Thought-Provoking Fiction


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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.   

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.

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.

– Two words that balance abuse, violence, humiliation and paralysing fear.

Rabia Siddique

On Friday my new husband and I were part of the opening ‘ceremony’ for the Professional Speakers of Australia National Convention. We were there as dancers in a fun presentation with the ‘grandfather' of professional public speaking in Australia, Winston Marsh, and his lovely wife Lauris, who has supported both Winston and the speaking industry for many years. For most of the rest of the weekend we were at leisure - a mini honeymoon since we haven't had ours yet after marrying three weeks ago. (It's coming up! Europe this June...)

But we were also invited, by conference convenor Glenn Capelli, to sit in on the Saturday morning session #PSABraveHearts.

Five women shared their stories of extraordinary bravery:

In July 2006 I launched my first book, The Mastery Club, in the wake of - and setting off - an absolute explosion of little miracles. For one thing, world inspirational speaker and author Dr John Demartini happened to agree to read my manuscript and in response, wrote my Foreword. For another, enough business people and individuals came forward to purchase copies of the book that our printing bill was covered. For another, I sold out in five months, went to a second print run and sold that out in six months, and then went to a third print run, all inside 12 months. For an unknown author with virtually no publicity and no big money backers, that was pretty awesome.

And then my little Mastery Club project hit a few snags and things started to slow down. The website needed to be updated and there were a series of delays and mishaps, including being offline and unable to process orders just when I was guest speaker on an international telecall. The publicist I had hired, who was absolutely convinced that she would have me on national TV inside of a couple of weeks, didn’t turn up a single media opportunity in ten months. Sales were slowing down.

I don’t know about you but I arrived at the end of last year feeling quite tired and burnt out.

Over Christmas/New Year, I was tackling so much less that I began to deeply relax… and a digestive issue cleared up all by itself… 

It occurred to me that it would be a grand idea to not set out to be SuperWoman this year by taking on so very much but to instead be more realistic about how much I am likely to be able to achieve in a day and deliberately only tackle that much; to deliberately 'under-achieve’.

My daughters are listening to one of the Harry Potter books on audio – I can hear Harry crying out ‘Expecto Patronum!’, the spell that summons a protective guardian energy.

Many parents have been as caught up in the magic and mystery of their children’s fantasy books as their children, but how many have considered teaching their kids how to create magic in their own lives? Real magic?

I’ve long been struck by the fact that our children’s choice of fiction is either fantasy, in which characters straddle dragons or broomsticks and possess magical items or supernatural abilities, or ‘faction’, in which characters deal with real-life dilemmas like divorce and drugs and death.

Rosemary McCallumMeet Dr Rosemary McCallum, metaphysician, author, speaker, and wise woman. I’ve just enjoyed a few months in her consulting room talking about one of my 'dark little secrets’, and the red-lips-kiss on her cheek is the imprint of my kiss of thanks! (via my blurry photographic unskills…)

Here’s the ‘backstory’:

Over the last few years I’ve achieved quite a lot. I can literally say that I am living my dreams because it was always a dream of mine to have a close-knit, loving family and be a published author, especially one who is popularising universal laws. Tick, tick, tick! 

Did you read or watch Peter Pan when you were a child?

I remember being captivated by this story about a youth who is perpetually young and can do all sorts of magical things (like fly), and who lives an adventurous life battling crocs and evil pirates and looking after a band of lost kids!

As with most classic tales, there are a few profound truths being communicated despite the childlike surface story, not least of which is the fact that a one-sided, only-positive life is an illusion.

How to extract the wisdom, opportunities and benefits from difficult experiences.

We’ve all heard the truism that it’s not how many times we fall down that matters, it’s how many times we get up. (And the other one about getting back on the horse.) Which is all good sense and we know they’re right, but it ain’t easy.

In fact, speaking for myself, I’m thinking of creating a business card that says, ‘Failure Expert’ because I seem to have a knack for screwing things up. I’m not sure that I would attract many willing clients, but perhaps if we all made a study of our ‘failures’, we’d be better able to transform our challenging situations.

When I returned from Bali with my swollen, churning belly, I didn't have the energy for anything but reading; it so happened that the page I was up to in my Demartini book delivered some profound insights that stopped me in my tracks. (Synchronicity yet again!) 

I shared these insights about how I was speaking the language of desperation ('have to', 'need to', 'must') in relation to my business in my previous blog, and that this emotional state of desperation had undermined my immune system. In the weeks since then, as I've continued to butt up against the issue of my apparent 'business failure', I've had more realisations that I hope will serve you as well.  

A Creativity course led by an art teacher makes us think about drawing and painting and pottery types of creativity, but in its broadest sense, creativity is about creating anything, including one's life – as my new Mastery Club Trainee Facilitator, Joan Marie, recently reminded me! (Which is kind of funny, since one of The Mastery Club characters is the art teacher, Ms Mackie, who directly draws the link between sculpting and creating one's dream life...)

Joan is an accomplished artist and an art teacher in Missouri, USA. We've been in touch via email over the last few years since our paths crossed due to the Next Top Author competition and Joan wrote to me expressing her delight over The Mastery Club and her desire to teach it. Well, having conceived of her Creativity Course, she figured this was the perfect match – and then brought me up to speed!

If you've seen the movie, The Help, you'll recognise the phrase, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important" as the greeting that black maid Aibileen gives each day to her young white charge. 

As a young mother, Aibileen's own son was put in someone else's care while she went out to work, and then, in the prime of his life, he is killed in a workplace accident. But instead of drowning in resentment, she lavishes her love and blessings upon the daughter of her indifferent and sometimes cruel employers.