ARMADILLO. Discerning, empathetic, resilient
Most contemporary visions and the vision boards that go with them are frankly tame. Why is that?
Because their scope is limited to images chosen by their maker to meet predetermined definitions of what success, happiness and achievement should look like. But this is only from the finite frame of reference of the maker’s logical-left brain, dipping into a limited pool of information stored inside their cognitive mind.
This type of concept board originated in the world of design, where it served to capture ideas, moods and concepts together in one place. From the outset the designer is deliberately working to a brief and controlling the search filters to meet it.
This is creative planning; it’s not visioning.
It is not very inspiring either. It’s certainly not innovative. And no new thinking can breakthrough or emerge under these conditions.
On the contrary, look what happened for a range of intuitive vision board makers who chose to quell their logical-left brain in favour of their creative right-brain to explore where they might be heading in their lives. Such a variety of unpremeditated Intuitive Vision Boards emerged.
An Asset Manager says …
“A wonderful process to step away from rationalising, organising, and processing to a free-form creativity and letting your imagination have a turn. It left me feeling very in touch with what I want.”
A 17-year old says ….
“I’ve never worked in silence for that long before and being in that particular room helped me gain clarity and to really think about and plan my vision board. I can now visualise how I’d like my life to be.”
A Copywriter says ….
“A very powerful technique. Not for one moment did my left-brain switch on so it felt wonderfully liberating. Mary is such a generous facilitator.”
A Healer says …
“I really enjoyed having the time and space for myself to be creative and in the moment. It gave me chance to explore and visualise where I want to go ….”
To discover what making an Intuitive Vision Board can unlock for you, find a workshop date to suit you. Or drop me a line if you prefer to work one-to-one. http://www.marynonde.com/vision-board-workshop
I asked for feedback at a recent workshop and this is what Helena gave me.
You may relate to this if you’ve made an Intuitive Vision Board with me before.
If not it will give you a jolly good insight into what to expect.
FAQS ABOUT THE INTUITIVE VISION BOARD WORKSHOP
Seek clarity, find your path, achieve a breakthrough
These are the questions I am asked the most about the Intuitive Vision Board workshop, which is ideal for those who are at a crossroads and wondering which way to go next.
Do I need to be intuitive or have psychic ability to make an Intuitive Vision Board?
Not at all. It is a straightforward creative process that anyone can follow to connect you to your intuition and super-conscious intelligence and ideas beyond the scope of everyday intelligence.
How often should I make a vision board?
Once a year is a good interval. Most of the board’s content will have emerged during that time and you’ll be ready to explore what’s waiting for you around the next corner.
Does it matter if I have a vision board already?
No, especially if it’s a visualisation kind where you gave thought to what it would contain in advance of making it. That’s a goal-setting exercise rather than visioning but the two boards might sit well together.
What an intuitive vision board does is unveil surprises and opportunities, prompt you in taking alternative actions – and that’s what’s so exciting about it.
Is it an all day workshop?
Not quite. It’s five hours from 10am – 3pm. Hot drinks are provided but a bottle of water and something for you to nibble on would be useful to bring.
Where is it held?
My favoured local haunt is the light and airy garden room in Bourne End Library, South Bucks. It’s quiet and secluded and on Sundays we have it to ourselves.
The workshop can travel anywhere too if you’ve got a group of 8 or more lined up and ready to go. Please enquire..
How young is too young?
A four-year old once attended alongside her mum but she could use a pair scissors well on her own. It’s more suited to older children, particularly those at choice points in their education. The workshop is super-helpful in giving them direction and confidence.
What’s the age limit?
The oldest so far has been a 78-year old spiritual leader. Past retirement age an intuitive vision board can help you explore how to ‘unwind’ after a busy life and what legacy you want to leave behind.
Do I need to prepare anything in advance?
Absolutely nothing. It will all happen on the day, in the moment, starting from a clear head. This is a visioning exercise you see and not planning. You’ll use the right-brain and not the left.
What do I bring?
Your wonderful self. A few magazines (although I provide loads and all the art materials). And about half a dozen objects of different sizes to create a group installation - but you will take them away again afterwards.
What will I leave the workshop with?
1. A large inspirational vision board which you’ll love to pieces
2. Additional insights into what else you may need to bring your vision to life
3. Other gems from your interactions with fellow visionaries and observing the range and variety of their intuitive vision boards
4. A private coaching session to follow to focus on your board and explore in-depth the signs and metaphors emerging and what they might mean for you.
Alternatively Chapter 6 in Awaken Your Intuitive Vision describes what you should look out for on your intuitive vision board.
May I ask a question?
Yes, please contact me here.
Thank you for reading these FAQs. If you think of anyone who is seeking clarity over some area of their life or could do with a steer in finding their path, please share these FAQs with them.
I’d like to attend the workshop what next?
Have a look at the dates coming up on my Events page and then reserve your place.
Or, if you’re a busy professional, having a one-to-one workshop and coaching session with me on a day to suit you may work better. Please enquire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feng Shui. It sounds so mysterious and foreign doesn’t it? But at the heart of this ancient practice is a solid core of common sense and applied wisdom, designed to improve the quality of your life.
Feng Shui works on the basic premise that your prospects will improve when the environments in which you spend most of your time - home and work - are in harmony. Why should that be?
