Holding Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.” 
― William BlakeAuguries of Innocence

 

It is often a waking dream of mine to imagine what might be happening around the world in this current, precise moment: 7 billion people all up to something. 37% of those people live in India and China alone. 33% are Christians, 22% are Islamist. 70% of the earth’s surface is water.

On the site Worldometers you can see a rather freaky count of what’s going on in the earth today – how many deaths, how many births, the net population growth. (So far today (it’s 11am) there have been 172,000 births and 71,000 deaths apparently). You can also see how many mobiles are being sold by the second, how much CO2 we are emitting and on and on. And the clocks for all of these turn at a very rapid pace before your eyes.

Butterfly on flowerIn a split second around the world so much happens: smiles, tears, anger, depression, joy, transition, transformation, boredom, concentration, rebellion. The list is, of course, infinite. The water continues to fall down Victoria Falls in Africa, the minute hand clicks to another minute on Big Ben, a father reads to his son, a child dies of starvation, a student is late for class, another car rolls off the production line, a richly-dressed couple step onto their luxury yacht, bees swarm, trees grow, whales drift serenely by. It is enormous, beautiful, scary and mind-boggling.

All in a split second.

When I’m feeling stuck or low, I often contemplate the vastness and infinite variety of our life on earth. I imagine myself hovering miles above the planet and looking down at it all. I see myself in my house – a tiny speck amongst all this complexity.

Another minute goes by.

All is really very, very well in my minuscule corner of the world at this precise moment – and I am enormously grateful.

 

Related resources:

Check out this wonderful film:     Life in a Day

 

 

Our inner granny

 

Today I am 49; next week I will tip into my fifties.

It doesn’t worry me – in fact I’m looking forward to my fifties – but it all seems so theoretical. In my heart I’m 36. But I like the idea of my fifties because I’ve long thought that, from this time on, it would be ‘My Time’. I would be fully in my skin and unapologetic about my path.

Actually that instinct is largely correct. I do feel more ‘in my skin’ than I’ve every felt. I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out (much as I would have liked to believe that at times!) – of course I haven’t. It’s more that I am more willing than I’ve ever been to see myself as imperfect and to gain confidence with that thought.

I am perfectly imperfect!

Think of our image of an ideal granny. Even when we may be feeling bruised by life she only sees our greatness and gives us unending compassion. “It’s normal to bungle, to fail, to trip up,” she says. “Be patient, be kind, take very good care of the precious human being that you are.”

In my Future Self Now program we use our inner wisdom to help guide us forward – to inspire us with a joyful anticipation of what is to come and, at the same time, LOVE where we’re at right now. Our Future Selves, in other words, are like our inner grannies or grandpas.

I’ve just started a new 8 week course and if you’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall and follow some of the teachings yourself then simply ‘Like’ the Future Self Now Facebook page and you will receive updates on some of the tools and insights that we are experiencing.

Here’s a simple tip to leave you with: Your inner granny or grandpa is always wise and compassionate, so ask yourselves, whenever you need to,

“What would my inner granny/grandpa say to me now?”

 

 

Letter to my past self

Dear me from 10 years ago,

This is your Future Self speaking. You are about 3 months away from making a very big decision. One that will significantly alter your life.

How should I describe you? Baffled? Searching? Hopeful yet exasperated? Your children are 2 and 4 years old. The participants in your workshops are enthusiastic. You are desperate to have your children’s book ‘The Teasers’ published. You have secured a great agent but no publishers are biting. You wish you had more time to write. You wish your husband was less stressed and around more – physically and emotionally. You’re proud that you’ve been a non-smoker now for 4 years. You are keenly aware (did your past self tell you, I wonder?) that you should enjoy every last minute with your children at this precious stage of their lives – and so you do (mostly). You cannot believe your luck that the Universe shut one door (having your own children) and opened this massive, bejewelled  door to a hitherto unseen magical kingdom (adopting Julia and Sasha). You sense there’s more – much more –  to come but you don’t know what it is.

