What do you discover when you clear the decks?


“Deck the halls with boughs of holly”.  So we embark on filling our homes with shiny, glittery beautiful things.  Letting there be light, an invitation to joy and celebration.

Then comes January 6th – Twelfth Night. Sure as night follows day, after the decking comes the clearing of the decks!

I took my tree down yesterday – OK, I know, 7th January, but, so far, so good, no cracking of thunder and fire and brimstone hailing down on me.  Not a bad start to the year – I could see it as sticking two fingers up to superstition and “should dos” or, I could slip back into the old habit of fear and failure?  Hmm, which is it to be?

Remembering my theme of sticking with the Principle of Solitude for January I am drawn to the similarity of the experience of Solitude, with what I am left with when the green, gold and silver has all been swept away.

An echoing sense of emptiness.  A hollow space.  And my response is usually an unchecked sadness, a sense of loss.  And I want to run away, busy myself with something distracting.

But something else happens if I challenge that view.  What if I remember those foaming waves inspiring me the other day?  That word that changes the whole experience – possibilities – and that other one – potential.

As I stand looking at the space in my conservatory where my Christmas tree stood, I realise there is another thought that begins to say “step aside” to my familiar post-event sadness. It’s a bubbling curiosity, a kind of “ooh, I wonder” – finger tapping the lip.

Before I know it I’m looking around the rooms, aware of a bubbling energy and motivation to tidy and clean.  Clear even more!  Hold on, I say,  before I’m off to the cupboard and embarking on a new OCD frenzy of cleaning and throwing.  Just hold on, the voice gets gentler and the rushing off is caught.  To discover what is left behind – what a surprise, even more curiosity, accompanied by a little bit of discomfort as I dont follow my usual response to get moving, get doing.

Choices – to stay with what I am experiencing and discover a little more – or to rush off and engage in some distracting activity?

I’m wondering why so many of us avoid giving ourselves some time for Solitude, or  Time-taking as the subtitle I give it?  I wonder if when that space first apears, uncomfortable feelings start to come up, which we’ll do anything to avoid.  And yet, if we can remain confident enough to stick around, then those waves keep moving, and we may discover something else, and so it continues.

So, maybe the theme for January could extend beyond that simple word, Solitude, just in case that may seem threatening, empty and even scarey.

How does it feel to extend the idea, from Taking some Time for yourself to be in Solitude, to Embarking on a Voyage of Discovery?!!  Why not start that journey of discovery this week, this month, by exercising some curiosity to see what you will find.  You could make a decision to carve out some space and time – perhaps a solitary walk, or a quiet sit while everyone’s busy doing something else, or a solo coffee in your favourite cafe – or one you’ve never been in?

I’ll let you know how I get on!  I’d love to know how you do too?!


Musings on a New year’s morning


I am starting January off focussing on the Principle of Solitude, seems apt as I find myself sat on the pebbles on my first solitary walk down to the beach in weeks . . .

Such troubles in the world, such anger, hatred and so much grasping on to who is right and who is wrong.  And all we are left with is suffering.  Well, I can only speak for myself.  I have got so tied up in clinging on to what I want, and what’s gone wrong, and who’s to blame – that I have lost connection sometimes with everything around me that is good.

Simple things, like pebbles on a beach, the crisp cut of a sunny morning’s wind across my face as the rest of my body is covered in scarves, hat and gloves.  The smile of a friend approaching.  A friendly chat with a complete stranger.  Home to the smell of coffee brewing.

And the sound of silence.  Try to find it – complete silence is difficult to discover.  And when I do, I find that even then there is a constant chatter in my head.  What would complete silence be like?  Scarey perhaps?  A padded cell with just me and my thoughts.  Yikes!

Time to be grateful for all the noise and interference – my son Saul’s music blasting during my meditation, a quad bike’s whine cutting through the peaceful air on a summer’s night, people and their activity.  What would it be like without them all?  The last survivor.

Perhaps there is a middle ground.  Stepping away by myself to walk, sit and reflect. I can recentre myself, consider what I am not noticing, catch those pesky thoughts that may be unconsciously leading me down a blind alley, and notice any aching in my heart.  Breathing in the air and feeling it as it passes through.