Because a building has a similar function to your body: it is there to support you in leading a rich and satisfying life. However, it can only serve you when you take the time and trouble to nurture it in turn. When your body is run down you become ill more easily. Insufficient rest, poor diet, inadequate sleep, and too much stress can contribute to this because it throws the body out of balance. When you neglect - or make gross changes to - your home, unaware that it is living system too, it can react in a similar way to your body; it gets sick. Correspondingly, you may notice things things go awry both inside your home and office and affect your affairs generally.
Warning signs you may need to pay particular attention to your environment are when:
· Your career, wealth, and health matters needs a boost
· Your relationships are in conflict or flagging
· You are remodelling a room or building an extension
· You are planning to sell (or rent) a house
· You are designing a new home or office building
· You are moving home or relocating the office
Literally translated Feng Shui means ‘wind and water’, which will make more sense shortly. It was originally an oral tradition that has been practised for over 3000 years in China, predating Confucius and the Tao as a body of knowledge. Other ancient civilisations also had their version of Feng Shui, which they lived by.
Early Feng Shui experts were consulted to determine the best sites for homes and villages. They looked for evidence of where the life-force energy, called Ch’i in Feng Shui, was most vibrant and flowed in a manner which supported life.
Our ancestors lived in much closer relationship to nature. It was perfectly normal to want to be in tune with nature and be able to decipher the language of the land intuitively; after all the environment was a living entity and every physical feature told a story about the quality of Ch’i with which it was imbued. They located buildings with consideration and built homes in a manner, which did not upset the natural habitat or adversely affect the movement of Ch’i.
All this is hard for us to comprehend today, which is why we are quick to label it superstitious. That’s because our prevailing ‘superstition’ is almost solely scientifically based. Early Feng Shui practitioners were not scientists. They had a very pragmatic approach to life, based on their observations of what worked and what didn’t because of the effect it had on people. They also had a well-developed intuitive and mystical faculty and were very adept at reading the signs. It’s much the same for Feng Shui practitioners today although most of our clients do not live in close proximity to nature so it’s not surprising our systems get out of balance easily.
Contemporary Feng Shui
The average person is a long way off even noticing the environment in which they live beyond the shops, the school, and the patch of green where they can walk the dog. We barely know what is under our feet because concrete covers most populated areas. When asked where the nearest natural water supply is, the closest hill to their home, or where the sun rises and sets – all of which still affect the quality of Ch’i arriving at our homes - most are at a loss to answer.
Feng Shui practitioners today are investigating very different scenarios to their predecessors. Most of the time we’re diagnosing buildings that exist rather than advising on the creation of new structures. Our intentions are still the same however – to cultivate the health, prosperity, happiness of the inhabitants.
Alive, connected, dynamic
The art of living mindfully with the environment is based on three fundamental principles. These are not exclusive to Feng Shui and shared by many spiritual teachers, holistic practitioners, and not the least, quantum physicists.
Common to all is the understanding that non-visible life-force energy is omnipresent. Ch’i animates, connects and moves through everything, including objects that appear entirely solid.
1. Everything is alive
Even an inanimate object like a sofa, which appears lifeless and immobile, is still endowed with Ch’i of a certain quality and quantity. It appears static but is composed of millions of particles in motion. That’s why it’s so important to choose the objects you have around you with care. The fact you inherited a vase or someone gave it to you should not justify its continued existence, unless you love the sight of it too.
2. Everything is connected
You are part of the interconnected web of life. You affect and are affected by everything around you; there are no islands. This means choosing your neighbourhood and your surroundings wisely because the Ch’i emanating from them will impact you. Since you can’t up and move easily or get rid of your neighbours, this means doing what you can to minimise the more unsavoury influences around you.
Inside buildings negative influences includes clutter. That over-crowded cupboard at the entrance to the home can have a restrictive and irritating ripple-effect on the whole space, if left unattended. The bank of over-filled filing cabinets in the centre of the office can have a choking effect on the whole business.
3. Everything is constantly changing
Ch’i is constantly in a state of flux and movement. This includes both the Ch’i inside your body as well as in your environment. Your home and office can get stuck in a time warp if you’re not careful and pull you back into old patterns of behaviour you’d like to outgrow.
You’d do well to lighten up more when it comes to how and where you live and not allow yourself to become so entrenched with the status quo. Let your space change and dance with the moment and movement of life. Let your external environment be the outward expression of your inner aspirations for congruency sake; as without so within.
In the meantime, here are some sure-fire Feng Shui attention-seeking hot spots to enhance the flow of Ch’i around you:
· Decluttering the obstacles to success
· Unblocking thresholds to the flow of Ch’i
· Moving furniture around for optimum location
· Balancing architectural problems
· Softening harsh angles and replacing missing corners
If you desire to live in a lovely home, sell the one you have quickly and achieve a good asking price, or simply lead a good life, you would be wise to do everything in your power to attend to the environment you are currently living in. Prevention is less troublesome and expensive than cure.
