Jul 19

Crooked Trails

canyon bridge

A friend of mine sent me this quote many years back, and I have always loved it – and tried to live my life by it. Until recently, I had not realised it was part of a larger quote, which really sent fingers of excitement running up and down my spine when I read it. And I thought you might enjoy it too!

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

(Edward Abbey)

Now that’s a huge and fabulous dream..

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS I’m helping a friend out with some renovation work at the moment, so much as I would like to post, it’s proving a bit tricky! Normal service (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible!

May 27

Changing your story

change the story - weatherwax

A little while back I was asked why I see humans as privileged, compared, say, with animals or insects. The context was a debate on whether we have the power to change our circumstances, or whether some of us our powerless to change a bad situation. As a good friend of mine put it – “I looked at the things I was doing that I liked doing, and the things that I was doing that I didn’t like doing. and adjusted my life accordingly”. But can we all live like that? Do we get the choice?

So, the reason I see human beings as privileged – particularly in the context of this dialogue – is that we get to choose the meaning that we associate with events. The meaning we attach to events is what matters – not the events themselves.

A story I love is of a Cambodian imprisoned and tortured during the Pol Pot regime, who said “One night they told me I would be shot at sunrise – so, you see, I was completely free.”How did he figure that one? “Things could not be worse,” he explained, “so I was free to take any opportunity that came.” And he did – during a commotion that night he ran for the fence, since he had nothing to lose.. and ran to freedom.

Viktor Frankl spent time in the most atrocious of conditions in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II. In amongst the death, the despair, the filth and the hopelessness, he wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” He went on to write “Man’s Search for Meaning” – a book which, wonderfully, was earlier published under the German title “Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen” or “Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life”.

That’s a huge shift of meaning from hopeless to hopeful. I have had to do it on many many occasions in my life – to shift myself from being a victim of circumstances (or, to be honest, the results of my own stupidity!) to having options. And I think we always do have options, particularly on how we choose to react to what’s around us. We may say we’re stuck – we may believe we’re stuck – it may even seem to those around us that we’re stuck – and yet I think we really do have the ability to decide to behave differently – whether that’s in our attitude, or in our behaviour. 

As Granny Weatherwax observed in Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld series “There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story – change the world.”

We can use story and meaning to create our world the way we want it – one way to build a concrete path to your dreams is to write a movie script of your perfect day, building in all the detail, the sounds, the sights, the aromas, the sensations, the feelings. creating so much more of a powerful energy than simply “I want my own successful business” or “I want to get married”. What will that really feel like.?

We can use story and meaning to change the way we look at a situation – something which is disempowering in one story can suddenly become incredibly powerful in another. How many times do we have to hear the story of the cabin boy who became captain, of the pageboy who became king, of the scullerymaid who marries the prince, to know that what people decry as ‘fairy stories’ actually contain some of the most enduring truths about our world and the way it works.

And we can use story and meaning to change our lives. I have a story which I have never shared with anyone that describes my life so far, and the way I see it unfolding in the future, in empowering, powerful metaphors and images, full of richness and archetypal heroes. I have chosen to attach new meaning to the events of the past and to my current reality, that allows me to create a future full of possibility and energy. The beauty of doing this is that it hasn’t tied my story down to a specific way that it must unfold, simply because it’s full of metaphor rather than specifics.

We can continue to replay the old story of despair “well, I’m bankrupt so that means I haven’t got the financial freedom to create the life I want or do the things I want” or we can change it to a story of hope “I’m bankrupt, and that frees me up to have the time to choose what I want to do, and the opportunity to reshape my life just the way I want it”.

We have the power to change the meaning of the events that shape our world. And that means we change how we experience our world. Because even if nothing changes, everything can change. In a heartbeat.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Mar 18

Stepping into miracles

living from vision - erhard

I write these posts knowing that if I found something thought provoking, inspiring or helpful, then someone else will too. A Course In Miracles reminds us that we teach what we need to learn, and so in sharing things that speak to my heart, they become more real to me too.

Sometimes here I share my own insights – and sometimes I share what I’ve read, or heard, or discovered from someone else. I have learnt so much from Marianne Williamson, and despite resisting the fact that I should need to read “The Age of Miracles – Embracing the New Midlife” (I’m not that old yet. am I?) it has a considerable amount of underlining in my copy.

