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?

 

drawing life’s curtains

Have you ever noticed that dusk brings a particular behaviour for a short period?

During the day, we exist in our offices or our houses, with curtains wide open, blinds pulled up, shutters flung back. The light inside and outside in balance somehow, we seem open to the notion that people might look in, might see us. And that’s ok. There’s a form of equilibrium. Equality of visibility in this balanced light.

Then dusk arrives. We turn on lights inside our homes and offices. But we leave curtains and blinds wide open. The result is the light is stronger inside than outside and people can see in. See us more clearly. We are silhouetted in the artificial lights. More visible. More exposed. So people look, sometimes stare.

Then we draw the curtains, drop the blinds, turn the light off maybe. In essence we hide. Perhaps too exposed now, we retreat, away from prying eyes. And so it stays, until dawn, when we throw open the window ‘shields’ and allow natural light to flood in, safe in the knowledge that we can be seen again, but not clearly seen, not highlighted, not in the spotlight.

And so the pattern repeats.

Maybe it’s like that in life?

Happy to be seen when we blend in, when the light of others equates to our own light? Maybe though when we are in the spotlight, highlighted, more visible, we seek to hide? We set out to draw a veil over ourselves, to become more private, more introverted? We quite literally pull down the shutters.

Instead.
Shine your light.
Hold lightly the sight of others in the soft light.

 

working as a pear

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When I was at school, I studied Latin. Only for a year as, despite getting an A in end of year tests, I was deemed a scientist. I therefore got to study Physics, Chemistry and Biology as separate subjects. French was my ‘permitted’ language.

Now, with the benefit of some life experience, I realise all these choices, mine or those made by the academic system, were all somewhat pointless. I haven’t really used any of this knowledge to any great degree.

The other day I was designing some training with a colleague. We were creating a storyboard with post it notes. She wrote ‘work as a pear’ on one. Instantly her face crumpled and tears of mirth welled in her eyes as she chortled over this ridiculous concept and silly spelling faux pas (French eh?). I began to snigger too. We enjoyed the moment. Together.

I wish at school I had been offered the subject ‘learning to laugh at myself’. This skill would have been much more useful. The ability to laugh at our mistakes. To laugh at our occasional ridiculousness. Hold our slip ups lightly. Know that everyone is human. Simply lighten the day with laughter and a smile. These are useful skills. De-stressing. Providing context. Perspective. Building togetherness, teamwork. Embracing human frailty. Knowing that we are all fallible yet all amazing.  Feeling good about yourself. Letting others see you, without fear. Building connection.

I recommend laughing at yourself several times each day. It’s good for the soul.

I use it more than any chemistry, physics, biology, Latin or French.

 

this is free

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Apparently someone is selling jars of fresh air to the Chinese.

The world has become so commercial we are now selling jars of air.  Mind you, that’s a small step from selling bottles of water I guess.

What next?

How much for a smile? What price a hug? Ten pounds for 30 minutes of daylight? Should it cost more to breathe in than to breathe out? Twenty pence a wink? Shade costs a pound a minute, unless you trade it for a cool breeze.

Let’s just hope love and human kindness remain no cost options.

 

passion

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I read something today, where someone listed what they are passionate about.

It seemed a useful exercise, so I thought I’d try it…

I’m passionate about human beings being the best they can be, Wycombe Wanderers football club, chocolate in the evening, freedom to choose, Strictly Come Dancing, doing the right thing, stationery, just being in the moment, the sound of running water, coaching, being authentically me, Pink Floyd, honest conversations, being there for someone, the film Pretty Woman, sharing, systemic constellations, the musical Les Miserables, being heard, steak and kidney pie with chips, social justice, storms, avoiding ego driven politics, RSA animates videos on YouTube, treating people as adults, driving, nice shoes, learning, respecting people’s difference and right to be, coconut ice cream, clothes with bold colours, being curious…

How about you?

 

where have you left traces of yourself?

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As you move through the world you will have touched people. Some you will know. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Loved ones.

These people will recall you. They will feel connected. Your life and theirs inextricably linked through a bond. Maybe the bond is tangible, physical. Maybe it is emotional. Maybe it is transparent, maybe it is just there in the system, felt in the ether.

Others you have touched, you may not even realise it to be so.

In the midst of your own hectic, muddled life, you may have inadvertently dropped little traces of you on your journey. Like a dusting of you, cascading in your wake. Equally you may have deliberately acted, not seeking gain, not cognisant perhaps of the lasting impact or significant consequences that result for that person, or those close to them. You may have done this through…

An impromptu smile
A comforting word
A timely glance
A small act of kindness
Listening when someone needed to be heard
Witnessing someone’s truth
A small but critical thank you
A heartfelt hug
A positive thought

With fairy-like footprints, we invisibly stand in people’s lives, often unaware of those we have touched.

But they remember. They know. They thank you.