Saturday, 31 December 2011

January 2012 Newsletter, with guest article from William Bloom

January 2012 Dare to Blossom Newsletter

In this issue:

Guest article: William Bloom
Reflections: on William's piece, and on A New Year

Daring to Blossom Workshops: special offers
News: winner of the December draw for free coaching sessions
Inspiring links

Guest article: William Bloom

My thanks to William for permission to republish this article from his recent email newsletter. To subscribe or to find out more about his work, visit (If you visit William's website at the moment there is a lovely cartoon on the front page!) The article is also featured in the January 2012 edition of Cygnus Review. (


In the weeks before Christmas my heart was moved by the death of two friends, who may also be well known to you. You will, I am sure, want to join me in sending condolences to the families of Roger Woolger and Gill Edwards who both died, too young for my liking. May their journeys be graceful and blessed. May their families feel love and comfort.

Roger, you may remember, was the author of several books including the classic Other Lives, Other Selves about reincarnation and how our past lives affect us today. He was a full-blooded, intelligent, wry and independent thinker who helped to pioneer and clarify a therapeutic approach to past life memories and regression. His company was warm and stimulating.

Gill, of course, was the author of the pivotal Living Magically, which was and still is a crucial bestseller and gateway book, opening up thousands of people to their inherent spirituality.  Like Roger she too had a background in psychology. She was also an accomplished teacher and an inspiration to so many people in the world of contemporary spirituality.  Only recently she published another inspiring book Conscious Medicine.

Both of them were pioneers, synthesising the best of modern psychology with the wisdom of ancient spiritual traditions. I knew them both over thirty years and had collaborated with them in various ways, always knowing that I could contact them for advice or suggestions, and sometimes we shared students who needed special support.

Whenever I met either of them over the last three decades, our conversations were immediately intimate, good-humoured and helpful. We knew that we were part of a movement exploring new ways of expressing and teaching spiritual development. We shared an affectionate solidarity. I am sure that all of you who knew them too, whether as colleagues, students or readers, also appreciated their strength of spiritual character and presence.

And I miss them both.

They were part of my personal landscape for many years. I am sad that their physical presence is no longer here for me and I feel some grief. I imagine that you too, reading about their passing, may also feel some emotions of loss. This is a normal human response, isn’t it, a normal sadness and emotion?


But here is the irony. From the other side of death, looking down on us, I can imagine both of them smiling: Hey you down there, stop all that grieving. Life continues after death. We’re still here, but just in another dimension and we’ll meet again. Stop your sadness and get on with life!

Roger’s books and teachings were all about the continuity of life after death and Gill’s teachings too were filled with information about the invisible dimensions. In fact, after her death Gill’s family posted on her website a letter that she had recently written to someone who had just lost a loved one. Gill’s letter reminded this person about life after death and the continuation of consciousness and connection.

I too write and teach about these realms. I even lead a course on how to support the transfer of consciousness at death and I spend time every day in meditation, contemplating the dimensions beyond the gateway of death. I am sure that many readers of this article are also attuned to these spiritual dimensions.

But here’s the rub for us. For all the beauty of life beyond death and for all the spiritual realities, we are also warm-blooded creatures, mammals, beings of feeling and emotion. And Gill and Roger were also flesh and blood — and now they are gone.

They may be alive in another dimension, but in this one they are missed.

I write all this as a counterpoint to those spiritual folk who may deny natural, instinctive and healthy emotions, suggesting that death should have no poignancy.

For all the wisdom and knowledge we may have about life after death, would any of us dare to tell a parent not to grieve for their lost child? Or dare to advise a young child not to grieve for a lost parent? This would not be humane. It would lack heart, which is at the core of spirituality — heart, compassion, empathy, fully present to human sadness, suffering and loss, as well as to joy, celebration and genius.

Without heart, perhaps all the knowledge of the inner worlds is worth nothing.

So whilst we may know full well that Gill and Roger are smiling, enjoying their new dimensions, and whilst celebrating their lives and gifts, it is also understandable, normal and fully human to feel loss and miss them.

And this perhaps is what I value most about my friends, students, colleagues and teachers. We have a sense of community, a community of the heart. May it expand and radiate to serve all.

So my lovely friends and companions, whether you are in this world or the next, may the coming year be filled with graceful growth, cosmic enjoyment and abundant blessings.

Wishing you all love.


Reflections on William's piece
I found reading this very moving. Both these people have been important in my life through their books: each had a warm, intimate and sharing way of writing that both helped the reader understand their teaching and to feel a personal connection with them as individuals.

I also feel that William's points are important to us all: we all feel grief, sometimes for a big loss as in the death of of a loved one. At other times changes happen that are also a loss: growing old and feeling the effects of that; losing a job; moving away from friends or family; losing a treasured possession.

At such times the ultimate outcome may also be something to celebrate: the release of a person from pain and suffering; the wisdom of growing older; a new job; different ways of communicating and a new respect for the value of friends and family. These mixed feelings may lead to complicated emotions, guilt even.

These feelings and emotions are what they are, feelings and emotions. Many spiritual teachings indicate that the reason that we, as spiritual beings, have decided to come and live in this world as a physical human being is to experience just this. To experience the whole range of human feelings, emotions, and physical experiences that each add to our experience and learning.

