Alfonsina y El Mar

(This is a post from August 2nd, 2009. It caught me unawares when I re-read it today; moved me as much today as it did back then. If you’re new here, please take a moment, lean in, breathe – this is how you’ll get to know me. I’ve left the old comments attached so you’ll know why letting go is so hard for me. I’m not great at Twitter and I’m not sure about Facebook. I love writing, unashamedly lyrical writing. That’s who I am. Who was I kidding… Spring cleaning? Blog gardening? Clearing out this blog feels like having to board up a part of my heart with the folk still in it. ~ Janice)

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley”

It’s sunny, but the lace curtains are billowing in a breeze as I write. I can hear the thudding of my son’s football in the street and the droning of planes criss-crossing the sky above the house.

My eighty-four-year-old dad has just freshened up in the family bathroom – deodorant sprayed too generously into his slippers has just reached me and lingers oppressively – and my daughter is strumming a guitar and singing at the other end of the house.

My husband’s listening to cricket on the radio in the garage, fixing or building something.

I could write about a million blessings, but right now there are gentle waves of melancholy lapping at my feet. Wondering whether to walk away or sit with it, I realise nothing I write will erase the haunting ache I have to be in a seafront café with a friend of mine, someone I studied with in Athens one August, a lifetime ago.

A poet, translator, dancer and singer, he embraced his dips into melancholy and despair when they descended, embracing the humanity of his pain and fear so that he could express them creatively and meet them with compassion in others.

Just as I never sought sadness, he never chided me when I yearned for days long gone, when ghosts shrouded my heart from the Athenian sun and let no warmth in. He simply smiled and took my hand, started singing in Spanish, knowing that my voice could never resist his.

One of our favourite songs – one that always reminded us of how we’d clung on to life when we’d loved and lost more often than young hearts should – was Alfonsina y el Mar.

It’s the haunting tale of the poet Alfonsina Storni’s walk into the sea on an Argentinian beach. Whenever I hear it, I remember the day my friend translated it for me, from Spanish into Greek. I left his ghost behind in Athens, too.

You and I read so many positive posts online, tales of triumph and epiphany, fables of hope, wisdom and family love but for me to refuse to write about death would be to renounce some of the people I’ve loved most.

AIDS followed my friend like a spectre, before his final silence. This song is one of the many that keeps his voice alive.

Before she died, Alfonsina sent her final poem Voy a dormir, (I’m going to sleep), to a newspaper. Her story inspired Ariel Ramírez and Félix Luna to write Alfonsina y el mar.  Years later, this version, my favourite, sung here by Mercedes Sosa, inspired someone to create a video for You Tube. It’s not what I envisage when I hear it, but inspiration has no borders. As writers, we can’t afford to neglect the power of the lyrics that haunt us.

Spanish isn’t one of my languages, but this is the best translation I can do without murdering the beauty of the original.

Alfonsina and the Sea…

On the soft sand lapped by the sea
her small footprint will never be seen again

and a lonely footpath of pain and silence reached the deep water
a lonely path of pure pain reached the surf

God knows what anguish accompanied you
What ancient sadness silenced your voice
So you lay down, lulled by the song
of the sea shells
The song sung by the conch on the dark sea bed

You go, Alfonsina, with your solitude
What new poems did you go searching for?

…and an ancient voice of wind and salt
shatters your soul
courts and calls out to it
and you walk there, as if in a dream,
Alfonsina, asleep, sea-clad.

Five tiny mermaids will lead you
through paths of seaweed and coral,
and sea horses, glowing in the dark, will sing
a rondo at your side.
And the creatures of the sea
will soon swim beside you.

Turn down the lamp a little bit more, nurse,
let me sleep in peace
and if he calls, don’t tell him that I’m here
tell him Alfonsina’s not coming back
and if he calls, don’t ever tell him that I’m here,
say that I’ve gone away.

You go, Alfonsina, with your solitude
What new poems did you go searching for?

