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Serendipity featured on my intuitive vision board

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I recently took a random call from a good friend with a random outcome.

Four days later I’m flying to Dublin for the weekend, all expenses paid, as a kind of tour guide!  I'm to discover the hidden gems of Fingal on the northern shores of Dublin during a music festival in honour of Séamus Ennis, a genius for his uilleann pipe playing. 

The craic
On arrival I am to be collected at the airport.  One hour later my male escorts had still not showed. That’s because they’d gone to departures! That's Irish right?
 
I was taken to nearby Skerries, a charming fishing village where I enjoyed my first taste of real Guinness in a fisherman's pub that has been looking out to sea forever.   I took a photo of the charming boats. I ask you. Do you see any resemblance to the image on my vision board I’d created 11 months earlier when a trip to Ireland was completely off my radar?  A lovely example of precognition.

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That’s my daughter there too if you’re wondering.  She plays her part in this mystery.  Back home when I’d contemplated this section of my vision board, Denmark kept coming to mind.  I’d even thought I might go to Copenhagen but hadn’t got around to it.  Celine, on the other hand, did - this summer! Not that she’d planned to do so when I’d pasted her up onto my board next to the colourful boats.  Curious isn't it?

It also transpires that Fingal is historically linked with Denmark because the Vikings decided to land here.  I also learnt from the Irish organiser she has a sister living in Denmark, and suggested I might visit her.  The plot thickens....   

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where you might go next year, come and make a vision board with me on 25th November and all will be revealed.  I’ll show you how to side-step the conscious mind and engage with the unconscious through active imagination and access this extraordinary intelligence we all have but so seldom tap.

More 'Irishness' to follow....  
 After Skerries I was dropped outside my hotel to chill. At check-in the owner asks for my name but says the only reservation he has is for Mary and Jerry.  “I really don’t want to share with Jerry,” I said smiling, “I want my own room.” 

At this point it’s clear I’ve been dropped off at the wrong hotel - and this one is full. I then sit tight to wait for the men to return (2 ½ hours later) to take me out to dinner.  I kept myself entertained listening to the gorgeous Irish brogue and their wonderful sense of humour, while the owner plied me with drinks and snacks on the house. The meal that followed in an ancient pub was fresh and delicious.

Next day, I’m required for a family fun-run.  However my lift is late fetching me and by the time we arrive at the fun-run, everyone has run off and the school hall is empty.  The two of us decided to walk part of the course and pass the lead runners on their way back yet apparently I am still required to give away the prizes. 
 
‘It put the heart crossway in me to hear it’ as I’m introduced as “Mary, who has come all the way from the London Athletics club to support this event.” I look just about the least athletic among them, especially as I didn’t even manage to run the course.
 
We’re on the road again, destination Fourknocks.  This is awesome - a Neolithic site that predates Stonehenge, yet we’re the only people there.  The key to this ancient burial mound resides with Eileen down the road and if you don’t get on the right side of her, she won’t let you have it.  There’s no charge.  No supervision.  Just the four of us under the ground, marvelling at the abstract art painted on the interior walls 5,000 years ago.  

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Afternoon tea follows in a lovely artistic café.  Then to round it all off we’re at the music festival in the pub listening to pieces that Séamus Ennis would have been proud of.  A 15-piece band spanning five generations of musicians, the youngest about eight.  

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When my hostess finally left me at the airport (she didn’t entrust this to men this time), my flight is cancelled due to fog.  No more flights that day so Aer Lingus kindly put me up in a comfortable hotel and treated me to a splendid dinner.
 And since I had to wait 12 hours before I could fly home, I’m also due a £200 refund too.  I think I should invest this in a flight to Copenhagen don’t you - and follow the signs.

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What to do when the plan doesn't work?  Make an Intuitive Vision Board

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What to do when the plan doesn't work? Make an Intuitive Vision Board

Create a buzz

Create a buzz

When my plan wasn’t working

Once upon a time, when my micro business was only a few months old, I was feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks I needed to do. I’d already created my website, which was a marathon in itself. But I still had a list as long as my arm of tasks I didn’t have the skills for. Rather than wallow in misery, I did what I know best. I made an Intuitive Vision Board.

Smack bang in the middle of it was the large head of a Buddleja, otherwise known as the ‘butterfly plant’. You can guess why; it's a magnet to butterflies. Alongside I’d pasted the words:  “create a buzz”.

I had no rational reason for choosing a Buddleja but it was no surprise either because this is my creative process: to purposefully set out to distract my left-brain in order to have a conversation with my right-brain. This required me to let go of what I thought I should be doing by choosing pictures to represent this and allow the images to choose me. I wanted to open the windows and let some fresh air in.

The next day when I re-visited my vision board, I chuckled to see the Buddleja because the first thing I thought of was a hand-held microphone.   Little did I know …


Serendipity

Within seven months of creating this Intuitive Vision Board, here’s what transpired - absolutely none of which I’d considered or planned for beforehand.  Yet all of these, as far as I could tell, had some association with the ‘hand-held microphone’ and finding my public voice.

* I started writing newsletters and blogs regularly

* I appeared on TV for the first time talking about intuitive vision boards

* I had three separate interviews on the radio

* I began writing my book about Intuitive Vision Boards

* I sang my first-ever solo on stage in front of 150 people

* I made three commercial videos

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

On the air with Emma-Jane Taylor on Oxford TV

At the same time I was intrigued to discover I actually had a large Buddleja growing at the entrance to my property, which I'd not noticed before because I’d moved house in the depths of winter.  

During the summer, while I was in full swing with the book writing, 30 large blooms formed a protective arch for me to pass under - a constant reminder of my current focus to create a buzz.


Risk

From a psychotherapy point of view the Buddleja on my intuitive vision board was a transformational symbol. At the same time it was directing me towards the most effective route to develop my business.  I had not previously considered any of those “microphone activities” yet as they came into my awareness, I tried them on - even when it was a stretch, involved a small risk, and an element of fear.

And what had my logical left-brain (LL) planned for me to be doing instead before my remarkable right-brain (RR) stepped in and redirected the course of history with the Intuitive Vision Board?  

It sinks my spirits just to recall the massive ‘to do list’ I faced every day, systematically addressing tasks I found tedious - like mastering each social media platform in turn and writing a business plan. My progress was slow and I was very frustrated. If I’d made a vision board in the traditional way to reflect the intentions I’d set for myself, it would have looked very different from the one I created.  

I’m not suggesting the logical left-brain is now redundant or the tasks on my “to do list” are not valid, ever. It’s simply these decisions were being taken too early by LL when it’s strength is not to propose solutions that provide a quantum leap forward. LL needs to be at the service of RR otherwise the outcome will always be limited.


It’s not LL’s fault; it can’t help itself. It only works with data that is known already, which has been speculated accounts for a mere 5-8% of our available intelligence.  RR on the other hand has access to that vast, awesome sea of possibility and a rich treasure trove of ideas and inspiration, which is the other 92% of our available intelligence.  Therefore by engaging RR in making my intuitive vision board, I entertained ideas that had never entered my conscious awareness before. And these RR nudges added momentum to my business life more effectively than all my LL thinking put together.

The Intuitive Vision Board is not a panacea but it certainly provided me with the best guidance I needed at this time. There is so much I could share with you about this particular intuitive vision board but I’ll settle for one final image, which also changed the face of my business.


Manifesting Woman-Friday

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See the man above sat at the desk alongside the Buddleja?   When I first saw him I thought: he’ll do, he looks busy and creative to me but not a suitable romantic partner.”  Then I had the subsequent thought:  “He’s working for me.  He’s my Man Friday!”  

Until then I had not considered employing anyone in the foreseeable future.  Like many micro business owners, I didn’t think I could afford to.  But acting on this RR nudge, I posted an advertisement on-line.  It said:  “Wanted. Part-time Man-Friday to provide computer and social media expertise to a struggling creative.”

I had three replies within a day.  The first came from a man who looked like the image on my board and helped me over some initial hurdles. The second reply came from a woman who lived three minutes walk away. She offered to be my Woman-Friday and has been working for me every since.  

Am I grateful for Deborah?  Yes!   Could I afford her? No, my LL still proclaims!  But I went ahead and defiantly afforded her anyway. Her presence has allowed me to progress much faster than my scrabbling around trying to do everything myself.  The third reply was from another talented candidate, by the way.  

Do you see how this works?  