So, as William says above: "
For all the beauty of life beyond death and for all the spiritual realities, we are also warm-blooded creatures, mammals, beings of feeling and emotion. And Gill and Roger were also flesh and blood — and now they are gone."

The sharing of joy, and grief and learning, the connections we make when truly communicating heart to heart is what this life is all about for me. In William's words "..a community of the heart. May it expand and radiate to serve all."

Thank you to William, and to all of you in my community of the heart around the world. Namaste: I bow to you.

Reflections on A New Year

2012 will be a special year for me, and in spite of natural reticence on talking about my age, I am happy to say that I have already started my 60th year. As a rule I subscribe to the belief that 'age is just a number', but this year I feel proud that  this is the stage in my life I am entering.

This stage is not necessarily signified by the number of years I have lived, the amount of grey in my hair, nor marked by any feeling that I have by now learned all the lessons (I am sure I have not!), but more by coming to a place, a feeling, that I am able to be me. And by being me, at times messy, unfinished, even unhappy, at other times wise and strong and peaceful - by truly being all of these things I can help others in their own journeys to be truly themselves.

I have been reviewing the newsletters I have sent since I began this practice in March 2007. This is the fifth January edition I have written in that time: each has the themes of reviewing the past, looking forward to the future. The suggested activities below come from the first January Newsletter in 2008, and felt very relevant to me especially in relation to the thoughts above on grief and moving on.

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections: 
  • What has ended over the last year? 
  • Have I recognised and marked these endings?  (There may be a celebration, or a memorial ceremony that would feel appropriate to mark them.)  Are they happy or sad?  Is there anything that should have ended but is dragging on?  Should it be ‘laid to rest’?
  • What began afresh this year?
  • Where have/are these new beginnings taking me?  Are they continuing into 2012?  Do I want them to continue?
  • What new beginnings to you want to make happen for yourself?  What actions can you take to achieve this?

Daring to Blossom Workshops: special offers
As regular readers will know, I am running a new series of workshops in 2012 on the theme of "Seeing You, Being You". I have extended the special offer for newsletter subscribers, so if you are quick you can still book a place at half price (£30 instead of £60) for the first event on Saturday 21 January. Book before 7 January for the discount, or contact me to discuss paying in installments.

The venue for the workshops is the wonderful and peaceful Pinetum Park and Pine Lodge Gardens, near St Austell. (Very close to the world-famous Eden Project - why not come for a weekend and spend a day at the amazing biomes?)

Choose to attend any one event, a combination of dates, or all four. Your experience will be just right for you whatever your choice.

Each event is interactive and experiential, this means that ’being there’ and sharing experience is what matters. You are totally free to participate and share as much or as little as you wish.  Each group is special and different and each person present brings their own individual contribution and takes away some particular nuggets of meaning just for them.

Cost: £60 per workshop, with half-price offers for each workshop for early bookings.
For full details and to book visit the Daring to Blossom dedicated site.

Saturday 21 January 2012: Winter: a time for insights, planning and preparation
Saturday 21 April 2012: Spring: a time for action
Saturday 21 July 2012: Summer: a time for growth
Saturday 20 October 2012: Autumn: a time for reflection and renewal

Times: arrival from 9.30 a.m. for refreshments, start at 10.00 a.m., finish at 4.00 p.m.
Bring: a notebook, and a packed lunch.  Coffee, tea etc and biscuits will be provided.

Need more information? Contact me or read feedback from people who have attended past Dare to Blossom workshops, click here.
I am working  on the online course, for those of you who are unable to come to Cornwall for any reason and those spread out around the world in our Daring to Blossom community. 

News: winner of the December draw for free coaching sessions
The draw has been made and the winner informed, but due to Christmas holidays I have not yet heard back from them with permission to publish their name in this newsletter.  If it is you, I’ll look forward to hearing from you and working alongside you to make 2009 a very special year.  If it is not you, there will be another chance to win in the next draw at the end of June, and you can take up the offer of a free consultation at any time, just email me to make an appointment.

Inspiring links
This may be rather 'sugary'  for some tastes, but contains a universal truth about making a difference all the same, click here for the video link.

I welcome any comments or feedback -  if you feel inspired!
all best wishes


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Dare to Blossom Newsletter December 2011

December 2011

Welcome to the Dare to Blossom newsletter

In this issue:

New Daring to Blossom workshop series
Personal Pilgrimage to Deerhurst Church

Reflections: Journeys
Euro Coach List Conference: my experience
Inspiring Links

This is a bumper newsletter, with lots for you to read, follow up and think about. Maybe during the Christmas break, although a busy family time, you will take some time for yourself too - to reflect on the past year and form some plans for the year ahead. Maybe make a vision board for 2012 - this is a wonderful exercise to do with members of your family, it opens up ideas, discussion - and is inspiring, not to mention lots of fun.

Daring to Blossom workshop series: "Seeing you: Being you"
Please look out for a separate email very soon with details of the "Seeing You: Being You" workshop programme for 2012. I am very excited about the ideas that have been germinating, and about to burst into blossom: four workshops that can be attended individually as a single experience or as a series moving you forward through 2012.

