In the Meantime … procrastination or not!

Someone asked me last night about procrastination and I was wondering what exactly to write about and there it was! Two famous childhood sayings come to mind “Procrastination is the thief of time” (Edward Young, The Complaint: Night Thoughts) and “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” (Lord Chesterfield letter to his son). Paradoxically, I also found in the dictionary: deliberateness, unhurriedness, deliberation, absence of haste or hurry.

All of the above reminded me of a question I was taught to ask myself by a very wise friend as opposed to berating myself: IN THE MEANTIME? When I ask myself this question, I very often discover that my perceived procrastination is an intuitive process which is working at a subconscious level. I am waiting for a key element to click into place that will pull all the threads together. A little bit like this post in the sense that if I hadn’t delayed posting something, I would not have been able to think about this so clearly until I was unexpectedly asked the question last night!

When I am truly procrastinating, I am now actually aware of it and it is usually about not having the enthusiasm for doing something or feeling ill equipped to do it, lack of trust or faith that I can achieve what I need to. Or, more importantly, I am dancing to someone else’s tune or their perception of what I should be doing! So what helps me disentangle all these possibilities?

Reflection is a helpful tool, looking back at past achievements and how I got there.

Talking it through with people I can trust.

Looking at my fears, remembering that fear can stand for False Evidence Appearing Real.

What are my true priorities right now?

Trust the process. If it is meant to be, it will happen or it might not be exactly how I envisaged. It might be different and very possibly better!

Meditation. If it is something I truly feel in my heart and would like to do, meditate on it regularly and ask for guidance.

Finally, don’t be my worst critic but ask myself the question “In the meantime?” Another question I ask myself is what is in the compost heap?

So in January I had great plans create a Meditation E-Course, make a film on Life & Death and start a new book! Has any of this happened, NO and it is now May. In the meantime, we had to suddenly move house which is in a lovely setting and I have magically acquired a cabin I can convert into a workshop/studio space as well as a meadow with a great pond I have permission to go to. I did several E-courses myself which have all produced a very rich compost heap, inspiration and meaningful connections with new and old friends. I was able to get some film material in the can and, as I mentioned before sometimes there is a key element missing. In  this case, it was fairly recently, facing as a family and individually, issues around life and death. There has been time to reflect on what exactly is the aim of the Meditation E-course – it will happen. As far as the book is concerned I received literally just now some missing information I need through some good people I have connected with in closed groups on Facebook. I have also learned more and more about social media and how it can work for the good.

My priority has been to spend quality time with my family as I have two new little granddaughters who have had a bumpy entry into this world as well as four little boys. Whilst I was with my family in Tokyo my daily meditation was to connect with the beauty of nature and symbols in the city. In fact this reflects an aspect of the E-course and the form of meditation which will underpin the intent of the course. As well as family, I have dear friendships I need to nurture and maintain my practice as a life coach/psychotherapist. Taking stock of my actual life is another tool, what is a realistic expectation and what isn’t. So I will continue to give time time and see where it takes me…

 

 

Pilgrimage

As my blog is about Spirit of Place and how everything is interconnected, the word pilgrimage has been whirling around in my mind for a while. Looking up the origins of the word what jumped out to me were the words foreigner, beyond the country… The implication is that the person has travelled far. There are many different responses to the word pilgrimage: a quest of some kind born out of desire for something different (perhaps sometimes to escape the mundane world), it is an internal journey of discovery and reinforcement of spiritual faith, it is a physical journey to a sacred place like Mecca, Jerusalem, Machu Picchu and Stonehenge for instance, it is an adventure based on curiosity about other places in the world. A common factor seems to be the importance of what happens on the path and how that affects us personally.

Recently, I watched Simon Reeve’s programme on BBC2 on Pilgrimage which covered Christian pilgrimages from Lindisfarne to Jerusalem. Two things struck me: one was in Istanbul when a guide at Hagia Sophia said that the memories of what people had seen would eventually fade and what they would remember was the feeling of peace and Simon said something along the lines that he thought that peace was the rock upon which our future could be founded; the second was the expression during medieval pilgrimages about women that “they left pilgrims and sometimes returned whores”! Two very contrasting statements around pilgrimage.

So do we naturally gravitate to places that feed our deep desire for peace and can that journey be so challenging and arduous that we fall by the wayside as the price is too high? Are we too dependent on that external feeling of peace and the belief that it might rub off by visiting certain places? Are these places imbued with other people’s faith?  Does it matter?

