When Things Fall Apart

Caroline's seagull 1Between the harbours of our pain and our joy, the sunlit bays that lull, and the rocky coves where beached whales gasp for breath, is the journey. Learning to navigate through clear waters and perfect storms keeps us learning, keeps us evolving, keeps us awake.

Sometimes all it takes is the right book to help us chart our way.

Pema Chödrön’s ‘When Things Fall Apart’ is one of those books I gift to folk and re-read every year, drinking it in to quench a thirst that never goes away. She takes all of life, wraps it up in a gentle smile and makes me grateful to be here right now… and happy to be me. If you haven’t got the time or energy to read one of my long, rambly posts, skip to the bottom; there are some great quotes.

Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives. ~ Pema Chödrön

A new me reads it every year. Last year, a death in the family changed us all; the year before that, I lost two friends to cancer and four survived. And every year, this book speaks to me like a friend who knows and understands the essential me but is aware of my constantly evolving circumstances, offering relevant advice for each one.

This is no bright white toothed self-help guru, survivor turned writer, making me mutter “Oh, give me a break!” This is a person who gently unravels all the pain, happiness and conflicting thoughts and emotions that make us human, but who points out that there, there where we notice those states in ourselves and in others is the learning, the living, the enlightenment and the loving. In the space between the inbreath and the outbreath, the silence between the notes, the glide between the beating of a bird’s wings, that’s where all of our peace and wisdom reside.

Chances are, if you visit my blog, we’ve a lot in common and you’ve probably read this book. If you haven’t, and you’d like a gentle introduction to Buddhism and an instruction manual for a simpler, kinder, richer life, please give it a go. I reread it last week and today’s the happiest I’ve been for months. I accidentally pressed publish on this post earlier instead of saving a draft; the original detailed some of the challenges I’ve had and dealt with this week, but to be honest, I bored myself reading them so I deleted all but one.

I stepped on and broke my cherished old Kindle and feared I’d lost the hundreds of quotes and passages I’d lovingly curated over the years and all the ‘collections’ I’d organised ruthlessly, even though the books themselves stayed safe in The Cloud. But I trawled dozens of forums, tried what folk suggested, and hours later managed to rescue the quotes, because they mattered, because they were pieces of life that had resonated with me and were already distilled right down to the essence.

Which brings me back to Pema. These passages from ‘When Things Fall Apart’ were highlighted in my Kindle. I was going to share them with you gradually, but life’s too short to hold onto things that cry out to be shared.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy…

…Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs. To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior…

…Generally speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors—people who have a certain hunger to know what is true—feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.

        From ‘When Things Fall Apart’ ~ by Pema Chödrön.



“It’s all about the why…”  was the first thing I read this morning, one of Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs in my inbox.

Some coaches shy away from asking “Why?” because asking “Why?” about the past can lead us down rabbit holes as we retrospectively speculate, fill in the gaps, make excuses and convince ourselves that we’re analysing our actions to learn what worked and what didn’t, so we can build on successes or to avoid making the same mistakes.

But asking “Why?” in the present uncovers much more powerful answers: Why am I thinking this? Why am I feeling this? Why am I doing this? Why am I choosing this? And to make every “Why?” more curious and childlike, non-judgemental and painless, step back a bit and prefix each “Why?” with a quizzical “I wonder…” Do what young kids do and follow each answer with another “Why?” and another and another till you start peeling away the excuses, the ego, the rationales, the analysis and start replying with your inner wisdom, your gut, and get to an Aha! Moment, the heart of what you want.

Ask “Why?” about your actions, your plans, hopes and dreams for the future, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sort out the should’s and the have to’s from the things you really want to do. Try taking some of those ‘wants’ and make a To Want list instead of a To Do list today.

Me? I want to pick up my crochet hook again and make more brightly coloured mittens, scarves and granny blankets; I want to paint; to write more songs and poetry; to write quality coaching material that supports and touches folk; to get my stamina, agility… and waistline back so I can enjoy a healthier future. Looking at that list, it’s fairly obvious I want to create, to make a difference, to feel more expressed, to leave a legacy.

