How are you with No?



How are you with No?

Last week’s blog-post was about asking for help. And, if we are to develop true skill in asking for help we need to grow our capacity to handle No – both the no inside ourselves and the no we may meet in another.

Many of us find it excruciatingly difficult to feel or express our own No’s. We were never taught the importance of our own boundaries or shown by others a respect and value for our No’s. And so we develop our lives and relationships, with an absence of No’s, often mistakenly thinking we will be more liked or wanted if we do that.

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Pleasure as an Antidote to Stress



I have always considered ease to be the antonym, and indeed antidote, to stress.

As a single mum, raising two children alone, whilst I run a business and a house, I know all too well that my life is at times – to put it mildly! – stressful. “Monster Mum” is the term my children and I have coined for when I lose my usual equilibrium and start racing around the house, yelling directions about laundry and room tidying like a Boot-camp Sergeant Major.

“Chill Out, Mum” my kids will mutter under their breath, shutting their bedroom doors to escape my angry adrenalin. And I have always thought the antidote to this kind of manic stress must be just that – chilling out, breathing deep and finding inner calm amongst the tumultuous chaos.

I’ve gone to great lengths to bring more space and ease into my living. I’ve learnt the art of boundaries and how to say some guilt-free no’s. I have found ways to prioritise and drop what isn’t useful. I’ve even made some progress on things not always being perfect, and have learnt that cereal for dinner on occasion is as good as any option.

And all of this has no doubt helped to ease some of the demanding burdens that create a sense of stress.

But still, I notice that it is not always easy to find an ease amongst all the doing. And, I’ve continued to twist myself into knots trying to work out how to do less and source the kind of calm and space I’ve been thinking that I’m wanting.

But what if I’ve been looking in the wrong places? What if the antidote to stress – at least some of the time – is not necessarily ease after all?

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What We Practise, so We Live


This week I watched an amazing video about a man learning to ride a specially designed bike (CLICK TO WATCH: The Backwards Brain Bicycle). The bike looks like any usual bike except for the fact that when you turn the handlebars to the right the bike turns left, and when you turn the bars to the left, the bike turns right.

The video is about how long it took him to learn to ride this bike. And, forgive me for the spoiler, but the amazing part is that it took him eight months of daily practice until his brain finally got it and he could ride the bike.

I love this video because it shows so potently the truth that neuroscience has been increasingly telling us – that our brains only learn by practising and practising. We simply can’t expect to undo old habits and behaviours and ingrain new ones overnight. It is akin to thinking our bodies can radically change by one visit to the gym.

Most of us know we can’t change our behaviour without changing our beliefs. The man learning to ride the new bike couldn’t learn because his old way of thinking about bike riding was so ingrained. Equally, if I fundamentally believe that I am a failure and life is out to get me, it will be desperately hard for me to truly motivate myself into any sustained action that would support the flourishing of my life.

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Embodied Self-Acceptance: a Pathway to Authentic Leadership


Recently I went to Spirit Rock to listen to Jack Kornfield speak. His is a beautiful energy and whilst I was drawn to his words on the importance of beauty in our lives, what had most effect on me was the power of his presence.

He exudes a rare comfort in himself that is both engaging and empowering to be with.

His talk was not full of clever gimmicks, or visual aids. Neither did he bounce around his stage revving his audience up, as so many motivational speakers are inclined to do. He simply sat with a pile of poetry around his feet, reaching for a poem now and then, with a warm smile of invitation and seemingly little plan.

It had the intimacy of being in a living room with a benevolent relative who was simply talking about what he loves. Which in turn reminded me of what I love. He was simply being himself with no need for performance or production.

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