Coming down to earth.

Welcome home!

The place from which to start and start again.

Happy new year!!

Where are you trying to get to?

Some of you may know that I have recently run a Retreat day for The Four Principles.  It was not an unusual experience in the fortnight running up to the event for me to find myself feeling slightly stressed out and occupied with the preparations for the day.

Under the surface, without me noticing it, was running a very familiar storyline, as each busy day was continuing on.  “Ooh, I cant wait for the retreat day to come – then when it’s over I can have that wonderful feeling of spaciousness and all that freedom to do some of those lovely things I’ve been putting off”

The day came, and it ended, and, for a few hours I began to experience – along with a sense of absolute exhaustion – a sense of freedom and spaciousness.

However . . .within only two or three days I found myself back there again – another project/event looming in the future – this time three months away!  And that sense of stress and occupation and lack of freedom was beginning all over again.  I even caught myself thinking, “Ooh, I cant wait for this next event to come – then when it’s over I can . . . “ you know how it goes?!!

I’ve spent my life writing lists, ticking things off – longing for the moment when the page is full of crossed out lines – a sense of completion, only to realise that behind that page is another blank one, waiting to be filled with the next set of things to do.

Without me realising it I’ve been creating a constant sense of a rainbow’s end that’s always out of my reach.

So – I’ve been trying something different.  Putting down the list, turning away from the calendar, and paying attention to where I am right now.  Taking moments to breathe in and out consciously, and consider what I am experiencing.  There is a subtle difference – a recognition of that constant sense of movement forward to something that will never be reached – and when I stop moving I begin to notice something new . . . space!  And the possibility that this may be that destination I’ve been trying to find. It’s very early days, but I’m just hoping that if I can remind myself often enough to just stop what I am doing and notice “where I am going” that I may keep discovering I have arrived!!

Coming Feb 2018: Creating A Pathway to Your Heart

Exciting news! My next retreat will be in February 2018 and is called ‘Creating a pathway to your heart’. Join me and create a special time and space just for you to learn The Four Priniciples of Self Nurture.

The cost is £40 for the day. Join a small group of likeminded ladies in the beautiful, tranquil setting of Red Wharf Bay on Anglesey.

Booking is not yet open, to register your interest please email me at vicki@thefourprinciples.co.uk

The Devil’s in the Detail (or how that pesky intruder interferes with our relationships!)

It’s funny, isnt it, how you can understand a phrase one way, then something opens up in your experience and suddenly it means something completely different?

I’ve been becoming more and more aware recently, of just how obsessive I can be – how I can grip on to ticking every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ before I feel I can finally let go.  Perhaps there’s the clue “finally let go”.  As I write that I have an image of myself, sometimes feeling like I am hanging on for dear life, to some particular point (particularly in a discussion – argument? with someone)

And how many different savings accounts I used to set up, just so that I could “keep track of” where I was up to?  Tying myself up in knots trying to remember all the different credit cards, covering all different scenarios, just so that I could be sure what outlay was being paid off when.  Isnt all debt just debt?!!

And all the while, considering that little phrase up there was supporting my every obsessive action – justifying each extra  little action, each “just to be sure” as I believed that “The Devil’s in the Detail” was somehow confirming that if you dont pay attention to every detail, then some kind of devil will appear!!

Only, recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be creating new relationships on the phone, peer support and mentoring.  And, well, to be honest, each time a new relationship is begun, a theme has begun to emerge.  I begin to tie myself up in knots with “wanting to be sure that we are doing everything right”.  Labouring and labouring points, getting anxious and uptight if every “t” of the instruction is not crossed and looking to stamp that great big bloody dot on each “i”!!!

It’s so easy for me to blame the poor unfortunate partner on the other end of the phone.  Only I cant get away from the fact that each time I approach this, something happens that leaves me out of sync with whoever I’m in the relationship with.

And to be fair, my poor longsuffering husband John, and 16 year old son Saul (well, 16 year olds bring their own set of relationship issues to the table!!!), have been subjected to my need for accuracy, certainty, and “getting our discussions right” for God knows how long.