I didn’t make the vision board to reflect previously conceived ideas of what I thought I should be doing otherwise this exercise would be little more than goal-setting using pictures. There’s nothing wrong with the latter and it is more common but, it has limitations which you now understand.

Neither am I saying this style of vision board can’t work; it can.  But when the linear intelligence of LL alone decides what images should be on your board, it can’t take into account the biggest picture. Consequently you could potentially be focusing on the wrong things.  

And, if you've decided in advance of making your board what your goals and aspirations are, you’ll need to rely on your will-power alone to pummel them into existence.  The alternative is to align with super-consciousness via your intuitive vision board because then you align with universal intelligence and its will-power is limitless.

May the force be with you 

My recommendation is to get out of your own way.  Open up to your innate intuitive intelligence and allow your imagination free-range when it comes to making your intuitive vision board. Be excited and curious about the images that appear.  

And then make sure you stay alert to the gentle promptings to action you’ll receive in the subsequent months ahead.  Don’t ignore them just because they seem inconvenient to LL who will try to convince you to wait for a more opportune moment.  Do it anyway.   At least be curious enough to do something with the guidance you receive, otherwise it's like uncovering hidden treasure and then throwing it away.

Don't expect an overnight result from this creative process either.  It took me seven months in this example for the vision to complete its form. There is a perfect moment when it comes to manifesting a vision when providence moves with you too - but in its own time and on its own terms.  In the interim, it pays to cultivate patience, which is something I had to learn but now I’ve come to trust.

VISIT MY EVENTS PAGE for Intuitive Vision Board workshop dates. Private workshops can be arranged by request.

To request a copy of my book “Awaken Your Intuitive Vision - unlocking possibilities you never knew existed” GO HERE.

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#visionboard #arttherapy #creativemeditation #imagination #activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #motivation #progress #inspiration #creativity #intuition #visionary #emergence #mindfulness

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Anna's Intuitive Vision Board attracts gold

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Anna got lucky with her first Vision Board. She cut out a circular piece of gold foil which resembled a coin.  She didn't know why she'd chosen it but was intuitively drawn to do so.  Four weeks later she received an envelope in the post from the People’s Post Code Lottery with a gold coin on it. It bore an uncanny resemblance to the one on her Vision Board. 

Thrilled she was next to receive a cheque for £5,800.  And unbeknown to him, her son is getting his first set of wheels this Christmas.

To discover what gold your destiny has in store for you, come and make a Vision Board with me.  Your gold may not be as literal as Anna's.  It may be something like an unexpected career change, a house move, or an addition to the family.  If you're wondering what a Vision Board is, there is more information about them below.  

If it's a year or more since you made your last Vision Board that's a good interval in which to consider making another.  Any students in your family seeking clarity about their study options or a boost to their self-confidence, this creativity workshop provides the ideal space for addressing this.  Full details are on my open Events page - www.mary@marynonde.com.

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What is a Vision Board?
A Vision Board is a collage of images you cut out randomly from magazines and stick down with Pritt Stick.  And what images!

The Vision Board will turn out to be a veritable treasure trove, speaking to you about all the things, activities and places that can lead you to authentic joy and prosperity.  Contrary to what you might imagine, the images are not literal representations of what you're about to manifest in your life.  They're more likely to be signs and metaphors which point the way towards what it is you truly need to be happy and fulfilled rather than the item itself.

These symbolic images are super-special because they unlock doors to your subconscious and unconscious intelligence and the potential lurking there beyond your wildest imaginings.

It’s very tempting to jump to first conclusions about what the pictures on a Vision Board mean.  But this can stop you explorer deeper.  It's better to sit patiently longer with the unanswered questions raised by the Vision Board - until the answers come to you rather than chasing after them in the customary way.  It's fascinating how the creative mind works.

A Vision Board is a gift to be treasured - and that's why it makes such a wonderful present too.  It's a personal development tool with value and longevity beyond the actual workshop itself.  By the very act of creating it, you will have woven a web of interconnecting possibilities and paved the way for serendipity and magic to begin.
 
Warm wishes Mary

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Do negative things appear on the intuitive vision board?

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I sometimes get asked whether negative things appear on vision boards.  The answer is ‘no’ having watched over a thousand Intutive Vision Boards being made.  I’ve witnessed People ambivalent about images they’d chosen but if there was some attraction for them I'd encourage the images to remain and see where they led them. Here’s an example.

I worked with three directors of a company each producing their own Intuitive Vision Board and I coached them afterwards as a team.  Curiously, two of the three had strong eruptive images - one permeated the backdrop to their entire vision board and the other had an image pushing upwards from the baseline. Neither of them had an explanation for this at the time, which is perfectly normal.  These are ideas and inspirations arising from the unconscious, creating a bridge between what is unknown and that which is yet to happen.  In time the significance of this eruptive theme would become clear.

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Three months later the relationship between the three partners erupted, resulting in one of them quitting the business and leaving the other two reeling.  

Retrospectively you could point to the aforementioned images on their vision boards as negative portents. 

Or you could re-perceive these as a significant sign that something needed to surface and dissipate to enable the company to organise itself differently. This is not negative in my view, it’s constructive – a Kali influence, the Hindu goddess that bring things birth or death whichever is most needed for life.

 

So what is it about my approach to vision boards that produces this authentic outcome rather than something that has to appear nice and rosy?  It’s in the way I prepare people during the first half of the workshop to step into their most creative Self to make the Vision Board in the second half of it. 

Head versus heart
There is a significant difference between a vision board made with the head and led by the Ego as opposed to a vision board made with the heart and led by the Soul.  The former produces a predictive outcome, limited to information that is already known in conscious awareness.  While a vision board made from the Soul is connected to the wider field of infinite intelligence and reaches for ideas beyond the scope of our rational mind.  The advancement of humanity depends on us accessing more of this greater intelligence now.

Who creates the Intuitive Vision Board?
In my workshops (and they take a full four hours), I use a number of exercises designed to relax the hold the Ego has on our decision-making process.  If not the Ego will always step in, only too ready to contribute its views on what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our lives.  It doesn’t stop with us either; it will pass comment on anybody or anything that crosses its line of vision.  To hear the quieter voice of the Soul above the noisy cut and thrust of 21st century lives, we must endeavour to become more mindfully attentive and wholeheartedly present. 
 

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Soul
I don’t have the absolute definition of Soul because the more you attempt to pin it down the more allusive it becomes.  I consider Soul to be the spiritual or immaterial aspect of being human; the part that is immortal.  It’s our characterful essence, the spark of individuality which bears our special gifts and comes complete with quirks, imperfections and some dysfunctionality, also part of being human.

Soul is more engaged with the process of life and the quality of our experiences.  It’s trajectory rarely follows a straight line and cannot be pre-determined in advance.  Soul is attuned to our universal assignment – what we are uniquely here to do and contribute to the whole.  We can miss out on permitting the genius of Soul to shine through in our lives when we allow ourselves to be driven by some other agenda, which we is not our own.

When it comes to making an Intuitive Vision Board, Soul likes to peruse the magazines at leisure.  It loves to dawdle, not looking for anything in particular.  Soul favours pictures to words because these are less definitive and there is more scope to feed the imagination.

Soul is not interested in goal setting.  The images that appeal suggest and implicate and are of a more poetic and mystical nature.  Less black and white; more shades of grey. If we clutch too literally at their meaning and grasp so tightly the blood drains out of them, the guidance contained therein becomes elusive too.  We are being goaded at the very deepest levels of our being, although we may not – and may never know - what is occurring until after it has happened.  Then comes the ‘aha’ moment.

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Ego
I don’t have a definitive answer for Ego either but I recognise it as the constant chatter that goes on in our head – sometimes out loud, mostly internal, delivering a whole string of false evidence appearing real (FEAR). 

It’s the voice of "I want, I deserve, I am entitled to...".  It's also the voice of judgement, criticism and opinion, totally convinced of the validity of its choices from its perspective.

 The Ego is focused on the self with a small "s".  Here is the master planner at work, predetermining what our life should look like and all the accoutrements to be gathered along the way as evidence of our success and achievement.  It loves to compares our advancement to the next person because this feeds it's sense of self-importance.

If left to its own devices the Ego will already have decided before the making of the vision board begins what should be on there and on the day is looking for the best images to represent its ideas.  Ego may go straight to the handbag it believes you must have but as soon as you've got it will have you hankering after the next “I want”.  This chase won’t produce lasting fulfilment or bestow value and purpose to your life.  It may bestow a short term gratification but may not necessarily help you evolve or make a contribution to the spiritual evolution of humanity. 