…and an ancient voice of wind and salt
shatters your soul
courts and calls out to it
and so you walk there, as if in a dream,
Alfonsina, asleep, sea-clad.

How to be Successful by FLIRTing More

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Because you’re reading this, because I’ve managed to reach you across oceans and mountains, I feel like a successful blogger. If  any of my words inspire or touch you, even for a moment, I’ve succeeded as a writer.

How do you define success, not just in your business, career or blogging ventures, but in your life? How will you ever know if you’re  ‘successful’ if you never define what success means to you, as a unique individual?

I went to bed happy last night, feeling fulfilled, tired and satisfied  – that feeling you get when you tick all the boxes on a To Do list, only I had no To Do list. I’d re-examined what I need in order to feel successful in every part of my life; in doing so, I’d managed to fill my day doing the things I’d identified as being necessary for my happiness.

My ‘online work’ is only one spoke on my wheel of life. My aim for that aspect of my life yesterday was ‘Stay logged off.’  That was it. A decision to honour my family and celebrate the sunshine.

The other spokes on my wheel (or petals on a daisy, boxes in a grid – however you visualise all the areas of your life) are my relationships with

  • my husband,
  • my kids,
  • my birth and extended family
  • and my friends.

I also have spokes for

  • my health,
  • my finances,
  • my environment,
  • my contribution to society,
  • my spirituality and
  • what I call FLIRTFun, Leisure, Interests, Recreation and Travel

As you can see, the spoke called career/work is only one part of my life.

How many spokes/life areas would you have in your wheel of life?

From success you get lots of things, but not that great inside thing that love brings you. ~ Sam Goldwyn

The trick to feeling happy is to make sure you know what it would take for you to feel ‘successful’ in every, single one of those areas today.

If you define blogging success by numbers – Feedburner subscriber stats, Google Analytic statistics for visits, length of time a reader stays on a page, number of pages per visit, the amount of affiliation money you earn etc – then you can set yourself daily, weekly, monthly ‘number’ targets. But what about the things that can’t be measured so easily in numbers? The heartfelt comments, the tales of triumph or words of support that bring tears to your eyes? That post that left you feeling Wow! That was the real me!

What about about quality time with your loved ones? How many hours do you aim to spend with them? What do you plan  to do with them today, this week? What’s the minimum time spent doing non-work things that would allow you to go to bed happy, knowing you’d ‘succeeded’ as a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter, a loving friend?

To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the oportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days. ~ Thomas Dekker (c. 1570 -c. 1641)

One way you could go to bed every single night feeling satisfied and successful, fulfilled and proud of yourself is to dig deep and ask yourself how you define success for every single spoke in your wheel of life. Then take one wee step, every day to get you closer.

What would you like to achieve today, this week, this year in every one of those areas?

Yesterday, I decided that to feel like I hadn’t let my kids down, I would have to be able to go a whole day without saying “Could you just wait a wee minute, sweetheart; I’m trying to post something and this is taking ages to load and if I leave it now, I may lose it.”

To be a good wife, I wanted to cook my husband a Sunday evening meal he’d really love, something with wine, garlic and cream served with a glass of  sparkling rosé; I wanted to listen much, much better than I have been.

To improve my environment, my aim was to clear one of my clutter hotspots and empty the ironing basket.

To feel healthier, I drank less coffee and more water.

And so on, with every area of my life.

I often combine aims so that each daily goal has a beneficial effect on more than one area of my life. For example, a bit of gardening as a family brings us closer together, keeps me fit, saves us money, makes our environment more beautiful, feeds our spirit and enables me to pass on flowers, seeds and cuttings to others.

Blogging has been good for my finances, friendships and FLIRTing, but in reality, it’s been a bit of a cuckoo, knocking all the other chicks out of the nest.


How do you define success – down to the details – in every area of your life? How do you plan to love your loved ones better today? What will you contribute to make the world a better place?

