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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‘Droughts are a necessity’

Dearest reader – I’m back! Thanks for waiting. It’s been nearly 3 months since my last posting (crikey!) and I’ve had to ask myself “have I simply gone off the boil – forever? Maybe the blogging mojo has just evaporated (inexplicably) and I need to move on?” But something inside of me said ‘No – this is temporary – stick with it.’ I know to listen to my instincts but I have to say it was a weird feeling, suddenly switching from weekly posting to nothing, zero, zilch. What was with that?

To be frank, I don’t have clue why I dried up. I was busy but that’s not been a problem before. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and believe that this was meant to be.

We’ve all heard of the metaphor of a field that needs to lie fallow for a growing season in order to replenish itself. Maybe that was what was going on?

My friend Nancy told me today that she saw these times as a gift – an opportunity for silence and to go deep within ourselves.

Julia Cameron (she of  The Artist’s Way) talks about it in terms of a drought. “Droughts are a necessity,” she says. “The time in the desert brings us clarity and charity.’ She adds:

… as painful as they are, they deepen us. When we feel we have “nothing to say” as artists, we are grappling with what it is we do want to say. In struggling to find our sources of inspiration, we find ourselves.

Another thing: drought doesn’t disqualify you as an artist. Rather, it is a rite of passage, an initiation period that while it pains us also makes us better…  we experience a deepened gratitude for those times when art comes to us more easily.

In other words, droughts make us appreciate times of flow. As much as anything else, droughts teach us compassion for ourselves and others. Can this be anything but a blessing?

It’s true – I do feel renewed. Renewed inside of the ‘Why?’ of this blog and what the writing of it gifts me with – conciousness, connection, curiousity and celebration.

I’ll leave you with a couple of snowy pictures from the Stroud Valleys taken today. Just because… !

Edge in the Snow 1 Randwick Woods2

Drawing meditation

As I explore the art of paying attention I have just become  aware of Mandalas. I tried one today for the first time and here’s my very modest result.

 

Mandalas are rooted in the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and Native American spirituality. Modern psychologists also use mandalas to have patients explore their inner sense of self.

 Why not give it a go? It’s very soothing and your inner child will have a ball at the same time!

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to do it.

 

 

The surreal and the prosaic

Well what a day.

UK temperatures in the thirties? – Surreal.

Driving to Heathrow? – Prosaic.

Air-conditioning in my car barely able to keep up? – Prosaic.

Standing in arrivals hall and suddenly confronted with the image of a beautiful lady dressed head to foot in orange-sherbet silk being escorted to a grand-piano by a security guard … she sits down and starts playing Chariots of Fire whilst cameras from BBC, and various other Olympic-fuelled media, whir. One tune and then it’s all over – our famous (I assume) vision floats away again on the arm of the black-clad security guy. The airport – having temporarily been suspended in la-la land – returns to the business of people coming and going.

Definitely surreal.

 

 

Julia arrives back from France after a fabulous week away. Priceless!

 

Stuck in traffic jam for an hour in the sweltering heat, my air-conditioning having finally given up the ghost?

Definitely prosaic.

 

 

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!)

 

 

 

‘Abundance is our Future’

As you know, I’m on an information detox at the moment. Everyday I unsubscribe from approximately 4 newsletter/email shots. (Wow – they really did build up over the years!). I have moved all my inspirational books away from my bedside table and down to the sitting room, (thanks for that advice, Lesley). I can’t recommend this enough. It has been wonderful to regain some head-space.

When I ran workshops based on Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s Way’ I knew that week 4 of the 12-week course would always be the most challenging. Why? Because that was the week that participants were asked to cut out all outside input in the form of TV, Radio, books etc. It was such a picture to see everyone’s faces when I announced this: “You mean, I can’t even read the newspaper in the morning? I HAVE to do that. How else will I keep informed?” Yet, if people trusted the exercise and did banish all reading and watching, it proved to be huge. Suddenly they only had themselves to listen to. Suddenly they could hear what their heart was really saying. Suddenly those cupboards that they had been meaning to clear out for years, finally got cleared out!

It’s not that all media input is bad – of course not. It’s just that we can so easily lose perspective when we are surrounded by these outside voices. In this ever-expanding, increasingly open world of ours, I personally think this is going to be one of our biggest personal challenges in the future.

In the video below, Peter Diamandis gives a stirring speech about why we can expect abundance in the future. It’s well worth a watch – especially if anyone is of the mindset that we’re ‘going to the dogs’. But what I’m also interested in is the question: How do we equip our souls to deal with this kind of abundance? Will we develop increased powers of Presence to go with the explosion of opportunities and choices available to us? We’re talking about the need, here, for a whole new spiritual abundance to go alongside the physical and technological explosion. I’m optimistic because, so far, spiritual awareness and practice has expanded exponentially. It’s very exciting to think what this could mean for spiritual innovation in the future.