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It’s OK to get it wrong

9 Jul

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Politics is not my specialist subject. So. Let me try and get this straight.

The population of the UK are now on a bus hurtling down a road to uncertainty and chaos. Most of the people on the bus don’t want to go where they are going. The people who sold the ticket to their destination have now been proven to be liars, and the ticket price is continually escalating. The brochure shows that not only are the hotels not finished, but they are not even at the planning stage. Even the people who wrote the brochure now say that carrying on down the road is a big mistake. The people in charge of the bus don’t know where they are going, or have a clue how to drive the bus, and most of them didn’t want to go there anyway. Lots of the people in charge of the bus have got off and don’t want to have anything to do with the bus anymore. The destination for the bus is gloomy, desolate and lonely.

And no-one plans on turning the bus round?

Last year, a squeaky margin of British people voted to leave the European Union, against all the advice of the sensible expertise on the planet.

Since then it has been revealed that we were sold a lie. There is no £350 million a week for the NHS and in fact leaving the EU will mean that even less is available for public services. Leaving the EU will not leave us with more money, but less. Trade will be harder, not easier. We weren’t being regulated into hardship, but helped into increased freedom and well being.

It is clear that there is no prospect of a straightforward exit from the European Union, and that leaving the club will lead to huge and permanent consequences for us as a nation, for us as individuals, as businesses and as a society.

And it looks like the only people to possibly profit from departure from the EU are (guess who) those who are already wealthy and in power.

We can see the possibility of erosion of individual rights and liberties that we fought long and hard to secure.

Even the most generous predictions show that leaving the EU will cost this country and its people many billions, and result in a state of chaos that will take decades to recover from – if we ever do.

Our government are busy negotiating a future for us that results in the citizens of this country being worse off, and no ‘freer’ – that sets aside decades of progress. Is this what we want our government to do for us? Is this what a government should be planning?

If we went to the polls today, would we see the same result? Absolutely not. A significant number who voted to Leave now see how shortsighted a decision that was – and that they were not voting against the EU at all, but rather against the state of politics in this country. A significant number who didn’t vote – particularly the young – have now found their voice and are determined to make sure that we stay in the EU. We have seen that the route we have taken is not likely to end in economic prosperity, in increased freedom or in a better quality of life. Quite the reverse.

So why are we gambling the future of this country on something that even a straw poll of voters would show isn’t the future that we want. In Parliament, the majority know that they face a brutal future and a thankless task.

It’s OK to admit that we made a mistake.

It’s OK for the leadership of the governing political party to admit that the referendum was a mistake, and that continuing down the road that led us on is economic and social suicide.

It’s OK to admit that we don’t have a plan – not even the concept of a plan.

It’s OK to admit that we were naïve, lacking in foresight.

It’s OK to admit that we made mistakes before, during and after the referendum vote.

That’s not called ‘failing’. That’s called ‘learning’. And if this country has learned from its mistakes in the last year, then it will have been worth it. If this nation has realised that it is better for all to stand together rather than apart, then it will have been worth it.

Are we mature enough as a country, as a nation, as a government, as individuals, as political leaders, to admit that we were wrong? That we can recognise where we made mistakes, and then act to get it right in future?

There still seems to be a glimmer of light that shows there is a way back from the edge of madness.

So who is going to help turn the bus around?

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

PS Lord knows I’ve got it wrong more times than I can count. Just ask my two sons. Or anyone that’s close to me. But hopefully I have learned enough and become secure enough to admit that I was wrong. Goofed. Screwed up. And hopefully I’ve tried to fix what I failed to get right first time round.

Maybe our government could try that?

A vote for hope

7 Jun

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Tomorrow the United Kingdom votes for its next government in what may be the most important election in my lifetime. The democratic system in the Western world has seen some shocks in the last twelve months – and perhaps this time the shock may be one that benefits this planet and moves us forward rather than taking us backward into darker days.

So far I have stayed quiet, watching what others have been saying, taking note of other people’s opinions.. and hoping and praying.

This time, I will be voting Labour. Not particularly because I want to vote Labour – it will be the first time I have, as I have usually favoured voting outside of the two party system – but because I am choosing to vote against a government lacking in compassion, in love, in those shared values that make us human. I am choosing to vote for a future where there is hope, rather than one of despair. And for me, Labour show me the possibility of that future, whereas a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for a return to the dark ages of modern politics.

