Archive | Learning & Growing RSS feed for this section

Everything is working out perfectly–10 years of craziness and chaos

25 Jul

Nananu Pier (1)_thumb[1]_thumb[1]

Just over ten years ago I set out on an adventure that was to change my life. That day I woke up, cropped my hair short and loaded the new Bon Jovi box set onto my Mp3 player and then went out on a run before breakfast… and as I ran I looked back on my life up to that point – and forward into the new dawn that lay ahead. A new vista of infinite possibilities lay in front of me. Little did I know that life wasn’t going to follow my expectations. Although perhaps I should have guessed…

But let’s rewind just a few short months. In 2004 I was working as a well respected and well liked programme manager running global IT initiatives for a major multinational, Unilever plc. I had a five figure annual salary, industry respect and the commitment and appreciation of my team, my peers, and my superiors. I was doing what I had trained to do, working in an exciting, dynamic technology environment, living on the edge of technical achievement. I travelled the world, implementing new technologies, running training courses and contributing to industry think tanks and technical peer reviews. And loving every minute of it.

My personal life was a little less perfect though – I was still recovering from a painful divorce, although I still had the love, support and close friendship of my two sons. My personal Christian faith had collapsed a few years earlier – yet I felt I had a huge amount of freedom to determine my own destiny.

In mid 2004 a harsher reality hit our technology world. The head of my organisation was ousted by those around him, and the shape of our business began to shift. Those of us who had been favoured suddenly fell from grace. As part of the subsequent reorganisation, I was offered the post of chief desktop architect – a seductive title, if it wasn’t for the fact that the previous chief desktop architect used to work for me. I was being offered a subordinate’s job. Suddenly, I faced a fearsome choice – and an opportunity. I could press for redundancy, and begin a new life.. or settle back down in the organisation and see what the future would bring.

I wrestled with the options in my head for days. I talked to my closest friends, who were very clear that they felt I should leave on a new adventure – because they could see the excitement in my eyes when I talked about it. Yet I still had the responsibility for two teenage sons – getting them through university, getting them started in life. I turned the possibilities over in my head, unable – or unwilling – to come to a solution.

While away on business, I went to the movies, watching ‘Wimbledon’ – the story of a tennis player with one last chance to be a winner… someone who felt that his best days were behind him and yet still had one chance to win… if he would own the title of ‘winner’. Around me at the movie theatre were posters – the movie ‘Hero’. A soap powder ‘Bold’. And finally, the tag line to an upcoming feature stopped me in my tracks: “In 2005, a hero will arise”. What more guidance could I be looking for? (I would point out that the movie in question was none other than ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’)

My mind was made up. I went in to my boss, who reluctantly accepted my resignation, asking me to work another 6 months to complete the project in hand. And I did. We delivered, on time and under budget, an installation that was subsequently rolled out to 150,000 computers world wide. And in the meantime, I had four leaving parties (the benefits of being an international traveller based on two continents and in three offices), rafted the Grand Canyon and lived it up in Las Vegas. Sadly my ex wife was taken ill during those months, too, and my two sons came to live with me, giving me an even greater sense that I had done the right thing.

And so, on that fateful day in June 2005, I bade farewell to the corporate lifestyle. I had no idea what I was going to do… but I knew that I was going on an adventure – a journey into the unknown, discovering what was possible.

I think these moments happen for all of us in our lives. We dismiss it sometimes as a mid life crisis, but for all of us, in some way, the Destroyer will rear his head – we look back at what we have done with our lives, and decide that we want to build something else. For some that manifests as getting rid of all that’s old and dull – throw out the Mondeo and buy an Alfa. Dye your hair bright blue. Learn to ride a motorcycle. Have an affair. Or change your career.

You see, we have to destroy in order to create. We have to tear down the security and safety of what is, in order to step into what could be. We have to clear the ground, the things that hold us back, getting rid of the comfort of what we know in order to take the first steps on an adventure into the unknown. We cannot hold on to the past while attempting to create a new future… the Universe demands that we let go of our safety net. It’s like stepping onto a rope bridge over a canyon… we can choose to stay on the safety of one side of the canyon, secure with rock under our feet. But if we want to step into something new, if we want to get to the other side… then we have to take a step onto that bridge, to step out over the chasm, unsure whether the rope will support us. As we step further out, then the bridge sways more. The wind might catch at us. We can go backward to safety – or press on into the unknown. As we step further out, then the bridge sways more wildly. Uncertainty increases. And yet we press on, hopeful of reaching the other side. Sometimes it is all we can do to put one foot in front of the other, feeling our way forward. Yet no matter how scary the crossing might be – the bridge will hold us… we will get to the other side.

