My video gift to you!

A couple of days ago my friend Claire sent me one of the best quotes I’ve seen in a long while. I was so inspired, I’ve made a video with it. Watch it whenever you need a pick-me-up. Enjoy!

 

 

When passion seeps out of every pore

We went to a tiny but wonderful festival of folk music over the weekend. Gossington Festival to be precise. Great bands, and so small we could chat to all the great artists and behave like groupies. The hit of the weekend for us though, despite all the big names there, was the drummer of a band called Roto-Trad (he turned up later playing for Seth Lakeman too). His name is Cormac Byrne: a young Irish man who clearly lives, breathes and joyously celebrates drumming.

I’m not a connoisseur of drumming by any stretch of the imagination but Cormac seemed really, really good. But perhaps that was because he was clearly enjoying himself so much. All the time he played he had a huge grin on his face that had you looking past the charismatic lead singer and fixating on that smile. It was the smile of someone utterly connected to his flow – to his purpose in life – and loving absolutely every millisecond of it. That kind of passion is infectious, inspiring and hard to ignore.

We took a little video of him here. Unfortunately it’s a bit dark but I include it here hoping you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about.

It is my wish for us all that we find, treasure and keep this kind of ecstatic communing with our purpose and passion. Surely this is the very definition of happiness?

Sasha and I being Cormac groupies

In praise of trees

Me at home in the 1970s. The lovely, enormous, oak tree was to the right of this photo.

I’ve long had a love of trees – ever since I could reach up and sit on the swing under a huge oak tree we had in our front garden. I would soar up into its branches singing, “I’m on top of the world” by the Carpenters. Ah memories!

When Guy and I moved to Canada we bought a house with a lone apple tree in the back garden which provided much-appreciated shade in the summer and a dramatic measure of the depth of the snow in the winter. We attached a little yellow bucket-seat swing later on, for the children to swing on.  When it was time to move back to England, I realised it was that apple tree that was the most difficult part of our home to say goodbye to.

Two years later we landed here in Nailsworth and now the tradition continues. At the bottom of our garden towers an enormous copper beech tree – so huge, it’s almost intimidating. But not to Julia, who has inherited my love of communing with something larger than herself through the simple pleasure of tree and swing. She is 13 now and still spends hours out there, lost in her own world, sheltered by the power and beauty of this magnificent expression of spririt.

As someone who is passionate about people allowing their full potential, beauty and gifts to shine out brightly, I love this quote from Baha’u’llah.  (19th Century Persian prophet). He said:

“Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of  praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character,virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance.”
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.There’s a lot we can learn from trees.
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A collection of my favourite personal shots of trees:

The magic of teamwork and community

So I’m back from a wonderful few days on Sasha’s school camp. Along with other Class 5-ers from Steiner schools around the country they recreated the ancient Greek Olympics. It was a fabulous event and one I had the privilege to help out with. I spend a lot of time volunteering at the school – going on school trips, organising the Advent Fair, being a class rep, chairing the Parents Focus Group and generally sticking my oar in! I love it.

 

I recently watched a wonderful program charting the lives of a combined catholic and protestant boys’  football team, joined together in the time of the sectarian ‘Troubles’ by sport and by a rock-solid sense of community and place.

There is something absolutely magical that happens when a group of like-minded people get together to work towards a common end. Something way beyond the sum of the parts. It’s the power of this magic that can unite towns, cities and nations around sport for instance. It is the difference between a ballad and a symphony. It is the difference between the complaint of an individual and the righting of political and social wrongs through mass protest.

It’s this magical ‘something’  – the power of the group – that I love so much. I’ve talked about it before and no doubt I’ll keep on exploring it because I feel so compelled to be a part of my community – to experience this magic.

 

 

Sporting Love

It’s been a busy couple of days getting ready to go on a school trip with my son, Sasha. It’s a big occasion. Every year all the children from Class 5s around the UK’s Steiner schools (and some from abroad) gather at Michael Hall school in East Sussex to re-enact the ancient Greek Olympics. Of course it’s extra special this year with the London Olympics starting very soon too.

The children spend 3 days preparing for the big day which will be this Saturday. Then all the parents arrive and witness what I can only describe as a truly ‘goosebump’ moment. To the beat of an enormous drum hundreds of 11/12 year olds enter the arena in white togas led by teachers bearing huge flames. The atmosphere is electric. Silence reigns. For every one of us in that field at that moment it feels like a historic moment – cetainly it will be one that we will never forget.

I know all this in advance because I was there two years ago when it was my elder daughter’s turn. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

It got me thinking tonight of all the amazing moments that sport has produced. Heroic times. Magical times. Miraculous times. Think English football in 1966. Think Jesse Owens. Think hundreds of moments like this happening every day around the world:

 

And here’s my favourite sporting heart-warmer of all time. The extraordinary story of a young man with autism – the team waterboy – being given a chance to play in the last match of the season.

