Friday, 22 April 2011
Meanwhile about 78 people/organisations follow me on Twitter. I cannot seem to break through the 80 people milestone and stay there. I pass it every few days, only to find that a day later 2 or 3 followers have de-followed me. I wonder if this is a reflection on the quality of my tweets, my politics as reflected thereby or my failing to follow them back.
It's a fickle old world.
And if those amazing stats were not enough, did you know that an estimated1 billion people around the world will watch the coverage of the Royal Wedding next Friday (superbly timed as a morning event to allow for all the Anglophiles in the far flung reaches of the Commonwealth to tune in).
Of course, if I start tweeting about the Royal Wedding things may begin to look up for me...
Instead, given today is Good Friday, I will post a few thoughts about this day.
Today is my favourite day of the year. Good Friday is a holiday here in England - from work anyway - if not shopping. The great thing about Good Friday - in most places I should think, is that the weather is good. None of the forced jollity under grey skies that is the English Christmas. Nor the stinking hot humidity of summer Christmases. April (or March) is generally mild and pleasant. But that is not why I love this holiday.
No the clincher is the reason for which we have this nice quiet long weekend - the weekend that never ends (especially when followed by the once in a generation treat of a Royal Wedding so soon after). Aside from the fact that I enjoy a holiday bereft of commercial pressure, I revel in the reminder of my humanity, the reminder that this weekend we remember that we are united in the pain and suffering of all people across the world and through the ages. Like Jesus, dying on the cross to complete his life on earth as a man, we all suffer. Today we remember the indignity, the shame, the humiliation, the self-sacrifice and the isolation that Jesus was subjected to, as a man. Most of us will face less than this, hopefully, in our lives. And yet, the fortitude and love with which Jesus faced this event, his passion and death, gives us all pause for thought - whether we believe in Him or not.
So I love this day. It is quiet, sombre, imbued with meaning. It helps me to be grateful for my good fortune. It helps me to pause and give thanks, to reflect on the suffering and hardship in the world around me. To contemplate those who suffer. To contemplate my own challenges and hardships with renewed courage and perspective.
And to look forward to a brighter day too and the triumph it will bring over evil, over pain and affliction.
That was Easter Sunday by the way - not the Royal Wedding day...
However, on a brighter note, the Royal Wedding is certainly exciting us all here in London. Union Jacks adorn the pubs walls and windows of many proprietors. The news reports tragic events abroad, smog levels that are dangerously high in the city, and great April weather that is breaking all records. Best of all is the wedding news though.
I think my next post will analyse the event, if not from a pole position on the Mall or Whitehall (where I once worked) then from a community of pleasant Londoners sharing a Kensington garden square and throwing their own Royal Wedding Garden party next Friday.
Call me an opportunist if you like. I bet my blog's popularity surges!
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Now it was a couple of years ago, that I wrote that..
Things have changed in many ways since. For a start all of the Off-Spring developed cycle proficiency without lessons - in the old fashioned way - spurred on by each other and the neighbourhood children. I run classes for adults and children now. Communication and negotiation being just two skills we work on (listening and resilience and tolerance prove to be more urgent needs, actually). We have also abandoned star charts some time in the past two years in favour of a points system that allows for demerits as well as merits and which allows for the accumulation of points for behaviour going above and beyond the expected. It works very well. I am currently top of the leader board....
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
I read with interest a headline in a tabloid yesterday concerning a "new slimline Kate". I was not sure to whom the article referred at first. Kate was once Kate Winslett. Or God forbid, Katie Price. Say no more.
Imagine my surprise to discover that they were referring to none other than Kate Middleton. Seriously, was she ever anything but slim? Guess what - a "femail" journalist wrote the article and managed to find an 8 year old picture of Kate looking slightly more puffy in the face - ie glowing with teenage good health. A page was thus filled with pathetic drivel about brides and nerves and weightloss and slimness generally. Poor Kate. As if she did not have enough on her very royal and gilt-edged plate.
What could be worse than being compared for ever to the mother-in-law you never knew? Having your clothes, body and hair commented on for the rest of your life, I should imagine. Still, married to a prince, there may be some compensations. Well I should hope so.
Meanwhile the Telegraph, inspired by Wills' and Kate's example, extols the virtues of inviting some "exes" to your nuptials. How many exes can a couple of twenty somethings who met in college have? I ask. But I am a tad old fashioned, I grant you. Westminster Abbey is a bloody big church. I'd have found a few exes too if I had been tying the knot there with an unlimited budget and a public holiday for the nation as well. And let's not forget that the All Black Captain graciously declined an invite - being too busy winning world cups or some such macho nonsense...