And remember to log off and do some FLIRTing – have some Fun, Recreation, Leisure, Interests and Travel, (even if travelling’s just a walk through the park to your local market.)


(This post was originally published in June, 2009. The concept’s not new and you’ve heard it a million times before, but it bears constant revisiting. I wish I could get it out to more folk; in these days of social media numbers-based depression and low self esteem, it’s still relevant. Please share it on Twitter or Facebook if you think it’s a message worth putting out there. )

Success, Failure and the Desire to Keep Creating

I’m writing in the dark here, in the silence between your comments. I no longer know if you’re an old friend, a new visitor, a homemaker, a life coach, a writer, a blogger, a former blogger or someone who knows me ‘in real life’ and has found me on Google.  One thing I do know: if you subscribed here years ago and you’re reading this in your feed reader, you’re someone who enjoys the magic of connecting through words, of capturing and sharing the fragments of feeling that make a patchwork life. You’re a creator, a carer, someone who wants to touch hearts and make a difference in the world.

I’m guessing there have been dark moments when you’ve asked yourself why you carry on creating, when you’ve wrapped yourself up in a blanket of self doubt, rejection, comparison, frustration and fear and been tempted to stop reaching out, to stop creating, because creation and connection crack open your heart and keep you vulnerable and open to the world. That’s why I thought you might like Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest TED talk.

“For me, going home meant returning to the work of writing because writing was my home, because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego….” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert


What guides you home to yourself?  ~ Janice


“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?

Blog Gardening

garden path2The thing about blog gardening, the pruning, weeding, rearranging, cultivating, propagating and planting most of us do in our websites and blogs, is that no one else can make the hard decisions for you. One of the beauties of self publishing, of being your site’s owner, designer and chief gardener is the control it gives you. But along with that comes an overwhelming array of choices and decisions. Right now, I’m deciding whether to rip everything up, take cuttings and gather any seeds that shake lose or simply prune back old posts and do a gentle, gradual weeding.

But behind even the gentlest of weeding and pruning sessions is a decision, a question: what stays and why? For any kind of life laundry, clutter clearing or blog maintenance, we need a toolbox of questions.

What’s useful? What’s beautiful in its own right? What feeds the soul? What needs to go for the sake of health? Is there anything that evokes memories so precious that to remove them would feel like destroying the folk whose essence, whose presence created them? Do those same memories tether us to sadness, to a past that’s gone and not enriching the present?


In my real garden, I have evergreen trees, scented mediterranean shrubs and herbs, flowering perennials and weed-supressing ground cover plants.  They grow slowly, but I like the structure, the predictability, the privacy, the seasonal flowers and berries. I adore the birds that flit through the branches, their fleeting lives reminding me to capture moments without holding on too tightly.  I rarely plant annuals in my actual garden; I get sad when their season is over and I have to rip up the withered plants. But I do like seasonal flowers in containers; old broken teapots and jugs, mini wooden barrels, old olive oil cans full of red geraniums and fragrant sweet peas. I like the flexibility of being able to move them around, like words in a poem, notes in a piece of music, delighting in the unexpected combinations of colours, cadences, heights and shapes that take on a life of their own.

I like my garden to feel like a haven.blackbird-mum-with-four-chicks1

Knowing that about myself, knowing my values and needs and how I want to feel makes any kind of designing and decision making easier. After three years away, I have this one chance to view my blog – and the blogging, online world in general – with fresh eyes.

The first day I logged back on, I loved the bright welcome I got from my tulips, a moment captured one sunny day at my kitchen window. I thought how sad I would be to see them go if I upgrade the mechanics of my blog and have to create a new banner. In a blogging world where niche, ‘useful’ content, advertising, marketing and message broadcasting reign supreme, I still value the feel of blogs I visit, the pleasure or fun, empathy or companionship I get there, whether I’m seen as a potential customer or not. I still love the tone my tulips create, the welcome they provide, the message they gently radiate… “Make yourself at home… How can I support you?” Even if I’m the only one here to appreciate them.

