Thought-Provoking Fiction

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woman heelsYou’ve probably been at least partially following the conversation about domestic violence, the ‘Me too’ movement, sexual predators and their unveiling, etc. Perhaps you’ve also heard these statistics: ‘Some 42% of Australians believe women lie about being sexually assaulted, while 31% said a lot of times, women who said they were raped had “led the man on” then had regrets.'*

I don’t know how accurate those statistics are but something that always jars for me is the tendency to polarise life into black and white, this or that. It seems to me that life is much more about ‘and’ than ‘or’ because everything is related.

For example, space and time – they are not discrete states but are related; the truer expression is ‘space-time’. At any point in time we are simultaneously at a point in space, and vice versa. Likewise with ‘mind and body’ – ‘mind-body’ or ‘body-mind’ are far more accurate because the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind. They loop back and forth. They are one whole rather than two separates.

Back to those statistics: do we have to separate women into two discrete categories: those who said yes and those who said no? What about the shades of grey? What about those who said yes to begin with and then changed their minds as the experience became unpleasant for them? Knowing how life and people and relationships actually are, isn’t that more realistic?

Surely this middle ground, where a woman was keen to begin with and then changed her mind, doesn’t mean she is a slut! To my mind it means that something happened that caused doubt or discomfort and she needed to withdraw from the experience. She is entitled to change her mind – and not just because she is a woman, because a man is also entitled to change his mind. Anyone is entitled to change their mind in the realm of sex! ‘No’ means ‘no’ whenever it occurs and wherever it occurs.

Women shouldn’t be shamed for changing their minds. It’s ridiculous to try to force these real-life situations into a category of either consent or no consent when natural human relationships are subject to change and flux. Consent and then no consent are quite valid inside the same experience! We all know that things change as moods change, as more alcohol is consumed, as realisations dawn, etc.

I imagine that women are having to lie in order to avoid being accused of ‘leading him on’, but where’s the common sense in that? Surely it’s a fairly common and normal life experience to believe something is going to be good, begin down that path and then realise it’s not what you expected and want to withdraw? What’s wrong with that?

The lying and shaming that results from unrealistic expectations of human behaviour are really unnecessary. Unrealistic expectations occur because we don’t engage in common sense education. It’s urgently needed.

If two in five Australian women are going to be physically or sexually assaulted at some point in their adult life, then communication and conflict resolution skills are urgently needed in our school curriculum.

From Prep to Year 12.

As a compulsory subject alongside Maths and English.

Because everyone needs to be able to communicate, whoever you are and whatever your likely occupation.

If this is sounding familiar, it’s because this is my current hobby horse. I’m an advocate for Common Sense Skills in Schools: Communication and Conflict Resolution Skills, Goal-setting and Achievement Skills, Self-Awareness and Personal Mastery, Mindfulness, and Money Management.

For more on what I offer in this domain, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website to download your free report.

* This quote is taken from an article in The Conversation: 'Four In Ten Australians Think Women Lie About Being Victims of Sexual Assault' by Kristin Diemer, Anastasia Powell and Kim Webster.

** Photo credit: publik16 on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

SISTOMelbourne is shocked by the apparently random death of Sisto Malaspina of Pellegrini’s café in Bourke Street – murdered in the course of trying to help someone.

Coming to grips with this shocking event reminds me of the process I went through in trying to understand the concept of divine order when I was writing The Hidden Order.

On the face of it, it seems that Sisto’s death is cruel, unjust, just plain wrong. We can point to thousands of other events happening around the world right now and come to the exact same conclusion, whether it’s war or torture or abuse or cruelty or slavery or human rights violations or workplace harassment or domestic violence or school shootings or youth suicide…

And at one level we’d be completely right. But that would be judging those events at a surface level, at the level of our senses and our limited awareness.

For readers who are new to my work, the statements I’ve made so far might be very confronting and unsettling, so I’d like to explain – not only for new readers but also for me and anyone else who wants the reminder.

The Mastery Club and The Hidden Order explore a set of extraordinary and powerful ideas about the way the universe is set up. On the surface it looks like most events are either positive or negative, kind or cruel. We can all identify some events that have a foot in each camp, that have both positive and negative aspects, but the real challenges to our mindset are the ones that appear to be completely polarised as only good or bad.

But just as there is no such thing as a particle without an anti-particle, every single ‘thing’ on earth is balanced, even though its partner might be currently out of our sphere of awareness.

For every ‘up’ there is a ‘down’.
For every advance there is a regression.
For every person seeking peace there is someone seeking war.

In Sisto’s case it seems that the warrior collided directly with the peace-lover. But why?

I remember both my editor Tim Marlowe and Dr Demartini giving example after example of the hidden benefits and blessings in apparent tragedy. As Dr Demartini says:

“Even the most terrible events contain hidden blessings. The masters know this truth and remain undisturbed while those of lesser wisdom swing from elation to depression as they move through positive and negative events on their way to understanding.”

If we step back from the shock and look for the blessings, here is a huge one:

Sisto Malaspina has a vast network of customers and friends who dearly love and appreciate him. But I’d never heard of him. I haven’t been into Pellegrini’s. I’ve never had the pleasure of being greeted warmly and served by this individual.

