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.

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.


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..”