To learn more about practical Feng Shui, please join me for: Pamper Your Home with Feng Shui - a one-day introduction to the art of creating vibrant and harmonious living spaces by requesting details here: http://www.marynonde.com/contact/
To speak to me about a Feng Shui consultation, please get in touch here: http://www.marynonde.com/contact/
To discover what your inner aspirations truly are join me to make an Intuitive Vision Board by requesting details here: http://www.marynonde.com/contact/
Mary Nondé, Feng Shui practitioner, Intuitive Vision Board instructor, and author of ‘Awaken Your Intuitive Vision - unlocking possibilities you never knew existed’. www.marynonde.com
When MF came to make this vision board she was in personal transition and flux, which was playing out in her family life too. She knew it was time to stop doing once again and re-evaluate where she was heading. Rather than make a vision board on her own as she’d historically done, dragging the family along with its content afterwards, she wanted them all to play a part in creating the next chapter of life they hoped to share together. I took the Intuitive Vision Board workshop to their home so they could make a board together. This is what transpired though MF’s eyes.
“My first vision board with Mary was a personal prophecy about returning to my feminine self; switching off the corporate superwoman who had created a very successful business and switching on the yogi, the vegan, the healer. I was desperate to shed the bread-winning, decision-making mantle and become a woman ready to receive. “
“It was not an easy transition; it took time and there were moments when I felt very lost. Besides we were in a difficult place as a couple after 24 years together while my relationship with my sister was challenging too. Losing both parents within six months of one another, in very painful circumstances, had left me in a vulnerable place. It was altogether a heart-rendering time.”
“The idea of making a vision board together initially met with resistance from both my son (age 12) and my husband. But I persevered because I believed it was important for us. I had no idea what would come from it but I trusted Mary to create a safe space and her gentle shepherding through the process would give us what we needed to express our innermost desires.
Surprisingly, my husband who’d been very reluctant at first, became totally immersed in the process and took great pains to place his images intricately into the whole.
“He also took on the self-appointed role of policing our activity to ensure we each had equal opportunity to be heard.”
“Creating the vision board together was no effort at all; no friction, no dispute. I can’t say at all who put what on where, it just happened. What was extraordinary to me was that with three of us choosing the images independently - and in silence – that a consistent 3-part theme emerged between us: the desire for closeness, family time together, and to travel in the big outdoors.”
“In the early weeks after creating our family road-map, I’d look at our board and think: nothing’s happening! But then I reminded myself that 6-months elapsed before I saw any action on my personal vision board. The first sign of life was when I found a yoga practitioner in the US I liked and connected up with her online. She’d just returned from South America with a beautiful stripy rug just like the one on my board. We’re moving in the right direction I felt.”
“I’d been very privileged to be in travel marketing for 30 years, yet we’d done very little travel of late since I was no longer bringing in a regular corporate salary. We had no plans ahead and nothing in the diary, yet all over our vision board there were inspiring worldwide destinations we had all chosen. I’d just received my first travel writing commission around the time of making the family board and that was for a short haul trip - and solo.”
A complete transformation
“But after six months living with the board everything changed. In the following year the opportunities to write and to travel came thick and fast. It was mind-blowing - and it didn’t escape the notice of either my son or my husband.”
“In hindsight what started out as a beautiful pictorial vision of places and experiences we aspired to, I can honestly say we did most of them within 18 months.
My love of travel – or should I say our love of travel – was well and truly re-ignited and shared. As if that wasn’t enough, one of the travel articles I wrote got picked up by a TV broadcaster who approached me to set up a new travel programme.
The monthly programme will run across a network of 27 stations in the UK and reach 6.4m adults a month. Not only did creating our vision board together reunite and inspire us as a family, I hope it will now inspire millions of other people to visit places they may never have dreamed possible. All because we committed to spending the afternoon together and were willing to listen to what our hearts desired.”
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 …
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
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.
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.
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.
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Battle of the Somme revisited
This summer I visited the First World War sites in Pas de Calais. Clutching a copy of Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks) with its moving portrayal of this tragic moment in history, I was there to witness a tiny fraction of the 4-month horror that was the Battle of the Somme and to visit my daughter working there.
Remains of war
The war ended 100 years ago but every day new shells surface, some undetonated, along with other warfare debris. On average 30 more bodies appear every year.
There is no escaping the consequences of man’s collective insanity embedded in this now tranquil landscape, despite the tastefully-designed memorial sites and the seldom applauded work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC ). Their staff and team of gardeners are relentless in manning and maintaining them through all weathers, the biggest concentration of which are the 400+ cemeteries in Northern France and Belgium.
The day after the first battle in which 1 million casualties were reported out of 3.5 million fighting men, some soldiers reported a low, continuous moaning rising up from the ground itself. It wasn’t coming from the few remaining survivors, it was coming from the earth itself. From a Feng Shui perspective trauma like this needs clearing from the environment and a counter-balancing healing energy introduced, which is exactly what the CWGC have been able do and why their continued presence is so important.
Villagers were forced to abandon their homes and their farms so men could fight for priority over a ridge of land or push back the 12-mile front line to cross the no-man’s land separating sons, fathers and husbands on both sides.
After the war the French Government had the idea to seal off this barren wasteland by planting a huge forest but local farmers were not in favour of this. And who can blame them. This was their home before the fight began. Besides a forest would have rendered this area a ‘no-man’s land’ forever, with no-one being able to venture in there again safely.
Sheep are already set to graze on some war zones to keep the grass down because it’s considered better to blow a sheep up than a groundsman. It’s a moot point isn’t it? The fact is you can’t get rid of dangerous ammunition that easily. Much of it is too deeply buried. The options are to keep pushing it back down into the earth when it tries to surface - and some people are employed just to do that - or transport it away to blow it up, which has additional dangers to it.
