Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s your brand of love?

I am often disappointed that we’ve only got one word for love in English. Or rather that that word is expected, in our language, to embrace all manner of  ways of loving.

The Greeks had seven or eight concepts of love – each given its own label. In the same way Inuits have dozens of words for snow. Strikes me that the more a people think about something, the more vocabulary they give it.

So what does our only having one word for love say about how we think about it? Does it affect the way we feel? How we talk about it?

Do we even talk about it?

Is it true that by limiting the language, we also limit the concept and its permissibility?

I certainly feel that in the society in which I live the concept of love is rather biased to the side of the romantic or the erotic. And if for whatever reason people don’t feel that way inclined, then love starts being treated either as something a bit pink and fluffy and light-weight;  or a bit shameful.

This doesn’t feel good to me at all.

Of course we love our families and our children and our friends. But how often do we tell them? Are we talking about love in the right places?

And what about in our public lives? Do we act with love in our businesses, with our acquaintances, our colleagues, in our everyday life?

How easy is it for you to love the white van man who’s cut you up on the roundabout? And how do you show love to the sick and the needy?

And the real million dollar question is how well we love ourselves. How well do you know what love feels like to you? What are the physical sensations that you experience? What activities are you engaged in when you feel them?

Personally I think that understanding our own brand of love is one of the most important priorities of our age. We need to be able to talk with greater eloquence about what love would do in a wider range of scenarios than simply the romantic.

Journal-writing is an act of self-love. Paying attention to our inner voice in our journals is an important step towards cultivating love for ourselves. After all we are the most important person in our life. The better the relationship we have with ourselves, the better our relationships with others will be.

So – is it time to expand your experience of love? Pick up your journal and reflect on some of the questions here. Slowly but surely you will begin to identify and recognise your own particular brand of love.

 

 

 

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Travelling Home

I have just returned from a whistle-stop tour of China with my daughter, as guests of an old University friend of mine, who’s been living over there for a few years.

What an interesting trip. Chinese weather, driving, road systems, plumbing and crowds provided daily fascination. And as for the language, history, art, ceramics and friendliness of the Chinese people  – we were blown away.

I chose to dedicate a brand new journal in honour of my newly-discovered wanderlust,  realising that this was something that was strong in me as a young adult, but which subsided through family life.

This is not the place for me to record my impressions of China. Rather, here is where I want to throw out a couple of questions to accompany you on your next trip.

Firstly: what kind of traveller are you? What’s your pace? How do you like to plan your trip? What impressions do you make of people and place? How curious are you? How does travelling make you reflect?

Secondly: what is it to come Home? How do you see Home on your return? How different does it feel from before you went? What do you appreciate most? What do you wish to change?

Yup I know that was more than two questions. They were more like lots of questions on two themes, Travelling and Home.

So enjoy Travelling Home as you reflect. Bon Voyage.

 

 

 

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Make a distinction

The only resolution I made for 2018 was to distinguish between the work I do for love – my own writing, and the work I do for money  – word-smithing for businesses.

Distinctions bring clarity. And clarity enables us to be creative, productive and to attract opportunities effortlessly.

One of my most favourite books is A Room with A View by E M Forster in which he champions love and truth over social niceties. Without the honest appraisal of what we truly love we will forever be “in a muddle” – and therefore less effective in our efforts.

Giving more focus to the things we love rather than the things we do out of obligation imbues us with clarity and power.

So it’s worth being honest with ourselves and making the distinction.

As a result my writing spark is back with a vengeance. I’m having fun writing my blog and new business enquiries are arriving at my door. Before I was muddled in my thinking about writing – so my focus and energy were confused and dissipated. I was perhaps falling for the assumption that having more things to focus on would rob me of time.

Rather having sharper focus on more distinct things feels like I have generated more time, and infinitely more ideas. Inspiration and words are flowing; and my skills are in demand.

The Journal Writer’s Handbook contains an exercise called Lists of Distinction, encouraging you to distinguish between your talents, gifts, skills and interests. Sharpening your focus on each throws up more clarity, more possibility and more choice about the things that lead you to a greater sense of creativity, fulfillment and joy.

Don’t be muddled. Be distinctive. Make your own distinctions.

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Time for self-authoring

My son has been helping me format The Journal Writer’s Handbook for publication on Amazon. Flicking through some of the exercises included in the book he remarked particularly on the ones called “Playing with Metaphor”; “Taking Responsibility”; “Hidden Voices”, and “Absolute Truths”.

These are themes and explorations he has been enjoying through the work of Dr Jordan Peterson, the guy who is taking the young male adult world by storm with his relentless intellectual honesty and dedication to individual self-improvement, through self-authoring, the study of mythological archetypes, and his tirade against the identity politics of post-modern neo-Marxism (Guardian readers look away now).

His recent interview by Cathy Newman on Channel 4 news may be the only thing you’ve seen by him. If so you’re missing a treasure trove of mind-boggling polymathic research and psychological commentary by Dr Peterson on youtube and his own website.

