Shaolin Temple – Part 1

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Map of the Shaolin Temple Scenic Area

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Entry gates to Shaolin Temple Scenic Area

This is the first of a three part series to share all aspects of our visit to this remarkable place—Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Kung Fu and the Pagoda’s and surrounding natural area.The natural beauty of area surrounding the Shaolin Temple is amazing. Known as  Scenic Area Shaolin Temple, it literally means “temple in the woods of Shaoshi Montain. It was built in 495 AD to house the Indian monk Batuo.

Today the Shaolin Temple—one of the four holy Buddhist temples of China, is recognised as the birthplace of both Chan Buddhism as well as Chinese Kung Fu. The temple is located near Denfeng City, Hennan Province at the foot of Mount Songshan. In 2010, it was included on UNESCO’S World Cultural and Heritage List.

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The Shaolin Temple

The temple itself, to my surprise looks small from the front—although I don’t know what I was expecting. After stepping over the threshold—a brick strip in the doorway blocking evil spirits from entering—I was humbled to be in such a significant ancient building.

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Monk guarding one of the entrances with threshold visible

On entry to the temple we experience the Hall of Heavenly Kings and are greeted firstly by two Buddhist warrior attendants.



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One of two Buddhist warriors


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Two of the Four Heavenly Kings

Inside the hall are the figures of the Four Heavenly Kings whose job is to inspect people’s behaviour, help the troubled and bless the people that visit.

As we move through the hall opens out into a large courtyard which is the centre of prayers, activity and celebrations. There are many pits in the ground that are said to be eroded and left by the monks over the years as they practiced Shaolin Martial Arts.

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One of 18 Buddist Arhats in the Shaolin Temple

We walked around the temple and took in the ombience.

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1500 year old tree

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An example of the ornate roof decorations used throughout the temple

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On leaving the Shaolin Temple, we found the renovated original well that is still able to supply clean, sweet water. It was built for the exclusive use of the monks and then later its use extended to the broader community.Shaolin Temple 2-9-13 178Visiting the Shaolin Temple was a special experience. Despite its commercialism today, you can still get away and understand the lifestyle of the monks over centuries in this beautiful part of the world.


The Great Divide

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I love books. Every bookstore or market I pass, if I have time, I will enter—my favourities are the second hand ones. I love the smell, texture and feel of older books. I also love hunting for the hidden treasures.

My preferred books are non-fiction—self-help, success manuals or cooking books. I love the Dummies series and have many titles in areas that interest me—coaching/mentoring, publishing, computers and psychology—just to name a few.

The authors of some my success manuals include, such great leader and teachers as—Jack Canfield, Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), John Bradshaw and Spencer Johnson (Who Moved the Cheese).

One of the reasons I prefer non-fiction books is that they match my writing style. My imagination isn’t vivid so I describe things as they are. The more conversational the better, as I do struggle with formal writing. If there is a purpose behind why I want to read it, I will preserve. Otherwise, I will give up and move on to something else that catches my attention.

My preference for non-fiction books definitely helps me, as I complete my book on how eating disorder recovery is possible. I have worked in the field for over 20 years and my book is full of the practical knowledge I have learnt along the way.

Whichever side of the great divide you sit, what is important is that you read for fun. It is the best way to improve your writing.



“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.”

Growing up as a teenager I loved the Madeline books. Because I was studying French, I thought I was clever because I could also read the French version. From memory, the opening paragraph of the movie (above) is also the opening paragraph of the books. I like this as it automatically places you in the scene, allowing you to understand the order, values and safety in their lives.

Recently, I watched Madeline again, reliving many memories from my younger years. Madeline, (the only orphan of the group) is always getting into trouble but she has a big heart and connects easily with people of all ages. She and her friends have many adventures or break outs from the order of their lives—each one dealing with many different issues. Somehow, having these issues or movie themes addressed in a children’s movie seems to give them more power. The themes and life lessons I found Miss Clavel and her twelve little girls address through their adventures include:

1.Problem solving skills

2. Loyalty

3. The importance of friendships

4. Abandonment

5. Speaking your mind

6. Stray animals

7. Believing in yourself

8. Class distinction

9. Connecting with others

10. Standing up for what you believe in

11. Looking after each other

12. Orphans

13. Greed

14. Animal rights

15. PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals)

16. Peer pressure

17. Hospitalization

18. Fun

19. Loss/Death

20. Change

21. Rich verses poor

22. Paris lifestyle

23. The Arts

24. Children’s education

25. Criminal activity

26. Rescuing others

27. Animal instincts

28. Attempting to fit into society

29. Vegetarianism

30. Family traditions

Next time you are considering a movie for all generations give Madeline a try. It has something for everyone. For a young girl Madeline has a strong and lovable personality. The movie has many lovable characters and has someone for everyone. Which movie character do you connect with the most?





