Video – Life Blessings for You

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Nourishment for Your Soul

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to inspire, soothe and delight



Do you value what's right under your nose?

Brilliant May flowers....

The Present

Right now, we’re very much heads down getting ReSource ready for press, so I’m deeply engrossed in putting all the personal and business development articles together, honing  with images and fine tuning.

Like most people, that can mean I don’t take time to look up from the screen and take in what’s around me to see what’s happening (following on from yesterday’s post, even what’s changing,  evolving or transforming…!) We can tend to take things (and people) for granted, and not notice how much they contribute to making our lives a more joyful, beautiful or easy place to be.

Last week the view from my study window was filled with green, albeit there were clusters of tight buds on the rhododendron bush which is now so large it fills the foreground. This week with the sunshine it’s burst into full flower, transformed, even,  and because I know it will be relatively short-lived, I made a point of going out and taking some photos to capture what’s right under my nose that’s giving me such a lovely outlook.

My thinking was that it might rain, that it was windy, and the flowers might therefore get battered and bruised more quickly, and I’d miss the moments of pristine beauty. So it was ‘carpe diem’ and off I went, results shared below.

Brilliant May flowers....

Brilliant May flowers....

a stunning backdrop

a stunning backdrop

Take just a minute to look around you, to think and consider  -
what’s or who’s under your nose that you’re not fully appreciating.

What can you capture from today as it is, in this moment,
and express your gratitude for the present of the present?

Change, Evolution and Transformation

pygmalion

 

Preference or difference?

The recent post about ‘the robin who thinks he’s a humming bird’ talks about the rate of evolution speeding up, and the need to be highly adaptable in a fast paced world.

In conversation last week with a friend about personal growth and development, he mentioned that he prefers the word ‘evolution’ to that of ‘change’. His rationale is that ‘change’ creates fear in people. As creatures of habit, most people prefer things to stay the same and worry that change must mean something uncomfortable. It prompted me to think about the terms we use and to ask if change and evolution are the same thing, and when and where the words are best applied.

Changing a Light Bulb?

There are some things that definitely require to be changed not evolved. For example, I definitely change my light bulbs, they do not evolve. (The type of bulbs I use may have evolved over the years, from tungsten to energy saving, but the act of replacing them when spent is a definite change). Neither do I evolve my bed linen, my vacuum cleaner bags nor the filters in my water jug. These, though are all inanimate objects. And people are, of course, different….

Taller, More Upright, Rounder…..

The way I perform these tasks may well have changed over time – or even evolved – so perhaps the differentiation comes from here. Behaviours, skills, strategies, beliefs, opinions, systems can evolve. The human body can and does evolve – with better nutrition in the developed world, we’re now  much taller, and with the advent of the contraceptive pill, women’s body shapes have changed – or evolved. To say nothing of the way the human brain has evolved over thousand of years into its current tripartite embodiment. According to neuroscience, it’s also apparently evolving in response to the amount of time we spend online especially with regard to gaming and social media. Human thinking can also evolve, we can learn to use our inner resources more effectively, we gain by education, and our way of life has changed dramatically since the beginning of life on earth – discoveries, experiments and inventions have brought radical changes and alterations to how we conduct the daily business of living as human beings on our planet.

Now, if we are encouraging people to change – can we more easily ask them to evolve, can we evolve by volition and action, or does evolution take place naturally, almost unconsciously, in response to outside conditions but with no deliberate intervention?

I’d like to believe we can choose to evolve ourselves voluntarily, courageously, at the growing edge of experience, thought and living.

evolution

Changing or Transforming

Is transformation perhaps the more encouraging word to use? Transformation has a certain magic about it, a positive sense of something happening which offers a better, happier outcome. Or is that simply my interpretation? Does transformation contain an inbuilt element of wisdom and improvement, which change does not? There can be subtle changes, but somehow a subtle transformation does not sit well, meaning-wise, for me. Change can be for better or worse, but in my neurology, transformation is equated with betterment.

