Be your own Valentine

It’s 1st February. The month of love. When spring is thinking about being sprung and kids everywhere anticipate padded red envelopes being left in their lockers and desks; while restaurants charge an arm and a leg for everything served with ‘a raspberry coulis’.

It can also be a time of anti-climax. The Valentine isn’t quite as heart-felt as you’d like; the service in the restaurant is a bit slow and the red rose a bit wilted.

So this month try something radical. Instead of waiting for Mr or Ms Right to declare their undying love, do it for yourself. In your journal.

What if you wrote yourself a love letter, the way you want it to be? What if, every day in February, you sent yourself a billet doux, written by your own fair hand, in your journal.

Don’t be shy. Be loving and  kind. To yourself.

And while you’re at it, treat yourself to your very own signed copy of The Journal Writer’s Handbook, available here, while stocks last.



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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.


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.


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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Inspiration or Motivation

I have often found it a lot of effort to motivate myself. I usually manage it – but it often leaves me feeling tired, and unlikely to want to repeat the effort any time soon.

So I was delighted to hear Abraham Hicks’ insistence that there is more joyful productivity likely when we are moved by inspiration rather than motivation.

This was music to my ears.

For years I have periodically asserted that I like to “follow my nose” in my projects, commercial or creative. I usually prefer to see where the mood takes me, rather than slavishly follow a pattern or plan, which quickly has me restless and bored.

To me, this is all about being guided by inspiration rather than force. It feels like gliding rather than trudging through life.

This way of proceeding can prove chaotic, indecisive and messy to the casual observer. It might seem flakey, unreliable and weird.

Of course that would be a problem if I were here to live life according to someone else’s agenda.

But since I’m not here to do that, following my nose, or my heart, or my bliss, makes things much more fun and spontaneous moment to moment. It means I get to choose the impulse that feels the best to me, and follow that to its conclusion. It also feels less like I’m pushing things uphill, and more like I’m free-wheeling down the other side of a hill I’ve climbed through courage and vision and honesty rather than effort and obligation and pressure.

I have had a great deal of really cool experiences with this approach. It helps me be more ready to say YES to opportunities as they present themselves. And it has also opened the flood gates to a whole host of new creative ideas.

If you are looking for ways to tap into your creative imagination, or if you are keen to live the life you want, you would do worse than to give yourself permission to explore what impulses occur to you, moment to moment, when you allow yourself off the motivation hook and get ready to be inspired.


Filed under Creative process, Law of Attraction

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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Go back in time to boost yourself out of boredom

One of the exercises I write about in The Journal Writer’s Handbook is called Back in  Time. It’s an opportunity to reflect and get in touch with the stuff you used to love as a kid – and perhaps recognise how much or how little of that you’re doing in your current life.

Of course, when you think back to childhood activities it might be a bit of a stretch to consider what the adult version of it might be – but have a go. You are bound to come up with something. When I wrote the book I was into cycling, and remembering how riding my bike used to be the thing I would spend most of my time doing at the age of 13.

The idea is, that if you feel in a bit of a rut, you might find inspiration from your childhood to shake things up a bit – a new hobby or pastime, or something to give you a clue about a new experience you might try.

Adolescent shyness and adult shame are terrible accomplices in knocking out our inner child. If we listen too closely to them we very readily lose our childlike sparkle unnecessarily. Reflective writing affords us the space to take a step back from our daily routine and gain a new perspective about what inspires us.

As well as bike-riding as a kid I used to love writing and performing comedy sketches with my friends at school. And ever since even younger I used to enjoy singing, dancing, performing and entertaining. I would always find an audience wherever I could.

At the age of 48 some might say I’d missed the boat to get on the stage. But then, 8 weeks ago, I saw an ad for a stand-up comedy course in my local area and I didn’t think twice about signing up. Maybe I would have thought twice if I’d realised from the get-go that I would be performing my first ever stand-up gig to a paying audience only two months later. But now I’ve done it I’m glad the temptation to not bother never crossed my path.

The course itself was excellent and the support from the coach and the other participants was brilliant, despite everyone feeling various degrees of terrified. It surprised me how much structure there is in joke writing, and how precise it needs to be, with as few words as possible. Brevity being the soul of wit and all.

On the night of the performance  I thought I was going to die from an adrenaline overdose 30 seconds before I went on stage.  My mind was blank and I couldn’t remember my first line. But once I was on stage and connecting with the audience it felt awesome. Everyone looked so engaged and happy – it was very encouraging. Hearing people laugh and applaud my jokes was a great feeling – and unexpected.

Afterwards I felt euphoric, relieved, and really proud of myself and the group. I also felt like a bit of a superhero in the eyes of my friends who all told me I was brilliant.

In the week since doing the gig I’ve noticed that I’m a lot less guarded with things that I say – I just come out with it without worrying what people think. I was always a bit like that anyway, but having done the gig gives me even more confidence and attitude!! I might lose friends…

The experience definitely got me back in touch with my ballsy inner child, and I would heartily recommend it to anyone whose idea of fun is to do something that scares you everyday.

Whatever you find when you go back in time in your journal could hold the key to a new lease of life. Go for it!

For more information and inspiration about stand-up visit


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Attract more good things to you through journaling

The Law of Attraction has created a New Age buzz for over a decade, ever since the book and film The Secret hit mass consciousness.

Before that it was the beautiful work of Esther and Jerry Hicks to bring the wisdom of the Law of Attraction to the world through the spiritual teachings of Abraham – a task which Esther, now a widow, continues tirelessly and generously.

For the past thirty years Esther and Jerry have been articulating a message that has caught the imagination of thousands of people who are interested in getting a blast out of life.

It’s been three years now that I have been practicing gratitude in my journal. Those entries where I have written about at least three things that I am grateful for on a daily basis reflect a life of appreciation and serenity, even though my felt experience may not have always played out that way.

So I started to get curious about how to turn up the volume on the good feelings that my journaling practice was beginning to evoke, and turn down the noise that interfered with the sense of well-being I was experiencing.

I learned that in writing about the interference, the whinges and the moans and the objections and the rants, I was actually breathing more life into bad feelings.  Recently I have understood from Abraham Hicks that focusing on these aspects reinforces them in our experience and attracts more of the same to us.

I naturally began to want to turn away from generating complaints and criticisms. It felt too bad to me to be constantly logging what I felt was wrong with everything. Whereas writing about the things that I appreciate, the beauty that catches my eye, and the good things I wish for myself and those close to me, would make me take more of the good feeling into my daily life, and encounter more delightful things.

At first it feels good to use our journals to get things off our chest. And there is perhaps an important ritual in doing so, such as burning our pages, or expressing our fears and judgements and then handing them over to a greater power to deal with on our behalf.

But as an on-going practice, writing down the things that we appreciate and are grateful for, no matter how small, stands us in good stead to achieve a more positive and joyful experience.

And that’s how journaling ought to be.


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