I prefer to be love-led by inspiration, not fear-driven by motivation.

Asking “Why?” can empower your future.

Get clear on what you’re choosing – why you’re choosing. Not just the big things, but the details and the thoughts you choose to focus your attention on. It’s the key to clarity and peace.

The first question that I asked myself this morning, faced with another {0} comments day was a curious – but weirdly calm – “So why am I still choosing to keep this blog alive?”

Then I looked at stats and wondered why someone in Nepal read my blog. And someone in Peru. And Romania. And New Zealand. The US… What a wonderful world shrinker WordPress is. It made me smile.

And you read this today. I wonder why?

9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring…

freesiasSpring is definitely stirring. Woven through the frosted days and chilling winds, we’ve had days of weak, wintry warmth and seen sneaky wee snowdrops peeking through the loam, smiling shyly beneath the bare trees and bushes. The tiny green shoots of brave, determined daffodils have pushed through to greet the first warm rays of spring, and it feels like time to do the same and welcome the season into my home.

Freshly painted in soothing shades of jasmine white and linen, sea shells and sandy beaches, with painted wood cladding on the walls and a rustic wooden floor, my living room and hallway now form the perfect canvas for me to express myself year round.

During the winter months, shades of cranberry, rusty-red and Christmas green added warmth. I didn’t have the energy to be very creative, but that was OK. My Christmas decorations have a life of their own and all we had to do was to bring them down from the attic and they brought the cheery warmth and spirit of the season with them.

freesia stem with hyacinthsI bring in the spring by filling every container I can – teapots, jugs, teacups, treasured old mugs and vases  – with bulbs and spring fowers. I echo the yellows, cornflower blues and sage greens in my wall hangings and ornaments, cushion covers and garlands. It’s an easy fix, but one that lifts the spirit.

coffee table spring flowersI’m especially fond of hyacinths and freesias. I have hyacinths in the kitchen and freesias in a jug on the living room coffee table at the moment; the fragrance fills the house. I love the structural elegance of freesias, the way their stems arch and the buds along the stem open in sequence, guaranteeing perfume and flowers for days to come.

I’m enjoying being uplifted by the scents and sights of spring, the birds suddenly louder at dusk and the promise of longer, warmer days and brighter spirits.

quotebooksI’ve been writing again, suspending some commitments until I can go back to delivering quality, and rooting around in my files and archives, ready for a shake-up and a spring clean. I’m clearer than I have been in months about what I have to offer and how I want to connect. Most reassuring is that I’ve gone back to reading with a pen and quotebooks; after weeks of wondering when the tide would would turn, I feel a sea change coming.

If you’re inspired by spring to make changes but find it all a bit overwhelming and don’t know where to start, do what nature does. Grow and blossom a tiny wee bit every day. Fill a jug with spring flowers today, breathe in inspiration and share your gifts with us on an outbreath of joy.

I enjoyed this article in Christine Kane’s newsletter recently and thought you might find it useful.

9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators
by Christine Kane

Irony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go play one Sudoku game first.” I caught myself in the act and marched to my laptop.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about overwhelm. We all experience it, and there are some tricks to help you get moving again.

Here are 9 ways to break the procrastination habit:

1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something. I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it. Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea. Then they sit there. They wonder if it’s a good idea. Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time. My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes? Stop waiting! Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Agree to do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up. Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next half hour working on my Law School Essay.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results. “I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.


Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.

Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything. Wow – what a difference this makes!

7 – Do it first.

My first coach made me write songs first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.


“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

8 – Avoid nose-bleed activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity. It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you. Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.


There. I did it. I wrote this article. And now, I don’t even want to play Sudoku! How about that?

