Cross over – Transition

There are numerous times in life when we have to negotiate a period of ‘change and transition’ that may be planned or unplanned. In many countries the weather conditions simply change from the heat of a summer to the cold of a winter. In the UK we still experience the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Yorkshire ParkAutumn at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield

I am often asked what your favourite season is. French journalist Maurice Chapelan writes, “I love the spring mornings, the afternoons in autumn, the winter evenings and the summer nights.” Another response might be. “The best season is the one which changes into the next.” (1)

When I was in Tokyo I crossed over the famous Shibuya intersection that regulates vehicles and pedestrians transferring safely across a very busy road.

When the lights turn red they all turn red at the same time and in every direction. Then the traffic stops and up to 2500 people, friends and strangers, ‘cross over or scramble’ with up to a million people in one day. What an experience!

Recently, I have been very impressed by an article by Father David Songy ‘Adapting to Transitions.’ In his writings he outlines how his life as a priest has been full of change and transition. He defines change as “an external event that affects outward behaviour and might occur suddenly.” “Transition is internal, a psychological, emotional and spiritual process of adapting to change and may take place over weeks, months and even years.”

Songy shares personally how a priest has to negotiate the ‘losses and gains’ of moving from parish to parish over many years. He also relates to how he ends and establishes new relationships. In such changes a priest will incur loss, go through a process of readjustment and enter into various new situations.

Any new assignment and life experience will represent a change. What follows any change is the ‘transition.’ Songy goes on to refer to the work of the American author William Bridges in his book Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes, and is known as the ‘Transition model.’ (2)

Bridges offers a way of understanding change and transition in the context of three stages: Endings, neutral zone and new beginnings.

William Bridges Transition

Each change ushers in an ending of the status quo. Then there follows the reflective neutral zone which can cause confusion and distress. Finally there is a new beginning that emerges from the change and transition. Songy puts a different light on Bridges stages, falling off a cliff, treading water and finding shore.

https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/ByIssue/Article/TabId/735/ArtMID/13636/ArticleID/22271/Adapting-to-Transitions.aspx

Kim Schneiderman (3) commented on the transition model and says that every transition begins with an ending and ends with a beginning. In between the changes there are times when we do not know exactly what is occurring and what is expected from us. In that ‘neutral zone’ which we all want to avoid, lots of new personal growth will take place.

A few years ago whilst visiting Israel I experienced an amazing boat trip by the shore and Sea of Galilee (Lake Gennesaret) It reminded me of the travels of Jesus in the same area where he taught his disciples and healed many of his followers. He often felt overwhelmed by the crowds and found solace in a boat separated from them. He would have journeyed many times from shore to shore through a calm and stormy sea. (4)

•   I wonder what ‘changes and cross overs’ you are having to negotiate at this present time? A sudden loss, bereavement, ill health, wealth. Take a moment not only to recognise the sudden changes that are occurring but perhaps more importantly those subtle and less obvious changes.

Record a sudden change ……………………………………………………………………………………
Record a gradual change …………………………………………………….…………………………….

•   What ‘periods of transition’ are you adapting to? Do you understand the process you are experiencing, its implication and application? During this ‘neutral zone’ you may find confusion, fear and lots of self-doubt. Highlight one or two areas that are causing you pain and discomfort. In this process think about the positive gains of understanding and clarity that may emerge from this time of discomfort.

Pain and discomfort             …………………………………………………………………………………
Understanding and clarity …………………………………………………………………………………

•   Are you excited about the ‘new beginnings’ that will emerge from change and transition? Try and discern what you think those new beginnings are and put a timescales on them. In confidence share you’re thinking with someone you trust and discuss how that new future will unfold and pleasantly surprise you.

Record a new beginning ………………………….…………………………………………………………

In speaking of ‘records,’ another very popular crossing is found on the cover of the Beatles Abbey Road (London 1969) album. They ‘crossed over’ not realising the full impact they would have upon the music world.

As a group of four individuals they went through lots of ‘change and transition’ that included loss, confusion, clarity and fresh opportunities.

In a crowd and on your own may you find strength and understanding to ‘cross over and transition’ through all the joys and challenges life presents to you?

Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)

1) The Friendship book 05/09/18. 2) William Bridges Managing Transitions: making the most of change. 1933-2009. 3) Transition Model Kim Schneiderman L.C.S. W., M. S. W The Novel Perspective. (Psychology today) 4) The Gospel of Mark chapter 3 and chapter 4.