Personally I celebrate Jordan Peterson’s ability to engage such an impenetrable audience as 20 year old men. Even more I applaud his recommendations to use reflective writing as a great tool for self-improvement, and for setting oneself up with integrity and discipline.

When I first wrote The Journal Writer’s Handbook five years ago I had no idea who Professor Peterson was. Now I’m delighted to listen to him. More so because it’s my son that introduced me.

 

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Deepening conversations

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a lecture given by poet-philosopher David Whyte at the Ashmolean Museum. I’ve been dimly aware of Whyte’s work for a number of years, but my interest intensified last April during a poetry retreat on Iona in the Scottish Hebrides.

Sure enough, and true to the Law of Attraction, having ignited my awareness, I then began ‘seeing’ David everywhere. When the ad popped up on my Facebook feed about the talk he was giving in Oxford I made my reservation immediately.

For three whole hours yesterday afternoon I was caught in a spell of contemplation and appreciation. Conversations are fundamentally the way we engage in the world, and with ourselves, so learning how to deepen them, and how to interrupt the same old narratives of our lives which don’t always serve us, was the most wonderful gift for a chilly Friday in January.

David’s new book is titled “A Timeless Way: The Art and Practice of Deepening Conversations”. Although not yet ready for publication he explained that it sets out six steps to effect change in our existing conversations – and hence in our experience.

Three hours was not enough to go through every step. But we were able to explore the power of just a couple of them – interspersed with and enhanced by David’s resonant, insistent poetry recitals and profound, amusing stories. It was a wonderful and nourishing experience.

The practice of conversing with ourselves is of course one which we undertake in our journals. However, the quality of the conversation we maintain may not always be of service to us. We all fall into the trap of repeating thoughts and beliefs which persuade us that we, and the world, are a certain way, denying ourselves the creative certainty of living a different kind of life.

David’s work gives us a template to shift and deepen our perceptions and our understanding, gently challenging us to consider what are the conversations we need to stop having, and what is our relationship to the unknown.

As I learned yesterday, turning our sincere attention to these questions for even a short time initiates a collective easing open of hearts and minds. The effect was both palpable and magical.

David Whyte’s Timeless Way

Sincere thanks to Paul and Marie of The Beyond Partnership for facilitating the event.

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Filed under Philosophy, Poetry, Reflection, review, Uncategorized

Half way point

2018 is half a month old – which means so is my resolution to be more mindful of what I eat and to look after myself better.

A couple of years ago I discovered the Whole30 approach to food and I gave it a whirl – 30 days of eliminating sugar, grains, gluten, alcohol, legumes and dairy from my diet. I ended up learning how to prepare fresh meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit in delicious ways. I pretty much gave up my dependence on bread, developed the taste for black coffee, got a huge energy boost and lost twenty pounds.

Then I got lazy again and undid all my good work.

SO since 2018 started on a Monday, which means that I can track the date and the plan simultaneously on the calendar without having to do any adding up, AND since I am eager again to experience the energy benefits, not to mention to fit into my clothes better, I was inspired to give whole30 another go this month.

And it’s going very very well.

whole30

I’ve just moved into Tiger Blood phase. Energy is high, I feel positive, optimistic, and hugely inspired.

And inspiration is key. I want to feel full of energy. I want to feel comfortable in my clothes. I love the feeling of mindfully planning my meals and shopping for fresh ingredients that will transform into delicious dinners. I’m excited about my tastes changing, becoming more satisfied by fresh flavours rather than anaesthetised by the Sugar Dragon.

Plus I love crossing the dates of the calendar. Once a journaling nerd, always a journaling nerd.

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Filed under Goal-setting, inspiration, mindfulness, Self-Care, Uncategorized

Good vibrations

2018 is opening up before us and I wish everyone a very happy, peaceful and abundant New Year.

This is typically a time when we renew our journaling practice with more dedication. Reflective writing is a great meditation, giving us space to find our inner voice and express gratitude for what we have.

So I want to offer you a slightly different journaling approach to not only give you greater clarity but also to help you improve your experience moment to moment. This arises from my own understanding of the teachings of Abraham Hicks, and from applying a few different techniques in my own writing as a result.

For 2018 I’m advocating a much more mindful approach to reflective writing. Instead of allowing your pen to move across the page and regurgitate the same phrases you use to express your fears or anger or dissatisfaction, deliberately choose to open your entry with some positive words.

For example write ‘I want’ rather than ‘I don’t want’. Write ‘I appreciate’ rather than ‘I am grateful for’. Notice how focussing on the things you want and the things you appreciate will raise your feel-good vibe.

According to the Law of Attraction taking this approach will have the magnificent effect of attracting more feel-good experiences, and the more we relax, trust and enjoy the more we are making ourselves ready to receive.

So for a more joyful, abundant and love-filled year use your journal to practice the art of appreciation, and to evoke how fabulous it’s going to feel when you achieve what you want.

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