One thing I did know… as well as being bloody good with technology (computers had been woven throughout my life from college onwards, back when there were no books, just typewritten notes) I was also damn successful with people. I had taken raw material and helped forge experts, industry leaders and technologists. One of my crew, a secretary when she started working with me, went on to be head of Information Technology for a major fragrance company. Another two created a very successful technology consultancy. Others found their voices and their careers blossom – so rather than diving back into technology or consultancy, I decided that I would find a way to work with people – to bring out the best in them.

And so I began to explore the options available. At first I started as a coach – working with people to help them realise their goals and make the sort of changes I had wrought in my own life. On top of this, I trained as a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) a psychological technology that restored power to individuals, allowing them to make massive changes in their lives. I added a qualification in hypnosis, simply because no-one understood what NLP actually was.

A gruelling three week programme saw me obtain the coveted title of ‘Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming’ – certified to be able to run my own NLP trainings and adding depth to my ability as a public speaker. I worked with other companies to coach on major programmes, and became an expert in practical demonstrations of the power of the mind – board breaking, iron bar bending, and the fearsome firewalk and meditative glass walk.

And the more I explored the power of the unconscious, unlocking the power of human potential through helping people to rewire their conscious to achieve the results they wanted, the more I became aware that there was more to our own personal power. There seemed to be a supernormal aspect to our beings, that what we saw in this physical realm was only a faint shadow of the true power open to each one of us.

Grand Canyon (95)_thumb[2]_thumb

I travelled to Peru, walking the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu and heard a still small voice speak to me as I looked down over the ancient city spread out below me. I rafted down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and found myself learning deep lessons and stories from the rock around me, as we went deeper and deeper into the layers of stone etched out by the river – as we bounced and span through rapids and over rocks and waterfalls. I grew a beard and shaved my head. I learned to dance, learned to ski and to snowboard, took a course in fire eating, studied to be a bodyguard,threw myself out of a perfectly good aeroplane, got my second dan karate black belt…

Peru 436_thumb[2]_thumb

I moved town, with my children, to create a gap between my old life and my new. I made new friends. Learned new skills. Had fun.

I ran coaching programmes for sales staff, communications programmes for help line operators, worked with individuals and companies….I was regarded as one of the people who could really make a difference to people’s lives. People loved what I was doing and the encouragement I brought. I worked on inspirational leadership events, working with attendees to get them through some of the challenges they faced in the seminar programmes.

IMG_7281_thumb[2]_thumb

Life was good, working out perfectly – or so it seemed…

 

And then disaster struck.

I guess I had seen it coming for a while… but I just worked hard and hoped things would turn round. In early 2008, it became clear that my business was not sustainable. There simply wasn’t enough money coming in to keep me and my family afloat.

With a heavy heart, I decided to start to look for work. I began by approaching technology companies, looking for roles like my previous one. Confident that I had the skills and the understanding to step right back in where I left off, I approached company after company. And met a brick wall of indifference. Too long out of the business. Not up to date.

I set my sights lower. And still no success.

Then I hit a new problem. I was over qualified for lower positions. So they wouldn’t hire me either.

I sold my beautiful car to raise funds. I borrowed money on credit cards to pay the bills, to help provide for my family. I took part time work as a greeter in a kitchen and bathroom showroom with a hundred mile round trip to work every day. The company went bust, and I didn’t get paid. I did display installations for supermarkets. I would have done anything to keep my family together, to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. In those moments I tasted true desperation.

DSCF7374_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

I took to walking by the river in the early hours of the morning, before anyone was awake in the house, fingers clutched round a cup of coffee, looking desperately for answers. I was certain I had set out trying to do the right thing. I had followed my dreams, listened to my heart, looking to work with people, trying to bring more love into the world – yet here I was… lost, alone, afraid, stuck, and in trouble. And it was there, in those dark moments in late winter, that I found a new faith, a new depth of being, that would sustain me through the dark days to come. My youthful Christianity had been transformed into a new belief system and world view, based less on rules, and more on love. My finances may have been falling apart… but my heart was beginning to heal.

Eventually, when I was down to my last few pounds, I got a job working as a call centre operative for a UK communications supplier. And I hoped that the worst was over. By now I was around £40,000 in debt, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had started to pursue me for taxes I didn’t realise I had to pay.

When a friend offered me a job working for a technology startup in the Midlands, I jumped at the chance. For six months I lived in his garden shed while we started to build the technology for a new web service. To enable the move, I sold my house, at a loss, and added another £20,000 to my debt – finally finding a rental flat in north Birmingham. In that time, my mother suffered a serious stroke and was hospitalised, unable to speak – dying in hospital some nine months later after struggling through her rehabilitation, never really regaining her mobility or her speech.

Home! 002_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

Yet in all of this, I felt there was light at the end of the tunnel. When this new project worked, we would be wealthy. We talked of company vacations in Trinidad. I would be able to repay my debts, and start out again.

