Monthly Archives: March 2012
When we got married one of the gifts I was given was a beautiful pair of crystal candlesticks. They were quite obviously valuable, and they caught the light from every angle, to produce rainbows on the table. When I received them I even polished them up and held them admiringly, imagining what they would look like each with a burning candle atop. But I’ve never used them. I use my Grandma’s candle-holder. It’s a simple metal holder, dark grey in colour, with space for three candles, so that one is usually left empty. It doesn’t shine or glow. The wax collects and catches in various bits, mostly where it isn’t meant to. And every week when I light my candles, Grandma stands over my shoulder.
Yesterday, Grandma stood with me as I made my daughters breakfast. I was making semolina pudding, something I often stood by and watched her make as a child. As I pressed the hot pudding into the bowl with my flat oiled hand, as she used to do, for a moment I saw her old weathered hands instead of mine.
Granny puts in an appearance more often. In fact it’s usually her who arrives when I’m cooking. “Stir it or it will burn” she tells me. “Put a little water … put, put, don’t be a miser!” She’s always right of course. My mind turns to Granny when I hit one of life’s little snags/opportunities and I wish I could tell her. She has a way of approaching anything with calm, wisdom and a little mischievous humour. Once when she was staying over at our house, she slept in my room and on my table was a large jar of caterpillars that I had kept since their ailing mother moth laid their eggs in my shoe box. I must have left the lid partially open, because when my mother went upstairs to give my granny a cup of tea she quickly came back down with the message “Granny says to tell you your soldiers are marching!” I got up there to find that a good quarter of the 64 caterpillars had escaped and were heading for the hills … one had even made it half way up the bookcase, and was hanging off a large file! As I gathered them back into their jar Granny watched in amusement, sitting up in bed and drinking her tea. See what I mean? Cool, calm and collected … most other grannies would have screamed the house down.
Sadly neither of my grandmothers are still alive and every now and then I miss them terribly. I miss the story telling, the humour, the person who always made you feel like they had nothing else in the world to do than to spend their time with you. I learnt a lot from them, both about the serious things in life and the fun things too.
I like to talk about visualising what you want for your future and of course we all need to focus on mindfulness and being fully alive in the present … and doesn’t it make sense sometimes to also look back and acknowledge where we came from?
Of course everybody has had bumps and lumps in their past and some of our pasts are lumpier than others! Yet no matter what brought us to where we are now, we ARE here, and have our past to be thankful to for that. Sometimes it was loving, caring and enjoyable, and sometimes it was … well, at least you could say it was educational!
Did you get to spend time with your grandmothers? If you’re lucky enough to still have one or both, why not give them a call and let them know how much you love them. Or maybe you’re a grandmother (or even a grandfather) yourself … you know your memory lives on well after you’re gone, and your voice will be heard long after you’re there to project it. Each of us has multiple opportunities to leave our mark behind us as we progress through life, wherever we go and even when we go. Whether we touch the world community or even if our sphere of influence extends purely to our immediate family, we get to leave so many gems or grenades hidden in the sand ready to be discovered. What will you leave? The cool thing is, you get to choose!
Would you believe it? It’s almost the end of March and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only just completed my year’s goals!!! Better late than never. I started as I meant to go on of course, in fact I started before January was even upon us. To do your goals properly, really you need a concentrated amount of time when you switch off the phone, put on some music to inspire you, and then you let your imagination and desires run free and see where they take you. Hmmm. Couldn’t have been more different this year.
For a start, being a life coach, I like to make sure I’m using the best system so that I can teach it to my clients and workshop attendees, so this year I tampered with the systems I usually use and ended up using an amalgamation of both! Then, being a mother of 3 active young kids, of course I didn’t get to do it all in one sitting – not by a long shot. So whilst the first sit down session was one with the phone off and music, by the time I got round to the last (yesterday) I was sitting in the hubbub of Costa, in between one errand and another, just getting it done.
