Saturday, 25 February 2012

What is NLP?

You'd think having done my practitioner's training nearly a year ago, I'd have got the hang of a pithy definition by now. You'd be wrong. It's got so many aspects to it: trance, the meta-model, time-lines, modelling excellence...and I've been taught to move seamlessly through them, that I've been struggling with that definition; the aspects shift in importance. And the other thing of course, is that as I've used NLP more and more, it's become an unconscious and evolving skill.

Last week, things shifted around for me quite considerably. I got into an argument, on an internet forum with a troll about NLP. The thing is, I quite like a good intellectual argument. I really like the construction of a well-formulated, considered and articulate delivery of a good old ding dong. I was soon reminded, that trolls don't do any of that. They are there to either a) stir the shit with a controversial perspective or b) they really believe the shit they're spouting forth. What can I say? After they beat me to boredom with their ignorance, I realised what a useful exercise it had been (everything is, after all, a learning experience).

I realised that for me, NLP is two things:

1. Choices. It gives people wider choices about their lives; new skills and strategies by which they can make better decisions, which leads to freedom. It gives people proper choices: to be healthy, productive, successful, happy. On the face of it, everyone wants these things to a certain extent. My definition of healthy is not going to be the same as a doctor's or an Olympic athlete. Success for me is totally different to Richard Branson. But what gets in the way of me having those things (procrastination, lack of ownership etc) I can use NLP to remove those blocks so I can work towards these things in a cheerful and willing journey.

2. Communication. It's about enabling people to communicate better both with the people around them and actually, with themselves. If you stop to think about your own internal dialogue, the crap you tell yourself every day 'idiot, why did you say that? you can't do that, you're not good enough' etc, it's not really surprising that some of that bleeds out to the people around them. Frankly, if peoples' internal dialogues were audible, society would go into chaos because people would hide away in mortification at their own cruelty to themselves.

It's not surprising that NLP is not the only field that stridently states: kindness starts with you. Be kind to yourself and you'll be kind to other people. Kindness is a vastly underrated virtue. It's not sexy, extrovert, it's not something you can boast to other people about 'ah yes you know, I was so kind then.' But actually a little bit of kindness goes a long way, both for the person who receives it and for the person who gives. Showing yourself kindness when things are tough, when Life is grinding you into dust, gives you strength. Kindness requires an awareness of what's going on in and around you. There is no cost to kindness and the more you do, the more you is a virtuous circle.

I leave you with this little challenge for the weekend: how are you going to be kind to yourself now? If you're feeling brave, come back and tell me.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

World Book Night 2012

"In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity." ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure I announce that I am a World Book Night Giver! Woo Hoo! I have 25 copies of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier to give away. If you remember last year I did a little competition to give away the 5 books I was given. This year, I have 25 copies to distribute. 

World Book Night will be celebrated on Monday 23rd April. It is about spreading the lurve of reading great books. This is how I believe it's going to go: I pick up the books from a fabulous independent book shop called The Book Hive, you will have sent me your addresses via e-mail (you know where to find it), I will pack up and send you a copy of the book. You will need to go on-line and fill out some details to say you've got the book. You read. You enjoy. You find someone else who will appreciate it and they do the same, and so it goes. The idea is to reach out to the casual and light readers of the world. Get them to try something new that they wouldn't necessarily think to pick up in the first place.

Rebecca, starts with one of the best opening lines ever: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...

It is a book of many layers, without beating the reader over the head with it. Written with great control, it tells little and shows much. It is the Tale of the Other Woman or a ghost story or a traditional love-story or a feminist rant. What it isn't, is boring. The tension is sneakily built and you feel for this poor un-named heroine who is an innocent pawn in the centre of so many games.

So, let me know if you want a copy and it will be with you. Oh yes, and you know how it's World Book Night? Well, in my reality that 'World' means WORLD. I will post it to you wherever you are, it will mean slower because of the postage...but it will be with you. E-mail me darlings!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Time Wisely Spent

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.  ~Lois Wyse

I was talking to Gee the other day, saying that I felt I was spending too much time on Facebook and twitter and I really needed to focus on my Life. She gave me a stern look and commented that there were quite a few people saying such things recently. And how disappointed she was by that. I was a little surprised at her response, given she's not always the greatest supporter of technology. Gee went on to make some observations which I have since spent some time thinking about and will embellish and share.