The first date will be Saturday 21 January and I am just awaiting confirmation of a beautiful venue in mid  Cornwall before sending you the full details. As a loyal newsletter subscriber, you will be able to book a place at half price (£30 instead of £60) to treat yourself as a  Christmas gift as well as looking after everyone else.. There will also be discounts for booking the series of four events or you can choose to book singly.

So, look out for the special email soon, and book your place as soon as you can, the size of the group will be around twelve people.

For those of you not fortunate enough live here or able to come to magical Cornwall, I am working on an online course and a book, so you won't be left out. The ethos of the programme is that the time is now, whatever it is you have been waiting for, now is the time to stand up, be seen, be the truly amazing you that is within. Let's make 2012 the year when we all make things happen.

Personal Pilgrimage to Deerhurst Church
I recently wrote about my visit to Deerhurst here, with some photos:

Reflections: Journeys
My intention this month was to write about my experiences at the ECL11 Conference. (See more below.)

However, starting to write this section in mid-November, and reflecting on that event and the days since, the concept of journeys came to mind. Not only was that trip to Gloucestershire a journey for me physically, but also meeting people, working with them in workshops, emailing and speaking to them since - all feels part of a journey.

I was about to write 'a new journey', but it isn't. It feels more like another step or two on my journey of life. And that includes death too as part of life. This week I have learnt of the death of two spiritual teachers of mine.

One was a very private person who I won't name here. She made a huge difference in my life around 15 years ago, introducing me to art therapy and supporting me with some insights. We had almost lost touch except for Christmas cards. I knew she had been very ill, but not that she had died. Recently I received in the post a little booklet of her poems with a personal inscription, together with a note from her husband. I was moved and touched that she had not only taken trouble to do this (for me, and I imagine, for a number of others) and that her husband, who I do not know, had sent it on.

The next day I learnt that Gill Edwards recently passed on. She is the author of 'Living Magically', 'The Gift', and other books that have helped me immensely. There is a farewell message on her website
. It is a moving encouragement to anyone living with grief.

Depending on your personal beliefs, death may be the end, or the beginning of an new journey. For those of us left behind there is a new stage in our journey. For me hearing the news that these two people are no longer with us was poignant and linked with my personal pilgrimage to Deerhurst, described in my blog post. Even though it is over six years since my mother died that visit felt like a ceremony of remembrance and celebration, and both a connection and a saying good bye.

Euro Coach List Conference: my experience
Overall, I could describe my experience of this as: a feeling of community, meeting friends and making new ones, challenging, varied, full of conversation, discussion and learning, fun, laughter. All in a wonderful country house setting with excellent food and very professional staff.

The conference venue: Eastwood Park

I have pages of notes which will be useful in many ways. There were stimulating discussion and panel sessions on hot topics in coaching. There was such an amazing selection of workshops that it was hard to choose one of the four options for each time slot, under the headngs "You", "Your Coaching", "Your Business".

My first choice was easy as I was delivering a workshop, on the "Feed Forward" process. I learnt a lot from this workshop: that coaches are a different group of people work with (of course!), and that they also have the same issues and concerns as all my other groups. I was honoured that six people chose to come and spend their time with me. For some it was a good experience and for others it was too slow. It was interesting that I had brought extra activities in case it was a small group, but it had not seemed necessary to introduce them. I have reflected on all the feedback and will kow how to improve that workshop neext time I run it.

There is a 
link on the conference website to the programme and information on all the other and how to book for next year, I am going to book early as it was such a great event I don't want to miss out in 2012.

Other people's workshops I attended were:
Sam Chittenden's 
"The Poetry of Coaching" 
Karen Skehel's "Biodanza"
Julia Porter's "Resonate to your authentic voice"
Janine Waldman's "The Question is the Intervention"

Each of these was unique, different, energising, inspiring. Some such as "The Poetry of Coaching" were reflective. I particularly enjoyed discussing the poems  provided by Sam with the group on my table, and thinking about "bringing my poet to work", and using poetry in business and metaphor in coaching.

Janine's session on solution focused questioning was stimulating and thought-provoking. We talked about using questions that illuminate rather than destroy, and practised doing this is small groups.

The Biodanza session at the end of the day on Saturday was an amazing, enlivening experience. No talking, just wonderful and varied music, dance, movement, connection with others in a very deep and elemental way. I spoke to someone after I left the workshop and they commented I was glowing and re-energised - and I certainly felt that way!

In Julia's workshop she used muscle testing with the whole group in a way I have not experienced before. She led us through establishing our highest intention "I love living in my greatness", identifying and removing the key barriers, and establishing a state of being to enable each of us to move forward in taking action in relation to our greatness and authenticity.

Outside these sessions (as well as within them) there was so much sharing oif experiences and ideas, lively discussion (sometimes agreeing to disagree!) and laughter. I certainly came away feelng wonderfully inspired in all aspects of my life and my coaching. I hope I have given you a little taste of the atmosphere.