Tell you what though there is something to be said for the ‘spaced repetition’ method. Over the course of the 3 months or so it has taken me, I’ve had to look over my desired outcomes and really think about them a number of times. You know what I realised yesterday? That just in reminding myself of them regularly, I’ve actually done quite a few of them already 🙂 I was able to cross a number of things off before they even made it onto my official list for the year.
I’ve also learned two things about the methods I use. Years ago I used to use the method a brilliant coach, Phillip Humbert http://www.philiphumbert.com/ made available to download. But I’ve also vacillated between that and the Wheel of Life method taught by Tony Robbins. This year I’ve decided for once and for all that I actually like the wheel of life method (with my adaptations to it) better. What I’ve learnt from PH though is the addition of the category of ‘Environment’ which I’m now going to add to the other categories I use: Family, Finances, Professional, Fun, Health, Spiritual, Relationship, Friendships, Contribution and Growing. And something else I’ve realised is that while every year your goal setting method invariably asks you to write down all your most farfetched and long term dreams in each area, you then only pick the most short term ones to work on. Now some of those farfetched long term things I really want, so I’m adding another category: ‘Plans’.
So who wants to know what I’m focusing on this year (now that I finally know!!!)? Here’s a short selection: Create an amazing summer, full of mountains and lakes etc, Make monthly inspirational hangout at my house, Read an enlightening book a month, Run a weekly personal development class, Write to change the world, Build my internet presence, Lovingly give each child their hour a week, Get 6-8 hours sleep a night, Put all birthdays on outlook and synchronise to phone, Grow my enlightened presence within my marriage. There are more of course – too many to list here! I know you’re supposed to emerge with three or four desired outcomes to focus on … but I don’t like to do things by halves…
So now let me ask you … I’m sure you’ve been far more organised than me and got your goals done in January – so the end of March is the end of the First Quarter of the year…. how are your goals going … come on now – I want answers! And for those of you that got delayed, like me, and haven’t finished, or even haven’t started, well are you going to wait till next January, or are you going to get going NOW? How are you supposed to have the life you want, if you haven’t even defined what you want? I want to hear some goals and desired outcomes, people!!! For those who are scared to comment in WordPress, if you comment in Facebook I will bring your comments over to WP – how’s that for an offer? And by the way, why do you think I told you some of my desired outcomes? So you could hold me to them! If you tell everyone what you want to achieve, you’re far more likely to achieve it – it’s people power!
Now is the time either to be re-evaluating your goals and how far you’ve got on them, or at least stating them before another year goes by. I’m not going to go into a full on goal setting session now – I’ll save that for the New Year. Just remember, ask for your heart’s desires – if you don’t ask you don’t get, be careful what you ask for, and make sure they’re things that you can bring about yourself – ie: that don’t rely on anyone else.
Here’s to persisting and getting things done (eventually 😮 ), and here’s to the life of your desires!
How do you relate to Native Americans? If your upbringing was anything like mine, we grew up thinking of them as almost mythical characters that ran around hollering in feathered headdresses! Whereas of course they’re actually the original Americans, before the English came over and made themselves at home … and they’re very much alive and well and living in their own areas of the US.
The more I learn about traditional Native American philosophy, the more I warm to it. Check this link http://home.earthlink.net/~tessia/Native.html for some Native American thinking … like this for example:
American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
If all of humanity were to follow such a line of thought, the world would be a very different place, don’t you think? I also really recommend the book “The Wind is My Mother” by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin.
Guess what I was doing when I should have been writing your blog last week… I was partying! To be more precise two of my kids and I were attending various fancy dress parties in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim dressed as … Native Americans 🙂 – you see I was coming to a point!
One of the themes of Purim is to get your head around the idea that the world isn’t always as you see it. That there is a reality hidden under what you might think is reality. Hence the fancy dress part, which I embrace wholeheartedly, much to the bemusement of the more staid fellow adults around me … to whom I say: Chickens!
