Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Christmas Gift to You

And back to blogging after the Christmas holiday. If you didn’t celebrate Christmas, I trust you enjoyed or perhaps are continuing to enjoy the ‘down time’ with family and friends. I do love this time of year. I enjoyed time spent with family particularly an excited two and half year old who ‘likes pink’ and Santa Claus, nativity plays where the shepherds wore hoodies and late morning walks in the snow.

Well the snow has stopped falling here and been replaced with rain, lots of rain as I write. I ventured out earlier today and the shops were busy with SALES, SALES and more SALES. Maybe it’s the Christmas gift exchange time? Whatever the reason, lots of people milling around and lots of shops full of people wishing to dispose of their cash. Streets, shops and houses are still decked with festive decorations, twinkling lights and Christmas trees.

I’m not good with sales shopping. In fact shopping is not my favourite thing but sometimes it has to be done! I’m much happier wandering and walking at an unhurried pace, taking time to absorb the surroundings as I amble along. I had the opportunity to factor in some reflective walking time just before Christmas with a group of colleagues and friends through the lovely Savill Gardens, Windsor. My friend and colleague Jacqueline Harris runs an organisation called Breath of Fresh Air which encourages us to get out of the office and commune with nature every now and again. Outdoors thinking is very effective and therapeutic too! Come and try it for yourself if you are in the neighbourhood.

The walk before Christmas invited us to celebrate our successes of the year, share them with others, consider what we would like to gift to ourselves for the forthcoming year. I’ve gifted myself ‘more time for creativity and writing in 2010’. What gift would you choose for you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

... and we shall have snow

We've got snow, lots and lots of snow! Due to the fact that we are not too well equipped for big snowfalls, it creates chaos here in the South East of England ... big time!

Yesterday I attended a meeting in a local hotel, about 10 mins car drive from where I live. Nothing unusual about that except that when the meeting was over I joined the mile long queue of traffic slipping and sliding all over the place - no gritted roads, no anticipation of futher snowfalls. It snowed and snowed. I felt like one of those Father Christmases or Snowmen in the plastic bubbles. Remember those - shake the bubble and see the snow storm. Like many others I sat in my car and waited and waited ... and waited while the car in front slipped and slid a metre or two at a time ... I listened to at least three news programmes, tuned into several radio stations until I decided to park up my little car and walk home. By this time it was quite dark and the roads were lit up with cars and vans trying to make their way home ... several vehicles had been abandoned, some were refusing to move any further.

I walked into a winter wonderland, moved away from the chaos and scrunched my way home in the deep and beautiful snow. The child within me made tracks in the freshly fallen snow where paths no longer existed. The night was dark and houses were lit up with twinkling Christmas trees and lights. The scene looked quite magical. The peace and tranquility hung heavily in the air. So beautiful. Picturesque. My journey lasted a couple of hours however I so enjoyed the early Christmas gift from Mother Nature and I somewhere in the distance I'm sure I heard sleigh bells ring ...

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

What makes your customers smile?

Some time ago I started receiving short films on a Monday morning from Nic Askew (with my agreement!) - not just me, lots of other people too. Nic has quite a following. His reputation as a film maker has developed over the years and although I don't claim to be 'in the know' about film making, I do know that he produces some excellent films. Films that inspire, provoke and touch the heart. He has a particular gift for capturing something special about the people he meets and there is a certain magic woven into the stories he hears and films. Often these people are part of his life journey. But don't just take my word for it, check it out for yourself at Soul Biographies.

Why am I telling you this? Earlier this week I decided to order a couple of his films on DVD. A Christmas present for .... me? ... somebody else? Anyway, when I ordered them I had a confirmation note back from the supplier thanking me for my order and assuring me that it would be with me soon. The reply really made me smile and I thought I would share it with you.

Please rest assured that we've taken great care in the shipping of your DVD.

We hold true to an ancient DVD shipping tradition passed down for over 5000 years. This very intensive practice is only achieved after years of training, meditation, purity of mind, and deep breathing exercises.

After a rigorous 17 step process of verifying the authenticity of your DVD, we donned silk gloves and placed it into a sacred box made of magic and lined with Unicorn fur, tied the box with a strand of Gypsy hair, and wrapped the whole thing in a snazzy looking faux gold leaf paper, with elm leaf inlay from Costco. Unfortunately, by the time it gets to you, all of that fancy stuff will likely have been picked clean by the greedy postal service employees. Please don't be surprised to see just a plain cardboard box.

We hope you enjoy your films and that you'll visit Film Baby again soon to browse all the great independently created entertainment!

Nothing like a little humour to lighten the wait. It worked for me!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What makes for good customer service?

Not the well worn, 'have a nice day' phrase used so often that it begins to sound like a deflated balloon, not the totally dis-interested checkout assistant or the one who ignores the customer in the queue because he/she (usually a she!) is finishing off a conversation with her neighbouring checkout buddy.

At the risk of this post sounding like a 'grump post', I can report that customer service is alive and well. Found a little example yesterday in a doughnut shop in a neighbouring town - an employee with a welcoming smile, a very pleasant way with her customers and most helpful with customers queries. She looked and sounded happy too. That makes a difference. As a result of this, I came away happy too and so impressed that I wrote to her organisation to tell them so. I don't know what they will do with their customer feedback. I don't know if the employee will be recognised. I hope she is as she did provide really good customer service. This is a good demonstration of the difference a person can make for their organisation and to the organisation.

What does it take to become excellent at customer service? My blogger friend Caroline writes an excellent blog that makes us think about, consider and contemplate how we may consider working towards excellence in our respective roles and jobs. I invite you to stop by and read 'Getting to Excellent'. It may not provide the full doughnut experience however it will provide much food for thought, of that I am certain.

I have to add that the chocolate iced creme doughnut tasted delicious ! All in the interests of my customer service research you understand.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Life's little learnings.

Blogging for me is one of those new 'learning experiences'. I love learning new things, trying out new hobbies and experiences. There's something about that YES feeling I get when it all comes together ... even after numerous ill fated attempts ... like when you learn to ski for the first time as a mature learner or is that a late starter?

When that tough, laborious, knitted brow, 'I hate skiing' snow plough movement flows gently into a beautiful parallel turn and ... YES, you've got!

And so it was when I finally managed to include a photo with a blog post - YES I did it!

Thank heavens for such achievements to us non techie mortals.

What gave you that 'YES feeling' recently?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

How old is old?

How old is old?

When does ‘an old lady’ become an old lady?

How old is old to qualify as ‘indigenous’?

