Posts tagged: thoughts

Philosophy, Booklists and The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Under the Rainbow at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival

Blue sky, white clouds and a rainbow over a beach scene

My day at the Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival began with John Gray on ‘The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom.

book cover The Soul of the MarionetteThere were a lot of questions:

  • Can knowledge set us free?
  • Will we ever understand ourselves well enough to design a better version?
  • Do we really want to be free?

There weren’t a lot of answers but I did come away with a list of authors who might help with my research: Philip K. Dick, Theodore Powys, Gertrude Bell, Michel de Montaigne might help me see life a little more clearly which might mean less disturbed by the beliefs of the world around me.

I’m all for a closer examination of beliefs, their nature, their shifting sandiness and our unwitting of living as if they were true and this was a thoroughly enjoyable stroll in that direction.

 

 

On, then, to A Celebration of the Life and Work of Judith KerrA little girl opens to the door to a huge, lovable, cartoon tiger

What a life and what wonderful work Judith Kerr continues to create. 92 years old and as entertaining, gently profound
and moving as ever, Judith Kerr is an absolute delight.

I read ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ to children at school, to my own children, and now to my grandchildren and it has an irrepressible charm. Who knew that the illustrations include two versions of the father? I must go back and have another look.

And then, of course, there was ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ and now we have ‘Mister Cleghorn’s Seal’ based on her father’s real experience of saving the life a seal pup and taking it home to his flat to live on the balcony.

I hope I can be so irrepressible, good humoured and lively when I’m 92.

 

“Can you remember a time before you could read?

Hilary Mantel’s Life in Books conversation picked up a thread touched upon by Judith Kerr who questioned the content of the Janet and John books she encountered in school.  Whether it was Janet and John, “John has two caps.”; Nip and Fluff “Nip is a dog. I see a dog.”; or Peter and Jane, it seems wonderful that we ever saw the point in learning to read unless, like Hilary Mantel, you managed to discover a world of books actually worth reading.

Amid this fascinating conversation books and authors tumbled like a glorious domino rally with one book prompting another until my notebook was almost full.  ‘Kidnapped’ clearly deserves revisiting as I had completely failed to notice the perfection in its form. Oliver Sacks, Beryl Bainbridge, and Ivy Compton-Burnett are all favourites of my own who were highly commended while I admit my ignorance re Molly Keane, Sybille Bedford and Alison Lurie.

I’ve added them all to my ‘must read’ list, and I still haven’t finished reading “John Aubrey – My Own Life” by Ruth Scurr so I’m ill-prepared for tomorrow!

 

Taking Shortcuts

What does this doodle say to you?

 doodle od a dark cloud gradually lifting to reveal the sun and the possibility of a short cut

Doodling is a great way to explore ideas without too much conscious attention. 

What does this doodle say to you? My guess is that it will say different things to different people. It depends upon your current experience, your thoughts and your mood or ‘state’ as we might label it in NLP terms.

Here’s a closer look…

a closer look at the image reveals that there is more than one way to reach your goal

sometimes a closer look reveals something unexpected

 

Click on the image to open it fully and look even more closely. begin to notice details that you hadn’t previously noticed.

I have shown it to a few people and asked the question… “If this doodle had a message for you, what would it be?” and got a surprising number of different replies:

  • “It’s about how the sun is always in the sky, even when all you’re thinking of is the clouds.”
  • “Even when you think you’ve solved a problem, something can come up that seems to set you right back to the beginning again and yet it’s not quite the same this time and you can keep going.”
  • “The clouds are your problems. The sunshine is feeling better, sorting something out.”
  • “Is it about depression and the depression can lift and come back and then lift again?”
  • “The arrows are all the different paths if you want to escape from something.”
  • “It’s about shortcuts. Sometimes you have to go the long way round to get out from under the grey sky but sometimes you might spot a short cut, and sometimes there’s an even shorter one.”

There isn’t a ‘right answer’. I was concentrating on something else at the time (my most interesting doodles seem to come during online meet-ups, TED talks or Tony Robbins videos). I would love to hear from you about what you make of it.

