Tag Archives: Inspiration

The day Donald Trump was elected…

…I came upon an article about an American presidential candidate who stepped down from his presidential campaign in 1936 to support a programme of social security. This included a minimum wage, the abolition of capital punishment and advocating a decrease in working hours for women and children. His name was John Gilbert Winant, who served three terms as Governor of New Hampshire.  These two quotes are from an article by James O. Freedman in the Harvard Magazine.

‘In February 1941, Roosevelt appointed him ambassador to Great Britain. During the Battle of Britain, Winant walked the streets of London, ablaze from the aerial bombardments, offering assistance to the injured amid the rubble of their homes and stores. His shy sincerity and quiet fearlessness endeared him to the British people and helped buoy that beleaguered nation.’

‘To read his speeches is to sense the same greatness of soul, magnanimity of purpose, and simplicity of language that appear in Lincoln’s addresses. In June 1942, he told striking coal miners in Durham, England, ‘This is the people’s democracy. We must keep it wide and vigorous, alive to need, of whatever kind, and ready to meet it, whether it be danger from without or well-being from within, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail that…daring to live dangerously we are learning to live generously….’ His speech was a resounding success: by joining the life-or-death struggle to preserve democracy with the concrete social purpose of improving the economic circumstances of working people, Winant had deepened the war’s meaning for the common man. The miners went back to their crucial work.’

His own 1946 quote was: ‘Doing the day’s work day by day, doing a little, adding a little, broadening our bases wanting not only for ourselves but for others also, a fairer chance for all people everywhere.  Forever moving forward, always remembering that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts and that where there is no vision the people perish. That hope and faith count and that without charity, there can be nothing good. That having dared to live dangerously, and in believing in the inherent goodness of man, we can stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.

I was so impressed by his humanitarian principles which transcended party lines and his own ego.  If only there were more leaders around today of this calibre!!

 

 

 

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How Does That Happen?

On a visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica Cathedral in Budapest, I found myself pondering some large questions: Why do we still go to war? Why do men abuse women and children?  As I stood looking at the beauty in that place, I found an answer that made sense to me.

Budapest Skyline

What came to me was perhaps obvious: that just as day and night, feast and famine, hot and cold are on a continuum, so are our capacities as human beings to be free to choose to be creative and/or destructive .  In that cathedral, created with such passion, there were exquisite carvings and paintings depicting both beauty and images of soldiers, swords and other instruments of war.  We are capable of every extreme of feeling, together with the imagination and ability to act upon it or not. The more power, strength and potency that we gain as human beings, some people will act with grace, generosity and creativity and others will act in a way that is mean, corrupt and destructive. Realistically, we all have some of both and certainly as I get older these two extremes seem less clear.  Sometimes we may think we are being honorable but can be driven by ego and sometimes we may make real mistakes that teach us and aid us to jump forward on our journey towards enlightenment. However, we are certainly helped on our way if we can temper our power, strength and potency with love, humility and wisdom which is easier to do if we have had an experience of ‘plenty’ and a loving family life. This poem grew out of these questions.

What It Begins With:

It begins with the welcome given to a baby;

the nurturing given to a child;

that spirit of love held in a family;

the friendship bonding a community;

a feeling of belonging to a country;

having a connection to the World.

There needs to be enough

for that baby and this world

to grow straight.

Then again, I have been humbled by the clients I have worked with who experience extreme deprivation and abuse and yet still choose to become creative, wise, loving, generous human beings, full of grace. How does that happen?

THE HEALING POWER OF FOOD

This is a link to an inspiring story of a healing journey that contains the essence of what we are beginning to rediscover for ourselves.Terry Wahls encapsulates 100% commonsense combining historical evidence and the most up to date thinking and research on restoring health to our brains and bodies with readily available fresh foods.

When considering what our emotional needs are, I sometimes think back to how life was for humans thousands of years ago, to consider what we most need to get back to: the care, love and protection of a family, a healthy environment, community, balance, space, fresh air, exercise, play, creativity and of course fresh food. This ‘Teds Talk’ by Terry Wahls rings true in every word.  The link to it is: http://terrywahls.com/category/video/

SHINING OUR BRIGHTEST LIGHT

Many clients who come for counselling have received messages from family, friends and school about what they’can’t do’.  Children learn successfully to hide their strengths and shy away from risking doing some things because of a fear of failure. What is more surprising is that many of us can be even more afraid of being successful.  There is a huge motivation to fit in and John Holt wrote a book in 1974, Why Children Fail, which suggested that children actively learn to position themselves in the middle somewhere between those two.  I’ve often heard university students talk about having been bullied at school for being particularly bright or being afraid of even higher parental expectations if they do well.  Children are amazing at working out how to best survive their environment and thrive.

