Wednesday, 29 February 2012

March 2012 Newsletter

In this issue:

Reflections 1: Honouring the people of Christchurch, New Zealand

Reflections 2: Driving into Fog

News of my next book

Inspiring links and events

Reflections 1: Honouring the people of Christchurch, New Zealand
Today as I start to write this month's newsletter, it is 22 February, one year since the huge earthquake. My great-nephew sent me this link to a musical tribute. Those of you with no connections to the area may not know how severe the damage was, and how the area is still experiencing aftershocks, some strong, that continually set back the process of assessing damage. The area in the centre of Christchurch, around the cathedral (shown at the beginning of the video in before and after photos) is still closed off.

Here is an extraordinary piece of writing about what it means to live in Christchurch at this time

"After the shock, this is what it means to me to live in Christchurch right now.
It means waking up with uncertainty in my soul each morning.
It means to inwardly wince when my children jump at a car backfiring, mistaking it for an aftershock.
It means watching my four-year-old son shaking his fist at the ground during an aftershock and cry "stop scaring me" and being powerless to stop his pain.
It means financial hardship and struggle.
It means watching your children lose a layer of innocence.
It means watching those you love battle unemployment.
It means an uncertain future
It means thinking "but I'm not over it" when you hear other people say how over it they are.
It means watching an elderly couple with poor health leave their once proud, now ruined, Avonside home of 40 years, with tears streaming down their faces.
It means getting upset when someone says: "Why don't you just leave?"
It means coming to work and having a colleague show you the photos they took of themselves on their cellphone when they were trapped by fallen concrete. And, when they say: "If things got worse I wanted them to know the body was mine".  It means not knowing how to respond without weeping uncontrollably.
It means being described as "brave and resilient" when you feel scared and traumatised.
It means laughing for the wrong reasons at the Novus "show us your crack" TV commercial.
It means endless goodbyes at the airport, watching lifelong friends leave for a new life in another country.
It means watching people you love crack.
It means taking your car to the garage a lot for its munted suspension
It means telling people you live in Christchurch and feel forced to add "but the house I'm in is OK now".
It means getting used to moving house.
It means wherever you go you're usually outnumbered by people wearing fluoro vests.
It means witnessing on a daily basis people's ability for kindness and understanding.
It means being humbled by fellow Cantabrians' inventiveness and spirit.
It means acknowledging, more than ever before, the need to be more patient and understanding with everyone you meet.
It means always checking that the cupboards are full of dry food and the emergency kit is OK.
It means discovering who really cares about you and who just says they do.
It means trying to keep the car full of petrol in case "something" happens.
It means waking each morning knowing that today could be the day another big one hits.
It means thinking every day: 'Today might be the day we have to flee our house; am I prepared?'

It means watching my 12-year-old daughter mature overnight because of her earthquake experience into a caring, wise, young woman.
It means never parking your car under or close to a big building.

It means being frightened of simple things like catching a bus or going to a mall, and gradually conquering those fears.
It means only shopping where you feel safe, constantly aware of what is beside you and above you while you do so.
It means entering a building and immediately scoping out somewhere you could shelter if a quake were to hit.
It means always checking your cellphone is fully charged.
It means showering more quickly than you used to with a cellphone within reach. Who wants to be naked if "it" happens again?
It means truly cherishing each moment you have with those you love.
I want those who live elsewhere to understand that we still have the capacity to be happy.
But, yes, some days we feel as broken as the buildings in the CBD.
I want Kiwis around New Zealand and overseas to truly know how deeply we feel their kindness, how thankful we are of ordinary Kiwis who did their best to fill our brokenness with their heartfelt words, hugs, songs, offers of holiday accommodation and fundraising efforts.
I don't want to remember
But I cannot forget that day
I cannot forget the days the earth roared
I cannot stop imagining the pain and suffering of those who lost their lives or who were trapped or injured on February 22
I cannot forget the fear on the faces of my fellow Cantabrians
In the last year I have learned to make peace with the anxiety that walks beside me
But for now it is always there, just under the surface, like the faultlines."
Read the original piece here: (I can't see the name of the author listed, it is from the website of Christchurch newspaper "The Press".) The power of this piece leaves me speechless, I can only honour and send love to all people around the world experiencing the unimaginable such as this.