Mouths Wide Shut

Are you a picky eater? Share some of your favorite food quirks with us (the more exotic, the better!). Omnivores: what’s the one thing you won’t eat?

When asked about my food preferences as a youngster, I would say I eat everything. What I really meant was any usual food that may be put on my plate. Whilst in Australia this statement mostly remains true, the one thing I would like to try however I am unsure if I can put in my mouth is the aboriginal delicacy—the witchetty grub.

Eating a witchetty grub is an experience rather than a meal. They are found in Central Australia and are often on the bucket lists of travellers to the area. One day I will travel to the centre of our beautiful land. When that time comes I will have to decide if I am going to open my currently shut mouth to the experience.

Have you tried witchetty grubs? What were your thoughts? I would love some evidence to move me forward and open my mouth.

Life Is A Juggling Act

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber

Do you agree with this statement on excess?

Life is a juggling act. You can definitely have too much of everything as well as have too little. It’s a continuum and like with most things the answer lies in the middle—the grey area. To help explain my point, I will use fats as an example. Everyone agrees that you can eat too many fats—most people do. Did you also know that you can also not have enough.

Fats are an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet and are essential for the healthy regulation and management of every function in your body and brain. Dietitians state that the exact amount required will vary with the individual, but 30% of your daily dietary requirements should come from fats. This is healthy.

The problem is that most people eat an excess of fats, some up to twice the recommended amount. Most diets also include trans fats which can lead to medical conditions such as:

  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes

Fats helps us to absorb vitamins A, D, E  and K and provide the essential fatty acids our body cannot make itself. These essential fatty acids are required to make our brain work and function effectively. Our brain is 60% fat and requires a regular supply of fats to work. Without fats in our body, our brain is unable to think and work properly and can shrink in size—a physical symptom of Anorexia Nervosa. The brain will only return to its regular size and function with weight gain and a regular supply of fats.

Using this example, draw your own continuum for other things can you think of that are as bad in excess as they are if we have too little of them. Remember everything is juggling act and you can find the workable grey area for all things.

Make It Count

You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you wouldn’t normally have access to. Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the message?

My message is a life skill and is for everyone. Arguments and disagreements happen regularly. But how do you know when to push your point and when to back off. The answer can be found in five little words.

“Is it worth the argument?”

No. I’m talking about for the sake of pride but what the outcome needs to be. If the answer is “yes, it is,” continue with your argument and make it count. It is however important to keep checks on how your argument is going. Ask yourself regularly, “is it worth the argument?” Because what was once worth the argument at any point may no longer be working. Discussions may have become heated, nasty and overemotional. If left to continue they may begin to have a marked impact on the relationship between the people involved. The argument itself hasn’t changed but discussing it any further at that moment “is not worth it.” Both parties need space to consider and hear what the other person is saying. During this time, stop the argument. Consider a statement that works for you, similar to the following.

“We need to stop now, this is no longer working. No further discussions will be entered into.”

One example of the above situation may be parents/teachers setting boundaries with teenagers about acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour. It may take them years to understand but keeping them safe is definitely worth the argument.

One the other hand, arguing about smaller issues isn’t worth the argument. Does it really matter whether the cup is blue or green when it could be described as either?

Next time you find yourself arguing with someone or even yourself—make it count. Ensure whichever way you go, you are moving forward.

My Simple Meal

 Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

I don’t remember any particular food standing out as celebratory or comfort food during my childhood. The food I remember was the first meal I learnt to cook. It was cheap, easy and fulfilling. Growing up in the 1970’s all of these were important.

My sister and I both had a version of this meal, although I cannot tell you if one or both of us invented it. My meal itself was a mix of frankfurts, baked beans and canned pineapple. By today’s standards an interesting mix of textures and flavours—although I don’t think Masterchief will be lining up for the recipe. I think it was the simplicity and mix of sweet and sour I liked. If unexpected guests dropped by it could be quickly extended by cooking pasta and serving my meal on top.