To me it does matter, otherwise I wouldn’t be mulling this over. There is an image in my mind of the world being crisscrossed with pilgrimage pathways, sometimes incredibly long and sometimes short , but somehow they are all interconnected. I have a theory, shared by others, that the physical pathways were already there and that many sacred sites where built upon node points that naturally possess a sense of peace.  I have to say that, paradoxically, there are places that give me a sense of unease and pain and in hindsight they are often places where something painful or disruptive has happened.

I can see all this as a metaphor for both my internal and external quests. So as not to fall by the wayside when the challenges surface, I have learned that I need to do what I would do for any form of journey – prepare! The preparation is both literal and energetic and there are many different ways of doing this. The challenge for me is I realise I am always going to be on that pilgrimage on a daily basis and that my desire for peace is my rock, if I lose that I am lost. I once heard a shaman say that one of the most effective ways to visit sacred sites is firstly to go there and then in the safety of your own home revisit them through meditation and truly absorb what you need; the great advantage is you can do this any time. Meditation is a fantastic form of internal pilgrimage to feed our soul and the sacred space is then securely within us.

The videos in this blog are also forms of pilgrimage one a literal journey to Kamakura in Japan, another into the wonder of the minutiae in our garden, and thirdly part of the collective pilgrimage forming a field of peace on We Are All Cranes of Peace. Writing Healing the Ouch of Disappointment has also been a pilgrimage through my life and the lives of others http://amzn.to/1bxxbgn.

To finish, I had a fantastic gift today which was a reminder that I am a Third Culture Kid and there is a book called Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by David Pollock & Ruth E. Van Reken.  I have a very varied DNA enhanced by living in many countries, travelling all over the world tracing my roots, at times feeling an outsider and misfit. Some of you may resonate with this but I discovered we are a multicoloured tribe.  I can value this interesting DNA today and feel at home anywhere in the world as long as I live in the day. It makes me smile to think that this great reminder was given to me freely on my pilgrimage into Facebook – a journey I have resisted for a while. A bonus is I got a great cure for my cold too…

 

 

GRATITUDE for all connections

Benches I Love from Chloe on Vimeo.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/early-in-morning-special-edition/id497370215

 

The Buddhist doctrine of the oneness of life and its environment (Jpn. esho-funi) focuses on the human being as part of the vast physical universe. Mutually interrelated, the subjective life entity and its environment operate together in a creative way. They are one, or as the original Chinese characters indicate, they are two without being two.” Daisaku Ikeda

This summer and the beginning of autumn have been very busy and all of a sudden I was finding it very difficult to concentrate. I thought about this quote and the spirit of this blog and realised that, despite the fact that I have been a Feng Shui practitioner for over 20 years, my working space and wardrobe were a mess. A friend of mine, Cilla Cerredo, has started a declutter programme and people have found it really useful. She  now has a great website www.clutterconqueror.com and a new 30 day e-course about to start.. You will see she has a great sense of fun which makes it easier and her story of how she started is very moving. Just receiving her free plan has given me the motivation I needed (work in progress). Decluttering is the first step and the most important one in starting to Feng Shui your environment – a great gift is very often finding precious things we thought we had lost and beginning to breathe better as we clear space. Gratitude comes back for what we have and, as well as throwing things away, we can also pass things on to others. A great way to start a Feng Shui programme..

Not only do we need to declutter our physical environment but we also need to declutter our minds and different kinds of meditations can help with this. There are all sorts of meditations on www.tiegsolus.moonfruit.com but I also like using other people’s work  and one of my favourites is Stephanie Harrison’s  www.lifeguidanceandinspiration.com  The other day I got the “Gratitude” card and there was this lovely exercise of sitting for 20 minutes thinking about all the things we are grateful for and doing it for 7 days. I often start with small simple things and from there the list grows. It has made a huge difference to my cluttered brain and I have passed it on to all my clients.

Then this morning I remembered  the photos I had taken during the summer of all the great benches I had seen and sat on. I realised how much I had enjoyed exploring and finding new ones. Finally, I had the extra creative energy to put a video together. I am also so grateful to having been given permission to use  Vincent McMorrow’s Early in the Morning which always makes me smile! I love the fact that birds and nature have enjoyed these benches just as much as I have. Doing projects we have been putting off is another form of decluttering and, yes,  I feel grateful again to the people who put the benches there in the first place. They start to tweak my imagination too and I start to wonder who the people were and why that was their favourite place…

A lot of my energy has gone into launching We Are All Cranes of Peace and it is now a separate page on this blog – please visit it as it is very close to my heart. Again I am incredibly grateful for all the support and social media help I have had as I am still wearing L plates! Once I have gratitude firmly in my heart again, I feel connected, contented, energised and motivated.