As I make bonfires of worn out dreams, dead links and dated posts, I’m strangely peaceful. This blog was always meant to be about sharing and self expression, about connection and supportive companionship, but it was me who walked off, neglected the folk who’d always supported me with kindness and uplifting words; me who let the weeds choke what was left of this once vibrant wee blog. I’m the only one who can decide what to do next. While I decide, I dig, I weed, I cherish, I let go – one word at a time.

Please believe me when I tell you how much I appreciate your visit here today. I’ve never called silent readers ‘lurkers’ like many bloggers do. I read stats; I know that folk read without commenting. I often do the same, and we all have our reasons. But you’re here today, reading this, and for that I’m grateful. My comments boxes may never be full of poetry, birdsong and bees again, but there’s peace, still, in the sharing of lives in quiet companionship, in silently watching the cloud shadows and dappled sunlight as the seasons unfold.


Easter Gratitude

easter bouquet 2

It’s a glorious day here. Daffodils and hyacinths, tulips and primroses and all around the sound of birdsong and the smell of freshly mown lawns and newly dug soil. This bouquet was an impulse buy, a heartwarmer to celebrate spring and the coming of Easter. I’m constantly trying to cut down on caffeine and wine, so flowers have always been my replacement drug of choice. When I can, I fill the house with them. Oh how I wish you could stick your face in these and smell the jonquils; they’re so heady it’s like drinking in  fragrance and they make you raise your shoulders with breathing them in then you sigh out pure bliss…

I love when Greek Orthodox Easter and western Easter fall on the same day, as they do this year. It means that my kids’ candles and presents, sent by godparents in Greece, arrive at the same time as their chocolate Easter eggs from grandparents here. We normally have to have two celebrations.

0904100002We have a feast on Easter day, with red  boiled eggs, traditionally dyed and decorated on the Thursday before Easter, and all kinds of salads and a roast. I miss being in Greece on the Friday before Easter as that’s when church bells toll mournfully, the whole day long, on every island and in every village, town and city. I also miss being part of Anástasi  – the Resurrection – on the Saturday night.

At midnight, the first few candles in each church are lit from the holy flame then one worshipper ignites a neighbour’s candle with love and chanted blessings – Christ is risen, truly risen – until everyone’s taper is lit. Happy crowds carrying  flickering candles walk home from church, like riversrust seaside candle of light winding through the darkness while fireworks explode into dazzling bouquets above their heads in a vast black velvet sky.  It’s good luck if you manage to keep a candle lit all the way home then mark the sign of the cross with smoke on the lintel above the front door as a blessing to last the whole year.

pink seaside Easter candleThese are photos from a few years ago; my kids’ godmothers – who live in different seaside towns and have no contact with each other – both sent them beautiful seaside themed candles that matched their rooms.

I’d like to leave you today with one of my favourite poems in the whole world, ee cummings’ i thank you God…

As I said the first time I posted this poem, “I love the way ee cummings’s mind moves. I love the way he makes me explore the possibilities of my own language, searching for meanings in what’s not there and the why and the where of what is there. I love his delight in words, letters, syntax, symbols and sound and the way he expresses life and love.”

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)



Thank you for visiting, and if you’re a long time reader, for your patience; you’ll have noticed this was a Frankenstein-ed patchwork post. I’m longing to redesign the whole blog and keep only a bouquet of the best bits, but blog-gardening’s hard work; pruning, weeding and taking cuttings and seeds from old posts involves a lot of letting go. I made some wonderful memories and friends here in my wee blogging home, so it’s not been easy. Then there are all the new technical skills I’ve had to absorb. Fun, but a bit like back breaking digging in tough terrain!

The Desire Map

Daniele LaPorte“Desire leads the way home.” ~ Danielle LaPorte

I needed to write here today. I only ever write for one listener, and today it’s you. Synchronicity. I don’t know what led you here, but I hope you get something from the connection. It’s been a while.