To give you a flavour of the conference,  David Adams has given me permission to share with you the poem he wrote during the conference, and read to us at the end:

So, on behalf of Amechi,
Just run don't panic
If you know where
The conversation's going
It's not coaching!
A smart coach or
A smart mentor
Does it matter?
What a question
For the Stilton
Of coaches
Blue and white
Rather than black
And white
Does it really matter?
You just have to know
Enough - of course
That's why
We're here.
Where has your thinking
Got you? Are goals
Part of your Vision, or
Is your Vision
Part of your goals?
Have you got the resources?
Have you got the focus
On your seven
Conversations? Has
Your client?
Are you missing
Something important?
Have you created
The team culture?
Are these questions
Powerful enough?
Should we apologise
For the tyranny of
The question?
How long can I wait
For your answer?


Ok, how far should
We go?
(In our coaching relationships)
Being spontaneous
Or being liberal
Internal and external
Individual and collective
Shell or crystal?
As the authentic coach
To the core of one's
Being. Which side of
The line
Are you on? It's something
You do. In this relationship.
Stand up. Sit down
To learn more.
To allow us
To earn more,
Brownie points
That is. Being present
With human beings
As clients, attentive
Informing the space.
Some do, some don't
Some will, some won't
Some are Georges
Some are Johns
Some are Nancy
Some are Gladeana
So, do tell stories and
Build the trust.
Be in the space.

So, why did I sit
At the back for
Breakfast? Because
The observer is not
The observed.
That's the official version
Truth is
All the places were
Taken, by the time
I arrived. The sleeper
Eventually awakes!

So, what was yesterday
All about? A collegiate
Place to look at
Movement, Poetry,
Directive Edge.
Tango, Constellations and
Metaphor; Biodance and
Marketing. What a wild
Bunch we coaches are.
Sensitive, mellifluous, amazing
Revelationary, tantalising
SMART coaches.
Sharing points of view
Sharing experiences,
The panel reflects
The conference, reflects
The delegates. Some of us
Don't feel we're delegates
We feel we're amongst
Friends. IQ, EQ,
The B&Q
Of coaching practice
We have to do it ourselves
We have to do it our
Way. Ethically, Morally
Legally. In which cloud
Is your data? With which
Code do you comply? Let's
All stay confused - it
Tells you that you need
To make a fresh decision
Make a fresh choice.
Remember whose agenda
You are on. Remember
In which framework you
Act. Are your interventions
Provocative enough?
How do you know?
What a wonderful dilemma
What a wonderful profession
What a joyous profession
Safe home! Long life!

Lots of laughter and a huge round of applause followed David's reading of this!
Read more about David using the links below:

David Adams
Accountant, Poet, Coach

Wikipedia David Adams
Inspiring links

This is thought-provoking (and maybe just a little tongue in cheek?): "Dance versus Powerpoint: a modst proposal"

And this is an inspiring piece from a young person: "Being young and making an impact."

For cat lovers, a new twist on the 'cat and (computer) mouse' jokes: "Iggy investigates an ipad"


Saturday, 26 November 2011

A small stone

My first 'small stone' for a while:
Cornish Country Quietness
The surf booms on
the three-mile distant coast.
Felt as much as heard.
Birds sing outside my window
in the mild winter.
Reminders of the joy of being

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A personal pilgrimage to Deerhurst

Deerhurst Church was a favourite place of my mother's and since she died I have had her watercolour painting of the church on my office wall. The church was an Anglo-Saxon minster and was already established in 804 AD, there is more about the history of church here. There is a famous carving of an angel dating from the 9th century, and a font dating from the same century with spiral designs.

Recently I had a chance to visit Deerhurst for the first time when I travelled to Gloucestershire for the Euro Coach List Conference (more on that in another blog post and my newsletter). It was an extraordinary and magical day. I am not used to long drives these days and found the drive up the motorway exhausting and nerve-wracking, especially as a lot of the way there was torrential rain and spray from the vehicles making visibility poor and conditions hazardous.

Making my visit involved driving past the conference venue and further north for about 30 miles - but I knew it was important for me to make my pilgrimage to Deerhurst. I had promised myself after my mother died that I would one day and now was my chance. As I left the motorway and drove through the country lanes I prayed to the Deerhurst angel for the rain to stop and my visit to go well. By the time I arrived and parked beside the church gate there was even a gleam of soft sunshine. 

As I walked up the path through the churchyard I could already feel the peace of the place. It is an amazing structure with the different eras of building leaving intriguing features such as doorways halfway up the wall. There was no one else there at all, though I did not feel alone, I could sense all the generations of people who had found peace there. And I could hear my mother telling me not to be sad but to enjoy this ancient place that she had loved so much.

Inside the church I bought cards and guidebooks, then looked at everything mentioned, such a wealth of history there. Ancient stained glass, memorials, and carved brasses set into the floor. The church organ is being restored and the pipes were stacked in neat piles.

The angel carving is hard to find, I had to follow signs around the outside of the church and into  an alcove which was once inside an earlier part of the building, where there is a sign pointing upwards, where I craned my neck to get a look at the carving. It is impossible to get a photo as an ordinary visitor - something that adds to the mystery for me. This link has one of the angel and more photos.

As I drove away from Deerhurst the rain started again as I continued my journey to the conference - more on that soon. As I arrived there the rain stopped - I thought at the time how lucky I was. It was only the next day that I realised exactly how lucky I was - when I saw the news of the terrible multiple accident on the M5 at a spot I had driven through on my way to Deerhurst.

