If You Believe


If you like your Christmas films to have as much magic and warmth as those made for kids, then, this Christmas, check out If You Believe, starring Ally Walker, Tom Amandes and Hayden Panettiere. It’s got the lot! Christmas, snow, a writer, an editor, a New York apartment, a family house in Queens, a clapboard in New England and some great acting… what’s not to like!

Don’t watch it with Santa age kids, though; this one is for grown ups, but in a nice way.

Craving Colour

The weather threw a tantrum here in Scotland last week  – snow, sleet, hailstones and sunshine – but I decided to celebrate spring in my living room anyway. I’m a bit of a cushion addict, but changing cushions and throws with the seasons and adding a few supermarket flowers is a simple pleasure that makes me ridiculously happy. The patchwork cushion is one I did with wool left over from a blanket I crocheted last year. It lives on my sofa, and every stitch, every stripe marks a victory against the low grade depression that took me away from blogging, from photography and from myself for too long.

I crocheted it for the campervan I plan on owning some day, and a few days after I finished it, we got the chance to rent a tiny van; the blanket not only took pride of place, but manifested a few colourful companions. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, I crave the simplicity of driftwood and a sea breeze; last year, as I dreaded the empty nest I’d be left with when my son joined my daughter at university, some wise deep instinct told me to rediscover my love of colour and build an alternative nest. I was in charge of packing for our few days away in the rented van; my husband laughed when he saw what my packing priorities were!

Van colours

Have you ever grappled with low grade, chronic depression? How did you deal with it? What helped you find your way home to yourself?

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)

Janice

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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!

Easter Flowers, Greek Feasts, Seaside Candles and Poetry…

easter bouquet 2

Your job, then, should you choose to accept it, is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship — just so long as those prayers are sincere. As one line from the Upanishads suggests: “People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate — and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Happy Easter! (…or Happy Easter week if you took a break and are reading this a few days after Easter!)

While  I was out shopping for ingredients for a special feast – Easter day and a family birthday – I saw those flowers above and melted. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully for the most part, to cut down on caffeine and wine, so flowers have been my replacement drug of choice. 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…

It’s been a funny old Easter this year. When Greek Orthodox Easter and western Easter fall on the same day, 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. Today’s also a family member’s birthday, yet one of my kids is away on a special county-level music course, an honour and experience we were loathe to ruin by insisting on an Easter weekend spent together. I think God would smile at the sound of children celebrating the resurrection with choral harmonies, triumphant brass bands and soaring strings.

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 candleMy kids’ godmothers – who live in different seaside towns and have no contact with each other – both sent them beautiful seaside themed candles that match 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 in my post on April 12th last year, “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)

Janice

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I’m celebrating my blog birthday by reminiscing!

This time last year, I posted….

 

Mothering Sunday – Why We All Need One

tulips

Mother’s Day in the UK  falls on a different date every year because it’s connected to Easter and always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, it was the one Sunday a year when young servant boys and girls had a chance to go home and be with their families who often lived a few towns away. (They had to live in the households they served and only had one day a year to go home and visit their families.) Hundreds of years ago, Lent was also a time for folk to visit the cathedrals in their diocese – the mother churches –  which was called going ‘a motherin.’

So it wasn’t just a day to give presents to mothers; it was a day of spiritual renewal, reunited families and rest, a day that served the needs of all the members of a family, turning their thoughts to  hope and resurrection. It was a day that celebrated a journey home, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and we could all use some of that.

Traditionally, I spend Mother’s Day in bed, having a lovely, long rest and reading a book (or two) from cover to cover. It begins with presents and breakfast in bed. The kids (under their dad’s supervision) make breakfast and we all sit on my bed and eat our breakfasts from trays. Then, my ultimate treat is to have time alone, with no housework or demands, problems to solve, solutions to find or arrangements to make. It’s the one day a year my kids make and bring me every snack, drink and meal and ask if I need anything, while leaving me alone to enjoy a hassle free day of guaranteed me time.

I think they’ve learned from my decadent decision to abandon them for one day a year just what a contrast it is to the other 364 days. They’ve also learned how important it is to proactively guarantee a loved one at least one argument and attitude free day! My son even asked if he could take a day off school sometime, stay in bed without being ill and celebrate Son’s Day. I stunned him by saying “OK”.