These were a few of the questions posed by people I met this week as I travelled along life’s journey. I like questions, particularly those that are posed with an air of intrigue and curiosity. Some people may use the term nosey or even inquisitive and indeed that may be the case. I guess that depends on the questioner and the intention of the question. But hey, sometimes it makes for an interesting conversation if perused in the spirit of openness and fun.

As a little girl anyone over 20 was old! However, as the little girl grew up and became 20, 30 etc – old moved much further down the timeline. Currently it sits at 80 something.In fact, I’ve found myself referring to the ‘old’ word as ‘mature’. Well it does bring about a certain life experience with it, don’t you agree? One of my girlfriends was promptly reminded of walking the timeline when playing a game with her little grandson. After a triumphant win he shared that he didn’t want to be beaten by ‘an old lady’… ouch!

Then there’s ‘indigenous’. I love that word. It takes me back to travelling days when the tour guide would point out trees, plants, and fauna, all indigenous to the area. For me, there was something about the sound of the word which conjured up images of trees, plants and fauna that had been around for years and years, as in once upon a time, long before my days as a little girl. A friend of mine told me about an interesting discussion he had about ‘indigenous trees’. How old were they? How old do they need to be to qualify as ‘indigenous’? We don’t know the answer but if you do, let us know.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

In every job that must be done ...

In every job that must be done there is an element of fun, you’ll find the fun and (snap) the job’s a game. For every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake …

Okay, I know some of you will already have recognised the lines from Mary Poppins, that charming, talented and witty nanny of some time ago. I do think it’s important to have some fun at work, after all most of us spend a lot of time there. At times it can all become quite demanding and even stressful. I read a report recently where ‘more than 13 million working days a year are lost because of work related stress, anxiety and depression’ (UK figs). This can be a big expense to employees and employers. We seem to factor in less ‘fun’ in the workplace these days; maybe we’re too busy to have fun?

However, it has been brought to my attention that there are little pockets of work and play beautifully balanced. If you need some thoughts for your next team building event, you may wish to be a little creative in your planning. I know Mary Poppins would approve!

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

A little poetry to start the week ...

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for a honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or in the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Webinars - a first for me!

A first time for everything and last night was the first time I participated in a webinar. Big deal some of you may think (those of you that have done loads of these already!) but I hadn't participated in one before and I have to say it was a novel experience and I was most impressed.

A webinar is a great opportunity and novel way to learn something new via the web - like how webinars work, how effective they can be to market your product and/or resources on line. It's like a training session on line. You are invited to participate, given a unique link or number to contact , invited to call in at a specific time and join over 100 other people on the call. Last night's webinar had over 400 attendees! The presenter presents his material for one hour. Now that's impressive, conveying a message, information, education to all of these people at the same time in different parts of the world! Powerful. I participated here in the UK at 8.30pm, a one hour webinar - convenient, it allowed time to cook dinner, feed the family and have almost all the dishes washed before the webinar started! Anything that assists and improves my time management skills scores extra points. It avoided having to go out on a wet and cold autumnal evening too ... just retire to the study and listen. I guess you could change into your pyjamas (dependent on time zones) but I refrained.

So what did I learn in one hour - lots. How webinars work. How to use them effectively. How to link up with colleagues and work collaboratively. How to sell services and products via webinars. How to use the same material and maket it in different ways to accommodate the needs of your clients. How to maximise sales. How to build business by incorporating webinars as part of the marketing plan.

All in all, a well delivered, informative and educational one hour delivered on a dark and wet evening and in the comfort of my warm and cosy study too.

Friday, 6 November 2009

It's just a job - or is it?

It's been a relatively busy week and I'm glad that the weekend is here.

There has been several business meetings and events this week, some productive and others not. However I did meet some interesting people in the process - like the lady at a local business event for women planning on starting their own businesses. One lady is planning to start her new business in commercial bee keeping. I have to say that I found this fascinating - not sure why, I guess that I liked the 'business with a difference' idea. I do like 'different'. I learned much about bees, their behaviour, their atuning with nature and of course the commercial side of the business too. I do enjoy connecting with people with different interests and I believe that this particular lady will make a success of her business because she held such passion, belief and experience about her intended business. I wish her well.

Then there was the lady photographer who visually 'loved her job' and that could be heard when she recounted details of her work, the challenges and changes she had to deal with in the early stages when she set up her business and how she hoped to see it develop in the future. Now here was a lady happy with the job she did and wondered why she hadn't gone into photography sooner.

Work - 'a means to an end' or 'an end to a means'?

I wonder if there is something about having to try out several jobs, places of work, positions of respnsibility before we get to find the job or position that provides us with real job satisfaction, enjoyment, contentment and happiness ... and a reasonable income too?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Island Cross Talk - Pages from a Diary

I’m currently reading ‘Island Cross Talk’ originally written in Irish by Tomas O’ Crohan and translated by Tim Enright. (Publisher, Oxford University Press). This book details a fascinating account of the life and times of the Islander, Tomas O’ Crohan, living in the Blasket Islands between 1919 and 1925.

The Blasket Islands are a group of remote islands off the west coast of Kerry, Ireland. Now a place which is no longer inhabited. I am enjoying reading about the history of the islands and you may do too, so I’m enclosing a link to a site providing further information on the Blaskets.

I particularly enjoy how the book has been written, as diary extracts which detail a way of life, the hardships, the poverty, the interaction of people, the friendships, the sense of community, the challenges and how tough life was at that time. I also enjoy the use of language and the musicality of O’Crohan’s voice telling the stories. In a way it reminds me of a time I attended a story telling session at the Irish College in Ranafast many years ago. My Irish wasn’t good enough to understand the finer details of the story at the time but there was something about the pitch, the tone and the sound of the story teller’s voice that engaged me. I note too that many of O’Crohan’s stories were told via the oral tradition and later how the author had been persuaded to write the book which in turn captured the essence of life in the Blaskets for future generations, people like me, perhaps?

It does make me think about the power of the written word. What pictures, memories, history can be shared and enjoyed by future generations. What do we learn from how life used to be? What of the people then and the people today? How do we compare? It also makes me feel privileged to have an education, the joy of being able to read and write and being comfortable with the three ‘R’s. For me, it’s wonderful that we can record events and times of the past and who knows perhaps even provide thoughts and musings for the future? Will our journaling and blogging of today offer that to the readers of the future?

Emm …must read through the Máire Rua journals and scribbling and see if there is something of note for readers of tomorrow!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween - trick or treat?