For too long, this government have chosen to support the wants of the few over and against the needs of the many. Their approach to the NHS, to the disabled, to the disadvantaged, to the elderly, has been inhumane. Theresa May’s willingness to tear up the Human Rights Act – a bill of human rights that is one of this country’s proudest achievements – is irresponsible and dangerous, and would take humanity back centuries.

Their protection of the rights of the few, prioritised so heavily over the needs of the many, is anti-humanity and actually works against the prosperity of the nation as a whole. They gamble the future of this nation and the future of its people to line the pockets of a few powerful individuals.

We are ‘threatened’ with a Labour party that would apparently ‘take us back to the seventies’. And perhaps we need to remember those days. Those were the days when we had a National Health Service that worked. A police force that was respected. Where we were still grateful to be a country that was no longer at war. Where the ordinary people were finding their voice.

I have nothing against people becoming prosperous. I cheer on those who become successful. But I do stand up against those who use the power that wealth brings to take more and more for themselves while they forget the simple values of kindness, mercy, love, compassion.
In our continual pursuit of wealth we have forgotten that money is there to be used, not to be owned. We have forgotten that people matter. We have fallen prey to the thought that power is in the hands of the wealthy, the elite. We have listened to those who have the most to lose and to those who control the media that tells us what we should think. Our attention has been diverted to a false enemy when the actual enemy and danger to our humanity is far closer to home.

We have an opportunity in this election to vote for our true values. To vote to take humanity forward, not backward. To vote for love, compassion, hope, integrity. To vote for this country to be an example of what a nation can be – a demonstration to the world of what is possible when a country looks to what it can bring to the world.

So when I rock up at the polling station to vote tomorrow, I will definitely vote with my head. I will vote with my gut. I will certainly vote with my heart. And I will vote with hope that we can change our future.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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Today, I grieve

24 Jun

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The referendum is over, and we have chosen by the slimmest of margins to stroll down one leg of the bifurcated trousers of time. We will never know how things would have worked out if we had stayed in the European Union – but we’re definitely going to find out what happens now we’ve chosen to leave. My newsfeed is full of posts from people saying “right, the decision is made, let’s pull together and step into the future”. Curiously, these mostly seem to be from those who backed the winning horse, who threw their lot in with those who would vote ‘Leave’. And that’s OK.

Step into the future we must. Hopefully with love, with compassion, with honour, with integrity. Hopefully with a sense of our place in history and our place in the world. And, yes, with a sense of hope and of possibility – to make out of this the best possible world for us, for our children, and for humanity.

But for me, and for those of us who voted to remain, it is not yet time to look to the future. It is not yet “time for us to stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right”. There will be time enough for that.

This is serious stuff. Consider: if we had chosen to remain, then those who voted ‘leave’ would have had to mourn a world that could have been – a whole raft of possibilities that never got born. But for us, we have to say goodbye to a world that we have been nurturing for forty years. This is a world we have been proud to be part of, and now it is to be torn away from us, to be replaced with something different. And I grieve that passing.

For me I have to look at the possibility of my son soon living in a different country – not because he moved, but because Scotland will choose to have a second referendum and this time they WILL leave the UK to be part of Europe. I have to face the possibility that my other son might choose to seek his fortune in a land that holds his personal values more dearly than this one. Both of these men consider themselves human first and foremost. And, selfish man that I am, I fear those future possibilities. And today, I am sad.

I have friends who face uncertainty in relationships that flourished when movement across Europe was easier. I have friends who have to deal with business uncertainty and the possibility of their business failing – of losing their livelihood and of an uncertain future.

I fear that the country has fallen into the hands of those who value division. As a friend of mine said “All my life I have striven for inclusivity. To welcome, to include, to share with, to enjoy the diversity, to learn from and to be part of one race – the human race. Who are these people who feel that division, hatred, spite and greed is the way forward??”

Our children deserve unity and peace, the world my father fought for. The world I believe we can have. And yet today it seems we have taken a step backwards from that inclusivity, from that sense of a united family of humanity. Perhaps it will arise in a different form. I can only hope. And pray.

And we seem to have betrayed our children. It seems that as a nation we have stood in the present, looked back at the past, and decided to go backwards – to try and go back to a world that no longer exists. Yet in this referendum our children have stood in the present, have looked at the future and wanted to go forward into a brave new world of inclusivity and co-operation. And we have chosen not to allow them that.

