yvonne, who picked up the first shovel.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.