In the pre-party scramble for costumes I ended up picking the Native American theme almost by chance, but as we were driving down, I realised that I actually felt very at home in my costume – (despite the blazing red feather tucked into my headband … and suspect wig – I’m guessing not that authentic!)
Any other grownups out there who love fancy dress? I love it because it gives you a chance to see life and be life in a different way. You get to ask yourself the question “Who would l I be if I was a witch, scarecrow, elephant, fish, rock star etc ” and then you get to answer the question. I once dressed up as a very dishevelled tramp for the day of Purim, and it was an interesting experience. People didn’t want to go near me (ok, I was sitting at a bus stop, my bags scattered around me, eating out of a can at the time, but still), even people who knew I was in costume answered the door in an edgy manner, and one woman stopped her car and tried to take me into a shelter! So fancy dress can teach you something … and it’s not just a knowledge download, it’s experiential.
As well as just learning what it feels like to be another being for the day, I think you can choose to absorb something too. Just like you are what you eat, I think you also are (or you become) how you continuously present yourself. Want to feel like a professional? Dress like a professional. Want to be true to who you are? Dress and behave like yourself – even if it doesn’t always align with the whims of society. Want to be confident? Act confident and the feeling will come. What’s on the outside can come to be what’s on the inside. Though beware of being inauthentic – because what’s on the inside also inevitably leaks to the outside too.
In my case over the course of the day I really started to feel that Native American vibe! When evening came and I had to go back to being me, it was with reluctance. In getting my kids to bed various bits of the costume had to come off out of necessity. Finally when everyone was asleep I just had on my headband with feather, plaited wig and my ceremonial paint. I looked in the mirror. “You know” I thought to myself “I still look like a Native American”. I looked into my eyes. There was a love of nature there, a certain steely resolve, respect for the world, confidence, and pride. “Good” I thought, “it’s still there”. Slowly I took off my headband and feather. Checked my face and eyes again. Yep, it was still there. I took off the wig and finally I wiped off the face paint. Again I looked deeply into my own face in the mirror. And then I smiled … I still looked and felt a little bit Native American.
Have you ever dressed up like someone or something else for the day? How did you feel? And what did you learn? Any full time Native Americans want to comment?
It was 2001. After two very difficult years, I had just emerged from university with a Masters in Psychology, and miraculously had managed to get my bank balance back up to exactly zero at the same time. I didn’t have too much else – I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my life in so many arenas. It was like I was stepping off a shaky platform and … into a black hole. Then onto our doormat fell an advertising postcard for a Tony Robbins event.
Several years prior to that my NLP trained driving instructor who also doubled as my unofficial mentor at the time had put a copy of Robbins book ‘Unleash the Power Within’ in my hands. The book really spoke to me, so when I saw that this guy does events too I thought to myself “I wonder if he’s really the same guy he portrays himself as in his book”. I really didn’t know what else to do with myself at the time, so I put myself back in the red by £650 or so (which I later learnt is WAY too much to pay for one of those tickets) and went along to Unleash the Power Within – the event.
I have a principal in life that if I’m going to do something, then I do it thoroughly. I had just paid a huge sum of money for someone coming out of university to be at this gig and was investing a long weekend so I really took part! I scribbled down everything the man said, I yelled out the answers to all the questions asked from the stage and I fully engaged in every activity he lead. By the end of the event I was enlightened and exhausted.
There comes a point towards the end of these things where they try and sell you further amazing events for lots more money. So Tony had told everyone about his ‘Mastery University’ and said something like “so if you want to experience all that and you want to get it at this and this fantastic price then go, go, go!” and perhaps 3000 of the 5000 people in the auditorium streamed out of the doors to go and find out about getting on to the next stage. The stands started to empty out. There I stood, the lines of the tears I had cried in the last exercise still drying on my face, knowing I could never afford to travel all over the world to all these further events and yet desperate for more inspiration in my life. And I suddenly thought “I have to speak to this man”.
