From Darkness Into Light

Last weekend I went to the Advent Service at Salisbury Cathedral.  At the beginning of the service, as the clock struck five, the cathedral was plunged into darkness.  One solitary candle was lit at the West Door and then gradually, to the sound of sublime choral plainsong, hundreds of candles were lit throughout the vast space of the cathedral.  It’s hard to describe just how deeply moving, uplifting and life-affirming the service was. Just before it began, we were invited to think about those who might perhaps be in a dark place in their lives. The service was a comforting … Continue reading

The Wisdom of Hindsight

When the prolific song-writer Jimmy Webb was 14, the very first single he bought was by Glen Campbell. He describes how he played the record so much that eventually it wore out and he had to buy another copy. He also describes how he dreamed that one day he’d write a song for Glen Campbell. A decade later he famously wrote Wichita Lineman which Glen Campbell recorded. Jacqueline du Pre was only four years old when she heard a cello being played for the first time. She told her mother that she wanted ‘one of those…’ and went on to … Continue reading

Setting the Intention

Last week, on a decluttering campaign, I found a piece of paper which was dated March 2012.  On the top of the page I’d written What I want …  and it was followed by a long series of bullet points. The list felt rather random: it covered a wide range of things relating to many different aspects of my life. The thing that gave me pause was that, without exception, every single one of them had come true. I was really struck by this and even more so because I hadn’t made a conscious effort to ‘make all the things … Continue reading

The Andy Murray Effect

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there you can move mountains.”  (Steve Jobs) Like millions of others, I was hugely impressed by Andy Murray’s achievement of winning the Wimbledon men’s singles final.  As spectators we only see the matches themselves: we don’t see the days, weeks, months and years of hard graft and persistence that bring him to that single point in time where he’s … Continue reading

“A Cunning Plan”

It’s official:  September is the new January.  Well, it always feels that way to me: the new academic year has begun, many of us have returned from summer holidays (hopefully refreshed and invigorated) and in many respects it feels like the start of a new year. And that makes it an ideal time to take stock and do some planning. Why not kick this off with a quick review: How has 2012 gone for you so far?  Take a moment to look back over the past nine months and write down everything you’ve achieved, no matter how small these achievements … Continue reading

3 Keys to Success in 2012

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. (Edith Lovejoy Pierce) I really like these words. They're a helpful reminder that whatever the time of the year (but perhaps especially the turning of a new one) we are the authors of our own story. And so, with that in mind, here are a few suggestions of how to make the very best of the year to come. 1. Plan Backwards Imagine that it’s the end of 2012 … Continue reading

What Went Well Today?

This month's tip is written with Thanksgiving in mind. It's a holiday I remember with great affection from my many years living in Southern California. Much has been written about the importance of gratitude: being mindful of, and appreciating, all that we have to be grateful for, even (and perhaps especially) when times are tough or particularly challenging. But in this tip I'm going to focus on the importance of appreciating ourselves and our achievements. Personally, I don't think we do enough of it. And when we do actually stop to consider what we've achieved — in a day, a … Continue reading

Dancing on Moving Carpets

Since returning from holiday I've noticed an extraordinarily consistent trend. Lots of people seem to be entering a period of uncertainty, turbulence and change. There's a general sense of feeling unsettled, off-kilter and in a state of flux, and many people are re-assessing their lives. What's going on? According to an astrologer friend of mine, the answer could literally lie in the stars! Apparently, the unusual alignment of the planets this year has been causing chaos all over the place. Think of the riots in England this summer; the uprisings of the Arab Spring; the turmoil in the financial markets… … Continue reading

Pictures at an Exhibition

This week I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. It's a unique exhibition, as it gives relatively unknown artists the opportunity to be exhibited alongside some of the heavyweights of the art world. It's also wonderfully diverse: painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, photography, architectural models, installations and prices ranging from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Wandering the galleries, it struck me that visiting an exhibition (especially one as varied as the one at the RA) is an excellent way to learn, naturally and instinctively, more about yourself. What do I mean? I noticed that … Continue reading