Thankyou for your time this morning over the phone - always a tricky medium to work with! It was a privilege to be part of your circle, on the hearth rug, on the book pile, wherever. And thankyou for the lichen!
Our conversation, and the visual I was getting of everyone's journals around the room, prompted me to take the photo above of a few of my journals from over the years. I have always been a sucker for stationery and as a child would spend hours in WH Smith salivating over pens, pencils and notepads. I really did lead a sheltered childhood!! But still the joy I find in opening my journal and putting pen to paper to write is such a yummy thing, such a sensual thing. Yes it is an indulgence - an utterly shameless one.
I wish you all a very happy relationship with your journal - and have fun!
While my friends in Aberdeen were enjoying nature and a few of life's good things in Templars Park, I was at home giving the kids their tea on the deck, and then spending a very contented hour or so tending to my plants.
Of course it is no secret that nurturing plants in our gardens has tremendous therapuetic and health benefits. Hundreds of thousands of gardeners down the ages have found immense satisfaction and fulfilment in growing and cultivating flowers, shrubs, vegetables and fruits. Intellectually I would sympathise - I get it - working with your hands, getting back to nature, to the soil, watching something develop from nothing with only a few readily available ingredients. How does the bean know to grow into a runner or a string? It is facinating.
Yet only very recently have I formed my own personal experience of working with plants. The area around my front of house deck has become overgrown these past 5 or so years. A number of plants needed to be culled, or ruthlessly pruned back. I was scared to start. I didn't know what to do , how to get "the eye" for what to lop and what to leave. Nor was I sure of the right time to prune. Why can't these plants just take care of themselves? Why do they need me to interfere?
But for a number of months I have been aware of the plants' need to be given a new lease of life. It has become apparent to me through my own feelings of guilt at having neglected them for so long - and through a awakened sense of that very enlightened philosophy about needing to look after your own garden first. How can I help others as a personal development facilitator if I don't look after and learn from my own?
(And already I feel myself slipping away with this thought - the inner critic or the parenting gremlin can have a great time chiding me about looking after my own, particularly my children - how much TV do I let them watch? how much fresh organic non-processed food do I get them to eat? Bla Bla Bla.)
But if we choose to surround ourselves with plants, with pets, with children even, then we have a duty to take care of them. And plants are so grateful for their care. We chop them and lop them and they reward us by springing back to life with renewed vigour, oozing gratitude and life. It's such a wonderful experience. And now I spend time each day strolling around my plants - Russian sage, Dutch Honeysuckle, Choisya, Forsythia, Fuschia, Wisteria, Magnolia, Hydrangea, Fern, Clematis, Lavender - just watching their response, observing how they are once again bursting into life.
So while Stillpoint connected in Templars Park, I connected here, through my plants, into the timeless realm of universal mind, free of personal anxieties, plucking out the easily yielding weeds from the stones and shaking off the pebbles from their roots.
It is one of my favourite quotes - possibly because it is the shortest and most easy to remember - EM Forster's "Only connect" from one of my all time favourite books, Howard's End (which I keep wanting to call Howard's Way - but that is just a throw- back to my TV-obsessed youth!).
"Only connect." What is it? A foreshortened imperative? A statement of the one single thing that is of any importance whatsoever? A plea of the nature "if you only ever do one thing make sure it's this"? All of these things.
Superficially making connections in this day and age is easier than ever. Technology makes it possible to be always available, always reachable. The potential for connection over a phone line or on the internet has never been greater.
But connection doesn't happen without intention. No matter how many times we talk on the phone to each other, no matter how many emails we send, we may stay disconnected if we so intend. Technology enables a veneer of connectivity. So maybe it's no longer enough to "only connect".
Indeed this week I am connecting virtually and energetically with a group of friends and colleagues across the miles - thanks to the wonder of mobile telephony - instead of being with them in person. We're running a bit of a pilot - an energetic connection over a phone line between little old me in Swindon, and a fabulous group of people in Aberdeen, who are getting together to discover the meaning and experience of Stillpoint.
I ought to be with them, yearn to be with them, and be part of the creative process. But on this occasion the universe would hold me here, at home with my children, because hubby is working away. Either one of us or the other is likely to be away from home at any one time. We just can't both be away at the same time.
My intention with the group in Scotland is to connect with them on a deeper level than just a conference call. They are in my thoughts. They are the reason I'm writing my blog today - something I haven't done for too long I know.
This evening between six o'clock and eight they will be in Templars Park in Aberdeen experiencing campfire stories and tasty food in the outdoors. Food always tastes better in the outdoors. A humble picnic of a ham sandwich and an apple taste like a feast once once you've carried it to the top of the hill and found a sheltered spot to sit. So as my friends enjoy their outdoor dinner I shall, weather permitting, serve the kids their tea in the garden!
In this way I hope to do more than just superficially connect. I hope to share the experience - even though I'm a long way away. I imagine the morning greetings, the laughter over coffee and breakfast, the private jokes broken open from their hiding place, to be shared and built upon by all. I think of the morning routines, the mutual requests for bodywork to get centred, to feel like you're coming back together with yourself.
And suddenly as I write I'm shocked by tears. The idea of connecting with others as a way of connecting with myself, of reconnecting myself, is suddenly overwhelming. In this moment I realise that I have been floundering in a disconnected sea for days, not being able to find myself, being unable to read or write, and not having my husband around to help me, to reflect back to me.
Instead I've been busying myself with the flotsam and jetsam of household chores - washing, cooking, ironing - and distracting myself with helping the kids - homework, lifts to activities, things to entertain them. And while all these things make up a life that looks happy, without the connecting thread to hold it all together the picture is rather chaotic and unfulfilling. Energy begins to leak away, and it becomes difficult to replace.
But now, even without yet phoning into the conference, just with placing my intention with a group of people who I know at this moment are preparing, in a spacious and comfortable house in Aberdeen, to work together and create together, I am able to piece myself back together. Synchronising my breath with theirs is easy with the intention to connect, and breathing in sync brings a fresh sense of connectedness within me.
I write short stories and read avidly. I'm a Certified Professional Coactive Coach, and workshop facilitator. Born in Farnworth, educated at Leigh, Bolton and Cambridge I remain a down-to-earth Lancashire lass who likes ideas. Other things I like: cycling and "pegging out", in a bid to become more eco-friendly; being outdoors, watching birds and walking, and playing games to get fit. As I have limited time (wife, mum of 2 plus all the other things I like doing) I have to do as many of these things as I can at the same time. As a result I play golf, badly. I am also, in the words of my eleven-year-old son an "embarrassingly slow" skier.