"T'is ne'er worth it"
The First World War is over but the energy of violence and anguish is embedded in this countryside. In Feng Shui we explore this as ‘predecessor history’ and it can continue to exert an influence over the destiny of a place unless attended to. I was fascinated to learn the German army gravitated to Thiepval and occupied the ridge again in the Second World War. They headquartered right underneath the 45 metre high monument itself, climbing the spiral staircase inside the thick columns to engrave their names around its summit.
My purpose in writing is not to glorify the Great War in any shape or form - and I never once got this impression from CWGC personnel. Nor was it to stand victorious on a piece of turf called Thiepval as member of the Commonwealth, which bears both the British and French flags and the names of the 72,000 commonwealth soldiers who died in the vicinity. It’s worth remembering thousands of German soldiers died here too.
Pilgrimage lest we forget
I believe it’s important we make a pilgrimage to these sites - and to include our children and young students - because there is already a generation between them and the World Wars. We need to be reminded of our capacity for aggression, which becomes evident when we insist our point of view is right and then convince ourselves this justifies the need to defend our corner.
Visiting these beautiful sites you cannot help be moved by the tragedy; our lives predicated on the shoulders of the brave men and women before us. Whole villages lost their sprightly youth on the first day of battle. I shuddered to think of the grief endured back home. The oldest male First World War veteran, Harry Patch, a combat soldier in Passchendaele, died aged 109 only a few years ago. He’d been wounded three times in action and still miraculously survived. While he stayed quiet about the war until later in life then he had much to say about it which amounted to: “T’is ne’er worth it. "
"I felt then, as I do now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
Lest we should also forget, in this war you were shot at dawn by your comrades if you deserted. Perhaps you were too traumatised to face going over the line again to be met by a bevy of machine gun fire. But if you hid instead then this was your fate. Horrendous.
Locating your forebears
I was delighted to hear the CWGC have created a Foundation so provide informative tours by students and graduates at the main visitors’ centres of Thiepval, France and Ypres, Belgium. These operate from the outbreak of war on July 28 (1914) to Armistice Day on November 11 (1918).
Following their intense two-week on-site training to be tour leaders, these students will continue to be ambassadors on their return home, spreading awareness in schools, colleges of the trouble with war and the consequences of it. The free guided tours are packed with a variety of content. You can miss so much by drifting around the memorial sites on your own, although you may still want to take a moment before or after to stand and reflect in silence.
If you come supplied with as much information as you can about a family member lost in action, they will not only direct you towards their grave or memorial site but also help you to flesh out your family tree. I am from Devonshire stock and I travelled all the way to France to discover my grandfather came from a family of 11, including two sets of twins. Since I've only managed to have one child I found this awesome. I knew my grandfather had not fought in France but I didn’t know why. I learnt he had been seconded to the Indian army and accompanied them to Mesopotamia.. As a secondary school teacher who’d never been north of south Devon, this must have been an extraordinary awakening. All this information and more was provided by the highly-informed History graduate on the help desk.
Open all year
We decided to visit the Devonshire regiment cemetery, a small site tucked away behind a copse of trees, beautifully maintained and peaceful. That was before the tranquillity of the moment was disturbed by the sudden appearance of a fighter jet, capable of travelling at a supersonic speed of 1,550 mph, whose shrill engine pierced the air. While in the nearby wood we could hear regular gunfire from farmers killing off crop marauders. Both noises were enough to be intimidating. I could only imagine how soldiers would have felt to hear the continuous onslaught of machine guns or be bombarded with mortars leaving massive craters in the ground around them while shattering the bodies of men in the process.
Thiepval and Ypres are within 1 ½ hours of the Channel Tunnel and the Calais and Dunkerque ferry ports respectively. The lovely French town of Arras and the Belgium town of Gent are good places to stay, within easy drive of the main sites. We must visit these memorial sites, not just to honour those who sacrificed their lives for us. We must also be on guard to our capacity to be judgemental and decide that we are right and another is wrong when it’s only our thinking that makes it so. Our unexplored thoughts, yet believing them to be absolutely right, is how disputes brew, fights begin, and wars take hold. Meanwhile Harry Patch reminds us of the consequences:
“I’ve never got over it. You never forget it. Never.
If your New Year's resolutions are already wilting on the vine try making an Intuitive Vision Board instead. 90% of successful people swear by them, including Oprah and Beyonce.
A vision board is a creative tool. Essentially it's a collage - and by making it, focuses your attention on what you really want to do, be or have in your life.
It looks easy enough, cutting out images from magazines and sticking them onto a board to represent your ideas. But there's also an art and a science behind the not-so-superficial Vision Board; Creative Arts Therapy and Neuroscience. Without a skilled facilitator to guide you into more meaningful territory, you could end up with the same-old predictable ideas appearing on your Board. Or, in the case of the DIY scenario, get bored half way through your creation, wander off and leave your vision incomplete.
What’s wrong with New Year resolutions?
Nothing as such. It's just they're made by the head - the logical left-brain along with most of our decision-making. If you allow the logical left-brain to take the lead in making a Vision Board, you'll be foraging in a dry water bed. It's boring and unimaginative.