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 11,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

What’s the weather like where you are? Do you have any projects stirring, waiting to blossom in the next few weeks? Is procrastination a problem for you? Let me know if there’s anything  I can do to help. After years of battling perfectionism, and the overwhelm that often accompanies prolific wide-ranging creativity, I  specialise in coaching creative folk who thrive when they take things one wee step at a time.

Does anxiety make you over-explain?

Does anxiety ever hold you back? Is your life affected by someone who’s crippled  by it?

My daughter and I both suffer from anxiety and I’ve coached lots of folk whose lives are coloured by it. Many anxious people talk a lot, often too much. We try to make sure folk ‘get us’, we have an annoying need to seek approval and we often over-explain. (That’s probably why I use so many semi colons; some sentences just need that wee bit extra 😉 )

I enjoyed the following article about explaining because it really made me think.  Please feel free to forward it if you like; if you do, just remember to attach Christine’s full blurb.

6 Irresistible Reasons to Stop Explaining Yourself

Rita’s parents didn’t approve of her choice to get a new kitten. Rita was expecting a long letter from them filled with judgments about her irresponsibility. As she waited for that letter, she was figuring out what she would write back.
Sylvia, one of my Platinum-level coaching clients, just bought her dream house. She avoided telling her father about it for fear that he would judge her, call her irresponsible and proceed to describe her imminent demise. She finally did tell her father. On our call, she told me that she was waiting for his reaction gearing up to explain her choice to him.
Now, there are some people who might read these stories and think, “Are you kiddin’ me? Who cares what anyone thinks about your houses or cats or anything??!”

If this is you, then read no further. This article is not for you.

I’m writing this for the “explainers” out there. And it doesn’t matter if you explain to parents, partners, or priests. You know who you are!

You’ve heard me talk about the benefits of going “Complaint-Free,” right? Well, today, we’re going to talk about going “Explaint-Free!”

And here are 6 irresistible reasons to do just that:

1 – Waiting Drains Your Energy.

When I’m coaching an explainer, I can see that much of her energy goes to the act of waiting.

She waits for judgment.

She waits for people to “get” her before she’ll take action.

She waits for people to approve of her choice.

She waits for criticism.

This literally drains her creative life force. Both women in the examples above were losing energy waiting for criticism.

Here’s your first big challenge: Give up the non-activity of waiting.

2 – We All Need to Learn to Trust Our Choices.

Explaining robs you of empowerment.

Our decisions teach us valuable lessons about intuition and instinct. RARELY do our clear decisions come from our mental activity. Gut instinct is clearer than our critical minds.

When we explain ourselves, however, we move away from the place of deep trust in our intuition and into the realm of mental activity – where the choice didn’t come from in the first place! We’ve suddenly stopped honoring and trusting ourselves and started creating a pattern of mental activity as we question our choices.

3 – Explaining Blocks Creativity.

Creativity means you’re the Creator of your life. You’re a Creator. Not a Reactor. When you explain yourself, you become a “Reactor.” You can’t live in both realms at once. They contradict each other. Living in a state of reaction causes you to cut off the flow of creativity.

4 – Disapproval is a Great


Yes, I’m serious about this!

Becoming an adult in the deepest sense is about learning to take responsibility for your actions and choices. Sometimes that means other people won’t like these actions and choices. And what a great opportunity people provide when they do that!

I once heard a relationship coach say that love can sometimes mean letting your partner be disappointed in your choices. Think about that. Can you stand in your body and love someone enough to allow them not be happy with a choice you’re making?

5 – Explainers Endorse Irresponsibility.

People who take personal responsibility for their lives do not blame others (or themselves) for their unhappiness, for their life situations, or for their financial state, etc. Instead, they recognize that they created it, and they can un-create or re-create anything. It’s an empowering place to live.

Many people do not live in this level of personal responsibility. They are too busy blaming other people, taking other people’s inventory, and looking outside themselves for their happiness. Teacher and author Byron Katie calls this minding other people’s business instead of your own.

Your choice to explain yourself teaches other people that it’s okay not to take responsibility, and that it’s okay to mind your business instead of their own. Your explaints actually perpetuate the pattern of irresponsibility!