I committed blogging suicide three years ago, abandoning my blog and the blogging community I’d become part of;  I wasn’t in great health and my family needed me, but I’d also accepted that blogging was doing me more harm than good.

Small blogs thrive with lots of mutual support and respect, but I find reciprocal blogging – blogging with integrity – really time consuming. The day I realised I was reading more blog posts than books, writing more comments than blog posts and spending more time struggling with my integrity than I was writing for pleasure, I walked off into the sunset and never looked back.

In the time I’ve been Rip Van Winkling, some of my colleagues’ blogs and businesses have gone from strength to strength, but many familiar bloggers have boarded up, moved on and settled somewhere else. The blogging community I was part of feels like a ghost town now, full of abandoned blogs, broken links and dried up blogrolls blowing through like tumbleweed. Vibrant blogs that used to be full of laughter and companionship stand deserted, their once welcoming doors swinging and creaking in the silence, the odd forlorn comment left hanging like a torn curtain.

So what brought me back here when I could have dived in and joined the party over at Facebook, Twitter and a dozen other social media sites? In a world where instant connection is a phone click away, what led me to start all over again with empty comment boxes and a clunky, homemade, out-of-date site that should really be shrunk into a scrapbook or put out of its misery?

Danielle LaPorte and crochet. More about the crochet another day.

So why Danielle? I read and loved Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design years ago and resonated with Danielle’s quest for authentic, passionate, intentional living. It was so much fun working through the book and distilling my style down to two symbolic words; when I reread it recently, I was amazed to realise that the words I chose all those years ago still express my authentic essence.

Danielle is savvy and charismatic and her words leap off the page, inspiring you to grab a notebook, hone in on your unique style and design an intentional life. After Style Statement, came her book The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your own Terms which was based on her workshops of the same name.

Fire Starter Session 3: The Strategy of Desire is a life changer. It slaps you in the face with its simple heart logic, and you simply can’t ignore it. Danielle herself suggests that the following section “…could be the single most important takeaway from this book.”

“How do you want to feel?

Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.

Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.”

Just when I was enjoying The Fire Starter Sessions and thinking this is what I need, to read powerful books again, to be inspired by the overflowing desire to share what I learn, to share what moves me and shifts my awareness, I stumbled on this, Danielle’s new book which grew out of  Fire Starter Session 3…

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul

What can I say? I bought it a few months ago, I loved it and it’s still working! I had fun with it and enjoyed all the honing in and drilling down. (Oh, and the questions!…a coach’s dream collection of awareness heighteners, strength finders, curiosity cultivators and provocative layer strippers!) I carried it to cafés and started quotehunting again. I was inspired – and compelled – to share it with you in case anything Danielle has to say could be of use to you. Working through the book was revealing, energising and uplifting – sometimes bittersweet; we often get to what we want by knowing with a passion what we don’t want. Almost everything I’ve done today – and every day since reading the book –  has been in alignment with what Danielle calls my Core Desired Feelings, the distilled essence of how I want to feel in every area of my life. Knowing how I want to feel makes every choice, every decision, every action, purchase and conversation so much easier.

How about you? How do you want to feel, this moment, today, every day, in every part of your life?



How to Harness the Power of Authenticity in Your Writing and Your Life

freesia stem with hyacinths(Hi, there. I’m having to do some scary maintenance over at the server and fix a few problems caused when I recently upgraded some plugins. Technology is my nemesis! 🙁 Until I post something new, here’s my favourite oldie-but-goodie sticky post. ~Janice )

Authenticity is not for the faint of heart. To fly in the face of history, circumstance and uncertainty, with your truth fully unfurled, takes some serious moxy. When you want to love and be loved (and what else is there really?) your truth becomes a very tender thing, and sharing it is a mighty gift. So perhaps being genuine is an every day act of heroism. ~ Danielle Laporte  and Carrie McCarthy (from Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design)

This is a long post; it wasn’t meant to be. It blossomed. I could have chopped it up, spread it out, but I chose not to. I feel it’s important.

