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Don’t marry that man

Don’t marry the man who follows white feathers.

Don’t marry the man who knows that your weeping lets you soften.

Don’t marry the man who brings you flowers just because.

Don’t marry the man whose arms bring you deep physical peace.

Don’t marry the man who truly sees you in all your power and vulnerability.

Don’t marry the man who wants to love you for the rest of his years.

When you meet this man don’t marry him.

Choose him every day not just once. 

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What to write about…

Write about what is in your heart each day, write about what you love and what you fear in your humanity. Write about the colours that you see and the rhythms that you feel. Write the words that come out of your mouth when you feel most alive. Write about the unspeakable beauty of the river  with the flaming autumn leaves speckled like a pointillist in the branches and on the ground.

Write about your little dog and how her yearning to be held mirrors your own. Write about the cries of love from your soul and from your soul family. Write about the flame of courage that burns through your resistance to open to let the love in, to feel yourself in being felt. To be vulnerable and soft and wrong, but infinitely lovable and pure perfection.

Write the song of Pegasus as he gazes on the scene, tears of joy strike a spring in your heart and it gushes forth.

Write about the sweet beauty of grief and the fragile transparency of your cocoon, write about the delicate, fine moment between now and then, the veil between here and everywhere, how they are two sides of the same page.

Is there more juice at my fingertips, are the electrons firing and the whirligigs whirling? Are the hammer and tongs sparking on high? A constant stream, a river, a flow.

All wisdom is here, all words are prepared, all feelings are known and all stories are told.

Crack open your inner world like a pomegranate, let the ruby seeds tumble in glistening cascades into the hands and mouths and hearts of all who seek refreshment and the simple sweetness of living.

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99.9% Love

Love has no edges.

There are no borderlands

No signs on the gate

No entry fee

No you and me. 

In an empty room with no walls, all of everywhere is full. 

There is so much nothing no more can fit in

and in that 99.9% of empty space 

love flows! 

love dances! 

love creates life. 

Into that empty space go all the echoes of our doing

And all the vibrations of our being.

Out of that empty space comes life. 

It’s the elegant alchemy of experience. 

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Time to birth your big vision…

You hold a big vision. You know you are a visionary and your dream project is ready to be born. The pressure of its immanence is trying and you feel full to bursting with it. This vision is so magical to you, like a lover or a child, it enchants you and you cherish it fiercely.

You may feel overwhelmed and perhaps some fear about how something so huge can come into form through you. How can you get it out into the world?

Now is the time to slow down, to breathe, to stop pushing. Now is the time to take space, to ground yourself and ground the energy and release the pressure of holding it. Time to let the energy move with its own momentum, to trust its timing.

Now is the time to trust yourself to hold the process and to know what is required of you at every step to bring your dream to life. To know that you alone can do the work that has chosen you.

Now is the time to put down all of what you think you should do, and listen deeply to what wants to happen.

Now is the time to know that it is all within you, prefect,y formed, and that you are called on now to just relax, trust your self and trust life to support the birthing of your vision.

The world wants your gifts, and life wants to help you to deliver them.

I have been on this journey myself over he last 6 years, a journey of many stages, many twists and turns. Along the way I’ve collected some treasures, some fragments of remembering, some simple tools which I have tested and come to trust. I now offer them to you for your journey.

If you are ready to go deeper. To stop and listen. To breathe the next stage if your journey into being. To ground your vision and walk with it step by step, I will walk beside you for a while and see what we see.

If you are ready – and of course you will not feel ready, but you will know that the time has come nonetheless – I will hold a space for you and reflect back to you what you know, what you see and what you carry.

I will hold a space for you to ground your vision and bring it into form.

My invitation to you now is to trust yourself, to trust that you have and will receive everything that you need. To strip away all your trying to do and be and to just take some space to reconnect with what you already are, and to set out from that place.

You can learn to navigate by trusting your body wisdom, you heart and your intuition. Starting small with the everyday moments. You can listen to hear your own voice. You can choose to be utterly yourself and let life have you, all of you. You can create by your choices and own your creations and your agency.

If these words land in your gut and you know this is your time, let’s connect and see how I can be of service to you and your vision at this time.

I offer In person  or Skype coaching sessions and tailor my approach to each individual and their project. 

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For my sister

I wish you to feel the love that comes from all directions

I wish you to stand in the landscape of your dreams and know that you are “in the picture”

I wish you a path that lights up for you as you walk it

I wish you a hot bubbly bath whenever you really need one

I wish you the peace and pleasure of solitude to hear yourself

I wish you snorting, crying, weeing a little bit laughter with true friends

I wish you to experience life as an afternoon tea laid on for your delectation

I wish you  to fly through the forest at night and smell it and hear all the sounds

I wish you to share your gifts wherever you are invited and see the world

I wish you to discover places, people and experiences that feel like they were made just for you

I wish you to know you always have infinite choices

I wish you to know you always have a home with the people who love you

I wish you to be the most kind and loving to yourself when you think you’ve messed up

I wish you to hold on to all the things that you loved as a child and know they are important for you always

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Unkind

One day chasing birds and you’re Mohammed Ali again.
Wind your neck in.
Is it fair?
Your eyes get
Hungry and wild
And suddenly
Everything is a big deal.

I call you up to talk about
My anger and my plans.
You tell me
As if it were the same thing
How you cannot wait
For life
To be over.

You knock at my virtual door
In your virtual pyjamas
With a flickering oil lamp and a bear.
Not tonight.
For God’s sake.
Back out in the cold with you.

Prose · Stories

On quiet rebellions

I rebelled only quietly in my teens. To this day I don’t believe I did anything truly stupid but I hurt some people (mostly my parents) and took some chances and most of this happened outside of school.

I never considered myself rebellious, nor really think I appeared that way to others. Yet I was always part of a little renegade duo – at times a band of three or four – who stood outside of all the social tribes but had friendly relations with pretty much all of them. That’s arguably still true for me today.

I would use my intellect to spar a little with teachers who I knew respected me, and who knew that I respected them. I got detention once for eating a Kitkat in English after being told not to twice. I refused point blank to draw graphs in Maths after year 10, striking a deal with my teacher that absolved her of responsibility for my GCSE results (I got an A).

I came to one class 10 minutes late every time as a principled stand against the offense of ‘wasting our learning time moving the furniture’ with a teacher who I now massively appreciate for her innovation of turning the desks to face each other in a circle for our class discussions.

I didn’t start smoking until I was 18 (I do actually consider that quite stupid and potentially an act of rebellion amongst my peers, many of whom kicked off with cigarettes much earlier) and although I drank heartily I always seemed to manage to have a good time and get home without any major scrapes or fall-out.

No drugs til I had a good go with marijuana for a few years in my 20s. The upside of this phase was that I made great friends that I still have today, achieved some cultural mind expansion amid the haze and it pretty much stopped me drinking.

What does all this mean? I was just about to go to bed – at the rebellious hour of 10:30pm on a Saturday night-  and this all came out of me in a tumble.

I guess I feel similar as an adult. Fairly quietly I’ve taken some pretty different choices to many other people I know. I left the rat race in London fairly swiftly after only four years (with a 9 month gap to travel the world and consider becoming a professional hippy) and set up a retreat centre with tree houses in Norfolk.

After a few years and some major life events even this alternative career path felt a little rigid for me and I tossed off the lot to go travelling and say yes to serendipity. I also tossed off a seven year relationship, a three bedroom cottage and a cat. I’m making light with my language but that was major.

I travelled with a very tangled ball of wool that I was slowly unpicking and unravelling. It was made of so many threads I had collected and hastily bundled together without due care. The threads were beautiful and over time I began to imagine they might one day be woven into something.

After five years as flotsam, flowing hither and thither like the white horses of the tides, I washed up for the third time on a remote olive farm in Greece and went in deep for four months of solitude. Again, not a choice that has been taken by many I know.

I nearly lost my mind but I didn’t and I found some nuggets of gold and burned up some lumps of coal. They gave me energy and the threads began to weave slowly slowly before my eyes.

I suddenly knew that I was ready to belong again, to something beyond myself. I wanted to belong to a place, and -scarier still- to people. I wanted to belong to groups. To have a regular coffee place (well – decaf tea really) and a regular friend to meet there. I wanted to touch peoples faces for real and not sat stroking the screen on a skype call.

So I came back to the UK and started making different choices. Slowly, slowly I feel I’m softening the edge of my rebellion for better or worse. I registered with a doctor again for the first time in 7 years and now they send me letters about my body. The people at the coffee place know my dog’s name (they don’t know mine – it works for me somehow).

I have a dog! A dog that hangs out of car windows and likes camping. A dog that keeps me grounded most of the time and takes me out in the woods every day. A dog that I am committed to for maybe 20 years.

I’m still living in a tiny wooden cabin on stilts at the end of somebody’s garden and I still work for myself. I’ve never claimed benefits even though I didn’t have a job for 3 years and went long stretches without a penny to my name. I still choose not to read the papers or listen to the news. Somehow I still get most of it from the ether. I still have 3 or 4 girlfriends who are also free queens of their own realms. I still don’t do graphs.

Prose

Noughties Pop and Neuroscience

Today has been deeply healing in a most unexpected way.

Struggling for a soundtrack to my day, I hit a little cynically on a “00’s pop” (say noughties, it feels good) playlist and let it roll.

My God.

I wept, I danced, I travelled through time to the most tender and terrible places of my teens and twenties. Songs I didn’t even like at the time hit me straight in the heartsy-chords and vibrated through my being. Justin Timberlake? Really? Celine Dion??? Mortifying.

I was pretty taken aback but the waves were strong and I was soon taken under again – free diving through forgotten emotional backwaters. After each big release my heart felt warm and alive – pumping love and feeling so much more connected to – me.

It felt as if there were corners of my heart with dusted over debris waiting to be cleared, and this slightly cringey pop playlist was blasting through them like a jet wash.

I reckon most of you reading have been there, or somewhere quite like it. Maybe for you it was 80s glam rock or early 90s skate punk (reckon I’ve got some work to do there to) that hit the spot.

The reason I am sharing this is not that it is a unique or totally remarkable experience but as an excuse to tell you something I’ve learned about neuroscience.

You weren’t expecting that at all from the title right… Just bear with.

So those bubbles of random emotion, thoughts, images that surface when you hear a song – these are what is known as implicit memories. They are sensory and perceptual experiences in the moment that appear as if out of nowhere. These feel like live, here and now sensations – with no sense of coming from a specific past event.

As we stay with the feeling, following the crumb trail of thoughts, images and associations that unfolds as we do, we will come eventually to an explicit memory.

This is a tangible past event recollection which we can pinpoint to a time and place. An encounter, a holiday, an argument, a bereavement, a surprise.

As this explicit memory comes into focus, we are able to make conscious links with the implicit memories – the emotions, felt sensations, thought and images that were arising at random -and neurologically staple them together.

This is referred to in psychology and neuroscience as ‘integration’.

Integration means, in short, that next time you hear Eminem playing and your palms get sweaty etc you will be able to access that explicit memory of falling over at the high school disco while pulling your best moves. You will know that the rising shame and anxiety you are feeling in the moment, belongs to some moment in the past. Realising this you are able to pause, reflect, calm yourself in whatever way you need to and not be swept along in this unattributable emotion and ruin your day.

This is an actual physical process in your brain where new neuronal connections are being formed and coated in Myelin which is like super lube for brain activity and makes everything slicker and quicker. Your brain is building new bits that help you to be more balanced and chill.

So if you feel like doing some neurological fitness activities to get yo’ mind right – bouncing round your room to cheesy tunes and bawler ballads from your youth (or death metal or happy hardcore or whatever it was) comes recommended from me.

You’re welcome.

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Self care

I’m pre-menstrual
The silence is deafening
The blank page blinding

I’ve stumbled out of the forest into a clearing
And I don’t know what’s supposed to happen here.

I managed to write about the benefits of plastic pipes
Yet I’m terrified to write anything about me.

I believe for a moment in the need to offer
Only a shiny sellable self.

I don’t believe, for a moment, in the
Self that sits here and shakes.

I have a dog now.
He believes in me, I think.

I don’t want to talk about me
Because I don’t have the answers to
The questions that will come.

I’m blindfolded walking a precipice.
The only compass I have is trust.

Following the tiny sparks where they flicker
In my heart.

Dare I believe
That if I look after myself
My self will look after me?

 

 

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Stockholm on the cheap – have a nice time!

Stockholm is known for being an expensive city, clean and expensive. It is both of these things but not to excess. Prices linger around London rates plus a bit, depending on where you are. It is however possible to have lots of fun without splashing the cash.

I discovered this on my first day off from the car parking data collection job which had brought me here, when I realised that my bank was still holding £800 of my advanced expenses out of my reach on account of an Airbnb booking that never was. Oh the glamour of it all!

So I know that “European City on a Shoestring” blogs are a thing, and have even found them quite useful myself at times. So here is my guide of how to spend a day in Stockholm with literally no cash. I’m sure there will be something for everyone…

FOOD AND DRINK

Stockholm is very clean, and there are lots of bins, so one can only assume that these bins contain many hidden morsels. I have seen so far just one person taking advantage of this bounty. This however is not my top tip….

Basically I cheated because I had a breakfast booked that came with my hotel room and filled my belly to bursting with muesli, yoghurt, slices of processed meat and cucumber, rye bread rolls, cold boiled eggs and bitter treacle coffee. Before leaving I filled my Dutch military flask with Apple juice from the big chilled udder and contemplated pocketing some boiled eggs for the road, but there was a lovely polite sign about not taking food out of the room, and nobody at all policing it, which are the exact conditions under which I can’t take the guilt of subversion. Had there been an uptight reception manager body scanning us all on exit for jammy toast in soggy napkins, I might have had a pop just to spite them.

Despite my morning feast, after 12 hours of walking in 2 days I was inevitably hungry again by 3pm. By this time I had transferred to new digs, just across the water in the hipster heartland of Stockholm, Sodermalm. Quietly confident that funds would be released today, I took a leisurely shower and got dressed (3 hours – see ENTERTAINMENT) then breezed out the front door, along the quiet cobbled streets and out among the coffee shops and vintage stores to find some kind of avocado based afternoon treat. Went to withdraw funds for the much awaited afternoon tea. Nada. No dice. £800 still held hostage for no good reason and an unspecified amount of time by a paranoid automated banking system that apparently no human on earth can control or intervene with (scary huh).

So I turn tail and march back to the apartment, remembering the words of our kind host Lena – “take whatever food you find”. Flinging open the cupboards I scrabble together a pleasingly diverse if carbohydrate heavy three course lunch of ryvita with whisky marmalade and earl grey tea, instant Chinese beef noodles, and spaghetti with oil, black pepper and rosemary. Could be a lot worse.

Dinner will be rejected British Airways sandwiches if I’m lucky. My dear friend is arriving this evening and I’m meeting her at the airport. Washed down with whatever we can get in the 7eleven!

TRANSPORT

So how to get around the city with no money? Basically everywhere is walkable, just get on with it and enjoy the walk. When your job is walking, like mine, this might feel like a bit of a busmans holiday (irony) but being able to go at a leisurely place, stop and take it all in, and sing loudly to headphone music, makes it a treat all the same.

Lucky for me, I had something I prepared earlier once again… A weekly public transport ticket. This means I can go out to the airport to meet my friend, and cruise about for a couple of hours for free (see ENTERTAINMENT). An SL card can be purchased at the airport with a week or month pass on it for 320 SEK or 790 SEK respectively. For currency exchange to pounds, just divide it by ten and you are close enough.

ENTERTAINMENT

Now I do pride myself on the fact that, to my knowledge, I have not been truly bored for over 5 years, maybe longer. This don’t come for free. Well it does, but you know, it’s a turn of phrase. I work hard at being amused by something most of the time, or content with being utterly unamused, or amused by nothing. Nothingness can be very very funny when you really encounter it fully.

So how did I amuse myself today in Stockholm? Fairly transparently, by writing this utterly self indulgent blog, but I have lived a fair amount up til now else there would be very little to tell.

Sleep late – like til the last minute before breakfast closes – my favourite manoeuvre!

Be slow – do everything as slowly as you like, luxuriate in it. Stop and look at nothing for a bit, think about that time when you were seven, wonder about that invitation you turned down, feel the texture of the sofa.

I took three hours today to have a shower, cut my nails and my fringe and get dressed. No conscious delaying, just that’s how long it took when there was no schedule to attend to. Getting dressed alone took the entire length of Beyonce’s album Lemonade. There was only one outfit, which I already had in mind (hipster AF, just have to share – blue and white striped knee length yachting shorts, salmon pink shirt, Laura Ashley embroidered wool waistcoat, leather jacket, doc martens – imagine!). I faffed a little with a choice of jacket vs cardigan but that took only a moment to resolve. I don’t know why it took so long. I like being naked so that might be part of it. It makes me think of how little children get so upset by our hurrying them to get dressed after a bath or to leave the house in the morning. They find it such an unnecessary affront to put clothes on at such a pace. Perhaps they are right, they usually are. Yeh…. Think deeply about everything – that’s another one, great free entertainment, who needs the Internet when you have the freewheeling free association of your own mind!

Talk to humans. In a city where free wifi costs you a cup of coffee, in the unlikely scenario where you have no internet access at home (this is me now) spending much of the day immersed in the false social whirlwind of Facebook is not an option, so you will need to talk to humans maybe a bit, depending how introverted you are, or perhaps a cat. In Stockholm most people speak English, so it’s possible to get into a conversation with most people.

It’s possible to have a very smiley drunk man lurch up to you on a sunny afternoon, compliment your style “I just have to say…that.. You have such… Such great..clothing right now…” and end up having a lovely exchange about your respective homelands “…yeh England… Right… Yeh I was an au pair once in Blackpool…. Back in the day… Back …(breaks into song)…when we were heroes!!!……… I’m drunk by the way….baby…”

It’s possible to find real, nice humans outside Espresso House, who will spill the secrets of those places where Stockholm is not expensive, and you can get beers for (whisper it) about four quid!! Who tell you where the hipsters at and the re-lax-ation and the vintage stores and which parks to get drunk in. Who explain to you that only “weed people” smoke rolling tobacco here, it’s not a thing. Sweet flinty eyed young women who tell you where you can go to meet other real, nice humans, with no Botox, and no blonde about them. Who tell you about their teenage trip to London for “the usual, you know, shopping in Primark and Madame Tussaud’s” Who give you four cigarettes and tell you that nobody ever goes out here and nothing happens, but have a nice time, it was good to meet you.

Smoking. Wrangling with self about smoking. Trying to find ways and means of smoking/not smoking. Noticing how I feel about smoking/not smoking. All can help the time go by.

If it gets really bad, hang around the steps of the hostel you stayed at previously and rinse the free wifi to post some pictures of yourself having a splendid time in Stockholm, and see what you are missing out on at home.