The ends justify the means from the Ego’s point of view and it's prepared to walk all over another or destroy the planet in its wake to get what it wants.  We see evidence for this in politics, economics and religion.  Closer to home, we see evidence for this in our own families. It’s reptilian behaviour and reflects a lower level of evolution.

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When something that isn’t so pretty appears on a vision board, I encourage the creator to rejoice and to leave it alone.  It may have a darker connotation and point to what in psychotherapy is referred to as the ‘shadow’ side, but this doesn’t mean it’s negative and to be avoided or censored.

It may well represent a mystery currently hidden from conscious awareness yet be exactly what you need to do - or receive next - to unlock your destiny by exposing the very something that is blocking your light.

 

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 #visionboard #arttherapy #creativemeditation #imagination #activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #motivation #progress #inspiration #creativity #intuition #visionary #emergence #mindfulness

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A Message From The Gods...

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In Greek mythology, Asclepius, son of Apollo, is the God of healing and medicine with his daughters, Hygiea and Panacea, as cohorts.  The remains of his largest healing sanctuary is at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese and there’s another accessible site on the island of Kos.

In ancient Greece when a person had lost their way and their health was out of sorts, friends and family packed them off to one of these sacred Ascelpion sites.  Exhausted, bored, grieving, discouraged... whatever their symptoms the underlying motivation was always the same: take time-out or burnout.

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By night, resting in the innermost temple of Asclepius, the seeker would await the transformational dream that would change their life.  Non-venomous snakes also shared this sacred space with them and that's how the two entwined serpents has become our symbol for medicine.

I like to think there are similarities between the Asclepion experience and my Soul Alive Retreat which also gives people space to regroup and re-balance. I use creativity, mindfulness and somatic arts to awaken the active dream state and we don’t wait until nightfall to receive messages from the gods. Oh, and I leave out the snakes!

Why enter this dream state anyway?  Because this is where we gain new perspectives, innovative answers to insoluble problems, and can dislodge habitual behaviours.  By accessing this right side of the brain we avoid our over-dependence on the rational mind, which keeps churning out the same-old ideas ad infinitum hoping this time around they'll provide the answer. 

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I've secured the exclusive use of a beautiful villa near the sea for next year's Soul Alive.  It's situated on the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula, where the Mediterranean sea meets the Atlantic, in the lovely Andalusian fishing village of Tarifa. 

Take a look at the Tarifa slide show and I hope you'll be as enthused as I am. Besides the fully-facilitated retreat, the facilities include both indoor and outdoor studios and both indoor and outdoor swimming pools.  Get your body moving, what!  But if rest is what you need most then there's plenty of time and space for that too.

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The 6-day retreat starts Sunday 6 May 2018 in the morning and finishes Saturday 12th May 2018. The weather should be perfect then for both inner and outer exploration and the hillsides covered with wild flowers while the beaches will be empty.  

I like to host small group retreats to ensure everyone receives plenty of personal attention to help bring about the necessary shifts this time-out together can deliver. Here's one woman's experience of Soul Alive this year: 
 

"I had no idea how deeply exhausted I was when I went on Mary’s retreat. At the beginning of the 6 days I actually felt stressed-out at the thought of being away for so long, it was hard to let go. By the end of the week I was feeling very different."
 
"I really enjoyed the combination of self-awareness work and having trips out to the surrounding beautiful areas, somewhere different every day. The fact that all the tours, the workshop facilitation, accommodation, food and transfers were included in the price made it feel like great value."

"Mary had a light touch in all this and spending part of each day out and about meant it never got intense. Nevertheless all of us did go deep; like me the others led busy lives and never gave ourselves time to take stock and reflect.  Mary’s experience and training in dealing with the strong but helpful emotions that sometimes came up meant we all felt safe.  It was a very supportive group, with a lot of wisdom and solidarity."

What you get for your money:

* A beautiful en-suite private room or shared en-suite room - your choice

* All meals including some dining out in Spanish restaurants 

* Airport transfers to and from Gibraltar airport 

* 5 movement sessions before breakfast (optional)

* 5 mornings of somatic arts workshops with group/peer coaching

* 5 afternoon excursions to explore the natural beauty of the area and absorb the Moorish/Andalusian culture (optional)

* On-site massage available as an extra

* Dolphin/whale watching is an optional extra.

* Pre- and post-retreat coaching check-ins to prepare for and integrate the retreat.

The retreat package is £1,700 (private room) or £1,500 (shared room). Flights, UK transfers, and travel insurance are on top.  

If you're feeling adventurous you might tag on some extra days to visit wonderful nearby towns like Seville, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga, Granada - or hop on a 30-minute ferry to Tangiers.
 
I’m taking reservations for Soul Alive already so please indicate if you might be interested.  Email mary@marynonde.com or text/call me on 0782 7017188.
 
Hasta la vista…. Mary

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Do what you love … love what you do

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I went to the Henley Traditional Boat Festival this summer.  I skipped the rowing Regatta and music festivals which preceded it to enjoy this quieter celebratory moment in the meadows by the river Thames.  Still colourful with champagne flowing and musical delights but less pomp and ceremony.  If I had my way I’d rename it the Henley Vintage festival because it’s so much more than boats.

Doing what they love I met ….

Lynden and his family of amphibious cars that he lovingly collects and restores then cruises down the Thames or drives along beside it, whichever takes his fancy.  And not forgetting to mention the other folk who paraded their lovingly-restored treasures previous owners had abandoned.

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Mary Jones who travels all the way from Liverpool with her gorgeous pre 60’s vintage clothes.  She buys them in the north of England where "they just don’t get it” and sells them down south where they do.  She was here by special invitation from Lady McAlpine who clearly appreciates the genuine item. 

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Queen Bee is an ecology teacher who uses her Punch and Judy platform to communicate her ecological concerns in a funny and memorable way.  Judy had taken sick that afternoon so I stepped in as her understudy ... that was before my encounter with the Dalek.

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Richard with his fleet of vintage Rolls Royce chauffeurs people to his vintage boats and then cruises them along the river to a salubrious eatery for lunch.  So passionate was he about these leisurely days out, he didn’t stop talking even when my eyes had disappeared into the array of homemade cakes in the tea room beyond.

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Glorianna the Queen’s boat came close to receiving more right Royal visitors as we trod her broad walk and admired her gold leaf façade while other boats passed her out.  But in the end it was Rufus who stole the throne.

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What’s your view?  Are these people just wacky with nothing better to do?  I don’t think so because what they all have in common is they love what they do.  Their heart and soul is in it and the activity absorbs them.  And in sharing their love with others they enjoy an unexpected freedom themselves.

The African Dagara believe each person has a certain cargo to deliver during their time on the earth.  I like that - and nothing provides more meaning and fulfilment than delivering this.  I'm sure that’s the reason there was such a vibrant vibe at this Festival - there was a lot of cargo being delivered.  

What do you love to do?  Really its worth musing on because for sure that’s when you’re most vibrant and alive – whether you’re providing a product, creating an experience, entertaining people or restoring something to its former glory.  It doesn’t have to be the thing you do for a living; the word ‘amateur’ comes from the Latin ‘amare’ and means to love.  

Lost touch with your amateur?  That’s understandable when we have allowed outer circumstances to impose its will upon us and steal so much of our attention.  If you'd like to remember what cargo you're here to deliver, please join me to make a Vision Board on one of my workshops and all will become clear.  The images you chose for your large inspirational collage will have jumped off the pages at you shouting ‘me, me, me’.  You won’t be able to resist them.  By embracing what they are nudging you towards you will be irresistible too.

Irresistibly yours,  Mary

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Vive l'amour

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I bade a silent farewell to Le Presbytere - the 15th century property that seems always to welcome us with open arms, located as it is on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail.  This year's Retreat received a good omen even before I left Heathrow.  In ordering breakfast at Pret a manger, I distracted the server by chatting to her and she forgot to include the coffee.  When I came to pay she said "there's no charge".  Bemused I sat down and looked at my receipt which said:  "Joy giveaway".  Whether she was called Joy or it was the name given to this discretionary giveaway, my admiration for the brand went up a notch.

