Archive for March, 2008

An unexpected gift

Friday, March 28th, 2008

One of my great loves is walking, and I am lucky enough to share this with a good friend, who makes time every week to be lead off into the wilds of South England. I try to keep finding new places to visit, but obviously we revisit old favourites to enjoy them again, in all their different seasons and aspects. Sometimes we are pushed for time and just have to stay close to home, which in reality, is no hardship as we have some of the most beautiful countryside in the world right here.

Yesterday was such a day and I was taking us back to an old and special favourite of mine up on Puttenham CommonÂŒ. Now, despite this being a place that I love, a little bit of me was disappointed not to be going ‘somewhere new’. There is a strong vestige of the little boy still in me that loves to go off and explore.

We set off with a new GPS I had been given for Xmas because I needed to check it out as it had been faulty. I’d programmed in a route, solely from a map and wasn’t sure how much of this route I would actually be familiar with. I knew the area well enough that I’d be able to get back if I or the less-than-reliable GPS got us lost!

So off went the intrepid pair, following the little line of electronic dots on the virtual map. We quite quickly diverged from my favourite route and initially it was a little dull, we were on a ‘green road’ rather than just off in the wild. However, we tramped on enjoying the views and each others conversation. Little by little, we got to areas I had never seen before, and they just got prettier and prettier. We had a wonderful time, in a beautiful place, under blue, blue skies.

The lesson for me was that we can find wonderful surprises in places (and people) that we think we know. When we surrender a little of our usually tight control we open the door to all sorts of wonderful gifts. So today, my gift you is the chance for you to enjoy a similar wonderful surprise in something or someone familiar.

“Be ready to be surprised” Loeje (a dutch fictional character)
“Man is always more than he can know of himself; consequently, his accomplishments, time and again, will come as a surprise to him.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




  1. Puttenham on Google

NO Energy?

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Then you are apparently in good company! I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a cosmologist say that apparently all the positive energy in the entire Universe is counter-balanced by the negative gravitational energy1, leaving a sum total of nil! This fact explains the idea that the whole thing could be started with just a small of amount of energy. Now I certainly am not the person to teach anyone about this kind of stuff, so I won’t even try! However, it does get you thinking doesn’t it?

If you can start an entire Universe with a relatively small burst of energy, what can you do in one little life? We all get depressed, ill, de-energised and find ourselves, from time-to-time feeling stuck. The good news is that it only takes one very small positive event to get us going again. I’m not talking ‘happy-clappy’ stuff about ‘positive mental attitude’ though it is a nice trick if you can pull it off. Rather I am suggesting that when you find yourself in a stalled state, that you:-

  • Spend time with people who energise and inspire you, who build you up
  • Do things that you simply enjoy
  • Try something totally different

It really doesn’t matter much what you do, it is the simple action of breaking state that gets you moving again.

When we feel down, we can almost forget what up feels like. Perhaps if today finds you in this state this might help you recreate your ‘mini-verse’. Good luck!

“The modern artist…is working and expressing an inner world – in other words – expressing the energy, the motion, and other inner forces.” Jackson Pollock

“A man grows most tired while standing still.” Chinese Proverb


Paranoid… moi?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Two things happened in the last 24 hours that were nicely juxtaposed to make me ponder. The first was connected to someone whom I had reason to be highly suspicious about, this person had apparently failed to follow through with a promise that they had made. The second came as a ‘virtual’ sideswipe from an online source that I would previously have labelled ‘friendly’.

In the first case I followed up, with a certain amount of trepidation, certainly fantasizing about where this might lead, and fearing the worst. The second case I kind of assumed that I had misconstrued the comment and politely asked for clarification. It appears that the party of the first part (here after designated “the party of the first part”) 1 appears to have been let down by some third party and to have acted in good faith. Whereas the party of the second part here after designated “the party of the second part”) appears to have been having a bilious moment and just taken a ‘pop shot’. Makes you wonder who you can trust?

The more serious component of this is that when these kinds of things happen we have such a limited view of what is going on, and we strive to make sense of the limited data we have, we inevitably jump to conclusions, which is fair enough. It is what we do next that is crucial; do you:-

1. Seek more data in a calm and unemotional way?

    • Go to the source of the problem?
    • Ask others who are connected to them for their insight and knowledge?

    2. Wait calmly to see what happens next?

    • Does it confirm your hypothesis or not?
    • Does nothing happen?

    3. Act on your best guess and either:-

    • ‘run away’2 or
    • ‘attack’

    I would hazard a guess that too many of us go straight to option 3, which can often lead to the very disaster that we have been fearing! So if by any chance you find your self in this situation today, or any time soon, remember, that unless it is literally a matter of ‘life and death’, you are probably better to breathe, and opt for one of the first two options. Good Luck!

    “Facts are not truths; they are not conclusions; they are not even premises, but in the nature and parts of premises” Samuel Taylor Coleridge


    1. This is a nod to the Marx Bros “Night at the Opera” contract scene

    The World is a Mirror

    Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

    It is amazing how when we look about us, what we see reflects back our inner state, our anxieties and our fears. I guess most of us grew with parents and media warning that all this ‘free sex’ (What free sex?!) and drugs were taking us to hell in a hand cart. I’m now my parents’ age when they made these pronouncements and I can understand their fears, but I’m not sure that the world is so very different today. The state of the world is a bit like the fashion, in as much as the way it looks keeps changing but the elements keep on being recycled.

    I think that what we notice going on around us tells us a lot about our inner world. If we see many things that scare us, I think this not only makes us afraid but arises from feeling scared in the first place. If we see struggle and competition everywhere, this is probably because we feel that we are struggling. It is a simplistic statement, but I think that there is evidence in the way the brain works that tells us that we notice things that are of importance to us1. It is at once an old idea, and at the cutting edge of physics to say that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm and that quantum physics must square with Einsteinian scale concepts.

    So perhaps rather than trying to fix the World, maybe there is value in reflecting a little, and asking what is going on in our inner world. This may help take us forward a step or two on our journeys.

    “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” Chinese Proverb.


    Sticks & Stones..or Panning for gold amongst the effluent

    Monday, March 24th, 2008

    Someone asked this question “Do you care what other people think?” in a forum I belong to today and that got me thinking. We are all familiar with childhood phrase “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Most of us have also been exposed to the idea that we create our own realities1 by the way we interpret the world. However, as I have mentioned elsewhere, there are some fundamental drives2 at work in our lives, and a very powerful one is the need to have our contribution and worth (significance) recognised by others. We are particularly vulnerable to those who we either care for or respect, or are in the power of.

    It is a very advanced human being that can take in their stride others’ harsh, and perhaps false, judgments and not feel anything. Another aspect of this is when people say things about us they are telling us something about themselves and their experience of us. We can see ourselves and our actions through these ‘mirrors’ and whilst there will certainly be distortions there, they will give us more information that we had before. Mankind is a social creature and we need to understand how our actions are perceived and felt by others, especially if we need to influence them, and most of us do both need and seek to influence others.

    There is a delicate balance to be found between burying our heads in the ground and ignoring nasty or painful data coming back to us and realising that amongst the muck might be the odd nugget of gold we need to pan for.

    Of course this has all been written from the perspective of us as the central character in the drama with the “Slings and arrows of outrageous destiny” flying towards us. It would be just as true to say that we are just as often guilty of making those judgements and sharing them with others. Mostly, we all reside in glass houses and stone throwing is a dangerous hobby!

    “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.” William Shakespeare

    “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln


    1. Reality model, start here, then here
    2. Fundamental drives:
      1. Certainty (The desire to know and feel certain about important aspects of our life)
      2. Uncertainty (The desire for variety and adventure that makes our life interesting)
      3. Significance (The desire to be highly regarded and recognised by others)
      4. Love/Connection (The desire to give and receive love and experience fulfilling relationships)
      5. Growth (The desire to grow and evolve physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)
      6. Contribution (The desire to share from the heart and contribute beyond ourselves)

    Whether it’s the weather…

    Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

    Maybe it is the weather, I mean snow at Easter! This morning I find myself assailed by awash of different emotions sweeping over me like waves on a weed-covered rock. Nothing has happened, no one has said anything and yet they keep coming, wave after wave, and none of them particularly pleasant. Luckily I am able to be relatively quiet and can just watch the ‘waves’ breaking over me and I don’t have to engage with others yet. It would be so easy to react poorly or negatively from this space. The odd thing is that I (by which I mean the inner me) don’t feel particularly ‘bad’.

    So where is this ‘stuff’ coming from? It feels like being out on the moors in bad weather, just storm-tossed. Maybe it is some astrological confluence of planets, maybe it is due ionisation of the upper atmosphere or perhaps it is just hormonal…. Who knows! Sh*t happens! Get over it!! We are made up of such subtle forces all so delicately balanced, it is impossible for any number of experts to know how we work.

    The interesting element of this is that I seem to be able to differentiate the ‘inner me’ from the rest of me. It sounds daft, and I guess you either can either resonate with this statement or think I am daft. After all,. Philosophers have been struggling to answer the questions “Who am I?” satisfactorily for thousands of years. For me it feels like the outer part of me is the seaweed, swaying and tossed by the waves, and the inner core is the rock, which remains unmoved.

    Perhaps if this feeling is wider spread today, then you will take a little comfort from knowing it is just ‘psychic weather’, and not just you; perhaps realising that we are made up of different and deeper parts will help you make contact with the ‘inner you’ and enable you to take comfort from it’s deep wisdom and sense of knowing and connection. Good Luck and Happy Easter!

    “The more a person analyzes his inner self, the more insignificant he seems to himself. This is the first lesson of wisdom. Let us be humble, and we will become wise. Let us know our weakness, and it will give us power.” William Ellery Channing

    The Perfect Life … scene 2

    Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

    In yesterday’s blog I suggested there was some value in considering our lives as if they were movies that we were starring in. Today I’d like to develop that idea and ask you to consider who your co-stars are and what they bring to your party? The key people in our lives (even, and perhaps especially, the annoying ones!) bring us something special. What are they here to teach us? How is their behaviour challenging us? Making us feel? Mirroring us and our fears? Often those people who drive us most crazy are mirroring an aspect of ourselves we don’t much care for. We get mad at them rather than change ourselves.

    Have a look around…. What do you notice?

    Have a good Easter!

    “Friends are the mirror reflecting the truth of who we are”

    “Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” Ernest Holmes

    The Perfect Life…

    Friday, March 21st, 2008

    Imagine, for a moment, that you are an actor, and you have been given the lead role in a very important movie. You have the perfect script, written by the world’s best script writer, and you have had the opportunity to add your own little touches. You have the perfect place to shoot, chosen with just you and this story in mind. The cast has been hand-picked to showcase your story and you know with absolute certainty that this is the project that you want to commit to and which will make you.

    You leave the studio and arrive on location, but there has been a small hiccough. On the journey here you had a little mishap and appear to have amnesia. “Never mind“, says your director, “Just be yourself; that is all this role calls for.” “ACTION!”

    Scene 1: You are born….

    You arrived in this world in almost this way and most of us arrive having forgotten why we chose to take up this particular life. I often hear people say that they are unlucky or are never in the right place. And yet here we all are, in the perfect place for us to learn exactly what it is that we need to learn to move forward in our lives. If you were watching this movie of your life you would probably be able to see the patterns and guess what our hero was meant to do next. It is just that in the hurly burly of our lives we often lose perspective.

    On this holiday weekend, let your mind drift to this movie script and ask yourself “What should happen next? What is the sub-plot? What does our hero need to find or do to win through?” and… take 2…”ACTION!”

    “Life is good, without it we’d all be dead.” Hannah

    “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

    True Freedom?

    Thursday, March 20th, 2008

    I don’t know what brought it to mind, but this morning I was recalling seeing a TV programme some years ago about a young French rock climber. She used to climb with no equipment, and no rope; this is called free soloing. I have never seen anything so scary or so inspiring! She was totally fearless, and moved with a natural grace and power that was incredible. She hung by her finger tips, a thousand feet in the air. I don’t think I have ever seen, nor can I imagine, anyone more free.

    Now I realise that fear has an evolutionary value and there are times when it is right and appropriate to be afraid. However I suspect that most of us have it ‘riding pillion’ on our lives most of the time, holding us back and keeping us hidden. If no one can see us, then they can’t get us, can they? This is a bit like belonging to a football team who never plays any matches to avoid losing.

    Fear is the single biggest barrier to change in business; it is probably the mankind’s greatest challenge too. What will I do today to take me out of my comfort zone? Who will I dare show the real me? Will I tell them what I really think and feel? Dare I ask for what I really want?

    Watch this and perhaps walk a little freer today

    “Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.” Michael Pritchard

    What would you do?

    Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

    You are busy living your life, doing the best that you can. You are a decent sort, popular, do your best. Life has tossed you a few curve balls, but you have fielded them as best you can. You are making a living, looking after your dependents and whenever possible, spending time doing the things that make life sweet. I suppose I am painting a picture of someone cruising down Life’s motorway, listening to the radio, just thinking their thoughts.

    Then, out of the blue, you get a bit of unexpected and unwanted information. Someone has told you that, perhaps, you have made a mistake. Maybe, things you thought you had sorted out have just been fudged or swept under the carpet. This news might be like suddenly hearing a strange and unwanted noise from the engine of your metaphorical car as you purr along; should you stop, or will it just go away?

    There are a number of possible scenarios:-
    1. You know best: You do in fact have the best handle on this situation. You can see things more clearly than others and know best. You have considered all necessary permutations and are on track. No Action Required.
    2. Consider this alternative perspective: Perhaps there is something in it; maybe you have not got all the relevant information. Consider the possibility that you need to turn round and address these issues. Potential upside: a better solution. Downside: you will spend time and effort that you would prefer not to.
    3. Shot the Messenger: They should know better than to doubt you. They have interrupted and disturbed your smooth progress down Life’s highway and need to be punished.

    We all like to be right; we all do the best we can, and despite our self doubts, want to think that we are in the right. This is the comfiest and most normal position to take. It requires no change, and if something needs ‘fixing’, it is someone else’s job. However, we never have all the information about anything. There is always more than one viewpoint about the same situation. Different people want and need different things, in different ways. So sometimes we are asked to shift from a position that we are very comfy in to accommodate someone else’s needs. Mostly we moan about this and feel that we shouldn’t have to ‘leave the warm spot’. However, it is always possible that this new position is better overall for everyone.
    We will go a long way to avoid ‘being wrong’; we put up with a great deal to avoid change. We tell ourselves this is as good as it gets, the best we can do, good enough. We talk about the need to be realistic. However, often, being happy starts with admitting we might be wrong, and need to alter what we are doing. Sooner or later, that odd sound from the engine turns into a costly breakdown and we are forced to address it, and perhaps the car is a write off.
    So, on the off chance that you are driving along too and have something uncomfortable to consider, what are you going to do about it?

    “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” Oscar Wilde
    “There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.” French Proverb
    “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” Oliver Wendell Holmes