Here's what can happen. Classes in my health club are packed in January with massive waiting lists. By February it’s back to normal again. Why? Because the resolutions were made with the head and not the heart, so it becomes a myopic Do List with no passion or feeling behind it.
On the other hand, making an Intuitive Vision Board with the intuitive right-brain will help to clarify your real priorities and keep you focused on the right things. The outcome can be innovative and radical. You'll also gain a more balanced perspective of what is best for you.
Here are the differences between the two.
Logical left-brain in charge
wants quick results
no time for sentiment or sweet humanity
Logical left believes you should only return to your softer aspirations, like attending a Vegan cookery school, when your loftier goals are achieved. What this limited thinking fails to take into account is the Vegan cookery school could be just what you need to boost your vitality and enable those loftier goals to be achieved with less effort.
By going to a different place and meeting a new crowd of people could set in motion a whole sequence of synchronicity, not calculable in advance, to steer you in the best direction of what you desire the most.
Intuitive Right-brain at the wheel
softer, fluid approach
responds to symbolism and metaphor
enjoys the poetics of colour and form
and goddammit, it's illogical!
In my Intuitive Vision Board Workshops I facilitate a right-brain approach exclusively. I respect the meandering way intuitive intelligence operates, feeling its way into selecting the images and creating an intriguing and meaningful constellation on the Vision Board.
I love to observe people working in the creative 'zone'. The energy and the space around them expands exponentially. I also know from past experience the probability of them achieving a personal break-through is very high.
Visit here for information about my upcoming Vision Board Workshops.
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Visionary with her Intuitive Vision Board
My newly-graduated daughter is preparing job applications. When you're young and full of energy, when you've worked hard and got a first-class honours degree (History), when you already show valuable work experience acquired in the school holidays and you still don't get snapped up, it's one of life's many challenges she's to face.
One of five
She was pipped at second interview for two lip-smacking jobs that on paper suited her down to the ground. In one she made it past 130 applicants to arrive on the short list of five. I was mightily impressed. At the palace too. Yes, The Palace. On her first visit she was directed to the wrong gate and had to make a right royal run through the Queen's back corridors to get there on time.
'i' before 'e'
The second near miss was for the National Trust at Cliveden; the most frequented NT property in the whole UK apparently. Her writing sample they liked very much but they didn't like her spelling Cliveden wrong!
Having spent the previous three years in Clifton at Bristol University, it was a mistake easily made under pressure - but 'Clifton' cost her.
On another occasion she turned down a marketing communications job because the photos of the product turned her stomach. Fair enough I suppose, she's not a scientist. You have to draw the line somewhere and hers went right through the centre of a colostomy bag.
Wisdom of hindsight
This episode recalls to mind a treatise on fate. Sometimes in life you have accept things as they are presented. Sometimes this means doing the one thing you're resisting like crazy. Having put up a fervent protest, only to find a particular clump of chewing gum is still sticking to your shoe, then the odds are it has your name on it. Somewhere in the distant future, you'll look back and realise how essential that hated, fated job or task turned out to be.
Since I can't impart these words of wisdom on my daughter because I'm only her mother and what do I know, I'm sharing them with you instead. Thank you!
My first-ever job after University was to work for my father. I absolutely didn't want to sell swimming pools or hot tubs. Nor did I want to start immediately after graduation. I wanted to travel, see the world, spread my wings. He wasn't at all sympathetic - nor impressed with my Anthropology degree from Durham University; I was of no use to anyone with that!
Readers, he had a particularly chauvinistic attitude and thankfully it is not everybody's experience of fatherly love. Anyway his solution was to slot me straight into secretarial college where two afternoons a week, I learned to touch-type on a typewriter; one of those quaint devices with honky-tonk keys. One false letter and you had to tear the whole sheet of paper out and start again.
Fate worse than death
Not only was it my job to type, I had first to decipher the illegible hand-written scrawl of three male directors and churn out their correspondence error-free. Computers had made it onto the scene but they were still comparable to the size of a double-decker bus so not many businesses had room for them. We didn't.
The other excruciating job I had was to front the showroom as sales receptionist. Excruciating because I didn't know a thing about swimming pools. But I knew a lot about the culture and behaviour of primitive peoples and not many of them came into the showroom, not even in Devon. With one eye on the typewriter, both ears on the telephone for in-bound calls, the other eye was free to meet and greet customers shopping for this high-end product after they'd finished at the market. Once I'd got over the initial embarrassment, curiously enough I enjoyed it.
If the esteemed Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, had been around I'm sure he would have counselled me accordingly: "That which stands in the way is the way, Mary."
But I was two thousand years too late for him so I kept on hating the typing. And I hated my father for insisting I had to do it. After a year of this I quit the job but only after I'd inadvertently mastered touch-typing at speed. I moved to London and with my newly-acquired typing skills, bluffed my way into a secretarial job where I worked long hours for three months and saved enough to head out across Africa for six months.
Post-Africa, I got a job for a Mail Order Book Club. My job was to select books for three clubs and to commission copy-writing and design to produce the monthly catalogues. In contrast I loved it. Four years later I volunteered redundancy and moved to Richmond, Surrey and offered my services as a freelancer in Marketing Communications. Now I'm the one writing copy, which means that dreaded touch-typing skill is coming in very handy again. "That which stands in the way is the way, Mary."