This year in the Tarn valley the weather was unseasonable HOT for June.  The swimming pool provided a welcome respite after a morning of reflective practice through somatic movement, creative arts and writing, enjoyed under the trees in the garden with the air full of the fragrance of roses in full bloom. Here's one woman's experience who is an HR Manager:

"Mary did a great job to try and meet everyone's individual needs.  The surroundings were just fantastic and I loved being with such wonderful, wise women.  I will never forget my time there.  What it has done for me, to coin an awful phrase, was to lance a boil.  And boy, oh boy did that boil need to be lanced! "

 

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 "When I got back I felt totally and utterly overwhelmed with everything - my grief for the recent loss of my partner, my son's long-term illness, other losses and also everything that's happened at work.  I realised I was so stressed that I went to see a Doctor and, for the first time in my life, have been signed off for two weeks with "stress and bereavement reaction".  

"I am giving myself time now to really heal.  I do meditation, my writing first thing in the morning as I did on the Retreat.  I'm seeing friends occasionally but mainly giving myself the space that's so needed.  The Retreat therefore was the tipping point for me to really focus on healing me."

During one of our daily late-afternoon excursions (this one to beautiful Albi), I sat in the palace grounds overlooking the river while the group visited the Toulouse Lautrec museum. 

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I was gobsmacked because that's exactly what we were doing on this Retreat as adults and delighted to learn this reflective practice is already embraced by young students across the pond.

A young American student came to sit beside me and got out a small watercolour set and started to paint. She had been given 40 minutes downtime to sit in silence and to reflect on what engaged her attention in the moment and to capture the essence of this on paper. She was from a special creative school in Boston and this was normal. 

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After six days of this heavenly lifestyle, I put the last remaining guests on the little train back to England (lol) and headed directly for the Languedoc coast in the black 'limousine', now a little over-sized for one person

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Once I spied the sparkling sea, I took a sharp right turn onto the A9 and headed for Collioure close to the Spanish border.  It's a very picturesque, historic harbour town encircled by a ring of mountains with a beautifully preserved castle and church, both on the waterfront. All the beaches are within walking distance, plenty of very good cafes and restaurants to choose from, and there's an abundance of artist and artisan shops to browse. 

As I sat sipping my cold beer in a beach bar on the first evening, I watched as a woman in her mid 70s arrived on the sand.  She was wearing full bikini briefs and a lacy bra, which restrained her copious breasts.  In full view of cocktail hour drinkers she took delight in spraying herself with water, graceful in the way she moved while her flesh bore all the marks and veins of a life well-lived.

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She wasn't the only older person enjoying the sea at this time of day.  The hours before sunset seem to attract all those for whom the sun is too bright during the day yet the water now at it's warmest.  It was a delight to behold.


She was however the only older woman to be photographed as she gracefully emerged from the sea.  A man in his 40's had also appeared on the beach brandishing a camera.  "Oh", I thought, "how lovely he's doing a photographic study of the older woman's body!" Then he put a towel around her shoulders and patted her dry.  "Oh, it's his mother", I thought "what a tender gesture that is!" And then they kissed on the lips...."Oh, ....!"

It was his turn to strip off, his body virgin-like in comparison to hers.  She held his camera as he hobbled over the stones to the sea, shivering as he took infant steps into the water, meeting the sea with resistance whereas she had met it with joy.  He lasted three minutes and she was waiting for him with the same towel to pat him dry. 

There must have 30 years between them and they were obviously in love.  Vive la France for being so liberal-minded in matters of love.  Vive l'amour.  Perhaps I should move to France to increase my chances.  

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What everyone needs to know about the value of "NO!"

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What everyone needs to  know about the value of "NO!"

Have there been times in your life when you’re doing too many things out of a sense of duty only to find yourself over-burdened by the complexity of the juggling act you are performing?  Or perhaps someone else you know springs to mind?

Rather than be able to take these responsibilities in your stride and gain some fulfilment from them, there's a point where it all becomes too much.  Big chunks of life are consumed in this way if you’re not careful.  Don't I just know it!

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I went through a period like this once that lasted for five years.  I became very adept at putting my significant other's needs ahead of my own in order to maintain the status quo while my owns lay languishing. Why? Because I was afraid of the uproar that would ensue if I didn’t - and the consequences of it.  It’s a weak reason I know but I didn’t know any better at the time and I was enslaved to the situation.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to face up to the fact I was being emotionally bullied and manipulated, trapped in a classically co-dependent relationship.  This realisation had not escaped my body however.

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I suffered from insomnia.  I got run down and regularly picked up colds, verrucae, fungal toe infection – all signs that my immune system was depleted. As I became increasingly dis-empowered by the situation, my confidence sank to an all-time low and my self-esteem plummeted; I no longer had a sense of who I was or where my real strengths lay. 

Why illness is the consequence not the cause
Medical studies have shown that when we suppress a “no” in favour of a “yes”, we go against ourselves and this is a form of self-attack.

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One of my teachers, Anna Halprin, an experimental dance-movement pioneer, discovered this while working with HIV/AIDS patients.

With their immune system compromised by HIV, their body was not able to defend itself sufficiently from infection and she found how difficult it was for them to say “no” in other areas of their life. 

She worked with patients using therapeutic dance-movement to strengthen their boundaries and help them express a clear “NO” and a convincing “YES”, with every fibre of their being.

This helped them to manage and sometimes reduce the number of infections they caught.

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That’s why I enjoy so much to help people find their genuine “YES” – their real passions, desires and motivations. 

When I was caught up in the web of co-dependence, the biggest obstacle was my logical left-brain.  It controlled my thinking and provided me with all the rationalisation and justification I needed for sticking with the status quo.
 
I needed to find a way to by-pass this voice and create space in my body-mind so that a deeper, more wholesome wisdom could get through. This proved difficult when my constant immersion in the detrimental situation prevented me from having access to an alternative viewpoint - so I kept going around in circles.  Now I'm able to recommend people find a moment to step off this merry-go-round by attending one of my workshops or retreats, which would have helped me greatly had I been able to do so.

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Taking downtime
When you take time for yourself along with a suitable guide what it is you need for your sanity and vitality comes sharply into focus.  I use reflective, creative enquiry to help you identify the people, places, and activities for you to welcome in with a resounding “YES”.  With this awareness it will become even clearer when you need to say “NO” as well. 

You won’t find this clarity while you continue to drill away at the coalface.  You’re much more likely to keep on drilling as I did and end up dead on your feet - and we don't want that.  

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Force of Nature

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I love the forthrightness of this quote from the great Irish playwright who is also described as being a polemicist (I wouldn’t mind being one of those when I grow up).

 

I totally subscribe to his point of view.  I believe each one of us is here to make a very special contribution to the whole that only we, with our unique personality, set of predilections and skills, can do.  Finding that something - or combinations of somethings - that fires us up and gets us out of bed in the morning after a night of not-enough-sleep, is a life’s journey. 

While it’s the easier and safer option to indulge in hedonistic pleasures in our time off, these alone will not deliver the deeper fulfilment and purpose to our lives we secretly crave.  We need to balance hedonism with the quest for eudemonism - both Greek like Feta.
 
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one.”
 
George Bernard Shaw's point about “being recognised by yourself” holds the key here and not what others might think about your title or position.  You could be the CEO of a company with all its attendant trappings and still not recognise yourself for who you truly are at heart.

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I remember once facilitating a group of CEO’s to make their Vision Boards.  We’d got to that moment in the proceedings when I was cruising around the room to view the near-complete visions.  I approached one man; middle-aged and overweight, the successful owner of a large software company. 
 
To my surprise he had placed a Tango-dancing couple in ‘close embrace’ right in the centre of his board.  I looked up at him as I blurted out the obvious:  “They’re dancing Tango!”  And then I saw the man’s eyes were filled with tears as he mouthed back:  “Yep, that used to be me once.  I was a very good Tango dancer and teacher and I’m a million miles removed from both now and it’s hurting; I must do something about it.”
 
Compare this scenario with the office cleaner who has mopped up for the same company for the past 30 years.  She works her hours around home and family.  She takes pride in her job, creating a sparkling environment to welcome staff to work the following day.  She travels to and from the office out of rush-hour and has no issues with parking.  She's her own boss and left alone to ruminate or listen to the radio uninterrupted as she labours.  Another true story, by the way.


I ask you, which of the two is more fulfilled?  Who has found a ‘mighty purpose’ by their own definition?  Then ask yourself sincerely:
 
“What might I too be doing if it wasn’t for:
the money
the security
the ‘job title’
the family
out of habit
other plausible reason?