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The King and I

 

In recent years Prince Harry was third in line to the British throne after his father Charles and brother Prince William. With William marrying Kate and the arrival of their children George, Charlotte and Louis, Harry’s new position is sixth, which I’m sure he’s happy and relaxed with!

harry Meghan
For the past few weeks I have been thinking about the process of making comparisons which we all engage in on a daily basis. The ‘act of comparing’ is to consider and assess things around us that are similar or different.

compare contrast

In comparing the weddings of William and Harry they were similar but very different. William and Kate got married on the 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey London. Prince Harry married Meghan Markle on the 19 May 2018 at St George’s chapel Windsor Castle. William’s service was more formal, compared to Harry’s who invited members of the public. The churches, guests, reception and protocols would have all been similar yet varied in one form or another.

In 1936 King George VI (6th) ascended the throne of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth and reigned until his death in 1952. He was the second eldest child to Queen Victoria and Albert after Prince Edward and known as Albert or Bertie. In 1936 Edward abdicated the throne because of his love to Wallis Simpson which meant that Albert was to become King in his brother’s place.

Albert suffered from ill health and had a severe stammer. In being a King he was expected to speak very eloquently to all his subjects which would have been quite a challenge for him! In the film the Kings Speech (2010) it records how Albert had to face his difficulties. It revealed how Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist and actor, coached Bertie to overcome and work with his speech impediment.

King George

In life everything can be similar, whilst being very different. We note the differences by comparison and comment. The act of comparison is fundamental to us all and can cause us to feel inferior or embrace an attitude of being superior!

To compare is also to consider alternatives. To think about what might be better or worse and make various decisions accordingly. However, when we compare life in a personal and material sense we often go to the negative rather than a positive!

King George was expected to speak perfectly. He had to work on his speech deficiency which improved and by previous standards was almost perfect. So everything can be comparable in its perfection and imperfection.

In completing my ‘Theology and Religious studies’ degree at Manchester University, I did not choose to study ‘Comparative Religions,’ which gives insight and understanding to different religions and beliefs. However, in such studies there is always a point at which each person has to conclude their own form of belief and practice.Man Uni logoSuch a choice may be Religious or Secular and will include a leader, with tradition and a sacred text! In the context of the Christian faith, Jesus is central to the life and witness of the church that includes the Holy Bible.

In the UK there is a familiar advert by ‘Go Compare’ that encourages us to use their comparison site when looking for insurance and other quotes. In choosing a quote we have to remember that it is not always the cheapest that represents the best value.

go compare

In making comparisons about our homes and the cars we drive we may conclude that they are excellent but not as good as other people’s, thereby placing a negative on their value.

Alternatively we may feel that our home and car is average but not as bad as other peoples and so place a positive spin on their value.

This week I heard someone say that they were going to write a song about a loved one who had let them down. When the time came to write the words the person realised that there had been far more positives than negatives in their time together and ended up writing a song of thanksgiving rather one of complaint!

Consider for a moment your relationships. In comparing and contrasting, weigh up the negatives alongside all the positives you have experienced over the years? It’s quite a powerful exercise to realise what we have, over what we feel we have lost.

Prince Harry’s position as successor to the British throne has decreased but that does not mean that he and Meghan will not have a happy and fulfilled life as Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I’m sure they will have enough to think about when supporting and being alongside the future King and Queen, be it Charles and Camilla or in time William and Kate.

To conclude let’s revisit Go compare;

Realise that you are good enough?

We are all unique and loved, especially in the context of our ‘faith and practice.’ It’s important to give the best of ourselves, realising that it is good enough. It’s better to be our authentic self than constantly having to impress others.

Understand who you are?

who think you are

 

 

 

Don’t let other people define who they think you are. Know and understand who you think you are. Appreciate your gifts and callings and maintain a deep joy in your heart and mind in what you ‘are and do’ on a daily basis.

Who is my neighbour friend and colleague?

Give thanks for everyone around you. In your comparisons appreciate who they are and all they seek to ‘be and do.’ Don’t be jealous, envious, or frightened of their existence and presence. Do not worry about any form of opposition or competition that might come your way. Be happy with and for your friends, neighbours and colleagues.

