Monthly Archives

February 2014


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Grounding or zero?

Around this time last year I had three gardening face – offs 1) Jimson Weed 2) the wall climbing ivy 2) a giant vibrant violet thistle: all glorious weeds in real life that were each taking over a different aspect of the garden and morphing from beautiful, unusual delights into virulent, rampant and destructive blights. What had once, in its springtime, been a mass of delicate flowers, with a little rain and a lot of sunshine had become giant, unwieldy and unwanted. They had to go.

Not one of these extractions was an easy task. The root systems were so intricate and ingrained, and my strength no match for the subterranean anchorage they had established, that it required days not minutes and the use of hardcore tools and implements; one brand new pitchfork shattered into pieces whilst the root remained unscathed and I had only just started the job. But I succeeded. And, whilst not one plant went without a fight, I learned by doing and looking and listening and living, that some roots can be easily shaken loose, others need more serious intervention and in some situations it’s wiser to leave well alone in order to maintain the security of everything else around it.

It seems to me that growing up, leaving home and moving house / jobs / countries tugs on one’s own deeply ingrained psychological root systems.

It’s too easy to accept that we are defined by our roots then live our lives like trees rooted to the spot, clinging to a past for an identity that becomes by its very nature, outmoded and outgrown. The sins and graces of our forefathers and mothers cradle us softly then bind us fast, uniting one family member to another unconditionally through love, nature, nurture, justice, mercy, honour, hope and duty. Yet, as safe and comforting as this can feel, the inevitability of change awaits. If we are to truly grow, we must either break away – sometimes with a gentle tug or on a light gust of wind, sometimes in a violent tornado, or if we are lucky, all that is needed is a little occasional pruning, a regular cutting back or a cutting away so that we ourselves can be gradually potted on. Moving forward and moving on by unearthing and tending one root at a time is kinder to our Selves and all around us, less radical and undisputably the more humane option.

No matter what our backgrounds are, we are not our parents or families and our parents and families are not us. That does not mean that we have to erase all evidence of that and there from whence we came. No – those roots are as important and essential to the chrysalis Us as breathing. Make no mistake, there is nothing better than returning to home and hearth, friends and flames, gorging on those two handed hugs and catching up with everyone who gives us a boost is as good a healer as any guarana laced energy drink or weekend spa stay.

As loyalty and empathy begin to motivate our choices we must also remember that we are not our employers either, nor are they us. If trees can be uprooted, moved and then planted in more advantageous surroundings, then so can we. Provided that we handle ourselves and the situation with the utmost care, we can become strong, confident and thus capable enough to develop and nurture our own root system. Better that than clinging to a future that is pre-determined and that leaves us strangely wanting, unstable, wavering and deeply co-dependent.

Feel free to add your thoughts to this discussion.

RUBY BRIDGES DAY – a day to celebrate courage and the game changing power of ordinary people doing extraordinary things

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This is a copy of a post I found on Facebook today that I think is an important reflection for us all. Please read and share.

Today is Ruby Bridges Day, a day set aside to commemorate a brave little girl’s entry into an all-white school on November 14, 1960.


As soon as Bridges entered the school, white parents pulled their own children out; all teachers refused to teach while a black child was enrolled. Only one person agreed to teach Ruby and that was Barbara Henry, from Boston, Massachusetts, and for over a year Mrs. Henry taught her alone, “as if she were teaching a whole class.” Every morning, as Bridges walked to school, one woman would threaten to poison her;[7] because of this, the U.S. Marshals dispatched by President Eisenhower, who were overseeing her safety, only allowed Ruby to eat food that she brought from home. Another woman at the school put a black baby doll in a wooden coffin and protested with it outside the school, a sight that Bridges said “scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us.” At her mother’s suggestion, Bridges began to pray on the way to school, which she found provided protection from the comments yelled at her on the daily walks.


Now Ruby Bridges is a published author but more than this I think her success is a testament to bravery, courage, the power of prayer and determination and she is an inspiration to us all.



Many thanks to the Free Range Learning page on Facebook for the text source — and Allison Berry Jennings for the post.

Spirit of Avalon

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I am obsessed with horses – they are my spirit animal of sorts since I am a proud firehorse as my chinese astrological self. When I received this through @Soul Harmony on Demand’s blog I thought it was so beautiful that I immediately reblogged it. It embodies everything about this coming Year of The Horse and in fact, being a Horse and living the Horse life. Thanks to Roxi St Clair for being the source of the original post. I look forward to reading more posts from these two blogs.