I was wrong. Again. My friend decided that we had been following the wrong technical solution, and reluctantly let me go. Two years later, I was back at square one… out of work and still looking for answers.

I had one card up my sleeve left to play. Early retirement. Very early retirement. I had had some very good years at my final position with my previous company – because I was retiring so early, I wouldn’t retire as wealthy as I might have done, but I would at least be comfortable. Having got my creditors under control, I decided on two things. First, that I would retire, so that I didn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of unemployment ever again, and second, that I would take a year out to travel the world.

I used a small lump sum to buy some cheap flights around the world, and to buy a rucksack and a good pair of boots. I invested in a couple of tours, and a couple of courses I wanted to attend. I spent the next few months planning an itinerary that would take me to many of the places I had dreamed of visiting since I was a child – places that were so far away and wonderful, that had lit up my childhood imagination.

Uluru Base Walk (43)_thumb[1]_thumb[1]

And in July 2011, I set off. I came back for a month once I had finished the US/Mexico leg of my trip, poking sticks in volcanoes, exploring American’s National Parks, learning Hawaiian shamanism, savouring the exuberance of Cuba, climbing Mexican temples and chasing down Mayan legend.

The next leg of my trip took me ten months – round Australasia and Asia, into China and across out through Tibet & Nepal. My budget was tight, so I lived on ramen and red peppers, banana pancakes and street food. I slept in hostels and dodgy hotels, and made friendships that have lasted to this day. When I was down to my last ringgit, I worked Chinese New Year in exchange for a bed for the night. I took buses rather than trains, motorbikes and tuk tuks rather than taxis.

And I saw so much. And I saw places that made me glad to be alive, sights that filled my heart with joy. I saw things that made me ashamed to be human – reminders of atrocities past too horrible to consider, yet too important to forget. I lost my passport and credit cards and got stuck in Cambodia. I lost my passport again (d’oh!) and got stuck in China.

As I wandered, I found myself learning to listen to the whispers all around me – to develop a new understanding of Spirit, and of the nature of humanity. I found myself deeply and permanently transformed. Perhaps I was still uncertain of my role in the world… but certain that there was more than I saw with my eyes. I decided that only I could be the arbiter of what I held to be true – and that only I could be the architect of my own destiny. I began to carefully look into what I believed – and what I didn’t. I had few preconceptions – open to the thought that there might be no deeper reality to this world, yet somehow convinced in my heart that there was something other behind this reality.

San Juan Camping (3)_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

I stood under a waterfall in Mexico near the temples of Palenque, and heard a voice from beyond my own knowing speaking directly to my heart. I watched as lightning lit up the sky above the Rio Grande in Colorado USA, and began to understand a little of what I longed to teach. I sat still in a Buddhist temple in Cambodia and allowed truth to be unfolded to me. I found deep peace walking by the Tongariro River and felt the power of the creation at the Aratatia Waterfalls in North Island New Zealand. I found a new peacefulness practicing Tai Chi overlooking Hong Kong harbour under the guidance of ‘Mr Peacey Mind’. I went through a moment of transformation as I walked through a lava tunnel in Hawai’i, after marvelling at the iridescent power of the lava flow on Big Island. I looked into the skies above Mauna Kea and glimpsed something of power that lay beyond the stars. I looked up at the stars and marvelled as I lay out under the night sky in the Red Centre of Australia, under an Arizona sky, from the decks of live-aboards in Halong Bay, Vietnam, and on the Great Barrier Reef. I looked out to see from a simple wooden pier in Fiji and found a new hope growing in my heart. I learnt, studied and read in countless coffee houses, buses and train journeys, and I learned to listen to both the stillness and to the chaos – to see beyond what seemed to be happening to what was really real.

Sunrise on the last day (13)_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

All great things must transform into something new, and so, exhausted with travel, I returned. My ex mother in law was ill, and I wanted to see her before she died, and I was missing my family terribly.

For a while I stayed with family and friends, until one of my friends offered me a baby camper van, and I travelled the country and lived in my little camper for a few months… eventually scraping together enough money to get my stuff out of storage where it was being held ransom by the storage company and rent a small flat, back where I had started out five years before.

DSCF7060_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

A friend of mine worked as a DJ at a local dance organisation, and offered to give me a lift there.. arriving early, I was soon put to work sweeping floors by the event organiser, who excitedly declared ‘I’ve always wanted a minion’. I started to help out more and more, becoming an invaluable part of that organisation and supporting their web site and by travelling across the UK… the appearance of two ‘Despicable Me’ movies transforming the concept of a ‘minion’ into a small yellow thing with goggles and dungarees, and a fondness for bananas.

minions_2015-wide_thumb[2]_thumb[1]

Slowly, I began to rebuild my life. Although I had reached an agreement with my creditors in early 2009, I knew that unless I could create considerable wealth rapidly, I would never be free of my repayments, and so, reluctantly, I elected to make myself bankrupt. I expected that this would eliminate the final payment to my creditors but, to my surprise, due to a change in the law, my repayments actually quadrupled, causing me to shrink back into myself, bringing new limitations and restrictions. I found myself severely restricted as to what I could or could not do..causing me to drastically rethink my relationships and my lifestyle.

