On ‘Blue Monday’: why my car being written-off sparked happiness

At the end of 2017, a shiny new Audi crashed into my little old car while I was stationary at traffic lights. I’m fairly sure the driver was on his phone. My car was a write-off, but after going through the initial frustrations and hassle, I’ve now arrived at ‘Blue Monday’ — typically the most depressing day of the year — with happiness.

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Where is the love?

Reclaiming heart and hope in international development and beyond

 

[Images: floor mosaics at London’s National Gallery]

The Pope has just issued a call for a ‘revolution of tenderness’ in a surprise TED Talk. He calls on leaders to “connect [their] power with humility and tenderness”.

He goes on to say: “The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future, is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you”, and themselves as part of an “us”. We all need each other.”

For a world so supposedly interconnected, we seem to be losing the language of tenderness, and of caring. The language of love. Part of the challenge the world faces today is a crisis of caring. We are losing our ability to care — for our neighbour, and so for our world.

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Wild space, true forms

Bob Dylan and our inner creatures

Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel prize for Literature underlines one of the things I’ve always appreciated about him — his poetry, and the way he uses metaphor and rhythm and beauty to tap into personal and universal experience. Earlier today, I was struck by one of his lyrics whilst listening to Shelter from the Storm. It was a lyric I’d never properly noticed before —

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Talks to join dots

In the next three weeks, I’m going to these three talks at the RSA in London:

1. Creating Freedom — filmmaker Raoul Martinez will tackle “economics, philosophy, politics, criminology, psychology and environmentalism, and shows that the more we understand how the world shapes us, the more effectively we can shape our world.”

2. Together Is Better — “global bestselling author and leadership guru Simon Sinek offers inspiration and advice for finding purpose and fulfilment in life and work through our connection with others.”

3. The Power of Disorder to Transform our Lives — “renowned economist Tim Harford explains that embracing chaos and mess is the only way to be truly creative, innovative and resilient.”

So what?

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Learning from Nature is back by demand!

We’ve received great feedback and had stimulating discussions following our inaugural Learning from Nature workshop, and so we’d love you to join us for our second such workshop, in Battersea Park, London. Come and Learn from the wonder of nature, and explore how to use it to unlock potential and help transform your thinking.

Thank you both for your planning and consideration which has gone into this event. Great space and energy! – Learning from Nature participant

The facilitators are very relaxed in the holding of the group. Lovely to spend time connecting to nature. – Learning from Nature participant

You can register at the link below. I hope to see you in nature on 11th October!

Date: 11th October 2016
Time: 17:30-19:30
Event: Learning from Nature
Venue: Battersea Park
Location: London
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

March of the female warriors

Beyond feminism

I feel uncomfortable saying I am a ‘feminist’, although I agree with the fundamental premise of feminism, which according to the Cambridge English dictionary is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way.”

Of course they should be. And of course, women in many parts of the world are appallingly still seen and treated like lesser beings. Women’s rights movements need to go full throttle until equality is achieved.

But that definition doesn’t go far enough. It focuses on external equality (which is important and should be a foundation), but it doesn’t touch what’s possible. I am more than a feminist. And I don’t hate men (in fact I know some men who are more supportive of women’s opportunities than some women I know are). So what’s beyond the feminism of external equality and power suits? And who do we need in these emerging global narratives?

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Being Wise

Highlights from a conversation with Krista Tippett

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be in an audience at the RSA in London, watching Krista Tippett in conversation with Elizabeth Oldfield (who is Director of the think tank Theos).

Krista Tippett is a bit of a role model of mine. She’s a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal from Barack Obama for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence.”

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I’ve been elected onto the RSA Fellowship!

RSA

The RSA is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and being in the Fellowship basically means I get to use the letters FRSA after my name 😉

More importantly, it means I am part of a network that enriches society through ideas and action. I hugely align with the platform and ideas that the RSA cultivates, which all work to release human potential:

“Our mission is to create the conditions for the enlightened thinking and collaborative action needed to address today’s most pressing social challenges.

We serve this mission by acting as a global hub, by enabling millions of people to access the most creative ideas, by nurturing networks of innovators, and through researching, testing and sharing practical interventions.”

I’m thrilled to be a part of the RSA network, and I can’t wait to get stuck in…

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994)

I love Anne Lamott’s writing. In Bird by Bird, she gives great writing advice told through the lens of her wisdom, experiences and funny stories.

I think good writing is about telling the truth, and telling what you know. Here, Lamott uses her truth and vulnerability, shares what she’s learned along the way and encourages and provokes the reader to just start writing! Highly recommended!

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013)

I read this book when I was in India co-hosting a community development forum. Being lucky enough to travel with the charity work I do, I am frequently and sadly reminded of the obvious forms of gender inequality around the world. But I’ve been reflecting too on more subtle and pervasive forms of female discrimination. The status quo in so many areas (women being paid less, not taking top jobs, feeling guilty for being a working mother, being reticent about going for promotions, etc) mean that women don’t sit at the table, and don’t take part in important conversations. And right now in our world, we really need thoughtful, real, strong women leading these conversations.

“Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world’s most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.”

The book is an empowering and practical guide to sitting at the table (both dining room table and board room table) and being heard. Recommended!