What I have always found important is that it is when role models, friends, family do well at something, this gives permission to other family members, friends, well all of us to achieve things maybe we didn’t believe we could.  Wise, strong, powerful, humble and creative role models are essential in this world for all of us.  Nelson Mandela has always been a hero for me with his capacity to forgive, put the past behind him and shine his light powerfully for the highest good of all. This extract from the Inauguration speech of Nelson Mandela which I think originally came from a book by Marianne Williamson was a handout I used often for clients:

OUR DEEPEST FEAR IS NOT THAT WE ARE INADEQUATE. OUR DEEPEST FEAR IS THAT WE ARE POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.  IT IS OUR LIGHT, NOT OUR DARKNESS, THAT MOST FRIGHTENS US.
WE ASK OURSELVES WHO AM I TO BE BRILLIANT, GORGEOUS, TALENTED, FABULOUS?  ACTUALLY, WHO ARE YOU NOT TO BE? YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD.  YOUR PLAYING SMALL DOESN’T SERVE THE WORLD.  THERE’S NOTHING ENLIGHTENED ABOUT SHRINKING SO THAT OTHER PEOPLE AROUND YOU WON’T FEEL INSECURE.
WE ARE ALL MEANT TO SHINE, AS CHILDREN DO.  WE ARE BORN TO MANIFEST THE GLORY OF GOD THAT IS WITHIN US.  IT’S NOT JUST IN SOME OF US: IT’S IN EVERYONE. AND AS WE LET OUT LIGHT SHINE, WE UNCONSCIOUSLY GIVE OTHER PEOPLE PERMISSION TO DO THE SAME.
AS WE ARE LIBERATED FROM OUR OWN FEAR, OUR PRESENCE AUTOMATICALLY LIBERATES OTHERS.
Who have been some of your most important role models?

SUSTAINABLE FOOD

THREE STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE PASSIONATE TO PROVIDE REAL FOOD FOR OUR PLANET

I have just been watching two short, most entertaining and thoughtful talks on sustainable agriculture from Dan Barber on http://www.Ted.com. Both talks show what is possible if people follow the passion in their lives for working with the Earth’s incredible resources and the results they achieve are extraordinary and a lesson to us how to survive, way into the future without harm to livestock and creating something healthy and sustainable. The link to the first one is:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish.html?source=email#.Uo5AltONG-o.email

Red Snapper

According to the above website, http://www.Ted.com:  “Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie’s honeymoon he’s enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain…Dan Barber is a chef and a scholar — relentlessly pursuing the stories and reasons behind the foods we grow and eat

The second short talk. “A foie gras parable” tells the story of a small farm in Spain that has found a humane way to produce foie gras. Raising his geese in a natural environment, farmer Eduardo Sousa embodies the kind of food production Barber believes in.

Park 2

The link to this is: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html?source=email#.Uo5E6MIvdyA.email

The website, http://www.Ted.com shows a variety of short videos on many different subjects and what they say about Dan Barber is:

Why you should listen to him:

Dan Barber is the chef at New York’s Blue Hill restaurant, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, where he practices a kind of close-to-the-land cooking married to agriculture and stewardship of the earth. As described on Chez Pim: “Stone Barns is only 45 minutes from Manhattan, but it might as well be a whole different universe. A model of self-sufficiency and environmental responsibility, Stone Barns is a working farm, ranch, and a three-Michelin-star-worthy restaurant.” It’s a vision of a new kind of food chain.

Barber’s philosophy of food focuses on pleasure and thoughtful conservation — on knowing where the food on your plate comes from and the unseen forces that drive what we eat. He’s written on US agricultural policies, asking for a new vision that does not throw the food chain out of balance by subsidizing certain crops at the expense of more appropriate ones.

In 2009, Barber received the James Beard award for America’s Outstanding Chef, and was named one of the world’s most influential people in Time’s annual “Time 100” list.

The third talk is a moving account of Brazilian farmer’s son whose life’s work has been to produce sugar cane in the most ethical, organic and natural way, linking the cane fields to his beloved rain forests in which he played as a child. It was broadcast on 10th November, 2013  on BBCRadio 4, Food Programme and is called:

 The Sugarman of Brazil

It is an extraordinary story of a man who is showing us the way to produce our food. It  is to be found on the BBC Podcast and the link to it is:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/foodprog/foodprog_20131110-1300a.mp3

Tropical Rain Forest

Even though sugar is primarily empty calories, some sugar is essential and if we are going to eat it, let’s make it the most organic, natural sugar from sustainable agriculture.

