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Archive for April, 2013

The Perfect London Weekend

Friday, April 26th, 2013















The tree I mention at 40 Josephine Avenue, SW2 (I know – Is that really a face peering back at us?)

The Perfect London Weekend: Radio Interview with Robert Elms.

Click here to Listen JackeeHolder_Interview

There’s nothing like a good old down to earth conversation. I was lucky to have one of those a few Saturdays ago when I was a radio guest on Robert Elm’s Lovely London Weekender Show on BBC Radio London. Click the link above to listen. It’s really fun.

Part of our conversation included sharing what I would do on a pleasure filled London weekend. I talked about all the different meals I would have (food is very important to me), the walks I love to take in nature (I love nature and London’s great parks) and my adventure on a three-seated motorbike visiting the sites and homes of many of London’s greatest trees with one of my favourite tree photographers and writer Thomas Pakenham. This really chuckled Elms.

During our conversation Robert shared a story with me that reminded me of how our stories are so interconnected. I talked about an idea I had for a television programme where you would research all the people who were still alive who over the years lived in the same house obviously at different times and bring them together for a big reunion and history of what it was like to live in the house. This was after finding out that I wasn’t actually born in a hospital as my lovely Mum had informed me but at no 39 Jeffrey’s rd in Clapham, London.

This prompted Robert to share a similar kind of story. It was a year after his Mum had passed away and he found himself in a part of London, Pimlico he wasn’t familiar with. But on seeing the name of the street he was standing on realized because he had been dealing with his mum’s affairs for the last year that he was actually standing on the very street she was born in. To top that he was in front of the house where she was born. Next thing the door opens and the present occupier comes out and in a few minutes Robert is invited inside to take a look. There are just some stories we can’t make up and I believe these stories are mirrored all over the world.

I went on to share with Robert how I’d come across a similar story in Real Simple magazine several years ago that I’d kept. It was written by A. Nanette Ansay and was a personal essay entitled, One Hundred Acres. Her grandmother had died in 1998 and her farm was sold to pay expensive medical expenses. The new owner remodeled the house but had made it clear that any of the author’s relatives – more than 200 people were free to wander around the orchard and the woods. But none of the relatives had taken up the offer.

“ In our minds, the house is exactly as it was. The barn smells of hay. The out buildings are intact. The flower beds are bursting with colour.”

“ Last spring my Uncle Artie, plowing in a nearby field decided he’d run up to my grandmother’s farm to get some water. To his surprise the door was locked. But he went around to the back where my grandmother always kept a spare key, removed it from the beneath the stone, filing a glass of water and let himself into the house.

He was standing at the sink, filing a glass of water, when it dawned on him that the plates in the sink were nothing like my grandmother’s. the entire sink, in fact, was different. So were the curtains. The furniture. Even the floor.

That’s when he heard a man’s voice say. “Uh, excuse me?”

Uncle Artie turned, and the present snapped back into place. My grandmother was gone, and he was in a stranger’s house.

Around the same time I’d discovered a similar story by Paul Auster which I know I have stashed somewhere in one of my files. I don’t think synchronicity strikes once but several times over. Seems like our stories are intricately connected and intertwined.

Do you know of a similar story or stories?

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Soul, Nurturing Words

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Aja-African-goddessimage copyright

I recently received a lovely message from a workshop participant who attended a workshop I ran on Journal writing in 2011 at the Brahma Kumaris. She has given me permission to share some of her message about the impact that the journal writing workshop had on her.

“It was also on that day and during a workshop with you that I made a decision to write at least two A4 pages every day.  Soon after, and a year and a half later the most beautiful soul nurturing words have been flowing from a deeper place and onto to paper.

Usually, after a meditation, my mind steps aside and Joy comes through.  Below is an excerpt that came through around the same time as the workshop with you in Willesden. “ – Jiro Jo

Below is an excerpt she shared with me:

Gradually know this, today is yours.  Depend on no-one.  There is love here for you.  Deepen experience of me.  Deny this not.  By my name you will realise love in droves. 