Better still, have a go yourself and maybe ask a few people what they make of your unconscious doodling.

Under Pressure

The Pressure That Creates a Diamond

Consider the pressures exerted on you

Consider the pressures exerted on you

If you are feeling under pressure, step back a little and consider your position.

What can you change easily?

Stepping back a little allows you to see further

Stepping back a little allows you to see further

And when you step back you can see that some things would be harder to change
and it might be possible.
What difference would it make?

And when you step right back you will see that, while there are somethings you can change – and it will make a difference – some things can never be changed.

Now that you know what can never be changed, what can be changed with some difficulty, and what can be changed easily, you can consider your options.

See the big picture

See the big picture

Finding themes, habits and tendencies

apples bucket

 

Remains

it’s up to you to fill in the gaps

it rained today
the mist cloud luminescent

in the tractor rut in the lane
abscondees have flown the burrows

at night the moon becomes a friend
and singularity

waiting for birdsong and light
I thought of breaking through

everyone in this house has dreamed of flying
but hasn’t looked up for years

unripened apples predict
but know they fall together

like light in mist
the arrow’s lost its point

pebble piles on pebbles piled on pebbles
I should thunderbolt you now

the red morning sun
discovered death and left

falling apart
before I leave
I miss you

napo2013button2

 

For day 24 of National Poetry Writing Month, I followed a prompt from The Poetry School suggesting a found poem. Found poetry, according to a Pulitzer Remix is the literary version of a collage, where authors excerpt words and phrases from existing texts and rework them into new pieces

 

Personal themes, habits and tendencies

In NLP we speak of meta-programs.  These could be described as a set of unconscious and deeply held convictions which influence how re receive information through our senses and thus drive our thought patterns, actions and reactions causing us to behave in ways which we rarely question.  Although they are unconscious, they can be revealed, particularly in our use of language.

The challenge to create a ‘found poem’ seemed to present a golden opportunity to put the spotlight on my own linguistic tendencies. As you know, I have written 23 poems this month so I decided to re-read them and take, from each, the line which suggested itself and use the resulting 23 lines to create a new poem.

This kind of self-reflexive narrative is doubly interesting because it offers opportunities for both objective and subjective consideration.  I could ask:

What does this poem tell you about me; my tendencies and themes?
What can I learn about myself from the themes that have emerged?
What does your response to the poem tell you about yourself?

It is not only with poetry that we can step back and gain new perspectives on what drives us to think, feel and behave as we do.  The life story you tell me in a coaching session offers a perfect opportunity for identifying your own habits and tendencies. With new insights into what has been driving you in the past, you are much better equipped to make different choices for your future.

 

Disaster Prone Ideas

We hear from Owl

the abscondees have flown the burrows
and boast, with borrowed rodomontade 
hard to tolerate, that they will build a penthouse 
outhouse where they will dine on quahog and clove cheese.
They tease us with their bilious recipes
and we receive their dunderhead disaster prone ideas
as if from messengers mercurial and non-pareil.
They leave themselves open to the cowbird
whose own twice curled unhatched 
will play the owlet while our heroes 
squander their love on a future that proves elusive.

 

napo2013button1
nest metaphorIt’s day 20 of National Poetry Writing Month and I have been becoming a little reckless with my writing over recent days.  

Writing a poem every day has freed me up from some habits that had insidiously made their way into my self-perception. 

My reaction to today’s challenge was to throw caution to the wind and just play.  

Here’s the challenge: write a poem that uses at least five of the following words:

owl

generator

abscond

upwind

squander

clove

miraculous

dunderhead

cyclops

willowy

mercurial

seaweed

gutter

non-pareil

artillery

salt

curl

ego

rodomontade

elusive

twice

ghost

cheese

cowbird

truffle

svelte

quahog

bilious

 

Letting Go

NaPoWriMo is proving to be a wonderful exercise in letting go. For reasons which may, or may not, include tiredness, enthusiasm, hysteria, …. [fill in your own word here], I have let go of some of my reserve in writing and sharing my poems.