And finally, as I write this in the middle of 2015, I have now been discharged from bankruptcy. My debts have been written off, and I feel a new sense of freedom again. Sadly, due to a disparity between business law and personal law when it comes to bankruptcy, repayments continue for another two years or so.. but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I rage sometimes at the seeming injustice that means that a company director can go bankrupt and escape any real penalty for his error, able to go back into business almost immediately, while a personal bankrupt is stripped of his financial freedom for three years. And yet I know that the decision to pursue bankruptcy has created a step change in my life – shaking up a world that had perhaps become safe and predictable.

And yet, in all of this, I AM STILL HERE. The experiences I have had over the last ten years were not the ones I expected – but they are the ones I needed. Many of them have been hugely painful, stripping me back to the core of my own truth and my own being. I have come from having everything to understanding what it means to have nothing. I have learned what it means to have no roof over my head, to live wild, to have nothing but the gear in my bag. I have been in situations where the only choice is to walk, as there is no money for a bus – where I have been counting the change in my pocket to work out if I can afford to eat. I have stared despair and disappointment in the face… and have decided that they shall not have power over me. I know that I made the choices and decisions that were right for me, at the time… I had adventures and experiences that made me rich in all the ways that truly count. And now I am living with the unexpected outcomes of those decisions with my head held high.

I’ve learned that it’s actually impossible to make a wrong decision. Why would you? How could you? It might not be, in the light of what unfolds later, be the best possible choice – and yet, in that moment of deciding, you made the best decision you could given the information that you had. How can it be anything else? And even when we do make decisions that take us off our path – the Universe is self healing. It will find a new route to take us where we need to go – if we trust it to.

A friend asked me yesterday if I would I do anything different, if I had the chance again? Some days, I do look back and imagine that my life would have been easier if I hadn’t leapt into the uncertainty of self employment. But it would never have been so full, so exciting, so rich.

I hope that I would still do the brave thing, the risky thing. I hope I would still launch myself into an uncertain future rather than living in the ‘what if?’ I hope I would still choose to live from faith and love rather than live from fear. And perhaps the only thing I would do differently would be to live bigger, to dream more, to be more certain, more confident, more bold. Because perhaps the only mistake I made was to shrink down and be less than I truly am.

And I can see the blessings of the decisions I made. So, so many blessings. A tough, demanding career that laid the foundations for me to retire early and have adventures that I would not have dreamed of. A career path that had me at the front of the technology revolution and that gave me huge insights into the path of progress.

I have two incredible sons that gave me the freedom to pursue my dreams, and the space to find myself again. I had freedom from the need to find employment that helped me work with my dance teacher friend to help her build her business. I have friends that have supported me at every turn. Over the last few years this life has not perhaps been what you might call ‘comfortable’. But it has been rich, and rewarding, and beautiful. It has been full of incredible and wonderful friends. It has stretched me, and challenged me, and caused me to grow. It has brought me wisdom, and character, and depth. It has allowed me to explore meaning and truth, power and reality, faith and reality.

It has given me a new simplicity to living: being glad for simple joys and pleasures – a walk by the river, a bike ride in the country, sitting and watching the rain. It has given me a new empathy for the homeless, for those that are struggling, for those that are a little lost.

It has opened my heart and made me more sensitive to something ‘other’ – something deeper, something more real. 

And although I thought I would become wealthy and prosperous, I have been reminded that actually I am already still easily in the top 5% of incomes around the world – and been reminded that true wealth isn’t found in an income stream or a pay check,

And above it all I find myself deeply, deeply at peace. At peace with myself, and with Spirit. At peace with others. At peace with circumstances. I may be frustrated at times – yet in all of this it comes back to a deep inner knowing that, as my Hawai’ian Huna tutor taught me – everything is working out perfectly. What seems to be imperfection is actually perfection.. what seems difficult is actually a space where miracles can – and do – happen.

So now what….?

Baby steps. I am still finding what I want to do unfolding every day, as I learn more and as I learn to listen, to meditate, to take time out to hear the still small voice of my own heart. I have laid down my writing for a while to see what develops, and I will start to let that grow again – letting go of the need to create money and responding to the call to share my heart. I’m going to learn listen more closely to the voice of Love, because Love brings all the madness we need to unfurl ourselves across the world. I’m going to look for opportunities to share what I do know, where those might be helpful to others. I’m going to find ways to be a mender, to do what I can to bring healing into a world that truly needs it.

