Ode to our House

Reflecting on our moving, and after an enlightening conversation with the inspiring Christian Kyriacou, House Whisperer, (Christian and I met when we were both speakers at the Strarta Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery last year) I was prompted to write this piece full of gratitude and love as a gift for the wonderful spaces which have nurtured our family for the past 31 years.

Apparently, it is provoking tears in more than a few eyes…

Love

Christine

House in Ealing

Victorian Detached House for Sale in Ealing

Changing Times at the House in Ealing

 Front with shrubs2

We’ve lived in our house for 31 years now, and over those years we’ve transformed the house and our lives in many ways. The gorgeous garden was one of the main attractions to begin with.
It still is a real joy.

Garden 1 Looking West

When we first moved in, the house was, frankly, a bit of a wreck. The ultimate fixer-upper. It had been used partially as a rooming house, and some rooms had been better looked after than others. Some had possibly been cleaned in the last 10 years. Others hadn’t.

That was okay, we just lived upstairs in the best rooms, made do with a couple of camping gas burners and a rotisserie grill as a makeshift kitchen in a room that had a sink unit, added a fridge freezer and a dishwasher, (yes, absolutely essential!) and got on with our fixing up.

We’ve kept on fixing up, refreshing and renewing over the years, and it’s in pretty excellent shape these days.

Kitchen 3

In the first stages, it took eighteen months to get a kitchen and six months to get central heating. We fired up the central heating for the first time on November 5th, Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night here in the UK. That’s just our British sense of humour coming out!  There weren’t any fires or fireworks indoors, just a sense of relief that we had a cosy warmth for the winter. As our daughter was just turned two, that was very welcome indeed.

Our daughter became very adept at stepping over gaps in floorboards and learned to balance on joists. I like to think the early experiences served her well for her dancing and gymnastics activities, and kept her alert to possible hazards. She’s circumnavigated the globe a couple of times with no major catastrophes, so I guess that might be true.

Anyway, the main point of this post is to say we have decided to move house. Where, we haven’t decided. But we made that decision to put the house on the market, and let go of this era in exchange for a whole new set of adventures and environments.

We’ve loved living here, we’ve had countless happy times and been nourished by our lovely home, garden and friends and neighbours.

Rear Garden East View

 We’d love to think of the house as being equally loved by another family who enjoy fun and entertaining in the house and in the garden, and just relish being together in a great environment.

If you want to see more, you can visit us here – http://houseinealing.com 

Tina Seskis – words from the heart

Tina Seskisw book

Launch of Tina Seskis book

Christine Miller

It was an honour and a delight to finally meet Tina Seskis – best-selling author of the tautly engrossing psychological thriller ‘One Step Too Far’ – in person at the launch of the paperback version of her book, published by Michael Joseph.

Apart from being a great writer, Tina is a very enterprising and able marketer. She initially self-published One Step Too Far in 2013, when I had the pleasure of being one of the first readers and reviewers through NetGalley. The link to that review is here.

I was completely hooked right from the beginning, and delighted to help Tina garner reviews, readers and sales for the book, because it genuinely is one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever read.

And believe me,  I’ve read a large number of  books …

Christine Miller LondonfromStrand802The launch was generously hosted at Penguin’s beautifully sited headquarters in The Strand.
We were on the 10th floor with magnificent panoramic views of a sunlit London from the terrace.

Christine Miller LondonFromStrand3

Christine Miller LondonFrmStrand804

As the wine flowed, the conversation buzzed and there was a wonderful atmosphere of celebration and success as the crowd of family, friends and supporters gathered to congratulate Tina on her triumphs.

Christine MillerStrand5

What also emerged last night was the poignant ‘story behind the story’ of what prompted Tina to write in the first place. Her mother was unwell, and Tina used the book as a means of engaging her mother’s attention and interest – in her own words, “to keep her going”.  The guidance and insights from her mother helped Tina keep the book’s characters and their actions real and thereby remain sympathetic and appealing to readers, thus sculpting the storyline as credible yet compelling.

When we spoke, Tina told me that the words had come straight from her heart, directed by her mission to keep her mother occupied, as she wove ‘One Step Too Far’ into the fascinating story with the terrific plot twist that led Penguin to pick it up and offer her a completely well-deserved 3-book deal rumoured to be worth a substantial 6-figure sum.

