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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Think it, believe it, become it.

"I believe in everything until it's disproved". John Lennon

I was really happy to read today that Thusha Kamaleswaran has defied the odds and is making remarkable progress in her recovery. 
Two years ago, at the age of 5, Thusha's spine was shattered by a stray bullet during a gang war. Happily playing in her uncle's shop minutes before being shot, Thusha was left fighting for her life, almost bleeding to death and having to be revived twice after suffering two heart attacks. 
The amazing thing about this story for me is the fact that despite doctors predicting Thusha would be permanently paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, her family made the decision NOT to tell her this.
This courageous schoolgirl has never stopped believing therefore she would walk again and is now taking steps on a treadmill with a harness. She is completely focused on being able to dance and play basketball again, never doubting that she will. Could part of her recovery be attributed to her mind not knowing that she isn't, according to doctors, supposed to recover?
When doctors originally told me there was nothing they could do for my condition and that I would have to resign myself to a life of disability and pain I wouldn't accept this. I stubbornly researched other hospitals, treatments and natural options available to me and never gave up hope. Although I am not fully recovered (yet) I am more mobile than originally predicted and, like Thusha, carry out the same gruelling physio exercises day after day, fully committed to my recovery.
The mind is such a powerful tool. I completely understand the doctors have to predict, to the best of their knowledge, what they think the future will hold for patients but, in many cases, this can be nothing more than an educated guess based on past similar cases and their knowledge of the body.
Whereas it's true that a spine is a spine, the difference is, the awesomely amazing difference, is that we are all beautifully human with unique outlooks, thought processes and coping mechanisms.
If you have been "written off" by anyone don't give up hope I say. That belief really could be the difference between succeeding or not. If you are searching for a miracle, never forget you are one.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Kindness breeds kindness

"A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money".  
John Ruskin

You may have heard the story last month of heroically honest Billy Ray Harris. Billy Ray had been living rough in Missouri when Sarah Darling accidentally dropped her precious diamond engagement ring into his donation cup.
Although Billy Ray was broke and slept under a bridge every night he never considered selling it, and when Sarah returned 2 days later to ask if he had seen it he handed it back without hesitation.
Sarah and her husband Bill were so grateful they set up a donation page on give forward.com hoping to raise some money to help Billy Ray out.
To date the fund has received a staggering $175,000 with people all over the world donating. Kindness really does breed kindness.
Although Billy Ray is touched by the generosity he has been shown he admits that the best part has been his sister Robin being able to find him after looking for him for 16 years. He has also now reconnected with other siblings and numerous nieces and nephews.
Doing the right thing isn't always easy but if Billy Ray hadn't been so honest the family may never have reunited and you can't put a price on love.
A happy ending all round.
Be kind. Always.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Learn to Love Challenge

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you."
Oprah Winfrey

My 14 year old son is a huge inspiration to me. He absolutely throws himself 100% into everything he does and permanently has a smile on his face. He has never had (and I hope he never will have) a down day in his life.
His hobby is Youtube, which he films for constantly. The other day I discovered him throwing himself around the garden on a skateboard, with makeshift ramps everywhere, covered in cuts.
When I questioned him he said he was starting to film a series called ‘Learn to Love’ where he intends on experiencing things he has never tried before to see whether he has a passion for them.
I thought this was an awesome idea. I must admit I encourage my children to live as fully as they can each and every day and after seeing me lose my mobility following a car accident I hope they appreciate how precious life is. It dawned on me though that it had been a long time since I had tried anything new.
I decided to ‘borrow’ his Learn to Love idea. I have trawled through the list of things I had stored on my 'I will get round to trying one day' list and although many of them are now off limits due to physical limitations (lesson; never put anything off) tomorrow, having never attempted to play an instrument in my life, I am booked in for my first piano lesson.
My challenge to you this month is to do something new. So often we get so caught up in our own little routines and life can become quite mundane and it's easy to lose the light from behind our eyes.There must be at least one thing you have always wanted to try but have never found the time (or the courage) for. Take a deep breath and go for it.
Please share your experience via our community or facebook page. I would love to hear how you get on. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Good, bad, who knows?

“Sometimes not getting what you think you want is the biggest stroke of luck”.

I had what I perceived to be a terrible day yesterday. I was left feeling extremely hurt, confused and bitterly disappointed.

I threw myself a mini pity party last night and when a friend asked me how I was, without hesitation I told him “I have had a really bad day”.

“No you haven’t” he replied “there’s no such thing as good or bad, it’s just your perception making it so”.

Hmmm, I pondered for a second. “That’s very wise, where did you get that from?” I asked.

I had to laugh when he told me I had said it in an interview I had carried out a few weeks ago.

It’s true that although we can know all the elements that, when fit together, would make life forever peaceful, we all occasionally need a gentle reminder of how to actually live them.

The good/bad/who knows analogy is one I often tell myself at the time my mind races off to create its own story in a knee-jerk reaction to a specific event. It brings me back to my centre and releases any judgement, allowing me the freedom to just let things Be, without labels.