Cooking this dish for my family gave me confidence in my cooking skills. Overtime, it allowed me to realise the importance of being able to provide for yourself. Cooking is a life skill that many people don’t have. The younger you learn to cook even simple meals like mine, the easier and cheaper feeding yourself will be.


A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene, telling it from all three perspectives.

It was a crisp autumn morning on Sydney Harbour. Sue and Max were catching up with each others lives as they took their Saturday morning walk. It was a ritual they had done for the last 10 years.

As they walked, Max was telling Sue about a phone call he had received from his brother earlier in the week. During the conversation, his brother had mentioned that their father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia. They continued to talk and walk, discussing what this diagnosis may mean. Around the corner, Max spotted a little old lady sitting on the park bench, knitting a red jumper. The sight of her was too much for his emotions to cope with. He burst into tears. The old woman resembled his favourite aunt—his father’s sister. The red jumper she was knitting had a white stripe in it—the colours of the Canadian flag—his national flag. He knew this was significant and the situation needed more consideration than his brother was letting on.


Max beginning to cry didn’t surprise Sue. He was not afraid to show his emotions. This was one of many things she was proud of him for. She squeezed his hand tightly to let him know that she was there for him, while she made plans in her head for them to return to Canada as quickly as possible. This was one way she knew she could support him as he unraveled truth. Max was a family man. Sue knew he wouldn’t settle until he had done everything he could to support his family. After which he could return to their life—thousands of kilometres away in Sydney.


On seeing the man crying rather than the woman, the little old lady was impressed. She wasn’t a sticky beak or busy body, so she had no interest in what was disturbing him. His wife looked like she had that in hand. However, being a witch she had magical powers. She decided that the ability to express one’s feelings was important to be a strong, confident and successful man and she wanted this for her grandson. Silently as she watched Max walk off crying, hand-in-hand with his wife, she cast a spell into the jumper she was making for him with love.

Share Your World 2014 – Week 38

1. If you could be a tree or a plant, what would you be?

If I were to choose between being a tree or plant, I would be a Californian Coastal Redwood. I love these trees. Singularly they are majestic, solid and live a long and happy life. The Chandelier Tree in Leggett, California is 2,400 years old. The energy and life created in a Redwood Forest is amazing .


2.If you could have a servant come to your house everyday for an hour, what would you have them do?

My daily servant would choose, shop for and cook my evening meal. I am not a fussy eater so I would be happy with anything they chose. While I don’t dislike cooking my daily commute is huge and limits my available time to cook. I have also discovered that cooking takes up valuable blogging time, so I definitely think an alternative should be found.

3.If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

I would choose to have an endless supply dairy foods. Cheese, yoghurt and chocolate. Without these foods my life would never be the same.



4. What was one of your first money making jobs (other than babysitting or news paper delivery)?

My first job is the same as my current one—a psychiatric nurse. It is 30 years this year since I became a  registered  nurse and my knowledge base has grown greatly. Today I am a manager and help train and mentor new nurses. Today, mental health nursing, as it is now known, remains my ideal job.

What are you grateful for from last week. 

Last weekend I achieved my personal best at impromptu speaking, when I was placed second in the Area 13 Toastmasters Table Topics competition, for which I am grateful. This is a first for me and was a surprise as I was competing against other experienced Toastmasters. it has inspired me to want to learn more about competitive public speaking.




Gratitude is infectious. Give thanks at every opportunity. The more you do it, the more you will find to be grateful for. Start small. With practice, you will begin to realise that the things you feel negative about can be redefined. You choose the way you look at every situation. For example, instead of focusing on how stressful your work is and all the things it doesn’t have—choose to make a list of all the things about your job that you are grateful for. Some examples may be:

I have a job

It pays me regularly—providing money for housing, food, bills and my current lifestyle

I have friends at work I can talk to

My job has taught me

  • how to use a computer and computer programs
  • time management
  • conflict resolution skills
  • customer service
  • organisational skills
  • presentation skills
  • personal resilience
  • complaints management
  • stress management
  • documentation
  • Occupational Health & Safety legislation
  • boundaries
  • people skills

It gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning

Provides me with annual leave, sick leave, long service leave and superannuation

Take up Oprah’s challenge. Make a decision today to start focusing on all that you are grateful for in your life. Gratitude is a feeling and focusing on it will lift your mood, allowing you to see more things to be grateful for in your life. As you become more grateful for things in and around your life, you will begin to be able to see things to be grateful for in negative situations, even tragedies.