Potterings Blog

Pottering around life's issues, a little digging here, some fertilizer there, pruning to stimulate new growth and generally cultivating people's potential to blossom. Your comments are always welcomed.  
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Life's Like Cricket Batting

When batting in cricket, hitting 50 is a milestone achieved but there’s plenty more to be done. It’s no more than an incentive to go for the 100 and beyond. It requires continuing to express one’s talent, passion and the dream of realising a tantalizing unique potential. The only obstacle (in Ashes Cricket)  is The Old Enemy.


Life’s like that. You get to 50 – a significant milestone in life but it’s only a passing stage. A jumping off point, encouraging you to go on to greater things in life. There is still much to be done, passions to be pursued, untapped talents to be developed that will enable you to reach your natural potential. The only thing that can stop you is The Old Enemy – traditional thinking that taught you to stop at 60 or 65 and decide you have done enough, that you are too old, that it’s time to throw your wicket away.


Fine thoughts, but what does it mean for you in your life? What’s going to keep driving you? I have already got 70 runs on the board and still batting with passion! In your case, the answers will be unique to you.


If you've passed the 50 and planning to bat on for a long while yet, come to my forthcoming public seminar to gain some practical tips on how to ensure you keep on growing:


Retirement Lifestyle Planning - the non-financials"

Wednesday 18 June 2014, 7.30 pm

Brougham Place Uniting Church Community Hall, cnr Brougham Place/Stanley Street, North Adelaide 

$10.00 pp  Book today online to ensure your seat/s.



Do your team a favour and pass this  message on to them too. I look forward to seeing you - and them - there.


With apologies to readers who don't know anything about the great sport of cricket! 

Retirement Isn't What You Think


Unless you have retired from fulltime work you cannot know what it is like to be retired. You can only guess.  Retirees might tell you what it's like but your retirement life will be unique to you. 


If you are in your 50's you need to start thinking about these sort of real life issues which will be covered in my upcoming public seminar on 18 June:

  • don't leave your retirement lifestyle planning to chance any more than you would your financial planning
  • retirement isn't 
    • long service leave
    • a holiday from work
    • a replacement for work
  • retirement planning is vital for staying mentally healthy
  • Get on the front foot or risk having a lonely, perhaps short, retirement
  • beware the 'retired husband syndrome'

If you are over 50 and still in the workforce, you would be wise to come with your spouse to my 


Retirement Lifestyle Planning Public Seminar (the Non-Financials)

     When? Wednesday 18 June 2014 7.30 pm

     Where? Brougham Place Uniting Church Hall, North Adelaide

     Cost? $10.00 pp

   Bookings online - either at my website or at Eventbrite


An Innovative Approach to Managing Workplace Mental Fitness


An amazing level of interest is being shown in my Workplace Mental Fitness Positive Position Statement Posted on my website late last year the Statement is getting by far the most hits and comments (all positive and supportive) of any topic on my site. 


It's exciting to find such a keen interest in identifying that leisure has a strong yet simple and cost-effective link with the difficult problem of managing workplace mental health.


If the length and detail of the Statement deters you, go straight to the comments. These will provide any evidence you need to read the full Statement and discuss its potential for your organisation.

And because mental health is, in the final analysis, only manageable by the individual the Statement can be of personal interest too.


Who knows best, the boss or the staff?

Interesting how often surveys of bosses shows they rate work life balance as a low ranking desire of staff (behind salaries, training, etc) while staff rate work life balance as a high priority (often even more than a salary rise).

That bosses talk to staff is a given, but perhaps bosses suffer the same complaint of most of us - we hear what we want or expect to hear. Listening for the pause so you can jump in and have your say, rather than listening to learn, is just one of the features of our fast-moving, high-pressure, stressful lifestyle, especially at work.

If we can't listen to learn - at work and in personal life - how can we ever advance?




Age pension is one issue, retirement is another

The Australian Government's consideration of possibly raising to 70 years the age at which a person is eligible to begin receiving a government-funded pension is very different to one's decision on when or whether to retire.  Governments do not decide when or if a person should retire, only when they might start getting a government pension.