As soon as it got dark, the ghosties and ghouls came out in my neighbourhood. We had several little ghouls appear at our door this evening - not as many as previous years I have to add. I did note several parties organised for the kids locally, perhaps that's where they have all gone this year - to a pumpkin party? I have to say I was rather disappointed as the big kid within me enjoys the banter of the little ones who come tricking and treating. Great to see the parent witches dressed up for the occasion too!

It takes me back to days of apple bobbing, witches hat making and telling ghost stories with my brothers and sisters once upon a time. My lovely Dad would tell some great ghost stories ...

This evening I'm left with a surplus of chocolate - scary thought!
I'm not really sure what to do with it.

"Eat it ", I hear you say.
"I couldn't ", says my conscience.
"Ah well, maybe just a very little piece", says my sweet tooth.

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

When the light goes out

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schwietzer

Who has 'lighted the flame' within you recently?

What difference did that make to how you think and what you do?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Poetry - to enhance and entrance


words stream past me poetry
twentieth-century rivers
disturbed surfaces reflecting clouds
reflecting wrinkled neon
(Adrienne Rich)
On Friday the Man and me took off to London, me with scribbling pad, he with camera. It was one of those beautiful autumn mornings, no work scheduled for the day so we took the opportunity to do 'something else'. My 'something else' was to visit the poetry library. Up until a few weeks ago I hadn't heard of the poetry library, so I was keen to check it out. It's based in The South Bank Centre and if you arrive in time for a sandwich lunch you may even be serenaded with great music for free! Though I can't guarantee this with every visit.
The poetry library is on the fifth floor of the Centre and it has a wealth of poetry books and collections. I can guarantee that you will find something there to stir and inspire the mind. In fact you don't even need to read from the written page. As I gazed out the window (between readings) the lines above by Adrienne Rich caught my eye. On a beautiful day, I enjoyed 'the reflecting clouds' and the time, the peace and the quiet to savour the words I read.

When I met the Man later, he had captured a few pictures which interestingly enough captured something of the essence of the day too. Did you know that Calliope was the Muse of Poetic Inspiration?

I noted a comment from DW Grubb's poetry collection, (The Memory of Rooms)
" ...Poets deaths get mentioned, seldom their entrances, rarely their authority as change-agents, enhancers, entrancers".
I hadn't really thought about the poet as a change -agent, enhancer and entrancher. I like that.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Flying in for lunch

This week a buzzard flew in for lunch. I must confess I was most surprised to see him. I suspected that the bird table had attracted him in, but no, I was wrong. He arrived with a takeaway, one he had obviously plucked fresh from the sky. He reminded me of a busy person (maybe me?) who grabs a quick sandwich and travels from somewhere to somewhere else at speed, one who doesn't have time to sit down to taste the sandwich or linger over the accompanying cup of coffee.

So he sat in our garden and unpacked his sandwich of grey feathers and slowly and surely feasted in a fashion quite befitting of one used to fine dining in urban gardens. We gazed at him in amazement from the study window, not making a sound, merely wondering which of us was going to clear the table when he had gone!

And guess who drew the short straw?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Autumnal playtime

Sometimes the days move along so quickly.

I can't believe that we are in the month of October already - 'the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' (To Autumn. John Keats)... but here we are and I have to say that I do enjoy the lovely season of autumn. Today I have particularly enjoyed scrunching my way through the fallen leaves in the local park.

Sometimes it's good to let the child within us have a little play now and again.

When does the child within you come out to play?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Book of nature

The book of nature is a fine and large piece of tapestry rolled up, which we are not able to see at once, but must be content to wait for the discovery of its beauty and symmetry little by little, as it gradually comes to be unfolded.
Robert Boyle

I came across this lovely quote written on a book marker in a book I'd once read. Today I was having a little de-clutter moment in my study ... just a little de-clutter ... maybe a little more tomorrow. I wonder what other little gems lay hidden amidst the stacks of books on the shelves. The time has come to release a few more books into the wild, a tough job, but I know it's only right to set them free ...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Life teaches many lessons.

It teaches that we don't always need to understand, have all the answers, know about everything. That it's really okay to 'not know' or be unsure or uncertain, as new learning helps personal growth and development. It teaches that it's okay to be overwhelmed every now and again, the learning - sometimes we need to take life a little slower and nurture ourselves. Sometimes we can get so busy looking after someone else's needs and requirements, our own needs fall prey to neglect, being ignored and devoured by the negative gremlins. That has been my learning recently and it was both painful and uncomfortable ... however I've learned!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Life is about ...

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, 12 September 2009

How did the monkey get to the moon?

One day last week I went for a walk around Virginia Water in Windsor Great Park. It was a beautiful sunny day and several families had taken advantage of the last weekend before the schools started back. It was lovely to see children playing in the park, walking, cycling and generally having fun. In the park there stands a beautifully carved totem pole. I am a great admirer of totem poles although we don’t come across too many here in the UK. A trip to Canada several years ago really whetted my appetite for these wonderful works of art.

The 100ft totem pole in Windsor Great Park was a gift to HM Queen Elizabeth from the Canadian people in 1958.

As I stood admiring the totem pole, two little boys came running up to have a look too. The elder of the two (about 5 years old) was obviously out to teach his brother (a 3 year old) a thing or two.

“Hey Gary, have you ever seen one of these? It’s a rocket … and it flies monkeys to the moon!”

I smiled.

Sometimes things are not always what they seem.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

At the dawning of the day

I did it! - Writing at dawn – well 5.00am to be precise before the dawn broke - “Hemingway time” and on the occasion of my birthday (there were other celebrations too you’ll be pleased to hear). The 5.00am write, this was my challenge (see earlier blog 28.08.09) as a result of a provocative thought prompted by a fellow blogger.

And what was that like?
I was so concerned about not sleeping in; my internal alarm system jolted me awake at 4.45am. I guess that was my subconscious still coming to terms with the shock of a 5.00am start and the fact that I had chosen, yes, chosen of my own free will to do this. No early morning flight, no sponsored sunrise walk, no early morning business breakfast – quite simply a choice to get up and write at 5.00am.

Armed with a cup of coffee, pen and paper, I wrote and wrote and wrote about everything and anything, whatever flowed from my pen. Believe it or not, I managed to fill 10 pages of A4 (potential material for one or two blogs?). For me, there’s something quite freeing about ‘just writing’ without comments, without checking to see if you’ve spelled words correctly, without checking that the commas are in the right places, without wondering if readers will understand what you’re trying to say, without caring if you as the writer will make sense of it all in a few days time.

It was fine, it was fun, it was free flowing and I liked that. I learned a little more about me in the process too about how I think, what motivates me, what is important, how when I commit to doing something I do it. I found the early morning writing process very therapeutic and the writing tapped into memories I had almost forgotten.

