The New Story of Your Life

October 2015 was a blessed month for me.

I spent five days playing golf in Spain with some dear friends; and one whole week enjoying some late summer sunshine in Turkey with my Mum and my daughter.

In between I got to do something similarly awesome. I got to meet, and spend the whole day with, my journaling heroine Kathleen Adams.

Juliet and Kay Adams

I read Kathleen’s book Journal to the Self almost a decade ago and it inspired me in many ways, not least to produce the Journal Writer’s Handbook. To actually experience a workshop with her and other inspiring women was such a glorious gift that I will remember for a long long time.

The subject of the workshop, which took place in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and which was co-facilitated by the wild and wonderful Mary Reynolds Thompson, was as the title of this blog: Writing the New Story of Your Life.

It’s a poignant, emotive venture to undertake the creation of a new story for ourselves. It’s also alarming to realise how many stories we already have playing in our lives – and how they rarely serve us well.

Kathleen shared with us a wonderful poem by Michael Blumenthal called The New Story of Your Life. I was most struck by the “sense of plenitude entirely your own” that this New Life requires and have reflected deeply on what this means to me over the recent days.

Writing and sharing reflections with a group of generous, gentle souls is a restorative and emboldening experience. I was amazed by and proud of the fabulous women in the room who already had such diverse stories and experiences, and who were so incredibly generous in their sharing and their attention to each other. We rocked.

To borrow from Kathleen the springboard phrase she used to introduce the workshop, I invite you to consider what is the story of your life today?

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Writing for Illumination

I recently visited the Book of Kells exhibition at Trinity College in Dublin.

It wasn’t the first time. It was probably the third time in fact. So why the history of the Illuminated Manuscript should move me so this time puts me in a quandary.

Entering the display one is greeted with portentous announcements about bringing light out of the darkness. There is a cruel irony in the image of Medieval monks scratching at vellum in the candlelit gloom, wrecking their eyesight and their posture, painstakingly reaching for enlightenment with every flourish of their pen.

I’ve always imagined, and technically this appears to be accurate, that Illumination referred to the stunning colours and gold leaf of the text. However reflecting on some of the monks’ non-illumined writings gives me reason to believe Illumination is not just about elaborate decoration.

The ordinary poetry the monks produced to test their ink, their technique, or simply to express their own voice, to me was far more moving, though less of a spectacle, than the intricate works of art they made of the Gospels.

They speak of birdsong, of the comforting shelter of the trees and the dappling of the sunlight as they sit and write during their breaks. Their words are their own, not those of some apostle or saint. And yet they are no less saintly for that.

They recognise the sacredness of the nature around them, and of the action of writing, bringing them ever closer to the word of God.

I wonder whether they ever suspected they were closer to that word out in the sunlight instead of huddled over candlelight; whether their own poetry delivered them to enlightenment more than the illuminations that gave them bed and board.

I feel a bond with those monks of old. With them I share a delight in writing, seated in the sunshine, in my garden, during my breaks from paid work. There may be more than a thousand years between us but the joy in writing is timeless and eternal. And through that I could not stop my tears.

Book of Kells on Wikipedia

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Heart, brain and belly

Writing my gratitude calms me; brings me back to the present moment.

And here I notice three physical distinctions. Heart, brain and belly: metaphors for the three most powerful emotions: love, fear and desire.

I notice that while my brain falls victim to fearful thoughts that scramble round my head like a screeching macaque, and while desire is a visitor to my belly, my heart is the constant. Even though I can lose sight and sense of it under the influence of the marauding imposters, it doesn’t stop beating.

I envisage my glowing heart as the source of love that doesn’t need to be projected anywhere, onto anything or anyone. I breathe into it; feel it expand, quietly pulsing, alive, giving, bright, soft, safe. It is entirely me. There is a contented settling within myself, beautiful and serene.

When I remember this my brain quietens, and there is tremendous comfort in knowing that my heart is neither undone nor broken once desire leaves my belly.

As I write I am grateful for the nascent understanding that I am neither brain nor belly – but most definitely heart.

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Letting Go

Sometimes the words you need just appear…

Wildflower Women

One of the hardest lessons in life is to know when to let go. Whether it is guilt, loss, love, anger or betrayal change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go. We must be willing to sacrifice our limited tunnel vision and fly. When we rid ourselves of limitation, hesitation, or refusal to take right action we can make our lives sacred. We must admit our own mistakes as well as forgive those that have caused us pain, letting go of guilt, shame and blame and begin from love. We must be willing to stand fully in the light.

In order to stand in the light, we must be willing to let go and sacrifice those unhealed parts within ourselves that are no longer in accordance with the sacredness of our being, this would be our shadow side. We should not deny our…

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How is the Law of Attraction working for you?

My family and I have recently been improving our financial IQ by playing Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Game. Like a turbo-charged incarnation of Monopoly it’s a game of chance, but with lots of lessons along the way about assets, liabilities, property and business deals that can make for exciting rainy day entertainment.

Cashflow game

While playing the game with friends this past weekend, I found myself on a particular streak of having to pay out hundreds on various expenses, what Kiyosaki calls Doodads, and for which there are cards to turn over much like Monopoly’s Chance or Community Chest cards.

“I don’t believe it!” I kept saying. “Just my luck I’ll get the boat too.”

Now the boat is the most extravagant of doodads, weighing in at a hefty $18k, which on my meagre janitor’s salary would pretty much break the bank.

“I don’t want the boat!” I continued with every roll of the dice.

Until guess what? I got the boat.

Well duh.

Quite apart from learning how to manage money once you’ve got it this in itself was a valuable lesson about how to attract it – or not – in the first place.

Take a look at what you’re regularly saying you don’t believe, or you don’t want, or what it’ll be just your luck to get.

And quick – use your journal to find a different way to put it. Or just stop going on about it altogether.

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A day of alignment

As the moon begins to bite its eclipse into the sun on this spring equinox – the first time there has been this perfect an alignment since 1681 – it’s an inspiring day for us to pick up our journal and write about what we are aligning ourselves with in our life.

Some great inquiries and meditations can happen today – when the celestial bodies in our tiny area of the cosmos are being extraordinarily cooperative.

The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun – yet it is 400 times closer to the earth, which makes it like David to Goliath, able to completely block out the visible surface of the sun from our view.

So take up your journal and explore.

What are you aligned with?

What is your true David to Goliath power?

What will you overcome in order to achieve your dreams?

Happy eclipse day. Happy first day of spring.

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Journaling for entrepreneurs

Last week I presented a 20 minute talk about journal writing to a group of 15 small business owners at a networking breakfast. They’re a great bunch with whom I network on a regular basis, and as they can be quite lively I was curious to see how they would respond to some quiet time to write reflectively.

Having explained a little bit about the power of journaling I then led them through 4 carefully selected journaling prompts – to break them in gently!

I was thrilled that for 10 whole minutes the whole group – most of whom were not accustomed to this type of activity – sat and wrote. The sense of mindful calm that descended upon the room was luscious – and something that I have become very familiar with, and fond of, when encouraging groups of people to reflect together.

In the spirit of reviewing and setting goals and intentions for the New Year, the prompts I suggested were:

I am grateful for..

It is a time of…

My accomplishments this week have been…

Next week I promise myself…

After the session there were a number of questions and comments, and a real sense that beginning the day mindfully was a positive thing.

I hope that more business owners will give journaling a try to gain perspective, test out ideas and tap into their inner wisdom, creativity and resourcefulness. After all this is the true spirit of the entrepreneur.

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