And then it dawned on me – there’s a seeking perfection, an unwillingess to allow for uncertainty, for things not be quite finished, to not be absolutely proven or an absolute gripping of life’s situations so bloody hard that knuckles are almost bare!

And that word popped into my head – “detail”.

. . . and just like a lightbulb going off that phrase took on a whole new meaning!  All my obsession with detail, with accuracy, care and perfectionism is introducing a little devil into all my dealings with others.  Instead of there being a smooth flow of communication, a potential for intimacy there is this weird blockage – and it’s that little Devil!!  He’s dancing and laughing away in every attempt I make to be perfect!

I think it’s time to wave him goodbye!  So, I’m making myself a promise, to let that “t” remain uncrossed and leave some bare “i’s” waving in the wind without their dots pinning them down!  To gently front that sense of anxiety as I consider “what if I’ve not finished, what if I’ve not checked it or not made sure that’s absolutely watertight?” and remind myself that if “The Devil’s in the Detail” then maybe there’s some “Love & Life in the Letting Go!”




To list or not to list?

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a long history of list-making.  I’m rather fond of lists in fact – only, I was chatting with a friend the other day and she was talking about something she’d been meaning to do for a long time, she said “oh, I must write a list”, or, did she say, ” I SHOULD write a list?”

A little bell went off in my head – I’m a huge exponent of “look out for those shoulds!” – the minute I hear a should or an ought to, must, or “that would be the right thing to do” I get this probably very annoying look on my face – if it had words it would be something like “hmm, really?”

I think it’s called Doubt, only this time it’s Doubt with well-meaning behind it – not that I’m saying there’s any other kind of doubt?  (hmm, good place for a question mark!)

So, I sat back and thought about my lists, and what they have done for me over the years – there have been times when I have felt they have given me sanity – when my head has been exploding with hammered commands of “you should be doing this,” “what will happen if you don’t do this,” to “OH MY GOD, you have so much to do – what’s going to happen to you?!!” – and, there have been times, when those charming voices even try, “you haven’t even got time to write a list!!”

However, when the noise gets so loud I have learned that peace is negotiated by sitting down and just dumping the whole lot on a piece of paper – going back, and then prioritising, working out how long each thing will take, and working out just how much is possible to be achieved today.  It’s given my controlling mind great pleasure to write little numbers in red, and as each one is ticked off, and I move on to the next, some sense of satisfaction that I am “getting something done”.

And, there it goes again, that little bell.  So, what’s so great about “getting something done?”  Is it just appeasing all those floating, annoying “Shoulds?”

I was now beginning to think that this whole list culture of mine was not all that it seemed.

Was it possible that every time I wrote a list I was just reinforcing the fact that I needed to be perfect, needed to be behaving well, doing what I was supposed to do, being productive (oh, now that’s a familiar one?!), and only generating more thoughts and ideas of things to go on further lists – are any of you familiar with my old favourite, the list of lists?!!

I didn’t necessarily have a nice neat answer to all of this.  Only, what it did was make me stop and consider that something that has worked extremely well for me at times – calming the madness, as it were!!, is not always the best way forwards.

So, I’ve ended up with recognising there may be two kinds of lists (for now, I could always end up with a nice list of kinds of lists!).

Quite simply, there are the lists that help me get clarity, to calm down, to get some peace in my mind, and give me a sense of direction when I am flailing all over the place.

And then, there are the lists that leave me feeling I’m not good enough, not matching up to the mark (where is that mark, by the way?), the lists that tell me I’m a failure because I STILL haven’t done something, the lists that don’t accept me for who I am, and where I’m up to right now and that say, “you cant feel OK – about yourself or anything – UNTIL you get to the end of this list”, and the clue that you’re on this list is that as you reach the end, a new one is already composing itself in your mind . . .

So, I think I might start just pausing the next time I pick up my pad and pen to start scrawling – one moment to ask myself, is this list going to give me peace and clarity, or is it just going to remind me I suck?!!!

Phew – that’s crossed that one off anyway!!

Love to you all x!