6 – Explainers Play Small. It’s Time to Play Big.

Explainers are waiting for permission, or approval, or for people to “get” their choices. So much unhappiness and depression comes from a lifetime of waiting for these meaningless things. It’s the ultimate meaning of Playing Small.

Playing Big means being clear, and making decisions from your soul. And your soul doesn’t feel the need to explain anything!

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

What did you think of Christine’s take on explaining? Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, how does it show up? Do you find yourself explaining too much? If you experiment with explaining less, I’d be interested to hear how you get on. I tried paying attention to how often I do it in an average day  and it was scary!

45 Life Lessons to Celebrate Growing Older

I received these in an email from someone who’d recently turned forty-five. Written by columnist Regina Brett, they cried out to be passed on.

1.       Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2.       When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3.       Life is too short to waste time hating anyone…

4.       Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends and family will.  Stay in touch.

5.       Pay off your credit cards every month.

6.       You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.

7.       Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8.       It’s OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.

9.       Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

10.     When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11.     Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12.     It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13.     Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14.     If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15.     Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16.     Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.

17.     Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

18.     Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19.     It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20.     When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21.     Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22.     Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23.     Be eccentric now.  Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24.     The most important sex organ is the brain.

25.     No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26.     Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27.     Always choose life.

28.     Forgive everyone and everything.

29.     What other people think of you is none of your business.

30.     Time heals almost everything.  Give it time.

31.     However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32.     Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.

33.     Believe in miracles.

34.     God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35.     Don’t audit life…  Show up and make the most of it now.

36.     Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37.     Your children get only one childhood.

38.     All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39.     Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.     If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41.     Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42.     The best is yet to come.

43.     No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44.     Yield.

45.     Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.


Any favourites?

Cultivating Happiness

Let go of the people who cause constant pain; let go of the negativity that colors a room more darkly than any coat of paint. Keep close the people you love, the ones who stay engaged and open to life, who bring joy and peace to the house and garden. ~ Dominique Browning

I was a bit down yesterday.  Lots of reasons. I keep forgetting that happiness is a habit, something we have to practise regularly. I get so much pleasure from writing, I haven’t been ‘practising’ enough elsewhere.

Many of us don’t deliberately make a habit of practising and choosing happiness. The Dalai Lama gives us guidelines on how to start:

One begins identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness. That is the way.

I love how he says “cultivating”, like watering and tending a plant that we hope will bear fruit or flowers. I haven’t been nurturing myself or my family very well recently, and I certainly haven’t been eliminating enough of the things that get me down, like too much time at the computer and taking things too seriously.

So, in keeping with this week’s haiku theme, here are a few wee poems that make me smile. They’re from a book called One Hundred Books In Haiku by David Bader, who reminds us not to take Haiku, the ‘classics’ –  or ourselves –  too seriously!


Substance has essence.
Form adds whatness to thatness.
Whatsits have thinghood.


The eternal Tao.
To know it is not to know.
What is it? Don’t ask.

LITTLE WOMEN ~ Louisa May Alcott

Snowdrops hang like tears.
Shy, sweet, saintly Beth has died.
One down, three to go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Which blogs or books make you smile? Which make you laugh out loud?

Redefine the Recession and Revitalise Your Spirit

…we’ve been given a great gift – the chance to re-evaluate what’s most important to us in a deeply authentic way. ~ Janice

For many people, this weekend (or next weekend) is Easter, a time for spiritual rebirth, a time to celebrate gratitude, unconditional love, renewed hope and purpose.

In the current economic crisis, many people have had change and a new life thrust upon them, often in the form of loss. I wrote the following post for my ‘Coaching Moments’ column in VOICE last spring,  before the global financial crisis hit like a tsunami. I’ve also included a few links at the end of this post, to support and inspire you this weekend.

