Category Archives: Uncategorized

One Word

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love recently.

And I started to feel hard done by that we only have one word for it. Compared to the Greeks’ eight or nine this seems paltry.

I started thinking that we mustn’t take Love seriously in our culture and language to only have one word. The Inuits have dozens of words for snow. Surely if we cared more about Love we’d have a wider range of vocabulary?

Our English word Love is ancient. It pre-dates the Norman Conquest of England and finds its roots in the Old Germanic, then middle English, ‘lufu’.

So it survived Latin and French, and was unperturbed by amore or cherir. Far from not taking it seriously, it feels to me like we defended its unique meaning to the hilt.

But what is that meaning? Doubtless in medieval times people knew exactly what they meant when they spoke the word. These days I’m not so sure. It has so many meanings and so many contexts. Predominantly these days in common parlance it refers to romantic and erotic love rather than love for friends, family, off-spring, nation, self or God.

But it’s still just One Word. There are dozens of other words signifying states of mind  which might lead us to Love: like joy, or appreciation, or creativity, or truth or gratitude, or freedom, or even anger, but still that single, ancient, honourable word endures.

And now I’ve come to think of this as utter linguistic, cultural, spiritual and epistemological  genius. Because of its multi-layered, multi-faceted nature it is the ultimate “all things to all men” notion.

We can each choose individually how broad its scope is for us. We can confine our best love for our beloved, our family and at a pinch our closest friends; or we can surrender our egos to universal loving compassion in the style of Buddhist monks.

We can recognise the emotions of Love and we can also consider the values of it too. We can be human about it, or we can touch the Divine through it. It is basically the quickest and most effective vehicle to get us wherever we want to go.

So whatever definition of Love rings true for you, get curious. Are you defending it with all your might? Are you dismissing it? Taking it for granted? Are you living it fully and intentionally, to whatever level you choose? Or are you cheating yourself?

It’s One Word. But we make of it what we will.

 

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October 21, 2018 · 5:37 pm

Reflecting on writing

There’s reflective writing – and then there’s reflecting on writing.

Clearly these are not the same. The first is an action in full flow, the second is the pause before or after.

I’m not really into navel-gazing. I get impatient with myself when I spend too long ruminating. I’ve learned to judge when I’ve done enough and when I need to come back down to earth.

Nevertheless there is a tonne of value in understanding why writing is so powerful. Reflecting on writing is a pause worth making.

Firstly rather than wait to be inspired to write, try writing to be inspired. Like yoga, the discipline to turn up to the mat or to the page is the only step. Then you can let the practice take over.

Reflective writing is about surrender to the quieter voice that guides us. Maybe you call it your higher self or your inner being or your sub-conscious. Whatever it is that takes over when we allow it to can reveal to us a whole depth of wisdom and insight we never realised we had access to.

And if we can begin to plumb those depths then we can come to recognise our own truth and authenticity. We each have our individual thread of integrity that runs through us like the writing through a stick of candy rock. Reviewing our journals over time often shows us the same messages and impulses, whether or not we ever chose to heed them.

Finally reflective writing can give us the springboard to action, to taking the next right step for us. Crucially it can illuminate our place in the world, giving us the guidance on how best to contribute our unique gifts to others in a way that feels so easy, because it’s so natural.

So reflecting on writing I am grateful for the inspiration, the discipline, the wisdom, truth, authenticity, integrity, action and guidance that it offers, ensures, and delivers.

What’s not to 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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Filed under Creative process, Journal Writing, The Journal Writer's Handbook, Uncategorized

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