Monthly Archives: August 2011
When we camp out, we don’t mess about – it’s like moving house … and then two weeks later doing the same thing in reverse. Every year, as I get the roof box down off the car, narrowly avoiding the kitchen window and several children, shlep all the tentage, camping chairs and camp cookware back into the loft and process enough dirty laundry to make a washer-woman weep, the thought crosses my mind … ‘is it really worth it?’ The answer is always ‘Absolutely, Yes!’ and here’s why …
This year we camped in the Lake District. The weather was fantastic, we were perhaps 10 paces from the shores of Ullswater and had ducks and swans as well as their various babies for company. The kids who are rarely what you might call ‘well manicured’ over the course of the two weeks became positively feral. I mostly kept my mobile off and gradually slipped into the rhythm of a simpler life. Wake with the sun, chill out and marvel at stunning lake, experiment with camping-style pancakes for breakfast, mull over whether we actually need to go anywhere as we are already there, progress to possible outing, or just walk down to lake and let kids get soaked and muddy as they hatch plans for taking a duckling home or build a jetty out of stones. Have lunch at some point, hang out and read to kids at the swings, put together barbeque for dinner. Get everyone changed for bed as the day gets older and sleep with the sun. Next morning another variation of the same.
It took almost a week for the rat-race to fall from my shoulders. I felt lighter somehow and more in tune. The one telephone client I did work with over the course of the holiday commented a couple of times that I seemed more perceptive than usual and was just ‘picking things up’. It didn’t matter what day of the week it was or even what time of day it was … in a sense it even became a bit of a meditative experience.
Two weeks later here we are back home again, most of the aftermath cleared away, and school looming on the horizon. So I ask myself, what souvenirs did I come home with? Well I did come home with a realistic-looking egg made of bouncy rubber that has been safely installed in my mother in law’s fridge, but I’m talking about a different kind of souvenir. You know you always learn something in meditation. That’s the point of this week’s post really. Many of us have been away, or at least had a break to our usual routine so what have we come back with? This is really a yearly opportunity to see things with fresh eyes. Personally, one thing I’ve realised is that I’m juggling far more balls than I knew I was. Life can be a bit like that, one responsibility after another sneaking up onto your back. You may well find the same thing in your life. We need to ask ourselves ‘How much of this is necessary and useful, and what can I just drop?’ Dropping dead weight leaves us more energy for the things we really care about. In reassessing where we place our energies, now is also a great time to ask ‘Am I really getting the juice out of my life? What could I add or change to make my life even more fulfilling?’ Finally, I think this is a time for gratitude. Sometimes we need time out from our lives so that we can come back and really appreciate what we already have. Gratitude attracts an abundance of everything good and we have so much to be grateful for, even on the simplest levels. Having returned from living on a field for two weeks I find myself really grateful for running water, central heating and indoor loos for a start!
So I leave you with these three post summer holiday questions:
1- Have I any commitments that are redundant and can be dropped?
2- What would I like to bring into my life now?
3- What do I have in my life that I can be truly and newly grateful for?
Have a fantastic and fulfilling week, and –why not? – a fabulous year ahead!
Dear Loyal and Lovely Readers,
If you’re reading this it means that we made a break for the hills and in all probability are currently sitting around a campfire somewhere in the mountains, cooking ‘campfire surprise’. It’s called campfire surprise because you never know quite what’s in it and it always tastes somewhat surprising! Either that or sheltering in a tent with the rain lashing down outside. There’s nothing quite like a bit of nature dripping down the back of your neck 🙂 and nothing like finding yourself in a far simpler place for … well, finding yourself.
Here’s wishing you a fantastic summer holidays with plenty of sunshine, lots of happy family and friends and lots of nature if that’s what you like!
I’ll be back to grace your inbox in a couple of weeks – see you soon –
What on earth is going on with our children? More to the point, what on earth has happened to our society that allows 14 years olds to roam the streets, smashing shop windows and stealing electronic equipment? And the biggest question of all is: what are we going to do about it?
I don’t need to tell you what’s happening on our streets right now, night after night. Turn on any news channel and its all they’re talking about. To cut a long story short many of the youth of this country are committing theft, arson and general destruction on such a scale that the police are considering measures like water cannons and rubber bullets in order to control them. Some of these kids are barely out of nappies. I’m betting most of the vandals that have terrorised the streets of the UK for the last four nights don’t do their own washing or cook their own meals … so it’s not just the kids who are ‘ill’. It’s us. We are bringing up a nation of thugs. It’s time we did something about it.
What’s the answer? Well first of all the threat of water cannons and rubber bullets may have cleared London’s streets last night, but it hasn’t solved the root of the problem – the young perpetrators are mostly still at large, and they still hold a lawless attitude. A ‘Robust approach’ is not the only answer. There will be many who call for a ‘return to traditional values’, but I don’t think we can return to anything. There is only going forward. We need to identify the reasons, and make sure that the solution is something that is relevant to the young people of today. Also, saying that the young people are bored or see no future for themselves is not a deep enough description of what is happening. There are plenty other ways to deal with boredom than to go out looting.
I think we can start to understand what is happening by looking at these three related factors:
• The Media
• What is acceptable to us as a society
• The way that we as parents and educators are raising our children
Give your eyes a good rub and take a look at what is offered to us and our children for entertainment these days. The media is awash with violence, sex, and greed. As we speak my six year old son is sitting in front of the tv watching cartoons that depict young people fighting for their survival, and to ‘save the world’. Aggression and violence is always the answer in these cartoons. If there is any intelligence or problem solving involved it’s very much a ‘side serving’ rather than the main dish. Most of the computer games you can buy today, and which our young immerse themselves in, are similarly violent. Sex has become a currency for selling anything, and is portrayed as something that needs no boundaries, something that anyone can do for fun. Don’t we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world? Are we alright with that?
And as for greed, isn’t it all about stuff, stuff, stuff these days? What you have defines who you are in our society. TV shows one ad after another for more and more toys, more and more ‘bling’ and during the actual programmes makes it clear that if you want to be in with these guys you have to have these things. You have to be made up, you’ve got to be dressed right, and in a sexually appealing fashion. Recently there was a fuss in the media about our music videos being too sexually explicit, and if we’re honest that’s not the only problem. The language is very explicit, and the actual messages portrayed by the music are often those of lawlessness, promiscuity and greed.
But before we blame the media for society’s ills we need to stop and take a look at society itself. Because all the media does is reflect back to us what we as a society are. The media is giving us what we ask for, because that is what pays. So the media is a very accurate measure of what is going on in society itself. If you take a look at our media channels you begin to realise that we as a society therefore allow greed, violence and aggression, promiscuity and bad language. These things have become the norm for us. Children will push the boundaries, it’s one of the things they do best, and look at the boundaries they’re pushing! Is it any wonder that so many of our young think these things are ok? After all these are the messages we are giving them , or at least allowing them to absorb. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves! As any parent will know, your children often force you to reassess the way you approach life, and our kids are currently doing this on a national scale. We need to wake up!
So we approach the third point. How are we raising our children? Well aside from giving them a raft of deeply twisted messages about what is right and normal in our world today, our actual methods of parenting and teaching need looking at. Most of today’s parents are so busy making a living that we’re not giving our kids the attention they need. I have 3 children of my own, I know this isn’t easy. Today’s life is fast, it’s not always simple, and we have to keep up to keep our families afloat. But this means we are too tired and stretched to actually raise our kids. So they’re raising themselves or being raised by the TV and their peers – and look where that has lead! Even when we do find time for our kids, we don’t seem to know what to do to manage them. We turn to the ways we were brought up, and let’s be fair, justice was often meted out fairly aggressively, even if it was just how we were spoken to. ‘Clear up your room or you don’t go out.’ ‘Do your homework or no TV.’. And so sometimes if we’re a little enlightened we’ll say to ourselves ‘I don’t want to be an aggressive parent, I want to be a nice one’, so what are we replacing aggression with? Permissiveness! Now everything is alright. Kids can do whatever they like if they just push hard enough. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ has somehow become ‘kids know best’. They don’t. They’re kids. They need us to bring them up, that’s what we’re for. If we as parents and teachers don’t take charge and teach them right from wrong, who is going to?
So now on to solutions. First, we need to heal our own attitudes and thus heal our media. The society we have created and continue to create is patently not working. When the children rise up and start the process of self destruction that has got to be a potent message for us that we’re doing something badly wrong. We need to reassess our basic societal values. How much stuff do we actually need? Is the over sexualisation of everything really acceptable to us? Is aggression really the answer to everything? Is permissiveness the answer? Is the way we habitually speak and the language that has come to be regarded as normal actually alright with us?
Come on and take a stand. None of these things are acceptable. You don’t have to be religious, or ‘a prude’ or ‘old fashioned’ to realise that the way we are living is NOT WORKING. We need to clean up our act, and demonstrate better values to our kids. We need higher ideals. We need better ways of dealing with adversity. Let’s bring in gratitude for what we have. Let’s bring in a focus on the beautiful things in life and on inner beauty. Let’s bring in working together to make things better. Let’s bring in assertiveness and an intelligent approach to replace aggressiveness or passiveness in our dealings with our world and in our parenting. Our rioting children are doing us a big favour. They are giving us a wake up call that we ignore at our peril. We need to change as a society and we need to do it now, for the sake of our future. We owe it to our kids.
What do you do with the dark times? You know, like visiting a house of mourning? Or when September the 11th comes round? Or hearing of some human tragedy – (even the ‘UK Riots’) on the news?
Well now, some people lap it all up. They love a bit of tragedy. I think in a way they kind of get high on it. They’ll be the first to call you and say “Did you hear what happened to …. isn’t it sad?” Isn’t it miserable, hard, deliciously depressing… Then you’ve got those who feign complete composure. You know, the ‘pass the salt’ types. They’ll sit there and say things like “Well it was par for the course, wasn’t it really, I mean what did you expect?” Sometimes they’ve gotten so cold in the practice of not feeling, that I think they actually don’t feel it anymore. Then you’ve got the channel switchers. You know, the people who change the channel when the ads about abused or starving children come on because they can’t bear to watch. And here I have to put my hand up and admit: That’s me. Well at least it was…
I know this one from the inside. I do watch the news, because I like to know what’s happening, but I’ll never read sad books and hate watching drama. Don’t talk to me about horror movies – even the film ‘Titanic’ kept me awake for a week, thinking about all those people dying. Funny disposition for a life coach/hypnotherapist. I get to hear about a lot of the dark things that have happened in people’s lives – sometimes things that they themselves haven’t faced up to in years. And it grabs me by the throat every time. I don’t think I’ll ever be immune to feeling it, and I don’t think I want to be. Lucky for me I’m adept at ‘turning down’ the sensitivity enough at least to help my clients get themselves out of the pit, but I feel it first. I’ve always got time to ‘feel’ along with my clients, but when I get home, you’ll never catch me chasing the misery shows – life’s serious enough!
So what do you do with it? It seems I’ve not been alone in trying to ‘protect’ myself from the dark side of life. There are plenty of people – some of them pretty big in the personal development world – who actually don’t watch the news at all because they don’t want to be brought down by the world’s misery. There are therapy techniques that have you ‘rewrite’ your past so that the dark things supposedly never happened or so that people apparently didn’t hurt you. And there is some pretty powerful evidence that ‘what you focus on, you get’, so there’s a growing industry out there to help you focus on the good things, so that you get more of them. It’s powerful stuff and I believe in a positive focus with all my heart.
But here’s the sting in the tail. In ‘trying’ to protect yourself from the darkness, what are you doing? YOU’RE FOCUSING ON IT. Think about that. I’m not talking to the misery wallowers here, you’re focusing on it and you know you are, so you’ll get plenty of it to keep focusing on, if that’s what you really want for yourself. I’m talking to all of us personal development junkies who read all the positive books, and laugh with all the funny people, and wake up and tweet “It’s a beautiful sunshiny day!!!” How many of us can’t face the darkness, and run from it? Well guess what baby, you better never look back, cos it’s right there chasing you!
What’s the answer? I’ve just read it. In a book by Gregg Braden, entitled ‘Walking between the Worlds’. I’m probably still not going to watch the tear jerkers, but I won’t be switching channels every time the sad ads come on any more. I’ve found a better way to deal with it and I’m ready to share. Here it comes: Accept the Darkness.
‘Watttt?????” You might say. “You mean I have to like the dark side??? You mean I have to want it?? Why did I just spend all those years training my brain to ignore it??? Don’t be silly, the dark side is bad, its evil, it pulls you down, it makes you sad, why would I want it???”
I didn’t say want it. I said accept it. Allow it. Maybe forgive it. Mr Braden even has us bless it.
To quote Gregg Braden:
“To live in the absence of fear and pain, you must allow for their possibility. That is it. Simply allow for their very existence. In the “allowing” for the possibility, is found the removing of the charge. Please be clear regarding this subtle yet powerful chemo-behavioural code. Allowing for the existence of something does not mean that you are choosing for something to happen. It does not mean that you condone it or like it. It does not mean that you would ever wish that something upon someone else. Allowing simply means that you acknowledge its existence and the role that the “something” plays within the overall context of life. That is all, no more and no less.”
Why allow it? Because then you can leave it behind. Once we accept that these things happened, that they exist, that they play a part in life, once we find a way to truly make peace with the dark side, the fight is over. It can’t chase you if you don’t run. It won’t suck your energy anymore every time you strive to ignore it. And then you’ll finally be free.
Once you’ve made your peace with the darkness and found a way to view it with compassion this allows you to deal with the situation compassionately and successfully, ensuring the best possible result for everyone involved. And so we see that acceptance does not mean impotence. Far from it. Once you accept, you are no longer compelled to a ‘knee-jerk reaction’. Instead, if a response is possible, you will be able to respond in a measured, appropriate and compassionate way – and you will be far more effective.
Furthermore, the power that you’ve freed up through no longer being obsessed with heavy feelings you can now put to use to accomplish everything that’s important to you. To really live a life of abundance, and blessing and brilliance. Then we can fully turn to the brighter side of things, with all our newfound vibrancy and zest and drink in deep!
Ps: I’m now starting a running collection of useful information, both on resolving our issues with the dark and of course on the all important positive focus side of things. You will find these in ‘Newly Added Resources’ to the right of this page, and in the ‘Resource Bank’ page – link at the top and to the right. Please do contribute, and here’s to all of our brilliance – go forth and shine bright!
The sun is shining beautifully, there are just a few little clouds scudding across the sky and my friend and I have taken our kids to a pick-your-own farm. We are in a huge field chequered by big plots of various vegetables, in the middle of a plot of onions so big that it takes a couple of minutes just to walk across it. There I am carrying the baby in the sling, laden with a bag of beautiful, fresh onions in one hand, complete with long spring-oniony type greens and pulling onions out of the ground with the other hand. My son comes up to me and with his typical ‘Mummy is Superwoman’ thinking tries to get me to carry his bag of onions as well!
‘Let’s just put it down here, and you can come back and put more in as you go’ I suggest, leaving the bag on the ground. ‘But Mummy’ he says ‘someone will steal it!’
‘Look around’ I tell him ‘there are a million onions – who’s going to want to steal yours?’
We often think like that don’t we? You can be right in the middle of a field of possibilities and still feel impoverished, like you don’t have enough or that someone is going to steal it all away from you! Feeling ‘poor’ isn’t good for the moral, and it keeps us stuck. When you feel like there isn’t enough, you can’t live large, in case you ‘use it all up’, and quite often you don’t even see the opportunities around you because you ‘know’ that they aren’t there!
How about knowing something different? How about knowing that there IS more than enough? How about knowing that we can have anything we want if we can just be open to receiving it? How about allowing yourself to live with an attitude of ABUNDANCE instead?
Remember Schrodinger’s cat? If you don’t, that’s your physics homework for this week. Basically we influence the world around us just by looking at it. That’s not me being fanciful, you’ll find it in your physics textbook. In a sense we create by looking. So if you want abundance in every sense, you need to look for it, and absolutely expect to find it! We draw to us that which we expect to experience, both positive and negative. So if you want to change your luck, start by changing your expectations.
I close with another story about my son – children truly are our greatest teachers. There we are at a large seaside fairground. I am playing ‘baggage woman’ and have all the coats and bags and babies and drinks, and I’m sitting there watching the world go by, whilst my son and his cousin go from one ride to the next. My attention falls on the nearby games stalls and I can’t help noticing that there’s a little skulduggery going on. There’s this guy, obviously the stooge, carrying a massive fluorescent orange alien teddy bear on his back, and walking up and down the fairground. Every now and then he stops at the ‘knock the cans down to win a prize’ stall, chucks a couple of balls at the cans, has a laugh with the stallholder, and then walks off carrying the gigantic teddy on his back, supposedly having won. I know my boy is going to want one of these, and sure enough, as soon as they come off the rides, he insists on having a go at winning this teddy.
‘But it’s a con!’ I explain to him. ‘Watch the people who are playing, nobody’s winning.’
‘Yes they are’ he says ‘I saw a man with one!’
‘He’s a con too!’ I say ‘he’s pretending he’s won so that people will come and play the game! Look, take the two pounds – you can have it. Put it in your pocket and take it home.’
‘No!’ he says ‘I want to win the teddy!’
You try arguing with a five year old. ‘But you can’t possibly win it’ I say, exasperated, ‘the game is set up so that you can’t win! You’ll lose your money and get nothing. In fact I’ll bet you a week’s earnings that you can’t win that teddy! If you have a go at this, then you can’t go on any of the other games!’ ‘Fine!’ he says and beaten I take them to the stall.
He puts his money on the counter. He’s so little he can barely see over the surface. So the stallholder invites him to sit up on top. ‘As you’re young’ he tells him ‘you can have three tries instead of two’. My son nods, looking ever so serious. All I can think about is the disappointed tantruming I’m going to have to deal with all the way home. He throws one ball and it goes wildly off into the corner of the stall. He throws another and it’s just as wide. Then the stallholder himself takes the last ball and throws it at the cans, just leaving two standing! He picks up the ball and hands it back to my son, who throws it again. And he gives him the ball back again. And again. He keeps giving my son the ball until all the cans are down. ‘Well done!’ he tells him ‘You Won!’ The smile on my boy’s face could light up the pier.
Well that’s how I ended up handing over a week’s earnings to my five year old … word is word. He taught me a lesson though. He taught me that if you want something enough, and you believe in it enough and insist on it in the face of all dissuaders, and actually go for it, then you can get it, no matter what the odds.
So this week know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are surrounded by every opportunity you could possibly need. See the abundance and give yourself permission to receive it. Claim your destiny. There is magic in the eye of the beholder.