And I will carry on learning and growing, following my own path wherever that might take me. For me, there are no such things as mistakes… as one of my wise sons said years ago – there are no mistakes – there is just.. what happened.

And there is always, no matter what we have done, and no matter what mistakes we think we might have made, there is always hope.. and peace.. and Love.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

A Christmas Gift from me . . .

24 Dec

DSCF7346Every year I get together with a group of friends for food, wine, laughter and deep meaningful conversations about life, love, the universe and everything. On the way over, I got to wondering what I could bring to the party that would set the scene for the celebrations and bring some peace and happiness to everyone. I’d also been thinking about some of the products I am creating for 2013, and so I thought I would try this little experiment out for them – and for you – to enjoy.

So here it is.. a little seasonal meditation that you can sit and listen to to unwind, relax.. and dream. It’s not particularly deep and meaningful, but there are one or two carefully constructed surprises in there just to make you think and to imagine.. and to dream…and to help you look forward to 2013 with curiosity…and anticipation…and excitement. And if you find yourself here, well, it’s for you.

So, Merry Christmas to you and to all those that are close to you. It’s been a joy to be your friend this last year… and now we know the world isn’t going to end – here’s to new starts, new opportunities, new life, new hope – and to the new horizons in front of us all. In all of the craziness and chaos, let Love reign supreme….

So find yourself somewhere nice and peaceful for a few minutes, click the link and press the little orange ‘Play’ button . . .

http://soundcloud.com/tim-hodgson/a-christmas-gift

The Christmas tree picture, by the way, is by the very talented Samantha Stubbs – it’s one of my favourite cards and currently resides on my festive noticeboard.

Enter the dragon–it’s back to the dojo

26 Sep

Some folk say that life is a lesson – while others say that there’s nothing that we need to learn – that we’re perfect just as we are. I’m not sure – all I know is that I feel a hard-wired imperative to grow, to learn, to develop, to become all I can possibly be. Some of that learning is through what I read, what I watch, what I listen to. And there’s a lot of that! Some of that is through the experiences that life throws at me – or, perhaps more accurately, that I create for myself. And there’s a real huge lot of that learning happening right now. And sometimes it’s through the experiences that I choose to have, the conscious choices that I make – like the one that took me round the world, the decision to pursue a career in computing – the day I chose to learn to dance, or the day my son and I took up karate.

Tai Chi (2)So I guess it was inevitable that one day I’d take up another martial art – a brief flirtation with Aikido, which I loved, came to an end when I moved away from my Aikido class. But I’ve always been intrigued by the flow of energy that the more centred martial arts draw on: like Aikido, Qi Gong, Tai Chi. Each of these martial arts contain the Japanese character for life energy or chi, and work by redirecting that energy. That’s a huge contrast to the forceful block and counter of martial arts like karate – although karate uses a lot of locks and body shifting, designed to redirect the opponent’s energy, it’s not at the core of the art. I found that as I watched the wonderfully charismatic yet unassuming teacher who I only think of as Mr PeaceyMind (after his continual exhortation to his class to be of peaceymind) on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong that I’d love to explore  a little more.

small karate

So Tuesday found me back in a dōjō (otherwise known as a village hall) – this time without my white pyjamas or, indeed, the security of my black belt… back as a beginner again.

You don’t really need to know about the experience – at times calming and at other times as frustrating as hell – but 15 years of martial arts means that my balance is pretty damn good and that I have can at least draw on the basics that lie behind transition and form. You also don’t need to know that I was the only man in a class of 30 women, either.

So there I was, relearning some of the basics: how to step, hip rotation, rise and fall, the basis of form, the first handful of movements (and unlearning some of the other things that were core to a very different martial art) – and then the moment when all of us, expert and beginner alike, took to the floor to perform all 108 movements of the set… a moment when it was sink or swim – give up or press on. And I’m not very good at giving up.

But it got me thinking again about mastery – about the journey to master anything, whether it’s an art, or a field of study, a craft, a discipline, a career. We probably know as soon as we step on to that path that we’re never going to know it all – that we’re going to be learning more every time we step onto the practice floor.

There’s a saying in budō – the study of martial arts – that the moment that we acquire our black belt is the moment that study truly begins – that the years of sweat and pain that have led to that moment have really only been qualifying us to study: that those preparatory years have been just the entrance to the school, and that from that point the learning really starts.

“To search for the old is to understand the new. The old, the new, this is a matter of time. In all things man must have a clear mind. The Way: Who will pass it on straight and well?”

