Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What are you exploring in 2011?

About this time of the year there will be New Resolutions made, Big Plans conceived and Great Actions agreed.

What's yours? What do you really want to say that you have achieved by December 2011? How do you want to feel? Happier? Fitter? Wealthier? Successful?

One of the things I want to do more of this year 2011 is to write more, to be more creative and to explore the whole creative process in more depth and detail, whatever that means. I'm very much in awe of creative people, those who can paint a picture whilst capturing the mood of the moment too. Those who can create a patchwork quilt which captures a life stories and tell it in colour and cloth. Those who can dance a tale in elegance, movement and grace ... and without uttering a word to disrupt the flow. Those who can write with diligence, fervour and passion to bring a character into being without lifting the pen from the page. Those who can trawl a seashore and catch the bounty of the waves in shell, wood and shale and capture the sound for future generations.

This year I plan to explore Creativity in its widest sense. An exploration of creativity in life, work and play.

And you? What do you want to explore in 2011?

Wishing you health, happiness and fun exploring in the New Year.

Monday, 27 December 2010

While I’ve been away …

  • Snow fell, created traffic chaos and created a magical wonderland too
  • Walked in the snow wearing my old and trusty hiking boots
  • Decorated my Christmas tree
  • Visited family
  • Watched Christmas come and go
  • Attended a lovely Nativity play prior to school closing for the holiday season
  • Became an auntie once again
  • Became a great auntie for the first time!
  • Worked hard and played hard too
  • Realised that some days become so busy there’s little time to blog
  • Gave great thought to my goals for 2011. (Just thinking at this stage!)
  • Read lots … poetry …short stories…
  • Wrote a little … just a little
  • Stopped occasionally to smell the flowers
  • Sang along to the car radio tunes (no passengers’ only me in fine form!)
  • Caught up with good friends
  • Celebrated success
  • Appreciated how fortunate I am to have good family and friends

And you? What have you been up to while I’ve been away? I hope you had/continue to have a good break over the vacation period. Wishing you health & happiness for the New Year when it comes.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Happiness is not an accident

Happiness is not an accident, nor is it something you wish for. Happiness is something you design. ~Jim Rohn

What makes you happy?

As I grow older and wiser I’m more inclined to do the things I enjoy rather than doing the things I ‘have to’ do and even those I know I ‘should’ do. Admittedly it’s not always that straight forward as often the ‘have to do’ includes other people and it’s not all about me. I understand that. However, where possible I try and do as many ‘things I enjoy’ doing. On occasions when I’m really busy with work stuff it’s quite nice to have a little spot of doing something I enjoy like going to the theatre or seeing friends and family. Some people may consider this as ‘reward’ for working hard. And yes it’s a good way to look at it. Often the enjoyment of rewards makes us happy. So what’s that like? How does happiness manifest itself, in you, in other people?

It’s good to watch and even be a part of events where people are enjoying what they are doing e.g. singing, dancing, creating masterpieces with their own fair hands. I have so much admiration for creative people. People who can make wonderful things like beautiful patchwork quilts which tell great life stories. I’m afraid my failure at needlework in Mrs P’s domestic science class a long time ago means that I’ll never be able to list needlework as one of my accomplishments! I’m so glad that I was not born in the Jane Austen era. I would be banished from all of her sewing circles. However admiring such creative works does make me happy.

I like Jim Rohn’s quote about happiness and wonder if I were to design happiness for me what would that be? How might happiness look? What would I include? What would I leave out? Who would be there? Would there be colours and sounds? What would I be doing? What would I be saying? Maybe enjoying the peace and tranquility may need no words, perhaps only sounds like crashing waves on a shore? Who knows? Even the process of writing about designing happiness is making me smile and lightening my mood.

If you were to design happiness for you, what would you include?

Friday, 22 October 2010

It's Friday, it's five to five and it's Crackerjack

It's Friday … it’s five to five and it's CRACKERJACK! I wonder how many of you remember that children’s programme on the television all those years ago. Now I’m not expecting lots of immediate answers from this blog but I am curious to know how many of you do recall said programme. What memories does it trigger for you? Some of you may well be wondering what I’m 'wittering on' about. There will be those of you rapidly trying to recall the names of the presenters. There may even be a few of you thinking that Crackerjack after school was just ‘the biz’ - long before the days of computers, X boxes and after school clubs!