Tina’s humble and heartfelt tribute in her speech to her (sadly now deceased) mother, who she described as the one person who really should have been there, to her husband, her son and all her family, and to everyone who supported her, was beautiful. Also moving were the brief, entertaining and powerful words from Louise Moore, one of Penguin’s managing directors, who justly praised Tina for her creativity and writing skills, her persistence and determination, and her refreshingly open approach.

This is a success story which carries great hope for talented writers wanting to get noticed, a lesson in determination, perseverance and guts.

And I have a strong sense that we haven’t even seen the very best of Tina Seskis yet – definitely one to watch – and read and enjoy.

Thanks to all for a wonderful evening,  and if you haven’t already, go get your copy of ‘One Step Too Far’ HERE.

Christine Miller

The Tao, Miracles and Reflections on Love

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 

 

 

Insights into Mental Health at Work

Why Mental Health Matters HR Conference

I was delighted to attend the inaugural conference at Ortus, a new learning centre adjacent to the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital and King’s College London, in Camberwell, South London, on January 15th.

The theme of the conference was ‘Why Mental Health Matters’; and if environment influences wellbeing (which we know it does) then the beautiful new Ortus building, opened in 2013, which houses Maudsley Learning and offers event space specially designed for learning experiences, is definitely a first class example of form and function.

The Ortus Centre

The Ortus Centre, Camberwell, South London

Specially designed with sustainability and environmental considerations in mind, the building is spacious, light, and airy and has the versatility to suit many types of events and experiences, from screening films to intimate workshops to the larger scale conferences in which I took part.

The local community is engaged and welcomed to cultural events, and catered for with an attractive café, priding itself on great coffee, and the evidence was that it is well-used by residents, workers and families. With the delicious catering, plus a friendly and efficient staff, this is a place I would definitely recommend for hosting and attending events.

ortus2

Natural light, sustainable materials and space at Ortus

The quality of the conference’s content was also highly engaging; the expert speakers and facilitators offered a range of topics delivered in varied formats to keep our interest. (I was also delighted that we were seated ‘cabaret style’ at generous round tables, so no juggling writing materials and conference information on our laps!)

The information offered was comprehensive and gave HR practitioners and others concerned with wellbeing at work and mental health in the workplace many insights into how to identify those who are at risk, how to manage mental health and ill-health at work, how to provide environments and conditions which reduce the risks associated with developing problems, and much more.

Conference 2

Conference Chair Professor Linda Holbeche introduces CIPD’s Ben Willmott

We learned of innovative projects such as ‘Juice’ at The University of Sheffield from  Andrew Dodman and Gary Butterfield, experienced Happiness and Stress Management workshops, and gained valuable knowledge about current practices and research results from Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, Professor Stephen Bevan, Director, Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, The Work Foundation, and Dr Max Henderson, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiological & Occupational Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

L to R: Tracy Skyrme , Dr Max Henderson, Prof Stephen Bevan, Andrew Dodman, Dr Les Smith

L to R: Tracy Skyrme , Dr Max Henderson, Professor Stephen Bevan, Andrew Dodman, Dr Les Smith

Dr Amy C. Iversen, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation, delivered a workshop on Mental Health Matters: The Management of Common Mental Disorders in the Workplace, and other workshops covered Happiness at Work, from Sherry Clark and Miriam Mica, and The Organisational Management of Traumatic Events from Roy Scott MBE.

Conference 8

On Your Feet! Afternoon refresher session to energise the delegates courtesy of Miriam Mica

With case study sessions from Sheffield University, Health & Wellbeing UK, and Joanna Ryan from Transport for London, and a panel to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of wellbeing as a performance measure, (the consensus seemed to be that there are more pitfalls than benefits) we had a very full and rewarding day, and I certainly came away with many ideas and thought provoking possibilities to consider.

Great food and networking at Ortus

Great food and networking at Mental Health Matters Conference at Ortus

We were supremely well cared for during the entire day, with lovely food, and the event was rounded off by a networking and drinks reception, where once again the quality of Ortus shone through in the ambience of the space and the top class service we enjoyed.

Ortus is the home of Maudsley Learning, headed by Managing Director Genevieve Glover, the team aims ‘to provide world class and accessible learning on mental health and wellbeing’. 

‘Ortus’ is a Latin word meaning origin; heritage; being; source; rise.

You can find out more about Ortus & Maudsley Learning at their website www.maudsleylearning.com 

Christine Miller