The Snowman

“Look Daddy – it’s snowed!”  The children ran around the kitchen demanding to be allowed out in the snow.

“OK kids, let’s get some warm clothes on and go outside to make a snowman”.

Everyone rushed around finding coats, scarfs, gloves and wellington boots.  Soon, everyone was ready to venture out into the virgin snow.  The air was crisp and the sky clear and blue.  The sun shone and the snow glistened.  It was a perfect morning for building a snowman.

slideshow_978530_DSCF6434“How do we build a snowman Dad?” said the eldest.

“Easy – just start with a snowball and keep rolling” shouted Dad who was already gathering snowballs.

The children began to roll their snowballs and added them to Dad’s snowball and eventually, they had created a large snowball that they were struggling to push around the garden.

“That’s the body”, said Dad.  “Now let’s start again with another snowball for the head”.

The children rolled snow around the garden again – not worrying about how to do it “properly” or “efficiently” – they simply had fun and before long, the head was formed.  They lifted it onto the body of the snowman and suddenly, they could see the form taking shape.  The eldest went back to the house where mum handed her a carrot and a scarf.  She took these to Dad who placed them onto the snowman.  They found some stones from the garden and made eyes and a smile.  Sticks were selected and created arms and a hat was found from the house to finish off the snowman.

And there he was.  The goal of building a snowman had been achieved.snowman

The family trudged indoors and removed their coats and gloves – all covered in snow.  Hands throbbed as they began to heat up and faces glowed with the joy of spending the morning building the snowman.  Laughter filled the room as they recounted to Mum how they had thrown snow at Dad.  Warm drinks followed and it was time to rest.

Outside, the snowman stood triumphant.  He had been built.  But something was happening to him already.  The carrot began to slide from his face, and the stones fell to the floor.  The sticks fell from his body and the head began to tilt to one side.  Suddenly, it rolled to the floor.  As the sun shone down on the brightest of days, the snowman melted.  Within a few short hours, he was gone…

But inside the house there was a hub of conversation.  The children continued to speak of the morning building the snowman.  And years later, long after the snowman had disappeared, they would remember the day they built a snowman…

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Be careful about how much your focus on your goals.  Goals are an “outcome” and soon after achieving them, the sense of achievement can fade or melt away.  But the memory of striving for the goal, the successes and failures along the way and the joy and sorrow of the journey, is what you will remember.  Success is not the achievement of worthy goal.  Success is experiencing life along the way, capturing every moment and living in the present.  Be careful not to let your life slip you by as you wait for happiness to arrive in the shape of a snowman….

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The Know How Tree

shutterstock_141101635George was confused.

His teacher at school had told him that he needed to know how to be a better person. She’d said that he needed to know how to do his spellings for the test on Friday too. But what puzzled George most was she’d told him that he needed to know how to grow up to be “useful member of society” and he didn’t know what she meant by that.

He sat in his bedroom wondering how to get more of the “know how” that the teacher talked about. Everything seemed to be about this “know how” and it seemed that without it, he wouldn’t be able to pass his tests and become a good person.  He decided to go downstairs and ask his mum because she would surely know how to discover more of this “know how” that his teacher insisted he needed.

As he slid down the stairs in his favourite way, he chuckled to himself as his bottom banged on each step. He realised he knew how to slide down the stairs but he didn’t remember anyone showing him or telling him – he just did it one day and it felt good. So he did it again and again.

As he walked into the kitchen, his Dad was reading his newspaper. George wondered if the newspaper was where his Dad got his know how from as Dad did seem to know a lot of stuff. Mum was watching television and the boy wondered if that was where she got her know how from too.

“Mum, how do I get to know how to do things?” said George, as he wandered up to the table where his mum was sitting.

“Sorry George, what did you say?”

George sighed. Mum often wasn’t listening to him and he wondered why, if she had so much know how, why she didn’t listen to him when he had an important question.

“Mum, my teacher says that I need to know how to do a lot of things – like learning my spellings, and how to grow up to be useful – so how do I get this know how that you grown-ups seem to have?”

Mum was staring at the TV. George realised that she was watching her favourite programme where everyone appeared to be shouting at each other and looking sad. George didn’t really want the know how of those people but Mum seemed to like them.

“George, I’m watching Eastenders and Danny is just about to find out who killed his step-daughter and then we’ll see the big fight that everyone has been talking about.  So I need to watch this.  Have you done your spellings?”

George gave up. Whatever know how his mum had got, he didn’t want any of it. So he walked over to his Dad and asked him the same question.   Dad put his paper down and looked at George.

“Why are you so keen to know how to do things George?” said Dad. “Is someone bullying you at school? Has someone told you that you’re stupid?

“No Dad”, said George. “It’s just that my teacher keeps telling me I need to know how to become a good person and I want to know how to do it”.