Now why exactly that sprung to mind when I started to write my blog this week really has no rhyme or reason, it just happened. Honest! There was a blank page with no words and not knowing what to write about; I just decided to write something which started ‘It’s Friday’ and that’s what happened.

Fridays were always big days in our household all those years ago. By the time we got home from school the ‘grocery man’ had been and delivered the week’s groceries. The idea was there long before on-line shopping as we know it today! He visited lots of homes in the countryside and his little van was always well laden with groceries, fruit and chocolate. Although I suppose that might depend on when he called at your house, morning or evening. He usually got a grand order when he arrived at our house and my poor mum would ensure that everyone got a piece of fruit and a bar of chocolate as a treat. Such was the tradition when we arrived home after school on a Friday … just in time for us to settle down and watch Crackerjack.

Ahh … Happy days!

Look what I found, a link to Crackerjack, sadly no more!

Friday, 1 October 2010

A special bond

Sometimes life has a habit of running away with itself and before you know where you are (or I am!) time has gone by and there’s been no blogging. It’s only now that I’ve managed to catch up. September has finished and October, a new month has started! Welcome October. I do love these autumn months, the colours, the change of season and the beautiful full moon in the autumn sky. Does time travel at a quicker pace as we grow older and wiser or is that merely an old wives’ tale. I’m hoping it’s a great untruth as I’ve got a lot of growing older and wiser yet to do!

I’ve been doing a little blog dipping, a good blogging re-start strategy for me and today I read Ann’s recent blog at Inkpots n’ Quills. I really enjoyed her post about time, travel and childhood memories. It triggered a few memories for me too. I had one of those too, a pipe smoking grandfather, a quiet and gentle man who even in his 80s could step dance with great rhythm and grace. He enjoyed his pipe and had in fact a selection to choose from. Occasionally, under supervision, I was allowed to take a light from the fire on a small slither of firewood. Slowly and carefully I would pass the light to my grandfather. He would light the tobacco and I’d watch him puff and blow when lighting his pipe. I watched closely as the little red glow died down and he puffed again and then the smell of tobacco would fill the room. Ahhh … I can almost smell it now. If I walk past a tobacconist shop I always look in the window to see if I can see pipes like those my grandfather used to smoke. Even today and despite being a non smoker I do enjoy the tobacco aroma, it takes me back to when I was a little girl and I think of our little ritual of lighting the pipe because that was exactly what it felt like, a special ritual between grandfather and granddaughter. I wonder if he ever realised how this would impact me as I grow older and wiser.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Are you flying with the 'no frills airline'?

I've just returned home from dropping my brother off at the airport this evening. It was great to see him. Busy places airports particularly on Sunday evenings when people are returning home after weeks and weekends away. My brother was travelling with one of those established airlines which operate with strong customer service standards. On the way to the airport we chatted about our travel experiences and travel in general. We talked about how the travel experience had changed from our student days and what we now viewed as good value and who offered the best deals and service.

I'll admit that as a passenger I do like to be looked after and treated well. I believe travelling should be enjoyable experience Some airlines are much better at providing the travel experience than others. I was reminded of a witty travel song from the all female comedy group Fascinating Aida, I went to see them at the theatre a few weeks ago. They were really funny and had a song about almost everything - including airlines, particularly those with the 'no frills service'! If they come to a venue near you ... go see them. If they're not due in your town soon here's a preview of their airline song. Check out the 'Cheap Flights' song on their website. I guess the dance routines are optional but as an Irish woman I would encourage you to try a few steps at least. It does wonders for your deportment and who knows what opportunities may come your way in the forthcoming weeks! There's a rumour that Riverdance are looking for a few more dancers.

I think my brother was pleased that he wasn't booked with the 'no frills airline' this weekend. He clams he's rubbish at dancing.

Have a good week, smile often and laugh lots.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Horse Boy - a story of inspiration.

I've just finished reading 'The Horse Boy' by Rupert Isaacson. I heard about it first on the radio and then by coincidence the book was gifted to me several days later!