(Gichin Funakoshi, founder of modern day karate)

Traditionally, too, in some martial arts the black belt is designed to fray with use – so as the student progresses, the belt increasingly wears back to white, demonstrating that even the master is always learning.

So what’s the life lesson here?

Well, in life as well as in the dojo, yet again I find myself in a place where I don’t see myself as an expert, knowing that I have much to learn… and yet finding myself called to teach and share what I do know. There are places that my studies have taken me over the last few years, things that have shaken me to the core of my being, clearing out old and unhelpful beliefs, helping me to see Life more clearly. Some of those experiences have been hugely painful and yet breathtakingly freeing – and have caused me to grow immeasurably in my understanding of some of the principles at the heart of creation.

Yet now I know that it’s time to take those out into the dojo that is life – to share some of those principles even as I seek to master them in my own life. I want to reach mastery before I start to speak about some of this – and yet I know that the only way to take the next step toward mastery is to start to teach and to write – to unpack some of the thoughts and insights that have been part of my journey.

For me, that’s hugely scary, and I have been fighting and resisting some of this for months… and yet the time feels right to start something new…So, hopefully I’ll have the courage and resolve to announce some of that in the next few days..

TimSignature

 

“Just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-Do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives.”

(Gichin Funakoshi)

Lucky Man

7 Oct

You know, I’ve been a very, very lucky man in my life so far.

I have had a fabulous career with both British Steel and with Unilever – getting to be very very successful, such that I could demand redundancy, and get a package that would allow me to start my own business, as well as providing me now with an independent source of income that would allow me to follow my dream. And I have driven some wonderful cars, had some wonderful experiences, and learned loads. With Unilever I travelled to some amazing parts of the world that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise (I remember the day they told me the annual conference was in Bali – I told them I wasn’t prepared to go, but they forced me. They forced me, honest….)

I’ve been married, and even though we’re not together any more, I’m still a better man for the experience. And I’ve dated some truly beautiful, wonderful, incredible women – and let them get away! Silly boy..

I’ve had the privilege and the honour of raising two of the most amazing, wise and wonderful sons – David and Jonny. They have been my friends, my supporters, my advisers. We have been with each other in the hospital, in karate dojos, on freezing cold football pitches. We have thrown ourselves off snow covered mountains together and laid on the floor in the early hours making things out of Lego or cardboard tubes. They are now the most amazing and wonderful young men, and I love them to bits. You’ll hear more from them over the years to come!

DSC00010I’ve had some incredible and wonderful adventures – learning to ski and snowboard, climbing, kayaking, scuba diving, horseriding, sports car racing, riding the Colorado River, wakeboarding, waterskiing, eating fire, walking on fire, walking on glass, bending an iron bar with my throat and breaking a wooden board with my bare hands. Getting my first and second dan black belts in karate (and teaching it), learning aikido, tai chi, chi gong, reiki, hypnotherapy, NLP and more…

And I’ve danced – oh, how I have danced…

I’ve made some wonderful, incredible friends – people that have stood by me, and who have supported me through the tough times. There are too many to name… but I can guarantee that whoever you are, if you have had an impact on my life, I have remembered you, and I thank you for it. I am honoured by your friendship and your love.

I’ve been through some tough shit, and I thank God for it, as it has made me who I am today.

I’ve been on an incredible spiritual journey, too… through Christianity and running the university Christian Union, through the charismatic movement of miracles and wonders, through the New Age and power of intention, and the New Thought movement – to a place where I am happy that I am working out my own faith and I don’t have to rely on what other people say I should believe. And to a point where I am happy being me – this wonderful, amazing, powerful being that I am.

I am truly, truly grateful to everyone who has been part of my life – and to Divine Intelligence for orchestrating it.

But actually, the original reason for writing this post was to publish this ‘where I have been’ map – from holidays, travel with work, and my world tour – but when I started thinking about it all… well, I just felt really, really grateful for all of it!! (and I realised there’s a lot of world still out there…)

 

      Under the sea

      2 Feb

      Hmm… which blog shall I publish this in? Well, it’s got some nice pictures… oh, what the heck. Explore The Adventure it is (which just goes to show, that there’s only one of me, and there’s only one adventure I’m on – that of being alive. And it’s been one incredible ride so far!)

      Doing anything new causes us to take a new view on things, helps us to look at the world in new ways – to hear God speaking to us, if you will. Even taking a different route to work can create a change in our perspective that causes us to see things in new ways – I’m certainly the sort of person who likes to vary things (a friend of mine called me a nomad the other day, and, like her, I do wonder about what things will be like when I get back from this trip).

      I know that for me God speaks in all sorts of ways – sometimes I can feel a tingle down my spine, and I know to pay attention to what’s been said, or to what’s going on. Other times I feel a fizzing in my brain, almost as if I am connecting to another world, another dimension. Sometimes the voice seems so loud as to be a shout – but mostly it’s a quiet whisper.