Monday, 31 October 2011

November 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

Reflections: On reflecting
Fund Raising event in Cornwall
Inspirational links

On reflecting

As I write this my focus is on preparing for my workshop at the *Euro Coach List Conference, and looking forward to participating in the other sessions myself.

The pleasure of anticipation is peppered with the piquancy of fear: will anyone come to my workshop? Will they enjoy it?

There are a number of special things about this event for me: it is entirely organised by volunteers from the members, no one is being paid, it is a community effort. In addition to well known speakers they have given an opportunity for people such as me to experience being a workshop presenter.

Reflecting on why this event is different for me, I think of all the workshops I have run already: conference sessions for cancer charities; training workshops for colleges and other organisations on self-employment and business planning; 'words for healing' events for Lapidus; my own Dare to Blossom workshops.

All have been different, all special. This conference especially I think because all the people there will be fellow coaches, which feels at the same time the most understanding, and the most challenging of audiences.

Reflecting on this sparked the title of this piece: 'On reflecting'. The process above has helped me put my feelings in context, to see a wider picture. And to focus on the learning and joy I will experience in the event. I am not promoting or selling my services, I am sharing and offering a space for people to take time out for themselves.

I will write next month about the conference, I know it will be full of surprises.

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections:

  • What in your life would benefit from reflection at this moment?
  • Where are your thoughts and feelings?  Why are they focused there? 
Your thoughts? If you would like to share them please comment below.

*There are still a few places left at the conference if you feel inspired to join us, click here for details.

Fund Raising Event in Cornwall

The charity "Pete's Dragons" are holding a Ladies' Pamper Evening this week in Launceston, North Cornwall, full details here. I am not able to attend myself but everyone who does will receive a special gift from me of a voucher for a free telephone coaching session.

Inspirational links

"Learning to Fall"
I have yet to read this book by Philip Simmons, sub-titled "The Blessings of an Imperfect Life", this excerpt is a thought provoking reflection on 'falling' in all aspects: 

To tempt you to read, here is the final paragraph:

"We are all—all of us—falling. We are all, now, this moment, in the midst of that descent, fallen from heights that may now seem only a dimly remembered dream, falling toward a depth we can only imagine, glimpsed beneath the water’s surface shimmer. And so let us pray that if we are falling from grace, dear God let us also fall with grace, to grace. If we are falling toward pain and weakness, let us also fall toward sweetness and strength. If we are falling toward death, let us also fall toward life."

Thanks to Soleira Green for these links (see The Visionary Network  to sign up for Soleira's newsletters) 

The new Yeo Valley Organic advertisement.

Breathtaking views of Earth from the International Space Station
And here is a bit of Halloween fun, sent by Ben in New Zealand, from the (UK) newspaper The Guardian, with pictures taken in California!

Finally, please do visit the Daring to Blossom web site - still work in progress, germinating slowly and soon to bloom spendidily I am sure!

Monday, 3 October 2011

a wow moment

Having just been writing about mystery and wonder, this morning I opened the curtains to the most amazing sun rise. I grabbed my camera and dashed outside to try and record some of the stunning 'sky blue pink' colours that covered the whole sky from east to west.

This photo gives a little of the feeling of brightly illuminated mist.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Mystery and other reflections - October newsletter

October 2011

Welcome to the Dare to Blossom newsletter

If this has been forwarded to you by someone else, you can sign up for your own copy every month here.  If you do not wish to receive future editions, please use the link below to unsubscribe. Everyone who is on the mailing list will be entered into a draw twice a year (at the end of June and the end of December) with a chance to win a prize of six free life coaching sessions.

In this issue:

Reflections: Mystery
Daring to Blossom: progress report
Events and news
Inspiring Links: 'Let's ride motorcycles!'
Reflections: Mystery

Mystery: what does that mean to you? The word popped up in my mind as an intriguing subject for reflection. And in one of those moments of coincidence (or synchronicity?) the lyrics of the CD I was listening to at that moment contained the word too.

The Cambridge Dictionary definition is: "something strange or not known which has not yet been explained or understood". Some things are a mystery to us individually because we have not experienced them before or learnt about them from others. This sense of mystery is closely tied in with a sense of wonder. Retaining a child-like sense of wonder has always felt important to me, I know when I am becoming over-tired or stressed as that is when I lose that sense of wonder (not to mention my sense of humour!).

I was brought up as a child to always want to know more about the world around me, to observe, to wonder, and to follow things up later. Walks in the country or on the seashore would be followed by taking reference books off the shelves. One of the things that my husband and I have in common is sharing this sense of curiosity and interest in solving a mystery. And wonder: often when we are out one of us will say "Wow, look at that!"

Recently we visited Trevarno Gardens, a charming and indivdual privately owned estate. This time we spent a long time exploring the Victorian rockery and grotto area. We remembered seeing in the displays that there are five stone faces hidden around the rockery, so we spent a while hunting for them and photographing them. Who put them there, and why? The answers may be recorded somewhere but this was an enjoyable mystery for us. Here is a photo of one of them, an interesting face which could be a story in itself.

