Do you hear what they are doing now???

How many times have you heard a sentence starting about what “they” are doing, saying, responsible for?

Do you often complain about “people ” who irritate you or annoy you because they “always” do the same thing?

Do you add fuel to an argument by using the old reliable petrol of “you are always the same” when you are angry, frustrated or just plain fed up with something? 

Agatha Christie said ““I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalise. Generalisations are seldom if ever true and are usually utterly inaccurate.”
Murder at the Vicarage

Do you ever stop to think about how useful generalisations really are? What exactly are  we saying when we speak in generalizations? Are we staying anything at all or are we just complaining about something vague so that we can feel better but in doing so feeding into a collective sense of hopelessness? Who is the “they” we are talking about? The government? The E.U.? Teenagers? The Youth? The Elderly? The Bankers?  Generalisations allow us to speak in sweeping statement using information based on one or two specific instances.

Louis de Bernières, says in “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.”; “I know you have not thought about it. Italians always act without thinking, it’s the glory and the downfall of your civilisation. A German plans a month in advance what his bowel movements will be at Easter, and the British plan everything in retrospect, so it always looks as though everything occurred as they intended. The French plan everything whilst appearing to be having a party, and the Spanish…well, God knows. Anyway, Pelagia is Greek, that’s my point.”

In an age when we constantly strive to be an individual and encourage children to find their own path, and adults their own voice, surely generalizations are less useful than ever. Stereotypes are such an ingrained part of our psyche and language yet we now know that not all Irish people have red hair, freckles and live on potatoes, any more than all French people wear berets and stripy sweaters with garlic necklaces.

If we were to stop using sweeping statements and begin to think about our words and check to see if what we are saying is true, what difference would it make to our conversations?

Would what we say be of more value?

Would it be possible to say less yet say more as a result? 

We constantly strive to celebrate our differences and individuality, so how about you stop to think this week who exactly who it is you are talking about when you start your sentence with “Did you hear what they are doing now?” 

Lily Tomlin had a lot to tell us when she famously said “I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”  

But Lily didn’t stop there. She took the famous “they” out of the sky and put it into words that make sense when she said “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”

 

 

 

 

 

The point of comparison

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to someone younger, thinner, richer, more educated, brave, accomplished, clever or kinder?

Do you find yourself thinking “well it’s ok for him/her/them?”

Do you feel fatter, poorer, lesser as a result?

Helen Keller could neither see nor hear, and yet she was one of the most remarkable people of recent times. What she overcame on a daily basis was utterly remarkable to those of us with sight, hearing and a voice to air our opinions with. She influenced world leaders and policy, inspired millions and lived through two world wars, literally starring in her own life in the process. Helen had many sides to a complex personality, but very little to compare herself with. Sure, there were other people who had no sight but shared a vision for a better world for people with disabilities, but Helen also was a suffragette, a union supporter, a writer, an actor, an activist, an educator and a lobbyist for a host of causes throughout her long and active life.

In short, Helen compared herself to nobody. There was nobody like her to compare herself with. 

When we spent time comparing ourselves to others, we are ALWAYS going to find someone thinner, richer, wiser, younger, older, more or less successful. We are guaranteed to feel disappointed as a result of comparing ourselves to others, but also to feel perfectly justified in NOT trying something new or different, difficult or challenging because we are busy sitting in the pity barn!

If a woman like Helen Keller, could achieve an extraordinary life with such extraordinary challenges, then how could we take just a little bit of inspiration and try to do something out of the ordinary, with our extraordinary array of senses?

If we tell ourselves that we will wait until we are thinner and wiser, we are also going to be older and possibly fatter as a result. Waiting until we are ready is like Waiting for Godot in Beckett’s play. The longer we wait the more scared we become. The more conditions we want to have in place before we make a start, the more difficult it is to start anything at all.

What would happen if we stopped waiting and just started? 

What would happen if we tried to make a change and hoped things would conspire to help rather than get in the way? 

What would happen if we ended up inspiring others to take a chance and find their voice, just by doing the very thing we were scared to start all along? 

So this week make a start. Stop waiting and see what happens and stop waiting….

helen-keller-pic

Dr. Spock and polished ears

One of the sheer joys of working with groups over the last year is constantly seeing and hearing things in a new way. Something familiar that we have been listening to for many years may be a powerful political statement or just a pop song, but if you polish your ears and listen to the words, you may be amazed at what you hear.

A classic example is the song that gets into your head and stays there ,usually making you smile, is  Gimme Hope Jo’anna by Eddie Grant. When you think of the song , you may feel a positive vibe and even start to dance a little bit. Why not?

But the song itself was incredibly controversial in its day and was banned in South Africa. Grant was, in his own words, a  political writer and artist. “I Don’t Wanna Dance can mean that you don’t want to go out on the dancefloor,” he says, “or it could mean that you don’t want to go along with an idea. That’s how I try to write: you take it how you want, but I am basically a writer of protest.”

When you really listen to the lyrics of Gimme Hope you will hear a song about apartheid, injustice, corruption and revolution. You can also hear a positive message of Hope for a country full of possibilities but caught in a maelstrom of negativity.

Just as Eddie Grant is an artist and a protest writer, Dr. Spock was much more than a wise vulcan with polished ears. Leonard Nimoy who played the Doctor is a gifted poet and director who wrote some of the most romantic poetry you will come across, as well as directing Three Men and a Baby. But he was also a singer who made the Ballad of Bilbao Baggins famous even if it was truly awful!

For Nimoy, as well as Grant, people could take them at face value as entertainers or listen and bit more closely and be inspired by ideas and concepts we might not associate with Hollywood.  One of Nimoy’s simplest and powerful poems suggest we rethink what happens when relationships end.

If love can be

If love can be withdrawn

It never was

My love for you is not a gift
To you
It is a gift
To me

And just when you think Mr. Nimoy was a poet of beautiful words he pops up as a degenerate old crank shoplifting his breakfast on Bruno Mars “Lazy Song” unoffical vide

 https://youtu.be/dULOjT9GYdQ?t=92

Music doesn’t always tell a story, unless its opera or country music, but sometimes we can listen to something for so long that we dont hear it at all, and often miss the very reason it became popular in the first place!

This week, when you drive your car or travel with i pod on or have music on your phone whilst you walk, run or work, and, listen to the lyrics, polish your ears and REALLY LISTEN and see what you discover!

And if you want to make a start, here’s the link to Eddie:

Do your friends help you fly?

“The good government of our nation has decreed that whilst witchcraft is to be sought out and destroyed by death, the practice of flying is not, in itself, objectionable!”  or so says the Lost Art of Being a Lady, A victorian Self help Guide for Modern Women.

Have you ever met a total stranger and was gobsmacked by how identical your life experiences were? 

Have you talked about something awful assuming you were the only one in the world who could understand only to find that your problem was not unique to you? 

Are you constantly surprised when you meet people who seem to come from the same tribe? 

When I grew up Witches were either cartoon figures in Disney fairytales or burnt at the stake during the Salem Witch trials. But in modern times I think we have a new breed of people who would have been definitely dunked in a mud pond had their conversations been overheard by the people in charge 🙂 At many of the Artist Way courses over the last year I noticed a group of strangers develop, without discussion, a mental telepathy or shorthand, and many times I heard the phase “we must have been witches in a previous life” as people who had  never met, realised that they had similar values, experiences or aspirations as the person sitting beside them.

Something happens when you meet someone who “gets” your way of thinking. Who likes the things that interest you. Who speaks your language. A mutual inspiration occurs when ideas are swapped, experiences compared and energy is most definitely raised. You often come away from such a meeting feeling reinspired, re energised, reassured. There is a whole world of support out there for you from people you already know or at the very least have the contact details for. People you admire, people you inspire to be like, people you like spending time with. People who encourage you to fly.

In short, spending time  with people of your own tribe makes you happy and is good for you. 

If you are not sure what someone from your own tribe is, think about how you feel when you spend time with a friend, colleague or family member. Do you feel energised or losing the will to live? Excited about life or looking around for a crucifix to hop up on? Do you laugh at the same things? moan about the same things? value the same things?

If you feel better about yourself after spending time with someone, then that person is going to make your life better. And a little bit of magic happens. You feel your wings.

Think about the people you spend time with and how you feel about yourself when you do. Is there someone you like spending time with that you have lost touch with? Someone you used to tell your hopes and dreams to that because of work/kids/family/life you dont get to see too often? Social media is a fantastic way to connect with people from the comfort of your own home and is a lovely way to connect to people who live across the ocean. But nothing replaces a cup of coffee and a chinwag. A hug or a handshake connecting two people is like a promise to keep in touch. If meeting up is not possible then at least try to write a card or a letter. If that is not possible (and why not? ) then an email is good. If you cannot  email someone then a text will connect you. And if all that fails then “poke”them on facebook.

As far as I know, no-one ever went to their grave regretting spending too much time staying in touch with people they liked. 

So this week, why not make an effort to meet your fellow witches? Your other tribe members? The people who “get” you whether they are old friends or new acquaintances. Share a coffee, share a meal, go for a walk. Spend and hour in the lobby of a hotel in a comfy armchair and find out what is happening in their world.

And if the person you are thinking of as you are reading this makes contact before you do, dont be surprised……

Do your friends help you fly?

“The good government of our nation has decreed that whilst witchcraft is to be sought out and destroyed by death, the practice of flying is not, in itself, objectionable!”  or so says the Lost Art of Being a Lady, A victorian Self help Guide for Modern Women.

Have you ever met a total stranger and was gobsmacked by how identical your life experiences were? 

Have you talked about something awful assuming you were the only one in the world who could understand only to find that your problem was not unique to you? 

Are you constantly surprised when you meet people who seem to come from the same tribe? 

When I grew up Witches were either cartoon figures in Disney fairytales or burnt at the stake during the Salem Witch trials. But in modern times I think we have a new breed of people who would have been definitely dunked in a mud pond had their conversations been overheard by the people in charge 🙂 At many of the Artist Way courses over the last year I noticed a group of strangers develop, without discussion, a mental telepathy or shorthand, and many times I heard the phase “we must have been witches in a previous life” as people who had  never met, realised that they had similar values, experiences or aspirations as the person sitting beside them.

Something happens when you meet someone who “gets” your way of thinking. Who likes the things that interest you. Who speaks your language. A mutual inspiration occurs when ideas are swapped, experiences compared and energy is most definitely raised. You often come away from such a meeting feeling reinspired, re energised, reassured. There is a whole world of support out there for you from people you already know or at the very least have the contact details for. People you admire, people you inspire to be like, people you like spending time with. People who encourage you to fly.

In short, spending time  with people of your own tribe makes you happy and is good for you. 

If you are not sure what someone from your own tribe is, think about how you feel when you spend time with a friend, colleague or family member. Do you feel energised or losing the will to live? Excited about life or looking around for a crucifix to hop up on? Do you laugh at the same things? moan about the same things? value the same things?

If you feel better about yourself after spending time with someone, then that person is going to make your life better. And a little bit of magic happens. You feel your wings.

Think about the people you spend time with and how you feel about yourself when you do. Is there someone you like spending time with that you have lost touch with? Someone you used to tell your hopes and dreams to that because of work/kids/family/life you dont get to see too often? Social media is a fantastic way to connect with people from the comfort of your own home and is a lovely way to connect to people who live across the ocean. But nothing replaces a cup of coffee and a chinwag. A hug or a handshake connecting two people is like a promise to keep in touch. If meeting up is not possible then at least try to write a card or a letter. If that is not possible (and why not? ) then an email is good. If you cannot  email someone then a text will connect you. And if all that fails then “poke”them on facebook.

As far as I know, no-one ever went to their grave regretting spending too much time staying in touch with people they liked. 

So this week, why not make an effort to meet your fellow witches? Your other tribe members? The people who “get” you whether they are old friends or new acquaintances. Share a coffee, share a meal, go for a walk. Spend and hour in the lobby of a hotel in a comfy armchair and find out what is happening in their world.

And if the person you are thinking of as you are reading this makes contact before you do, dont be surprised……

Over weight or Under Creative?

Have you ever seen an overweight animal in the wild?

This time of the year we can often be paying the price for overindulgence and identify more with an elephant than a panther after a season of sweets and turkey, cheese and more wine than our recommended daily dose.

The Christmas pudding and chocolates did not help our new year’s figures, but what about if the reason we are extra heavy is not just down to piggery or careless eating alone? 

Animals in the wild have to be constantly creative about finding ways to eat or they die. They rarely make nests they dont need or dig burrows for decoration to give other animals inspiration. Animals live a creative life on a daily basis, and those that fail to hone their creative thinking starve. The more a wild animal devises new and unusual traps for prey, the stronger and more nourished they will be.

They  eat when they are hungry and rarely hunt out of boredom.

As small children we play without thinking, making up games, languages, pictures, rhymes and cakes and houses out of blocks or binoculars out of toilet rolls.  We draw on walls, paths or paper without thinking too much about the outcome. If we are lucky enough to get a train set the fun is in watching the train go on the same journey many times over just for the sheer joy of it.

As adults in a currently competitive world, we tend to encourage children to play but attach learning to the outcome in terms of educational toys and flashcards, cognitive building sets and books with in built morality. With the children developing their cognitive and reading skills, we can sometimes feel  that  “play” with something we adults do “after work” and if we “have time”. 

Play can often be considered a less than useful use of our time and so we dont.

Instead we can develop  a vague gaping need that has to be fed. Literally. Cakes, curry, chips, chocolate are all good substitutes because they make us feel good …but for a very short time.  Apart from preparing the food, there is no tangible evidence that it existed, unless you count the dishes in the sink or the extra inch around your middle bit.

When you create something, you can wear it, hang it on a wall, send it to a friend, use it to hold flowers, admire it, but most of all acknowledge that you made it and before you did it did not exist.

When you eat a pie it is gone. 

When you create you play. Your mind is awake and your hands are busy. When you create for the sake of enjoying the process you feed the part of your mind that can be your greatest ally in your battle with excess weight – your imagination.

So what about if “play” for the sheer joy of it could be embraced as part of a healthy lifestyle? What if your play time was just as important as your running time, your calorie counting time, planning/cooking/preparing your meals time?

What if you feed the need in us to “play” ?

Think about the things you loved to do when you were younger that made you lose track of time? Did you draw? knit? sew? look for bluebells? frogs? birds? play the tin whistle badly? Make stick people out of matches? Make a jigsaw? Make a paper plane? Make a bead bracelet? Earrings? Crochet cushion covers or winter hats?

When I am overweight I am under creative. I am also overweight when I am over tired. I am over tired when I am not making time for “play” …in my case writing or painting. And on the cycle goes…until I stop and make something. Or write something. Or paint something. Anything.

What  if you included an old hobby, a new hobby, a skill you used to have or a skill you want to learn as part of your healthy lifestyle with just as much value as running or planning your meals this year?

What if you reclaimed your right to “play” to give your mind a rest and feed that hunger for creativity instead of feeding your body food it doesn’t need instead?

On an emotional level you may have to get over the guilt or feeling silly when you start to create something that looked very different in your head to the executed version.

On a physical level you may have to calm your itchy feet to sit for  a while to use your hands while you  make something out of nothing.

On a practical level you cannot eat a curry when you are tie dying a t-shirt.

If you are learning a new routine for line dancing, its hard to wonder if the chippy is open whilst you concentrate on the steps.

You cannot sing and eat at the same time. 

So what if you include something creative in your new year as part of your overall healthy lifestyle, whether its something you did, something you would love to do, or something you love doing but never seem to have the time between work, house, kids and gym and commitments?

Resolve to give it 10 minutes a day.  Just 10 minutes.

You have 1440 minutes in a day, try giving 10 of them to your creative self and see what happens? 

Give yourself a gift of those 10 minutes and have a creative, healthy, inspirational start to your new year!

 

 

 

To bed or to weightwatchers?

Are you full of new ideas and resolutions but physically bone weary tired?

Mentally buzzing but physically fizzled out?

Do you WANT to get out in the evening in your new lycra leggings and day glo hat but struggling to find the energy?

Slimming World, Weight watchers, fat club, fight club, anything that supports anyone getting fit and healthy is good stuff in my books, but this time of the year I often find myself in total conflict with the size of my seating area and the amount of energy in my petrol tank. In short, at this time of the year I am mentally enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas and new year’s resolutions but physically tired. Not depressed, not despondent, just bone dog weary tired.

I have several explanations for why my physical body is trailing behind my super buzzy mind and they are simple.

1 I was born in November so I am guessing I spent much of Christmas and New year during my first festive period sleeping my brains out. 

2. My mother did not know how to spell the word “relax” and worked long hours to keep us all fed and watered and then spent the hours when she was not working in the garden, at the sewing machine or feeding the elephant sized twin tub washing machine. She was a powerhouse of energy so lying in bed on a Saturday morning was not an option, ever.  

3. All around me nature is having a rest, having a sleep, taking a physical break. I have no doubt that under the surface of the soil there is a lot of activity going on which is equivalent to my busy mind, and this year the daffodils have already started to appear due to an unnaturally mild winter. But in general, at this time of the year, nature  sleeps.

This year, I have thought a lot about going back to weight watchers (or whatever your chosen support club is)  but dont want to go back to lose weight to put it back on over winter to have to start again.

So instead of the usual “I am not handing over a tenner to have someone to tell me to stop eating the pies” type of procrastinating talk I regale myself with, I have decided to do something different.

This year I am going to combine the two options of taking a rest, AND going to weightwatchers. 

Sometimes its the simple solution that is the hardest to see. 

So I will be handing over my weekly tenner, not to be told how to “eat less and move more” which is the essence I think of all weight loss programs (and rightly so), but to join in the fun of a group of people all turning up in the skimpiest lightest clothing modesty will permit, once a week to make a commitment to getting healthier. 

And I will  have ALSO a rest, so that when nature gets out of bed refreshed after a lovely long rest, I will hopefully do the same !

 

Clothes from the road.

 

Clothes from the road campaign.

Have you seen this image before and thought it was shocking?

Have you ever passed a piece of clothing on the road, in the street, caught on railings, soaking wet and covered in mud?

Have you picked it up or passed it by?

Chances are these were dropped or lost  and the chances are they will be left to rot or disintegrate.

For many years I have seen hats, gloves, sweaters, jackets and scarves abandoned, lost, driven over, rained on, walked on and covered in mud.

For many years I have been thinking of making a large piece of art out of reclaimed clothing, just to highlight the sheer waste of often very good quality pieces of clothing.

Then I had an epiphany! On the 6th of January 2017 I am launching the “Clothes from the Road” campaign, where I hope to encourage people to stop, pick it up, launder it and donate it to a charity. Or wear it yourself, the choice is yours.

 

You will need; a plastic bag to carry it home in, a washing machine or sink depending on what you have found and that’s it. There is no need to clutter up anyone’s house, garage, spare room with black bin bags full of stuff, pass it on, put it on or find a home for it!

If you can, photograph your item on the road or street and after you have laundered it and share it here.

The aim; to stop the needless waste of good clothes and redistribute them to keep someone warm. Simples!

Have we really got so much that we  need to walk over something because we are too proud to pick it up, too lazy to wash it and too posh to put it on our backs?

So let’s get over ourselves, join the “Clothes from the Road Campaign” and give something back.

Anne

 

A little bit of Feng Shui and Elsa

Do you have clothes you paid good money for that you are going to “slim into” ?

Do you want have things in your house that it would be a sin to throw out? 

Do you need new things to help you business, project or goals for the coming year ? 

Somewhere, in some blog on some site I read about the 243 Feng Shui Challenge and for someone who is not, by any means a hoarder I thought it was a bit mad!

It suggests you get rid/recycle 27 things for 9 days +243 things. 

Thats 243 things! I thought that would never work but being a great believer in giving things a go,  I did, and on day five now I am itching to start my clear out for today.

Things like old fuses, biros, keys that dont belong to any lock, glue sticks with no tops that I will never get around to cutting the top of and covering with cling film. Clothes that are a “good make” but dont fit. Bags that I dont like but have a good zip for things. Books I should but will never read. Batteries that I dont know are good or not. Things that are in good nick. But never used.

But here’s the magic *******

The more bits I get rid of, the more things I find that I will use. Today I found a packet of Poppy Seeds from the Victorian  & Albert museum that my daughter bought me for a gift a year ago…they can be planted now in spring. 4 sets of googly eyes that I will use this week for a session in an upcoming class. A notebook with a whole list of email addresses I thought I had lost.

Now here’s the thing….

For as many things I have found that I will use, I have also found some “things” that would be great for an idea I just haven’t figured out yet. A Christmas bauble made of tin that had cosmetics in it for a gift and is now discarded. I thought “thats a sin to throw that out” so I have it. But I still dont know what to do with it.

So here’s the idea…

If, like me, you can’t throw out beautiful boxes or jars or packets but haven’t got around to doing anything with them, give yourself a day to figure out WHAT you are going to do with each one, or release it into the recycle bin where at least it will be used for something. And with that in mind, I have decided to give the Christmas bauble to the dog, who has been trying to take it off the desk anyway. It’s made of tin so it won’t burst and she will get hours and hours of pleasure out of it, rather than me keeping it in a box with other “things” and then getting fed up looking at it and throwing it out halfway through the year anyway.

Give yourself a day to decide what you WILL rather than COULD do with it and if nothing comes to mind let it go.

So dont put it away until you think of something to use it for, put it to use or let someone else use it! Don’t  put it way, give it away!

If you need a new laptop, then keeping a drawer full of usb cables, an old monitor, 2 spare keyboards and a box of old plugs is not likely to manifest a laptop. A box full of paint tubes with no tops and the contents gone hard but good if you cut them with a scissors at the bottom (sure fire way to destroy your clothes) is not likely to manifest a new set of paints. A box full of old handouts is not likely to manifest a new workbook and a fridge full of near empty jars is not likely to manifest a healthy meal.

So how about you give it a go, 27 things you get rid of for 9 days in a row, and if you are keeping a “thing”, decide if you love it enough to fix it, polish it, recycle  it or trip over it. If you can’t then let it go…it worked for Elsa! and if you want to get a bit of music to help, have a look at Elsa and sing along! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Warning, best sung at the top of your voice with grandiose arm gestures! 🙂