Dear past me from 10 years ago. I felt you today. As if you came into my skin and looked around our life now. You cried. I cried. We both cried. How wonderful this place we’ve come to is! You hardly dare believe it. I can hear you in my head saying:

“You mean you’re living in this beautiful place in the Cotswolds with all it’s hills, valleys and gorgeous villages? You mean the children are thriving at a school they adore with friends and teachers who equally adore them? You mean that you’re all bouncing with excitement at the prospect of spending a whole month together in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in December? You mean you’ve taken a break from the writing and you’re utterly OK about that – in fact you’re thrilled with your current path? You mean you’ve developed your own program and it’s going from strength to strength? You mean Guy is calling the shots more at work and is master of his time again? Is it true that 6 years ago you dreamed of owning a Lexus hybrid SUV and next weekend you’re going to buy it! Do those kind of things happen? And I can’t believe how grounded, content and excited-by-life you feel! Is that possible?”

Dear past me from 10 years ago. Yes it’s possible.

You are about to make a momentus decision – to move from a great life in Canada back to England. And why? Only because “it feels right”. You have no other defense when your concerned Canadian friends ask you for an explanation.

Did you perhaps feel me calling you?

 

 

15 powerful things happy people do differently

Here’s a great post from Purpose Fairy (www.purposefairy.com)- well worth a read:

 

What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it should be very obvious:happy people are happy while  unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct.But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.

1. Love vs. Fear

Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

2. Acceptance vs. Resistance 

Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.

When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.

3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness

Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is  a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

4. Trust vs. Doubt

They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

5. Meaning vs. Ambition

They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose.  They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.

And they care more about living a life full of meaningthan what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.

6. Praising vs. Criticizing

Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, ratherthey know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.

When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.

7. Challenges vs. Problems

Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.

8. Selflessness vs, Selfishness

They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.

Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted. ~Buddha

9. Abundance vs. Lack/ Poverty 

They have an abundant mindset, living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.

10. Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic 

These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. ~Goethe

11. Kindness vs. Cruelty

They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.

12. Gratitude vs. Ingratitude

No matter where they look, no matter where they are or who they are with, they have the capacity to see beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for all of it.

13. Presence/ Engagement vs. Disengagement 

They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still dreaming big dreams about the future.

When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek yourself in it and mistake it for who you are. ~Eckhart Tolle

14. Positivity vs. Negativity

No matter what happens to them, they always keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.

15. Taking Responsibility vs. Blaming 

They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside force for whatever is happening to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. They choose to keep their power and take responsibility for everything that happens to them.

How many of these things are you doing in order to become a happier person? Share your insights by commenting below or by leaving your feedback on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.

 

With all my love,

 

Roots and Wings

Like everyone – Mr Benn in particular – I have a choice of many costumes I could wear at any one time. One of those costumes is a sauce-stained apron with copious pockets. Inside the pockets are a red pen, an eraser, a cheque book, a little silver Monopoly dog, a bunch of multi-purpose tissues, arnica, assorted plasters, an emergency banana, loose coins, car keys, curling ribbon, an alarm clock, consent forms, my CRB check certificate, a metronome and a detailed map of where everything belonging to every member of the family is located.

Being a Mum is without a doubt (and here I must resign myself to a cliche) the best thing I’ll ever have the privilege of doing. On my death bed it’ll be what I ask myself first: was I an OK Mum?

The children are getting to an age where they are starting to do things I can’t take any credit for – in other words they are becoming their own people and I must increasingly just sit back and marvel.

My friend Lyn, in Canada, years and years ago, told me as we pushed Julia around in her snazzy jogging pram (Julia was only 2 at the time and I only jogged with that thing twice), “T, our job is to give our children roots and wings”.

I love that. Roots and wings. Grounding and freedom. Stability and letting go. It’s a balancing act for sure and, as any tightrope walker would tell us, that’s the whole point – enjoying that edge between scary and thrilling.

Yesterday was mother’s day. We went for a walk to Tyndale monument above Wooton-under-Edge with some friends children. Sasha and his friends waved long sticks around at each other. Julia and her friend sang songs, all the way there and all the way back.

