What Do You Want to Write About……………?

Sharpen up your writing tools

Sharpen Your Writing Tools 

 

I’ve had a lot of messages from people telling me they haven’t written anything for many years, or that they dry up when they pick up a pen, or that the blank paper/screen stares back at them like a mean teacher as if to say ‘who do you think you are, writing poetry, writing prose – writing anything!’

If you’ve ever had that feeling, here are a couple of  ideas for getting started. Remember that writing words can easily be about play and enjoy yourself.

NUMBER ONE:

Pick a topic - any topic, the first thing that comes into your mind, everything is a possibility …..simply say to yourself “I want to write about…(in the instance of writing a Valentine’s verse, then Love rather naturally springs to mind) and start. It’s the same with most things in life – just begin. Getting started is (I know it sounds ridiculously simplistic) the key. Don’t edit your thoughts or words, let them spill out – you can come back and refine them later….

NUMBER TWO:

Pick some random words: for example, I’ve got a piece of paper near me which says ‘Identity Card’ and the words that catch my eye on the computer screen are ‘Save Draft’…. What could I do with those?

Here goes:

My identity as occasional  bard
Is sending you a Valentine’s card.
I thought of you and sweetly drafted,
So cherish and save  these words I crafted.

It doesn’t have to be a  rhyme, it can be anything – just get started. You could  say something like:

What do I think about identity Cards? Will they really make us more secure, and save us from possible terrorists attacks, stop illegal immigrants, will they help prevent extremist cells from drafting in new, impressionable recruits?

See if this gets your creative juices flowing – look at what’s around you and start writing about it  – you may be surprised how easy it can be to get into the flow!

FOR YOUR FREE GUIDE TO WRITING SHORT POEMS, LEAVE A MESSAGE HERE 

 

I’m Giving Up Nothing for Lent

Christine Miller

Rising from the ashes – still crazy after all these years?

(with credit to Paul Simon) 

The French House

The French House

I found this blog post from 5 years ago – interesting to reflect on how much has changed – writing this in France, in our dream home, for one thing – how much is the same – the actions I was choosing then I choose now, so perhaps they are perennials which keep life moving and us growing.

And, yes, definitely still crazy, and delighted to be so.

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for those who follow Christian traditions.  I’m not a churchgoer any more, but I still recall the walk up the church aisle to experience the scratchy feel of ash being marked in the form of a cross onto my forehead by the priest.  I guess it must have happened for each of the 14 years of my schooldays, and more.

I was brought up in a devout Roman Catholic family, and my childhood memories of Lent are about loads of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday prior to ‘giving up’ something I liked on Ash Wednesday for the remaining 40 days and 40 nights in preparation for Easter.  It was usually chocolate. It probably still should be chocolate. Or wine. Or cheese.

Anyway, I haven’t given anything up for Lent for more years than I care to recall.
And I’m not about to start again.

Not Giving Up

I’ve decided to follow that hackneyed quote from Winston Churchill: ‘never, ever, ever…give up’.

But I am going to do something.
Not penance, but productivity.  
Not denial, but delight. 

I am going to do more.

No, not more chocolate, wine and cheese. Not more of anything material. But definitely more fun. More stuff that delights, surprises and stretches me. Maybe even more stuff that’s good for me like – walking and water.

Being pragmatic, things and actions I’m in control of:

  • Meeting more people, online and offline
  • Launching my leadership and transformation retreats at my new home in SW France 
  • Creating more crucial, constructive conversations
  • Writing at least one blog every week
  • More exuberance and fun
  • More kindness and love

People Ideas Action

So I’m not giving anything up.

I’m keeping hold of what I have that I love.

But I am expanding my life with fresh people, ideas, and most crucially, actions. It’s going to be a fascinating forty days, for sure.

Spring Talks

And as part of the action –  crucial, constructive conversations – if you would like to share your experiences I’m also doing a series of 5 minute ‘Spring Talks’ interviews for publication so contact me for more information and let me know if you want to join in.

Leave a message here or contact me via christine at christinemiller dot co (and no, the ‘co’ isn’t a typo, it’s correct)

The Tao, Miracles and Reflections on Love

Christine Miller
The Butterfly Nebula - aspects of reality

The Butterfly Nebula – aspects of reality

Understanding and Reflection

I’ve had a lot of experiences of Being Love, of practising Love, and holding Loving spaces as I’ve been deliberately researching Love for the past three years. It really seems though that my whole life has been a crucible for developing awareness and sensitivity, resilience and understanding of Love in its many ways of being present and expressed.

As part of deepening and expanding my inner understanding of Love at Work whilst I prepare my ‘data’ for publication, I find myself exploring various texts, ancient and modern. At the moment I am contemplating the Tao Te Ching and A Course in Miracles, both of which have recently re-emerged into my life.