Watching the dawn break and seeing the ‘gum tree’ in the garden silhouetted against the sky was a beautiful picture from Mother Nature. The stillness and sense of peace in the last morning of the summer was something quite special.

Would I repeat the experiment again? Yes, most definitely although I am wondering if perhaps I should keep it as a birthday treat from me to me!

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Field of Unknowing

I’ve just opened the gate to the ‘field of unknowing’. Well the truth is that the gate was opened for me recently when I was told that my job would be coming to an end soon. It wasn’t a surprise but I hadn’t quite expected it just now…and that’s okay because I sometimes think that having a definite date that hangs over one for too long can be tough. It can allow niggles, doubts and negative thoughts to creep in and at worst cause stress and uncertainty to grow and fester. So I’ve decided to open the gate to the field of unknowing wide, very wide and see what’s there for me, for now, for today, for tomorrow.

As I stand in the field of unknowing, I note the poppies of possibilities, the big tall daisies of decisions stretching high towards the sky, the little green shoots that sprout along the boundary fence. I can’t pretend the dandelions of destruction are out of my eye line, they’re not. I note the spiky thistle and the occasional stinging nettle. I am aware that they are there too. There are various emotions as I stand in quiet contemplation about letting go and moving on, about changes like the seasons of the year and seasons of time. And now it’s time for me to move on, to change and try something new, something different, whatever that is. There’s a little apprehension, a little excitement too and much curiosity about what the next few months will bring.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Flying high for freedom

I watched him from my study-cum-spare room for ten minutes as he swooped, dived and glided across the sky.
Alone and free and without a care in the world .... so it seemed.
The red kite glided with such elegance and ease,
oblivious to those of us who watched him in awe and admiration.
And then after minutes of mesmerising us with his skytime choreography,
he flew off into the distance unaware of the moments of magic he had created with his visit.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Ready for Hemingway time?

I've been giving some thought to Tom's comment on my blog (12.08.09) about Hemingway getting up before 5.00am to write every morning. I would really like to try that a few times to see if it would work for me and find out how it might enhance my writing. Could be interesting. Truth is, I can be a 'bit of a grump' early mornings. My Man will vouch for that, he's more of an early bird than me. I'm sure that comes from years of early morning rowing on the river Thames, before he goes to work, before everyone is awake, before most of the traffic hits the roads, before the rats in the rat race start running.

As for me, well I know that I can DO early mornings, yes even a 5.00am start! There have been the occasional early morning flights to the Emerald Isle to visit family when I've wanted to extend a weekend trip. There were times (some time ago) when I organised business breakfast meetings with a colleague of mine. Last October I completed 'The Sunrise Walk', fundraising for the local hospice. The registration time was 5.00am! I remember it well, a very dark, wet, autumnal morning with hundreds of other ladies. We walked through Great Windsor Park and surrounding areas suitably attired in black and orange tee shirts wearing gold and silver glitter wigs! What a sight that was to behold when the dawn broke. Goodness knows what the royal family thought as they viewed us from Windsor Castle over breakfast - hundreds of us, marching through their estate. Despite the very wet day and the early morning start, each of us felt a great sense of achievement when we completed the 13k walk. Delighted we raised £24,000 for the hospice. A personal achievement and one that benefitted others too.

I'm giving serious consideration to an early morning write - registration time ... 5.00am! Hemingway time. I've put a date in my diary and if you wish to join me, let me know. I may not be at my most communicative first thing but after the dawn breaks, we can compare notes. I'm sure Hemingway time can accommodate international time zones ... I'll meet you there!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Beautiful Knoydart

I’m back! The man and me escaped for several days to Scotland for our summer vacation. There were no guarantees or promises of glorious sunshine heading north so I didn’t feel it necessary to pack copious amounts of sunscreen with the usual holiday gear. Although there were only two of us, we managed to jam pack the car with the essential fair-weather clothes, walking boots, fishing rod, camera, a laptop (a well intentioned plan that I would be inspired to write lots!) and enough food and drink to start us off in our self catering accommodation for the next few days.

Despite initial showers of soft rain (not the usual biting your face type of rain!), we enjoyed the first couple of days travelling through the awesome Glen Coe and surrounding areas. We Celts aren’t deterred by a few showers. As a result of the heavy rain, the mountain waterfalls were quite spectacular and we were often rewarded with a beautiful rainbow when the rain stopped. Our accommodation turned out to be rather disappointing so we moved on after a couple of days with a plan to follow the sun and that took us to several beautiful areas - Strontian, Glenuig, Morar, Mallaig and eventually northwards to the delightful Dornoch. The sun shone and the accommodation improved greatly. From west coast to east coast … there was no stopping us now.

A stopover in Mallaig provided us with a great opportunity to take a boat trip to the Knoydart estate, now managed by the Knoydart Foundation. A special mention should be made of a welcoming boatman with great patter … he certainly gets my vote for best customer service … friendly, helpful and entertaining too! I recommend including this boat trip to your ‘must do’ list. You’ll enjoy the activity of curious seals, the amazing scenery as the boat sails into the area that harbours (literally) ‘mainland Britain’s remotest pub’! Probably a long way to go for a beer, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy the trip there and back. Good food, friendly folk and several musical instruments available to play if you’ve forgotten to bring your own! Of course, if you’re better organised than us, you can actually stay in the area for several days. There is a great sense of having escaped ‘far from the madding crowd’.

Overall, a very relaxing holiday and yes the sun did come out, and the walking boots, and the camera and the fishing rod. The laptop … well it travelled all the way to Scotland and back … unopened. Creative writing moments were captured in that good old fashioned way – a notepad and pen!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

How does your writing grow?

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your writing grow? Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. At the end of last month I made a commitment to myself to form a new habit of writing something everyday for a whole month. The idea was that writing would become one of my daily habits, like having a shower or brushing my teeth. My aim is to write something worthwhile and of substance and perhaps even publish it on my blog. As you will note I didn’t commit to publishing every day, quite frankly some of the writing has been rubbish!

Today is day 13 of the daily writing and I’ve just realised that there are 31 days in August and not 30 as I scribbled initially. Don’t know how I missed that extra day; I guess that in my haste to start daily writing the enthusiasm was so great that I simply overlooked the fact that August has 31 days. How could I do that? August 31 is a celebratory day, every year, my birthday! In celebration of a potential great writer one day, (ha!), who knows …I have been told that ‘we have within us all the resources we ever need’. At present I’m exploring what ‘writing resources’ I have within me. I encourage you to try. At times I’m quite surprised about what comes about in the early morning write. For me this is a good time to write, although sometimes work breaks the early morning writing routine. I have found that when that happens, the late night scribble before I retire for the evening is just not as satisfying for me. By then my head is so full of stuff that it quashes any form of creativity and free thinking and there’s a little internal voice tweeting ‘time for bed, time for bed’.