When I re-read the 20 poems I think I detect a loosening or lightening of tone.  I would be very interested to know whether anyone else has noticed changes.  I expect to return to all the poems later to select some for redrafting, and I wonder what I will notice in the future that I’m not seeing now.

If you want to let go of a habit, thought pattern or tendency in your own life, this might be a model you could use.  Let me know what you think. 

 

…and now for the good news

Surely we are surrounded by safety… safe relationships, safe journeys, safe schools; isn’t the list endless?  Take a moment to think of just three ‘safe’ experiences you have enjoyed in the last couple of days.

It’s telling that when, in my research for this post, I searched for ‘safe travel’, statistics for accidents and fatalities consistently came top of the responses. I was looking for statistics for road trips made without accident; uneventful rail, air and sea journeys; people walking to school, or work or walking the dog without coming to harm. The default response to ‘search safe’ seems to be ‘find unsafe’.

I found the UK National Statistics Information Hub www.statistics.gov.uk/hub and, encouraged by the title, followed the link to ‘Child Safety and Wellbeing’.  In the 35 documents listed under Child Safety and Wellbeing I found only 3 references to positive participation, satisfaction, or emotional health and achievement. These were the exceptions amid multiple references to youth crime, sentencing and detention of young people, substance misuse etc.

It is not my intention here to criticise the Statistical Information services.  I am simply highlighting the fact that good news is so hard to find even while we are surrounded by it.  Look around you and see the evidence of children in secure families, play areas being used happily, successful youth groups, gymnastics clubs and street dancing etc.

Consider for a moment the millions of people walking in our towns and countryside freely and reaching their destination safely.  Isn’t the same true of thousands of rail journeys, flights and ferry crossings?

So why, if we turn on the news, or pick up a paper, might we allow one story involving ‘unsafe’ dominate our thoughts and feelings?

I suggest that it is because the version of ‘reality’ that has come to dominate the story – the narrative – of our lives is an unnecessarily negative one.  Once we realise this we can begin to see our life from a new, more balanced, perspective.

The good news is that there is an abundant source of good news all around us and all we have to do is allow ourselves to notice it.

Science, Maths and Lady Macbeth

Why Poetry? Why Art?

I like to get up early, an hour or so before I need to, and read poetry. In that quiet time when the rest of my world is still dreaming, my mind is loose. It is as if I am still dreaming. I read and then I write and in the writing I discover thoughts and ideas that I might never have encountered in any other way.

When I was teaching I would tell stories.

nlp Devon - Atoms combine in a petri dish

Stories which might seem unconnected with the work at hand. One of my favourites was to tell was the story of Lady Macbeth at the beginning of science and maths lessons. It was unexpected. What did I think I was doing? How did it fit the curriculum planned for that day? How could it possibly be relevant to the maths or the science on the timetable?

I didn’t know. There’s the rub. I couldn’t say in advance what connections pupils would make, how their developing, imaginative, creative brains might link two thoughts, two experiences, one lesson and one dream, and come up with something entirely new that transformed their understanding.

But they did. Time and time again they amazed me by learning something I could not have taught them in any other way.

Science and maths

In a lesson timetabled SCIENCE we were studying autumn and natural cycles. I told the story. A six year old boy, already labelled ‘difficult’, stood up and said “The leaves smell brown”. That was the first indication that he had engaged with the topic at any level.

A 13 year old girl whose special needs report stated ‘unable to sit still for more than 2 minutes’ and was being considered for the label ‘autistic’ because of her ‘complete inability to empathise’ took on the role of Lady M and strode around the classroom quoting “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” for a few minutes after which she looked me straight in the eye and said “Thank you Miss, I feel better now” before sitting down and concentrating for the entire MATHS lesson.

These snapshots from my past inform my future. We cannot know for sure what response our communication will evoke but if want to create new possibilities for the future we can turn to art for a moment and allow our minds to loosen. Maybe we will dream up something we could never have imagined in any other way.

 

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