It's an amazing read based on a true story about a father's incredible journey to heal his autistic son. They travel to the plains and mountains of Mongolia, the spiritual home of the horse. Both he and his son have a great affinity with horses. I'd recommend reading about this incredible journey, noting the encounters along the way and the love and dedication of the parents for their son. An inspiring read. Also, encouraging to note how this journey influenced and shaped the father's work today at The Horse Boy Foundation organisation.

It makes me think about how personal circumstances can and sometimes do influence, change and transform our everyday work.

Who or what inspired you lately?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Managing change - It is OK to go slowly!

The thing with change and transition is that it’s a strange place to be – the transitional space, you’re neither here nor there, you’re at that in between stage of letting go of all that is familiar, of all that you have been doing for many years, of all that you can do with your eyes closed (well almost!). You find yourself moving towards the new space, the space where you really want to work, the place where you really want to share your skills and talents. The place where your hearts skips a beat with excitement because you know that you will enjoy this work more so than any of the other projects you’ve been involved in and the place where you know you can make a difference!

And what’s that like? What is it like opening the gate to the field of unknowing? What are the feelings and emotions attached to all of this? What are the questions that will be asked? What are the challenges that lie ahead? What is the learning in store for me? Who and what are the new points of contacts that will provide help, guidance and direction?

I don’t have all of the answers to the above just yet. I wonder if I will have them in three or six month’s time. What I do know is that I’ll never find out unless I explore, move forward and engage more enthusiastically in the new space. I am progressing and doing that albeit via a slow and meandering route and that feels good for now. Maybe some projects aren’t meant to be rushed. It may be that by taking time in the early stages of a new project encourages better relationship building and more authentic connections being made. I believe that by taking time to do this more trusting and reciprocal connections will be made and in turn create a ‘win/win’ for both parties.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

What are you constructing today?

'Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.'
- Alice Walker
American novelist, short story writer.

This quote caught my attention this week and made me stop and think. What caught your attention and what did that do to your thoughts, musings and wonderings of 'what if'?

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Write a real letter today!

This week I received not one but two of those old fashioned letters. Remember them, a handwritten envelope with your name and address, real paper, real pen and lots of news, gossip and goings on! I love letters, I love receiving them and to be fair I do enjoy writing them too.

It has got me thinking about the art of letter writing. Is letter writing becoming a dying art? Aren’t people writing letters any more? Why is that? Is life becoming so busy and hectic we don’t have time? Is it because the process is too slow for our fast and frantic world? Is it because we no longer have the patience to wait for a considered reply? I guess there are many reasons, including, I don’t know how to write a letter. There will be those of us who argue that letters are written today, we know them as emails. Come on, do they really have the same effect? When was the last time you chat down with a cup of coffee and read a really good email? When did you last read and laugh about the adventures and antics your friend got up to while travelling to the other side of the world? I do write and receive emails, every day in fact. It’s a key part of the work that I do. But it’s not quite the same as a good old fashioned letter. The ‘ping’ of an email to my inbox just doesn’t have quite the same sound as a letter popping through the letter box and falling on the mat, come on, does it?

As a student in the 70s (pre email and inboxes) I received a letter every week from my grandmother. The letter was short and sweet with a few words about home and signed off in my granny’s familiar handwriting. At the bottom of each letter she drew a little bird and each letter contained a crisp £1 note. It was her practice on a Monday to collect her pension and post a letter to me when she went to the Post Office. Needless to say, the £1 notes have long since gone but my treasure trove of special things contains a couple of those lovely handwritten letters from her.

I’m launching a campaign to bring back good old fashioned letter writing. Care to join me? Today, take a pen, some paper, a brightly coloured envelope and write a letter to someone you know, love, would like to know better and just write until the pen stops!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

And the colour is!

Whilst out walking recently I came across this very pink truck. In the sunshine it looked very bright and beautiful. I loved the girly pink, a feminine touch of colour to what may be a rather messy business. It reminded me of one of Mary Poppins’ songs – ‘In every job that must be done there is an element of fun …’

Well done, Caroline!

What have you spotted recently that made you smile?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What do you wish for?

Photo credit to an unknown photographer who took this fun shot.

The most important thing in life is to stop saying "I wish" and start saying "I will." Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilites as probabilites.