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You owe it to yourself to feel deep within your heart that your presence is worthwhile and your purpose on the earth is a mighty one.  Life is all too short.  And for the sweet privilege of being alive, I invite you to take whatever steps you need to take in the direction of ‘being a force of Nature’ and find the courage to let yourself blossom.  

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#visioning #imagination #empowerment #breakthrough #inspiration #mindfulness #yourcalling #authentic

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A woman's journey to wholeness...

A woman's journey to wholeness...

I describe here the inner journey undertaken by one woman.  How it began by her 'selfishly' risking to take timeout for herself.  How this investment fortified her body and soul for the subsequent years of transition that lay ahead. How the moral of this story is especially important if you’re a person who juggles a number of different - and sometimes competing - responsibilities and rarely enjoys a moment totally to herself.

 
Three summers ago Viktoria came on the Soul Alive Retreat – that year in Istria.  She was working full-time in financial services yet it wasn’t nurturing a single bone in her body, let alone making use of her natural creativity.  But she had two sons to raise and a husband to care for and domestic life was full on.  She came on the retreat to explore what she might do to change this state of affairs using the creative processes I offer.
 
The following year she joined me again for Soul Alive - that year in the Algarve.  She’d already reduced the hours she was working in financial services to give herself time to teach young children again. This was important progress.

Two weeks before the start of the retreat her mother died suddenly.  Viktoria chose to join us anyway, using this time to be with herself without having to be overly concerned about her family.  The weight of loss rested heavily on her and, at the same time, brought into sharp focus the things in life that were most important to her. 

Cooking, healthy food, love of nature and art where the themes that consistently emerged, no longer to be side-lined, yet Viktoria was left wondering how she might combine all three.

A few weeks after she returned home, however, her grandmother passed away too.  
 


I kept in touch with Viktoria during her time of grieving and a year later received a wonderful surprise.  The financial services job had gone for good.  Still teaching one day a week, she had taken a part-time job as a commercial cook - for the first time ever.  The hours were long but she wisely regarded them as the training ground to prepare her for a more corporate setting. That was her vision.

 

A year later I heard from Viktoria again.  It's so interesting to see how her story is evolving and to appreciate how organic transitions are.  When we stop trying to engineer everything, the right time and the best way forward presents itself, in ways we could never have dreamed of.  In her words:

 

“I´m so happy with my new job!  I´m now working at a treatment centre for people with drug and alcoholic problems. I´m employed in the kitchen where we also take care of the various trades people who support the centre. It is a good mixture of working with food and working with people, combining my passion for both.”

 

“The centre is situated on an island which you can only reach by boat. I work one week on, staying over, and then I have one week off. It's been a smooth start and this is my first whole week away from home - then I’m free entirely for a whole week.  Time flies by and I’m having a great time in a wonderful environment.”  

“I think this job will give me a lot more opportunity to do the other things with my life that I love when I’m not working - including art. The nature out here is fantastic.  I work in full view of the sea and also enjoy this view from my bedroom – you know how much I love the sea!”

I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.


I wish you a quiet moment now to reflect on what this story might mean for you.  

#retreat #somatic #imagination #sensoryplay#presence #embodiment #phenomenology #kinaesthetic #engagement #relationship #responsive #sensuous #standyourground #gettingcreative #confidence #connection #beherenow


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Floating around in Cork - a premonition on my Intuitive Vision Board

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I have a £800 Nikon strung over my shoulder and a JVC camcorder around my neck and I’m prayin’ to Mary that I don’t slip on the cobbled stones of Penrose Quay into the Atlantic waters while I'm here to make a video.

 Those colourful boats on my Intuitive Vision Board (top left) have been working their Irish magic again.  Only a few months ago they took me on an all-expenses paid trip to a rural suburb of Dublin as a visiting “tour guide”. This time they've led me to Cork for a week.

I’m working on a building site in a cleverly reclaimed wharf, accompanied by two engineers.  It was never supposed to be a building site but work is so far behind schedule that I’m surrounded by men of all trades doing their thing.  It’s dirty, noisy and fascinating.
 
I've never worked alongside men who use their bodies and hands each day. I'll be honest and say I held a prejudice there would be a lot of testosterone flying around and vying for position in the hierarchy.  What struck me more was the courtesy and respect shown by the men towards each other. 

The only firework moment was when a man pasting vinyl didn’t realise the touch-activated shower on the wall behind it was switched on - and it drenched him.  His swearing in a Cork accent, incomprehensible at the best of times, was really more entertaining than scarey.

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I was on my feet for 8-9 hour days filming.  So were the engineers I was accompanying to install the two float rooms.

 It went through my mind how satisfying it must be to make something and see it materialise before your very eyes, channelling all that masculine energy into it rather than just being sat behind a desk every day.  

Meanwhile I was very grateful to be able to retire to a comfortable, elegant spa hotel and peel off my dusty clothes to relax and freshen up.

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This is a float room (right) by the way.  It's a private, ambient bath tub where you lay on your back in silence, darkness too if you prefer, suspended on a dense Epsom Salt solution - a bit like floating in the Dead Sea. 

For the past three years I’ve worked part-time for the market leader selling their float rooms around the world. The UK, Holland, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia are the biggest markets.  I even attended a Float Conference in Oregon last year; it's a growing industry.

The people who gravitate to this business are inclined to be spiritual by nature and have a desire to foster that in others.  I enjoy encouraging them to establish their havens of floating tranquility where they can let go of all the stresses, tensions and worries of life for an hour at least. For those of you who've worked with me will know how well this sits alongside my own modus operandi.
 
How did my floating life transpire?   Just over three years ago my practice was fledgling while I was slowly emerging from the roughest, toughest period in Mary Nondé recorded history.  At that time I attended a Tango dance lesson and found myself paired with an Aussie.  When I heard he was a business owner, I asked whether he knew of anyone who could offer me part-time work.  He wasn’t looking but he liked the sound of what I could do.  No CV, no interview.  Just a month’s trial - and I've been working for them ever since. 
 
Yes, there's a woman floating on my Intuitive Vision Board below!    I made this board before the floatation company came on my scene six months later.  Up until then I'd only floated once at a Spa.  She was a premonition for sure,  alongside the three photos of the ocean and including the bed-on-the-rocks beside the sea (to dream for), and Daniel Craig walking towards me.   

So here's the craic. The floatation company I've been working for is called Ocean Float Rooms.  It's like having a bed by the sea.
And the owner has the body and stature of Daniel Craig, as far as I can tell.
 
Warm and ambient wishes, Mary

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Sunflowers, bullfrogs and no Costa   

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I never grow tired of flying into the beautiful city of Toulouse.   It's aptly known as La Ville Rose because of the pink terracotta bricks used in many of its buildings.  It's a wonderful place to explore on foot - for a romantic weekend perhaps - with the majestic river Garonne coursing through it.  The boutiques, restaurants and cafés are decidedly chic and it's very easy to part with your euros.
 
Toulouse is also the landing spot for my Soul Alive Retreat.  There are flights here from all over the UK but I favour British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5; it's easy and accessible.  Then it's only a 45-minute drive to the villa in this lesser known department of SW France where you can quickly feel as if you're stepping back in time.

I host two Retreats a year - in the late Spring and early fall.  In June, everything is bursting forth with new life.  In September the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  

The Retreats take place in the tiny village of Vieux, which means 'old' if your French is a bit rusty.  You won't hear a plane passing overhead but you may hear a tractor passing through or a busy bullfrog if it's the mating season.

Our home from home for six days is the 14th century property called Le Presbytere and we have the exclusive use of it.  It sounds a bit 'churchy' doesn't it and that's because it was once the home of the village pastor who took in weary travellers on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail, which passes right outside the door.  

The solid wooden door of Le Presbytere stands opposite the old church built at the same time.  It's the perfect location for head-weary folk to take time-out from their uber-busy lifestyle to rest and regroup. We use the villa and its charming gardens in the mornings for creative contemplation using the somatic arts and mindfulness practice as starting points.

Not confined to the walls of villa, however, we venture forth to a different restaurant each day for lunch. The afternoons are spent exploring the Tarn Valley with its picturesque Bastide hill towns and countryside peppered with sunflowers and vines.  A suitable balm for the nervous system and the opportunity to stop ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ and to absorb the riches that life offers so naturally and abundantly.