Forget nothing in you today. 

My name is Joy. 

Ask me. 

Your questions are well.

  i.     What sort of books would you like me to write?

Plain.  Simple.  Instructive.  Honest.  Books with depth and matter.  Tell not truth but remain in it for it will seep through in droves.

  1. ii.     How will they be written?By my name in sequence and colour.  They are tales of Joy and fortune, memory and fortitude.  Pleasant and simple.

Ask another.

  1. iii.     Will they be words I hear from you or will my mind make them up?No matter what, you are safe.  Mind works for you.  I am intent in categorizing subject matter for you.  Use me as tool.  Each tale will tell love and soul and be forever read.  There is light and surety in them.  They will illuminate and prosper all.  Forever told.
  2. iv.     Will they be written for children?They are medicine for the soul.  All souls.

 v.     Will they be in the form of fiction or fact?

They will commence soon.  Stories will be well written and construed in scriptures.  Parables of the soul.  They will play with joy and sorrow and fulfil all hearts.

  1. vi.     What will the first one be called?Matters not.  It will surprise you in time.
  2. vii.     When will writing start?Today in your heart.  Scriptures will illuminate all starting now.

In a time not long passed lived sorrow.

Courageous was she.

Small was she.

Known was she.

Felt was she.

She consumed all souls plighting their life with menace, woe and resent.

My name is money, and I helped.

I changed time for all and conjured nothing well.

I stepped on toes and crushed and devoured mountains.

I did well. 

Then there’s me, fever.

I love Joy.  I love to play with her and make her wet and cold.

I make all wince and beg.

What pleasure I get furnishing all.

 Then there is worry, not to mention jealousy and tarnish, brother and thief.

We work well together, borrowing not to return.

We get up to maya and remain consistent wherever we go.

We charge all, and face none.

There is war in this place and we love it.

Delicious is here.

Morrow is thine.

Sanguine is coming.

Fruitless is formed.

Neglect, mischief, fancy without care for others, and greed all love to stay.

What can I say?  It has begun.  Express me in you.  You will gain recognition in style and voice, in gesture and faith. 

Be bold not. 

Cover not. 

Change not.

Testify to my name always.

Your Beloved,


 Nothing matters any more.  We are one.  We have won.  Dedicate life to storytelling.  This is your way.

There is a force that is here that will remain forevermore.  This is so.  Continue in my name.

My love,

                  enable this foothold.

Words by JOY.

Written by JIRO JO.

Writing can be a deeply intimate process that allows us to express ourselves from the inside out. When I was training as an Interfaith Minister I made a vow to establish a writing ministry as part of my work and I am slowly realising how deeply writing is now becoming a major part of my work. Jiro Jo’s words flow across the page and take her into a dialogue and inquiry about her writing and I love that she has found her writing practice through the process of meditation.

Many writers meditate before they write. It is a powerful way to access the rich terrain of your imagination and connect with the deeper interior world inside of you. Of course meditation also connects you to the breath and the breath is the way we can allow our writing to take us to the words, stories and images that we would not find through a normal, rational constricted way of thinking. So often words, images and stories can be so fragile and fleeting and lost in a moment if we are not grounded and present.  By mindful breathing you are allowing yourself to be more concentrated. Mediation is like the spiders web that catches it all and brings it to the page. It will shift you from busy mind to quiet mind to a state where you are connected to the alpha brain waves which connects us to the state of flow.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone despite the pithy weather.Aja-African-goddess

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How To be Happy In Challenging Times Part 3

Thursday, April 25th, 2013


Some closing thoughts on Happiness from Sister Maureen from the Brahma Kumaris. You can watch the video here:

Find out more about Spirit Of Coaching Events at

The miracle of happiness: Happiness increases when you give it away… When you give happiness and you share happiness it increases for you.

The transformative power of happiness it is not just for the self. It is something that can transform an atmosphere and the environment. You can only share happiness in this moment now.