More than words
The business grew and within two years my partner resigned his job as a Marketing Director for a Financial Services company and joined me. Not long after it seemed we became a full Direct Marketing Agency with 15 staff and a flotilla of company cars. And now I'm still writing copy but for our Fortune 500 clients - banging out the words fast and furiously and well-paid for it using that fated touch-typing skill.
Oh, and I'm the Sales & Marketing Director for the Agency as well. Where on earth did I cut my teeth for this job? As the sales receptionist in my father's torture chamber! "That which stands in the way is the way, Mary."
Resistance is futile
Me thinks that once you've put up a stout protest and nothing changes then that's enough. It's time to accept that which stands in your way is your way and to drop any resistance to it gracefully. Because years later, when you're as old as me (lol) and get to join up the dots, you'll discover the heinous job or task proved to be a gift horse in the end.
So thank you Dad for your contribution to my writing. And thank you Marcus Aurelius, receiving you loud and clear.
I'd like to mention too I've almost finished my book and publish in 2018. It's around 55,000 words. Each one touch-typed, of course.
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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 - email@example.com.
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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Simon is a professional Tai Chi teacher. Like so many of us, he wanted to experience more “spaciousness and presence” in his life and “achieve a better balance between work and family life and not get so bound up in knots”.
During the Intuitive Vision Board Workshop it can feel quite luxurious to take all the time you need to flick through magazines without an agenda; to savour choosing and arranging images without pre-planning or censorship. Working at this leisurely pace, allows the creative side of our brain to open up like a flower and inspiration and innovation to get through to you.
Towards the close of the workshop when others were finished and presenting their boards, Simon had considerable empty space on his and a pile of images still to sort through. As a seasoned vision board facilitator I’m perfectly happy to see these empty spaces, knowing there will be good reason for it which the unconscious mind knows the reason for and the conscious mind has yet to catch up and comprehend. Simon, however, left feeling disgruntled and talked about finishing his board at home.
One image had caught my eye right in the centre of his board. It ‘felt’ edgy and slightly controversial and I felt happy and sad to see it there. Days later I had a niggling concern that Simon was not in love with his board (which most people are with theirs) and I wondered if it was to do with the image at the heart of it. I got in touch and hoped I could help him arrive at a more positive inclination towards the image.
Another two months were to elapse before we finally got together for an in-depth session. To my surprise the first thing I noticed was the controversial image had disappeared. The second surprise was that most of the empty space on the board had been filled. I was puzzling over this when Simon announced: “I’m delighted with my board now it’s finished.”
I'd enjoyed seeing the gaps on Simon’s board and the space he’d left around many of the images. To me it resonated with his desire to increase the number of pauses between activity and to enjoy more a leisurely pace and to be at peace.
The gaps had now been filled with more literal representations of spaciousness such as the cosmos and the depths of the ocean.
The absent image had been of a young boy with Downs syndrome wearing a gas mask and flippers on his hands and feet. It was a joyful picture and made me smile because he looked so present and happy. But I appreciated it ran close to the mark since Simon’s son also was a Downs boy.
Simon remembered the image as well but could not account for its disappearance.
Another little boy had appeared to join the images which represented other family members he said and spoke to me of their collective desire to have a more playful attitude to life.
Since there were nine images of bathrooms on his board, we also explored how important it was for Simon to create a watery retreat for himself in the home. With my Feng Shui hat on, we took a closer look at the neglected bathroom and I advised him how to transform it into a floating haven that resonated with the floating motif that ran through the ‘spine’ of his board.
By the time I left Simon was happily reunited with his vision board. The empty space had been filled in an acceptable way to him while the mysterious disappearance was to remain a mystery.
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With not a moment to lose and while his car is still crawling down the driveway do you open the back door to your clandestine visitor.
There she is the Feng Shui lady. She arrives complete with a set of mirrors for all occasions and a three-legged frog that doesn’t need a pond and will sit happily with a coin in its mouth at your front door to encourage prosperity. Seconds later she's assembled her trolley to remove all the stuff you're about to part with into the skip that’s arriving any minute now. You're spending the day together and there's much pleasure in store.
There are too many messy people living in your house and it’s driving you insane. When you try and explain to the messy people their behaviour is lowering the value of your property and reducing the quality of your life together it falls on deaf ears. That's why you've succumbed to this illicit rendezvous.
That’s even before you've mentioned the “chi” word to them and how important it is for life-force energy to arrive at your door in a good mood and to move unhindered throughout the house. They’re too absorbed in their own worlds and oblivious to the effect their dumping around the place is having. It’s one darn shoe after another. If you wait for everyone's approval to rectify the problem - or expect them to do it - you'll wait a lifetime.
As the person who does care and is aware of the impact this is having on everyone under the same roof, it’s time to assume your title as Facilities Manager and start kicking arse around here before the river of chi bursts its bank. The cost of a Feng Shui correction is a snitch compared with 360 days wear and tear on the property - and on your psyche.
What school, college or University do you know that allows its pupils to bring whatever they want into the building and plonk it wherever they like - and wander off? What organisation do you know that allows paperwork to high rise on surfaces, dirty dishes to pile up on tables, and clothes to trail across the floor? Furthermore they employ cleaning angels who breeze through the premises overnight working to the remit of the Facilities Manager preventing the river of life silting up and business grinding to a halt.