“You’ll find out soon enough” said Dad, and he lifted up his paper and carried on reading.

George was disappointed. It seemed like grown-ups had the know how but weren’t prepared to share it.  He picked up his favourite book, walked into the garden and decided to go and sit under shutterstock_140374318his favourite tree. The sun was shining brightly and he felt the warmth on his head and exposed skin. He wondered how the sun got to know how to be hot and bright. And as he sat down under his favourite tree, he wondered how the tree got to know how to grow so tall.

“I don’t know how George, it just happens”…

George looked around for the voice that had spoken to him. It sounded familiar, almost like his own voice, but it was deeper, warmer and very friendly. George touched the tree and whispered to it.

“Was that you speaking Mr Tree?”. George didn’t need to know how the tree had spoken to him as it just felt right.

“Of course it’s me” replied the voice inside George’s head. “Didn’t you know that?”

George wasn’t frightened, but he was puzzled because the voice was asking about know how too. He wondered if the tree could help him understand about this elusive gift called know how…

“Mr Tree, everyone talks about something called know how and I want to find out about know how too. Do you know how to be a good tree?”

George heard the rustle of leaves and creaking of branches as the tree moved gently in the breeze. As he sat with his back against the large trunk, it felt warm and safe. It was as if the tree was holding him in a warm embrace.

“George, you are wise boy. Your question about know how is puzzling to me too as I do not know how to be a tree – I just am a tree. When I was formed, all that I needed to be a tree was contained within me. I just carried on being me and I grew. I didn’t know how to become a better tree – I just am a tree. Why are you seeking this thing you call know how?”

George was pleased that the tree was puzzled by his question too but wanted answers.

“I want to grow up to be a good person and all the grown-ups tell me I need to know how. But they won’t tell me where I can find the know how or they seem to all have a different idea of what the know how looks like.  Maybe they don’t have the know how either?”

shutterstock_182915657A leaf fell from the tree and landed on George’s leg. He looked at the leaf and picked it up. It was brown and yet the tree was full of green leaves. It puzzled him.

“Why is this leaf brown Mr Tree, when all your others are green?”

The tree rustled and swayed once more and a few more brown leaves fell into George’s lap.  He looked up into the canopy of the tree and felt close to his friend who was offering him advice.

“I do not know how my leaves change colour” whispered the tree. “But they just do change when the time is right. In each moment of my life, the sun, the wind and the rain just appear at the right time and I change with them. I do not know how – it just happens and everything seems to work out ok. In your world, I watch you grow and yet you seem to worry that you do not have enough of this thing you call “know how” for you to grow. You are always searching for answers that you do not need, and yet everything you need is already inside you George, just like it is for me. In my world, there is no how – there just is “I am”.

George felt tears in the corner of his eyes and they began to squeeze out. He couldn’t stop them and he realised he didn’t know how the tears came or where the came from but he felt safe and happy and that was all that seemed to matter.

“You mean that there is no “how” Mr Tree? And I don’t need to know how at all?”

“No George, there is no how. There is a force that surrounds you that will always deliver the how and show you the way. All you need to do is to be you. The only place you need to look for the know how that you seek, is deep within you. So go now George and stop seeking the know how – as there is no how for you to be concerned with at all.”

George sighed and felt content. He had found the know how that he needed and he realised he didn’t need to know how at all. He had felt all along that being a good person was already within him. And now he knew that growing up would just happen – and that if he was a good person, then the “how” his life would turn out would be taken care of by a force much greater than himself.  He knew he might bump his head from time to time and that it might hurt – just like when he fell off his bike.  But he always got back on again and trusted that he’d be safe to carry on riding…

George looked up into the tree once more and smiled. “Thank you Mr Tree, you have helped me a lot today. I hope one day I can help you too.”

The tree looked down at George and smiled back, for the tree was within George and George was within the tree. And the two of them didn’t even know how that could be.  It just is.

Divine Leadership – A new paradigm.

The man was puzzled.

His father had told him how to be a leader and yet something resisted his fathers teachings.  It felt like he had to control the destiny of those that trusted him and this didn’t sit comfortably with his soul that yearned to find his own path in life.

shutterstock_107378He walked around the lake and sat down on a large stone near the waters edge.  He heard a voice behind him.

“Your doubts and fears are well founded my friend”.

He turned to see where the voice was coming from but there was no-one.  Just the sounds of the water lapping against the shore.

“I am within you my friend.  There is nothing to find, just words to hear.  Be still.”

The man was startled, but not frightened.  He sat looking out across the lake and asked the voice to continue for it was a voice he recognised and had heard before.  He knew the voice knew him well and would provide the guidance he was seeking.

“You question the paradigms of life my friend, and this is good.  Listen well, for what I have to tell you is of the utmost importance.”