I made my way down from the stars, pushing against the crowd and to the front of the stage where Tony was talking to a few people. In just another five minutes or so crowds of people would return to the auditorium with the same idea but absolutely no hope of getting to the front. I only had to wait for a couple of people in front of me and I was talking with the man himself. I started to pour out my story. Trouble was, with all the crowd in the background I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, even though he was sitting on one of the huge speakers at the front of the stage. Like a two way mind read I reached up and he reached down and he pulled me up on to the edge of the stage so that we could talk into each others ears and have some hope of being heard. He has this story he tells about how before he started doing what he does his biggest worry was whether his car would hold together for the journey to work. I told him that my car was exactly the same! I told him that I had no money and no idea what to do with myself and was desperately unhappy. That I really wanted to go to the next series of events he was running, but there was no way I could afford it. And this is what he shouted in my ear (I might be paraphrasing a bit):
“I have a feeling that you have a problem with money. You think money is bad in some way. But actually money is very good. Look at all the things we have achieved with money. We do a lot of charity work – we wouldn’t be able to do that without money. You need to change your attitude to money and then everything will change for you. And if you really want to go to Mastery University the money will come”.
I thanked him and got down from the stage. I did actually go to Mastery University, which involved a lot of world travel and sleeping in cars etc and it was paid for by a whiplash injury I got, but that is another story in itself! Tony Robbins is one of the reasons I got into what I do, and I don’t know who gets more out of it, my clients or I.
He was absolutely right about the money thing. I had grown up skint. And it seemed to me that anyone around me who had money was full of themselves, and lorded it over the rest of us peasants. In my community I felt like a little nothing because I had nothing to show for myself. That people didn’t talk to me because I wasn’t wealthy enough for them. Indeed there was a big part of me that felt that ever getting money and any form of financial stability would make me into a horrible person. I think I mentally chose rather to be poor than horrible.
I am happy to say that over the years my attitude to money and people with money has changed considerably. As I traveled and widened my horizons I met many people who had loads of money and were still really nice! I learnt that money is far more of a blessing than a curse – if you know what do to with it. My bank balance has also changed somewhat though there is still plenty of room for improvement 🙂
Back to now … I’ve been having a financial sort out in the last few weeks. An old school teacher of mine once compared what you have in your life to the water inside a big tea urn. He said “if you want more to be poured in from the top, you have to let water out from the tap at the bottom.” I truly think he was on to something there. For the last few years every time someone gave one of my children a tenner or whatever for a birthday present I was lazy to put it in their account for them, and have been stockpiling the envelopes. Then every time I didn’t have cash to pay the cleaner or whatever I’d end up borrowing the birthday money, so these envelopes had IOU’s written all over them. Well I’ve sorted it all out. I worked out what I owed and I’ve paid everybody back, or will do shortly. Also, being Jewish, I have a law (or maybe a custom) that tells me to give 10% of everything I earn to charity. I owe a bit of money that way too. Now I’ve worked out exactly what I owe, and I’m going to pay that back as well. You see if you want it to flow in from the top you do have to let it out at the bottom! The two other things I remember that teacher saying was that he reckoned I’d hold some form of communal responsibility when I grew up (right again, Sir) and some reference to receiving a giraffe-shaped jumper as a gift!
So how are your finances? What is your attitude to money like? – be honest now. These are tough financial times for all. The rich are suffering along with the poor – some of the wealthiest individuals have taken some of the biggest tumbles. It isn’t easy for many people. In the midst of all this, changing your attitude to money can be challenging … and yet it’s essential if you want more to flow your way.
All together now (in the words of The Secret, I believe): “Money flows freely and abundantly into my life” say it like you mean it and say it often. Think rich, feel rich, act rich and talk rich. Remember, your reality follows your FEELINGS. Do what it takes to feel great and feel abundant and your reality is obliged to match that. If all else fails, remember the best things in life really are free, so we’re all rich anyway.
Here’s to your wealth and mine!