Reflections 2: Driving into Fog
Over the last week the area where I live in North Cornwall has been swathed in a thick fog, especially on the coast. Driving in it is an eery experience. It is quite frightening: when coming up behind a vehicle I realise I can hardly see it is there, even if they have their fog lights on. Can the people behind me see my lights?

I take special care and look out for signs to show me where side roads are coming in to the road I am travelling on in case a car pulls out (though I should always be doing that, I think to myself). The usually familiar landmarks have disappeared, even though it is daylight I feel literally disorientated.

Sometimes I feel life is like this. I think I have things planned and 'know' what will happen to a reasonable certainty. Often this is not the case (as John Lennon said "Life is what happens while you are making other plans.") but as long as things ony vary a certain amount I can cope with that.

At other times life can change in an instant: an accident, news of the death of a friend or relative, diagnosis of an illness, a job loss. Some of these things, such as the job loss, may be known in advance - but the day actually comes when you no longer get up and go to a familiar place of work - then the feeling of disorientation can set in.

The change may be one that is seen as positive: attaining a big goal such as graduating from university, finishing writing a book, even perhaps (though I have yet to experience this one!) winning a large sum of money on a lottery.

How can we deal with the feeling of having the foundations of our lives rocked? Literally in the case of people living in an earthquake zone, and - not joking this time - what that is like is unimaginable for me. People around the world, including my own family in New Zealand,  are somehow carrying on with that knowledge every day.

Some people have a strong faith to support them: in their God however they name that entity, in the Universe, in the strength and goodness of human nature. People often say that a disaster brings out the best in people and also makes them reassess their true values. Some people seem to remain centred in any circumstances, maybe because they have a solid and supportive sense of who they are and what is true for them.

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

  • At those times in life that are like 'driving into fog', what is your rock, your solid core on which you depend?
  • Make a list of those things that are truly important to you. This list may look very similar to a list of your values, these are the things that will survive no matter what happens, that will carry you through.
  • Consider if you want to strengthen those values or bring more of those important things into your life right now. Maybe spend more time with friends, visit your family, spend time outdoors in nature.
  • Visualise or meditate on strengthening your roots, see yourself as grounded in the earth we all share, enjoying the air around you, gaining sustenance from fresh water and good food.
News of my next book
You may know that I have been mentioning here for some time my ideas for my next book. I have now realised that the delay in getting started on this has been due to something else wanting to come into fruition first. This 'something' is a compilation of the Reflections from these newsletters. This month is the fifth anniversay of my first ever Dare to Blossom Newsletter - and I will be pulling together a volume of extracts with additional thoughts. I'm not sure how long that process will take - but you'll be the first to know when it is available if you keep in touch.

Inspiring links and events

"Art of Calm" workshop with Claire Lucas, Saturday 17th March, at the Goat Barn, Boscawen'Un, Near St Buryan, West Cornwall. 10am - 5pm. Costs £60, including art materials, lunch and chocolate! Some concessions available to people on a low income. More info can be found at &

Daring to Blossom Workshop Saturday 21 April 2012:
Spring: a time for action

This workshop will be an opportunity for you to take a day out from your busy life to review and reflect and choose, if you so wish, some actions that will move you on towards being more of the person you already truly are.We will share meditations, activities, talk and laughter. We will take the opportunity to spend time outdoors in the wonderful Pine Lodge Gardens - whatever the weather! (Bring appropriate shoes, coats etc)

Early Bird booking £30 before 31/3/2012, £60 full price for bookings after that date. Your booking fee includes free entry to the Pine Lodge Gardens

Places are limited so book now if you can!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

February 2012 Newsletter

In this issue:

Reflections on the first Daring to Blossom workshop 

Inspiring events and links


The first Daring to Blossom workshop took place on 21 January, with the title 'A time for insights, planning and preparation.' A group of six people joined me for the day at the wonderful Pine Lodge Gardens.

One of the highlights of the day was a walk in the gardens at lunchtime, and the future events will incorporate the wonderful environment even more into the format of the programme.

As the workshops are intended to be a place for reflection and personal development, sometimes uncomfortable feelings arise for people. The group are encouraged to 'hold the space' for each other, witnessing without judgement. At the same time, it is each person's responsibility to honour the group agreement that we make at the beginning of the day, which always includes giving each other time to speak and not taking too much time for ourselves.