David Copperfield

I wouldn't consider myself greatly unfit, although I wouldn't consider myself a paragon of fitness either. But I'm no authority on paragons of fitness, I do have a reasonable idea what that means for me, a reduction in the chocolate intake and a little more exercise! Oscar Wilde once wrote "I can resist anything but temptation" and I know exactly how he felt. For me temptation often includes a certain mint chocolate bar of bubbles. You know the one! I refrain from using the name only because if I do so, I may be inundated with endless free bars. Ah even now, the thought of it makes my mouth water. I have found that it's been a great solace on certain days and it's worked equally well as reward measures too. It's also been known to generate a little exercise by walking to the shop to buy a bar of the said mint chocolate energy generator. No doubt the calorific writing on the back of the package may reveal some unhealthy statistics but I find that I'm now at a stage that I can't always read such small print, this can be so convenient you understand.

I know I could/should perhaps be a little fitter. Of late I'm finding that there is often a reluctance to engage in aerobics and such like. I did have a go at spinning once and I quite enjoyed that and I was most surprised at how energising it was given that it was a stationary bike, lots of music and a most enthusiastic instructor. Perhaps it's time to revisit the spinning classes again or maybe enrol in a few dance classes? Who knows, it might even take away the occasional (just occasional mind!) feeling of guilt when I break open another mint chocolate bar of bubbles.

"I wish I was fitter and I will be fitter because nothing is impossible". I'm off to chant my way to the sweet shop now ..I mean gym, of course! There may be some intermittent reports later.

Friday, 23 July 2010

What do you create with your junk mail?

I’ve been ‘blog dipping’ again and I’ve dipped into Fiona’s blog at Planting Words. I dip in and out fairly often as I enjoy her writings and her take on life. But don’t just take my word for it, dip in yourself and see. Anyway, yesterday she wrote a clever little piece inspired by a piece of junk mail which I quite enjoyed. It got me thinking about the ‘what’ that helps us to begin a piece of writing, I mean junk mail? Well done Fiona. So when my junk mail arrived yesterday (I’m very fortunate to have a delivery every day where I live!!) instead of the usual rush to the recycling bin, I stopped and scribbled.

So here it is especially for you today a little ditty entitled ‘Pizza poetry’. I don’t expect it to win any prizes but if makes you smile, cringe or even consider an alternative to recycling junk mail then it makes my effort all worthwhile.

Have a happy weekend.

Pizza poetry

Pizzas wi’ peppers, Pizzas wi’ cheese,

Pizzas wi’ mushrooms, Lots to please.

Chicken wi’ nuggets, Chicken wi’ chips,

Chicken wi’ sauces, To last on the lips (hips?).

Pizzas wi’ flavours, Spicy and bold,

A bottle of pop, A feast to behold!

Monday, 19 July 2010

In my last post, I asked about what inspires you to blog. It set me thinking about ‘what happened during my week that was of interest to write about and share with you too’ Well I must report that the week has been full of lovely events, celebrations and meeting lots of amazing and wonderful people.

I must confess I’m less of an on line person (minimal Facebook user and a once a week blogger) and more of a face to face communicator. I like to see and talk to people in real time. I like to see the colour of a person’s eyes, the smile and laughter when a joke is shared and the look of disbelief when the tall tales are told. I do enjoy getting together with family, friends and colleagues and having a good old fashioned chat. For me that’s what I call real communication. Don’t get me wrong I do appreciate that there is a place for faster communication methods in this fast and speedy world we live in. I do sometimes wonder by engaging, are we adding to the stress and strain of our already busy lives. Maybe that is a blog post for another day!

This week there’s been lots of opportunity to do lots of the good old fashioned ‘talk talk communication’ – a lovely boat trip and picnic with The Man and friends celebrating our wedding anniversary. The day was hot, the picnic was delicious and the bubbly was chilled to perfection.

Then there was the attendance at
Sue’s Inspire Day with colleagues at the delightful Bix Manor where we updated on our respective ‘life journeys’, caught up with old friends and acquired a few new skills too. I loved the African drumming workshop and if you ever need a grand boost of energy and enthusiasm to kick off a training course or event, then I wholeheartedly recommend Doug at SewaBeats – amazing!