Happy decluttering…

 

 

Avrum Frankel made Vegetables come alive

Perfect imperfection and growing where we are planted.

There I was on a mission…. Proud Mother going to support my son Avrum doing a cooking demonstration at the Holkham Food and Drink Festival this week-end as he is Head Chef at The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe.

Even tweeted (a new found tool) that I would be proudly videoing it and announcing with great confidence to their lovely PR lady that I would be on the case.

It all started so well – bristling with pride, full of confidence in my “new found” video abilities, basking in my son’s success, having my lovely grandchildren by my side. It would be perfect this time. I know, this is quite cringeworthy on my part! Hmmmmm.  Of course, we sat in the front with my supportive demeanour shinning out. What could possibly go wrong …

Is it any wonder that at a crucial point the whole thing started to unravel…. my IPad told me with great delight it was going to stop recording. The Universe certainly works in clever ways but without missing a beat I switched to my phone. Phew!…. it was only after that I realised that I had cut Avrum’s head off almost throughout, I had also recorded my youngest grandson being very assertive about his need to pee – he is in full flow of being potty trained and my rather terse tone saying “in a minute!” In my defence and combined with his willpower, no accident happened.

Avrum sailed through all this singing the praises of all the local producers with heartfelt passion, naming them all saying how fantastic they are. Really celebrating the Spirit of Place. He made vegetables come alive and what shone through him was his love of this part of Norfolk and what it has to offer. So the video you can see is just a taster of what is on offer. He certainly embodied the phrase grow where you are planted. As a family we certainly love where we live.

VegetablesPerfeck Pork

What I have learned over the years is to laugh at myself when it all becomes about me and at least the Universe meets me half way and mirrors the error of my ways. I can laugh with delight at perfect imperfection and a shortened video is more than enough, less is more …

Crush

 

Creativity, Nature and Meditation

Creativity, Nature and Meditation have formed an incredible support system for me throughout an extraordinarily eventful time this summer. Birthdays, a big wedding, an exciting birth and a funeral – all part of the rich tapestry of life.

Without this support perhaps the overwhelm of emotion would have been too much as all these events came along like busses!  How creativity is part of our natural support system fascinates me and I decided to take part in an e-course on connecting to nature and ourselves as a way of my exploring this further, particularly as I am planning to write about this in more detail. I have already touched on it in my book “Healing the Ouch of Disappointment” which will be coming out soon.

We are only at the end of week one of the course and I can’t believe how much all my senses have been rewired yet again. I thought I would be roaming the countryside far and wide and yet have found extraordinary wonder and delight on my own doorstep. It has reminded me of a lovely expression “grow where you are planted”.  The wonderful spirit of place is definitely on that doorstep….

The video is about the hidden miniature world in nature that we only take time to notice when we stand still, contemplate and “wonder….”. The exquisite fragility of the young sprig coming out of the bark of the massive eucalyptus tree in our garden sparked my curiosity to explore the microcosm in our garden. Another expression that came into my head was “out of acorns, oak trees grow”.

All this made me reflect on how, despite our apparent fragility, we can be incredibly strong when we see where we have sprung from. This was even more poignant for me as my fourth grandson decided to be born at home in a hurry and literally plopped into my arms. We all felt incredibly vulnerable and strong at the same time as he entered into the world with a carpet of stars above his head and the moon shinning in through the front door.

So where does meditation come in? Well I am a great believer in meditation in its many different forms and techniques.I have been busy making lots of different kinds of meditations for clients – by default walking my talk, listening to them myself over and over again and sending them to my family as well. My son , the proud father, kept saying “I can’t believe how cared for we have been and how calm everything feels”. It could have all been so different and am convinced all the meditations helped us build that calmness up, reminding me that we never know when we might need to dip into that reserve of inner peace, remembering to replenish it afterwards.

I am continuing to add to the meditations and soon will put a specific page on this blog as they definitely connect to Spirit of Place but in the meantime you can find some on http://www.tiegsolus.moonfruit.com/#/meditations/4577484263. Enjoy the journeys.

Have a look at what the lovely Morwhenna and Jaimie are up to with their workshop on nature: http://www.madecurious.co.uk/workshops and http://www.morwhenna.com

 

Celebrating Summer Solstice

 

 

Whenever I am having a challenging day, if I just stop for a moment and look around me there is nearly always something interesting that catches my eye. Despite the changing weather during this summer solstice, the flowers have been wonderful – especially the roses. They become like a soothing balm. Perhaps that is how the expression “stop and smell the roses” came about!

