The Gift of Presence

I’m writing this a week after Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the US discount-frenzy that’s firmly planted itself into British culture. I’d like to say I was immune but, with Christmas fast approaching, I bought a couple of gifts for friends and loved ones. Hey, I’m human.

It’s hard to know what to give people, though. Most of us have too much stuff already. And, because it’s been hard for us to meet up for a while, I know that I’m in danger of exchanging physical objects with some friends in lieu of physical presence. Continue reading “The Gift of Presence”

From me to we: supermarkets, singing, Sufism and sobbing strangers

In a world which can feel more and more disconnected, it’s important to have a place of refuge for true connection.

For me, one of these places is an Awakin circle or retreat held by ServiceSpace.org, an “incubator of gift economy projects”. Continue reading “From me to we: supermarkets, singing, Sufism and sobbing strangers”

LoveWeek #5 – For those who’ve lost hope

So it’s been a week of love – a #LoveWeek, if you will. And I hate to be a Debbie Downer on the last day, but I need to acknowledge the elephant which may or not be residing in the room.

To wit: love isn’t for everyone.

Now don’t get me wrong, it clearly is. Come on. Love makes the world go round.

(OK, at the moment it’s money, which probably explains the shit creek we’re in.)

But when I say love isn’t for everyone, I mean: some of us have given up on love. We’ve lost hope. Continue reading “LoveWeek #5 – For those who’ve lost hope”

LoveWeek #4 – When the going gets tough…

In an ideal world, of course, relationships would be easy. You’d find someone, fall in love with each other, and POW! – the “happily ever after” of fairytales comes true.

(The clue why they don’t is in the word “fairytales”, FYI…) Continue reading “LoveWeek #4 – When the going gets tough…”

Amidst the darkness

In the Western hemisphere, it’s Winter. The days are short; the nights, long.

As I sit and write at dusk I can see the darkness descending outside, the landscape enveloped in a fog so dense, so deep, that familiar landmarks have been lost. It seems appropriate, somehow, given the year many of us have had. Continue reading “Amidst the darkness”

A dirty job

Loving ourselves is a dirty job, which is why so many of us outsource it.

It can feel tough to wholly love and accept ourselves, made as we are of both light and shadow. It can feel vain to own the former and positively uncomfortable to be reminded of the latter. Continue reading “A dirty job”

In praise of doing nothing

The first month of 2016’s now done and dusted. One down, eleven more to go.

The festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve are naught but a hazy memory, replaced by endless sale offers, credit card statements, calamitous weather and scattered fragments of new year resolutions.

I’ve had a cough and cold virus for the whole of January (which is only now abating), so I feel I’ve pretty much done zero, zip, NOTHING so far this year. No playtime at the Museum of Happiness’s pop-up event, no tea with friends, not even further damage to my credit card in those darned sales.

I recently read that the cold virus is supposed to make us feel depressed and lethargic so that we don’t go out and pick up another infection whilst fighting the first one. Continue reading “In praise of doing nothing”

Risky business

Today’s New Year’s Day: a fresh blank page of a year stretches before us, ready for us to write whole new stories.

Stories which, if they’re to be truly new, involve the unknown, take us further than we’ve gone before, involve the risks of both failure and reward. Continue reading “Risky business”

Only the Lonely – for Girl on the Net

I discovered the very NSFW website of Girl on the Net via Twitter a couple of summers’ ago.

It was at the height of women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and assault on public transport, and her blog post on the subject On Your Power remains a compelling must-read (I shared it with a male acquaintance recently; it both shocked and enlightened him).

The powerfully vulnerable comments beneath a recent guest blog raised the spectre of loneliness, a topic I’ve written about before here and here. I was moved to contact GotN, who kindly published my guest blog last Friday. Continue reading “Only the Lonely – for Girl on the Net”