It dawned on me that I can just leave this post  up for a while, let you sit with it, give you time to maybe come back and share some of your responses and creations with us. I had a dream of this being a soulfood café-bistro, so this is a long, leisurely Greek meal of a read, with a variety of mezedhes, salads, main dishes, bread, fruit and wine. I hope you find something you like. Why don’t you grab a glass of something fresh or put the kettle on…

This is a taste of what I hope to be exploring in the coming weeks. This is my heart, who I am. It’s my way of saying thank you for visiting. There are many wonderful blogs out there. I’m glad you came here.

If you want to know how to harness the power of authenticity, to improve your writing  – and your life – here are the answers;  it’s up to you to live the questions. You have time. You have a lifetime.

Enjoy being as much as doing.

Try writing a To be/Do/Have list and not just a To Do list. Maybe just try a To Be list for the day and stick to it. Today, I want to be a devoted mum, a serene friend, an inspiring writer. What about you?

Be you.

Don’t just skim this one. Are you trying to be the next ………? How about being the first YOU. In this blog, you’ll always find questions to discover who you are. It’s like drinking water. One glass may be good for you, but it doesn’t end there.

Strive to be your best self…

Overdeliver, in everything you do. Build reserves of trust, respect, energy, goodwill, wellbeing. Edit like you were going for a Pullitzer, even if you’re the boss of your own blog. Write endless drafts, but cherish the best. Write like you’re writing to repay the gift of life itself.

…but love your whole self.

Strive to be your best self, but love yourself with the unconditional love you’d give a baby, or a toddler who’s just learning. All of our drafts are necessary. In the big scheme of things, we’re all children of the universe, learning from our mistakes every day of our lives, overwhelmed and striving to keep up; our memes are exploding exponentially while our genes  – a relic of earlier millenia – can just about handle love, fear, anger and the need to belong.

Be comfortable with silence.

Inspiration slips in through the silences between the thoughts.

Be present.

Give what you’re doing this very second your undivided attention. This is the only moment of life you will ever have. The past is gone; the future does not exist. This is it. Make it good. Thank you for reading this. To gift our community  with your presence is awesome.

Listen to others with your whole being.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone, listening with empathy, love, respect, kindness – not chomping at the bit, preparing your own response, desperate to give advice or talk about yourself, even if it’s to prove your credentials for being able to empathise. If you give people this attention while you listen, when you read, it will be returned  – by the people you need it from and by the universe itself.

Taking notes, immortalising quotes as you read a book or a blog is sending a message to the universe that you’re really listening, that you’re open to the wisdom of others, to signposts sent straight to your soul.

Listen to the sound of your inner voice.

Listen to its wisdom, its colours, its rhythm. That’s your unique voice, right there. Transcribe it!

You have the answers already; all you need are the right questions to unlock them. Check in with your gut. How does your body feel about your choices? Is there discomfort? Learn to trust your instincts, really trust them.

And listen to the voice that speaks, that reads aloud in your head. Write it down: listen to which words it stresses, to the increased peaks and dips where your natural intonation goes up and down, when you’re excited, gushing and happy; listen to how it slows down when you’re stressed, sad…weary. Capture those rhythms, inflections, silences.

I’ll be doing further posts on this. It’s an obsession, a passion of mine.

Love details  – live details with all of your senses.

Another obsession. How can you be happy if you’re not grateful? How can you be grateful if you don’t notice? How can you attract abundance if you’re not grateful for what you already have?

We all need to have a big picture, a framework for our lives, the border of our jigsaw, the fabric of our tapestry – but it’s the details that make us feel rich, make us feel alive, make us unique. Use all of your senses. Listen more, smell more, relish every morsel of life, make every day a feast for the senses.

Discover your essence.