I wonder if the great writers, poets and playwrights of today and yesteryear had these issues when compiling their manuscripts and musings. What writing tips would they pass on to us novice writers about daily writing or even writing in general?

Sunday, 9 August 2009

What's your choice?

'You choose to create of your life: an accident or an adventure.'

I love inspirational quotes, sayings, books, anything that makes me stop and wonder for a minute or two.

Life - an accident or an adventure? For me, I like to look upon life as an adventure. I do believe that life is a lovely gift we have and we can influence or maybe I should say choose how we decide to view it and use it. Although at times it may be a little challenging, I find that the challenge and the unknowing makes the living all the more interesting. From the changes and challenges I found that I've learned - about the situation, the people I've encountered and even the experience of the time and situation of that time. Life experiences can be happy, joyous occasions and sometimes sad and painful too. Change often brings with it different emotions and sometimes this is instrumental in shaping the people we are or perhaps I should say, the person I am ... and that's okay.

Life teaches many lessons. It teaches that I don't always need to understand, have all the answers and know everything. That it's really okay 'not to know' or to be unsure or uncertain, as new learning helps personal growth and development. It teaches that it's okay to be overwhelmed every now and again, the learning - sometimes we need to take life a little slower and nurture ourselves. Sometimes we get so busy looking after someone else's needs and requirements, our own needs fall prey to neglect and being ignored.

And you, how are you choosing to create your life?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

What would happen if

I wonder what would happen if ...

we danced 'til the cows came home

we laughed ourselves silly

we painted the town red

we ran like the wind

just wondered, that's all!

What are you wondering?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Inspirational thought for today

Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Roma's Song in Henley

A unexpected telephone call from a friend last Saturday resulted in the purchase of a couple of tickets for a little theatrical production at the Henley Fringe Festival. I love theatre and would go see something every week if my entertainment allowance would permit! The production, 'Roma's Song' (presented by Shadow & Larkin Productions) was set in a restaurant and played in a restaurant too - a novel concept I thought. A great play, well cast and with a good story line about a novice best selling writer. I did quite enjoy the intimate dinner theatre space. A great way to engage the audience almost close enough to be part of the action - thankfully all the cast were well rehearsed so audience participation was not required. The play moves on to the infamous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, so if you get a chance to go and see it, do!

... a novice best selling author ... ahh ...one day, who knows?

In the meantime, I'll keep up with my blogging and creative writing.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Writer’s block

Ever had one of those days when you just can’t seem to get it together? You sit down to write and …. NOTHING, absolutely nothing comes! You’ve planned into your day to do some writing and well … quite frankly you can’t think of what to write, how to write, where to start. It’s so frustrating because you’re wanting so hard to write something worthwhile, of interest, something maybe even a little motivational. But there’s nothing. A big fat zero! The focus is gone; you’ve had several cups of coffee and nothing is stimulating the ‘writing part’ of the brain. You look at the blank sheet for ages, doodle a little in the open space, try a mind map to see where that goes but no, nothing is flowing today. I wonder if this is what writers refer to as ‘writers block’. I’m pleased that my whole livelihood is not dependent on my writings; otherwise we wouldn’t eat, perhaps not even manage beans on toast! Actually ‘beans on toast’ is not one of my favourite snacks, so I could live without it anyway.

And you know, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to be beaten, that doesn’t want to be slain by the writers block dragon so I’m going to scribble down all the letters of the alphabet and see what comes up. You may get a little of that in future blogs … we’ll see.

Perhaps you would be willing to share one two of your best tips to unblock the block and encourage the free flow of writing? All donations gratefully accepted.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Sweet, sweet the memories

A busy morning at work, most of it spent in front of the computer, necessitated the need to escape, clear my head and get some fresh air. The hunger pangs grumbled and confirmed that it was lunch-time! So off I went in search of sustenance to the local convenience store. It felt good to get out in the fresh air, exercise the legs and do my bit for the environment by leaving my car behind. I like to think that my time management skills are improving (a daily walk in my lunch break … I do try). And for me there’s something about thinking creatively even when it’s only a sandwich (sad I know I heard you say it!). Something healthy? Something hot? Something cold? Followed by a piece of fruit, a yoghurt or a teensy weensy chocolate bar? Oh decisions, decisions, decisions. It was then that I spotted them! Packets of them, all neatly piled on top of each other. To the left ‘sensible non fattening biscuits’ and to the right the ‘double chocolate stuff the calories biscuits’. In between, WAGON WHEELS. Wagon Wheels, my favourite childhood chocolate biscuit.

Do you remember them? I haven’t seen them for years. I’m sure they were much bigger when I ate them as a child. And the wrappers were yellow, more papery than today’s red plastic wrapper. I recalled how my Mum would treat us to Wagon Wheels on a Friday after school and a piece of fruit …. Can’t say I remember too much about the fruit but hey, it was a few years ago . Happy days! Well there was only one big question now … to buy or not to buy? What a question. Come on you didn’t honestly think I left the shop without them, did you? The extra packet … ahh well emergency supplies … just in case!

What took you down memory lane recently?

What was that like?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

All Change

I’m currently reading a book written by a colleague of mine I met some time ago at our local Speakers Club. His book was published recently … I think he has been writing it for some time. I admire Nick’s lifestyle change – 6 months a year as a quantity surveyor in London and six months a year in Cape Town as a tour guide. His book charts the progress of this particular lifestyle change in an engaging and inspirational way. Whilst reading it I found my mind wandering off and thinking about what that would be like to split the work-life balance between two different places, even two different countries. Could I adapt to the change? Would I manage it? What would be different? What would I miss? What would I welcome?

In my opinion Nick appears to be managing it very well. A conversation last week confirmed the positive changes in his lifestyle as a result of taking the risk and trying something new and something different. He generously shared how much he had learned about the whole experience and what he had learned about himself too in the process. He’s not about to give up his day job but I think he has enriched his lifestyle.

His book is called 'Touching the Brake, A tour Guide's Journey to South Africa' by Nick Bailey. It’s available from Amazon and directly from Nick too. It's a reference to his driving whilst guiding as well as meaning slowing down, getting out of life's fast lane.