The things is, they are a lovely young couple. They are lifting all our spirits. Kate's outfits are super. Who cares whether she has the style of Moss or the panache of Blanchett. One day she will be queen and clothes will not be her only claim to fame.
Mind you, my dear friend Mara, in Australia, has asked for as much Royal Wedding Memorabilia as I can get my hands on. Tea towels especially. Goodness, where does one shop for that sort of thing. The online business ideas are almost overwhelming... I have visions of myself queuing alongside various women of a certain age in Home Counties towns. And those coffee/tea cups that are too hot to hold, and some of those layered cake plates. No doubt a very big hit at the next charity morning tea in suburban Brisbane.
Despite the general excitement - street parties (or in our case a garden party, with scones, tea cake, sandwiches and bunting) and lining the route of royal carriages aside - I have to admit that explaining the idea of a monarchy to the Off-Spring was not easy. The idea that nice, normal people more or less like us, are born into the role of king, or queen, was not easy to justify. It was particularly difficult to explain why Prince Philip is not a King. The relevant rules reflecting an attitude so antiquated and sexist as to be almost anachronistic in today's society - or so I tell myself, until I read that outfits, weight and hair styles trump intellect, ideas and gravitas, anyway, as far as women are concerned.
And yet, I read that Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw have no place in the lives of twenty somethings, whose ambitions run to intellectual self-improvement, rather than securing husbands. Elsewhere that same group classes parenting as more important than the relationship they might have with a romantic partner.
Isn't slimline Kate in that group?
It's very confusing. I can think of many women over 35 who share these views, to a person, and yet...
So I can only think that it's all posturing, no?
Love is a timeless commodity. We'll take what we can get, within reason. But, we'll fight for a career as well. Til biology gets in the way and the good old employer can't manage the whole part-time equation...
At the end of the day, people are people. This generation will have different challenges and opportunities from those that came before, but at a fundamental level, we are still the same - keen to hear about happy endings, hoping for the best, wondering "what if", dreaming and aspiring, and in the Spring - overjoyed to know that for some - Love is in the air.
And that is just as well, for the pollen count is high.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
There is even a trend that suggests that well-being is more than just having good hair, heels and handbags.
This is great. The Zeitgeist is for once simpatico with my own interests and beliefs. The last time that happened I was perhaps 8 and my interests were the Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, Holly Hobby and tennis...
Anyway, perhaps in terms of column space and words printed nothing is very different, but they say one notices what one is noticing - and on that basis it seems every man, woman and their dog is jumping on the happiness bandwagon.
Google it and see.
Three years ago when I began running workshops for professionals in transition aimed at helping them identify and play to their strengths, align their values and interests with their work and hopefully achieve a greater sense of purpose and happiness, I coined the phrase "Spring to Mind Spa". Thinking I was onto something I even bandied the word around in the City. Then I waited for the in-house bookings to overwhelm me.
I admit, I am still waiting.
You see, the key selling point of coaching or learning interventions had to be geared around success and helping clients to meet their potential. Senior, successful and respected coaches advised me not to use words like well-being or happiness in pitching to law firms or corporate clients - to be sure to leave such concepts strictly to the new age life coaches working in the suburbs or the communes, the retreats or the workshops for crystal loving pottery and bead types. Wake up Springgirl, executives and their employers do not need, want or care about happiness and well-being! You will not win business if you even mention the word "spa" at work!
Now, not so much. Times are changing. This is the era of pay freezes, unemployment, price rises and middle class families who thought three holidays a year and private school was their entitlement, forced to move house to access state schools. Over the long, usually not very hot summer we now learn the tedium/beauty of the "staycation". Just as well we have a government that propounds a "Big Society", eh? Though just who will wind up footing the bill for housing, illness and education is anyone's guess.
So there was never a better time to champion the virtues of simple living, a sense of community, altruism, spending less. It's just as well money cannot buy happiness, 'cos there isn't any money to spend.
Employee wellness is not a strange idea. Indeed in the US tax incentives help to bring the idea to the threshholds of many small and medium size businesses. The US?!
One day the weird and crazy notion that a happy and engaged person is also a productive person may take root.
That day is coming. Watch this space!
Check out these resources if happiness and well-being are of interest to you:
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Anything? Sweet? Bitter? Disgusting? Sickening? Tasteless? Pointless?
Well, it was your life so ....