      Sometimes, for me, that voice comes in the words of a song, or the lines of a movie. Sometimes it’s in the pages of a book, or the voice of someone precious to me. But each time I am left in no doubt that God has spoken.

      And it was like that when I was diving off the Great Barrier Reef. Now, I’ve been diving before, just a little – but this was the first real dive adventure for me, and also on one of the best dive sites in the world. I was excited, anticipating something spectacular – and also very conscious that God would use this time to speak some more to me.

      Surface School of Fish

      Diving is a magical, unique experience. The underwater silence creates a sense of being alone even when surrounded by other divers – the light makes it an other worldly experience, as the warmth of red light is absorbed by the water, leaving tones of spooky blue. Out there in the distance, just beyond visibility, might be anything – and so might there be down in the depths… as a certified diver at present I am only supposed to venture 18 m down, although I have ventured further with my instructor, down as far as 28m, and other divers can only manage 30m or so before the risks become too great.

      Reef Wall

      It’s a different world, too, with hills made out of coral in a thousand colours and even more shapes.. and wonderful creatures with unearthly shapes free floating above the landscape, or hiding under a rock – or even lying, concealed, in the sand.

      Reef Scene

      So diving, somehow, takes you out of yourself and into another world. And maybe all of us need that – some experience that takes us out of what’s normal, and forces us to think in new ways – to take a different perspective. The peace under water is astonishing – cut off from sound apart from the sound of your own breathing, the occasional sound of an engine, or the nibbling of parrotfish on the coral. Even surrounded by other divers, the solitude is incredible, lost in your own magical universe.

      Turtle Silhouette

      And maybe, like it did for me, as you stay open to things changing, your perspective will shift – so that the new world grips you.. that moment when the alien and threatening environment of strange creatures, the inability to breathe without assistance, the sense of being out of your safety zone suddenly shifts and you feel at home in the new world… and for me, the sensation of soaring, of flying over the surface produced a new exhilaration, an excitement of realising a childhood dream. Truly, I was flying – only the medium had changed, and I could even control how high I flew simply through my breathing..

      And it was so important, too, to relax. Nothing is gained underwater by fighting the ocean… so breathing becomes slow and relaxed – the more peaceful the breathing, the longer it is possible to stay under water…and so resistance ceases, and we learn to stay in the flow, to go with what’s happening rather than force circumstances. We see what turns up – maybe there’ll be a turtle, maybe not – maybe we’ll find Nemo, maybe not, maybe a ray will flap lazily across the ocean, or maybe not… maybe there will be a special surprise of something unexpected.. who knows. But there’s nothing to be done to change it – what happens will happen, and for us, the thing to do is simply to enjoy the experience – to allow ‘what is’ to be absolutely perfect, to stop resisting and just glide along on the current of the experience. Sure, we have to keep an eye on what’s going on… but most of the time, if we just let what’s happening happening.. then the magic will be there…

      Anthias

      So, learn to go with the flow of what’s happening around you. Like the aikido masters who can use the energy of their attacker to create the energy to defeat them, we can use the power of the flow of what’s happening to enjoy the experience, to see the hand of creation in it – and to hear the voice of God, the core of the Universe, the heartbeat of Love speaking. And as we become more open to possibilities – then more possibilities are going to present themselves…

      So the ocean seemed to be whispering to me… “learn to stay open…. learn to listen to your heart… and to your feelings….let things flow…and you, too, can hear the voice of God”.

      Registered Disciple . . . another journey

      19 Dec

      A slightly different post today, because I am starting out on a new, and slightly different adventure. And this time, you can join me.

      You’re reading this blog post because you know of me in some way. Some of you have attended workshops with me. Others have worked with me one to one. Some of you are friends from dancing – others are friends from training events we have attended together. Some of you I have met on my travels – and some of you are old friends from university or from some previous career. Some of you are family – others are friends. I know most of you personally – and some of you I have never met.

      And I want to tell you that I care about each one of you.

      You’ve been good enough to follow my journey around the world on www.exploretheadventure.com. Many of you will be aware that that journey is not just an adventure in travelling around the world but has a deeper significance in my life at a pivotal time for me.

      I think most of you are aware, too, that I have a very deep faith in God, and that that journey is a huge part of what’s important to me

      I’m not what you might call a Christian, by the way… although I owe a lot of my beliefs and my background to a history that’s taken me through the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Charismatic Movement and more…

      I’m not a ‘new ager’, either… although I owe another huge part of my beliefs to people who might (or might not) consider themselves to be in that camp. 

      I’m not particularly a devotee of the Law of Attraction, or The Secret. I’m not a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a Muslim – although I have learned much from those faiths too.