What would be left if your body evaporated and your mind, heart and soul were transplanted? The clues are in everything and everyone you love.

Discover what you adore.

Your choices, your preferences, your passions, what you choose to filter through you are all windows to who you are. So choose with your heart and soul, not just your head. But choose! If you’re lucky enough to be able to eat an apple, drink clean, clear water, why would you want to choose to drink  litres of brown sweeteners, carbon dioxide and chemicals?

Express that essence.

Why skim, scrape, swipe, emulate and live on the surface, in the shadows when you could be telling the only story that hasn’t been told yet – yours!

Express your essence in what you wear, what you read, what you eat, who you keep company with, what you contribute, how you celebrate your rituals, how you adorn your home, how you listen, how you converse, how you bring flavour and fragrance and music and movement to your life. Express your essence in every semi colon, font, plugin, widget, button, colour and photo on your website, in every word, syllable and silence of your writing.

Strunk and White have this advice for all writers: ” Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”

The same applies to being yourself, to loving yourself. How can we love others as ourselves – as we are told to do by every religion – if we do not first love ourselves, and love ourselves well.

Long to connect.

If you treat people like traffic passing through your life, someday you’ll be run over, or left behind to smother in the smog.

There are hearts out there to capture, real people to reach and inspire and support with your gifts. Money’s good – it buys food, clothes and education, medicine and shelter, entertainment and art. The more you have, the more good you can do. But it’s not the only form of currency. Don’t buy financial abundance with your soul.

Long to leave a legacy.

The love and memories you leave behind, the people you touch, your words and gestures scattered across the internet, around the world, they’re your legacy. If you want to know how to harness the power of authenticity, to improve your writing  – and your life – here are the answers;  it’s up to you to live the questions. You have time. You have a lifetime.

Be brave, be vulnerable.

Be brave enough to explore the depths, to find a way out and shine a light for others to find theirs. Don’t be scared to live, to hold out your heart in both hands like a trembling bird and say “Here I am, love me as I am or leave me.” Be more afraid to die with your song still in you, to cheat your loved ones, your readers and the world of the greatest gift you have to give. You.


…”Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”  This moral observation would have no place in a rule book were it not that style is the writer, and therefore what you are, rather than what you know, will at last determine your style. ~ Strunk and White, (from The Elements of Style)

It’s a lot to take in. Here are a few questions to help you discover your real self. Sit with them a while…roll them around in your soul. Add a “Why?” to any of them and you have a personal safari to discover fuel for your writing. I promise, your writing will improve. So will your life.

What scares you?

What thrills you?

What do you want more of?

What do you want less of?

What do you say YES! to?

What do you say no to?

What expands you?

What contracts you?

If your writing was a drink, what would it be? What would you like it to be?

What do you find yourself longing for?

That voice that whispers in the depths of night, what does it say?

If you were a fragrance, what would you be?

Who do you long to reach? What do you want them to feel?

If you could carry one object in your pocket that represents you, what would it be?

If you were an animal, what would you be?

If you were a colour what would you be?


Has it been a while since you wrote poetry? Try writing and randomly rearranging your answers to some of the questions above. You may surprise yourself. This is off the top of my head…

a sea green pebble

worn smooth by the restless tides

a gift from the sea

How to Beat the Blogging Blues

(Hi, there. I’ve been spring cleaning my blog, ready to upgrade it and start again or convert it to a memory scrapbook – not quite sure yet. Until I post something new, I thought this oldie-but-goodie might make a useful ‘ sticky ‘ post in the meantime. ~ janice)

How to Beat the Blogging Blues

Let’s get straight to the heart of things.

1)Why do you blog?

No, it’s not a daft, simplistic question. If you were a major corporation, meetings would be held regularly to discuss the firm’s direction, branding and mission statement – especially if profits and morale were down. If you’re blogweary, it could be that you haven’t poked around in this question deeply enough for a while, because you’re scared of what you might find there.

If the simple answer is “To make money.” Then fine. Your blog’s a vehicle. See this article as a way of cleaning it up, tuning the engine. Upgrading to a newer model.

Or maybe your blog’s your brand, your shop front, the front porch of a cottage industry, the smart business suit that announces you when you walk into a room. Either way, spring cleaning is always good. So is touching up paintwork, clearing out and doing basic maintenance.

Clearing out makes way for abundance, for fresh ideas, for new inspiration and direction. Maybe your reasons for blogging aren’t the same as they were last year when you built your blog, or last month even, when you weren’t anxious about money. We evolve. It’s natural. Continue reading →

How Resigned Are You?

If you put your best foot forward, you will be rewarded. If you do your part, if you take one step toward expressing all the greatness that lives within you, the universe will take a hundred steps toward you. But you must be willing to take the first step.~ Debbie Ford

Debbie Ford - The Best Year of Your LifeI was so tired of feeling storm-tossed and twinkle-less over Christmas that decided I was going to go back to basics and work really hard at separating what I can control from what I can’t.  One of the things that came up for me was how resigned I was becoming about my own less than vibrant health and the dreams I was no longer pursuing. I realised, just in time, that I was dulling my awareness deliberately, using some really devious devices to disconnect my gut feelings from my ability to analyse patterns. Some folk self medicate with drink, or do drugs; instead of writing, I was drowning myself in daily drudgery, deadening my brain with chick-lit drivel and sedating myself  with evening DVD’s. Writing opens me up and keeps me aware and open, so it’s no surprise that I hadn’t logged on for a while, or didn’t read anything that got me reaching for a notebook to jot down quotes.

One of the little bits of synchronicity I told you about in my last post was getting a Kindle from my husband and kids for Christmas. It got me exploring different genres,  just to see what was available, and downloading dozens of free samples from books. It was like being given bags full of samples in a sweet shop! One of the books I went on to buy was Debbie Ford’s The Best Year of Your Life

If you need a wee boost to get your year started, it’s the kind of book I’d recommend. She writes with an uplifting style that inspires and sweeps you forward, and even if you’re familiar with the tools, tips and nuggets of wisdom she covers, it’s a refreshing way to revisit  old favourites. After I finished it, I gave it to my daughter to read; one of the most frustrating things about teenagers is how resigned they become to what they see as the ‘bad stuff’ happening in their lives. Seeing the damaging effects of resignation in someone so young made me very aware that in my fifties, I have to fight even harder not to let it drag me down. Learning to let go leaves me with that beach holiday feeling of getting clean and clear. Resignation’s not the same, nor is it the same as being ‘realistic’; it’s creeping and inciduous and disguises itself as a variety of malaises. It sits heavy in your heart and saps your soul.

Most of us are unaware of the extreme resignation that is brewing just beneath the surface of our consciousness. The voice of resignation is a little different for each of us, but its tone usually sounds something like this: “Why bother? It’s never going to happen. I don’t have what it takes. It’s too much work. I don’t have time. I can’t deal with it. I don’t deserve it.” When we fall short where we had hoped to succeed, when our day-to-day lives fail to resemble our visions of what is possible, when our goals haven’t turned into reality, our hope for a great life begins to die, our senses deaden, and gradually we become resigned about our futures. Since most of us are unaware of this fact or don’t know how to deal with it, we wind up spending countless hours and much of our attention trying to cover up our resignation and fill the void that exists inside of us. Instead of making peace with our past, we develop addictions, create drama, and attract upsetting incidents in order to change our focus and avoid the painful feelings of not having expressed our potential. Resignation comes in many forms. It might show up as cynicism, sarcasm, or hopelessness. It can feel like depression, sadness, loneliness, or emptiness. Left unexamined, our resignation will continue to mask the real issues at hand while diverting us from fulfilling our highest visions for our lives. ~ Debbie Ford

If you dug deep enough, would you find anything that you’ve become resigned about, something that might be stopping you creating the life and the changes you crave?