In turn they inspire my creativity and I become absorbed in making my own images. Read about this solstice on www.tiegsolus.moonfruit.com. Last night I was having dinner with friends as an early birthday celebration and I was given this apparently simple little bouquet of flowers and yet ….. these flowers represent so much to me and the friend who gathered them knows this. The yellow flower Immortelle is all over Dali’s house in Port Lligat where I often go to resource my creative energy. Such a beautiful and loving way to “say it with flowers”. People with their kind thoughts can evoke such a strong feeling of belonging and spirit of place with such a simple gesture.

Immortelle

What inspires you in nature? What small gestures have you received or given lately?

 

The Jigsaw of Spirit of Place

For me connecting with Spirit of Place is where I can resource and have a sense of home and belonging.

A while back, I was in the doctor’s waiting room with my grandson when I started to observe an elderly lady waiting anxiously for her turn. Someone was sitting beside her talking, but she only seemed to be half listening. I then noticed another elderly lady go up to her and ask “Do you remember me?”

Her anxious face broke into a smile and she replied “Yes, we went to school together”.  From then on they sat companionably together, holding gnarled and slightly shaky hands exchanging occasional rheumy glances. Their combined energy was incredibly peaceful and so touching that it was possible to feel it spreading throughout the waiting room. I realised as I sat there that shared history is a form of Spirit of Place.

This week I went to a friend’s funeral which was in a tiny village church and she was buried under a beautiful copper beech. It was a celebration of her life and there was something incredibly comforting in the quintessential Englishness that surrounded us .A sense of everything was exactly how it was meant to be.  A part of my childhood was exactly that “quintessentially English” and I understood that it was still very much part of me despite having lived abroad for many years, a French education and feeling genetically a mixture of backgrounds and spiritual beliefs. Interestingly old friends were there too and we companionably held hands every now and again.

Whilst I was in France recently I made a video of the village where I reconnect with the French side of me and when I came back to England I had a great urge to find some bluebells in an old English wood. Spirit of Place for some us is quite simple and for others like myself it is a jigsaw of different places, feelings and memories.

Really connecting with the Spirit of Place of Fakenham has started a heart warming adventure of putting the jigsaw together. As a friend once said to me “we need to grow where we are planted”….

 

 

From Saffron to Firemen in Fakenham

From Saffron to Firemen in Fakenham

Wow from one week-end to the next, Fakenham and its surroundings keep proving there is nothing boring about living here. Last week-end I spent Saturday afternoon learning all about saffron and how widely grown it was in this part of Norfolk. The area around Walsingham was renowned for it from the Middle Ages to Georgian times. More history and more connections with Spirit of Place. Old saffron was used to make a beautiful vibrant yellow dye. Just seeing the scarves bathing in the vat was stunning and combined with some sunshine started to confirm that perhaps Spring was here at last.

About ten of us sat outside chatting as we experimented making different patterns on our scarves. It was a lovely connection to something that would, historically, have been part of our everyday lives. The icing on the cake was that I had been putting out to the Universe to connect with someone who had llamas or camels and there at the table was a lady who has alpacas in Norfolk.  For some reason spending time with these animals is very relaxing and a great stress buster. I can’t wait to go and see them and see if I can take some clients down there.

Aviva shared her experience in dyeing with us and Sally shared her passion for saffron which she grows in Burnham Norton.  Again personally I experienced that generosity of spirit I keep finding here as she provided a lovely tea for us and made special buns just for me as I don’t eat sugar and white flour. All this took place at North Creake Abbey which is flourishing day by day and becoming a centre for specialised shops and a regular farmers’ market but also for all sorts of activities.

This week-end it was my grandsons’ turn as the local fire station had an open day and being there was a dream come true for Oisin who is nearly five and proudly dressed in his fireman’s outfit. Then little Noah who is three spotted a very special fireman and rushed over to him for a hug and “high five”. They could easily have spent the whole day and longer there. When I asked Oisin what he liked best, he said “Everything!” Again that generosity of spirit was there and nothing was too much trouble. It was lovely to see the open day so well attended.

This is beginning to sound like a travel brochure for Fakenham and interestingly enough after the first blog was posted I was asked to come up to the school to talk to Year 7s who are doing just that – making a brochure about Fakenham. I am looking forward to hearing about their final versions but it was a lovely opportunity to be able to share my enthusiasm for where I live and to see theirs too.

Fakenham – magic in the ordinary

 

Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon or being on Brancaster or Holkham beach, it is easy to feel the spirit of place. A little more difficult perhaps in the market place in Fakenham! Well maybe not…..