      I’ve learned a lot from a whole load of people who I am sure will grace the pages of this blog from time to time – people like Rev. Julie Wilbourne, Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Joel Osteen, Joe Vitale and so many more.

      I am, simply, me.

      I’m struggling, sometimes, to make sense of this world. I’m trying to understand what I believe – and what I don’t. And, slowly, piece by piece, some of those thoughts are starting to come together.

      So over at www.registereddisciple.com am going to start posting some of my thoughts – thoughts on faith, thoughts on life, thoughts on God, thoughts on humanity. I can’t promise it will be earth shattering. I can’t promise it will change your life. I can promise it will make you think. And if you let it, it may just help set you free.

      So, hop over to www.registereddisciple.com and sign up for the email updates. I’ll get it posted to Facebook, too, and I will add links into the Explore The Adventure blog.

      At the moment, there’s a bit more introduction at My Journey and a journey story at Journey in Tasmania . . more to come!

      Oh, and ask questions. Comment. Discuss. When I get back, I’m going to start doing this kind of thing live, so we might as well get started now!

      Hope to see you there….

      Oregon – a Conversation

      30 Jul

      Can I be honest with you today?  Will you indulge me a little?  You’ve been good enough to come on this journey with me so far, and I wanted to tell you a little of some of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Because maybe I’ve not given you the whole story so far….and in particular you may be asking the question… “Why Oregon?”

      Well, this adventure plays to so many of my personal values: I took a look recently at what’s important to me and came up with this list:

      • Love & Compassion
      • Adventure
      • Freedom
      • Joy & Fun
      • Learning and Growth
      • Spirituality
      • Health & Vitality
      • Achievement & Success
      • Peace
      • Wealth and Prosperity
      • Courage
      • Truth and Integrity

      So maybe some of those are obvious – how this supports my love of adventure, freedom, joy & fun, achievement, learning, growth, courage… but what about the rest?

      For those of you who know me well, it makes so much sense that I would want to go off and do this – and yet there is something deeper going on.  You see, for me this is a real voyage of self discovery – an opportunity to really understand who I am, and why I am here.  The last couple of weeks have been very significant in preparing the ground for that, and I’ve shared a couple of those stories with you.

      There are four big questions that we all need to answer.

      • Who am I?
      • Where am I?
      • Why am I where I am?
      • What am I going to do about where I am?

      I’m beginning to see answers to those questions… and I promise I will share them at some point.  But I think that most of you know that I am deeply, deeply motivated by something else – call it love, call it compassion, call it God, call it what you will – but enough of you have been kind enough to notice that there is something ‘different’ about me.

      So one of the reasons for me being over in the US was to do the Huna workshop.  The other was to attend a retreat with Neale Donald Walsch.  I’ve attended his retreats in the UK a couple of times – and I know that some of you reading this are friends I’ve made on those retreats (you know who you are!)

      I have a feeling, though, that this event will be very significant in my life, and will be another part in the major shift around who I am, and what my reason for being here is.  And I mean here on this planet, by the way – here living this life.

      Neale is the author of the Conversations With God books – probably the books that have made the most sense to me about life, about God, about the world we live in.  You could do a lot worse than read ‘Conversations with God’ or ‘Happier than God’.  Borrow it out of the library.  Go into Waterstones and read it there.  Or not, it’s entirely up to you.  For many people, including some very influential world leaders, it has been very important.  It may well resonate with you too.

      I have not seen many people deal with a room of people with such compassion and such insight – with such understanding of what’s going on for them.

      Yet today I have been particularly moved – firstly by em claire’s reading of her poem ‘Shine’ which I have published before

      Shine

      God says for me to tell You This:

      nothing needs fixing;

      everything desires

      a

      Celebration.

      You were made to bend

      so that you could find

      all of the many miracles at your feet.

      You were made to stretch

      so that you would discover,

      your own beautiful face of Heaven

      just above

      all that you think you must shoulder.

      When I appeal to God to speak to me,

      I’m feeling just as small and alone as you might feel.

      But this is when, for no particular reason at all,

      I begin to

      shine

      For various reasons, that poem meant more to me today than ever before – as I said to em on the way out – “I came here to hear you read that poem.  I can go home now”.

      But the reason we are all here is simply to become the next grandest version of the greatest vision of who we are.  We are, each of us, an individuation of Divinity, an expression of God – an opportunity for God’s nature to be expressed on earth.  And the time that we will feel that the most clearly is when we are giving to others.  So life is not about how much money we make, or how influential we are, or even how much fun we have – although all those things are important – life is about how much we give.

      And so I find myself challenged – how much can I give to others while I am travelling… and how much can I bring back to allow me to be even more compassionate, even more caring, even more inspiring.

      I have much to think about in order to answer the question “Why Am I Here?”

      %d bloggers like this: