Archive for December, 2008

The Games People Play

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

I don’t know if you remember the Joe South song, “The Games People Play”; it was always one I rather liked.  It starts off

“Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean”

At this time of year, when we are surrounded by our families and loved ones, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the games we all play.  Amidst all the mince pies and port we usually see some of those we love dropping into those familiar patterns of speech and behaviour which trip us all up.

I’m not assuming any position of superiority here.  I know that if others’ foibles are on view, so must mine be.  Perhaps New Years Eve isn’t a bad time to pause, ponder and reflect what these might be and whether we want to take them into 2009…

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2009


You can never get in the same bed twice…

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

I think that, at least for me, a key part of the importance of this time of year is the pause it gives you between the frenzy of Xmas and all that leads up to it and the beginning of the new year.  I don’t believe we are really designed to go straight from one space directly to a new one; that just feels like more of the same.  Think about it like traffic lights, between the green and the red you have amber; a space to change your state and expectations.  We all need that, I know I certainly do.

Whilst there are busy days over the holiday, I value the ‘do nothing’ ones just as highly.  Spending time in bed in the morning when there is nothing but hunger to make you rise from that little warm nest.  However, every time I promise myself that I’ll come straight back after I have eaten, somehow I never do.  Once that passive state is broken, you can’t recreate it just by going back to bed.

Make sure that you treasure and use the non-doing time this holiday and use it to prepare yourself for the sleigh ride that 2009 is sure to bring!  Good Luck!

“The art of Being, the art of Non-doing is very subtle. Non-doing is not merely a lack of activity but an energy experience of stillness.  This Non-doing is your presence, your very amness, the positive experience of being truly alive.”


  1. Taoism & Non-doing

Fruity the Snowman

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Times have changed.  Frosty has moved out and yielded his Xmas throne to Fruity, his citrus cousin.  I was a bit astonished to come across this 10’ square fruity mosaic today in Wisley.  I guess symbols are constantly used, adapted and changed to communicate new messages.  So the Royal Horticultural Society have transformed this Xmas favourite.

We are about to enter 2009.  How could would you like to change your image?  What are the key components that need to endure and which bits need to jettisoned for something new?  We all need to ensure that the messages we project are congruent with who we are now, and also who desire to become, and not just dig out all those old, tired Xmas ‘deccies’ yet again.

You have just about a week to design and unveil the new you for 2009…  Time to get busy!!


Friday, December 26th, 2008

Are such dangerous things, and I don’t know which are worse, our own or other people’s.  At times like this, the everyone goes into a period of mild hysteria and we conspire to brainwash each other about the ‘fun’ we are all going to have.  Hollywood and the media bombard us with saccharine, idealised Christmases that we have never experienced; just think… how many white Xmases have you known?  I think I might have had two in over fifty years.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with telling each other these tales, but when we are living a rather smaller, greyer sort reality it can feel like we are cheated.  We may feel we are failing those we love by not succeeding in being able to make their dreams come true.  Our real families maybe, and probably are more flawed than these 2D images we are shown.  Our very desires for perfection often trip us up and make for rows and upsets.

Reality is so much more complicated that any story.  It has so many strands, colours and flavours.  Our job is to accept, enjoy and deal with it in the best way we can.  If Boxing Day finds you feeling a little confused or upset, let it all go.  Forgive yourself and everyone else, get out and enjoy the day.  Where we are the light is simply fabulous, and a true gift! 

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”  John Lubbock

Lighting up the space

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

It is part of the Cooke family Xmas to have a roaring log fire.  Regular readers will recall that Cooke Towers has been undergoing something of a make-over and this was pretty much the first time we have been able to enjoy the redecorated lounge.  We loved the decoration but when I lit the fire this morning it amazed me how this most primitive of man’s discoveries still transforms a space.  It seemed almost miraculous how different  the room felt with the fire going.

It then occurred to me that there are people like that, who light up a space and make the room come alive.  Perhaps we all have a chance, or maybe even  a choice to be that sort of person, someone who is not afraid to let themselves be seen, to be warm and sparkle.  Today would be a perfect time to make a gift of the real you to the people you love, and accepting, embracing and loving those who you share your day with as they truly are.

May your Xmas be filled with warmth and light.

Is today the beginning or the end?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day, the day the earth turns its direction and heads back towards the sun again.  Every day will get a little longer, a little lighter.  In the northern hemisphere we may still be in the grips of winter, but the light cometh.