You won't find Costa on every corner here, not even in the city.  I take my hat off to the French for honouring their traditions and preserving their history so tastefully.

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With your own en-suite double room, this is a rare opportunity to take time-out to muse and to linger on whatever you fancy and to escape the need to be on call to anyone. 

I encourage people to switch off their mobiles and not access the internet for these 6 days for their own benefit  - but I don't forbid it!  Out of respect for others I ask that any connection with the outside world is made quietly and discreetly from your own room.

 

Maybe September suits you better the weather is still glorious and the grapes just harvested to make the delicious Gaillac wines for which this region is famous.  Just let me know.

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If you've hit a metaphorical brick wall or know someone who is rather jaded and in need of a break, this all-inclusive Soul Alive Retreat might fit the bill.

 We can always talk it through by phone on 0782 7017188.  

Or I'm happy to meet for a coffee if that's practical.

A toute a l'heure, Mary

 

One participant from Sweden recounts her experience:

"I enjoyed Mary's week-long retreat very much.  A beautiful place to stay and beautiful places to visit.  I particularly liked the combination of inner work in the morning and exploring the surroundings in the afternoon.  The silence before breakfast worked well for me and the writing, drawing, and sharing activities gave me a lot of useful insight and inspiration." 

"I've continued writing and drawing since arriving back home.  I've also been out into the woods gathering mushrooms and into the garden to pick apples for baking and juicing.  A lot of creativity was aroused in me during the week and this has helped me find my way through a career change soon after my return".  

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#retreat #humanspirit #self-reflection #contemplation #timeout #sensuous #possibilities #mindfulness #sensoryplay #intentions #creativity #mindset #goals #hope #passion #motivation #inspiring #inspired #somuchlove #supported #encouraged #motivation #thelittlethings #progress #gettingcreative   

 

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A single women's heart's desire

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Most single women who make a Vision Board have in the back of their mind the desire for a partner to share their life with.  I often see images of couples in an embrace or enjoying each other’s company.  It’s rare the vision board maker is so brazen as to pick an image of a couple quite blatantly getting married.  But on Anne’s board there were two!

Anne was in a long-term relationship of 16-year duration.  During this time her partner had proposed a couple of times but Anne hadn’t been ready for it.  Her hands were full running a family business, which she’d taken over from her parents, and she’d been raising two children too.  Because she couldn’t see her way beyond these commitments, her partner had dropped it.  So when the images of wedding couples first appeared, she assumed it was to do with her son getting married.

Five months later it was a different story.  She had now sold the family business and shed the all-consuming identity that went with it.  She was entering a new phase of her life with a different set of needs and values emerging.  Not surprisingly, marriage seemed entirely appropriate to her now and it was she who popped the question to her partner - who readily accepted.  It was only after this she remembered the images of the two wedding couples on her Vision Board.

When people are making their Vision Boards I always encourage them not to plan in advance what images should appear.  The creator begins their exploration with an empty mind and a blank sheet of paper. And I continue to go to great lengths to ensure their cognitive mind is occupied in order to give their intuitive intelligence the chance to have a voice. 

If a single woman desires a relationship - yet an obvious representation does not fall into her hands on the day of the workshop - then I encourage her to leave it alone.  It's safer to assume it’s not part of her programme for the foreseeable future and she has other priorities.. 

Obviously she can still willfully find a picture and stick it in the centre.  However, in the grander scheme of things, this might be a distraction and cause her to miss out on something important beckoning to her, if she'd stayed out of her own way.

I speak from experience.  For four years the only images of men I found were either in the distance or with their backs towards me!  I had to accept for whatever reason I needed time alone and kept following the signs to learn what was required of me in the interim.  In retrospect I can see that what I’d been doing would have been quite difficult had I also been developing a relationship as well.  C’est la vie.

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Diamonds are forever.  There's one final twist to Anne's tale.  Within a month of completing her Vision Board, Anne came across a craftsmen and fell in love with a stunning pair of his earrings.  She told her ‘James Bond’ partner about them who gallantly purchased them for her. 

 

Now take a closer look at her Vision Board above.  Can you see how Anne had already pictured a pair of earrings next to the couple getting married – and next to the same couple, a picture of daisies in a similar shape and style to the diamond earrings?  Magic! 

So here’s to a woman’s heart’s desire and to the James Bond’s of this world willing to meet it, warm wishes Mary.

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#activeimagination #seeintofuture #desire #intentions #creativity #empowerment #mindset #goals #hope #dreambig #planning #gratitude #positivity #possibilities #supported #encouraged #motivation #thelittlethings #progress #gettingcreative #magic
#visionboard #arttherapy #imagination #family #craft #crafting

 

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 Too much to do and not enough time? Five good reasons to favour a Retreat

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A client was musing-out-loud recently and touched on something that resonated with me and possibly is true for many of us.

"I have too much to do and not enough time.”
“But when I get time, like on holiday, I can’t sit still for long because I want to explore where I am."
  

“It's just occurred to me the kind of ‘free time’ I really need is contemplative time just to be still and with my own thoughts and to take more notice of what's going on around me."

"I'd need a specific environment and particular conditions to provide me with this kind of free time.”
“So a holiday is not the ‘free’ time I need.  It's something else... like your Retreat!”

 

Yes, there is a big difference between taking a holiday and all the joys and pleasures it brings versus the virtues of taking contemplative time-out just for you.  

I've been running the Soul Alive Retreat  for five years now for the purpose of giving people time to themselves because:

1. You have too many plates spinning and it feels relentless  

While you’re busy spinning the plates, it’s impossible to decide which ones to drop.  Yet continuing to spin them - and more - is exhausting, especially if you’re being pulled in different directions at the same time.  

Recognising that you have a choice and deciding what changes to make is impossible when you’re in full spin  Taking time-out on a Retreat allows your head to clear and the better, alternative options become evident.

2. You're starting to snap at 'nearest and dearest'  

In fact, they may be part of the problem!  No kidding, I’ve often thought I should rename the Soul Alive Retreat “Escaping Housewives” - not that they’re exclusively for women.  It’s just that typically women leave it too long, giving so much of themselves to others; we forget to balance this with receiving - until we’re so replete and desperate to leave 'them' all to it.  

When you go on holiday with your partner, children, or friends – delightful as it is – they naturally want a piece of you so you’re still on call 24/7.  There’s no time to switch off completely and be idle and daydream with your thoughts and feelings.  On a Retreat you can.

3. You need to take stock of where you are in life because it’s been too long

Trundling along in the daily routine, there’s very little time to rise above it all and get a hot-air balloon perspective of what’s going on below.  Continuing as is, you could end up at the wrong destination before you know it.  Much better to get that higher perspective and make any adjustments now before it's too late.  

Not that any course is irreversible. It may just take a little longer to get back on track, beginning again where you are and at whatever age you’re at.  I know that one.
 
4. You've had a recent loss or change in circumstances

Hitting a wall can happen to any of us at any time – whether through health issues, bereavement, relationship problems, a career change – this is life.  The difficulty arises when you can't address this properly  because you’re so preoccupied with it, sat right in the middle of the situation.  

You cannot figure out a way through when you’re knee-deep in.   You must step back from the wall in order to come to terms with it and to receive the inner guidance you need to determine the next step… and the next.  This is the grace a Retreat offers you.

5. You have a ‘dream’ that won’t go away.  

It keeps nibbling at your ankles to get your attention and you keep pushing it to one side because it’s not convenient.  

The truth is that there’s never a perfect time to begin so why not start now.  The mind will always come up with very good reasons for you not to pursue the dream  - or to delay its start.  By going off-duty on Retreat you can see a way to begin.  You’ll also gain the support, energy and motivation to keep going.  Remember providence can move with you only after you’ve taken the first step. 

If any of these 5 reasons resonates with you, a Retreat will serve you well.  

There are many types of Retreat you can choose from but whatever the focus, its ultimate value is to restore balance, repair your sanity and improve your well-being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  When you stop being swept along by the agendas of others and start favouring your own, it's life-promoting.  

This requires longer time-out than an hour’s therapeutic or coaching session, valuable though they all are.  To make a deeper, sustainable connection to your self and to receive the powerful guidance this can provide, requires you to slow things down and slip into a more spacious experience of time and rest there for a while.  