The latter has surfaced again because I’ve been reading for review Gary Renard’s fascinating ‘Love Has Forgotten No-One’ (Hay House, November 2013), and I was drawn to the Tao again at the beginning of 2014 and treated myself to a beautiful volume translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Action

What I’m choosing to do is to take the Tao verse by verse, one each day, and sit with it as inspiration and insight, and to dip into the chapters of A Course in Miracles, whilst following the lessons in the workbook as my course of action. It’s an experiment in taking existing material and allowing it to expand my work on Love. I’m fascinated to experience what unfolds and flows.

Meaning

With my ‘Love in the Boardroom’ book I am currently sifting through the many ‘meanings’ my research participants have given to and for Love, and derived from Love. So this snippet taken from Chapter 1 of ACIM (A Course in Miracles) resonates:

“The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of Love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of Love’s presence, which is your  natural inheritance.” 

Closely followed by:

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of Love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense, everything that comes from Love is a miracle.”

The first lesson in the workbook also relates to meaning – in terms of undoing attachment to the material:

“Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) means anything.”

The Tao Te Ching tells me that

“The name that can be named
Is not the eternal Name.”

and that:

“The unnameable is the eternally real.”

The learning here seems to be that it is in the unknown, the un-manifest, mystery, beyond, that real Love, and what is real, lies. And about letting go of the meaning we attribute to what we have created in our world.

As ACIM says in the introduction,

“Nothing real can be threatened,

Nothing unreal exists…”

Contemplating….

Christine Miller 

 

 

Mandela – a leader of love

Photo by Cindy Barnes
Photo by Cindy Barnes

Photo by Cindy Barnes

A Leader of Love

Christine Miller

The Mandela we know and love represents freedom, trust, integrity, a new era for South Africa, and inspiration for the rest of the world.

We don’t doubt his struggles and suffering whilst imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island, and that the tough times he overcame led to a better future for South Africa’s people and rippled out to affect us all. He was a world figure, a leader whose following loved him for his caring, his dedication and persistence, and for his evident love of mankind, of justice, equality and freedom.

He did not shirk difficult decisions, knew when to step back and let others lead, and also knew how to be loving in a strong and courageous way which only increased his ability to influence for good. We saw him as quiet power, a humble source of commitment to change, and a transformational, undeniable force for good.

He was a human being: a human being  who represented Love at Work – and now his memory and the spirit of his actions, words and way of being remain to inspire us to be, ourselves, Leaders of Love.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

In honour of his life, with joy and anticipation of a legacy fulfilled in his own lifetime.

Below, a short film from 21 Icons of the last photoshoot with Nelson Mandela.

We take an exclusive journey with Adrian Steirn to Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, and experience the warmth and intimacy that permeated the atmosphere during the portrait shoot. We also hear what others have to say about the greatest icon of them all.

Nelson Mandela Launches The Elders

Nelson Mandela Launches The Elders

The Elders honour the memory of their Founder, Nelson Mandela

“Nelson Mandela stands as an inspiration to us all” –
Kofi Annan

“He was a moral colossus, a global icon of forgiveness and reconciliation” –
Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela founded The Elders in Johannesburg on his 89th birthday,
18 July 2007

Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference

Christine

Christine Miller

Christine Miller

Those of you who know about my long-term research project into Love –  Love in the Boardroom and Love in Organisations via www.Loveworks.co  – will understand exactly why I was attracted to the ‘Empathy and Compassion in Society’ conference which took place in London’s South Bank on October 24th as  the subject matter fits perfectly with many aspects of my work in the field of human potential for ReSource magazine.

This piece is a quick snapshot of the event; every part of the day was valuable, and all will be included in  fuller pieces to follow. There was a stellar line up of 20 speakers including guest of honour, Karen Armstrong (Charter for Compassion), Daniel Goleman (of Emotional Intelligence fame), Adam Grant (leading US business school Wharton’s youngest tenured professor and highest rated teacher) and Jo Berry, Founder of Building Bridges for Peace.

The conference offered a rich and varied feast of ideas and practical suggestions for increasing compassion in society, from schools to workplaces, in healthcare and homes, from the individual to the collective, with great sign posts to research from Stanford’s Emma Seppala and enthusiasm shining throughout.

The day began with a message, courtesy of David Rand, Executive Director of The Tenzin Gyatso Institute, from HH the Dalai Lama, who said there should be many more conferences dedicated to compassion, as loving kindness is such an important quality and way of being. This was  followed by a moving talk from Karen Armstrong about the great need for compassion in our world. Karen is currently working with TED on a major international project to propagate the Charter for Compassion, which was crafted by leading thinkers in six of the world’s religions.