In more primitive times this was a time to celebrate with feasting and by bringing green things into the home to remind people of the promise of regrowth… come to think of it, things haven’t change so much, we have just lost sight of the central message!  If you listen to the press’ the world economy is in melt down, and every headline would seem to be designed to make us more and more fearful.

This is a time of hope reborn, a time of rejoicing and family; a time to remember what is important, a space to decide if we want more of the same old cr@p next year or something new.  Take advantage of this pause, and space to make a few decisions on what is important and what isn’t, move towards the things that you value.

Time for a Change!

“One kind word can warm three winter months.”     Japanese Proverb

Just try it…

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I have had an interesting experience over the last few days.  We had a few things to sell after our renovation and we didn’t really know how to go about it.  The obvious route these days is eBay, but I had been told that there was little demand for these particular goods and had done nothing for months.

In the end, and failing any better ideas, we put them on eBay having reconciled ourselves to the fact we may well be wasting our time.  I did a little more research and discovered that one of these items now cost around £115 new, and there a number for sale already.  I put a Buy-it-Now price on it of £50.  Our waterbed was the thing that I really thought would be tough to move, and wasn’t at all sure it would go.    Within a few days there were about  20 people interested and I had two people wanting to pay a reasonable Buy-it-Now price.

So what was the lesson?  When you don’t know how to proceed, begin.  Learn from doing; at the very least you gain knowledge and you may just succeed.  I suspect that we could have got even more for these items but I’m happy to just see them moved on to people who want them and clear our space of them.

“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed”  Lloyd Jones

“The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try anything — and it works.”   William Strong

If at first you don’t succeed…

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Today I was out with a friend looking for somewhere to eat.  We went to a local restaurant that we often go to, only to find that it was not only rather full, with people queuing and no bar staff, so we decided we wouldn’t wait.  I made a number of suggestions but we opted to just see what we could find.

The first pub we came to we had both eaten in before, it was ok, but nothing special and again was full of people having Xmas lunches.  We got back in the car.

The next one was completely new to us, it had “Est. 1650” painted on the wall, but was strangely modern inside.  Again it was busy.  The menu seemed ok, but smacked of being over written, and I suspected the reality would not live up to its promise.  Back in the car.

We arrived at a prize winning Asian restaurant… closed!  Brmp, brmp..

We headed homewards, past the first restaurant.  Next stop was a nice new fish and chip emporium which we wanted to try “Sorry we have stopped serving lunch sir”… and on to the Indian next door …Closed!

So at about 2.15 we went into a restaurant that used to be a fire station and had a wonderful spicy pizza… mmmm… just right!

I know it was all rather a palaver  but we did end up in the right place.  Sometimes one just has to say “NO” if it doesn’t feel right and try again.  It can be a bit trying at times, but allowing the Universe to take a hand and listening to one’s inner voice is a good way to surf the waves of Change

Secret Signs

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

We drove past this wonderful sign yesterday in Essex.  The idea of a road sign to a secret installation is just too wonderful not to celebrate… it is pure Lewis Carroll.

The thing is, we are always giving off secret signs to each other; sending coded messages about what we want or need.  We usually are under the impression that we are communicating clearly, but the reality is that the other person is often blissfully unaware of hidden message contained within the text.  Things like “Do what you want..” meaning if you don’t pick the right option I won’t speak to you for a week!

We often do this as a test, or as a means of self-protection, there are as many motives as there are strategies.  The thing is that if we are going to communicate effectively we have to both avoid coding our real meanings and  also have to be aware that words might not mean what they say… I truly think that communicating clearly is one of our greatest challenges.

“The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choices words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech”   Edwin H. Friedman

Outside looking in..?

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I suspect that it is a feeling we all get from time-to-time, whether it happens at a party, a family gathering or an online group, sometimes it just feels that we are on the outside of what is going on.  I noticed this with a virtual community, that at times I have been very active in, at the moment there either is nothing going on that interests me or I somehow just don’t get what is going on.

Common sense (and Occam’s razor) says that the simplest explanation is the most likely one; chances are nothing ‘out there’ has changed and it is just me.  The thing is that all the time that it is ‘just me’ then I guess I have the ability to change what is happening by changing what I do.

So often in life we blame others for our happiness or lack there of.  It can be tough to accept that we might be responsible for what is going on

“We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.”  Tom Robbins
“When looking for faults use a mirror, not a telescope”