A Retreat isn’t a selfish activity.  Returning home feeling good about yourself, empowered and confident, you have more to offer your loved ones, your work, and the world in general.  You are making a  solid investment in yourself, your happiness and well-being - and this is priceless.

If the promise of six unadulterated days to yourself lights your fire, consider joining me and other ‘blazing’ women.  

Please RSVP below or email mary@marynonde.com.   I’ll send you details about the Soul Alive Retreat in SW France, which rolls twice a year.  Set in beautiful sunshine and countryside bursting with life, this is an opportunity to be still, take stock of where you are, and arrive at what needs to happen next.

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When one door closes make a vision board to open the next

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Recently I was faced with a conundrum.  I was ready to let go of my lovely flat in Marlow which had served me well for two years, yet where I was to move to instead was a mystery. With my daughter due back from University any minute for five weeks, I chose to park fretting about it and enjoy my time with her instead.

About a week later out of the blue a very good friend called me.  Her mother had just died after a long and graceful decline and she asked me if I'd go over the next day and give her some Reiki.  As I lay my hands on her shoulders, she said:  “Mary would you like to come and live here until I get around to selling this house.  You can finish writing your book.  There’s a room for Celine too.  And Willow is accustomed to sleep overs here anyway.”  I was gob-smacked - and delighted. Here was a clear way forward without me having to use willpower and must to arrive at it.

I recalled the two doors at the top of my Intuitive Vision Board: one door closed and the other slightly ajar. When the imagery of front doors appears on Vision Boards, it frequently represents moving house. Front doors often and also sit in the “Career/Path in Life" area of the Bagua map used in Feng Shui, which is the entry point of chi into the home and the area to work on to encourage movement generally.  I had no plans to change home when I made this particular Vision Board but the deeper part had clearly known otherwise. 

"Hidden Treasure."  The words alongside the two doors resonated with me too. The value of the intuitive work I do with Vision Boards is to help people to reclaim their hidden treasure - the diamonds in their back yard which so often get overlooked because they're right under their noses.

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Ou est Marie? Now folks to find me you cross the white ornate bridge with Marlow behind you and zig-zag up the steep gradient of Winter Hill, heavily populated by cyclists at weekends since the Olympics.  Be sure to take in the wonderful view from the summit before dropping into Cookham Dean and coming to rest at my friend’s home nestled in the trees opposite Herries prep school.  All that playful, creative energy coming my way surrounded by nature.  It affords me the perfect environment to complete the writing of my book. 

We have our own dance studio too. YES!  Since we’re both dancers we’ve dedicated the large open-plan lounge, with floor to ceiling views of the garden,  to somatic movement. Now anyone wanting to book in for a dance-movement session it's easy peasy.  Drop me a line using the sign up below, or email mary@marynonde.com, or give me a call on 0782 7017188. 

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Prizewinner uses her intuitive vision board to stream into flow

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In the summer of 2016 I ran a prize draw to win a place on my Intuitive Vision Board workshop and gather data for my book.  The winner was Lisa whom I’d never met before.  The day I informed her of her prize she was giving birth to Esme.  Not surprisingly it was week’s later that she accepted her prize 

Seven months on... and an Intuitive Vision Board workshop and coaching session session behind her, and a Feng Shui consultation later (to create her home congruent with her vision), both Lisa and Esme are flying.

“Hi Mary, I just thought I’d let you know the Vision Board and our conversations have worked wonders.  I got a camera as a gift for Christmas and so far have completed two photography courses as well as online study.

“It feels so good to have the excitement and creativity back into my life beyond being a mum and homemaker.  It’s all new learning and it’s driving my confidence back up without the need to look to someone else for it.”

“We have also started digging the foundations for the extension so it looks like the magic of the board and the Feng Shui is working very quickly this year.”

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Here are some of Lisa’s photos...  You can see above how baby Esme has grown.  And with three other children too, Lisa is a full-on full-time mum and needs her home to be just right so she can function at her best.  

Her husband’s a brick.  Yes, literally, he’s a builder.  And this is rather handy because the extension they are planning is a large and visionary undertaking.

Lisa's story reminded me that once upon a time I was raising my daughter solo and running a Feng Shui practice. The latter was becoming increasingly difficult to manage alongside and I needed to make changes.  Someone suggested I go back to University to study dance and the somatic arts.  It was something I loved to do for myself and I thought it might sit well alongside parenting.  All it took was a 5-minute Google search to find the perfect course.  

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Within months I was accepted as a mature student and underway with a PGCE in Dance.  I was delighted.  Chichester was 2 ½ hours drive away from home but I managed it there and back in a day.  The degree evolved into an MA in Somatic Arts Psychotherapy and so it came to pass that between the ages of 7 to 12, 'mother' was re-educated too and involved her daughter in as many of the dance and creative activities as she could.

Similarly to Lisa I stepped into my creative stream which was just ripe for me to explore yet without compromising my other important commitments.   I’d loved the learning.  I enjoyed the contact with my peers.  I had no real idea where it would lead beyond teaching creative dance in local schools and a weekly class for adults.  It was never going to be a massive money-spinner, but neither was it time-intensive. However, it was fun, thought-provoking and very creative - and I loved facilitating it.

What might you take from this?

1.  Have you found your stream – something that awakens and excites you?  It doesn't matter how seemingly crazy and not related to anything that's gone before it is.  The discontinuous the better.  If you don’t know what it might be, come and make a Vision Board with me and it will become very evident.

2.  Don’t start to future-scope where the stream is going and whether you’ll be earning enough money at the end of it.  Try it on as a hobby and bring your full presence and joy to it.  If the activity makes your soul sing, it will have a splendid knock on effect on everyone you come into contact with; spread the joy.

3. Your stream is likely to be at the bottom of your garden.  You might think you're seeking a BIG river with a massive flow.  Not necessarily.  Lisa found her stream in photography and took courses at Jessop’s in the next town.  Okay so I went further afield but I enjoyed the travel (most of the time) for the time to be with my own thoughts.

4. Accept the stream won’t always flow smoothly.   It may be rocky at times and downright challenging to stay in it.  But ultimately it can lead you to longer-lasting, eudaimonistic fulfillment versus a shorter hedonistic thrill.   It is the place you can return to when the world feels like a fearful place and doubts and uncertainties threaten to take you over.  Peace reigns over your land.  

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How making an intuitive vision board is like having your cards read

I have three clients in the West Country.  So what are the chances that two of them live 7 miles apart when I live 225 miles away from them!  And that their names both begin with the letter “J”.

Since this was too much of a coincidence to miss, when I visited Jay1 recently to review her Intuitive Vision Board and use Feng Shui to align her home with her vision, I called on Jay2 beforehand.

Jay2 made an Intuitive Vision Board with me in February 2016.  Prior to this, she and her husband had decided they were going to up-sticks and move West at the first opportunity, close to her favourite beaches.  

There were three hurdles to overcome first: 

1.  He was still in full-time employment.  
2. Putting their existing house on the market and selling it. 
3. Sourcing a new home.

When I'd gone through Jay2’s Board, we looked together at images of a grandiose house and extensive landscaped gardens with high chiseled hedges as in a maze.  “I don’t know what that’s about”, she said “ we won’t be able to afford a place like that!”

8 months later I arrive on Jay2’s doorstep just as the sun is going down.  But with just enough light for her to walk me through extensive terraced gardens with tall chiselled hedges and secret hideaways little people would just love to explore, and every turn in the path revealing yet another bird table. All this situated on their own private hillside which cascaded down to a stream at its base, lined with beautiful trees we imagined filled with daffodils and bluebells in the springtime. 

HOW MANY OF THESE IMAGES DO YOU NOW SEE ON HER INTUITIVE VISION BOARD BELOW?

As darkness descended we retreated inside the stone-clad home - Yes, like the one on her Board. The wood-burning stove - just like the one in the photograph and came with the house, welcomed us into the lounge, creating a gorgeous hygge effect.

Jay2 could hardly contain her excitement as she talked about the plans for the new off-white kitchen – a sizeable undertaking that would begin in three days time and take three weeks to complete.  How did she know her new home would require a new off-white kitchen when she placed it on her board 8 months earlier?

We laughed as she showed me around the rest of the house and described how they were spoilt for choice when it came to toilets because this house had five!  No wonder the elephant is dancing upside down on one of those loos!

With the money from the home they’d sold in Beaconsfield, they’d been able to afford this grand property in Cornwall in the grounds of an international Golf Resort used by pros and providing Jay2 with a glamorous health club right on her doorstep.  Maybe that's why she placed three different swimmers enjoying the water on her board.