The man stilled his mind and closed his eyes.  The voice continued…

“You ask about leadership and how you can create a new paradigm.  Hear my words.

religion_faith_sticker-r506464d1def14555902fec83a6b3c5d0_v9wf3_8byvr_216Divine leadership has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with faith.

It has nothing to do with leading and everything to do with serving.

It has nothing to do with God but everything to do with you.”

The man accepted the words of the voice, but was puzzled.

“So what is Divine Leadership?” he asked the voice.

 “Stepping into your divine essence is stepping into a union with your highest self.  Your highest self occupies a space within you that is devoid of ego, control and the need for external recognition. 

When you finally grasp the idea of leading divinely, you trust that what you need will be given to you, what you are choosing to do in the moment is something that you have chosen in your soul contract and that your only mission is to help others achieve divine leadership within themselves.

Divine leadership starts with self leadership – but of the heart and not the mind.  The heart is a powerful force that can work in harmony with the mind, but cannot work at all if the mind is in control.  Going deeply into your innermost and highest self is where you discover your true passions, dreams and gifts.  Divine leadership takes all of these traits and uses them to propel you forwards to your unique destiny.  Divine leadership then takes you to a place where you inspire others to do the same.

Does Divine Leadership mean “control?” I hear you say.  No my friend.  To lead truly from the divine, you have to let go, empower and drive your team to their own divine leadership.  There is no control in this as it is beyond your control.  When a soul fully grasps it’s destiny and purpose, it cannot be controlled.  To control a soul is to deny expression, creativity and the power of the spirit within us.  To empower a soul is to accept vulnerability, failure and fear as part of the mix of the human existence.

When you step into your divine place, you truly lead without consideration for your own aims.  You focus fully on creating a sacred space of opportunity and possibility for those around you, trusting and knowing that in doing so, you create a vortex of possibility around yourself too.  This is effortless, natural and one of the laws of the universe.

Go now and teach this lesson.  For it is time it was heard.”

New-Paradigm-AheadThe man opened his eyes and saw the lake – just as it was before.  But everything had changed in his heart and mind.  He knew is father wished him no ill, but that he could no longer follow his fathers ideas of leadership.  He had to discover his own form of Divine Leadership and knew that in doing so, he could indeed create a new paradigm….

Mad Slug

happy slugThere once was a Slug called Mad. He was such a happy Slug that all the other animals in the garden used to watch him and wonder why he was so happy.  He smiled all the time, despite being stuck on his belly and one of the slowest movers in the garden.  Sometimes there wasn’t enough food for him to eat and sometimes it was wet and cold but the Slug didn’t seem to mind – he just kept on moving around the garden and the things that seemed to bother others in the garden, didn’t appear to bother him.

The other animals called him “Mad Slug” as they figured he had to be insane – after all, he slid along on his tummy leaving a messy trail behind him, and he never seemed to make any progress.  The smile on his face just confirmed what they knew – that he was definitely a Mad Slug.

FullSnailOne day, Successful Snail bumped into Mad Slug and asked him why he always looked so happy.  Successful Snail carried his house on his back which would protect him from the wet and cold, so he thought Mad Slug would be jealous of his better life.

“Hello Mad Slug” said Successful Snail.  “Why are you always smiling?  You struggle around on your belly, never seeming to make progress and you leave slime in your wake.  You aren’t successful like me and yet, you are always smiling.  You must be mad”.

Mad Slug looked at Successful Snail and seemed puzzled.  “What is successful?” he asked the Snail.

“You mean you don’t even know how to be successful Mad Slug?  My friends were right  – you are indeed crazy.”  Successful Snail moved away tutting and cursing under his breath, knowing that Mad Slug would never be successful as he didn’t know the secrets of success.

But Mad Slug just kept moving.  Soon he found some food and ate it and whenever he needed something, it seemed to appear at just the right time.  Just as Mad Slug was about to eat more food that had appeared in front of him, Brainy Bird swooped down in front of him.

Brainy Bird“Hello Mad Slug” squarked Brainy Bird. “Why do you move so slowly along the ground?  Why can’t you fly up high like me?”

“What is flying?” asked Mad Slug of the Brainy Bird.

“Flying is the only way to get around” said Brainy Bird.  “I can get anywhere I want as quickly as I want.  No-one can stop me getting where I want to be.”

Mad Slug didn’t know “where” he wanted to be.  He simply wanted to be a slug.

“I’m a slug” said Mad Slug.  “I’m not sure why you want to fly around Brainy Bird but I’m happy here allowing my life to unfold within me.  What are you looking for Brainy Bird that you can’t find within you?”

Brainy Bird was confused by Mad Slug’s question.  He was always flying around trying to find something, but he wasn’t really sure what it was.  And often when he thought he’d found it, he realised he hadn’t.  He still felt empty and even found himself watching Mad Slug from time to time with envious eyes.  “Mad Slug, I need to be the best Brainy Bird in the sky so that everyone will love me and think I’m worthy of being a Brainy Bird.  You are just a slug so it’s much easier for you.”