Interesting to note that the theme of energy, music and positivity carried through my week with a carnival afternoon at the school where I occasionally work. I loved watching the children engage heart and soul with ‘When the saints go marching in’! The banging of drums, the tooting of horns and the sheer enjoyment on their faces said it all.

Yesterday I attended an excellent Women’s conference and heard from several very inspirational ladies who shared their own stories. One particular speaker,
Lynn Pereira demonstrated incredible bravery and courage after a terrible acid attack.

During the week I have been inspired by so many wonderful people, those who have demonstrated courage, those who have shared fun and laughter and those who have simply been present to the moment. It’s been a great week. How was yours?

Monday, 12 July 2010

The blogging question

I don’t know about you but sometimes when it comes to updating my blog, I simply don’t know what to write about. Sounds familiar? Maybe you are much better organised than me and work with a particular theme or an inspirational thought? I’m all for being organised and adhering to timelines and deadlines but sometimes it’s good to allow the creative juices to flow uninterrupted and without restraints to block the way. And that’s okay.

There are events which happen during the course of the day and the week and when they do I hear myself saying, “I must write about that”, but invariably what happens is that I get sidetracked and the creative thought disappears from whence it came. I could scribble it down, indeed on occasions I have done and my little moleskine notebook is full of such scribbles. But then when I read them back I sometimes leave my mind to pause on said scribbling and before I know where I am, I’m lost in a moment of meditation. I must confess it’s very therapeutic too!

Today has been one of those days. My little notebook sits open and I note the scribbles of inspirational thoughts, funny moments and words of wisdom. For another day I think.

My question for you today - who or what inspires you to blog?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

What difference would a gift of education make?

Today I learned that Over 300 million children around the world do not have access to education and most likely will never learn to read or write’. This information was shared at a business breakfast meeting I attended in London. The event was organised by the charity Room to Read, a charity who believe that every child has a right to education irrespective of gender. Although I had heard of the charity previously through a friend of mine, I suppose until this morning I hadn’t really given a great deal of thought to the implications of not being able to read and write. For me, I love to read and write. I can often be found quite happily writing journals, short stories and letters, yes even in these times of speedier communication methods. I’m going to launch a ‘Polish up your penmanship’ campaign soon. Watch out for details!

I hadn’t really thought about it before now but having had the opportunity to be educated has really made a difference to me. It has allowed me to read and write and in turn improve my communication skills. The gift of education has allowed me to study, take on board additional learning and develop my career and enjoy the rewards over the years. This meant a better job and a better lifestyle. This gift of education has provided endless opportunities for me to develop my potential and that of others as I engaged with both adults and children through training programmes I’ve designed and delivered.

What difference would the gift of education make to a child who wouldn’t normally receive such a gift? What hopes and dreams might be fulfilled if we helped to make that happen?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Do you like magic with your music?

Last night I attended an evening at our local Arts Centre to listen to the sweet and dulcet tones of Cara Dillon. Cara is a very talented folk singer from Ireland. I’ve listened to her albums and attended several of her performances over the years and with each performance she gets better and better. Her voice has a soothing, endearing and dare I say, magical quality about it. For me, her Gaelic songs are particularly haunting and beautiful. It’s as if she sings every song from her heart and soul. When she sang last night, the whole theatre seemed to embrace the magic of her words and music. I felt that we had been given a very precious gift to hold, we had, her beautiful singing voice! She sang and encouraged us to do so too. Her songs and music accompanied by her talented musician husband Sam Lakerman, told of joy, happiness and sadness too. She engaged her audience as she performed. I enjoyed how she shared something of herself through her stories, a truly authentic performer. This was Cara’s first visit to our local Arts Centre and somehow I don’t think it will be her last. If you have the opportunity to listen to Cara’s music, I encourage you to do so. I know you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Who invites you to skip down memory lane?

Last week I was at school helping a class of eight year olds. We were learning all about the concepts of past, present and future. The teacher was explaining how the present became the past and how this became history. We talked about current events and happenings and how they would in turn become past times and history. She highlighted various events that the children could relate to and understand the nature of the lesson. She cited the local town festival that had now had a history of being fifty years old. Fifty years old! That’s quite a concept for an eight year old to grasp. This in turn generated discussion about how life was fifty years ago. What was school like then? Did children use computers? Did the children travel to school on the bus? What did they watch on television? Thanks to the internet we were able to access one or two children’s programmes of that time so long ago.