Frogs into Princes, or Vice Versa

For example, I would say ‘the witch changed the prince into a frog’ – and ‘the fairy godmother transformed the pumpkin into a splendid carriage’. Then, I suppose, if the prince wanted to become a frog for some reason, he’d consider it an improvement….And now the ‘Shrek’ movie comes to mind when the princess chooses life as an ogre because of her love for Shrek.

The Pygmalion Effect

Now I’m onto Pygmalion, whose dedicated thought and intention transformed a marble statue into a living woman for him to love…..maybe he changed his thoughts, evolved his way of being… and thus transformed and even transmuted a substance which then transformed his life….a process to realise and manifest what he wanted most?

pygmalion

I could get really deep into the linguistics here – so many nuances and shades of meaning, but I will stop for now.

Change, evolve, transform – all have their place, and it’s fascinating to continue exploring their meaning in our lives.

Five Tips for Living in Peace with Your Teens

teenage expression

How to be a calm, sane parent and
help your teenagers grow resilient

teenage expression

teenage expression


  1. Listen - very carefully. Difficult and scary as it may be, try to give your teens a place where they can express their thoughts and needs. Their world is different; be eager to understand and be curious about it and don’t condemn, judge or assume. If you want to make a comment, use their own words back to them – e.g. ‘So let me check I’m understanding you, what you’re saying is….’ (that’s why it’s listen very carefully…) They won’t argue with their own stuff…well, not too often anyway.
  2. Set firm but realistic boundaries – it’s better for everyone. It shows you care. Rules can be good news – it gives your teens a very valuable let-out when peer pressure is being applied. If they can assert with total confidence that something’s not allowed, it bolsters their strength to resist temptations to reckless behaviour.
  3. Give them space, respect, responsibility, and the benefit of the doubt. Then shut up. Really. Knowing when to bite your tongue is a key part of this. Once you’ve negotiated what’s acceptable, don’t be peering over their shoulders or prying. Trust their judgement. It’s like paying out a rope or casting a fishing line – do it bit by bit, and you can always renegotiate and reel in a little if your teen seems to demonstrate there’s too much slack.
  4. Accept there may be mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. If your mum (or dad) had known all you got up to as a teenager…would she/he have approved? Hmmm, thought not….So don’t blame, don’t make comparisons with friends or siblings, be supportive, let your teen know their unique value and that you do and always will love them. Even if it’s tough love – and especially if their behaviour is currently causing you concern or creating waves in the family. Make it a learning experience for both of you – try to see the gift in whatever’s happened, painful as it may seem in the moment.
  5. Know your place. Teens can tend to think they’ve discovered everything for the first time ever – and that as an adult and their parent you really know – nothing. Get over it. Give it a few years. Keep a wry smile handy in your repertoire. Remember the old quote from one of the ancient Greek Philosophers -

“When I was 18 my father was completely ignorant, but by the time I was 25,
it was amazing how much he’d learnt.”
Too True!


BONUS TIP 6:

Laugh. Find some common ground in humour, satire, irony – maybe through a TV programme or film. It may make you throw your hands up in horror, but ‘The Simpsons’ has some prize moments of sheer comic dis-functionality in which most of us can see a little something of ourselves, if we’re really honest. After all it’s been around for 20 years and now has its own stamp collection…..

happy, confident teens

happy, confident teens

But dads (and mums) be warned – telling bad ‘dad jokes‘ (and it seems that all dad jokes are bad jokes, even if they’re good…..) creates embarrassed looks, groans of ‘Ohhh Daaad’, rolling eyes and shrugged shoulders – you have to decide if you want to experience that. On the other hand, if you don’t do generic ‘dad jokes’, maybe your teen will miss out on being able to share horror stories with their mates…..And sharing the experience is part of growing up.

As parents, that’s what we’re there for – silent witness, loud supporter, soft shoulder or sharp wit – you’ll need all of that and more along the way. Is it worth it?  Completely - it’s one of life’s richest treasures.

For more resources and articles on personal growth and development, leadership,  education, creativity and change visit www.resourcemagazine.co.uk

The robin who thinks he’s a humming bird

spring-garden


…..and other acrobatic antics in the garden

spring-garden

Picture the scene – it’s late spring, and outside my window, hanging on the end of a cane attached to the roof of the conservatory is a bird feeder.  It’s that type of solid pudding or cake, meant for small birds such a great tits and blue tits, who have been feeding there since winter.

The rather Heath Robinson means of suspension is somewhat complex in order to deter the ever present voracious squirrels who were so desperate to reach it they even attempted to scale the slippery glazing bars surrounding the windows. Lacking crampons or suitably formed claws, they failed – and their surprised look as they slid down the outside of the window was highly amusing. Observing those squirrels as they circled, pondered, made vain attempts and kept on trying and devising new routes was a valuable lesson in persistence.

It also reminded me of this wonderful TV programme some years ago when even the most complicated methods of keeping squirrels away from food failed, and the acrobatic audacity of the creatures was portrayed with hilariously entertaining results.




We’ve added deterrents to keep off starlings and blackbirds, and this little food supply is nourishing several families of birds. The tits themselves are no mean acrobats; their aeronautic feats are really quite breathtaking. They fly in at breakneck speed, stop suddenly – just short of splattering themselves onto the glass; at the same time they turn themselves upside down and hang onto the feeder with their feet, whilst staying ever alert to potential threats from predators – truly impressive stuff.

We have had some wonderful entertainment and inspiration watching the to-ing and fro-ing, and pondered on the sheer physical effort required to nurture a nest of chicks to fledgling status.

Recently, there have been territorial wars and thrilling examples of adaptability and determination. Enter our common garden friend, the Robin. Ever present whenever we are out in the garden raking leaves or turning over earth, they grab grubs in their inimitable opportunistic way, bold, alert and happy to sing for their supper.

The robins observed that the tits were very messy eaters – they left behind lots of scraps, probably at least half of what they peck off drops onto the ground beneath the feeder. Initially, the robins simply cleaned up the scraps on the floor. Then they became dissatisfied and wanted to control the food supply.

Slight problem – their spindly legs and larger body weight do not naturally lend themselves to performing the feats of inversion and gripping at which the tits are so expert. A fly-past peck doesn’t do the trick of dislodging the food.

What to do?

New approach – the robins attack the tits whenever they alight on the feeder – but only after they have filled their beaks – causing the tits to disgorge the food onto the floor and enabling the wily robins to clean up the spoils.

Next, the robins decide that they are spending too much time waiting for the tits to turn up and serve dinner.

What to do now?

It appears that robins have very strong wings. So they ingeniously decide to adopt the hovering method. Expending huge amounts of energy, they flap their wings, humming-bird fashion, at great speed, maintaining themselves in position to be able to devour the food directly from source.  It is a remarkable sight, the wings a blur as they flap furiously – and they return time after time, fiercely defending the feeder, so the tits are having to dive in at the moments when the robins are back at the nest feeding their young. Other birds have got wise – pigeons, blackbirds and starlings congregate underneath and pick up the scraps, and the odd crazy blackbird seems to want to emulate the robin, and also pretends to be a humming bird.

Now the scenario outside my window is more peaceful again, and the Robin has reverted to waiting on the ground whilst the tits congregate on the feeder and scatter the food. The fledged blue tits accompany their parents, and though perfectly capable of feeding themselves, still willingly accept the thrusting beak inserting food into their throats.

It’s said evolution takes a long time, many generations; in this rapidly-moving world I’m beginning to think that adaptation is a much faster-paced affair, with enterprising creatures observing effective behaviours in other species, and adopting them quickly.

The Robin

  1. observed,
  2. experimented,
  3. acted,
  4. regrouped,
  5. strategised,
  6. repeated,
  7. refined,
  8. persevered and ultimately
  9. triumphed.

He gained control of the food supply for his family, in that intense period of requiring huge quantities to feed the growing chicks.

Hopefully we have begun a sustainable cycle which will see many families of birds return each year to rear their young, and provide us with ongoing lessons in flexibility and adaptation.

We can all learn a great deal from observing how nature adapts to ensure nurture.