… Emm it’s got me thinking … What changes would I need to make to enrich my lifestyle? What changes would you make to enrich yours? What would you need to do to make that happen? How might the changes affect lifestyle, business and overall thinking?

Let me leave those thoughts with you today and I look forward to hearing about ‘the changes’.

Friday, 17 July 2009

‘It’s so easy’.

‘It’s so easy’, I hear again and again. But it’s not if you just don’t get it, or struggle to understand how it works or wonder why it causes so much pain when you are trying really hard to make it happen. I’m fascinated with technology, what it can do and how other people can make it sing and dance. However, my fascination doesn’t always lend itself well to my learning of new technology. I wonder why that happens. Why does it do that? It’s almost as if a message scuttles to my brain and switches the OFF button when I need to learn something new that involves technology. Perhaps the 'techno bit' is lying dormant somewhere, or gone off to do some research on what next to write about, or comtemplate what to eat for dinner this evening?

I do enjoy learning new skills and working on new projects. I’m currently disguising my creative writings as blogging posts in the vain attempt to overcome my techno-phobia. Okay, I’ve said it now; maybe that’s what is stalling my progress, not acknowledging the fact that I have a problem with technology. However, not one to be beaten, the little streak of determination within me is growing stronger and stronger and I know that I will succeed and one day soon it will all come together and the OFF button will be jammed on GO GIRL GO!

And who knows, one day it will be my voice saying, ‘It’s so easy’. I can’t wait to hear how that sounds. I imagine the words singing in melodious refrain and touch of pride thrown in for good measure.

All hints and tips for speedy progress greatly received.

Have a good weekend one and all.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Laughter travels for free

‘It’s good to have an end to journey towards but it is the journey that matters in the end’. Ursula Le Guin

On a recent flight to Ireland I met a retired lady who had a great love of the theatre. As we engaged in conversation we found that we both shared this particular interest. We compared notes on various productions and plays we had seen over the years, some professional and several at amateur status. Interestingly, we had both participated in local amateur dramatic productions in our respective towns. We shared the fun we had when productions flowed well and even the laughter moments when schedules went wrong on the night! We laughed a lot together during the flight and found the journey over in no time at all. We met at strangers and parted as friends, names exchanged and a heartfelt hug at the airport of destination. I have a sense that our paths will cross again.

Who have you met on your travels recently? Did he/she make an impact on you? Did you make an impact on them?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Letting go … of the laptop

I’ve been away for several days visiting family and friends in the Emerald Isle. Before I went I contemplated about whether or not to take my trusty laptop with me. Should I? Would I? ‘Part’ of me wanted to take it and keep up to speed with emails and the day to day work stuff. But the other ‘part’ of me shouted loudly and said, ‘take the time out for yourself and focus on what is important – family, friends and you!’ You know, I’m glad that I listened to the ‘wise words’ part of me because it did allow me additional time to spend with the people I know and care about (time which I may have spent checking email). Strangely enough, all the emails queued up and waited to be acknowledged upon my return and guess what? - The sky didn’t fall in!

How often and how easy it is to get caught up in the ‘indispensable mode’? What happens when we do? What happens when we dispense with ‘indispensable’ every now and again? What do we do with a newly created space?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Happy Fourth of July

If you’re American and reading my blog – Happy Fourth of July! Have a great day. If you’re not American, take the day off and celebrate anyway! Conjure up an excuse to celebrate. Be creative with it, play with it. I invite you to have fun with your celebratory day! Buy a bottle of your favourite sparkling drink, take a picnic out into your garden, do something new, something different and make a celebration of the whole day. These are just a few minor suggestions.

How do you celebrate? What do you celebrate? Do you wait for a special day? Is every day a special day? Even if it’s not, imagine that it is what then?

Let me know how it goes. And don’t forget the fireworks!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Photograph

Photograph by http://www.frasersfotos.com

There are several photographs around my desk and one I particularly enjoy looking at was taken many years ago of two ladies I greatly admired, namely my maternal grandmother and the other my great aunt Alice. Both ladies were wonderful ladies in their own right.

My grandmother was a very practical down to earth lady who with my grandfather raised a family of seven children. She had a very strong work ethic and always ensured that we (as grand children) worked hard and ‘kept our feet on the ground’. Like my grandfather, she was kind and generous and was a wonderful grandparent. She had a great attitude to life and had a great sense of humour. She loved Ireland, the Irish language and occasionally would reprimand us in a good hearted way on our efforts at speaking her native dialect, which she maintained when she moved to The North from the Gaeltacht speaking area of her youth.

My great aunt Alice was a lady who travelled far and wide and spent much time in New Zealand, long before the days of cheap air fares and carbon footprints. Although I hasten to add that she was always a great lover of the wonders of nature. Her trips and encounters in New Zealand always made for wonderful stories when my brother and I (as children) used to stay at her place on our summer holidays.

Both ladies were a great influence on me as I grew up … I wonder if they knew that? Who influenced you as you grew up? And who are you influencing today, knowingly or unknowingly?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

A Diary

photograph by http://www.frasersfotos.com/

When I sat down to write about my second subject – ‘A Diary’, it set me thinking about the theme of time itself. How do we use our time? How much of our time do we waste? What do we do with it? Why do we often say ’If only I had time to do this …time to do that ...’ This year we have 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months…like most years except when there is Leap Year. If we have 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year that gives us 8760 hours this year!

Already I have used up nearly 6 months of time … seems like only yesterday I was writing down New Year Resolutions. Just opened my diary and checked my progress. I’ve taken to calling my resolutions my goals for 2009 in the hope that my achievements will be more effective than last year’s attempt! I’ve written five goals for this year and achieved two to date. Not bad. The other three are ‘work in progress’ and I have got almost 6 months left to complete the challenge .

We all have the same amount of time in a day; I guess it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. I thought I’d leave you with a few timely thoughts from Arnold Bennett.

You Wake Up in the Morning
Arnold Bennett

You wake up in the morning, and lo! Your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the magic tissue of the universe of your life. No-one can take it from you. No-one receives either more or less than you receive. Waste your infinitely precious commodity as much as you will, and the supply will never be withheld from you. Moreover, you cannot draw on the future. Impossible to get into debt. You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow. It is kept for you.

