Monthly Archives: December 2011

Are You a True Friend?

When approaching the ocean it's great to have a hand to hold!

How do you explain friendship to someone who doesn’t believe in the soul? Pairing up to procreate makes sense to cold, old fashioned evolution, as does having a working buddy – someone you hunt with.  But plain, no strings attached friendship? Where does that need for simple companionship come from and why is it sometimes soothed by some individuals that you ‘just feel a link’ with?  You can’t tell me that consciousness is just a state emerging from the complexity of the connections in the human mind, and then try to sell me the idea that that consciousness requires friendship.  Sorry, I don’t buy it. I think true friendship is a soul thing.

Right, philosopher’s hat off, life coach’s hat on.  Friendship was gifted to us, so let’s allow it to serve us and our friends both, as it should. I think we should be giving and receiving things like this:

Just plain fun

Obviously friends are the people to have fun with – if you Google ‘things to do with your friends’ you get a host of silly and fun activities, just for a laugh. Fun and laughter makes the world a happier lighter place, and it is seriously good for your health (I’m not kidding  so are you getting enough Vitamin F, and do you have the right people to share it with? Don’t be too groan up now (the spelling error is intentional) get out there and have some fun!

A sense of connection

We humans, we like to feel that we’re a part of something.  We like to feel like it matters that we exist, that we hold a piece of being that no one else can hold.  That we’re valued for that. How’s your sense of connection with your group of friends?  Do your friends ‘get you’? Do you have that link? Or do you need to find more people that you can feel that connection with? If so, where might you find them?

Loving help and protection

Friends look after each other.  They’ll drive out in the pouring rain, dragging their kids with them if necessary, if your car breaks down and there’s no one else to rescue you.  They’ll bring you a hot soup if you’re down with the flu, or find a few minutes in their crazy busy day to say hi.  And if they are so overwhelmed with life they can’t even call you, they still think about you, and smile.  A friend stands up for you when everyone else is against you – even if you’re wrong. Doesn’t mean they agree with you, but they will do their best not to let anyone hurt you, even so. How well do you take care of your friends?

Whilst having a laugh is important, feeling a part of something also worthy, and giving/receiving protection can change a life, I think these last 3 points are not to be underestimated:

An experience of reflection

The closest people to us are in a way our greatest therapists.  What do I mean by that?  Well what does a therapist do?  Part of the job of a good therapist is to reflect back to us or help us to see the way we relate to the world, so that we can change what doesn’t serve us.  And if you look at the closest people around you, don’t they do the same thing?  Our family and our friends constantly hold up a mirror for us so we can see ourselves.  ( If you practice anger you will often find angry friends who reveal you to yourself.  If you’re a loving caring person don’t you always see that in the friends around you?  If you will ‘do anything for anyone’ don’t you have friends who do that for you?  What are your friends reflecting back to you these days?

Safe arms in which to have a revelation

Oh those safe arms of friendship!  Someone that you can trust never to desert you, never to intentionally hurt you, someone who deeply cares about you …  what a safe place to face your deepest pains and find your way to a solution!  What a safe place to reveal those little shards and splinters of your truest self as you discover them and piece them together, knowing that your friend will still accept you as you grow and change, and will delight in your discoveries as much as you do.  Do you have a friend that could do this for you?  If not, are you being this type of friend?

Someone to hold you to account

A real friend … doesn’t let you get away with self destruction. They will love you and support you whatever you do, but if you truly start to lose yourself they are the ones who will smack your face if they have to and help you get back on track.  If you tell your true friend you’re seriously dieting they will wrestle the cookie jar from you.  If you tell your true friend that you never, ever want to go out with that kind of girl again, and you mean it, they are the one who will get you by the scruff of the neck and drag you out of there so you don’t get yourself in trouble again.  Sometimes your true friend won’t rescue you, because the value of the lesson learnt in a losing pattern repeated would help you more.  But they also don’t abandon you.  When the house of cards eventually falls down they’re there to help you pick up the pieces and start again, and there to help you build a better house this time.  They might even bite their tongue and avoid saying “I told you so!”  Held anyone to account lately?


When you think deeply about the blessing of friendship don’t you just feel lucky to be given that?  Where would we be without our friends? Let’s take a moment of gratitude for friendship now.  When you think of everything your friends have given you, it’s hard not to be grateful.  Poet’s hat on (I wish!!!) This has been going round and round in my head for the last few days so I had to chuck it onto the keyboard for you…


To Friends

To friends past:

friends that have come and gone,

friends lost, friends missed,

friends from the old days,

friends who left a hole in our hearts,

friends who taught us something,

friends who were like family,

friends who were brothers and sisters to us,

friends who never let us down,

friends who left a bit of themselves with us always,

and with whom we left a bit of ourselves.

To friends present:

friends we laugh with,

friends who guide us and we guide,

friends we trust with our deepest pains and joys,

friends we learn from and friends we teach.

Friends we have fun with,

friends who are soul mates,

friends who make life a delight,

friends we pledge ourselves to forever.

To friends future:

to the friends we yearn for,

friends not yet met,

friends that would fill the gap,

friends like a piece of soul missing,

friends we would do anything for,

the friends we wait for,

friends we know are already ours,

even though they are not yet there.

The friends we daydream of having

and so draw closer to ourselves.

To all these friends thank you, bless you and much love to you.

May you always bask in pleasant sunshine,

may your path be easy,

may your rewards be plentiful.

May you reach the heights you aspire to,

may you easily recall your life’s desires

and accomplish them with flair.

May love, fulfilment and abundance be your territory,

and may you be happy always.

This blog is for all my friends, past, present and future, and for friends everywhere, with a great deal of gratitude and love.

This week, nurture your friends!



Perspective is Everything

It’s going to be a short one today  … in case it escaped your attention, we’re in that alternate dimension known as school holidays!  This involves getting up just as early as you do during term time, and going to bed much later, the whole household spending at least half the day in pyjamas and getting to do all those things that you never end up doing like …. playing chess.  Indeed, chess has become the game of choice in our house.

I didn’t have anyone to teach it to me as a child.  I read the rules on the box and learnt the moves for each piece, but I didn’t get a feel for the thing, and didn’t end up taking to it. Now my nearly seven year old son has discovered it – on the computer of course.  I had so long ago decided that I didn’t understand chess, that I didn’t even ‘see’ the chess game icon.  Of course my son had no such preconceptions and clicked the icon.  You play against the computer, and you can always undo the last move if you make a mistake, so it’s easy to learn, and in the space of 2-3 days we’ve both begun to get into it.  A few years ago I bought a beautiful (second hand) glass chess board from a school fair.  So we’ve now progressed to playing each other on a proper chess board.  It feels ever so intellectual 🙂

My boy is becoming a really good chess player … well ok, he gives me a run for my money!  As yet he hasn’t worked out how to put a good face on when he loses a game though.  This morning I pulled out all the stops and did my best to beat him, and wonder of wonders the tide turned and the game started to go my way. Well, out came the big sulk.  In an effort to restore peace I suggested “I tell you what, let’s turn the board round and I’ll be the white pieces instead”.  He thought there was nothing more he could do with the pieces he had, occupying the positions they were in, so really I wanted him to see that actually there was plenty he could do, and that he might even win.  We drew with just a king left each in the end, which proved my point and avoided further sulking!

He got me thinking though, as he usually does … isn’t that a great thing to be able to do in life?  When you think you’ve got no options left, mentally ‘turn the board around’ and experience things from the other person’s point of view. You suddenly get to see your (and the other persons) weak and strong points from the opposite angle.  You’ll also notice opportunities that were there all along but weren’t visible to you before. Perspective is everything. You could ‘zoom out’ and take a wider view.  Usually when we take a step back and see the bigger picture, it’s far easier to make decisions, and we get to see that nothing is quite as big or little as it first seems.  Or you could take it the other way and zoom in …  when you get up close to a situation, break it down into its component pieces and really analyse it, you often find that things weren’t what you first thought, as well as a new way of dealing with matters.

We tend to subscribe to this hypnosis, don’t we, that we are somehow locked into our bodies and can only ever see things from where we stand.  That’s the beauty of the mind and the imagination. I think we as humans tend to waste our imagination quite a lot.  OK it’s great for day dreaming and for having a laugh, but how often do you use yours for discovery? Whilst what you can do with your body is locked into earthly space and time (at least for most people), your imagination isn’t locked into anything except the walls you put round it. So if you can’t physically move from where you are to get a different view point, fire up that imagination and go for a spin … you may amaze yourself with what you discover…

This week contemplate something you might feel checkmated on … and then change your perspective so you can win the game!


Oh and happy holidays everyone!

If You Want Lasting Happiness Click Here …

Oooh, can I have a lick?

First, on the subject of last week’s blog, crumbs, what a difference a title makes!  For those who didn’t read it because it was entitled ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ and you are sick of being told about recycling, me too, and it wasn’t actually very much to do with recycling at all, at least not in the physical sense.  I might as well have called it ‘Read This and Get The Flu!’  If I put it out again I’d call it “Everything is good”, which is closer to what it’s actually about – so if that title is a little more tempting, then check out last week’s blog!


Now a couple of weeks ago I went with my colleagues Ronit Gerber and Cliff White  to a talk by David Ault  (there’s a right bunch of links for you – is this the modern-day name dropping?!) The talk was entitled ‘The Grass Is Greener Here’ and was very spiritually uplifting – in fact over the last few weeks I have felt like we must have received some sort of ‘attunement’ just in being there, because I’ve been seeing things a shade or two differently since then.


Well anyhow there were a couple of things he said that have really stuck with me.  One was this.  He said that someone once asked him the question: “Why doesn’t happiness last?”  and went on to answer “Because you don’t resist it”.  Unpacking those two statements reveals the assumptions that ‘happiness doesn’t last’ and that ‘if you resist something, it lasts’.  And therefore ‘if you want happiness to last, you have to fight it’.  Hmmm.  Not what I’d really want to do with happiness. There’s also then the hidden assumption that ‘If you don’t fight happiness, it will pass you by’. Again, hmm.

And yet there’s a certain truth to the notion that ‘what you resist persists’.  Think about it.  The type of person you find uncomfortable in your life keeps coming back to you in various skins.  If you have no money and you fight that, boy does it keep coming back.  If your children are rude and cheeky the more you fight it and try to get them to stop the cheekier they get.  The more you tidy your house the messier it gets,  every time you replace one bulb another one shortly blows, the more you shave the more it grows back and the more weeds you remove the more weeds you get!

Now think about the things you deal with and then release, instead of fighting.  If your child is cheeking you and -once you’ve let them know the behaviour is unacceptable and if necessary (lovingly!) provided a consequence for the action- you let the whole thing drop and get on with the rest of life, they often ease off and become agreeable again. If you find a way to create a better relationship with the people you previously had difficulty with, you suddenly find they stop popping up, and if you de-clutter your house for once and for all, you don’t have to battle with mess on a daily basis, and you can have a life instead (I think I’m talking to myself here, but if the cap fits, wear it :-))

So there’s truth to the adage, that ‘what you resist persists’.  Where does that leave us with happiness though, or any other good thing for that matter?  Do we have to fight everything good in order to keep it?  This brings me to the work of another of my favourite people.  Younger readers you probably won’t know who he is …. Alan Alda who played Hawkeye Peirce in Mash.  Ladies of my generation and older, I’ll give you a minute …………………………….tum tee tum ……………………………. ok now stop day dreaming and come back to me!  Alan Alda wrote a book called ‘Never Have Your Dog Stuffed’ in which he told of how as a child, when his dog died he couldn’t let it go, so instead of burying him, he had him stuffed and kept him in the family room at home!   But this was a bad idea. Instead of being a lovely comfortable companion, the dog now seemed to look at him accusatorily, so much so that he soon didn’t even feel comfortable walking into the room.  It would appear that it isn’t always a good idea to hang on to the good things once their time has passed!

And I think that herein lies the answer.  What you resist persists, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  What you don’t fight passes … and here’s the kicker … do you think it could be possible that NOTHING, NOT EVEN HAPPINESS, IS MEANT TO LAST?

“What?  Shock, Gasp, Horror!  Are you telling me that I’m not entitled to lasting happiness after all?????  That if I work hard, and do all the right things and be a good boy/girl that I still won’t suddenly be entitled to lifelong bliss?  I’ve been working on the assumption for ages that If I put in a life of hard graft that I will at least get to spend my golden years in a stretch of one long happy time!  That’s what I’ve worked for, that’s what I want!  What horror is this, you’re telling me I can’t be eternally happy??!!  You must be wrong.  I insist that you’re wrong.  You’re a life coach, you’re supposed to coach me to a life of never ending happiness … aren’t you?”

Well, um, no……  Sorry.  But I can coach you towards a life of something much better, if you’re interested.

How about a life of just being?  A life of animating all that you really deeply are.  A life where you never hold anything in desperate fear of losing it, but instead accept everything that comes.  The difficult things you deal with, grow through and release.  The enjoyable things you rejoice in to the maximum and those too you release, so that you are ‘open for business’ for the next thing.  Always open, always in the moment, always truly living.  Always accepting and from that acceptance acting when necessary but never from desperation, always because the action is the most appropriate and most whole thing you could do. And maybe that really is happiness after all. Not ra-ra, whoopee doo happiness, but simple peace and contentment, whatever the weather.

Don’t know about you, but I won’t be stuffing any dogs (at least not intentionally).  The path I commit to follow is this one – acceptance, peace and contentment, come what may.  I know it isn’t always easy – that’s part of the work we’re here to do, and I think it will be worth it in the end.  Bury any dead dogs and come walk with me!


‘Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle’ … Why Recycling Might Be Part of Human Evolution

What do you see? Just a pile of junk?

Are you an environmentalist type? Do you recycle every tissue you sneeze into, or do you think it’s all a load of bunkum the powers that be made up to bring in a bit more cash?

Either way round, I’m beginning to think that recycling is part of us growing up as a human race, and not in the way you might think.

Have you ever noticed how religions tend to use a lot of symbolism?  How every seasonal celebration has it’s own customs, things that are done every year, the same items that are brought out every time, and the same rituals performed.  Ever wondered why?  I think one of the reasons might be to make things accessible to the masses.  If I tell you “Well at this time of year, it’s a time where we learn to curb our desires and desire something higher instead” that’s a lot harder to grasp than if I tell you to ‘give something up for Lent’.  If I tell you “At this time of year we have extra Divine protection, so tap into that now” you might find that it a little difficult to get your head around and to feel, and it makes it far easier when you’re asked to build a Sukka, a temporary protective shelter in your garden and use it as your home for seven days in a row!  Do you get what I’m saying?  Most religions have a lot of physical symbolism going on which helps us to grasp the abstract concepts behind the rituals.

Similarly, when you teach a child to do maths, first you teach him to count, add, subtract etc with wooden blocks or his fingers or whatever, and then once he’s grasped the mechanics of the thing with physical objects you can teach him to do sums with the numbers written down.  Finally he can move to doing sums in his head, and at that point he’s doing the same process but using abstract concepts instead of physical objects.  With me so far? To cut a long story short, doing something in the physical world gives you the skills to be able to do it in your head, goddit?

Ok, so now what is really going on with this recycling business?  How is it that the whole world seems to have gone recycling crazy?  While the benefits of reducing waste are certainly clear in a physical sense, I think there’s something much deeper going on here.  I think that Gd/The Universe/Evolution call it what you will, is providing us with the opportunity to learn a lesson in the physical so that we can go on to apply it as an abstract concept.

Cut to my sons TV schedule. Programme after programme about goodies against baddies, finding the bad guys and weeding them out.  Cut to yours and my TV schedule.  Often a very similar thing.  The good guys against the bad guys.  Find the evil and eliminate it.  Cut to the way we deal with illness… and it’s the same thing: find the germs and kill them.  Locate the cancer and cut it out.  Look at the way we do our world affairs, and supposedly keep world peace.  Support the good guys, ‘neutralise’ the bad guys.  Stop the enemy in his tracks.  Take out the baddies.  We’re the good guys they’re the bad guys, they must be destroyed.  Are you beginning to pick up a theme here?

If you’re sharp, you’ve sussed where I’m going with this already, but I’m going to spell it out anyway.  What’s the message of the recycling movement? Essentially it is ‘Everything is useful.  Nothing is wasted.  Everything is precious.  Respect what we have and make good use of it.  Everything is Good.’  That’s right, EVERYTHING IS GOOD.  Let’s stop and think about that for a moment, in comparison to the way the world often functions.  Isn’t it time to finally take this lesson to heart?

How different would this world be if we took this idea that ‘everything is good, everything is useful’ and started applying it to the way we do medicine, or the way we do peace?  We’ve spent eras going to war against one thing or another, one nation or another, eras vilifying things or people when what we really ought to be doing is recycling them!!!!!!!!

An illness is a sign that something in your body is out of kilter.  The illness isn’t the problem (at least not to start with), it’s your excess junk consumption or the fact that you don’t get enough sleep that’s the problem.  Instead of vilifying the illness, look beyond the illness to the actual problem.  Fix that and the illness doesn’t have to keep jumping up and down waving its arms in the air and trying to get your attention anymore, it can just go away.  Do you know what I heard on the radio this morning?  A recent study surveying the greatest number of cancers ever found that 40% of them are PREVENTABLE purely with lifestyle changes!  40%!

The potential of war signifies that things are out of kilter too.  And it’s not the war that’s the problem, at least not to start with.  It’s not even the people that are the problem, is it, not if we really think about it.  It’s the attitudes that are the problem, and the breakdown in communication and understanding between different cultures.  One of the biggest problems is this attitude of ‘we are the good guys, they are the bad guys, we must destroy them’, when one of the things we could be doing instead is seeking to understand the other guy, and come from the perspective that everything is good.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those who thinks we should sit on our hands and just let a situation deteriorate out of control while we pussy-foot about being all fluffy and kind … we certainly have to take action.  I just think that there must be better actions to take than some of the ones we’ve been coming up with.

As if this blog hasn’t been abstract enough, I’m heading for ‘purpose of life’ stuff.  Many cultures point to the idea that one of the purposes of us being here is to take this world around us and make it a better place.  To elevate the status of all this ‘stuff’ by putting it to good use.   To put it plainly, one of the purposes of existence is progress.  The world is progressing faster and faster, and scientifically speaking we are headed for a ‘singularity’, a time when progress is so great that human beings will not be able to even conceive of it.  This world has done so much progressing already, biting off all the big chunks and digesting them,  that I think now we’re tying off the loose ends.  Imagine you’ve got a plate of food and you want to make use of every bit of it.  You’ve eaten all the big bits and now you’ve come to the crumbs and the gravy.  Do you throw it away and waste it?  Or do you scoop up every little bit and make use of it all?  If one of the purposes of existence is progress, and you want to make the most progress it is possible to make,  then you want to use everything the world has to offer, not throw out this bit or that bit as ‘useless’.  That’s why we’ve come to recycling, both physically and non-physically.

It is time to change this world paradigm that says ‘this is bad, throw it out’.  Every little thing is useful, everything is good.  Every person is worth looking out for, every culture has validity.  If we’re doing it with tin cans, surely we can do it with the way we relate to the rest of the world.

You know, I don’t have all the answers, or even very many of the answers, but I think I’m on to something here.  I’ve rattled on for a while and if you’re still reading I applaud you 🙂

Don’t worry, I’ll probably talk about my kids again next week …  In the meanwhile though I shall go to bed attempting to get my head around the intrinsic validity and usefulness of everything.  Perhaps I’ll even do some physical recycling tomorrow to help me get to grips with the abstract element of it! Recycling will never be the same again…

This week, value everything, make use of everything, find the good in everything and everyone.

I salute the wonder of you.


Now is the Time of Your Life

A dinosaur and a call for peace - I think you can work out who made what!

Well, it’s technically still Wednesday as I write…

What a day it’s been … a topsy-turvy day … My childminder had to cancel and the friend I usually swop childcare with had to cancel, meaning my little girls were home and  my son’s school was on strike meaning that he was home.  I had two appointments to keep today which could have been a problem, only one of them cancelled due to the client having a cold and the other was a phone appointment, who just wasn’t there when I called!  So by many accounts today was a bit of a non-event … except we really enjoyed it!

We had a nice relaxed morning.  I got my son onto Skype so he can now call family overseas … then we spent far too much time Skyping each other from upstairs to downstairs.  After that we got the guitars out.  Before you picture a family band all playing beautifully in harmony I should probably tell you that my daughter’s ‘guitar’ is a five quid job that can’t be tuned or the strings snap, and my son’s guitar is a hand-me-down from a family member who got it from somebody else who probably didn’t want it because the strings are so high off the fret board you could slide a dinner plate under them!  My guitar was the cheapest thing Argos had at the time, but unlike the other two it works.  So she swung hers round her head, he picked open strings and I played the chords to The House of the Rising Sun which is pretty much the only thing I remember from all those years ago… well that and the baseline to Stand By Me.  Noisy, tuneless fun was had! Then we did a lot of clearing up family stylie, watched children’s TV till our eyes went square and after dinner, made menorahs – candle holders used to celebrate the festival of Hanukah – out of clay. Finally the kids spent a good three quarters of an hour watching cute baby animals on YouTube with Daddy and running round in circles dancing to their favourite theme tunes.   All in all it has been a lovely day.

My point?  Well to start with I was a little peeved that my working day was effectively cancelled … but as the day really started to fall apart, I decided to just go with it … it wasn’t like I had much choice in the matter, so why not just take a break?  I think life does that quite a bit, you know, produces the unexpected.  So firstly there’s that element of ‘You’ll get what you like if you like what you get’ but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it’s part of the human condition – or perhaps part of the human ailment – that we tend to spend a lot of time wishing we were somewhere else, spending time with someone else and doing something else. Young people wish to be older and old people wish to be younger. Singles wish to be married, but once they get married they miss their single days.  Stay at home mums miss their working life, but once they get back to work they often hanker after the freedom of the days spent at home and the time spent with their kids.  When your kids are young you wish they’d grow out of nappies and get to the point where they can take themselves to school, yet once they do, you miss the cute days! Working dads can often be heard grumbling that they are out all day slaving away at a hot desk, instead of chilling out with the kids at home, but ask them to baby sit … We spend three quarters of the year wishing we were away on holiday.  You lie down in bed and think about the day to come.  But once you wake up and turf yourself out of the house and into the winter cold you soon wish you were back in bed … and on and on and on.  You can see why it’s an ailment.  Why can’t we just be where we are?  With the people who are actually there, at the period in time that we’re actually at, doing what we’re actually doing… would that be too much to ask for?  Can you imagine getting to the end of your time on this earth, looking back over your life and discovering that for most of the time you were here, you were so busy wishing for something else that you completely missed the joy of the moment?  What a waste of a life that would be.

I think there is something beautiful in most if not all situations.  There’s always something to learn, there’s always some growing to be done, and there’s often a lot of fun to be had if we can only open our eyes to it!  I think life was meant to be lived in the now – after all NOW is the only time that exists, that is ever ‘live’.  The past is gone, it’s just a memory, and is only as accurate as the mind or the medium that records it. The future is just a sea of random points that coalesce into the things we expect to see when we turn our heads that way.  When we turn aside, those forms instantly collapse back into pure potential again … the future is just a dream.  The other guy’s occupation belongs to him, and is for him to focus on right now.  Summer break will come when it gets here and we can enjoy it then.  The only time is NOW folks, the time is NOW.  Sure we can spend time learning from the past and celebrating the good things that happened there.  Sure we can look towards the future and plan.  But if we’re going to put down roots and live somewhere, let’s do it in the NOW  – and reap all the benefits of being present-minded.  When you predominantly focus on where you’re actually at a wonderful thing happens.  All of a sudden you feel light as air, because you’re unencumbered by baggage from the past or concern about the future.  With all that extra energy you can make every second of now count, one by one, as you live life to the full and get the most out of every      single     moment.  Then when each of us gets to the end of our lives we can take a final glance backward and know that we did a sterling job of the whole thing, to the very best of our ability, and the painting that was our life was a masterpiece.   I like doing things properly, don’t you?

I had a very ‘now’ day today, and I liked it, so I’ve decided to have a ‘now’ week … care to join in?  This week be where you’re at, wherever you’re at.  Let’s live it up, guys and gals, and have a great week!


Ps: Book of the week: ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle … great book, read it when you can!