There are two issues here. One is what sort of funds people need in order to  live without fulltime paid work. The other is what a person wants to do with their life, particularly after they reach their 50's and beyond.


You can work or retire whenever you like and many do from their 50's on. Whether the government can or cannot afford to support your retirement with a tax-funded pension is up to governments. Don't confuse the two.

Planning for Recreation

Recreation planning was my professional work and passion for almost 30 years. I can best describe it as creating places and spaces for a variety of recreational pursuits in which the participants for each of the diverse pursuits go home at the end of the day satisfied that their particular desired experience has been fulfilled.


With the high value/costs of public land set aside for recreational use there is today a growing trend of concern to me. We are now undertaking recreation planning instead of planning for recreation.  


The difference?  My passion to plan for recreation puts the primary emphasis on providing opportunities for the widest possible variety of quality recreational experiences.  What I see happening now however is that such planning is increasingly focusing on getting the  maximum financial return on open space.  In other words, giving priority to recreation and sporting interests that attract funds rather than focusing on satisfying diverse community needs.


This trend also smacks of going back to the bad old days where priority was given to young active predominantly male sporting interests that gain media attention and develop sporting champions. A worthy cause but not at the expense of the majority of an increasingly ageing population who want to enjoy recreational passions for the sheer love of doing so and to keep them healthy in mind, body and spirit.


Balance in all things is vital to personal and community health and wellbeing, including in the provision of opportunities for quality leisure, recreation and sporting experiences.

Empowering the Individual at Work

Mental health, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief, commitment, engagement, enthusiasm, motivation, inspiration – all lovely words expressing sentiments that every business wants to see flourishing in every employee.


The common factor is they are all emotional states of mind, realizable only by the individual.  Employers can only cultivate a culture that encourages such emotions to flourish and blossom productively.


Such a culture recognizes and supports respecting the dignity of the individual. It seeks to satisfy individual desires to creatively express personal talents, passions and potential in ways that harmonise (different to duplicate) personal and corporate needs. 


Get it wrong and people will soon be flocking to your door - the exit door.

De-bunking retirement as "the autumn of life"

I am so tired of hearing people use the term "the autumn of life" as some sort of kind way of telling people they are on the final stages of living.  (Americans call Autumn the Fall).


In Adelaide Australia where I live, autumn is not only the best time of the year, it is also the busiest. In what we call Mad March we have a major V8 Supercars race (with Keith Urban featuring in this year's Race Concert), a Festival of Arts, a massive Fringe Festival of Arts, a major horse race and the international WOMAD music festival - the World of Music and Dance in which artists from all parts of the world perform over four days in a magnificent parkland setting.  It's a kaleidoscope of colour and vibrancy.


  1. The season of autumn is anything but an ending of life. It equals with the other three seasons to form a constantly renewing cycle of life.  Nature never ends, it is a continuum of change, new experiences and looking forward to new Spring life and colour.
  2. The Adelaide experience of autumn being a time of great fun, activity and enthusiasm exemplifies a time of life where people unlock their passions and talents, allowing their potential to flourish and blossom.

Autumn typifies the best of life, not the end of life. 

Do you mean 'mental health' or 'mental illness'?

People are so often using the words mental health and mental illness interchangeably.  People are left confused whether the discussion is about preventive measures that keep people mentally healthy or ways to cure mental illnesses.


If we are ever going to do something productive to improve mental health and reduce mental illness let's keep the two terms separate and the desired outcome of whatever is being discussed.


To me,

mental health is the preventive term - the desire to stay mentally healthy. Certainly mental health is much more than simply the absence of mental illness, but that's another discussion.

There are natural ways to minimize the risks to mental health - individually, at work and in society. 


mental illness is a dis-ease needing to be cured, often because preventive measures haven't been taken.  


I am in the corner of those who want to keep people mentally healthy to more than cope with the stresses of work and life.