 

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Starfish wisdom

For many years now I’ve adopted the starfish as my personal emblem. My friends know this, and over the years Ive been gifted with some spectacular starfish things like this silver necklace from my great friend, Kelly in Canada:

starfish necklace

and recently Rachel, a very good friend and wonderful potter in Bristol made me this:

starfish mug

It all started about 13 years ago when I heard this story:

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
-Adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley-

 

As a life coach, the significance of making a difference one ‘starfish’ at a time was not lost on me. But latterly the starfish has come to mean more. As you know I’m passionate about what it takes to live an ecstatic, fully expressed life. Look at this image:

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Same pose as a starfish. OK, well, nearly! (That was my intention anyway).

There is also the analogy of roots and wings – i.e. that it’s the job of us parents – to give our children stability and freedom. For me this pose represents both roots and wings: strong legs akimbo (grounded) arms aloft, ecstatic and welcoming of spirit, joy, abundance.

Finally there is the sister image of a tree which reaches up to the skies but is, at the same time, grounded deeply in its roots.

 

Last November I gave a talk at Hawkwood College that I’m hoping to repeat at this year’s Quest Festival in Devon called ‘Loving What Is whilst Reaching For More‘. I realised today that, here again, is the image of my upright starfish – grounded in the now whilst reaching for the skies.

In some ways it sounds like a paradox but look at nature and it’s everywhere. We are meant to savour our Now whilst relishing the delicious anticipation of life’s rich experiences yet to come.

 

 

Rampages of Appreciation

It’s impossible to be grateful and upset at the same time. In the moment of appreciation – even if it is just a fleeting moment – we are free. When it comes to raising our energy, this is what makes gratitudes, in my opinion, even more powerful than meditation. Gratitude allows us to connect with abundance, wonder, love, generosity, joy. Meditation is quieter – more about stillness, contemplation and awareness – all extremely beneficial of course, but not as effective at having us climb what I call the energy ladder.

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A reader of this blog  – www.iamlivinginthemoment.wordpress.com – recently asked me after reading my post about the importance of putting our loved ones on a pedestal how that’s done. The short answer is with lots of appreciations! Abraham-Hicks call this practice of super-appreciating, a ‘rampage of appreciation’. This is where you just start on a subject and find every which way to be grateful for it. Here’s an example of a ‘rampage’:

The thing is that once you get going and become really conscious of what it is you’re appreciating, you find you come up with more and more to be grateful for – it kind of spirals and spirals, grows and grows. You’ve just got to get the ball rolling and when you do everything else seems to shut off as you just bathe in this delicious and abundant energy.

What can you rampage in gratitude about today?

 

 

Keep your loved-one on a pedestal

Now that I’ve started running my Artist’s Way workshops again I’m going to be much more conscious about doing Artist’s Dates. These are basically about taking yourself off for about an hour a week just to have fun with you and you. They are meant to be playful, nurturing and fun – as if you were taking a child out on an outing.

My Artist’s Date today is probably no surprise for many of you – I took myself to the cinema – my favourite ‘me’ thing to do! The movie was “Hope Springs” and it struck me how well my new consciousness theme is embodied in it. The story basically follows a couple going through hard times and having therapy. (It’s a real testament to the screenwriter and the actors that they could make such a potentially agonising situation so poignant and funny). But the point is it highlights that the trouble with this older couple, who have been married for 31 years is that they have become UNCONSCIOUS of each other. Here’s a clip:

 

Long ago I realised something in my marriage: I must always do my damndest to keep Guy on a pedestal. What I mean by this is that I must do what it takes to take my gaze off the strange bathroom habits, the forgetfulness of conversations held only an hour ago, the constant losing of keys etc. etc. and focus resolutely on what makes him special – his handsome face, his humour, his love of his family, all the hard work he does on our behalf and so on. I know his faults (as he knows mine) so it’s not about ignoring them so much as saying: “that’s part of the package but I choose to make a conscious effort to keep my line of vision on the pedestal – because if I don’t, then smelly socks can take on way more significance than they should!