We could all do with mothering our inner children a bit more, even if we’ve no kids at home. If we lose touch with our own need for self care and restoration, we have less to offer others.

My mum died when I was pregnant with my son, so I have no mum to spoil on Mother’s Day. Her spirit is always with me, though, as flowers, chocolates and breakfast in bed served on treasured antique crockery made Mother’s Day her favourite day of the year. I celebrate her by celebrating life, the life she gave me and wanted me to fill full to the brim. I root myself firmly at home  – my normal week involves a  lot of ‘taxi driving’ – and shamelessly rest and indulge my senses.

This year, with my husband’s help, my kids got me tulips, a chic-lit easy read novel about angels and chocolate, some rose scented, rose-shaped tea lights and a bottle of cider. My favourite gift, the one they bought themselves, was Beth Nielsen Chapman’s latest CD and a small bag of chocolates.  I adore my children, and know only too well that I’m blessed to have them; the only way to love them is with gratitude for every, single moment I’m blessed to have them in my life. I aim to review the CD later, but I’ll leave you with a line from it, a dedication to my mum, my husband and my children.

All that matters when we’re gone

All that mattered all along

All we have that carries on…

…is how we love

Writing Snow

garden snow

We are not powerless specks of dust drifting around in the wind, blown by random destiny. We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes –  unique, born for a specific reason and purpose. ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

I was woken at an ungodly hour by the arrival of a text message; school was cancelled due to heavy snow. I got up and looked blearily out of my bedroom window to see two feet of snow. I padded into the kitchen and found it eerily bright as I trudged over to the sink to fill the kettle for coffee. Through the kitchen window I saw our ten-year-old laurels bowed down and broken by the weight of the snow on their branches. They’d formed the privacy hedge at my small back garden, and I felt suddenly exposed and vulnerable.

I grabbed a sweeping brush and rushed outside in my dressing gown, trying to save as many remaining branches as I could.

I thought back to old Coaching Moments posts I’d written, phrases I’d used. This is an extract from War of the Words, about the language we use with our loved ones:

I created this piece in my head as I stood at the kitchen window, watching the falling snow bend our trees in the eerie orange glow of a street light in the middle of the night. I’d gone to bed mid-argument, couldn’t sleep, my husband  came to bed, I got up, so I’d decided to go and make some camomile tea. I stood at the window, mesmerised by the swirling orange snowflakes and wondering how something as delicate as a snowflake had the power to bend and break the branches of trees. As I stood watching, I saw one supple branch rebel under the weight of the thousands of snowflakes heaped upon it,  catapulting its burden with surprising defensive venom. I went outside in my bare feet and dressing gown and gently swept the snow off the remaining trees with a broom, knowing it was too late to take back the thousands of tiny thoughtless comments I heap on my husband over the days, weeks and months until he feels he has to lash back at me about my lack of appreciation and my seeming obsession with perfecting details. I hoped I could at least save some of our branches.

In this extract, from Shaking off the Shoulds, I use a snow metaphor to describe the freedom we experience when we free ourselves from the burdens of self imposed ‘shoulds’, and learn to see the world and all its promise  and wonder through children’s eyes:

While I’ve been sitting here writing, it’s stopped snowing and some of the snow has thawed. I’ve just watched a laurel branch bounce back from under its burden of snow, launching it like a catapult.

That’s how I feel as I shake off the shoulds, the rest of my snow day beckoning me like our snow covered front garden, silently waiting to share its treasure when the kids come home.

And in this extract from a comment response I wrote, the snow becomes a symbol for overwhelm and despair as we struggled to dig  a way out for my friend’s car so she could get to her chemotherapy session.

Because of the snow, my friend has struggled to get into hospital for her chemotherapy. That’s helped me gradually regain my sense of perspective. One day, as a few of us were digging the snow from her drive, I felt that if I could just keep digging and clearing until there was a way out, somehow, it would all be OK.

I also used a snow metaphor in The Sound of Music to describe the period of my life when I lost my ‘voice’ and almost drifted into depression:

I sang my way around Europe when I worked as a language teacher and translator; my voice was a vital part of who I was and what I did.  After I had my kids, I moved back to Scotland and slowly, imperceptibly, I stopped writing, stopped singing, stopped playing the guitar and even stopped speaking the foreign languages I was fluent in. Silence gently settled around my soul like snow.

When I drifted into life coaching, on my journey out of what I now realise was low grade chronic depression, my passion to tell the whole world about it bubbled up, spilled over and finally gushed out in the torrent that helped me rediscover my voice.

Snowflakes are delicate, astonishing things. Every one is unique and fragile yet, silently, just sitting there side by side… still… simply being, their lives are extended and their power is immense.

The polar ice caps are the breath of the planet, a delicately balanced element in the health of the oceans’ currents and conveyor belts.

But snow can also devastate, crush, wreak havoc, block roads, bring down powerlines and sever communication.

Like stinging snowflakes in a blizzard, each unkind word spoken to our children and loved ones, if left unchecked, can pile up until something precious is broken under the weight.

Every sadness we accept with an unquestioning sigh can build up until, without realising it, our hearts are shrouded in drifts of silent, snowy depression.

Every lack of clear communication can lead to drifts of misunderstanding that ultimately shut down all channels of communication.

Every piece of junk mail we leave lying around, every book we can’t part with or memento we don’t know how to deal with can become an avalanche of clutter.

But snow can’t co-exist with warmth, and even if snowfall is inevitable, we can be prepared and vigilant, and take small steps towards doing what we can. I could have brushed yesterday’s first snowfalls off my treasured bushes and small trees. If I had, they might not have broken under the weight of last night’s gentle but consistent snow fall.

We haven’t had blizzards; it’s been snowing softly and gently. But it hasn’t stopped, and that’s the lesson I’m taking away with me today.

One kind word doesn’t build a kind, loving relationship.

One written word doesn’t make a great piece of writing. One post doesn’t make a great blog, nor does one article make a successful newsletter.

One essay doesn’t make a degree, one lesson a teacher or one training course a life coach.

One cleared pile of paper clutter doesn’t let your house breathe.

One beautiful memento doesn’t make a home, just as one memory doesn’t make a life.

But our uniqueness as human beings, the gentle consistent, accumulative power of every loving deed and word, every smile from a stranger, every supportive comment left on a blog, every small triumph, every tip that transforms a life, every photo that inspires, every little success, every step or decision that takes us in the right direction, – they do make a life. A good life. We’re not just snowflakes. Together, we’re snow.

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I’d love to be the kind of snow that makes children’s eyes wide with wonder and Christmas magical. I’d like to be as strong as the kind of snow that supports the Winter Olympics. Some days, all I can manage is grey slush by the side of the road. What does snow mean for you? What’s your unique strength as a snowflake?

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(Update: It’s still snowing, and for the second time in two months, we’ve had about thirty inches of snow. Miraculously, though, we still have an internet connection!)

Thermal Writing

our snowed-in car

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides. ~ Artur Schnabel

It’s snowing here in Scotland today – again – but the glow of gratitude I got from last week’s glimpse of spring and from welcoming friendly faces back to my blog has kept me thawed and glowing inside. The snow has already blocked roads, and my daughter’s long awaited dental appointment has had to be cancelled. But it’s all happening for a reason. I’ve no idea what that reason is, but it’s at times like these I play a toned down adult version of Pollyanna’s ‘glad game’, looking for the blessings in what seem like bummers.

  • The snow has given me the excuse to stay in and post a few photos of the freak weather from December and January that had us snowbound.
  • My article in The Kitchen Table Space last month describes a snowy day a few years ago when I actually loved being snowed in. If you haven’t rooted around in my archives or downloaded my free ebook, this old article is one of my favourites, a perfect tonic if your heart feels snowbound or you need a boost to get some spring cleaning done.
  • I was at a funeral yesterday, supporting my dad. It was pretty bleak, and even though there were uplifting life lessons in it for me, I’m glad it snowed today and not yesterday. It wasn’t a place I’d like to be snowbound in.
  • I’m feeling happy that I celebrated the sun and the stirrings of spring last week when I had the chance. I could so easily have missed them and the inspiration they brought.
  • The snow back in December and January was so heavy and prolonged, today’s snowfall seems somehow manageable. (That’s our car in the photo above.)
  • One day’s snow doesn’t create lethal iciclesicicles!

Writing about spring feels like a talisman, one that’s kept today’s bout of bleak weather from blowing my wee blogging boat off course as I tentatively start to sail set sail again.

This isn’t what I planned to post today, but what do you know…I now have some posts in reserve! Going with the flow hasn’t brought the sky crashing down on my head, either.

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Does your writing ever act as a talisman to warm your heart? What  – if anything – do you use it to ward off?

Caldo Verde

caldo verde

Don’t rush through the process but enjoy the mindfulness, or the Zen, of cooking. Isn’t the fragrance of homemade soup wonderful? It makes you glad to be alive or at least at your own house for dinner. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Remember I once told you I had a private ‘practice’ blog a year before I launched Sharing the Journey? Well here’s a wee post I did back in the autumn of 2008.  I’ve guessed from the response to my last post that I’m not the only one who has an almost spiritual reverence for making a pot of stew or soup.

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Vegetarian caldo verde

It’s very cold today. Passers-by look drawn, pinched and tight faced, huddling into the winter clothes they’ve been avoiding for as long as possible. Although it’s a bright blue day, people don’t seem to be sharing my delight at the autumn colours or the drifts of leaves. The cold is all pervasive, slicing its way through clothes and into the conversations I’ve overheard.

Here’s one of the soups I serve my family on days like this. It’s very loosely based on a soup I loved when I lived in Portugal, caldo verde (green soup.) We’re not vegetarian, and the original soup has slices of spicy sausage, pepperoni or chorizo in it, but the kids don’t notice if I don’t add meat because I substitute the spices and flavours used to give European sausage its distinctive smoky tang.

caldo verde ingredientsTo a large soup pan I add water, some sea salt, 200g of shredded curly kale, 1kg of small, scrubbed but unpeeled new potatoes chopped into chunks, a glug or two of extra virgin olive oil, two cloves of garlic and two or three teaspoonfuls of smoked paprika. I boil it all until the potatoes are cooked, whazz everything together with a hand blender and serve in earthenware handpainted bowls with homebaked seeded bread.

Smoky, heavenly soup with a high smugness quotient! Mmmm…

(If you’re not vegetarian, you can throw in 100g of thinly sliced chorizo before you boil everything, saving a few slices as a garnish.)

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I have lots of favourite recipes from my years abroad; please let me know if you’d like me to share some more of them here.

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for all the joy you’ve brought this year by reading, subscribing or commenting. Until I log back on, I’d like to leave you with a coach’s thoughts on The Christmas Story. I wrote it a few years ago when I was helping coaches develop the skills they’d need on their journey towards coach certification.

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A Coaching Hallelujah ~

These past few days, I’ve been looking back over what I’ve done with my home life, my coaching and my writing since I started working online, taking stock of the year’s unexpected joys and challenges as well as the dreams I’ve had to let go of. You may not be a Christian or even celebrate at this time of the year, but please bear with me, stay open and join me in a coach’s exploration of a well known story.

Thinking about my abandoned goals usually leads to me moodling about George Bailey from the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’; this time I found myself wondering about Joseph. Were his dreams of a simple family life turned upside down when he heard the momentous news about Jesus? How quick was he to recognise the perfection in the situation or was he simply stunned for a while, following his own instincts as well as trusting the guidance given to him by a greater power? What we do know is that he was supportive and loving and that he didn’t give up and walk away when things got tough and scary. But in this story, it isn’t just Joseph who embodies the qualities that we can use to strengthen our work and enrich our lives.

Imagine in the dark, frosty crispness of night, a bright band of angels bursting into glorious song, the most perfect example of matching the radiance, joy and vibrational energy of the occasion. And what a triumph of clear communication and channelling too! In any choir – even the angelic kind – it takes all kinds of unique voices and a love of synergy, resonance and harmony to create the kind of soul music that fills you from your heart to your toes with amazing Aha!’s.

Imagine too the humanity of the shepherds, their hearts and minds filled with a tumult of human thoughts and emotions as they grapple with shock, overwhelming panic, awe and hope in the face of an astonishing new reality.  Then there’s the little shepherd boy, bringing his gift of childlike innocence, wonder and curiosity to the tableau in the stable. 

And while the shepherds remind us to love the simple dignity of our humanity, it pleases me to think of the hardworking ox and ass instinctively providing warmth with their bodies and their breath, standing there powerful yet still in the silence, breathing, looking on, listening, understanding…

I also like to think of the innkeeper (and his wife?) contributing practical solutions and resources – shelter, blankets, food, a jug of fresh water and directions to the well – all of this while bustling around, tending to an innful of guests, reminding us that people still need to have their basic needs met, no matter what life changing events are taking place. 

And imagine, silhouetted against the starry night sky, gliding along on camels, the three mysterious magi, following a shared dream, a vision, never stopping till they reach their destination and deliver their gifts. Gifts which remind us that value is subjective and that our skills and senses are to be cherished: gleaming gold, bringing with it the power to do great good if it’s used wisely and with compassion; frankincense, its heady, smoky fragrance evoking the power of holy places, prayer and contemplation; myrrh, the balm that reminds us to treat our bodies with love and respect and to tune in and enjoy and them while we can.  The three kings also bring the gifts of magic and mystery, wisdom and knowledge, intuition and synchronicity. They travelled together, sharing support, solidarity and resources on their long journey towards the unknown,  reminding us that if we remain open, alert and responsive, we have a lot to learn from the wisdom and experience of others, from people of all cultures and faiths.

But behind this rich tapestry and the birth of one special child, let’s not forget the tragedy that arose from Herod’s terrible personal agenda born of power and fear, his quickness to judge and his conviction that he was right. We all have the power to hurt or help each other, to react or respond, to forgive or let ourselves be consumed by fear, pain, bitterness, anger and overwhelm; but we also have the power and skills to ask the right questions.

And the answer to them all, the simple answer that glows like a hallelujah in the silence? Mary, serenely holding the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. Love. Pure, unconditional love.

Wishing you a season filled with miracles and love, wherever you are, whatever you believe in…

A Patchwork Post: Writing Tips, Christmas Tips and Susan Boyle…

M's xmas cushion

Are you working on a novel for NaNoWriMo at the moment? Having a creativity crisis? Or simply in need of  a blogging boost? Are you hoping to collate your best blog posts into a published book some day?  Here’s a book I’d recommend by Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void, a blogger who did just that.

ignore everybodyI’m not going to wax lyrical; you don’t have time for that. Let me just share a few quotes from it with you and tell you that I’ve re-read the book  twice. Yes, twice. It’s an incredibly easy read because each chapter is blog post length. I warn you; you’ll be twitching to jot things down in your quotebook.

If you’re looking at a blank piece of paper and nothing comes to you, then go do something else. Writer’s block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you should feel the need to say something.  ~ Hugh MacLeod

A Picasso always looks like a Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven symphony always sounds like a Beethoven symphony. Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else’s voice but your own. ~ Hugh MacLeod

You can’t love a crowd the same way you can love a person.

And a crowd can’t love you the way a single person can love you.

Intimacy doesn’t scale. Not really. Intimacy is a one-on-one phenomenon.

It’s not a big deal. Whether you’re writing to an audience of one, five, a thousand, ten million, there’s really only one way to truly connect. One way that actually works:

Write from the heart. ~ Hugh MacLeod.

Never compare your inside with someone else’s outside.  ~ Hugh MacLeod

Hugh’s book Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity would make a great gift for any creative adults in your life.

Embrace your real life and be aware of what makes you happy…

Are you wondering what that photo of a hand-crocheted Christmas cushion has to do with inspiration, creativity or writing? Well, those of you who’ve read a lot of my pieces will know that I do my best writing when I’m away from the computer, out in the real world, in cafés or at my kitchen table. I need to live well to be able to write well; I need be aware, present and open to experience and inspiration for the jug to fill to overflowing.

Over at The Kitchen Table Space, my monthly column at The Calm Space, I’ve written a piece about one of my favourite Christmas rituals – keeping a Christmas book. It combines my triplet  passions – family life,  homelife coaching and writing. Truth is, I’d write about the Festive Season every day if I could. It’s the season that restores my faith, my soul and my energy more than any other time of the year.

Please drop in for a cyber coffee and a chat about Christmas; I love having friends at my kitchen table.

Take a break from writing and listen to some music that makes you cry…

As I seem to have blogging OCD and have followed a dearth of posts with one that thinks it’s a magazine – go figure –  I leave you with a song I heard this morning from fellow Scot Susan Boyle. I’ve heard it before but this time it caught me unawares as I was looking out of the kitchen window; I was  stunned by its beauty. These were the only words I could make out as my throat ached and my eyes welled up with unshed tears… “Wild horses..”