Mad Slug looked at Brainy Bird and sighed.  “What is being worthy?” he asked.

Brainy Bird laughed.  “You really are a Mad Slug aren’t you?  Being worthy is being the best you can be so that others recognise you as being worthy of their name”.

Mad Slug didn’t understand.  He was just a slug.  He wasn’t trying to be worthy of anything other than his best self.  He knew that if he was the best slug he could be, that would be enough to bring him all he needed.

Later that day, Brainy Bird returned to the garden and looked for Mad Slug.  He found him in the far corner of the garden.  “How did you get all the way over here?” said Brainy Bird to Mad Slug.  “Did you fly?”

Mad Slug answered in a way that only a Mad Slug can.  “I do not know of your place called here as I am always here.  I do not know of the smiling that Successful Snail talked of as I am always smiling.   I do not know of the flying that you talk about as I know that I am already flying.  I do not go anywhere or get anywhere as I am already there.  I am a slug and I know no more than that.”

Brainy Bird wondered what it would feel like to be a slug, not searching for answers but simply knowing them already.  He wondered what it would be like to simply accept what lay ahead as right in that moment, rather than always searching for a better way.  He realised that Mad Slug just accepted his life as a Slug and everything that came his way for it all made perfect sense in the moment of him  being a slug.

Brainy Bird saw for the first time that Mad Slug didn’t worry about doing anything or being anywhere.  He knew that as long as he was the best slug that he could be, that everything he did would take him wherever he needed to be.

And Brainy Bird realised that Mad Slug wasn’t mad after all but was the happiest creature in the garden…

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Mad SlugThis story was inspired by Conrad Jagger – the creator of Mad Slug gaming studio.  For more information, please go to www.madslug.com

Alone on the Beach

IMG_0388I walked onto the sand and felt it sink beneath my feet.  I was alone on a deserted beach with just the virgin sand and crashing waves for company, shielded by the imposing cliffs on either side.

“Why was I here?”, I wondered.  Or more importantly, “how did I get here?” And what was the universe trying to tell me by bringing me to such a desolate place?

Rain began to fall and was soaking me through my clothes.  I spotted a cave on the edge of a cliff and headed towards the shelter it would give me.

I clambered over boulders, slipping and falling over as the rain lashed against my skin.  The safety of the cave felt no closer than it did before I started my journey towards it and yet I knew I had to press on.

The rain was heavier and the wind began to blow. I slipped and fell again.

IMG_0389The cave suddenly appeared before me and I reached the small space that took me out of the wind and rain.  As I turned, I could see the beach. It was empty except for my footprints across the untouched sand.  The waves gently ebbed and flowed and the rain continued to fall.

“Why am I here?” I asked again.

And then I heard it.

“Harmony”.

I was startled by the gentle sound of the voice which continued in my head…

“Everything is working in perfect harmony. The waves need the wind to make them grow and the beach to give them their creative force. The cliffs need the wind, rain and waves to mould them and reveal the colours and shapes hidden in their depths. Each tree that perches along the cliffs, each blade of grass that clings to the edge and each plant, flower, or creature needs all of these forces to be in place to support it.”

As I stood in the shelter of the cave, looking out upon the scene before me, I understood what the voice had said.  But I couldn’t understand how this was relevant for me.

The voice spoke again…

“Without beaches and cliffs there would be no waves.  Without the waves and sea, we would not know of cliffs and their hidden beauty.  Without the wind to carry the rain and make the waves, there would be no colour and variety, no falling and rising, no creation nor destruction.”

I could see all of these forces present here on this beach.   Along with me.

So I suddenly understood why I was there.

I realised that I need all of the forces in my life to create, break, flow and ebb so that my own life has harmony.  All of the ups and downs, the good and the bad, are essential elements of all that I am.

And through the rain and the wind I heard it.  It was soul music.  It was the sound of the entire universe working in perfect harmony.  And it sounded so beautiful…..

IMG_0395I was no longer alone on a beach but joined to everything that ever was and ever will be.   And I knew that I had connected to the greatest force that exists in my world – me.

I saw too that my journey across the boulders, my need for shelter and my rising every time I fell was why the universe brought me here. It wanted to show me that I am one with everything that exists now, in the past or future for it is all part of the now that I found myself experiencing whilst I was alone on a beach…

I climbed away from the lonely beach no longer feeling lonely.  I understood why my life ebbed and flowed.  I was simply sharing the experience that every facet of the universe experiences every moment of every day.  And without the experiences, there is no life.

Scuba Diving

“Have you checked the tanks?” she said, concerned about what lay ahead.

“Of course I have”, he replied, losing patience rapidly. “Are you committed to this or not?”

She wasn’t sure if she was committed to going under at all. She had spent all her life swimming on the surface and the challenge of going deep was making her nervous. As she prepared her equipment, she thought about her brothers and sisters. She thought about her friends and work colleagues. And she realised just how little she knew about them.

“Check your air”, he said. “We could be down there for some time and you need to make sure you can stay down long enough to be able to come back up again”.

She looked at him for more reassurance, and he seemed too wrapped up in checking his dials to care about her. But she was terrified. She wanted to go deep but had never been there before. Her friends came to mind again and whilst she didn’t understand the connection, she knew there was a link. She realised that she wanted to know more about her friends, but that she only knew what existed along the surface. She knew nothing about what lay beneath the surface of their lives.

“Come on” he called. “Time to dive”.

And within a moment, he had rolled over the edge of the boat, and was swimming down through the water. She took a deep breath and rolled over the edge of the boat too.

The water was cold through her wetsuit but as she kicked hard, she soon began to go deeper into the water. The noise from the surface began to diminish and the light began to fade. Silence started to engulf her and her body felt closer to the world around her. She could hear her own breath within her mask and the world seemed to come to a halt. It was beautiful.

Fish swam towards her as if she wasn’t there. They were comfortable in their surroundings and accepted her into their world without question.

As she swam with her partner, she realised the beauty that lay within the deep water. She also realised that her fear to come deep had almost stopped her from discovering this new world.

After a short while, her partner pointed to the surface and they returned smoothly to gasp fresh air.

“So what did you think?” he asked?

She thought for a moment about her response.

“I was frightened at first, as I wasn’t sure what I would encounter when I went deep. But I’m so glad I did as I saw a world I didn’t know existed. My whole view of the deep water has changed”

He smiled. “Sometimes we have to go deeper than the surface to find reality.  It can be scary to leave the surface and swim down but every time we do, we find a richness and beauty that can only be found in the depths”.

She knew he was right and thought once again of her friends and family. She realised that she only knew them on the surface. Their discussions, conversations, meetings and gatherings only ever involved surface level pleasantries. In that moment, she vowed to go deeper and take a real interest in their lives. And she knew that in the depths of those relationships, and beyond the fear of going deeper, was a beauty that could only ever be seen in the silence and stillness of the depths.

“Thanks for taking me deeper today” she said to her partner. “Swimming on the surface was easy and going deeper was scary, but I know that I had to accept the fear of the deep to discover the joy of the swim”.

And she vowed to never fear going deep again….

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So often in life, we avoid going deeper into our friendships, business relationships and family issues for fear of what the depths will uncover.   We often exist on the surface and never discover the beauty that lies beyond the fear.  Beyond the surface of “how are you?” is the depths of “who are you?”

Swim deeper.  And discover the world of the scuba diver….

The Great Fall

The water feels warm today.

I love the sensation as it brushes past my skin.  As I swim, the pressure of the water heightens the sensation too – it’s an amazing feeling.  Can you see how the water shines in the sunlight?  I love that.

And as it runs over the stones, it shapes them too – isn’t that awesome? It’s as if the water doesn’t care that obstacles are in its path. It just goes over them, round them, under them and around them. And as it does so, it shapes the obstacles. It changes them into something beautiful. I love that.

Look at all the other animals, plants and insects that I share my world with too.  Each of them has a part to play in my existence. I need them and they need me and we all co exist in this amazing world.

But I have a purpose to fulfil now. That’s what I want you to know.  I have known all my life that within me lay a destiny and a moment when my purpose for being, living and dying would become clear.  Today is that day.

Something confuses me though.  Why do I have to swim in the opposite direction to the rivers flow to find my purpose?  My life seems so much easier when I swim in the same direction as every other being in the river.   Nothing hassles me – I can just get on with my life.   So why is my purpose upstream? Why isn’t my purpose downstream with all the others?   Why have I got to swim away from the others towards the faster moving water?  Do you know the answers to these questions?

My parents told me about a magical place that exists upstream. They told me about how I would find my purpose and reason for being but that it wouldn’t be easy to find this special place. They said it would require all my effort, energy and belief but that as I started to move towards this special place, I would find that energy would be given to me.  They told be that the Great One would help me.

So today is the day of the big swim.  Ever since I was small, I knew that this day would come. Have you ever felt something so strong that it calls you every day? It’s hard not to just start swimming towards it isn’t it?

Gosh, the current is so strong against me today.  It’s exhausting.  The river seems full and determined to push me back.  Maybe I should just turn back and go with the flow like all the other creatures seem to do.

Wow!  Did you see the Kingfisher swoop down then? And did you notice the different plants as we head up stream?  It’s like a whole different world exists up here isn’t it? I know it’s harder to swim this way but there are things here I hadn’t noticed before! It’s so beautiful!

Oh no! Now it’s time to jump the Great Fall.  My parents and grandparents told me about it but now I’m here, it looks so big.  They told me that my purpose exists on the other side of the Great Fall and that I would need a big leap to find it.

They told me it was a “leap of faith” because I wouldn’t be able to see what’s beyond the waterfall.  I just had to leap and trust that the Great One would help me find my purpose.

But the current is so strong just here.  It’s as if something wants to take me away from the Great Fall to stop me finding my destiny.  I’m so tired too. It feels like I have been swimming forever without making progress.   Maybe it would be easier to stop trying and to just float downstream like every other being in the river.

No.  I’m not giving up yet.  I’m going to jump.  I have to.  I will always wonder what it was like over the Great Fall if I don’t jump.  So here goes. Wish me luck……!

Ouch! I didn’t make it! The force against me was too strong. I leapt from the river but as soon as I landed, I got washed back down again.   Is it worth me trying again?  What do you think? What happens if I fail again?  Will everyone laugh at me for trying to leap the Great Fall?  What would you do?

No.  I have to do this.  I know I have to leap again.  I’m going to give it another go…..

Wow! Look at me! I made it up and over the Great Fall.

And it’s so peaceful here.  The roar of the Great Fall has gone and all I can hear are the birds overhead and the gentle flow of the water all around me.   I can swim against it now too but it feels easier somehow…    Almost as if I am the one in flow and the water around me just happens to be going in another direction.

And look!  Look over there.  Can you see them? More of my kind!  They must have made the leap over the Great Fall before me.  One of them is heading this way.  What should I do?

Hi there!” She said. “You made it over the Great Fall then?

I felt funny. Looking at this new, wonderful friend, I knew that I would love her and that we would make more of our kind.  I knew that my destiny was here. I just needed to trust that I could find it.

Yes”, I spluttered, feeling slightly shy and embarrassed.

My new friend looked at me and spoke right to my heart.  “You will find many others here who leapt the Great Fall too.  We gather to talk, support each other and fall in love.  Some fall in love with life and some with each other.  We make more of our kind and show them how to find their flow against the pressure of the many who just want to allow the river to wash them downstream.  One day, our kind will reach the Great Fall and decide if they wish to make the leap of faith to find their destiny.  Being a Great Salmon is not easy, but we know that our purpose lies up beyond the Great Fall.  Welcome to the world of destiny and possibilities my friend”.

I had found my life purpose. I didn’t realise at the time but I had met my soul mate too and we made more of my kind.  I encouraged others to make the leap of faith over the Great Fall and in doing so, I found my destiny too.

So next time you feel like you’re swimming against the flow the strong current of mediocrity, negativity and hopelessness, look for the “Great Fall” in your life.  It may take a leap of faith to cross it, jump over or across and it may require courage and determination to keep trying if at first you fail to make the leap.  But beyond the leap lies your purpose and destiny.  And when you find it, the Great One will smile and simply say “welcome home – I always believed in you.”

Swim well my friend and I hope to see you on the other side of the Great Fall….

Inside the Cave

It’s dark.

Somehow, that’s inviting – a place to go where nothing can be seen and where you can’t be seen.  Warm, safe and without answers but no desire to ask questions either.

Inside the cave, I can lose myself in my despair.  I can go round and round in circles with no resolution or meaning to my actions.

Inside the cave, I lose myself from myself.  I doubt who I am and can’t recognise the am that I am being.  I no longer want to find me or know me.

Inside the cave, questions come and opportunities arise.  But the choice is to stay in the dark and ignore the possibilities.  This is easier, more comfortable and fuels the self pity that exists in the cave.

Inside the cave, I see marks of previous visits.  The walls of my despair are scrawled with the memories of past failures, past mistakes and past hurt.  They are familiar and I find comfort within their pictures.

Inside the cave, I can sit alone, be alone and remain alone.  No need to help anyone, be there for anyone or be loved.  Loneliness brings freedom – freedom from dependency, expectations and need.

Inside the cave my life shuts down.

Inside the cave my life has no meaning.

Inside the cave my life has no purpose.

But then….a gentle light flickers….

In the corner of the cave, a flame starts to burn.   Its warmth begins to fill the cave and its light brings the cave into view.  Its crackling fire brings sounds and its smoke wakes my senses.

Then, for the first time, I truly see the cave.

Some drawings on the walls look like plans – diagrams, ideas and directions.  I couldn’t see them in the darkness.  Now the light is shining, I see them.  Now the warmth is present, I feel them.  Now that the sounds are there, I am listening.

Where did the light come from?  Or was it there all along? Was the light within me or was it brought to me through love? Is love within me or outside of me?  Or is it both?

The answer is the same.  I am love.

So yes, the cave is a place where we can go to lose ourselves.  But in losing ourselves for while, we can find ourselves too.  We may need a friend to hold a light of hope and belief.  We may need a member of our family to believe in us.  We may need a complete stranger to join us in the cave for a while and hold our hand.

The cave is not a lonely place.  It’s a place full of light, perspective and opportunity.  It is full of other cave dwellers, also reaching out into the darkness to find their light.  We share the cave with souls that yearn to find meaning, purpose, truth and love.

Inside the cave, lies hope.

Inside the cave, lies opportunity.

Inside the cave, lies discovery.

Inside the cave, new life begins.

I went inside the cave and knew it well for I had been there before.

And just as then, as is now – a friend held a light for me while I lay in the darkness.  Steadfastly, without question and with no expectation, their light, love and knowledge of my soul, shone on my darkness and showed me the way out.

I shall no longer fear the cave when I know there is always light to bring me back.

Inside the cave I found truth.

Inside the cave I found love.

Inside the cave, I found ME!

The Swallow and The Hummingbird

The vast machines continued their wrath of destruction through the grand forest.  They possessed the power to strip everything in their path of its beauty and its life.  The machines roared with their love of power, knowing that nothing could stand in their way.

The animals fled.  They knew that they could not stop the machines from causing more pain.  Even the kings of the jungle were no match for the machines of power.  Creatures that had existed for centuries were simply cast aside by the hungry greed of the machines.

But high above the machines of destruction, a lonely swallow flew, watching her friends being stripped of their homes, their hope and their lives.  She swooped down and saw even the bravest, largest and most cunning creatures, all running.  It made her sad.

Warm winds blew across her wings and she wasn’t sure whether it was the breath of the machines or the anguished cries of those that were losing everything beneath her.  She was aware of the power in her wings that held her high above the ground and knew that she had a part to play in the theatre that was unfolding.  She wanted to try to save someone from the unfolding misery all around her and flew down to see what she could do.

As she landed on the ground the Hyenas gathered around and laughed at her.  “You think you can stop this by saving people – but what can you possibly do with that fragile body?  Nobody can save us now you fool!”

The swallow looked up and saw the vultures circling over her head.  They were huge and cast large, dark shadows all around her. They mocked and squawked at her.  “Just look how tiny you are, you have no strength or power to save people – give up now whilst you have a chance.”

The swallow looked around and saw more creatures running from the machines. She felt power in her wings once again and launched herself into the air determined to make a difference.  She knew she was small but her heart pumped in her chest and she felt she had a purpose to fulfil.  As she flew, she grew tired of searching and felt weariness creeping in around her.  The noise of the machines pumping out their negative noise was deafening.  At times, she could hardly see through the clouds of bitter smoke that drifted up from the machines.  But she kept flying.

She watched more and more creatures fleeing away from the machines.  But she flew nearer and nearer to them, seeking someone to rescue.  As she flew near to a lake where she had spent many happy hours feeding and enjoying her life, she spotted a baby hummingbird thrashing in the water below, ready to give up on life.  Despite having never learned to swim, she knew she had to dive into the water to save the baby hummingbird.

With a huge gasp of air and enormous courage, the swallow dived.  Hurtling headlong towards the lake, she knew she had found her purpose.  Despite the fear for her own survival, she found courage in knowing that she would help another to live.

As she hit the water, her wings were crushed by the power of her dive.  But she saw the baby hummingbird and caught her in her beak.  With all the energy she had left, she lifted her head and pushed for the surface and broke free of the water that threatened to drown them both.

She felt an unknown force beneath her pushing her away from the water. Her wings had opened up and she was flying away from the lake with the baby hummingbird still held in her beak.

As she flew past the Hyenas she heard them bark. “You’re just trying to be a hero but you’re wasting your time – you can’t save us all!”

As she swooped past the Vultures she heard them screech.  “You think you are better than us just because you saved someone.  But why don’t you just give up now and then we can pick at the pieces of your empty life”.

But the swallow kept flying.  She flew away from the grand forest and the evil machines.  She flew away from the Hyenas and their mocking laughter.  She flew away from the Vultures and their greedy selfishness.

She kept flying with the hummingbird in her beak until her wings could no longer hold them both in the air.  She saw a shady spot that would be safe for them both to land and descended back to the ground.  As she put the hummingbird down, her chest heaving from the effort to save them both, the hummingbird looked up and spoke gently to her.

“Thank you for saving me” he said.  “You are so strong and brave.  Why did you risk your life to help me?”

The swallow looked down at her fellow creature and spoke gently to him in return.

“You have wings, just like me” she said. “And I knew that my purpose was to use my wings so that you could fly.  One day, you will use your wings to save another and when you do, remember me – that is all I ask.”

She closed her eyes and breathed her last breath.   Her heart stopped beating but her love lived on within the heart of the hummingbird.  The baby hummingbird grew and often thought of the brave swallow that saved him.

And he dedicated his life to helping others find their wings……

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You may feel that society is driven by the evil machines of greed and selfishness.  You may meet Hyenas who will ridicule your efforts to try to change things.  You will almost certainly meet Vultures who will celebrate when they see you struggle or fail.

But the power of the swallow is in knowing its purpose and doing it quietly and anonymously.  You need no fame, fortune or ‘X factor’ to make a difference.  The smallness of an act of kindness can often be the significance of its impact.

So be worthy of your wings.  And the bravery of the swallow will be yours.

The Ladder of Light

Click on this link for an audio version of the story below –  The Ladder of Light

Once upon on a time, a woman found herself at the bottom of a deep, dark well.  It was called “The Well of Despair” and was a place that she went to when she couldn’t cope with the world, her life or simply with those with whom she shared her existence.  It was a place where she could curl herself into a ball and rock herself to sleep.

When she was in the well, she would often look up and see the small white light that she longed to reach – it was the entrance to the well.  But it always felt such a long way away and she had no idea on how to reach the light.   Whenever she looked around her, all she saw were the dark walls of the well.  The light was too far to reach and the darkness seemed strangely comforting.  Down in the well, she could simply be with her fears and not fight them.  She could become her fears and not have to pretend anymore.

One day, after she had been in the well for a long time, she heard a voice.  She recognised the voice instantly as “Educated”, who came to see her often.  He brought his knowledge of her situation and had studied its causes and believed he had solutions.  He shouted down from the entrance to the well.  “It’s OK.  I have the solutions. I will send down the medicine and the therapy you need.  I hope you can hear me as you seem such a long way away?….”

She heard him but knew that Educated had tried to help before.  He had shouted many times from the entrance to the well and she had taken some of his advice.  However, she always found herself back at The Well of Despair.

Then she heard another, even more familiar voice.  It was “Sympathy” and she knew her well too.  Sympathy loved her and would often visit and call down into the well.  Today was no different.  “I can see you down there!  It must be so lonely.  We love you and want you to leave The Well of Despair.  We have a warm place for you and want you to join us soon.  We know it’s hard, but try to climb up the Ladder of Light.  It is there if you look for it.”

She knew that Sympathy meant well.  But however hard she tried, she just couldn’t see the Ladder of Light.  She so wanted to be with Sympathy again and to feel her love.  But however hard she tried, the Ladder of Light never came into view.

And then she heard a voice that she hadn’t heard before.  It was gentle and warm.  This voice also spoke to her from the entrance to the well but she could hear it much more clearly.  “Hold on, I am coming down to meet you” the voice said.

Suddenly, he was beside her.  “I know how you feel – it’s so cold and dark down here isn’t it?”

She looked at him in the darkness and felt the warmth of his smile.  “Yes it’s cold but how did you find me and how did you climb down into the Well of Despair so fast?”

He placed his arm around her and held her to him.  Speaking gently in her ear he whispered to her.  “I have been in the Well of Despair many times before.  I know my way in but I also know my way out.  I have come to carry you out and to show you the Ladder of Light.”

For the first time since she could remember, she felt safe.  In his arms she felt that he knew her and that he could sense her feelings and why she had struggled to climb out of the well.

“But I’m scared” she said to him.  “Part of me wants to stay here in the darkness”.

“I know” he replied.  “I felt that too, but then I made it out of the well and found myself again.  I can help you do this too.  Just climb on my back and I will carry you out of the well.”

She climbed onto his back and he walked just a few steps.  There, just a few paces away from where she had been crying, was the Ladder of Light.   She couldn’t believe that she hadn’t been able to see something so close.  He grabbed the first rung of the ladder and started to climb.  He talked to her as they climbed, reassuring her that all would be well.

Half way up the Ladder, she looked up and saw the light was much brighter now.  She felt good and wanted to reach the light as fast as she could.  “I’m ok to climb the rest of the way by myself now” she said to him.  He smiled and gently placed her onto the Ladder.

“I will be right here behind you” he said.

As she reached the top of the well and entered into the light, she looked behind her for the man that had helped her climb from the Well of Despair.

“I don’t even know your name” she said to him and was ashamed that she had allowed him to carry her up the Ladder of Light without knowing his name.

“My name is Empathy” he said.

And in that moment she realised that Empathy was all she had needed to climb out of The Well of Despair.    She smiled and thanked him once again.

“Now that you have climbed out of the Well” he said, “you will also be able to climb down and help others find the Ladder of Light.  This means I will always be with you and you will never be able to lose me”.

She realised that Empathy was now a powerful force in her life and that she could use it to help others climb the Ladder of Light.  Her life now had true meaning and she was grateful for her encounter with Empathy.

And she never feared The Well of Despair again …