Once upon a time I lived with a hoarder. Thank goodness he now lives on the other side of the channel because I swear he’d star in Britain’s Biggest Hoarders. We met just as I was completing my Feng Shui training and took up residence together. The irony was I owned the house but his stuff occupied two-thirds of it.
Repeated attempts to have him pare down led to no progress at all. So I had to cheat on him and enrol the help of my lover, Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth, to come to my aid.
Repeated attempts to have him pare down led to no progress at all. So I had to cheat on him and enrol the help of my lover, Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, to come to my aid.
True confessions. For one whole week while he was away on a training programme I beavered away. I didn’t just tackle his stuff, I finely-tuned my own. I didn't remove anything of his you could absolutely describe as valuable and sentimental. Besides what is more valuable than your physical, mental and emotional health and this behaviour was an early indication of dis-ease. Call me a wicked witch if you like but I’d had enough. Besides how could I go forth into the world as a Feng Shui consultant when my own home wasn’t in order.
Towards the end of the final day with the third car load full to straining and my partner due home within the hour, I was ready to make the last trip to the skip. But where’s the car key? Where’s the bl**dy car key? It could be anywhere in this junkyard. Was this my guilty conscience playing a trick on me or my partner getting his own back for cheating on him? Thankfully Hestia came to my rescue before a melt down and I drove away with a sense of relief.
What did my partner say on his return? Absolutely nothing. He felt the difference in the home for sure but was mindfully unaware of what the cause was to the same degree he had been mindfully unaware there had been a problem in the first place. Best of all he never reproduced such a surplus while we were together - but he’s obviously gone downhill since.
“I wouldn’t be happy if she did that to me,” I can hear muttering in the background. My response to that is: Well live on your own then. What makes one person more important than the other members of the household they allow their stuff to dominate the home?
And when your life is compromised by another who is not taking responsibility for theirs there is a case for cheating on your partner - or evacuate the building. Since by default you are the Facilities Manager of the home (because somebody has to be) then why not step up and get on and do a good job. And may the flow be with you.
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Someone asked me recently: Would you ever commit an imprisonable offence?
The question came at me from nowhere and took me aback. That's why I'm trying it out on you. My first instinct was to say ‘never’ and then I paused and thought about it.
Does time in prison automatically mean you’re in the wrong or make you a bad person? What about Nelson Mandela? Or the Suffragettes to pick an example from both sexes? Their willingness to take a stand for what they believed in, even when it was considered imprisonable at the time changed the course of history.
I think most of us would like to think we could make a difference if only in a small way. would we risk the iron bars for it?
I was wondering if there’s something - just a little smidgen of a subject - you quietly get fired up about but avoid doing anything about it because it's seems too much effort. Perhaps it also goes against the collective grain and therefore it's more comfortable to stay quiet than speak out.
The problem with this is you're also closing the door on your special brand of genius. Just because others lack your wisdom and insight in this matter means you are exactly the right person to educate them by taking the lead. This is your passion and purpose right there.
Besides how will you know what your edge looks like unless you go there and therefore how potent you are? I’m not advocating you commit an imprisonable offence, I’m just encouraging you to have a little brush with it.
Food for thought, Mary
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whether your house is empty because you're in the middle of selling and moved out already. Or perhaps you've relocated for a job and don't want to sell up just yet. Either way your empty house is better left occupied. A flexible arrangement to consider to cover for thiseventuality is house-sitting. Born of my personal experience as medium-term house-sitter , here are my ten top tips to prepare a home for house-sitting so the arrangement works gloriously for everyone concerned.
No 1. Rubbish. The local council should be notified to continue collecting the rubbish if they have got out of the habit of doing so, especially when you are paying Council Tax. Make sure there are sufficient bins for your house-sitter if you’ve taken them all with you, including recycling facilities. And leave instructions about the collection schedule.
No 2. Services. When gas, electricity, oil-fired equipment is switched off and/or doesn't run for a period of time, sometime it forgets what it's supposed to do and doesn't work when switched back on again. You’ll need to show the house-sitter how to operate them and that they are fully-functioning at handover.
No 3. TV. Most general house-sitting arrangements include the provision of a TV so you may need to reinstate a TV licence for this property if the house-sitter needs one. That way the house-sitter has some company in what is likely to be an unfamiliar location where they don’t have friends and family close to hand.
No 4. Broadband. The same goes for internet access which is a basic facility that should be provided and allows the house-sitter to stay connected to you and the world at large. A terminated Broadband contract can be lengthy and messy to re-establish irrespective of the supplier. If you don’t need to take the number with you, leave the line intact and continue to pay for it. This is usually cheaper than supplying your house-sitter with a mobile subscription and a dongle.
No 5. Financial arrangement. There's a fine-line between being a house-sitter and a house-keeper. The house-sitting arrangement can be an unpaid placement with no formal duties. The house-sitters presence is a big discouragement to would-be vandals and thieves. I recommend therefore you calculate what’s this is worth to you on a monthly basis to protect your home and weigh this up against the ongoing running costs of keeping the property occupied. CCTV alone is not as effective as a home that’s occupied and has a house alarm when the house-sitter goes out. Human and pet life in a home add inestimable value to the vitality of a home and cannot be replicated in any other way.