Engagingly com-passionate Associate Professor of the University of Texas, Kristin Neff treated us to a range of techniques for being compassionate to ourselves as well as to others, so that we gave ourselves permission for self-compassion, Kristin’s area of interest and outstanding expertise.  Kristin is author of the internationally acclaimed book Self-Compassion (2011) and is also featured in the bestselling book and award-winning documentary The Horse Boy, which chronicles her family’s journey to Mongolia where they trekked on horseback to find healing for her autistic son.

A round table discussion gave us great insights from some active advocates and practitioners of compassion including Richard Barrett, an author, speaker and social commentator on the evolution of human values in business and society. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Barrett Values Centre, a values-based leadership programme used in 60 countries to support more than 4,000 organisations. His recent publications include The Values-Driven Organisation: Unleashing Human Potential for Performance and Profit(2013) and Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations (2011).

Another panelist was Maureen Cooper,  the author of ‘The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress’, which is due to be published in the UK in September 2013.

Maureen is also founder of Awareness in Action, a consultancy dedicated to the secular application of mindfulness, meditation and compassion in the workplace.

 

Also on the panel was inspirational and entertaining Kevin Jones, headmaster of St John’s College School in Cambridge, who was awarded the 2013 Tatler Prize for Best Headmaster. One of the school’s many strengths is its mindfulness programme, part of the school’s emotions for learning project designed to strengthen children’s emotional resilience.

Paul Ekman, who is a leading clinical psychologist and pioneer in the study of emotions, came to us by video message and discussed whether compassion is an emotion and whether it can be cultivated. His 1970s research shows that emotions are universal and the facial expressions associated with some emotions are common to all humans.

The afternoon brought us a selection of valuable workshops, followed by examples of ways in which compassion is being encouraged in a number of organisations from Tesco, through The Reader Organisation and Jane Davis MBE  to hospitals in Australia, via Liz Lobb and Alexandra Yuille,  insight into the concept of  ‘Give and Take’ from Adam Grant, and Daniel Goleman’s wonderful speech about leadership and compassion, about which more to follow.

 

This conference offered such a packed and powerful schedule, it will take me a while to process the individual elements and report further, but in the meantime if you have some time this weekend, do register and go along to the workshops, you will be doing a great kindness to yourself by learning more. Do visit the link below and find out more. 

Empathy and Compassion in Society

 

Thanks to Sophie & Olivia at TPR-Media for your cooperation – much appreciated.

Celebrating Poetry – And she brought me Snowdrops…

And she brought me snowdrops...

And she brought me snowdrops...

 

And she brought me Snowdrops…

Sharp strands slicing,
Stinging swallows:
Tiny throat cut,
No mercy.

Crisp cold whiteness
Thin flat sheets
Hard steel
Metal, framed.

Voice silenced;
No sound emits.
No signal -
No response.

The vast space
Echoes briskly
Attendants bustle
No relief.

Trickle of tears,
Lonely tracks
Tracing patterns,
Still, alone.

Plucked from home,
Separated,
Before three springs,
Untimely rift.

Sudden sense,
Familiar tone,
Eternal smile,
Soft arms enfold.

And She, salvation,
Maternal, golden,
Of radiant warmth,
Brought me snowdrops.

© Christine Miller

 

This poem arose from seeing a film on the BBC’s ‘The Great British Year’ of a February woodland garden in Gloucestershire, filled with snowdrops in bloom, their delicacy and beauty carpeting the ground with that fabulous first sign of winter’s end approaching.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I recalled with great clarity the time when I was about two and a half years old when I had my tonsils out. I still have strong memories of this. I can see clearly the area pre-theatre where gas cylinders and bottles of blood were stored, I feel the cold crisp linen of the hospital bed and the hard metal bars that kept me imprisoned there. I recall not being able to call out to the nurses for help. I remember the pain of my raw throat, and, acutely, the loneliness.

My beautiful Mother, Jane

My beautiful Mother, Jane

In those distant days when I was little, parents weren’t allowed into hospital with their children, and visiting hours were very strictly enforced. I was desolate, in pain,  and afraid, and when my mother did arrive with a beautiful bunch of snowdrops, and a pretty little silver hair slide, which I treasured for years, I was filled with joy and relief.

The image of those snowdrops is still fresh in my mind, all these years later, and as I watched the scene in the film, these words, ‘And she brought me snowdrops’, erupted superbly into my consciousness and demanded to be expanded, expressed and offered as a token of gratitude and Love to my dearly departed mother, whose healing, radiant presence is still with me every day.

And it also just happens to be National Poets Day today, so I dedicate this to all poets, everyone, everywhere, may your creativity flow with abundance.

Christine – for National Poet’s Day 2013

Find more of Christine’s poetry here: Soul Poet