However since his murder, stories about his character have been shared on TV and radio and in publications and blogs all around the world as people remember and celebrate this great man. So here are two hidden blessings that are significant in their size and contribution:

* the number of people who know about this man and his fun-loving and kind approach to business has now increased exponentially.

* the number of people touched and inspired by his attitude, who have determined to be more like him, has also increased exponentially.

With a few minutes of focused attention we could dramatically expand that list of benefits: people’s hearts have opened, they’ve expressed love and gratitude, they’ve taken time out of their rushing to go over there and leave a message or flowers… A blog I’ve just read about him identifies the ‘three things Sisto Malaspina taught me about being a better human being’:

i) a warmth that made you feel special
ii) an ability to recognise faces that made you feel special
iii) a focus on building family rather than a business…

We understand that spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama might make a huge impression on followers, but sometimes it takes a barista to touch someone deeply who might never walk into a spiritual meeting.

What if Sisto had always, at some level, intended to go like this? What if this was his big selfless gift to the world? What if he chose to leave as dramatically as this so that he could inspire millions, open hearts, unleash gratitude and new behaviours (like building a family instead of a business, and being particularly warm and welcoming to customers, whether newcomers or regulars)?

And what if he didn’t intend any of that but it was the outcome anyway?

Someone who is very skillful at finding the hidden blessings in tragic events is Dr Rosemary McCallum, who lost two children in apparently tragic circumstances, and has counseled many people to see how the crises in their lives serve them. She’s the author of Outrageous Courage – Stories of People Who Have Triumphed Over Adversity and How You Can Too.

Rosemary has quite a following of people who have been inspired to move through troubling events in an empowered way. I’m speaking at her end-of-year function on Friday 30th November about my books and my personal journey, and how there is no such thing as a one-sided experience of life like ‘ greener grass’. Everything holds its opposite, just as the yin/yang symbol illustrates. Sisto’s death, tragic as it appears, holds an abundance of blessings. 

If you’d like to attend on Friday 30/11, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and to explore this idea in more detail, pick up a copy of The Hidden Order.   

sad childYears ago I read Getting the Love You Want by therapist and educator Harville Hendrix, and was really impressed. His book guides couples through a ten-week course designed to resolve their relationship problems. As the blurb on his book explains, Hendrix ‘shows how your frustrations originated in unmet childhood needs, and how you are unwittingly trying to resolve them with childhood tactics.’

piggybankI was stunned and deeply troubled recently to hear about a friend’s financial circumstances. From beginning married life with a $10,000 mortgage some twenty years ago, today she and her husband are burdened by a mortgage in the hundreds of thousands for the same suburban three-bedroom unit.

plant growth through woodHave you heard about Leigh Sales’s new book? Any Ordinary Day is about the ABC TV host’s experiences in going from what she describes as a ‘charmed life’ to a string of crises that have left her feeling fearful about the future.

round tableFollowing the debacle in Australian federal politics over the last few years, and particularly the last couple of months – and now we have a crisis in the ABC – it occurs to me that a refreshing change would be national leadership via principles rather than personality.

love blossomsIt’s great to see so many schools proclaiming their values via big colourful posters around the campus on subjects to do with kindness and fairness and honesty and tolerance, and I have no doubt that teachers and principals repeatedly emphasise these values when they address students, but what about actual regular skill development?

books readingI submitted my books to this list and thought I'd share it with you as there are several other titles here that will be sure to appeal. 

The topics include money, relationships, anger, living intentionally, success and more.

I'd love to know which books you would recommend.


Talking troubledMost of us have a personal story that we re-energise regularly by telling others. Sometimes it’s an empowering story but often we repeat tales of our bad luck or flaws or how things aren’t working out for us. Since ‘what we feed, grows’, it makes sense to be telling stories about our character strengths.

sick in bedDuring my novel-writing course one student explained her absence the previous week with the excuse that she had ‘the plague’. Quite acceptable in the middle of winter. 

Another student justified her lack of writing progress with a blush and the comment that a past lover had come back into her life – they’d been burning the candle at both ends. The whole class thoroughly enjoyed this excuse – there was lots of laughter and envy. 

Tahnee WoolfDid you know that there are 10 Terrains of Consciousness, and if you and your partner inhabit different ones, you might have trouble communicating?

If you’ve been following my story you know that my life changed significantly after writing Wanted: Greener Grass (ironically a book in which I talk about the illusion of ‘greener grass’…).

Hautvillers Dagonet 4The honeymoon was wonderful! We flew into Paris and visited Versailles – drove up to Reims to explore the gorgeous villages (and cellars) of the Champagne region – explored some of the chateaux along the River Loire – stayed with a delightful couple deep in the Limoges region of France where we somehow managed a rich conversation with their patchy English and my patchy French – explored the medieval city of Carcassonne… dropped into Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence – met and stayed with wonderful warm and open-hearted family in Cannes – realised a dream in Monte Carlo and on Lake Como – and discovered the Swiss Alps via train on the final leg of our adventure.

Angry dogsI was walking Sammy and Coco, our two Maltese Shitsu dogs, in my new suburb and heading toward my favourite street, a lane that borders paddocks, when they were attacked by two bulldogs that came hurtling out of a driveway, barking aggressively.