Trevarno stone face

Later, I had fun with the marvellous colours of the fallen giant rhododrendron leaves, arranging them in a circle of autumn shades. After I had taken my photos I left them as a small mystery for someone else to discover, or the wind to scatter.

Trevarno autumn leaves

In a broader sense, many mysteries of the past have now been explained by science: the workings of the solar system; the moon ruling the tides; the development of a child in the womb before birth. Many of these explanations leave and, even uncover, many more mysteries for us to ponder. Humankind's search for answers and meaning is one of the defining characteristics of being human.

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections:

  • What mysteries do you enjoy exploring or investigating?
  • Would you like to plan a walk, trip, day out or the luxury of reading to learn more about one of these subjects?
  • Would you like to write, (prose or poetry), or draw, paint or photograph your mysteries and discoveries?
  • What can you learn about yourself, about others, and the world around you by following your sense of wonder?
Some mysteries that once seemed unknowable have been illuminated by science, others are perhaps eternal.  The questions of love, life and death have been pondered and explored by philosophers, artists, writers, and scientists - ever since the earliest cave men painted on the walls of their caves.

Many inspiring quotations are attributed to Einstein, and this seems a good one to finish with today:

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

SourceCopyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)

Daring to Blossom: progress report
I have taken the plunge and put up the first few pages of the new Daring to Blossom: Seeing You, Being You website. At the moment it is a very tentative little green shoot. I hope you will help me nurture it as it grows and develops into the wonderful vision I have of a place for people to join with like-minded people in discussions,to share ideas, to take part in online courses and to find out about workshops and events. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions, either by email or by commenting on the Dare to Blossom blog.

Events and News: Euro Coach List Conference 4 & 5 November 2011 

I am repeating this item from last month as it may be of interest to readers in the personal development field. The Euro Coach List is an online group for anyone involved in coaching of any kind, and has been a valuable source of support to me (and to many others I know). We share experiences, knowledge, learning, ideas - and the conference is organised by a team of volunteers. You do not have to be a member to attend, though there is a discount if you are, and you can find out more here: There is a wonderful programme of speakers in a peaceful country house location.

Online Magazine, teleclasses and course from Soleira Green
Soleira Green has launched a new online magazine: "Created by 25 people from 7 countries, Visionary Voices is a treasure chest of visionary articles, interviews, events, art, poetry, and more." She has two events coming up soon:

Wild Organic Abundance for people new to our work
Starts Thursday October 6th
Visionary Coach ~ Creator course
October 21st-23rd in West Sussex, UK
Inspiring Links: you may have seen this before, worth watching more than once, it reminds me not to give into the aches and pains I may feel, click here for inspiration on following dreams.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ode to True Friends

This is from the September Dare to Blossom newsletter:

Reflections: Ode to True Friends

During August I have been taking part in my second course with Fiona Robyn, whose website (Writing Our Way Home) I have mentioned before. The Writing Ourselves Alive course has been an amazing experience sharing written thoughts and pieces of work with a group of people scattered all around the world. We have learnt a little about each other's lives, and a lot about ourselves. The support offered in very different ways by the participants to each person and to the group has been amazing, and all brought together and facilitated by Fiona in a compassionate and inspiring way.

I wanted to share with you a reflective piece I wrote during this time, as you are also all true friends.

Ode to true Friends

Today I am celebrating true friends, past and present. Those I see regularly, those I have never met but share lives with however briefly. And those in between, we just pick up the phone and talk, the gap of weeks, months or years is nothing at all.
All of you bring different gifts, each your special and unique quality. We share confidences, thoughts, fears, deep secrets from the past, that often we have told no one else, ever. Things we can't, or won't, talk to our families about.
Yesterday, you and I, Maria, shared a magical, wonderful day on the beach. That huge, huge beach that in a storm (winter or summer) has thundering atlantic rollers crashing in. That summer, welcoming beach that yesterday was populated with the ranks of coloured windbreaks, each a temporary encampment for a family.
We walked and talked, talked and walked. Down the beach towards the receding low tide, passing the lifeguard station to check the tide really was going out (and will we ever know why that lifeguard was being filmed in a black curly wig and false moustache??!!)
We walked and talked all along to the far end of the huge, huge beach. Visiting the ancient cave with the coloured mineralised walls, marvelling at the power of the rocks and the even greater power of the sea to erode them.
We talked and walked: through our past, sharing our present, and on into visualising our future. We listened in turn to each other as we paced side by side. Leaving the family-packed beach behind, passing a few people, with seemingly endless space on each side of us - to be free, to be honest, to voice thoughts and ideas we did not know we were thinking until they were shared.
We walked and wondered at who had made the mermaid sculpture out of flotsam up on the sand dunes, you said what a masculine-seeming mermaid it was, very strong, and we laughed at the two orange floats on her chest - bright orange boobs.
We talked and walked right to the end of the beach where the cliffs that dwarfed us turned and joined the sea. We also turned and met our footsteps coming towards us. We passed them again, a symbol of the talking already done, of our movement forward from some of those past concerns. We smiled as we passed for the second time the line someone had drawn in the sand: "Finishing Line" the big letters read
We shared lunch and talked and laughed and talked some more. Families and work and friends, old and new. We felt our absent companion who was unable to join us, and celebrated our three-way friendship this year, so special, so much a soul family. Celebrating the times we have held the space and leaned in for each other, most often when we were physically coping with a big challenge by ourselves, but not alone. Never alone while your spiritual support is there. Deep thanks to you Maria and Anna.
Thinking of our wider family of friends past and present, some in our lives for a day, some a year or so, some for ever.
Maria, I still have the fridge magnet you gave me:
"Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart." (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Thank you to everyone reading this: you have all left footprints in my heart.