 

It’s moments like these – highlighted so wonderfully by sport – that makes you realise we humans are, at heart, loving, generous and in this together.

 

 

 

 

“We are same”

Wonderful video using the Dalai Lama’s words. We’re all equal in our search for happiness and our humanity. Simple. Lovely. Touching.

 

 

If anyone’s in London on Tuesday 19 June at 2:00pm you can also go and see him at the Royal Albert Hall. Let me know if you do!

 

 

The White Room

So, following on from my last post and all that I’ve been exploring recently, I wanted to tell you about what I’m calling my ‘White Room’.

It turns out that the most alive and free we can be is from a place of space. Nothing. Zilch. Just space. If you are an accomplished meditator then you know this place well. But even if you don’t meditate you might have had a wee taste of it in those moments when we find yourself staring out of the window, mouth slightly open, eyes glazed over, in a kind of daze. No-one at home – just you, unaware of anything. These moments are fleeting but it’s something worth cultivating. Because it’s in these moments that we are completely FREE!

  • No assumptions
  • No past
  • No future
  • No doubts, fears, judgements….

Just ….. nothing.

This is what I’m calling my White Room. If I can go to my white room then I can sit and calmly decide, in my own time, and only if I want to, how to furnish my room. In other words I get to choose exactly what I create in this space. And because it’s empty – there is no end to the possiblities. The sky’s the limit!

I’m trying a new practice of going to my White Room whenever I can – particularly if I’m starting to feel mentally and emotionally overcrowded. Today was a good case in point. I was stuck in the x-ray department of the local hospital (Sasha’s getting braces) and watched as the waiting room filled twice over with people who all got seen to before us. I complained twice but to no avail. I was fuming! But then I remembered my White Room. I went in their and felt it all drop away. I didn’t stay in there for more than a minute or so but it helped me calm down enormously. Most importantly it helped me decide: “Now that all this frustration and everything to do with it, is stripped away – what is it I really want to create here?”

Try it yourself. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear!

When the Universe answers

Of course the Universe always answers. The only impediment to us knowing this, is our listening (or lack of).

There are days though when it feels like: “I ask and it is given”. Today for instance… This morning I was bemoaning the fact that there are no woods within walking distance of our home. Resigned to my normal semi-urban route I set off just now to enjoy a beautiful moment of sunshine. Something told me to turn left and then right – off the beaten track, and, you’ve guessed it, voila! Woods. Hoorah!

Trees ground me. I love their company.

Our utterly unique expression

This quote utterly speaks to me at the moment as, more and more, I find myself exploring this idea of being a channel and getting out of my own way.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

– Martha Graham –

 

Choose a juicy goal and succeed!

At the heart of my Future Self Now (FSN) program is a powerful visualisation that has you really feel and know who you are and where you are going. I love this tool because it’s simple yet incredibly effective.

Of course visualisation is not new – it started to become popular after the Russians used it with their athletes in the 1970s and is used by many successful people today. Science has proven that mental practices are almost effective as true physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either alone.

You can read more about it’s history and proven effects in this article from Psychology Today.

The visualisations talked about in this article are goal-specific. i.e. you pick a goal and practice seeing yourself there having succeeded in it. The only caveat I would add to this is that you have to know that this goal is right for you – that it is aligned to your essence, to who you are, (or as I would say, to your Future Self). A goal that is not aligned is much more likely to fail because it will feel off, not YOU.

I have a short term goal that I’m working on right now that is very much aligned – my next FSN workshop. Ironically, one of the things I’m looking to bring, is a new way of presenting the FSN visualisation in a group setting. What I’ve done in past workshops definitely works but what if I could make it even better?!

So how about I use this goal-visualisation technique on this and see what manifests? Worth a try. I have done a version of this for clients before where we bring in Future Self to the particular short-term goal and have him/her demonstrate what it’s like to be there, enjoying its successful completion.What we haven’t experimented with is a daily practice of this.

So, for the next two weeks I’m going to commit to a daily practice of visualising myself on the 24th March in Cheltenham delivering a highly successful new way of delivering the Future Self Now visualisation with my Future Self in attendance to guide me.(Hope this isn’t sounding too confusing!)  I have no idea what my fabulous new techique looks like right now but perhaps with my mind focused on it’s positve impact on my participants, an answer will appear. As I say, definitely worth a try.

I will report back periodically to you and in the meantime why don’t you start your own experiment with a short-term, juicy, heart-felt goal. Go through all the motions and emotions of it. What can you see, hear, smell, touch? Practice working towards and succeeding at this goal, over and over again – creating a mental muscle-memory. Then take action and, chances are, your real-life success will match your brain’s rehearsal of it.

Let us know how you get on. (Or perhaps you’ve done this technique before – in which case let us know how it went!)