I’d love to hear stories of other people producing food in a way that enriches the Earth?

TORTOISES

We didn’t plan to visit the Vallee de Tortues. We’d intended to walk up the Gorge Lavail in the Alberes in the French Pyrenees but we couldn’t find the right road and we ended up outside a tortoise conservation centre.

When I was 9 years old, I found a tortoise on a path at the back of our house and took it home.  We asked all around but no-one knew who it belonged to.  I loved it, even when it embarrassed everyone by pooping on the lap of my favourite uncle! After a couple of weeks, it escaped, never to be heard of again. I remembered the look of it, the feel of it, the prehistoric quality of it.

So here we were and I was really excited, not knowing what to expect.  Well, I fell in love with them all over again. I felt that sense of wonder that I remember feeling as a little girl. There were tiny babies in the nursery, the smallest must have been quite recently hatched.  All sizes, shapes, and beautiful designs, their eyes seemed to take in everything around them.  Just watching them slowed me down and made me think about the balance that is often missing from modern life, that ability to ‘be’ and just take in.  They had the quality of trees and those that stayed very still seemed to be deeply rooted into the Earth. Others moved towards new patches of grass and then chewed contentedly. I was reminded of that wonderful primal connection that we have with the animals and plants on the Earth when we take the time to ‘be’ with them.  Time passed very slowly in that place and I found myself smiling a lot.

What inspires you and makes you smile?

These photos came from the Vallee de Tortues website: http://www.lavalleedestortues.fr.

GRACIE

Image I attended a poetry reading organised by S@ve As Writer’s Group to hear an inspiring poetry reading by poet June English. The reading was to help raise money and awareness for research into the metabolic disorder, Mucolipidosis.  Little Gracie Bella Sims came too, with her parents and grandmother, to warm all our hearts, with the love that surrounded her.  It takes courage to love a baby that may not thrive and will face multiple difficulties from this, thankfully rare, metabolic disease.

I was moved by the fact that we never quite know how long we have to love those people that we love and wrote this short poem:

Now
A poem dedicated to Gracie Bella Sims

Now is a place where there is no word
for work; there is just our doing.
Now is a place where there is no word
for perfect; there is just our being.
Now is a place where there is no word
for future; there is just our living.
Now is a place where there are no words;
there is just an unwrapping of this moment
and an opportunity to love.

Maggie Yaxley Smith

June knows what it is to be born ‘different’ and this was one of the poems that she read, from her collection, Sunflower Equations, Hearing Eye, (2008):

Pictures

Different

Mum hangs me upside down and taps
my lungs to make me cough and spit,
she always says Im, sorry love.
Is that what other mothers say
after they’ve played the tip-tap game?

Mrs. Rutter, Yvonne’s mother
says Mummy coddles me too much,
a bit o’muck’d do me good.
She’d have no can’t do this or that,
If I was ‘ers I’d smarten up!

I don’t know why I’m always ill,
Yvonne Rutter never is –
I bet her Mum’s a better thumper.
Maybe I should smarten up,
It’s hard to run, but I  could try.
***

It’s summer now, Yvonne and I
are playing ‘camps’ in Blackman’s quarry,
Snotty Robert’s got a cold. Mum
said, You’d best stay clear of him,
but he’s the Daddy in our game.

Yvonne, who’s Mum, is belting me,
and shouting, Smarten up, or else
but Snotty Robert slaps her one
and says, it’s bed-time, git to bed
so I lay down, pretend to sleep
***

I don’t remember getting home,
it seems the milkman carried me.
Mum said, You silly girl, the ground
was damp, you’ve taken chill.  My head’s
a blazing furnace, filled with dreams:

I’m walking barefoot over mountains,
a devil’s prodding me with knives,
I’m lost. Alone, I’m terrified –
The mountain’s gone, it’s forests now
I’m running fast, my lungs will burst.

Mum leans the folded ironing board
lengthways from settee to floor;
she holds my toes while I slide down
to play my Walk-on-ceilings-game,
where lights grow upwards from their stalks

and little folk, with chalk-white faces
(only seen by Mum and me)
play silly games, like Wonder why.
I asked them once why pigs don’t fly –
they said because they’ve learned to swim…
***

Mrs. Rutter’s been to see me,
she says I’ll soon be up and running,
if I was hers I’d smarten up,
a bit o’muck’d do me good –
I’d like to poke my tongue at her,

but Mum is smiling down at me,
that knowing look that tells me Don’t –
the folk round here don’t understand,
you’re different see – a special girl.
When you grow up, you’ll show them all…

 June English

 

And I have to say  is that  she really has…