Sharing an atmosphere of happiness helps people to be able to see solutions to their own problems. At first I thought I had o fix everyone’s problems. You are using them to make you feel good, feeding the ego of approval. I think I am doing good, when I am just serving myself.

Final Tips on How To Happy In Challenging Times from Mike George & Robert Holden

Robert Holden

Tip 1

Have a daily spiritual practice. Take time for out with yourself

Tip 2

Life doesn’t happen to you it happens for you. So work on it.

Tip 3

Read one of Mike’s books.

Mike George

Tip 1

Meditation, everyday, twice a day and reflection

Tip 2

What’s in the way is the way.

Tip 3

Find a way to share and to give what you are realizing. Pass it on. Find something everyday to share with others.

Big Thanks for a great event to:

John McConnel Founder of the Spirit of Coaching

Davina Lloyd (Host of the Event)

Judy Apps (How To Be Happy Workshop on the day and Spirit of Coaching planning group member)

Jill Davis & Neil Jordan (Spirit of Coaching Planning Group member)

Sister Maureen (Director of at the Brahma Kumaris)

Blanco for Brahma Kumaris Spain who flew in especially for the event

All of the BK volunteers and helpers on the day

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How To Be Happy In Challenging Times Part 2

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

More_Of_Mystic_Mike_JackeeMike George another one of my favourite spiritual teachers and coaches really drilled down into the psychology of Happiness and really unraveled in his clear steps and guidance of what stands between us, and our happiness.

Here are the main elements of his talk on How To Be Happy In Challenging Times: Watch the video here:

Mike described three primary feelings when we are in a happy state:

Ask yourself: What it is it that is sustaining this particular feeling?

1. A state of feeling of contentment. This is the deepest form of happiness. When I am content I notice I ask the question how do I sustain the state of contentment? When we are in a state of contentment we are not touched by anything or affected by anyone or anything that’s going on around me or outside of me. If I am going to sustain contentment that I have to accept everyone and everything as they are, as it is at every moment. The moment I move into a state of non- acceptance, disapproval. The moment I allow myself to be affected by anything around me then my state of contentment disappears. I’m responsible for that state and all states that I feel.

2. A state of joy or joyfulness. Joy is noticed in the in-experience when we are in the process of something. What is the process that sustains joyfulness? It’s in the process of being creative. Creativity, maybe the primary impulse of the human spirit. It’s the one thing we are all doing all the time the deepest impulse of the human spirit is to create and be creative. The deepest impulse of the spirit is to create and the deepest level of creation is to create our own state of being. Joy for me is felt when I am in the process of being creative. If you ask the mundane levels of the creative’s, the poet, the painter or the writer they will tell you there’s a great joy in the creative expressions that they are using to bring something together to manifest something in the world. That joy is present because you lose awareness of the passing of time. Joy is the feeling that arises when we are doing what is natural to us, which, is to be creative.

3. A state is Bliss. When the human spirit is free there is this feeling of blissfulness.

Happiness as a state of consciousness is our most natural state.

7 Key Toxins That Compromise Our Natural State Of Happiness & The Best Questions To Ask Yourself About What Gets In The Way Of Our Happiness

The toxins are all of beliefs and are the beliefs we absorb throughout our life and get in the way of a state of happiness

1. Happiness is something that is acquired. Acquiring the objects, the things or the person there is a little high and then followed by a low. The upper that is required when we acquire things is temporary and short-lived and is stimulated from outside in. It doesn’t come from within my own state. It’s not my own state. Those are the signals that acquiring things doesn’t make me happy.   Ask the questions: What is it that you believe that is going to make you happy when I acquire it? Make a list – be very honest. Then ask: Am I Sure? Live in the question. The answer is probably No; acquiring stuff does not make us content, joyful or blissful.

2. Happiness is an achievement. We’re driven to achieve goals before we believe we can be happy. When you achieve your goals there is a little moment, but what happens next… we are off chasing another goal. Achievement is always in the future. Happiness can only be now. This belief has us struggling and delaying our happiness. Ask the question: What do I believe I need to achieve in order to be happy? Make a list – be honest. Reflect.  Then ask: Am I sure this is what is going to make me happy?