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Manners costs nothing

Why don’t people say ‘thank you’ as much as they say ‘sorry’? Is it because they feel more comfortable making excuses or apologising for something rather than being grateful and / or expressing gratitude?

We say ‘sorry’ when we make simple mistakes, or step through a door at the same time as someone else, or if we talk over friends excitedly in conversation. Others use ‘sorry’ more as a habitual conversational tic than the powerful fixer that it is meant to be. Some people say ‘sorry’ so much that I have asked them to replace that word with ‘orange’ or ‘blancmange’ just so that they themselves can flag how deep their addiction to it is. Some of them realise how ridiculous they sound and slowly wean themselves off it, others not. I hear ‘sorry’ a lot and sadly a lot of the time, it’s not for the right reason.

‘Sorry’ seems to have become a lexical comfort blanket, its potency so fuzzy that it appeases even that that needs not be appeased. Many are happy with this. That’s not to say that sorry should lose its rightful place at the top of the apology hierarchy. I am a loyal subject and a firm believer in the power of a sincere and robust ‘sorry’ (make up sex is dynamite after all).  But if we said ‘thank you’ for even half the things we should, as we say ‘sorry’ for half the things that we shouldn’t, the effect could be earth shattering.

Maybe I’m a dinosaur, maybe I’m not, but it bothers me that people say ‘sorry’ more than they say ‘thank you’. But who died and made me Queen? It worries me that I am judging how other people act when I’ll wager I don’t say ‘thank you’ as much as I should. Nobody’s perfect.

I saw the image above on Pharrell’s Instagram / Twitter stream and thought it was a great idea. Yes I should cultivate the habit of being grateful more than I perpetuate the cliché campaign in support of ‘sorry’. I shouldn’t just be insta-grateful for an instagram and then move on. Much like a plant or a tree, I should cultivate gratitude – I should make it grow shoots, leaves, branches and a big, fat trunk. I should elevate this gratitude cultivation into a such a fine counter-cultural art that one day the tree will grow so big that it provides shelter, love and warmth for whole families of horses, cats, dogs, birds, squirrels, rabbits and all those furry sticky icky nano-creatures that nibble away at the leaves. As they take refuge from the ravages of the world outside in its bark and branches, they will say, ‘we are so thankful that someone grew that gratitude tree over there. We are now going to tell our friends so that they can cultivate one too’.

The dictionary definition of the word, grateful, is the act of being ‘warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received’. Amongst so many other things that I refrain from boring you with here, I am deeply appreciative of the message that Pharrell beamed into my brain. It planted the seed of an idea that germinated until I felt strongly enough about it that I didn’t just take it to heart and put it into practise for myself, but I also shared it.  Thank  you Pharrell for making me check myself and want to be a better person. And thank you, you, for reading this.

If you want to read more about cultivating the art of gratitude Huffington Post ran this feature today – 11th of February – 4 Ways to Immediately Feel Better About Your Life  These are helpful pointers and should get you on the way no matter what happens in your day. Let me know if you can think of any more.

About learning, memories and writing.

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a typographocal image that says a lot about me

a typographocal image that says a lot about me

I have always loved words and the look of them on the page. I learned to speak, read and write very early on in life.My earliest memories involve singing, dancing, doing shows for my family and holding court whilst standing on a snooker table but the day I learned to join the letters together was an out of body moment that I can only explain as riding solo on a learning curve.

One Monday evening, just like any other, I was lying on the sitting room floor, resting on my elbows, thinking and reluctantly doing my homework. I was not concentrating at all, since it was way more important to keep one eye on the TV and the other on the subject in hand. We had been asked to write an essay – ‘Last Weekend’ so I set about fantasizing around the most banal happenings, stacking one little letter in front of another with finger spaces between each one. I soon grew tired of the effort and wanted to get the job done quickly, so started to link the letters together with connecting swirls and curls. It seemed perfectly logical and natural to do this. Before I knew it, the essay was finished but when I checked over it I realised that my handwriting had drastically changed. How unusual it was to see the infant turn into the child in writing and in front of my eyes.

The strange thing is that I can’t remember exactly what I was writing about that brought about the change. All I remember is running to look up my style of writing in the encyclopaedia Brittanica – yes – the ‘hand’ I had chosen was closest to copperplate. No-one had shown me how to do it. I hadn’t practised it or purposefully tried to do it. It took no great effort. It was simply something that happened for me as naturally as breathing, sleeping and eating.From that day to this I have been in love with writing and our letters.

Since then I have explored the world of writing, keeping handwritten diaries, writing haikus and poems in a collection of ruled notebooks that i keep hidden from the world. I also keep a blog whenever I can remember the password.