The ‘R’ Word…How to Redefine the Recession

I’ve recently read a surprising number of newsletters and blogs which have used the phrase “the ‘R’ word” to refer to economic recession. Now these aren’t coy writers I’m talking about; they’re highly respected, powerful coaches who inspire and lead many others. I don’t know why they use the phrase, but it got me thinking about what recession means to the coaching world and also set me off on a journey exploring ‘R’ words.

Real estate, reaction, response, re-positioning and relief…

I live in a tourist area where many local newly-weds can’t afford to buy homes because of inflated house prices. In other parts of the country, families are faced with the prospect of downsizing or negative equity because of the post-boom drop in property prices. I’ve seen how distressing this can be, so it’s not a topic I’m being dismissive of or disrespectful about. I’d like to share a story with you about one of the best coaches I’ve ever known.

He started to feel the waves of worry over the US sub-prime mortgage situation last year; his wife works in real estate and they have a young family. His initial reaction was to increase his networking and marketing until the pace became almost hysterical and frenetic. Then, after an aha phase, he responded from his heart by putting the theory of ‘letting go’ into practice. He focused on the abundance he already had – his family, friends, training, experience, wisdom and qualifications – and acknowledged that they weren’t going to evaporate if he didn’t fill his coaching practice immediately. Instead, he started applying for other jobs to supplement his coaching income, even though he already had more clients than most coaches I know. The job offers came flowing in. He  accepted one that allowed him to work from home and the relief was almost tangible, like a breeze of fresh air blowing through his life, bringing with it financial security and a continuation of the family dynamics and routine he’d worked so hard to build. And then – no surprise to those of us who believe in the law of attraction – the clients came pouring in too. Eleven new clients in two weeks.

Redundancy, re-evaluation, readiness, relocation and resourcefulness…

My husband works in the Scottish branch of an international company and we’ve been affected by the global crisis too.  Every October for the last three years, his bosses have announced that hundreds of people in the company are to be made redundant. The list of those about to lose their jobs  isn’t released until December.  It’s become harder for me every year to celebrate Christmas in the carefree way we used to. It’s become increasingly painful for my husband to lose colleagues at a time when workmates all over the world are celebrating the holiday season with office parties and frivolity. But as we’ve narrowly ‘escaped’ for three years in a row, we’ve been given a great gift – the chance to re-evaluate what’s most important to us in a deeply authentic way.

We have to ask ourselves what we’d really like to do with our skills and talents and which risks we’re ready and willing to take, seeing as our children are thriving at school. If we were to move anywhere in the world for work, where would we go? What would we do? Why would we choose to stay here in Scotland? My dad is 84 but has another daughter and grandsons here. Heart-searching talks, provocative conversations. Despite my heart-wrenching wanderlust, we always end up feeling that we’re here in Scotland because we want to be. We’re always left knowing what we’re willing to fight to keep.

Not moving house also makes us more resourceful with what we have. Downsizing our consumption, expenditure and stuff is a pleasure for us, a solution, not a form of imposed deprivation. It makes us feel prepared for anything, like we’d be ready to move if we had to. It makes us feel ‘clean and clear’ while we choose to stay. Most of what we own is useful, beautiful or treasured.

Relishing, ritual and religion …

I’ve also coped with looming redundancy and the threat of ‘forced’ relocation by strengthening my love of ritual. It can be a powerful glue in every relationship, religion and society. My daughter laughingly told her Religious and Moral Education teacher at school that her mum steals the best bits of every religion she comes across!

We love creating our own rituals too. On Mother’s Day, I never expect presents, flowers or chocolates. My kids volunteer to be ’servants’ for a day and keep the home running while I stay in my bedroom and read a book from cover to cover – a rare and cherished treat. They make me cards and create ‘cheques’ promising to pay me in love, respect, tidied rooms and fewer tweenage tantrums! I laminate those and use them as bookmarks.

We also make homemade cards, sweets, presents and crackers at Christmas and have created fun-filled, friend and family rituals throughout December. It gives us all so much more to look forward to than shop-bought gifts.

It was my mum who instilled in me a love of details and ritual, and although we didn’t have much money when I was growing up, we grew up rich because of her.