Now how can YOU take these lessons in natural persistence, flexibility and  adaptation and make the most of the opportunities in your life at this time?

 

© Christine Miller 

Teens, Troubles & Treasures

Little Treasures?

A friend, Wealth Coach Nicola Cairncross, posted on Twitter yesterday that she wanted to talk to someone about the experience of living with and bringing up young teens, which prompted me to revisit this short article I wrote almost five years ago.  It seems to be a time when this aspect of my work with children and young people  is in the spotlight, I was interviewed as an expert for a book on coaching the other week – is somebody trying to tell me something?

Resourceful Little Treasures

Little Treasures?

Little Treasures?

In my role as a coach, mentor and counsellor I work mainly with young people, many of whom come to me labelled with behavioural, learning and/or emotional difficulties. That means I’m quite accustomed to witnessing sulky, aggressive and unhappy children, and it can take a fair amount of time, compassion and humour to unwind and relax and begin to make progress together.

So when my own 16 year old son informed me with some passion the other week that I “have no idea how hard it is to be a child growing up these days” it took me by surprise and prompted me to reflect carefully on my family, my work and my self.

Looking Inside

Looking Inside

He’s usually thought of as the wise one in his group, he appears to cope with whatever life presents to him, and he does fine at school. Yet even he is saying that coping is hard.

And it’s in such moments that we can, as parents, gain great insights into just what the challenges of adolescence are these days that might make it harder than it was for us. However, it’s tricky, because any questioning or request for explanation can lead to stonewalling silence – and so how can we mine for those precious nuggets that help us respond appropriately to our little treasures and not dam up the flow before it’s even started? (Apologies for the mixed metaphor…)

Because if it’s hard work being a child these days, it’s probably even harder being a parent who cares, who wants to be supportive yet finds that they are sidelined and that attempts at dialogue are blocked.


You’d think with my experience and skills with other people’s little treasures, it would be a breeze, but dealing with your own kids isn’t the same as being the outside help. After all, you can’t send them home after an hour or so – they are at home. You don’t have the benefit of an outside perspective. Well, that was what I thought until I began to reflect on the limitations I was imposing by holding those beliefs.

I wondered: if I could change my beliefs about it being hard to work with my son, could he shift his beliefs that it’s hard to be an adolescent growing up today?

And this is what happened.

I worked out a way of inviting my son to use a simple strategy of stepping back and stepping out.

I explained to him that I had been experiencing a paradox of finding it hard to be a parent. Feeling uncomfortable offering to help him because he’s my son, and even more uncomfortable not helping him – also because he’s my son, and especially as I have such a wide range of skills that could benefit him. So I went back in time to occasions when it would have seemed impossible and neglectful not to pass on skills and knowledge to him.

Like, what if I’d never talked to him so he could learn from me?
Or taught him to feed and dress himself?
Or helped him to read?
Or helped him to learn to ride his bike?

How weird would that have been?

And in the future, when he learns to drive (Oh, Yes! This Year! as he gleefully reminded me) he’ll accept that know-how from his dad and me.

We ended up laughing at the craziest imaginary scenarios of me being reluctant to be a parent to him, because I knew more than he did.

This opened up a really useful dialogue for us about eking out degrees of responsibility as children approach adulthood, but still being there. And on we went to his scenarios…

He stepped back and found times when it had been enormous fun to be growing up and developing, learning and exploring his expanding world, and rediscovered a sense of joy. He noticed that there was usually someone else involved with passing on skills and knowledge, but that when he was competent he went off and did his own thing. He discovered that he had lots of resources from the past which he could bring forward into the present, and would transfer to the future.

And he recognised that accepting help and support were a way of getting stronger and growing more resourceful – real, lasting treasures to carry forward to a life where it may just be a little easier to be growing up, in that limbo where you’re neither child nor adult. And as for me, I’ve found a more comfortable and fulfilling place in his world where I can support him by balancing the roles of adult and parent – still keeping mum, but now able to speak up as well!!

© Christine Miller 2004

For more articles and features on personal growth and development, check out www.resourcemagazine.co.uk, the magazine dedicated to human potential.