pause thoughtfully

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On the bus the other day, we stopped briefly outside a car dealership on Park Lane. Applied to the window were various graphics declaring “Coming soon… The Mini Gentleman’s Collection”

Now I’m fairly average. Around six foot. Not tall, but not, I deem, a mini gentleman, so I assume this forthcoming collection isn’t for me?

I jest of course. Presumably the marketing refers to a new collection for men who drive the aforementioned motor car?

My point being, the pause matters, emphasis counts and, in this case, punctuation is crucial.

There is a fabulous book, by Lynne Truss, called “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”. Its purpose being to highlight the change in meaning that comes from incorrectly applied punctuation. I once sat in a hospital and observed a sign, directing me down the corridor to “Receptionist’s”. I wondered for a moment what possession of the said receptionist I might find should I follow the arrow? I have also driven past a pub, which had clearly invested in the metre high, six metre plasticised banner on its lawn, advising I should “Come in and meet are new management”. I didn’t, needless to say.

This isn’t of course just about punctuation; the omission of a crucial comma or full-stop, the addition of a spurious apostrophe. Our propensity to write so much these days in email and in text, means we increase the likelihood of misunderstanding and miscommunication because, as the reader, we can infer a tone, a meaning from the sender, which might be unintended. Non verbal signals we could spot in a face to face communication are lost and as a result meanings can be misinterpreted.

So, to all ‘mini gentlemen’, I apologise for raising your hopes and expectations.

Maybe next time the dealership will pause thoughtfully?
Maybe we all should?

 

…the guilt of growth

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I wrote yesterday about the innocence of belonging. The compelling sense of loyalty to the tribal rules, thereby securing our belonging.

Yet growth and personal development draw us to move to new systems of belonging – school, university, new organisations, new teams and maybe to create our own family system. As we grow and develop, we risk belonging to earlier ‘clans’ by electing to behave in different ways in new tribes. Behaving and acting in the fashion of the new clan customs ensures our belonging in the new group, but risks our belonging in earlier groups on our life journey.

This tension between growth and belonging, guilt and innocence is described in Systemic Constellations theory as ‘Personal conscience’. Sometimes particular ‘rules of belonging’ to older clans can entangle us later in life. Holding us back, like a rubber bungee, making freedom and growth hard.

When you feel stuck, look over your shoulder and ask yourself, “to whom or what am I being loyal in staying stuck like this?”

What you find there may surprise you.

Acknowledge what is.

 

the innocence of belonging…

guilt innocence personal conscience

As a child you may well have travelled to your grandparents with your family.

Perhaps at one set of grandparents, you were allowed to spread your toys out on the floor and generally make a mess? Perhaps at the other grandparentjs you had to wait to get down from the table after tea, and keep your elbows off the table? Maybe your family visits were to aunts, uncles, cousins?

Whatever your personal experiences as a child at your relatives, you somehow knew the rules. The actions and ways of being and behaving that were the family customs in that house; that clan, that ‘tribe’. By complying with those actions and customs, you cemented your belonging.

We do this following our sports team. We wear the uniform, travel in groups, sing the songs, tell stories of the history. We do this in organisations too, we call it the culture around here, and we (often) unconsciously comply in order to create belonging and connection.

This search for belonging starts in our family of birth. We learn the ways of being and the customs and actions that are the norm in the family. The clan culture. By being loyal to those customs and ways of being, we ensure we belong. We are accepted into the tribe by remaining ‘innocent’ to those tribal rules. This is a crucial learning for one so young.

Our sense of need to be loyal to the customs of belonging, particularly to our birth family system, is strong. Very strong. This need to belong, to remain ‘innocent’, is compelling. When we stray from it, in a sense, we experience ‘guilt’ – guilt that we are risking our belonging.

This ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’ form part of the theory of personal conscience, from Systemic Constellation practice. More tomorrow…

 

beauty on the roof

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This morning, the ice on the roof of my car looked like this.

Incredible that a little water, the right temperature and ambient conditions can produce such complex intricacy, yet delicate beauty.

I am exploring personal learning and growth currently, and working with an agricultural metaphor – plant a seed, provide the right conditions and nurture growth. Is this the way for people to learn and grow?

If such beauty on the roof can be created in nature with such simplicity, there has to be something here, surely?

buildings wear hats now

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There are many new buildings being erected nearby.  It’s interesting to see the construction and in particular one common feature I have noticed. They all have an ‘add on’ on the roof, to house, I presume, the heating and ventilation equipment.

I guess many years ago, such ‘hats’ on our buildings weren’t required?

It’s possible to see the pipe work and cabling in the guts of the building, criss crossing the currently naked ceilings. An infrastructure to support the future comforts, efficiency and effectiveness of the eventual inhabitants. Of course once they take up their positions, this wiring and plumbing will remain invisible and only the fruits of its work will be in evidence to the people interacting and achieving inside this house of work.

Many of the things which enable us to work as individual human beings are equally set up thus.

Much, created as we were being built. Now invisible. Sometimes keeping us comfortable and enabling us to be at our best. Sometimes having the reverse effect, limiting us and making us in some way uncomfortable.

We don’t have the luxury of simply removing the ceiling tiles and being able to maintain or improve this infrastructure. Well, not easily. In truth much remains hidden to us.

Maybe time to check under your hat?

 

rain gain

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The best thing one can do when it’s raining, is to let it rain

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sometimes in life we can try too hard.
Too hard to influence and control the things we simply cannot.
Sometimes this blinds us to what we can do.

Don’t seek to stop the rain.
Instead, seek to master the umbrella.
Instead, seek to enjoy the sounds and feelings associated with a great storm.
Instead, marvel at nature’s power.

Focus on what you can do.

image from a YouTube clip by Acerting Art

pear and Nutella please

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Today is pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday. In some cultures referred to as Mardi Gras. Translatable from the French as “Fat Tuesday”.

Today is the day before the fasting period of Lent, marked by Ash Wednesday, tomorrow.

An age old period of gluttony before fasting. Fatty foods consumed in excess, party and celebration before a period of reflection and abstinence. Highs and lows. Excess and frugality. Glut and lack.

A time perhaps to review areas of our lives where we have abundance and insufficiency? The things we should be grateful for? The things we might share? The things we aspire to have more of? Where we might strive to change the balance?

A time perhaps to reflect on ourselves and others. Neighbours, strangers, those from another society or culture? Haves and have nots? The wealthy few and the impoverished many? The lavishness of the world and the poverty that still shackles it?

If you are having pancakes today, or any other form of indulgence, enjoy.

But pause in a moment’s reflection perhaps?