A farmer had one old horse that he used for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbors heard about it, they sympathised with the old man over his bad luck. “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.
A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.
Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone agreed that this was very bad luck. Not the farmer, who replied, “Bad Luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and forced every able-bodied young man to go fight in a bloody war. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they let him stay. Everyone was very happy at the farmer’s good luck.
Makes you think doesn’t it? Now go back to a time where this could have applied to you. Where eventually you could see that not getting what you thought you wanted ended up being a relief. Next time something happens that you instantly label as ‘bad” remember this and don’t feel down; give it time. It could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Monday, 11 March 2013

10 reasons to LOL

"A day without laughter is a day wasted"
Charlie Chaplin

I watched a silly movie last week with my seven year old son. At one point he was rolling around the carpet, clutching his stomach, while tears of laughter rolled down his bright red face. 
In contrast to this I went to the cinema last night to see a new comedy with my partner. I found one part really funny but noticed when I started laughing out loud I immediately toned it down. Looking around I could see I wasn’t the only one stifling my natural urge to exude a huge belly laugh. My fear of drawing attention to myself sadly outweighed my natural instinct to nosily share my happiness.
I am not sure when I lost the ability to unselfconsciously roar with laughter but now I am aware of it I am claiming that right back straight away. To be able to express pure joy without any inhibitions is not only our birthright but is also darned good for us. Here’s 10 reasons why: -
1)  Laughter releases feel good endorphins into your system which can help to relieve pain.
2)  Laughter contracts your abdominal muscles and gets your shoulders moving giving you a mini-workout. 
3)  Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels which can help protect the heart. 
4)  Laughter has a relaxant effect on the whole body for up to 45 minutes afterwards. 
 5)  Laughter initially raises blood pressure but then reduces it leaving a lower blood pressure than normal. 
6)  Laughter can be contagious increasing happiness and intimacy thus enhancing relationships
7)  Laughter speeds up metabolism and heart rate which could help you lose weight. 
8)  Laughter expels more air than usual breathing which has a cleansing effect on the lungs
9)  Laughter reduces anxiety and helps relieve depression by reducing stress and releasing pent up tension. 
10) Laughter increases the number of T cells (antibody producing) giving your immune system a boost
 Wow. Next time I won't be afraid to publicly acknowledge my amusement :-)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The song that changed my life

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” Victor Hugo

Have you ever had one of those lightbulb moments when in a flash something changes inside of you? I remember one I had many years ago as if it were yesterday. 

As a teenager I didn't know where I fitted in. I drifted from job to job, moving a lot, with no fixed place to call home. I didn't have a loving, supportive family to encourage my dreams. I felt I had no sense of direction, and no purpose. 

I was at a party one evening with the usual crowd I hung out with, drinking too much, happy on the surface and yet strangely empty inside. It was the same thing we did every weekend.

I became aware of the music. Dark Side of the Moon was the album playing. Pink Floyd were one of my favourite bands and I had heard this song so many times before and yet as the track 'Time' came on I found myself listening to the lyrics; really listening, as if for the very first time.

In an instant I felt illuminated from the inside out; becoming oblivious to my surroundings, unaware of any background noise.  There was just the music showing me how precious life is, how quickly it passes and imploring me to make every second count. 

I still didn't know what I wanted but suddenly I was certain of what I didn't want. I didn't want to waste my precious life. I didn't want to look back in 50 years time and not have achieved anything. I didn't want to be out getting drunk on a Saturday night years to come. 

22 years later and I took my son to the O2 Arena last week to see The Australian Pink Floyd.

As they played Time I became just as reflective as I had that evening long ago in the 1980's. The difference this time is as well as knowing what I don't want I am crystal clear on what I do want.

I am not so single visioned that I would bypass unexpected opportunities to get where I think I should be. It is important to be flexible and embrace change. I was thrown off my path rather harshly a few years ago following a car accident but I have managed to find new dreams that are now achievable for me. As long as I keep focused on all the positivity surrounding me, step by step, I will progressing in the right direction all the time.

For anyone feeling a little lost or unsure as to their direction I would really recommend grabbing a pen and making a list of what you don't want or need in your life. This can sometimes be the easiest starting point. Then remain open for all the miracles life will offer you, they're there everyday if you just look.  

Lyrics to Time, by Pink Floyd

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desparation is the English way
The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I'd something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells

Monday, 4 March 2013

Coffee and a hug

"If you can dream it you can do it'.
Walt Disney

I remember once when I received some really horrible news I couldn't stand to be alone. I needed to get out of the house immediately and surround myself with my fellow man. With friends and family at work I headed out to my nearest coffee shop. I looked around at the other customers, some chatting, some reading, in groups or alone and although I was amongst a substantial amount of people I felt so incredibly lonely. It was a vast, impersonal place to be and leaving my cappucino to go cold I bolted for the sanctuary of home as fast as I could.

I was thrilled therefore to read about Tim's Place recently, the diner that offers Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs. 

Tim Harris was born in 1986 with Down Syndrome. His list of incredible achievements include receiving the highest margin of votes in his school's history to become Homecoming King, the accolade of being Student of the Year, attending University and winning dozens of gold medals as a Special Olympian.

Working as a host in a local restaurant Tim had a unique ability to genuinely connect with people and seeing this his family decided to sign a lease for their own diner.

The menu is simple, the most popular item being 'The Tim Hug', a fat free treat destined to make you feel better than any cream cake could.

I love this concept and can quite understand how Tim is building up such a loyal customer base; I only wish I lived nearer!