In the centre of her Vision Board is a charming photo of two penguins walking together.“ That’s me and my husband” she explained. “We hope to travel when he retires.” 

Within four months of making the Intuitive Vision Board her husband did indeed retire.  They put their house on the market immediately and shot down to the south west to take a week viewing properties in their chosen location.  The moment they stepped into their new home they fell in love with it.  It, on the other hand, had been waiting for them for two years -  empty.  On their return to Beaconsfield, their house sold quickly and they moved - all within 5 months of creating her vision board!

Postscript to the Penguins.  Jay2 and her husband did indeed start to travel, only one month after moving in.  They took off to Canada and saw mountainous scenery just like the backdrop behind the penguins.  Staying with their son on Vancouver Island, they visited wild and windy driftwood beaches which closely resembled those on her board.

Their son lives in a timber-framed property with 360 degree views of forest and has the odd black bear who likes to visit and rummage through their bins.  Most intriguingly of all, he had placed a line of coloured vases in a row on a high beam in their home to catch the light.  Oh, you mean like the colourful collection of vases on Jay2's board?  How intuitive is that!

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A close shave with retail therapy

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A client of mine, Susan O, has admirably came to terms with her retail therapy habit by using Feng Shui and De-cluttering methods.  

I caught up with her recently and she told me how her resolve to stay solvent had been severely tested.  

See if you can relate to this.  Or maybe you know someone who is similarly prone to shopping rather than confront what is real causing the behavioural problem?

“In the space of one week I found myself buying a brand-new carpet and a new car.  One was on order and the other sitting in my parking lot while I sat inside the house painfully ruminating on both decisions.  I felt psychologically drained and tethered by the credit arrangements I’d just taken on."

“The car had come about because I’d gone in for a routine service and was persuaded to try a Fiat courtesy car.  Even as I drove the vehicle home, with all the papers signed, my daughter’s words rang in my ears: "we don’t need a new car, Mum.  We can manage with the one we’ve got!”

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“Fortunately, there was a loophole in Fiat's financial calculations.  I didn’t have the money to sustain the increased payments required, which would have left me with no disposable income. I used this as my get-out opportunity."  

“With the carpet I was even braver with no loophole to fall back on.  I was booked to have it fitted on a Saturday and on the Monday beforehand I called and cancelled the order.  The carpet man was confrontational but when I said I was very sorry and would he accept a cancellation fee, he backed down and even wavered the fee.  Now I'm clear of the danger zone, I can clearly see we can manage perfectly well with the existing carpet and avoid the upheaval the fitting of a new carpet brings."

“It was a close shave on both accounts and I felt I'd been tested.  It was evident to me that my psychological perspective had shifted.  I feel stronger and no longer a victim so I'm much less of a risk to myself and far less prone to putting myself under financial pressure again."

If you consider Feng Shui and Decluttering might help someone you know please put them in touch.  The advantages of this therapeutic approach is its immediacy;  the changes are made on the spot and often directly where the dysfunction occurs.  Please give me a call if there on 07827017188 if there is anything you'd like to explore or email mary@marynonde.com or use the sign up below.

The obvious advantage is you don't have to leave the safety of the counselling space to return home to implement the remedial actions on your own.  I am right there with you.  

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Being comfortable in your own skin is worth more than the bigger house.

A personal epiphany that began 8 years ago ...

My relationship with Catherine began when she attended my weekly dance-movement class. What a great class it was too! Both men and women lapping up that liberating feeling that moving freely to music gives you.

Catherine arrived without expectations.

Since she’d never done any dance-movement improvisation or expressive art before, she anticipated Moving with Mindfulness would open her up to new experiences and she was ready to bring them on.  

After these classes she came along to make a Vision Board with me.  

Then she joined me for two Soul Alive Retreats in a row.  

More recently she returned to the studio for a Moving with Mindfulness workshop. 

“My creativity has snow-balled," she says.

And finally Catherine is now embracing Feng Shui & Decluttering as a valuable mainstay for living an authentic life.  As a person inclined to hold on than let go, she would never have believed she'd find herself getting into that at the outset!

I remember Catherine in her first class.  She had a big smile on her face throughout the movement section.  But when it came to capturing on paper what was alive and moving through her in that moment, she declared that she might skip this because she had trouble drawing anything beyond matchstick men.  I gently told her it was not about being artistic but giving her inner creativity a voice .... and so she continued to draw.

Reflecting back on this 8 years later, she recognises the limiting beliefs operating and had been in place since her childhood.  But working with expressive creativity over time has helped her to salve these wounds – not that this was visibly top of her agenda at the outset because she wasn’t aware she was holding those beliefs.

As the only child growing up in the early 50s, her mother worked in the home while her father was the breadwinner.  She remembers with fondness her mother encouraging her to cut out images from greetings cards and sticking them into scrapbooks. Colouring in was also very popular and she enjoyed that too. She cannot remember being encouraged to do any freestyle drawing.  “You simply weren’t allowed to unless you evidently had a talent for it.” How curious is it that artistic talent is expected to descend on us from the heavens without any cultivation while other subjects like Maths, say, don't carry this expectation. 

When it came to writing, the pressure for Catherine to get it right, "i-dotting and t-crossing" she recalls, removed any joy for her and burdened the task with perfection.  This was before the days of computers; writing was long-hand - and in pencil - and you were only allowed a rubber if you were lucky. In using a typewriter, any mistake required you to rip out the paper and start all over again.

Hardly surprising Catherine developed a creative block – a fear of committing pen to paper in case she got it wrong and was reprimanded.  Coupled with the fact that she was the youngest in her year group, resulted in her repeatedly finding herself near the bottom of the class which was tough on her self-esteem.

She remembers her mother as the grounding force in her life, consistently encouraging Catherine in all her extra-curricula developments including amateur dramatics and Scottish dancing.  Then suddenly age 10, her mother died.

Catherine’s first thought as she watched her mother being wheeled into an ambulance from an upstairs window was: “Oh no, there’s going to be lots of letter-writing now!” 

Catherine was left alone with her father and dog.  After 10 months of being shunted between relatives, Catherine arrived at a Royal Masonic boarding school at the other end of the country.  To her horror she’s learned that she would be required to write home every week.  From school she went to catering college and from there took a job as an au-pair girl in the South of France.  Returning to the UK for a holiday, she stayed with a friend in High Wycombe and has lived and worked there for 40 years since - and still thinks of herself as a Lancashire lass at heart!

"I am convinced that the creative journey enabled me to become fully myself for the first time ever."   What a profound realisation!  Catherine believes that by eradicating her fear of not needing to be perfect restored her confidence in herself. And with my encouragement, she came to realise it was more than ok to just do it – move, write, draw, make – and not have to worry for one moment about the end result because the transformational power was in the process itself.  

"It could be make-believe, abstract, representational – whatever.  My creative expression didn’t need to be anything in particular.  I came to trust that it was only and always about me being authentic with whatever I was feeling, sensing or imagining at the time.  This enabled me to become unstuck from my old story, which was most liberating.

Her journaling and freehand drawing has continued in spurts.  Over time Catherine has clearly observed themes emerging in her writing as she reflected on issues she was working through at the time.  

“Journaling slowed me down and allowed me to look over my own shoulder so I became much more self-aware.  In the beginning, the theme of 'time' was very evident in my creative work, particularly during the first retreat; what I was doing and how I was spending my days preoccupied me.  

I’ve now moved into a ‘sifting and sorting’ mode that comes out in my journalling too.  It also compels me to condense, clear and clarify all my belongings and this focuses my mind and body in the home.  It's highly creative and productive work yet demands a lot of my energy so I can only get stuck-in on my days off.”

With only 12 months to go before retirement, Catherine’s creativity is clearly preparing her for this major life transition and will guide her in deciding “what next?”  The sorting helps her prioritise what is truly important and how best to arrange her life for easy access to this – and to ditch the rest.  

“What began as an exercise in ordering my material things has turned out to be all about sorting me out - and it’s very satisfying.”  "I am now very clear what my life is about and what I truly enjoy.  As a young woman I needed to be accommodating in order to survive.  I've now released the need to do so and I only accommodate what is right for me." 

"I can see how the creative process opens doors to different people in different ways depending on where they are in their life.  For me it’s been all about my giving myself permission to be authentically me.”

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