You're breathing? Then you're ageing. Blossom passionately!

There is a word striking terror in the hearts of almost anybody over 30 years of age - 'ageing'.

People are becoming so paranoid about their age.  It seems to be coincidental with the news that we are likely to live longer. Some people see that as more time to feel like you are over the hill and useless.  


Ageing is not the same as getting too old to feel useful anymore.  We age from the day we are born. Ageing is the natural process of living, growing, flourishing and blossoming. It's a process entirely unrelated to whatever the world of economic rationalism tries to tell you.  Check out any 100 year plus majestic tree and tell me if ageing isn't an ongoing growth process.


Assuming you are staying relatively healthy, you are never too old to be useful to society. You have everpresent - from birth to death - a built-in natural sense of passion, talent and potential to blossom. It's always there. You're either expressing it in your work or personal life or you have buried it somewhere in your past and need to go find it again.  


If you are breahing, you're ageing. Let your life flower with a passion.


Slowing the Ageing Process

We're told we are likely to live longer than previous generations, we want to get the most out of life and we would love to slow the ageing process.  The answer is simple - spend more time creating time-stopping experiences.  


They need to be experiences totally suited to you and your unique life.  Which means only you can create them and only you can choose what experiences to create. The answers will be unique to you but they will come from re-visiting your natural-born talents, passions, skills and the potential those resources could realize.  It needs you to create regular experiences in your week that creatively express your talents :

  • in your own freely-chosen way,
  • for the sheer intrinsic enjoyment you gain from each such experience,
  • in your chosen location,
  • by yourself or with positive like-minded other people.

These interests/experiences:

  • are unrelated to work or other demands on you
  • are energizing, mentally stimulating and spiritually refreshing
  • you can pursue whenever and wherever you wish
  • could be passions that your busy life has forced you to suppress - but don’t limit your potential to try something totally new and challenging  (perhaps be the first to….?)

How are they time-stopping and age-slowing?  These experiences are so enjoyable, stimulating and totally absorbing that you forget the time - you are 'in the zone'  as they say.  They slow the ageing process because these experiences energize you, keep you mentally fit and healthy and keep you feeling young in mind, body and spirit.


Not convinced? Think how long you will live - or how long it will seem like - if you don't have lifelong interests like these built into your lifestyle.


It's Never Too Late


This week I have had the honour of my new article "It's Never Too Late" being featured on Keith Ready's A Gift of Inspiration website and distributed as his first InspirEmail for 2014.


Hopefully "It's Never Too Late" will inspire you to treat the start of this new year as the time for letting nature refresh your life.


I encourage you to:

  1. click here to read "It's Never Too Late", and
  2. subscribe to future InspirEmails through Keith's A Gift of Inspiration website.


The Stress of Being a Rich Teenager

Enjoy being proud of who you areInteresting article in the Nov/Dec issue of Psychology Today with findings from a survey of teenagers who are on their way to the most prestigious universities and well-paying jobs in America. 


The major stress factor identified can be summarized in the word "expectations" - of well-meaning(?) parents, of self-expectations generated by their rich environment and of perceived competition between teenage peers.  Not only is failing not an option, anything less than perfect becomes unacceptable.  It reminds me of similar stuff I have read about teenagers in Japan who go to the lengths of shutting themselves in their bedroom for years because they cannot bear the expectations of families and others that they should be perfect.


One of the reasons I wrote my book "Enjoy Being Proud of Who You are - 52 Inspirational Messages for Teenagers" - is the fact that education of teenagers today emphasises the need for economic and material success with little consideration given to emotional growth and mental development.  Nothing is likely - in the short term at least - to change the pressure of expectations on rich teenagers, but much can be done to give them the emotional tools to cope and succeed with life  - whatever their study and work outcomes.


Click here to read more.

Loving Your Teenager is Not Enough


“Loving your teenage son or daughter is not enough. He or she needs to feel that you appreciate them as a blossoming human being, whose talents and uniqueness require constant nurturing, support and encouragement and whose dreams are sufficiently intriguing to be worth exploring.” 