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections:

If it appeals to you, write a letter to someone (or something) you appreciate. This could be someone you love, or someone you don't like very much - appreciating the gifts they bring into your life in the challenges they offer you. It could be a place, a plant, a favourite book. Have fun, and you may be surprised at what you learn. You may be able to share the letter with a person you have written to, or may be not, either way it is a valuable exercise.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

August newsletter

August 2011

Welcome to the Dare to Blossom newsletter

In this issue:

Reflections: Authentic Voices
Book review: Time to Think Nancy Kline
Inspiring conference: Euro Coach List Conference 2011
Small Stones: Fiona Robyn's courses

Reflections: Authentic Voices

The title of this month's reflections was inspired by the theme of this year's Euro Coach List Conference (see more below on this event).

Following on from last month, and having just finished reading Time to Think, when I began writing this it was a continuation on the theme of listening.  I know I will be writing more on that theme, but as I went on it seemed more and more like a chore, something I was forcing myself to do, feeling stilted and tired.

I have learnt from experience that the best writing - the writing that connects with people's hearts, the writing that rings with an authentic voice - that writing is not forced, not a chore. Rather, it is a joy, an experience of creating in the flow of life.

My authenticity, my truth, at the time I started trying to write was - that I was feeling stilted and tired. What I needed to do was to listen to my own internal voice telling me to rest, to allow myself to be and feel tired without continuously pushing myself on, doing more and more. Until I myself find my authentic voice, truly hear and respect it myself - how will I ever be able to articulate the things I want to say as a writer in that authentic way so others can hear and respect - and enjoy the messages?

So this month my reflections are that, for me, I do not have much to write and share right now. And that is absolutely OK. 

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections:
  • What is your authentic voice telling you right now?
  • What can you do for yourself to allow that voice to be heard, firstly by yourself, and then by others?

Book Review: Tine to Think by Nancy Kline

This review was written by Jacky Pratt, who recommended the book during my coaching sessions recently, and who has kindly given me permission to reprint it here. 

Time to Think : Listening to ignite the human mind

Nancy Kline, 1999, Cassell Illustrated, ISBN 0706377451

Time to Think is a book that changes behaviour. It has a simple, but powerful message, which is that the quality of our thinking depends upon the quality of another person’s attention when listening to us. Why is this important? Because thinking precedes action, so clearer thinking leads to improved action.

Until challenged, most of us believe we are good, or at least adequate, listeners. Time to Think provides this challenge. It helps us to understand that listening expertly takes skill and practice… and that the results can be amazing.

How often do you think you know what someone else is about to say? Do you ever finish someone’s sentence for them? Maybe you think you know the answer to their problem, so perhaps you are only half-listening, whilst formulating what you will say when it is next your turn to speak? This book helps us understand the value of letting people talk, uninterrupted, instead of finishing their sentence for them and offering advice. This literally provides them with ‘time to think’, to listen to themselves, to reach insights which otherwise stay buried.

Nancy Kline expands this concept into something she spent 15 years developing, something she calls the Thinking Environment™. This consists of ten essential behaviours for when people are together, which encourage people to really think for themselves. This enriches relationships, provides better ideas, and within an organisation, it increases motivation and commitment.

The book explores the ten components in detail and explains why thinking alone is less productive than thinking with an attentive ‘human thinking partner’. When we think alone, we make assumptions which go unchallenged, acting as barriers to new thinking. When an attentive listener notices these limiting assumptions, they can challenge them, using ‘incisive questions’. These questions enable the thinker to bypass their assumptions, to think of things previously inconceivable.

Having defined the elements of a Thinking Environment, Nancy Kline continues in Part 2 to explore how to create this environment within an organisation. She describes the six steps in a Thinking Session, with wonderful examples that bring the process to life. She discusses how meetings can be improved, providing better ideas in less time, and how potential conflicts can be resolved by supplying a structure of respect.

She provides a compelling explanation for the value of executive coaching. Nancy Kline suggests that there are two essential skills required for a coach to bring out brilliance in a client. One is to provide ‘stunning attention’, and the other is to become expert at asking incisive questions. This is the book for any coach seeking to understand the value of non-directive coaching and the simple, yet often misunderstood premise: that a coach does not need to have the answers.

Part 3 is wider-ranging and inspirational. It describes her vision of the whole world as a Thinking Environment. She applies her reasoning to areas as diverse as health, relationships, schooling, families and politics and she demonstrates the reality of a quote by Shirley Edwards of Xerox: “A Thinking Environment is not just a theory and a set of skills. It is a way of being in the world.”

This book will revolutionise your listening and thinking skills, leading to greatly improved communication in all areas of your work and life.