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Yellow Rose

Reminiscent of a special person.
Happy days
Fun and laughter,
Daft songs and poetry,
Creativity gone mad.
A tomorrow
From yesterday’s bud
Unfoldings of beauty and grace.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Jump starting a blog

Sometimes it’s a hard to get back into writing when the work-life balance has become unbalanced and out of sync … I’ve been busy with lots of work and little play recently which means that I’ve been rather remiss on my blog. But the good news is I’m back again testing out a new strategy to write several pieces at once and then feed them through the ‘blogging machine’ during the course of the next few days. Sometimes it’s hard to start when there has been a little lapse so I thought I’d check out one or two of my favourite blogs for a little inspiration. I do enjoy reading Fiona Robyn’s blog http://www.plantingwords.com/ and I’m sure she won’t mind if you stop by too.

I’m going to play a little game which is about writing as much as you can in 10 minutes on a given subject. So that I can ‘bank’ some writing, I’m going to choose three different subjects or topics and see what unfolds, if anything. As I’m sitting here at my desk, I am going to choose three things which are on and around my desk at this point in time.
1. a yellow rose
2. a diary
3. a photograph

You are welcome to join me in this little exercise and I would love to know how it goes. Has it tapped into your creativity? Here we go timers at the ready …

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Knock knock - who's there?

When an invitation to speak on local community radio knocked at my door this week, I saw it as a chance to step up and step out of my comfort zone. Now, when my internal chatterbox (that little voice within) got hold of the invite, it danced up and down and shouted , ‘Oh you’ve never done that before … what if it all goes wrong …what if you dry up and freeze on air …what if …?’. However, within seconds the waves of positivity swept in and exclaimed, ‘that’s great …what a wonderful opportunity to do something new … try something different … go for it, have a go … what would that be like? …?. And so it was that a great internal battle waged, well for all of five minutes and I agreed to give it a go. I thought it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity. Besides the topic for discussion was an area close to my heart – personal development. It seemed quite appropriate.

Often life provides many opportunities for us to work on our own personal development, without the need to go off and spend lots time and money on expensive training courses. Don’t get me wrong, they do have their place, however every now and again a little opportunity arises for us to try out something new and different. For me, doing the radio interview live was an opportunity to step up and out of my comfort zone.

And what was that like? Before I went to the studio, I imagined the afternoon as a fun session, picturing myself enjoying the session with the other interviewees and Christina, the presenter. It was interesting to note that for each of us ‘doing radio’ this was a new and novel experience. After the initial apprehension and getting to know each other, we all settled in and had a great time. We had lots of fun learning together.

The outcome - I have now tried something new, stepped out of my comfort zone again and met new colleagues with whom I hope to meet up with in the forthcoming weeks. So when opportunity knocks – open the door wide!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Fear gremlins - beware!

Today I started work with a student; she’s in that ‘transitional space’, that is, between school and college. I like the sound of the word ‘transition’. For me, there is a suggestion of movement, change, something exciting about to happen. I look upon it as a new journey or path to explore. I enjoy the sense of newness and the curiosity factor which encourages questions like; ‘I wonder what that will be like, who will be there, what I will learn?’ Perhaps that’s the traveller in me who likes to explore and visit new places. On the other hand, there’s also an element of concern and sometimes even fear associated with a new job, task or event. During the discussion with my student I could sense a strong fear of doing things and failing. ‘That would be terrible and so embarrassing!’ She smiled nervously.

I suggested that perhaps we look a little more closely at those ‘fear gremlins’ and devise a cunning plan to tackle and overcome them. We agreed to do that over the next few weeks.

What is it about the fear of failure that stops us in our tracks as students and fully fledged adults? What would happen if we gave ‘fear’ a wide berth or discontinued it from our thought processes?

What if …?

I’m currently re-reading Susan Jeffers book, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. Susan provides some great tips on overcoming the ‘fear gremlins’ and her book is well worth a read.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

A timeless gift

The best gifts we are given aren’t always the ones packed in big boxes, bought at an exclusive store or those which make a credit card crunch!
Very often they are the gifts given with love from people we know who give from the heart. Generosity is what really wraps a perfect gift, although I do enjoy creating a beautiful wrap for even the smallest gift. And have you noticed how often it is the smallest gift that is the most meaningful one… like a pebble from a beautiful beach … a buttercup from a lovely walk …a photograph of family and friends at a special occasion …a new friendship …sometimes simply time itself. I believe that time is a beautiful and welcoming gift to give and receive; especially in today’s fast paced lifestyle. As I write today, I consider the gifts of time given to me over the years and how much of a difference that made to me and the person I am today. I am enjoying the experience of taking time to reflect and listen to what is going on for me. I also find that by doing so, time encourages and develops my creativity…. and I like that very much

What has a gift of time given you recently?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Laughter lines and friendship

‘True friends are a sure refuge’. Aristotle

This weekend I caught up with three really good friends from my college days. We try to do this once a year and have been doing so now for several years, ever since we tracked down the missing house-mate via the internet! It’s usually a very ‘girlie weekend’ where we simply relinquish the domestic chores (responsibly of course!), lose track of time, chill out, eat well, put the world to rights over a glass of wine and laugh lots! For me, there’s something about true friendship that grows richer and richer as the years move on and the laughter lines become more defined …

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sometimes I just sit and think

Sometimes I just sit and think and sometimes I just sit ...

Today is one of those days when I’m presently doing just that - ‘just sitting’! It’s actually quite a novel experience for me because so often I’m busy being busy, sometimes good busy, sometimes bad busy, sometimes just simply being busy. A picture of a hamster in a wheel comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy being busy, having work to do, people to see, investigating new projects, catching up with friends. However, what I do find interesting is what I have noticed and observed by ‘just sitting’ every now and again - the quietness of the day, the beautiful pattern made by a tree shredding it’s yellow blossom, the carefree butterfly flitting from flower to flower in the garden, the intricate artwork of a spider’s web glistening with dew in the early morning …

What do you notice when you 'just sit'?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Alice at Artspace …

Imagine walking into a magical and creative garden through a secret door to African birds, baby warthogs, colourful dragonflies and wandering through trees of wonder and amazement. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, when I visited Artspace during the holiday weekend. Artspace was held at Barn Galleries near Henley on Thames. Beautiful artwork by 85 artists, original pieces exhibited with flair and fantasy in a delightful setting. I loved it!

‘Sculpture for the garden. Jewellery for the glamorous. Painting for the daring. Textiles for the trendy. Wood for the hunk. Ceramics for the collectors. Bronze for the brave.’

Where has your fantasy walk taken you recently?