This quotes the 53rd message from my new book "Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are - 52 Inspirational Life-Skills Messages for Teenagers".  It brings out the fact that no matter how much we might want to influence our teenage children in their life direction, they are going to make their own decisions.

And rightly so!  Whatever our age, we are all unique individuals from birth to death.  No matter how much you try to put yourself in someone else's shoes, you simply cannot do so.  And just like you would with any adult, the way to help people is by focusing on increasing their sense of self-esteem, self-belief, self-confidence and sense of self-worth.


My book brings out many statements that people have learned from their parents and have successfully passed on to their children.  But that is only a start. I want to run workshops and discussion groups with young people and give them the chance to discuss with each other what each statement means in their lives, what has importance to them and - let's be frank - what, to any of them,  is now just so much garbage from us oldies!


Kids are smart. They want your help but they will make up their own minds. We just need to give them the best possible information on which they can base their own decisions.  


Click on the pic below for information on how you can get a copy of the book to give to your teenager/s as a way of:

  • telling them how much you care for and respect them as individual human beings and
  • recognizing them as emerging adults who want to blossom in their own way.

 Enjoy Being Proud Of Who You Are

Are You a Stressaholic?

There's a new word - stressaholic. Similar in so many ways to the definition of alcoholic and workaholic. It's insidious, stealthy and any problems it creates will only surface when the damage has already been done.


Trouble is we live in a world of constant unrelenting 24/7 stress. So much so that we become inured to its existence let alone its potential negative effects on our health and mental energy. 


It's a lifestyle that doesn't allow the "fight and flight" syndrome to exist unless we consciously force the issue.  If we constantly burn energy without some re-energizing fun interests we will literally burnout.


We need our personal service station interest that allows us to refuel when the energy tank gets low. Mine is singing in a choir and getting back to nature in an area remote from street noise. Whatever yours is, recognize that today's lifestyle is turning you insidiously into a stressaholic unless you add some flight into a life of unrelenting fight.

Launching "Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are: 52 Inspirational Life-Skills Messages for Teenagers"

 It was someone no less than the Dalai Lhama who said that education today focuses too much on material and economic success and not enough on education of the mind, the emotions and personal growth. 


I was in a gift shop some months ago, looking for gifts for primary school age children. I came across some books with inspirational life messages and thought I would love to give the children something like that when they get a little older.  In fact, I asserted, I could write such a book myself!


From my subsequent investigations I concluded there was indeed a gap in the availability of this sort of book – amazing, given the huge issues of teenage depression and suicide.  Some say there are more suicides than there are road deaths.


So I put my mind to work, culminating in the world-wide release this week of

Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are: 52 Inspirational Life-Skill Messages for Teenagers.

(Thumbnail image appears in the right-hand column of this page). It is available in e-book and e-reader formats through dozens of online outlets including Amazon/Kindle and Kobo.  It will also soon be available to purchase online in hard copy form through similar outlets.


I am not an expert in today’s teenage issues (I vaguely remember being one myself many years ago). It’s simply my attempt to provide a series of thoughts that I have gleaned from my mentor work, my life experiences and from the lives of various other people who gave me some great thoughts they had absorbed sitting at the feet of their own parents and passed down to their children.


Will teenagers read it let alone like it? Who knows? When did you last read a book of inspirational messages from cover to cover? If one teenager who is struggling with adolescence is helped by one message, the task will have been worth the effort.  


If you are a parent, grandparent, guardian, aunt or uncle of a teenager, I urge you to give him/her an opportunity to make their own decisions about reading and, with luck, identifying at least one message in the book that may help them make sense of this mad life.  


I also ask that you heed what is in fact the 53rd message in the book, directed at you:


Loving your teenage son or daughter is not enough. He or she needs to feel that you appreciate them as a blossoming human being, whose talents and uniqueness require constant nurturing, support and encouragement and whose dreams are sufficiently intriguing to be worth exploring”.