A typical scenario is that the home-owner continues to pay for the utilities and services (including TV licence and Broadband aforementioned) since a couple of occupants are not going to consume the same as a fully occupied house. Because it is an unpaid position, the house-sitter may need to continue working unless they are retired and this should be clear to both parties at the outset.
No 6. Clean. Remember what it’s like after a long holiday when dust appears and settles as if from nowhere. To prepare the empty home for your house-sitter make sure it’s recently had a thorough clean. This is very important too if you want to encourage a house-sale.
Following a professional clean, you are well-advised to leave sufficient well-functioning cleaning equipment and materials so the house-sitter can maintain the living areas they are occupying daily. If you have a very large property it would be unfair to expect the house-sitter to maintain it and a regular visit from a cleaning professional may be required.
No 7. Empty. Clear every nook and cranny of stuff and don't leave any debris. It is not the responsibility of the house-sitter to get rid of it for you and neither should they be expected to live with it. You will magnify the chances of your house selling enormously if your physical and psychic energy have well and truly left the building. It will also leaves space for the house-sitter to do their job with ease.
No 8. Furniture. What to leave, what to take. The house-sitter may have furniture they can and want to bring to home-stage your home. If not you will need to provide it. At a minimum the windows need to be dressed in most rooms which will also help with the security of the home.
If the house-sitter doesn’t have any you may need to provide bedroom, kitchen and lounge furniture. If you’ve taken all the furniture with you and the house-sitter is not bringing any with them there is always the option to hire some in to home-stage the property for sale.
No 9. Pets. It's unlikely you've left your pets behind but you might prefer to do so in the short term if you are planning to return at a later date. Things like a pond of carp or an aviary of birds don't relocate easily so be prepared to provide clear instructions on their daily maintenance. You shouldn’t however expect the house-sitter to do messy pet cleaning jobs; you’ll need to employ a specialist for this.
No 10. Garden/grounds It's not the responsibility of the house-sitter to maintain the garden/grounds beyond sweeping a few leaves or removing obvious weeds. However, it's in your interest to maintain the homestead because first impressions matter most if you’re selling. So you may need to consider employing a groundsman to come regularly and give them a clear brief that can be supervised by the house-sitter.
From time to time it's not uncommon for even a person with the most positive attitude to life to run out of wind. Here's an account of what Suzanne did when she found herself stuck in the doldrums.
Suzanne is a creative - a storyteller, poet, dancer and author who loves to inspire and educate using the visual arts. It's been her passion since childhood but when we began working together, Suzanne felt stuck in her career and only sporadically pursuing those things that make her heart sing. While fortunate to be supported by a partner who gave her free range to be herself, it was also the case that after 28 years together their relationship was in the doldrums too.
Behind closed doors
The overarching impression I formed of Suzanne's first vision board was the need for movement. Evidence for this was in the repeating butterfly motifs (associated with the element air: thoughts) and sea creatures (associated with the element water: emotions and the imagination). These motifs had already begun to work their way into her writing.
As we sat in her working environment at home, which doubled up as the lounge, the energy felt flat. Behind closed cupboard doors and more evidently on book shelves, some serious de-cluttering was needed to bring movement into her life. Making space would also generate a vacuum into which new ideas and opportunities could flow and take shape.
Eat that frog!
I encouraged Suzanne to start each day by ‘eating the frog’: half an hour’s de-cluttering to get it out of the way and to lift her spirits. We began right away with some paperwork and I left her with a prioritised task list to add momentum. Last count after the blitz, 17 kilos had been taken for professional shredding.
Books and paper sit heavily in our space, weighty consumers of life-force energy; think about all the trees that contributed to their production, all the intellectual thought that has gone into the content. In libraries we take comfort from this feeling of substance while in the home or office too much of this can be a barrier to progress.
Shedding her skin
Clothes were her next target. To help Suzanne select what to keep I invited her to imagine she was shedding an old skin and only wanted to retain clothes and personal effects which truly expressed who she was becoming. A large bin liner filled easily.
Three years passed and Suzanne returned to make a new vision board, ready to explore the “what next?” question through the making of it. In the interim, impressive creative progress had flowed into the vacuum she'd created. A series of poetry performances had been delivered, two books published, and she'd begun working with children with learning difficulties. However, she was now feeling a bit isolated working alone. She craved company and interaction and was contemplating a part-time job to combat this.
Daring and courageous
It’s important to acknowledge Suzanne's proactive part in this progress. Courageously, she had risen to the opportunities as they presented themselves and not talked herself out of them.
Now, reviewing the images on her current vision board together in the context of her unfolding story, an exciting direction began to emerge. It was time to convert all her efforts of recent years into an arts-based learning programme that could be taught in Colleges and Universities. Not only would this satisfy her need for contact, she’d also be rubbing shoulders with her intellectual peers which she'd find stimulating.
Before we parted, Suzanne had identified another de-cluttering blitz was required in order to clear space for her new project. There were also several signs on her vision board that a house move was calling but she was more in favour of making changes to the existing home instead. From a Feng Shui perspective, I intuitively felt this was not the best solution since the existing home would struggle to adapt sufficiently to her evolving vision. I also felt a change of home would serve her partner too and ultimately their relationship.
Time will tell.
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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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call me on 0782 7017188.
Hasta la vista…. Mary
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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