3. Happiness equals excitement. We believe excitement equals happiness. Many of us believe we have to be excited to be happy. Excitement is what happens in the kettle when the water boils. The molecules are agitated when the kettle boils. Am I happy when I am agitated? Happiness is this contented state, this natural flow into the world. Ask the question: What is it I believe that I need that makes me excited to bring me happiness. Reflect. Make a list – Be honest.  Then ask: Am I sure?

4. Happiness is about dependency. I need someone else to be happy and create my state of happiness. I need to be depend on someone or something before I can be happy in myself. All dependency leads to all forms of addiction. Ask the question: What do I believe I need to be dependent on to make me happy? Who do I believe I need to be dependent to make me happy? Make a list – Be honest. Then ask: Am I sure? Is this true?

5. Happiness is about attachment. You cannot be happy if you’re attached to anything. Where there is attachment there must be some fear. Fear of loss or damage. The moment I become attached to anything I create some form of fear. When I am scared am I happy. When I am scared I am sabotaging my happiness.  It’s someone else making me unhappy. Ask the questions: What do I believe I need to be attached to before I can be happy? Make a list – Reflect. then ask: Am I sure?

6. Happiness is relief from pain. This is not real happiness it is just relief. I am always waiting for some relief to be happy.  Then I go searching for something to relive my pain. Ask the question: What do I believe I need to feel relief from before I am happy? Make a list – Be honest. Reflect. Then ask: Am I sure?

7. Happiness is success.  This maybe the most powerful belief. We believe we have to compete or have to win in order to be successful. I have to be successful before I can feel happy within myself. So we spend our lives chasing some kind of success, believing we can’t be happy until we are successful. Ask the question: What do I believe I need to be successful at before I can be happy? Make a list – be honest. Reflect. Then ask: Am I sure? Is that true.

The process of spiritual awareness is raising our awareness to the presence of these toxins and sabotage our state of being and content. Waking up and seeing what is sabotaging and what is making you feel miserable and unhappy.

Find out more about Mike George at:

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How To Be Happy In Challenging Times Part 1

Thursday, April 25th, 2013












I had the pleasure of chairing an Event run by the Spirit Of Coaching at the Brahma Kumar’s entitled: How To Happy In Challenging Times. I spent today transcribing most of what was shared by the three presenters are all spiritual teachers and coaches. I was so moved by so much of what was shared that in no way did I fully absorb as I carried out my role of chairing the conversations.

I am sharing a few snippets from the conversations from all three in hope that you will take some time to listen to the video and have your own experience of the conversations.

For coaches there is  somuch wisdom here about how to coach and hold a space for individuals workignin organisations where there is constant pressure, stress and change on how to move beyond their fears and limiting beliefs in these challenging times, how to build resilience and connect with our own true nature.

All three speakers speak passionately about the need to reconnect with the unconditional self which when we connect in with is always in a state of peace, harmony and love. You can watch the video here:

In my first excerpt I share Robert Holden’s exploration of how to navigate our way through challenging times and a powerful definition of what it means to be a coach.

“When we run into the challenging times if we pay attention to them we will notice, there is no so such things as the dark night of the soul, when I really pay attention to myself in the middle of a challenging time what I can feel when I really pay attention is that what I call a dark night of the soul is really a dark night of the ego.

It’s my personality that’s going through the trouble. It’s my self-image that’s rocked.  It’s my ego that’s having the really hard time and actually when I can attend to that suffering of the self-image of the ego and of the pain amazingly I begin to be aware of the big happiness. The support that is somehow there behind the scenes and the support that is offered from the soul, is always in a state of harmony, in a state of peace and happiness, that is the big happiness from the unconditioned self.

In a challenging time we are called to bring our self image, our ego, our personality, whatever you want to call it, our separate self we are asked to bring it back to the soul, to the self that we all share and rest and take instruction and have guidance and support along the way.

When we do this then we don’t just fight those challenging times in quite the same way. Everybody has had their fair share of challenging times and what’s awkward about a challenging time is that the one you’re in now often feels like the one you are not going to get through. Who you think you are won’t be able to get through that challenging time but who you really are can and will. Challenging times are asking us to come back to ourselves and let go of those toxic beliefs and to let who we think we are so we can access the truth of who we really are.

A coach is someone who is not fooled by your appearance. You’ve been telling them for an hour that your stuck and they are tempted to believe you but they are not going to. Because they know that it can only be the ego that’s stuck, the self -mage that’s stuck. You’ve been telling your coach for an hour that you’ve tried everything and it almost sounds true, partly because you believe it but it would only be the self-image that has tried everything. There’s a lot more to try beyond that.

Robert Holden, How To Be Happy In  Challenging Times, Spirit of Coaching, April 14th 2013

  • How does what Robert describes reflect and impact on your work as a coach?
  • How much can you relate to of what Robert describes?
  • How have you come through your own dark night of the soul?
  • One of the quotes from Robert is that when, “ the coach is ready the client will appear.” That many of our clients come to teach us about our own lives and help us to develop and grow? What are your thoughts and reflection on this possibility? What evidence do you have of this happening? What connections can you make with the parallel process we talk about in coaching supervision?

Find out more about Robert Holden at:

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A Perfect Mess

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

A Perfect Mess cover










There’s an actual book about procrastination entitled: A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits Of Disorder a perfect title both for this blog post and my office desk I avoid working from on most days.

So I was very heartened when a blog post from the fabulous Nina Grunfeld of Life Clubs shared a great link in her blog post on April 22nd to an on line article about the spaces creative’s work from.

It was with a sense of relief when I read through the post to recognise that my disordered and cluttered office space, which on many levels feeds and drives my creativity, is also shared by many of the world’s more famous and well-known creative’s.

I love this picture of Nigella Lawson at work.















That’s me. If it was not for my organized, keep things clear, fastidious, Virgo partner our home would literally be a monument to books and magazines and if I could a tree growing in the living room would be great. In fact that was actually one of the images that was included in the online post.

A quick peek at the current perfect mess of my desk as of 8am this morning.

My_ desk_at_home











In the past I’ve done the good girl thing of tidying up the office, filing away the papers but my good deed lasts no longer than a week, maybe ten days at a push before the mess quickly claims back it’s space.

So now, I no longer expend my energies attempting to resist the mess, instead I let it be and just get on with the business of being creative.

There are the downfalls of course, like the times when a great quote that I know I wrote down somewhere on an index card gets lost, never to be found and of course it’s the perfect quote for an article or essay I’m writing about at the time.

But these moments believe it or not are far fewer than the hundreds of times I’ve remembered a story, or a quote or even a theme that I’ve been able to picture the book in my mind, the page it might be on (I’m strong on remembering whether a quote is located on the right or left hand of the page), go to my shelves, locate and open the book and retrieve the quote. No classification system needed here, just the pure, magical genius of  I liken this to a ‘quote orgasm’. The feeling of achievement is so dammed satisfying.

To top it all off the headliners from the book, a Perfect Mess reads, “How crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on the fly-planning make the world a better place.”  The book argues throughout that there are many hidden benefits of disorder. For messy creative’s like me this is comforting to know.

At the end of the day your creative space will be as individual and as original as your fingerprints. It’s yours to reflect exactly as you wish. What I’m learning is to reduce the judgments on what the space looks like and to expend my energies on the processes and learning that emerge form the many creative moments and outputs in my day. To me that is the real source of my creative engine.

The other thing I am realizing that my desk is not the place I feel most confident and comfortable working from. My desk reminds me too much of formality and having to get things right. I’m realizing that my desk is a space where I house and hold my papers and stuff.  It’s not where I generate my best creative work.

You might be surprised to know that some of the places I work best are on trains, tubes and buses, somewhere out in nature, or in a café, sipping on a glass of wine (I know I should be drinking water).

When it comes to trains the longer the journey the better I work. I once arrived at Euston station after a 2 and a half hour journey and was astonished at how absorbed I had been in my writing that the whole journey had passed me by.

On journeys across London’s Victoria, Central and Jubilee tube lines I’ve birthed, edited, revised and proofed many of the posts, on the blogs on my website. I’m far more productive sometimes when on the move than when I’m at my desk.

One summer my desk became the lawns of Dulwich Park (it was one of those moments when the weather was so much more promising) and on another day I camped out for the day In Kew Gardens. When I need space and time to deepen I head for the primal nature of Richmond Park which is both creatively and spiritually uplifting.

More recently I’ve found a great spot to write from in my newly refurbished local library. But it means being first in line when the library opens its doors at 9am to secure my favourite writing spot.

To sign off I’ll leave you with a few more of the images from the online post showing the workplaces of the “famously creative’ and a link to Nina’s blog post In my next post Ill include some images from two great books in my collection entitled, Writer’s Houses and Writer’s Desks.















Alexander Calder, Sculptor

MartinAmiswriting space








Martin Amis, Writer











Will Self, Writer

Chipp Kidd










Chip Kidd Book Cover Designer

Maybe one day my desk will look like this……….









Amanda Hesser, Food Writer

All images except image of Will Self’s desk are from the book: 40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative

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Visual Writing Prompt

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Pink_BudsHere’s a writing prompt for today inspired by these beautiful flowers I captured on my iphone on my morning walk.

  • Write about a memory of flowers or Fucshia Pink.
  • Write about something that is still in bud form in your life
  • Write about who you imagine lives behind the iron fence?

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Spring Is Here At Last

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
















I couldn’t help but delight during one of my early morning walks at the Cherry Blossom trees that are blooming eventually all over South London. A real reminder that spring is finally here. And isn’t it great to finally have some sunshine and clear blue skies.

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Absent Friend

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Absent Friend












Two Friday’s ago I woke up determined to take myself on an Artist date, a term coined by writer and creative practitioner Julia Cameron. An artist date is a creative solo date you do with yourself. The destination is up to you. You could take yourself somewhere obvious like an art gallery or a museum or a visit to a part of town or the country you never get to visit.

Today in particular I was on a mission. I wanted to catch the last day of the exhibition of a former coaching client, Reen Pilkington who sadly passed away in November 2012.

I wanted to pay my respects to a gentle soul whom in our two periods of working together really brought together the different elements of her creativity and life purpose.

Reen Pilkington was a passionate photographer. In 2000 she shot a series of photos of me from which one particular image I’ve used in the last 12 years as my signature photo publicity shot. I love that image Reen took of me which captured a happy and more playful part of my soul.










When we started our coaching work together Reen’s goal was to raise her profile and share her work as a photographer. She explored different ways of bringing her work to a wider audience and it was during this period that her work and involvement with the South London gardening and ecology centre for young people with learning difficulties Roots and Shoots took off.

Today as I walked through the small exhibit of Reen’s photos and drawings at Morley College it was affirming to see Reen’s work publicly displayed. I hadn’t quite remembered just how significant was her love of the environment, a passion we both share. I smiled when I viewed the several images of trees in her exhibition – we had the same nature soul.
























Taking in her exhibition also got me thinking about the legacy we leave behind. I’ve always thought that questions like: How would you like to be remembered? – really felt quite cheesy. But now standing in front of some of Reen’s work I am appreciating just how important it is to consider what we will leave behind that will be a tribute to our life and our contribution.

Do you have a body of work that will capture your essence, your contribution or that will tell a story of what really mattered to you? If you are unsure of your response why not use the following prompts to begin that inrquiry.

  • If a short film was made about your life, what would the story be about?
  • If a book was written about your life what would it’s title be?
  • If you had to pick 12 photos that tell the story of your life in pictures what would 12 photos be?
  • If you had to pick a photo for each year of your life that tell the story of your life in pictures what photos or images would you choose?
  • What music tracks would you choose to be the soundtrack of your life?
  • What is your body of work? How would you like to be remembered? What and how will your contribution be remembered?

Do spend a few moments writing down your responses to some or all of the questions above. Once we start answering these questions for ourselves we can then more easily create a space to explore similar or the same questions with our coaching clients.

In the meantime do enjoy a few images from Reen’s exhibition, Absent Friend and a short film clip.

After my time spent viewing Reen’s images I went and found an empty classroom and sat down and started to write. The quiet was only interrupted by the noise of the outside traffic. I realised how much I needed this quiet space.  How easily and quickly I return to myself when I give myself this kind of quality of time and space.

I recognised just how much I needed to find an oasis of quiet and calm in what has been a hectic two months.

I realised how content I feel sitting in my own space and spending moments of my day alone. How replenishing it is not to be sitting in front of a computer reading emails.

My levels of satisfaction and conbtentment rise significantly when I write.

Right now I am smiling. I have gotten my creative fix and now I am more than ready to face the rest of my day.

Thank you Reen for being part of my creative medicine and sharing my Artist date with me.

Reen Pilkington Retrospective 10th February 1954-3rd November 2012









All images copyright of Reen Pilkington

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Making Good Use Of Your Memories

Monday, April 1st, 2013















A writer should never be without a notebook or pen. Memories arrive at any point and any time and we must be ready to capture them or at least headline them somewhere easy to find so we can return and retrieve them when the time is right. On one of my early morning last week the sight of a crowd of daffodils did just that. It jogged my memory about an early childhood school association with daffodils.

Back in the late sixties and seventies my primary school had a ritual of around the January of each new year of giving every child in the school a daffodil bulb to take home and care for. The idea being that we would care and tend to the bulb and watch it grow and then bring our specimen back to school on a specific day where it would be judged for just how well it had grown and blossomed.

It was a precarious business of course. Our bulbs (my siblings and I) would get tossed into the old conservatory behind the kitchen often dying or getting lost in the piles of stuff it had landed amongst. Sometimes if we were lucky it would bloom but not grow very tall or stunning. Every year I wished for the first prize, which was a certificate, which consisted of a full colour photo image of a glowing daffodil. Instead for most of my primary school years I would return home with a black and white version, smaller in size than the first prize version denoting second or third prize for effort and trying. Daffodils-Black_White_














Of course the same people seemed to win each year and now thinking about it, did they really grow those stunning daffodils or did a Mum or two nip down to the local garden centre and replace their languishing bulbs with these new editions? I would not have put it past a few determined parents and given many of the stories written about gardeners stealing and destroying other gardeners products before a country show there may well be a truth or two in there somewhere.

The real lesson here about memories are when we capture them on the blank page we never know until we get them down what they will turn into. I’ve used my daffodil memory for a blog post. But it could also be used for a personal essay, a part of a memoir or the starting point for a short story. There are many possibilities. Memories like the one I’ve just shared may seem insignificant but it is these small details that good stories are made of.

Walk with your notebook and pen, or if you’re like me my notebook on my iphone is a solid substitute for a notebook when on my travels.

With one day left to the Easter what childhood memories do you have about Easter?

Yesterday I was jolted back in time with a memory of waking up early on Good Friday’s and running down the road to Broomfield Bakery where we would queue for a bakers dozen of freshly baked hot crossed buns. Mum would slice and place a layer of butter inside and then warm them in the oven. I still can recall the strong aromas of cinnamon and sultana’s that made up part of the recipe and of how once the buns where heated they melted on your tongue. Even to this day I find it an insult if someone offers me a cold hot cross bun to eat. Even though as an adult I am no longer as fond of hot cross buns as I was as a child I will eat them purely to reconnect with that warm memory that I have of them and Easter.

What childhood memory could you write about today as part of today’s writing practice?

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