I would love to hear any anecdotes of outcomes from a reading of my book – by you or by your teenager – or even have you put a review on the sales site from where you purchased your copy.


And I hope His Holiness the Dalai Lhama would approve of my efforts to try bringing some balance into the world of education.


Stress costing millions

Ariound 140 stress-related claims per year are being made by teachers in the South Australian education system at a cost of some $10 million per annum.  Another news heading last night on ABC television made reference to a disturbing growth in mental stress issues in the workplace.


When is the business world and the health sector going to stop bemoaning the prevalence of increasing mental illness and start taking notice of ideas for keeping people mentally healthy, building resilience and sustaining mental energy?? When will we start focusing less on the problems of finding cures and focus more on preventing mental illness?


Nature does have a remedy that has existed since Adam was a pup.  You can read about it in detail elsewhere on my website. Click here.


It's a long statement- resist the temptation to read just the first and last para if you want to really start tackling mental health positively and productively. 


It's enough to get you started doing your own program without my help but call me if you want to know more.



Life is Full of Magnificent Uncertainties


We humans are emotional, often irrational and at times unpredictable and that's how nature intended us to be. Some may see this as a negative. I see it very much as a positive. The magnificent uncertainty of life fuels the energy of living - our creativity, enthusiasm, innovation, hunger to explore, and our determination to advance. It's how we grow - as individuals and as a society.


Positive and negative behaviour play a big part in your progress. Positive behaviour generates energy, negative behaviour drains it. Both behaviours are infectious each in their own way, rippling through everything else in your life and in the lives of people around you.


The emotional energy that drives positive behaviour is found in the passionate interests that fertilize your talents. Usually they are passions far removed from the negative influeces on your life. This can - and often does - relate to dormant passions that you used to pursue and which have long been waiting to revitalize your life.


Don't be afraid to be positively emotional, unpredictable and irrational. It's the spice of a colourful life, offering fantastic opportunities for you to grow and flourish so that your unique potential can blossom.



Life Death Harmony


Society seems now to be torn between:

  • enjoying statistics that tell us we are likely to live longer
  • living lifestyles designed to kill us off earlier, or to inhibit our ability to enjoy living to the full whatever life we do get.

Some of the push that drives us 'lemming-like" to the brink of an early death comes because we want to live that way and some because we feel pressured by others to do so.


I often speak of work-life harmony.  Here it's more like living a life-death harmony(?) lifestyle - a mix of factors we like to do even though it will probably shorten our lives with factors that would ensure we live out our five-score and ten (or more) the stats are telling us.


Nothing I say will change that. I would just encourage you to spend adequate time pursuing energizing passionate interests at work home and play that sustain a healthy lifestyle. You will work better, enjoy life more and...just maybe...extend how long you live well.  


How Do You See Your Life?


I recently attended a seminar on ageism. Most of the speakers and audience were working people, generally in their 40's and 50's.  So much of the discussion centred on whether old dogs can still learn new tricks, can cope with change, especially changes in technology, and keep up with the young pups. 

Finally it became all too much for me and, as fortune would have it, I got the final word for the seminar.


My 'speech' was along these lines:

  • I am 73 years of age, still running my own business, managing a comprehensive website, using social media for my business, loving being on the edge of change and enjoying being creative
  • most in the audience would have no idea what life is like in one's 60's, let alone 70's because they aren't there yet
  • all of them would have been told by their children that they are 'old'
  • all of them would agree they have a fuller perspective on life now than they did 20 years ago, have learned more, are more experienced and generally better able to cope with life, and have greater mental capacity and dexterity
  • it's all a matter of perspective.

My message drew strong applause, some verbal backslapping and requests for my business card.


I could best summarize their reaction as being one of relief - a sense of 'I want to be having what he's having when I reach his age'. I had verbalised their hopes that longevity isn't just living longer but about enjoying a sense of purpose and identity for many more years to come.

Read more: How Do You See Your Life?