It often falls to me as the facilitator of the group, to draw people back to the coaching ethos of moving forward from where we are, acknowledging the past but not dwelling on it. One of the lessons I have learned - over a long period of time, and sometimes needing to re-learn it - is that 'You are not your story'. The true essence of each person is not - that cancer experience, the abuse that may have been suffered, nor the triumphs either - but rather our response to them in the highest sense. The things we have learned and used to bring more of our true selves into the world.

By the end of the day people left with some actions to take them forward, and I went away with lots of ideas for the next event, including feedback from those present. One of the suggestions made by more than one person was longer meditations, which I will bring in next time. That caused me some reflection and I realised that I don't feel very confident at leading meditations. So that is my 'growing point' challenge - to step out of my comfort zone and do this. Several people have offered to share resources and ideas - thank you.

Another big "thank you" goes to Maria, who took an active part in the workshop, sharing her thoughts and experiences and helping others reflect. At the same time she played a key role in being my support person, making sure everyone was welcomed and looked after. Maria, you are an angel and it was so good to know that you were there doing those almost invisible things that are only noticed when they are absent.

At risk of sounding like a gushing movie star accepting an award (there's a thought!) - more thanks go to Tracey, Richard and George (I hope those names are correct) and all the team at Pine Lodge Gardens who made us so welcome.

And thank you so much to everyone who came along, faced their challenges and shared insights with us to help us all begin daring to blossom.

Here is some of the feedback that people have given me permission to share with you: 

"Thank you Mary for another wonderful workshop. It was fun, enlightening, thought-provoking, and also very relaxing."

“The time & length of the workshop was perfect. I felt relaxed throughout the day and that was from the moment I walked through the door, greeted by Maria until the end of the day. If I had a slight moment of personal irritation, it was soon defused as a skilful Mary held the space respectfully for all of us. The natural flexibility and flow of the day was easy. I particularly enjoyed the walk in nature & revisiting that experience (clever touch!) during the stillness/meditation moments at the end of the day.”  Fran Partridge, Ayurveda Practitioner

"Thank you, Mary for a very enjoyable day. Good to take some time out for me, acknowledge some of my positive achievements and make some plans for 2012." Tina

If you missed the day, Amanda Jones has offered to host a repeat event at her home in St Columb Major. The date is Saturday 18 February, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, and the fee is £40. If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible as that date is not far away.

The next workshop at the Pine Lodge Gardens is on Saturday 21 April, and you can take up the half price early booking offer by online
here, or by contacting me. The theme is "A Time for Action", moving us forward into the life-affirming life and energy of spring time in Cornwall. I hope to welcome you to this event or a future workshop.

Finally, as always, here are some suggestions for your journal or meditation reflections. The Daring to Blossom theme for January was "Insights, planning and preparation". As we end of the first month of 2012, this may be a good point for you to review your "wheel of life": the balance between all the aspects that make up your life and how satisfied you are with them.

If you are not familiar with this exercise, I have posted a file on the Daring to Blossom website for you to download with the instructions.

  • What insights does your current wheel of life reveal?
  • Which aspects of your life are out of balance?
  • Choose one or two and decide on some actions - achievable but perhaps slightly challenging.
  • Why are they a challenge?
  • What support can you put in place to help you?
  • Can you 'feel the fear' and do them anyway?
  • If not, review again - is this really your own goal or aim? Or someone else's that you think you 'should' achieve?
  • If you still want to take it on, break down what needs to be done into smaller stepping stones - and do something, however small! 

Inspiring events and links:
Here is a selection of interesting events and links to investigate if they intrigue you!

Visionary Entrepreneurs are holding an event in London on 24 February, more info here:

My friend Fiona Crump recently started a food-related blog with the wonderful name of Bun Scuffle - intrigued? Take a look:

I receive the Zen Habits newsletter/blog postings, and although I do not always have time to read them, whenever I do dip in there are wonderful nuggets within them, for example, a recent piece on "Creating Silence from Chaos". You can sign up or read online here:

Sam Chittenden ran a workshop at the Euro Coach List conference last November on the use of poetry in coaching, and I recently had an interesting Skype conversation with her about this and her work on leadership. You can read Sam's blog here:

Tina McNaughton has an event on 26 February: "Introduction to Psychic Art", visit her website for more information.

Please do leave any comments or feedback if you feel inspired!

all best wishes