Remember Andy Pandy and Loobyloo or Bill and Ben the Flowerpot men? Like our eight year olds some of you won’t recall these delightful Watch with Mother programmes. (The short video is purely for educational purposes you understand!)

The class were rather bemused that the programmes were in black in white and not in colour. This was a novel experience for today’s eight year olds.

And when we watched together I could feel myself skipping down memory lane …

Ahhh … those were the days.

Who or what invited you to skip down memory lane recently?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A special kind of play

One of the many beautiful Oberammergau wood carvings taken by me. Artist unknown.

I’ve gone AWOL again, this time to the beautiful town of Pertisau in the Tyrol, Austria and a couple of days in the delightful village of Oberammergau in Germany. The trip was planned two years ago by my best friend and me. It seems like a long wait for a trip but this was due to the fact that the trip included a special theatre visit. We had organised to see the renowned Oberammergau Passion Play. There is a waiting list of two years for tickets to see this particular play. It is performed every ten years as per tradition and custom of the area. It had been on my ‘to see and do list’ for some time now and this year, 2010 was the year! I recall my parents going to Oberammergau some thirty years ago when I was a student at university.

The Oberammergau Passion Play originates from a vow made by the people of the village in the year 1633. It was during this time that many people in the region died as a result of the Black Death. The people vowed to portray the ‘Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ’ every ten years. Having made this particular pledge not one person in the village of Oberammergau died of the Black Death.

What’s so special about this play is that at least half the village (2500 people) are involved in the production, children as young as three and adults as old as ninety. Occasionally several members from one family may be involved in the production. All the actors are volunteers and prepare for the play at least a year before the season starts. Men will grow their hair long and acquire beards for their respective roles long before the season starts in the May. The season finishes in October and the play is performed five days a week. That’s a lot of rehearsals and performances.

To witness a production of the Oberammergau Passion Play is truly a wonderful experience. The choir, the music and the cast capture the drama, emotion and dignity of this story in the most fitting of ways. The setting, the ever changing scenes and the costumes capture the atmosphere of the event beautifully. Minutes into the performance I felt that I was no longer a spectator but someone caught up in the story of the time. The whole performance took us through varying levels of emotion. I was pleased that the two year wait for tickets was worth it. I would certainly recommend adding it to your ‘places to see’ list for 2020 and remember to book in plenty of time.

Ludwig Modl (theological advisor of the Oberammergau Passion Plays) wrote,

‘Once again they (the people) keep the vow of their ancestors in a way that remains true to the original promise. The play of redemption seeks to capture the fears and longings of the people of our times and gives them the kind of hope offered by faith. Consequently, the play is not a museum-like folk theatre, it is a theatre of the people for the people that reaches deep into life and seeks to convey hope.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

All aboard for Raasay

I’ve done it again! I’ve been sidetracked. I’ve broken my blogging habit. Not on purpose you understand it just sort of happened and during this time there were lots of interesting events going on and I had planned to write about them and share with you but … well life and work overtook such events. Note to self - need be more disciplined with my writing.

So my blog is running not in front of time, nor in time but behind time. The blog has veered off the time line perhaps in need of some inspiration, deliberation and creativity. Yes, it’s out of sync. Quite frankly I’m not sure that it ever was in sync. I did try and keep it updated on a fairly regular basis but sometimes I get sidetracked like now and I have to say that it’s quite a challenge getting back into it again, blogging I mean so please forgive my feeble efforts.

Some bloggers blog daily and that’s impressive. I truly admire such discipline. One such example is Paul At the end of the Road. I just love how he manages to write daily and usually something witty that adds a little smile or chuckle to the reading of his blog. He is based on the Scottish island Raasay, an island between the Isle of Skye and Scotland and if you can’t manage a trip there soon consider a virtual trip there today. It can be a great way to see Raasay, and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city too.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Valley Gardens

A couple of years ago I read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron. It was recommended to me by a colleague I met on a training course. Strange how some books keep cropping up in conversation and 'The Artist's Way' was one of those. In turn, I bought the book and used it as a aid to 'recover my creativity'. I was encouraged to write 'morning pages' every day for several weeks and schedule an 'artist date' for myself every week.

the artist dates are times for receptivity, preplanned solitary hours of pleasurable activity aimed at nurturing the creative consciousness.

