I’m Giving Up Nothing for Lent

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

(with credit to Paul Simon) 

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)

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 

 

 

Christine Miller – The Love of Art Talk

The Love of Art & The Art of Love

Christine Miller


This is the unedited, uncut audio recording of a short talk I gave at the Strarta Art Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London in October 2013.

[jwplayer mediaid=”2949″]

Some of the exhibited pieces mentioned in the talk:

John O'Connor Solitude Bronze Statue

John O’Connor Solitude Bronze Statue

Solaris Water Art  Nicky Assmann

Solaris Water Art
Nicky Assmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubble Telescope photographs of Cometary Knots and the Spitzer Nebula as mentioned 

The images below show the Universe in creation – I was delighted by the similarity and resonance with Nicky Assmann’s work ‘Solaris’ shown above.

Cometary Knots

Cometary Knots

Spitzer Nebula

Spitzer Nebula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Harmonic or Golden Mean

© Christine Miller 2014

The Meaning of Meaning

So, what’s the meaning of Meaning?

Free beer, abundant ideas, alternative solutions, changing the world of business in the 21st century  … and much more.

Will McInnes

Will McInnes

There was a real buzz of excitement and possibility at the second Meaning Conference in Brighton last week. The venue (Brighton Dome) is very special, and with its inspiring architecture and its declared purpose of inspiring creativity and fostering the arts, provided a fertile backdrop for the range of top class speakers expressing their ideas with passion and power. True evidence of Love at Work, which gladdens my heart as ever.

The Meaning Conference is produced by NixonMcInnes, who describe themselves as one of the most democratic businesses in the world – an award-winning strategic consultancy that’s spent the last decade helping organisations adapt to the demands of an emerging digital culture. As they say:

‘Our purpose for bringing people together for Meaning is simple: to change the world of business…so our goal is to inspire our audience with stories, to empower them with self-belief, to arm them with practicalities, to blow their mind with ideas’.

Bold statements, yet the energy and passion that drive the NixonMcInnes team, combined with the brilliant selection of speakers and the free-flowing themes, created an event that had the audience enthralled. This 2013 edition of the Meaning Conference was curated by Will McInnes, pictured above.

I arrived in time to hear Mikel Lezamiz from Mondragon speak about the way the co-operative system works for the Spanish company. Mondragon’s strapline is ‘Humanity at Work’, and the organisation certainly seems to embody principles and values that prize human beings and a system which delivers a caring, supportive environment. Mondragon has 83,000 employees and 9,000 students, with total assets in 2012 of 35,88bn Euros.

Mikel 500

Mikel Lezamiz, Mondragon’s Director of Co-operative Dissemination

Examples of Mondragon’s outstanding strategy of inter-cooperation includes a ratio of a maximum of 6:1 between the highest and lowest paid workers. This is an exceptionally close ratio; The Equality Trust in a report published in 2011 indicated that there was a 262:1 average top-to-bottom pay ratio in UK companies which disclosed data.

Mondragon, Lezamiz also informed  us,  have never fired anyone in the 57 years of their existence. Recently, all workers across the company took a 1% pay cut in order to preserve a manufacturing division which was not doing well. This is about to be closed down now, but the workers have all been given other jobs within the group, a fine example of the benefits of the co-operative system in action.

I sat beside Mikel in the audience, and was much impressed by his humility and quietly confident demeanor, which also shone through from the stage, where he held the audience’s attention as he showed us just how powerful this business model is in terms of sustainability, engagement and humanity at work.

There were a dozen great speakers at Meaning, and I’ll be detailing more over the next few days.

Look forward to reading about great talks from Umair Haque, Honor Harger, Dave Birch, James Watt, Dr Sue Black, Mary Alice Arthur and all the Nixon McInnes team – plus, when I catch up through video with the speakers I missed, Rick Falkvinge and Anne Marie Huby.

In the meantime, congratulations and many thanks to Louise Ash and the team for such a warm welcome and a successful conference, and if you are keen to attend next year – you can claim your Earlybird tickets HERE

Christine Miller