 Copyright © 2005, 2008 Jacky Pratt

Thank you Jacky, both for the recommendation and the review.  I have also bought the follow-up book More Time to Think, and it will be interesting to read how the ideas have been applied and developed since the title above was first published in 1999 .

Inspiring conference: Euro Coach List Conference 2011

The Euro Coach List is an online group for anyone involved in coaching of any kind, and has been a valuable source of support to me (and to many others I know). We share experiences, knowledge, learning, ideas, inspiration. The conference is organised by a team of volunteers conitnuing that community spirit. You do not have to be a member to attend, though there is a discount if you are, and you can find out more here:

I attended the first conference, and left inspired and encouraged, but have not been able to get there since so I am delighted to be able to be involved this year. Doubly so as my application to run a workshop has been accepted.  If you are going it will be wonderful to see you there.  It is on 5-6 November, at Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, UK.

Small Stones: Fiona Robyn's courses

I have written about Fiona's courses before and I have just signed up for another. Since April I have been enjoying the practice of writing "small stones" - small snippets of observational poetry, which can be left unpolished or edited and polished as much as you like.. More on the Writing Our Way Home community (which is free to join) and Fiona and her husband Kaspa's courses can be found here:

Here are two "small stones" from my collection:

Morning mist bestows magical remnants
Even at mid day diamonds are dancing on iris leaves
and the web of a spider with captured mist glints like a silken net.

Early morning beach
millions, multitudes of
small stones.

Some polished, some pitted,
some rolling in the surf.
Glistening multi-coloured
with stories to be told.

Have you written any small stones? 

Friday, 29 July 2011

Small stones

Small Stones: Fiona Robyn's courses

I have written about Fiona's courses before and I have just signed up for another. Since april I have been enjoying the practice of writing "small stones" - small snippets of observational poetry, which can be left unpolished or edited and polished as much as you like. More on the courses here:

Here are two "small stones" from my collection:

Morning mist bestows magical remnants
Even at mid day diamonds are dancing on iris leaves
and the web of a spider with captured mist glints like a silken net.

Early morning beach
millions, multitudes of
small stones.

Some polished, some pitted,
some rolling in the surf.
Glistening multi-coloured
with stories to be told.

The section above is an extract from my August newsletter which will be posted here soon.

Here are two more small stones: 

Today we walked on the bed of the sea amid 
anemones and mussels tightly waiting.

Morning mist bestows magical remnants
Even at mid day diamonds are dancing on iris leaves
and the web of a spider with captured mist glints like a silken net.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Reflections: Listening

"Everyone deserves a good listening to." (Anon)

I love that quote, though I have been unable to find the author - do let me know if you have a reference or source.

Listening: everyone with hearing uses their ears all the time. We hear the daily hub-bub: TV and radio, music from all around, traffic, birdsong, planes, machinery, water, rain, wind, thunder, people talking, walking, shouting, snoring. We also have the internal hub-bub of our own thoughts continually chattering inside our heads.

Narrowing that down to communication with people around us: how much do we really hear? How often do we offer a "good listening to?"

How do we know when this happens? For me there is a quality of attention that gives me the feeling that I have not only been listened to but also I have been heard. Heard in the sense of acknowledging and witnessing - and seeing (even if not in the literal sense, this can be on the phone) - me, just as I am.

Recently I have had the pleasure and privilege of being on the receiving end of good listening. One example was with 
Fiona Miller, a life coach based in Christchurch, New Zealand, who is interviewing people in her research on unexpected events that are a catalyst for change. I believe she was prompted by the serious earthquakes that have resulted in huge upheavals (literal and metaphorical) for thousands of people. She has widened out to considering any catalyst for change and I responded to an email from a mutual connection.

We spent over an hour  on Skype one evening (or morning for Fiona), discussing a wide range of subjects and afterwards I reflected on how enriching it felt for me to be able to review events in my life with a true listener. We covered my experience of cancer, redundancy, and various other changes in my life - which were all catalysts for change in some sense. Fiona can be contacted via her website if you would like to contribute to her research.

Other "good listening to" experiences at various times  for me have been the coaching conversations I have had with a number of different people over the years since I first came across life coaching in around 2000. Part of training as a coach - and for various other occupations such as counselling or teaching - is about "active listening". This is when you are truly listening to the other person, listening with all your senses.

When you first experience it as the listened-to person, it can be quite unsettling, alarming even. It can be such an unsual thing to have someone's full and undivided attention. Good listening is about really hearing the other person. Being with them but not necessarily sharing their experience. Hearing them but not immediately trying to "fix" them. "Fixing" suggests there is something wrong, when people may just need to express doubts and fears and find their own answers through the articulation of them to a true listener.

Articulating your thoughts, being heard, and truly hearing yourself, can give birth to deep insights and inspiration. So often I have felt, and heard others say, "I have just said what I needed to know!"

For you: some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections:

  • Who are your "listeners"?
  • Who would welcome a "good listening to" from you?
  • If you were to listen to your own inner wisdom what would it tell you?
  • Experiment with writing a letter to yourself, then read and really listen to what you are saying.
This is such a big and significant topic I will be reflecting more and writing again, and would love to hear your comments or reflections.

Here is another quote to close with:

"The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention."
Thich Nhat Hanh