Facebook is a fantastic tool to keep in touch with people who aren't sitting right next to you. It has become a friendship and relationship building tool. When I thought about that, I started thinking about how blogging became another part of my life when I started in 2006. Blogging enabled me to form amazing friendships with people all around the world; people I wouldn't have necessarily found in my normal day to day life. Facebook takes this to another level.

I have 313 friends on FB. I have family in London, Trinidad, Antigua and Vancouver (I'm sure that's not all the places, there are bound to be some stragglers). Through FB, I've reconnected with people from my childhood, who have pretty much scattered to the four corners of the globe. I maintain contact with people I've worked with, who I currently work with, who I studied with, who I hang out with, not to mention other bloggers. I have also made friends with friends of friends. Generally speaking, all of the people who I'm friends with, I consider friends. Doesn't matter if I've never clapped eyes on them before. It hasn't interfered in my enjoyment of their company, my concern for them when their going gets tough, my appreciation of their support and caring when times have been hard for me.

It seems I am all about communication and connection. I drink my first cup of coffee, wearing my pink fluffy dressing gown, hunched over my laptop as I catch up with what's happening in everyone's life. Yes, it might seem banal to go through Status Updates: Fred got no sleep. Alice is eating porridge for breakfast. But in these small details, I am part of their daily routine and vice versa. If Harry doesn't post an update in a couple of days, I send a message, find out if he's okay. I get to check on how the new baby is wrecking sleep; whether a broken-hearted friend found solace with the blind date; whether someone totally bonkers continues to see fairies. And I get to do this without spending a fortune on pens, paper, stamps or phone calls. Lets be honest here, if I spent the time physically writing to someone, I'd write to maybe one person a week. Actually, I lie. I wouldn't write to anyone at all. I hate writing letters long-hand. And as for typing...forget it, equally unlikely to happen. E-mails, well, you've got more than half a chance.

So, the easy time I spend dedicated to annoying my friends on Facebook actually reinforces my connections with them. Our Status Updates and cheerful banter, means we are part of each others lives, despite being in different houses/towns/counties/countries/continents. It's not all easy sailing. Friends still get grumpy, fall out and misunderstand each other. Heck, maintaining a virtual friendship can be equally fraught with difficulty as it is in real life. The forum is only thing that changes.

Ultimately, we're all in this together, alone. It boils down to the fact that I believe that Life is too Fucking Short. The questions NLP have asked of me focus around: does it work? Does it add value to my Life? Yes. A resounding yes! Not having a decent internet connection thanks to my laptop's aversion to coffee with milk and sugar, made me realise how much I love being part of the Facebook community and how much I love being part of the Blogging community.

I've really missed having a public blog. I'm so glad to be back. Yay! Did you miss me?

Saturday, 11 February 2012


"A beginning is only the start of a journey to another beginning." Unknown.

I started blogging in 2006 and wonderful things came out of it: solid friendships with people from around the world. Through blogging I processed some of the most important experiences in my short Life. At 41, I feel there is so much about Life I have yet to discover, so many mysteries to delve into. But there have been two main metaphors which have driven me: the journey and lighthouses. 

This blog is called The Lighthouse Network because of three people in my personal life who I have trusted to always tell me the truth: my best friend, my mentor and my healer. They warn me when I approach dangerous rocks. They inspire me with their wisdom, compassion, humour and candid communication style. They inspire me to become the best person I can be; to discover and follow my values; to walk a Spiritual Path; to delight in Life itself. Because of them, I aspire to a Lighthouse. 

After all, I am the woman your mother warned you about. There really aren't many mistakes I haven't made, but throughout it all, I've learnt and grown. The journey so far has been interesting (in the Chinese sense), but I can honestly say, I'm not bored yet. This isn't a single event, this is a process. And I hope you'll join me and enjoy my journey as much as I do (even the hard and challenging bits).