So as a Prince and Princess be joyfully ready to be next in line for whatever may come your way, ‘confident in comparision.’

Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)

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Abba, Papa, Father

On the 17th June the UK celebrates Father’s day which contrasts very differently to Mother’s day!Fathers day

In an age where gender equality is uppermost in people’s minds, there is always an appropriate space to celebrate individuality in various relationships and how they have impacted upon us. Any relationship, however it is valued and in what context it is formed, will have its highs and its lows!

Recently I was travelling back to the UK via Istanbul after a mission trip to Albania. At Ataturk airport, which is one of the biggest airports in the world, many people from all over the globe where mingling about and making sure they were at the right gate to board the flight to their chosen destination. It was beautiful to see all the people from different countries, cultures, faith or no faith backgrounds. Each person is  unique in their own special way, yet very much connected as a member of the human race.

Ataturk airport

In such a setting many differing relationships would exist! There would be lots of conservative traditionalists walking alongside those holding very liberal and modern views. Lots of people would be passionate about having good relationships, whereas many would only think about themselves and neglect the importance of being connected to others. Many would be kind and considerate, compared to those who would be actively cruel and inconsiderate.

Recently I heard some special words of affirmation and thanksgiving from a loving son about his father’s mercy. He also included how his Dad was sympathetic and held a tender and compassionate love that resonated with the words from Luke. (1) He thanked him for being a gentleman, a guide, a protector, and map in his life. In times of trial the son gave thanks for his father being a great strength and example that would continue in his presence or in his absence.

Just as there are many good or bad mothers there will be many bad and good fathers which affect family members in different ways.

Father and Child

Think for a moment about your own relationship with your earthly or heavenly father? How would you rate it from one to ten and on what basis have you scored, which in itself will be subjective and circumstantial?

10 the best Dad ever? …………………………………………………..1 the worst Father ever?

At this point is it important to remember that our earthly fathers will have been subject to varying degrees of love or neglect from their own fathers. Some would have been able to redeem and renew their relationship. Others by choice or ignorance would have replicated what they experienced in subsequent relationships.

Recently I heard of a daughter who complained about her father’s lack of listening and connecting with her. As she spoke to her father he would invariably hide behind his open newspaper and avoid any form of conversation. This was still very upsetting for her as she realized this represented a poor father/daughter relationship.

Communication in any relationship is vital and it can be improved and worked upon. Whilst walking around Ataturk airport I was very impressed by a young kiosk assistant who was serving an elderly lady. The lady spoke in her own language asking for something to eat.

The assistant responded in English, but the lady was unable to understand. The young man quickly changed his language to Arabic which was the ladies mother tongue This enabled the transaction to be completed very smoothly, with the lady full of gratitude for the prompt and sensitive manner of the man in the kiosk.

To understand visually, emotionally and physically is very important. To understand helps us to accommodate and move alongside someone. It will allow relationships to be renewed and for forgiveness to take root which brings forth new life and relationships.

There is an old song about “Father Abraham” who at the age of 99 received a covenant call from Almighty God. He went on to be seen as a father figure for the three great Monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (2)

Father Abraham

The song says that ‘Abraham had many sons,’ but its important to remind ourselves that he would have had many daughters as well. Both sons and daugthers are to be seen as equal and wanting good relationships with each other.

A contrasting modern worship song by Chris Tomlin, speaks of a “Good Good” Heavenly father.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA  In knowing love from an earthly and heavenly father, it can equip us to act as a model and map that enables us to form good human relationships that accommodates, understands, forgives and accepts.

In experiencing bad relationships it may open up the possibility of us treating others as we have been treated ourselves. We become the victim rather than an overcomer. Those who have offended us become a scapegoat figure upon whom we level all blame. Such thinking may abdicate us from any responsibilities for the troubles we have experienced in the past but it will affect present and future relationships!

In thinking about our parents, a mother’s character in general is to protect their children. However, there will be a time when the child has to move from the security of the home into the unknown. Then it’s often a father figure who gives confidence and encouragement to the child to move from the home with the assurance that both parents will be at hand to help where required.

A ‘good good’ father should offer Protection, Provision and Guidance to all under his wing. Any words that we carry from the inadequacies of an Earthly or Heavenly father will have to find some form of healing and placement so that we may move forward in positive tones.

world family

Whatever type of relationship we have experienced and seek to offer to others, may it be the best in mutual acceptance, forgiveness, and a willingness to support rather than scapegoat or neglect altogether.

From Father Graham!! (‘Inspire2Achieve’)

1 Luke 6 v 36 – 38  2 Genesis 17 v 1 – 7.

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Order out of Chaos

In my Life Coaching profile:

https://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/lifecoaches/graham-smallman I refer to a car that has all its windows misted up and requires serious demisting so as to continue the journey safely! At times in our lives it is important to clarify ‘aims and goals’ that have become ‘obscure’ and to think about how best to introduce greater ‘clarity’ so as to improve vision, performance and contentment. It reminds me of those words about life being “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (1)

Mist

For a moment may we consider Thomas George Thomas or Lord Tonypandy who was a Labour politician and the speaker of the House of Commons from 1976 to his retirement from politics in 1983?

Tommy twice

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Thomas,_1st_Viscount_Tonypandy

Thomas or Tommy twice, as he was known, often proclaimed his own unique Welsh variation on the cries of “Order! Order!” The speaker’s role is to control Parliamentary debates on important matters of national governance that would invariably get out of hand. The current speaker of the House is John Berscow who has to remain non-partisan, not get involved in debates and may occasionally vote.

It can be argued that in life we experience more chaos than order? The challenge before us then is to introduce and maintain some semblance of order into any chaos that exists around us. Think about a bag that you may carry around with you? A hand bag, man bag, tool bag, make up bag, shopping bag, sports bag and work bag?

IMG_1834

Each bag has a particular purpose to maintain some order in the midst of chaos, be it functional, cosmetic or technological.

When Lord Tonypandy shouted out loud Order! Order! It was rooted in Chaos and Chaos! I wonder when you experience Chaos! Chaos! How do you achieve Order! Order!

Our beginnings and roots in life are very significant and affect how we see and interact in the world around us.

Many people, who have a root of Faith, believe that a Divine hand has brought about order out of chaos. Creation is beautiful and is sustained and maintained season after season.

Many others without a root of Faith see life differently, acknowledging that creation has come from a different form of intervention and evolves and maintains itself in some mystical, logical, illogical and scientific way?

There is an irreversible fact that in both cases, as year succeeds to year, the earth and the cosmos continues in Chaos and in Order!

cosmos

My observation at this point is that to some degree or another we all implement a ‘psychology of control’ to maintain the requirements of body, mind and spirit in a holistic manner. There are many debates and conclusions around control and a lack of control, yet in wanting to control life we soon realize that it is impossible, which can cause us to become downcast and confused.

• A controlling mind may be due to feelings of inferiority?
• Controlling actions may be as a result of not trusting people around us?
• Any effort to decontrol will require a change of thinking, feeling and acting!

Thinking – to ‘gain and use knowledge’ can enhance a feeling of being in control!
Feeling‘ignorance can be bliss’ and inadvertently makes us feel better!
Acting – Our ‘actions, reactions and no actions’ do have consequences!

In looking to change and adapt ‘root behaviours’ there may be required a process of demisting or transition from ‘major control’ to ‘going with the flow.’ that enhances our self-development.

Such a change allows ‘ignorance and innocence’ to gain a better ‘understanding and appreciation’ of any chaotic or orderly life scenario that comes to us.

In a ‘controlled work bag,’ we may carry demanding and self-centred attitudes that affect our relationships with working colleagues. If we are placed in a team and have to negotiate and compromise with colleagues, then one could find it difficult to adapt to the requirements of such a changed working environment.

Yet such a change can strengthen our core beliefs and help us to introduce new approaches to work procedures and relationships. The opposite may be true when we need to become more assertive and self-confident when we naturally hold on to positions of quietness and shyness.

In areas where we feel out of control, our coping mechanism maybe to exert control or retreat into obscurity? In both accounts it’s important to maintain a work, life, control and out of control balance!

The history of Parliamentary democracy in England came about because of an excessive control from Royalty and other governing parties.

Oliver-Cromwell-by-Samuel-010https://www.britannica.com/biography/Oliver-Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell (‘warts and all’) was a Roundhead leader during the English Civil war from 1643 to 1651 and implemented change by design and default to produce a Parliamentary democracy that represented the views and aspirations of all people and was more representative in the affairs of state. National control still had to exist but it became more rooted in a fairer system of government for all citizens.

So in the midst and amongst the mist and clouds that descend and ascend, may we in the Welsh words of Tommy Twice find:

Order! Order! in Chaos! Chaos!

Sky

In Chaos! Chaos! Order! Order!
Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)
(1) James 4 v 13 – 14

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Ironically, Iconic!

Recently I was speaking to someone who mentioned that a member of their family had worked in a bookshop for over twenty years. The person sold many books both general and academic to students and the public. However, they ironically shared that he had never in his life actually read a whole book!

Irony, as a noun, is a particular form of humour that finds itself expressing the very opposite to its intended meaning. The conversation I referred to, also disclosed that the person’s favourite reading material was the old Dandy and Beano comics! So ironically, someone who sold books for a living, had never read one themselves and preferred to read comics!Dandy

So life is full, of Irony. Alongside bundles of joy and gladness, there is heartache and sadness. Life can be like a rollercoaster full of highs and lows, screams and laughter, eyes wide open or closed saying a prayer for it all to end soon.

Life is full of Icons also. At the Blackpool Pleasure Park in Lancashire, England a new ride called Icon is about to open, costing over £16 million to construct. It promises to be one of the best rides ever: modern, scary, exhilarating and surely to become an Iconic ride itself!

Blackpool Icon

An Icon is derived from the Orthodox Church and shown in the form of pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary or Saints. In the Greek an ‘icon’ means an image or likeness of something or someone.

Greek Icon

In reality life is full of Irony and Icons and may be expressed and experienced in an ‘Ironically Iconic manner.’

As spring, Easter and holidays are nearly upon us, we find that one of the world’s most adorned icon is referenced and remembered in opposite ways. The ‘cross’ is central to the faith of millions. Yet many wear a ‘cross’ as a fashion statement rather than a religious symbol.

In the Easter story (1) we read of individuals who followed a teacher that seemed to be full of Irony, yet became Iconic. The Rabbi shared radical teaching and lifestyles which are rejected and accepted in equal measure. There is also a deep Irony that in the pursuit of ‘life and meaning’ (whatever that is for each one of us) we may find that we lose it. (2)

The opposite can be true, in that when we feel we have lost out on life (however that might be for each one of us) we end up finding ‘life’ in a new and fulfilling way. Consider a seed, it has to die before it germinates and grows into something new. (3)

Germinating Seed

When people think about losing weight and apply certain diets and exercise regimes, it’s interesting how effective those aims and goals pan out. Often when concentrating on losing weight we find ourselves under more pressure and can ironically end up eating more as a comfort. When we are happy and busy doing normal things in life we may find, with a disciplined and balanced diet and lifestyle, that our weight is not an issue at all.

I love fruity Hot Cross buns which are seasonal and iconic at this time of the year.

Hot cross bun

The cross is ‘Iconic’ reflecting the ‘Ironic.’ How can someone be so despised and rejected and crucified on a cross, end up being the source of millions of people finding peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and contentment? The impossible has become and maintained a possible for so many!

There is a very interesting place in West Yorkshire where a number of ‘brothers’ have lived together as a community. Each brother has given up their individual aims and aspirations to concentrate on a spiritual life of worship, prayer and hospitality. It is maintained on a simple Benedictine code of life and practice. The community is based at Mirfield Monastery where many Icons abound. The community works to support people near and far in areas of education, hospitality, charity and other areas of particular need.

Mirfield brothers

In the rhythm of the community’s activities they will experience both business and quietness, stillness and noise. Often in the business of our own lives we may seek after and appreciate those times of quiet, to rest and recuperate from the demands that life puts upon us.

This can compare to times when we are silent and quiet but find that we do not experience true rest and peace internally because of the worries and concerns that we continually carry in our hearts and minds.

Ironically and Iconically we can learn a lot from a life of contemplation, silence, and meditation. Modern thinking about ‘mindfulness’ is often a rebranding of practices that are very old and have been of value for individuals and communities in all circumstances and situations.

In the Friendship Book 2018 (March 16th) it shares that such thinking and acting is about living in the moment, not being held back by the past or living in the fear of the future, for “Yard by yard, life’s awful hard, inch by inch, you’ll find it’s a cinch.” 

A life of simplicity, challenges a life of business.

A life of quiet prayer and reflection, challenges a life of self-dependence.

A life of service to others, challenges a life of self- centeredness.

Mirfield Monastery has maintained a community of ‘brothers’ since 1892 which is rooted in Anglican tradition and a Benedictine round of worship, prayer and hospitality.

Mirfield Monastery

There is an Irony in their existence, for there seems to be a growing and renewed interest in religious communities which is opposite to modern thinking and places of work, rest and play!

At this Easter time enjoy the spring, Easter egg and that Hot Cross bun which reminds us of someone who continues to be ‘Ironically, Iconic.’

Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)

(1) Matthew 26 – 28 (2) Matthew 10 v 39 (3) Matthew 16 v 25

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Events Dictate to Diary dates!

At this time of year we all should have purchased and started to fill in our new diaries for 2018.

However, not everyone has or uses a personal or desk diary! Invitations, events, times and places may be held in our minds, on scrap paper or deposited with those around us for them to remember and remind us of what to do and where to go!

Conversely, many of us do use diaries in different forms, from the calendar on the phone or behind the door, to the pocket sized diary or a shared family or work desk diary. Meetings, activities, social arrangements and personal appointments are carefully referenced and constantly looked at so as to make sure we are where we should be on a specific day and time.

In having or not having some form of diary or calendar it may reflect our age, approach to life, responsibilities and preferences. We may choose to be organized or disorganized. We may find that we want to be in control or just go with the natural and daily flow of life with all its demands and opportunities.

You may have heard it is said, that if you want to get something done: ‘ask a busy person.’ A busy person is often in a better frame of mind and activity to organize what is required and be around to offer love and support where required.

A person who is not busy or in demand may find that their natural habit is to ‘put off’ what is asked of them. They often ‘procrastinate’ the ‘doing and completing’ of tasks, on their jobs list or in the dairy. Life is lived at a chilled pace and can easily pass them by but so often they are very happy and content within that lifestyle?

When using a diary or calendar we look forward to important functions and appointments. However, just because we put an event in our diaries does not guarantee that it will happen or that it will be a success in the way we desire!

Change can be very traumatic, especially when we incur redundancy, personal or family health concerns and the loss of loved ones.

The Munich Air Disaster is a point in question. Bobby Charlton, as a 20 year old footballer, spoke 60 years ago about the hopes of the young. “They could go about their business confident that when the sun rose in the morning, all their ambitions and hopes would still be alive. The young were immortal.” Tragically 23 people were killed in an unexpected plane crash as they returned home from a football match, with 21 surviving.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_air_disaster

220px-Munich_Memorial_Plaque

Events can also include times for personal friendships, work commitments, economic and environmental changes that may alter what we ‘purpose to happen.’ In the reality of ‘events dictating to diary dates’ our ability to reorganize, to accept, to adjust and come to terms with them may be overwhelming or straight forward?

Such changes can increase our stress levels and make us feel out of control. Equally we may find an internal and external strength that brings to us a greater maturity and understanding of what has happened around us.

In an instance we can find ourselves moving in opposite directions from peace to turmoil, from order to chaos, from having a bright hope for the future to a feeling of despair and lack of hope.

In our calendars and diaries we will have times highlighted to meet up with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Occasions for personal and collective socializing, times to be still, to come aside from the routine and seek a rest and solace from the demands of that life.

In recent days loneliness has been highlighted as a growing concern in the UK and beyond for all ages. In our maturing years when we work less and have more leisure time it can cause us to become more isolated if we don’t have a circle of good friends around us. When we retain friendships it strengthens us to navigate the ‘business and quietness’ of life. Also having a personal faith enables us to ‘anchor’ in the God of all events, seasons and diary dates.

So in entering into the second month of the year may we give thanks for our diaries and calendars that are being filled and may we be able to accommodate the changes that come our way expected or unexpected?

Consider for a moment how you may improve your organizational skills in 2018.

What areas of your life are arranged well?
Why is that so and what does it say about you at this present time?

What areas of your life do you ‘put off’ socially, at home or work?
Why is that so and what does it say about you at this present time?

We welcome the New Year, 2018.
The joy of living and all that it means.
From birth, to old age and the exciting teens.

So events, diary dates we plan them all,
And rearrange them when they change or fall.

Enjoy your Diary Dates.
Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)

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Paradise

I’m sitting on the Veranda watching the world go by in Paradise!

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder where your Paradise might be and for what reason? Recently I was in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. It is sub-tropical and the weather ranges from hot to hotter and includes for good measure lots of downpours especially in the rainy season. The nearest l have got to a Veranda in the UK has been on a balcony in someone’s flat or whilst holidaying in a room with a balcony and a sea view.

Veranda is a Portuguese word and describes a roofed, open air gallery or porch. The area is partly enclosed by a railing and extends across the front and side of a structure. There are many buildings in Australia and New Zealand that have verandas which came to prominence from the 1850’s. One particular style is known as a ‘Queenslander’ which adapts well to the sub-tropical climate as shown below.

There are many other places throughout the world where buildings have a veranda and before fridges enabled food to be kept cool under the floorboards in the heat of the day.

A lovely experience on a veranda is witnessing the early morning sun rise. The day unfolds with its own ‘time demands’ that will dictate how long we remain sat on the veranda. Meal time and evening gives us a further opportunity to observe the sun setting and feel the cool of the evening.

There is something special about being on our own, having time to eat, sleep, read and reflect. Equally it is wonderful when we have our special friends around us, chatting and having fun and laughter, serious debate and seeking to appreciate another person’s point of view.

Memories can be greeted as a friend or a disturbance of peace. We are taken to our ‘museum of memories’ where we recall happy times, challenging experiences and occasions where we have to place and let go of them so as to move forward in life. However looking back can be helpful as we learn from our mistakes and be thankful for our successes.

January 26 is Australia Day and in all the celebrations there will be the waving of the Australian Coat of Arms. On it are two of Australia’s most iconic animals, the kangaroo and emu.

It is believed the reason why they are included is because they both are unable to walk backwards, signifying Australia’s aspiration and intent as a nation to always move forward. It’s a lovely thought that we all can aspire to, taking those forward steps with our eyes fixed firmly on the future, leaving the past behind and not allowing any negativity to impact our present or future?

There is an interesting statement that reads: ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ (1) We all are in the pursuit of contentment and happiness. Some of us look to material gain and certain experiences that maintain levels of happiness and contentment. Many of us are happy and content in the everyday activities that come our way, from sustaining a personal faith, to collecting the morning paper, taking the dog a walk, or just rocking in our chair on the veranda or balcony.

In Port Douglas there is a historic church called St Mary’s by the Sea.

It is said to be the third most popular church in Australia for getting married in. It is so beautiful and quaint and for those of us married, it would be a very romantic place to reaffirm our marital vows.

I attended the morning service and a time was given when each person introduced themselves and said where they came from. One man stood up and said he lived locally and for him it was Paradise. Straight away a second man, who also lived local, contradicted the first gentleman by saying: ‘No you don’t live in Paradise. Paradise is where you are and what you make of it!’ Whew, I thought the second chap had a good point and pondered on what he had said, albeit in an abrupt manner, and its application.

In Greater Manchester there is a restaurant called Paradise Spice and for some who like spicy food they may feel, in having a meal there, they have experienced a true taste of Paradise. However, for those who do not like spicy food it would have been the furthest place and experience from Paradise! One person’s paradise, happiness and contentment, is not necessarily someone else’s, but we can be grateful for that which affirms our individuality and uniqueness in our own place of Paradise!

If we are in a physical Paradise at the moment but not happy or content then we are not experiencing true Paradise. Conversely if we are in humble and meagre surroundings but feel a true sense of contentment and wellbeing then perhaps Paradise is not too far from us. For those of us with faith we have a promise of an eternal Paradise to come.

Go back to your veranda and balcony, either physically or in your mind’s eye. Appreciate your surroundings and given situation today.

If it’s almost perfect don’t forgot your relationships. Share your good fortune and maintain a personal contentment internally knowing that things can change very quickly. In the tropics the rain falls instantly and violently and can cause severe damage.

If your situation today is somewhat challenging but you have beautiful friendships they can represent your sense of Paradise and wellbeing in your local environment. May you find strength and be sustained within, so as to continually move forward like the Kangaroo and Emu.

Enjoy the moment of today and be thankful for times past, but don’t stare.
Move on, look forward to a future that is yours to have and hold.

Christmas greetings and a peacful New Year 2018.

Graham (‘Inspire2Achieve’)
(1) 1 Timothy 6 v 6

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