I do enjoy writing and always have loved writing ever since I was a little girl. At 5'2" I haven't grown very tall but I do believe that my writing has improved greatly. I must confess it was a challenge making a habit of writing at least three pages of A4 every day, however when I now look back and read it through at times it can be quite enlightening! Writing can be a very therapeutic exercise too, I've found. If you haven't already tried it out do so. It can work wonders if you've had a bad day at the office!

Anyway, the 'artist's date' was something I particularly enjoyed and I visited some delightful places in my quest to 'recover my creativity'. Last week armed with notepad, scribbling pen and picnic I went off to visit The Valley Gardens. I persuaded The Man and his camera to join me. The Valley Gardens is part of The Great Windsor Park and if you have the opportunity to schedule an 'artist date' there I encourage you to do so before all the blossom falls. For those of you unable to make a visit I hope you enjoy the pictures courtesy of The Man and his camera at frasersfotos.

Monday, 26 April 2010

If you think you can, you can!

Today I came across this poem from the poet C. W. Longenecker.

You Can If You Think You Can!

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It is almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

~ C. W. Longenecker ~

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Anyone for ...daffodil therapy?
I did consider posting some poetry to accompany this picture but then I thought that you might like a quiet moment viewing the daffodils.

I invite you to take a minute to escape from the busyness of the day.

So enjoy the daffodils and whatever else the new season of spring brings to you.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

How creative are you?

Earlier today when I sat down to write I was distracted by the activity in my garden. Some days I can be distracted so easily although I do confess that I quite enjoy sitting at the dining room table and gazing out through the French windows. Much more conducive to creative writing than working from the desk in the work space upstairs. By moving to a more creative space I believe this helps the creative thoughts flow. Well that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

What caught my eye was a female blackbird flitting around my garden picking up moss and straw to line her nest which she has built in a hedge near the garden fence. She has been building it for a couple of days now and it’s coming along very nicely, not that I’m an authority on blackbird nests you understand. But when I’ve sneaked a look, it looked quite impressive. In fact I would go as far to say that it’s a work of art. She must be feeling pretty proud of her handiwork. The male blackbird (presumably her mate) stopped by occasionally. I haven’t seen him build or carry anything to the nest. Maybe his role is more of a project management one!

The nest building exercise made me reflect on work and working styles. How some of us like to fully engage in the activity and others who are quite content to be more ‘hands off’. I enjoy when an organisation encourages innovation and creativity within the workplace. I love to hear the energies rise and the motivation levels rocket. Often there are some great ideas and solutions to problems from people engaged within an organisation, if only we (managers / employers) would acknowledge these untapped talents. In my opinion a good organisation encourages the company to grow and develop more by tapping into the resources and talents of its people.

Emm wondering what other talents the blackbird with the project management skills has to offer?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Tips for bloggers – Tip 1: Blog dipping

To keep a blog updated requires discipline, dedication and dipping … yes, you’ve read right, dipping! Dipping in and out of other people’s blogs is a good way to learn about the ‘what else’. What else is going on in the world? What else is going on in life? I find myself ‘blog dipping’ a lot particularly when I go to update my own blog. It can be a dangerous process blog dipping as very often I find myself miles away from where I first started. Imagine that, travelling far away without ever having to leave the desk and the laptop. Hurrah for the internet. I just love to see where the virtual road takes me.

Today it took me to The Blue Cabin, near Strangford Loch in N. Ireland. Although I’ve never visited the area in person embarrassing really as I hail originally from N. Ireland (Note to self - add to the must do list), I spent some time there today courtesy of the website, blog and video wandering in the peace and tranquillity of nature. Most therapeutic. I enjoyed reading about the arrival of the Terns and wondered if they created the same sense of awe and amazement I experience when the Red Kites swoop and soar in the skies above my home. These birds have often been the cause of distraction when I work from home but a welcome distraction I hasten to add.

I'm interested to know where the virtual road takes you this week and what did you find when you got there.

Is it worth sharing?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A blogging dilemma

Oh dear, thirteen days since my last posting. So much for my best intentions of writing a regular blog. And a regular log is ... daily, weekly, monthly? Well I had planned that I would post at least weekly but I guess I got side tracked with life events, working, catching up with friends, more working, looking at new job opportunities, celebrating St Patrick's day (17 March!), attending a few training courses, consolidating the learning, organising time to spend with family ... so blogging got shelved for thirteen days. I promise to get back back into the habit of blogging again. My blogging buddy Caroline at 'Getting to Excellent' is quite an authority on the subject of habits as well as measuring ways to get to excellence. She did confess on line (so brave!) that she had one of two challenges with managing her caffeine habit but overall she did it. I was impressed. I plan to follow her sound advice on 'creating a blog habit' i.e. writing a blog post regularly.

I had planned to blog today about how wonderful it was to have started the first day of summer. I actually spent two hours in my garden potting, pottering and admiring my 'host of daffodils'. The sun was out and the sky was blue and it was very therapeutic time digging and working in the earth. I so enjoyed the first of many long days of light.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Have you arrived at the Element?

At the moment I’m reading and enjoying ‘The Element’ by Ken Robinson and fellow author Lou Aronica. Sir Ken is one of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and innovation and he is an international leader in the field of developing human potential. In THE ELEMENT which he defines as ‘the point at which natural talent meets personal passion’, he demonstrates how and when people reach the Element, they feel ‘most themselves, most inspired and achieve at their highest levels’. He explores the parts innovation, creativity and commitment to our own capabilities play in finding the Element and in doing so provides some great insights and lots of food for thought.

His thoughts, stories and insights make for inspirational reading.

I wonder how many of us have already found our ‘element’. I’m curious to know what that’s like. As for me, well I guess I’m still at the exploration stage - exploring the things that I feel quite passionate about. I'm giving thought and consideration to what may become the specific passion that changes everything. And you, where are you at? When are you in your ‘element’?

Have a good week.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A matter of time

Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.

Jim Rohn

What would you do if you had more time?

How would you spend it?

Who would you spend it with?

What are you waiting for? Go for it!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ramblings in Christmas Common

A whole week has gone by and I haven't got round to updating my blog. Not that it really matters. I mean it's not as if anyone has missed it. I'll bet you didn't even notice. Like me you were probably so caught up in the busyness of life you weren't even aware that there were no postings from last week. But I have missed it ... just a little mind ... sometimes it's good to have a few creative ramblings. Sometimes it's good to take stock of what is going on. Sometimes it's good to sit and think. Often it's good quite simply to sit!

During the week I decided to take some time out and catch up with a friend I haven't seen for ages. We've both been caught up in the 'busyness of life' lately. We arranged to meet in a beautiful place called Christmas Common in Oxfordshire. We donned the walking boots and walked and talked, admired the countryside and watched the red kites swoop and soar in the blue skies above. Initially I had felt a little guilt with it being a Friday and a working day however the moment of guilt soon passed. It felt good to be out in the fresh air and bright sunshine.

As you can imagine all this activity requires sustenance. There's a lovely little pub to stop by and treat oneself to lunch should you meander along this way in the future.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentine's Day
Today is St Valentines Day but I guess you knew that already. What does it mean for you? Hearts, flowers, romantic gestures and cards? Something else? Or are you one of the cynics who say 'bah humbug' just an excuse for the stores and shops to commercialise the day to death and overkill romance? Maybe the day reminds you to do something a little romantic because life can become so busy to-ing and fro-ing and we may forget to factor in a little romance? Is it all about love of the romantic kind? Is it simply about declaring undying love for a partner or a spouse? I think its a lovely opportunity to say 'I love you' to parents, grand parents, children and good friends too!

And what of St Valentine, the patron saint of this special day? There is much mystery surrounding St Valentine. I have enjoyed reading something of the history and I hope you do too.

As for me, well I confess to being a hopeless romantic. I do enjoy the celebration of the day and the participation of it too.

Happy Valentines Day!