All of my beliefs about the future, about how we are better off part of the European Union, about the unity of man, all my dreams of a better and kinder place – those dreams and beliefs have not disappeared because of the vote. Yet today I mourn their passing.

There will be time enough to build something together. There will be time to look to the future with hope, with courage, with honour and with integrity. We are all in this together, and we will see what the future brings.

But today, I grieve.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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

25 Jul

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Looking back–five years

20 Jul

Great Wall - Badaling (127)

Five years ago almost to the day I set out on a huge adventure, travelling the world for a year… just me, my computer and a backpack, and accompanied by Tigger (a tigger) and Snuff (a seal).

Tigger & Snuff on Tour (3)

Over those twelve months I explored a whole new world of beauty, of adventure, of experience.. some moments were scary (losing my passport in Cambodia, diving into the Mexican cenotes) while some were inspirational (trekking down into the Grand Canyon for an overnight stay, watching the thunder and lightning unfurl on an Arizona plain) and some changed my life (listening to the voice of the Universe speak to my heart in Mexico… walking round Uluru in Australia… sitting in  Buddhist temple in Vietnam…watching lava creep across the landscape in Hawaii..sitting in peace and tranquillity in a park in Tibet..and others were simply unforgettable…standing at the foot of Mount Everest… diving into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef… walking the Tongariro trail into ‘Mordor’… sailing down Milford Sound in New Zealand… chilling in the history of Havana, Cuba… cruising Halong Bay in Vietnam… practicing Tai Chi in Hong Kong harbour.

A million memories, and a truly transformational experience – of solitude and yet knowing I was being cared for, of living from day to day not knowing quite what the next day would bring, and of listening, above all, to my heart and to understanding who I am and why I am here. Some of those thoughts and insights are intensely personal. Some of them I have never told another human being.. while others I have shared in some of my more personal posts at www.registereddisciple.wordpress.com

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I told the story of my adventure in a hundred or more blog posts and photographs over at www.exploretheadventure.com but here’s the post I wrote when I got back: The Boys Are Back In Town

Since my return, life has been – well, interesting. More learning. More transformation. More changes. Growing up is never easy. Discovering who you are is never just a walk in the park. And that’s maybe a post for another time. But I know that my life and my destiny was forged in those twelve months on the road…and that who I am today was shaped in that decision to let go of everything, and see where the adventure took me.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Starting out all over again . . .

7 Nov

Parachute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I often wonder why I put ellipses after so many of my titles (that’s ….. if you didn’t know). I think it’s because for me it’s not so much what’s been said, as what comes next. What might be said, what might happen. We live, it seems, in a world of potentiality, where everything can change in a heartbeat, where our future spins on the turn of a card, on the moment of decision.

In 2010 I took the decision to go round the world… the story of that epic trip is told elsewhere on this blog, in a series of posts that took me from the US to Hawaii to Mexico… through Australasia into Asia and back over 12 months. That experience was one of the most incredible and transformative of my life.

And having come back, life seems to lack some of the craziness of adventure again. I’ve got a huge bucket list of things I want to do, places I want to see, adventures I want to have. Perhaps it’s time to go do some of them.

"A ship in harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for,"

– Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

There are some adventures I didn’t expect (or want) to have… financial crises, a debilitating lack of personal confidence.. some were welcome surprises, like my involvement with a Blues Dance organisation that’s taken me to crazy places and allowed me to meet wonderful people.

So this post is all about putting my intention out there – for more experiences, more amazing stuff coming into my life. It’s not about the house, the car, the possessions… but it is about the experience, about what we bring into the world. Maybe that adventure will be about my impact on the world. Maybe it will be about travel. (I doubt I’ll be gone for 12 months at a time though!) Maybe it will be about experiences that deepen me as a human being. It’s about saying ‘bring it on’. It’s about showing up for what might happen in my life if I let it.

As a friend of mine reminded me a while back:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Jack Daniels in one hand and  chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO-HOO, what a ride!!’”

– and perhaps that’s what I am looking to attract into my life.. to say ‘YES’ to whatever is waiting to happen.

Time for an adventure? Hell yeah!

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

(oh, yes, that is me jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane)

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.

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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)

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