About a year ago I was in Tesco’s in the middle of town at the till checking my shopping out when the lady behind me said “Do you have one of these at home?” For a second I wasn’t sure what she meant when I saw a brightly dressed man behind her. A startling contrast to her muted colours. Realising that “what” she was referring to was her husband. “Yes, I do” I replied. “Don’t you find it really difficult?” was her next question. I thought for a moment as the shopping was disappearing into my bags and then replied “Oh sometimes but then I am a couple’s counsellor so I might have an advantage in working through the odd struggle”.

There were a few more exchanges, including a put-down directed at her from her husband. Then as I was leaving she said “Can I come and live with you in your villa?” I gave her as warm a smile as I could and said goodbye. When I got into my car I was overwhelmed by sadness and wondered how many other people felt like her in the later stages of their lives or even before . I was puzzled by her use of the word villa and looked up the full meaning which is farm or community. As I thought about it more I realised that in fact “my villa” was Fakenham itself.

Somehow about fifteen years ago Fakenham was named the most boring place in the World! It was a Wednesday and the shops were closed! What I love and appreciate about Fakenham is its extraordinary ordinariness and I am not being sarcastic. I asked the local historian Jim Baldwin what he liked about it and he said that he had never walked through the town without meeting someone he knew. Although I am an in-comer, it is the sort of town where you pass the time of day and know lots of the people who work there by name.

If I stand in the middle of the town long enough I can always find what I need including on industrial estates and in the countryside around  – there are crafts people and specialists of all kinds imaginable. What is even more interesting is that they will want to save you money. I was looking in a craft shop for some varnish and brushes to paint a cabinet and was advised that the really expensive ones I had picked out were not worth it or right. Guess what I keep going back. I had my card cloned and collapsed into the bank in tears and given a cup of tea (not literally that might be a step too far) and sympathy and lots and lots of willing help. The garage will try and mend the faulty part before ordering me a new one. My cup ran over when I discovered that there was also a growing group of Nichiren Buddhists in town as their desire to promote peace is close to my heart – who would have thought eh! Oh and before I forget there is Fabcom that has started to bring all the businesses in Fakenham together to put Fakenham even more on the map.

I have a huge debt of gratitude to the people of Fakenham because if it hadn’t been for them I probably wouldn’t have got married again. For some bizarre reasons at the last minute a spanner was thrown into the works. Part of the solution was proving that we had spent a lot of money on the preparations! Well we hadn’t – my son who is a chef was doing the catering, the football ground had given us an amazing deal on the marquee, friends were going to help decorate it and I had made the invitations. The blow came on market day, suddenly there was this incredible feeling that we had everyone behind us including the local registrar. I went into Aldiss, where we had our wedding list, in tears and all this passing the time of day came into play. Someone overheard and whipped off with the wedding list and said “Well you might not have spent lots of money technically, but your friends and families certainly have!” A letter was typed with a copy of the money spent and by the end of that week we were happily married. I was deeply touched by all these strangers caring and that still continues even today.

Going back to this extraordinary ordinariness, I came into Fakenham this week to take some photos for this blog and my eye was caught by a decorated lintel and I spent the rest of the morning looking up. Some of them are really lovely. There is a fascinating stone carving over the jewellers at the end of Norwich Street with the motto Animo Non Astutia  (by courage not craft or deceit) on it which belongs to the Gordon Clan.

This sets me off on a trail of “I wonder….”. My little grandson was in seventh heaven when the Christmas lights were turned on and the buzz in town was fantastic and yet the children’s ride was really simple and the highlight of his life was getting into the fire engine. We love going to the Christmas tree festival in the church – people come in coach loads to see it and yet it is so simply done but with a lot of love and enthusiasm. I find the best children’s books ever there. Every year there is a concert for Remembrance and I am always so impressed with the variety of talent there is in these parts. The hairs on the back of my neck went up when some young drummers put on a light show. 

Last summer everywhere I went people commented on my clothes and how great they were. Where did I get them? Fakenham, of course. I could go on and on about Fakenham and why I appreciate it so much but this is firstly about saying thank you and secondly about acknowledging  its spirit of place.

When we do that the feelings of belonging and support start to take hold. Meeting the lady in the supermarket has encouraged me to write a book on healing disappointment and putting something back into that “villa”. How interesting there is a history of printing in Fakenham too. At times of uncertainty in the world a need to find out who we are and where we come from often comes to the fore – a need to belong. Strangely enough when I saw that John of Gaunt was made Lord of Fakenham I understood more clearly for myself why I have ended up here as he is one of my ancestors and as if that weren’t enough I am also a Gordon. However, I had my appreciation of Fakenham before I found that out – it was simply icing on the cake.