I’m sharing this with you now because if you’re anxious about your future or your finances, this is the time to start being open to creative ideas to reduce your consumption and expenditure. You’ve time to design cards, make personalised bookmarks, write books of gratitude and ‘love memories’ for your loved ones, compile photo albums of treasured memories, and create works of art from digital photos. You’ve time to plan home baked gifts and to research unusual charities to donate to instead of sending gifts…You can give away heirlooms now and register the recipient’s pleasure rather than wait to die to do it. You can have clothes swap evenings with friends, bake and take to the homeless, give away the contents of your attic or garage to folk who need it.

I’m having a meltdown at the moment, trying to decide how to redesign my kitchen to get a bigger table in. As I hear of the tragedy unfolding in Burma, it puts my dilemma into proportion. By not buying meat, wine or treats for a just a week, I can send a Burma emergency relief fund enough for mosquito nets, water purification tablets or plastic sheeting for shelter. Doing without pizza or a bottle of Chilean red isn’t going to kill me.

Remembering, regret and reaching out…

My mum died a few weeks before Mother’s Day, while I was expecting my son. She’d gone into hospital to have an aneurism removed and never spoke again. Complications meant she had to be ventilated through her windpipe, even though she was fully conscious. She spent her last weeks on a gurney in intensive care, awake but hooked up to dialysis and a ventilator, defying all the odds. The day before she died, she was restless, hardly lucid and spent the whole day trying to point to her left wrist with her wrinkled, right hand. Everyone speculated; was she experiencing pain down her arms? Was she wondering where her watch had gone? She mouthed the words “I love you son” to my husband before she drifted off and we were asked to leave. That night, she developed an infection and didn’t regain consciousness. My dad was asked for permission to switch off the machines. The next day, I watched her slowly slip away. When the LED displays finally all reached zero, I looked up to the ceiling and said “I’m sorry.” So much I hadn’t said when she was alive. So many memories I’ve relished since.

I reckon she was pointing to where her watch had been, telling us it was time, telling us not to waste it.

Don’t let regret be one of your ‘R’ words. As folk who are involved in the coaching world, the recession is a chance for us to reach out, to inspire, to share our skills and our wisdom and to make a difference. It’s not all about marketing and money.

A few of my favourite ‘R’words…

Why don’t you make a list of your own or get your clients to make one as an attitudinal antidote to ‘R’ word anxiety!

rose scented laundry,
relishing truth,
rugs on real wood floors,
reaching out and really enjoying people,
rainbows (my mum sends them),
rock pools,
rusty-red painted wood,
rose flavoured Turkish delight sweets,
retsina and red wine,
rustling olive groves,
rustic tables (laid with blue and checked tablecloths, bread, olives and salads)

(I’d love if you could share some of your favourite ‘R’ words in the comments. How has the recession affected you? How have you coped? Please inspire and encourage us with your story. ~ janice)


Links for you to explore this weekend…

If you liked my post above, you may like this; I wrote it  before Easter two years ago: Saving More than Money

If you need more than reading to support the changes you have to make in your life right now, Consciousness Shifting coach, Anne Walsh, is offering a course called Lemons: Life after Loss with her colleague Dr Karen Vizer. It’s designed for a small group, and its purpose is to help people stay positive, eliminate negativity and find the courage to thrive in these difficult and challenging times. Although I’m a certified coach myself, I’ve made use of Anne’s  unique consciousness shifting approach in the past, to help me make tough decisions. I know her techniques and skills work; her listening style makes me feel genuinely heard at vulnerable times.

Love your pet? Coach Gary Koehler reminds us of  what we can learn about living in the moment from our pets; I warn you, his dog is seriously gorgeous! Gary’s a friend who has coached me for years. What do you learn from your pets?

Internationally renowned spirituality coach and author Victoria Moran, shares her wisdom in Avoid Recession Depression: Top 10 ways. What helps you through?

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you’re a Christian,

Happy Easter!