Indian Silk Tree and Birds by artist Peter King

Monday, 25 May 2009

New faces and places …

We’ve got new neighbours …they’ve been here a couple of weeks now and appear to be settling in quite nicely. Although with all the recent activity of to-ing and fro-ing, checking out the garden, the space and possibly the other neighbours too, I wasn’t quite sure if they would stay. However, I guess like most of us when it comes to new habitats, we do like to visit a few times before making the commitment to put down roots and stay. And really it was no different for them. He seemed to have very definite ideas about how much space he needed … possibly a little territorial, I might add. I observed them both from a distance. She appears to be the quieter of the two and I expect that the decision about moving here was made in quiet consultation at their previous place. I’m delighted they agreed to stay. I quite enjoy watching their activities from the nest to the bird table, the daily flights in and out of the gum tree, his mid flight flapping when he’s trying to impress whoever is quietly watching!. It’s like that little red chest of his is bursting with pride, shouting ‘look at me, look at me’, while she tidies the nest and pops in and out occasionally to see what’s happening in the world outside.

Having good neighbours is important, what do you think?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Writing ...a forgotton art?

Today I received a letter in the post, one of those old fashioned letters written by hand. Remember those - handwritten letters in handwritten envelopes? Letters written with pen and ink! It’s a real treat to receive one of those particularly when it’s from a friend I haven’t heard from for ages. For me there’s something about receiving a personal letter (official letters, utility bills and credit cards statements don't generate the same excitement!). I enjoy writing letters and I enjoy receiving them too. I love to hear the sound of letters dropping on the mat and what a joy to see a handwritten one amidst the pile of junk mail, especially after a busy day at work. How lovely it is to sit down and read it, once or twice especially if there is something in it that makes you smile.

With the advent of instant communication, email, texting and tweeting, I wonder if the art of handwriting will decline over the years. Will letter writing and penmanship become a forgotten art of the 21st century? I hope not. So I encourage you this week to write an old fashioned letter to a friend, a relative, someone you know, someone you would like to know, someone you care about, perhaps someone who hasn’t heard from you for a long time. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing and you may be pleasantly surprised by who writes back.

Go on, grab a pen and paper and scribble a few lines today.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Today's gift is ...

I was quite stuck by something someone said to me this week. As we talked and shared information about our somewhat busy and hectic weeks at work, my friend commented on all the changes that were happening around him and how events over the last couple of years had changed his thinking and outlook on life. These experiences had changed and influenced his way of thinking and invited him to look at who and what is important to him now. Now, today, the present – not tomorrow, next week or next year.

So often, we find ourselves busy, busy, busy (I hold my hands up!) …. and rushing into tomorrow, next month, next year that we don’t stay long enough in ‘now’, ‘today’, ‘the present’. And what would happen if we did? What might we find? What might we learn about ourselves? What might ‘the present’ gift to us?

Enjoy being ‘in the present’ this week and I look forward to hearing about what you found when you were there.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The early bird catches the worm and tips for business ...

I attended a breakfast meeting this morning ... one of those 7.30am starts ... (that being a challenge itself for me as I don't do many breakfast meetings these days) ... I'm not one of those people who 'sing' in the mornings. I'm a bit of a grump first thing, if truth were told. I persuaded a business colleague to join me as both of us share an interest in inspirational women in business. We also share a passion for personal and professional development for women in business through a not for profit organisation called Success Network. Rachel Elnaugh (of Red Letter Days) was listed as a key speaker this morning. She proved to be an inspirational, motivational and authentic speaker. Her story of how she created a successful business, lost it and came back to fight another day was quite something. I left the meeting feeling inspired, motivated and full of new thoughts and ideas about what I could do to make a difference to the various projects I am working on.

Don't you just love that when that happens? Who inspired you recently? What difference did that make to your thought processes? What did you do?

Rachel's website http://www.rachelelnaugh.me/
Success Network http://www.successnetwork.org.uk/

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Today I am grateful for …

Nature’s beautiful colours – bright yellow rapeseed growing in the fields at this time of year, the bluest bluebells in a garden near where I live, cherry tree blossoms being blown and scattered like confetti, a beautiful rainbow after the rain, last night’s starry, starry night … loving and caring people I know … a smile from a happy baby … the opportunity to make choices and make a difference … to be free … to be happy … to be alive and well.

And you, what are you grateful for today?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The gremlin of procrastination …

Sometimes it’s a challenge to motivate myself to do things on my ‘to do list’. One of them is to ‘de-clutter’ my study, which I have been meaning to do for several days. I’m working very hard with the positive thoughts about this, how it will look when it’s done and how much better I will feel when I’ve done it. The procrastinator gremlin has come out to play again and this time, I’ve decided to play her at her own game.

The Procrastinator

She moves
With stealth
Slowly with intent.
Almost on tiptoe.
Long deliberate paces
Like a panther,
Stalking her prey.
Pounces – from nowhere,
STOP – tomorrow, tomorrow,
Not now, not today.
Sun’s out
Go and play,
Clear the study another day.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Let's talk about it ...

I’ve been scribbling this weekend, some people would say writing but I think that sounds rather grand for what I have been doing. Nothing too serious – I’ve been having some fun working on a ‘tall tale’ for a contest next week at our local speakers’ club dinner. I’ve never entered a tall tale contest before, so this will be a chance to step outside my comfort zone, to take another opportunity to develop my public speaking skills … gosh it all seemed such a good idea when I volunteered all those weeks ago!

The speakers club is part of Toastmasters International (
http://www.toastmasters.org) a great organisation for developing communication and leadership skills. Membership is available to everyone. There are some great people who attend meetings and deliver some great speeches too. (Okay, so it may take a few visits to get to that stage of the training programme but it does happen, honest!) It never ceases to amaze me the range of subjects covered at a club meeting. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve joined about public speaking and many other subjects too. I’ve made some good friends. Public speaking - it’s not as scary as you might think and you’re always guaranteed a laugh or two. ‘How could speaking in front of an audience be funny?’, you may ask, I invite you to come and find out.

Well I’m off to scribble the finishing touches on my ‘tall tale’ entry – wish me luck!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Yellow Gorse

Yellow gorse
Sweet heavy perfume
Blowing in the breeze.
Horses grazing
Inquisitive wagtails peck
And wander
On the one way track
Where I await
The return
Of the photographer,
To this restful
Soul space.

(Written on the road to Tobermory, Mull, Scotland. April 2009)

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

When the light is right

Sometimes when waiting for the perfect shot, one has the opportunity to be a little creative with words. I took the opportunity to scribble when my man went in search of the perfect sunset shot on holiday on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

Camera, lens, tripod,
For action
When the light is right

An ancient mound
Ben More
When the light is right

Whitewashed houses
Nestled below
When the light is right

Loch Don
Ripples, reflections,
Musical birdsong
When the light is right

The Ben exposed,
Camera shoots
The light is right.