And so she asks a question that resonates with me, as it should:

What will I do with the time I still have left?

She continues: ” We were all born carrying a promise – a promise to make the world better – and there’s a yearning to make good on that promise that none of us can suppress forever.

Will we repudiate the glamoroug meaninglessness that has marked our generation so far? Will we recognise the dark and corrupting patterns of our past and rise up to change them? Will we wield the power of lessons learned?

Will we align with the creative pulse of the universe, preparing the ground for a glorious future in which no one can say that we simply gave up – but everyone can say that we finally got going?

Wherever you’ve been, and whatever you’ve done so far, your entire life was building up to this moment. Now is the time to burst forth into your greatness – a greatness you could never have achieved without going through exactly the things you’ve gone through. You are right on time.

And you are better than you know.”

Today, that brings be peace – and hope – and joy.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Picture copyright Tim Hodgson – Volcanic seashore, Lanzarote

Mar 10

Remember Love . . .

love unfurl ladinsky

I find myself often drawn back to this wonderful quote by poet Daniel Ladinsky. In fact, I have often felt that the only reason I enrolled in the Interfaith Seminary was simply to hear this one simple truth.

Love provides the energy and the impetus for all that we do – love is what makes us open up to the true immensity of our brilliance and beauty, and in turn bring some of that love to a world that sorely needs it.

Listen always to the voice of love, even if it sounds a little crazy – because love is always the answer to the question you are asking.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Mar 07

Set your heart free . . .

screenshot.2

Here’s a wonderful extract from one of my very favourite authors, Martha Beck.

“Sonya was stuck. Every time she came in for a session, she seemed more inextricably wedged into a life she hated. It wasn’t that she lacked means: Born to wealth and privilege, Sonya had beauty, education, and the talent to become what she’d longed to be-a songwriter. But she couldn’t take the steps that would make her dreams a reality.”It’s just too hard,” Sonya sighed during one session. “I’m stuck in the life my parents want for me. I’ll marry a rich man, have 1.7 kids, do what I’m told. I’m trapped. Completely trapped.”

I couldn’t help comparing Sonya’s comments with another conversation I’d had when I was in Cambodia, doing interviews for a World Bank project. A vibrant man I’ll call Khet told me about his experiences during the war-torn 1970s, when he’d been imprisoned, starved and sentenced to death.

“One night they told me I would be shot at sunrise,” Khet said. “So, you see, I was completely free.” I stopped him. How did he figure that one? Khet smiled. “Things could not be worse,” he explained, “so I was free to take any opportunity that came.”

And an opportunity did come. As he and some other prisoners were being led to the execution ground, Khet bolted, running for a weak spot in the wire fences. He fully expected to be shot, but the other prisoners distracted the guards enough to spoil their aim. Khet escaped into the jungle.

“You see? My fellow prisoners were free, too,” he said. “No matter what happens to your body, madame, if your heart is free, you are free.”

Most people think more like Sonya than like Khet. My clients routinely tell me they’re deadlocked, hemmed in, blocked, controlled by circumstance. If you feel that way, it isn’t because you don’t have the option of charting an exciting, meaningful journey through life. Trust me, the options are there. You’re at an impasse because you’ve been trained not to seize-or even recognize-the opportunities that lead to the fulfillment of your dreams. Your body is free but your heart is in prison.

Our hearts are imprisoned for just one reason: The only language they can speak is truth. Unlike the mind, which can be persuaded to accept the most bizarre ideas (“Look, it’s the Hale-Bopp comet! Time to kill yourself!), your heart tells it like it is, without bothering to be tactful or socially appropriate. Free hearts rock boats, break rules, do things that disrupt the system-whether that system is a dysfunctional family, a bloated bureaucracy, or the whole wide world.

As a result, few of us speak the truth out loud. All our lives we’ve been hearing things like: What you are thinking/feeling/saying/becoming, etc., is stupid/rude/scandalous/sinful/depressing/ridiculous/unoriginal, etc. All the infinite variations on this theme convey just one message: Silence your heart or you will be rejected. Rejection hurts our little social-mammal hearts so much that just the threat of it convinces most of us to cooperate with our enemies. This is a two-step process: First we go dumb, learning never to speak our deepest truths. Then we go deaf, refusing to hear our own souls.

Sonya was a fully heart-bound when she came to see me. For thirty-some years, her life’s journey had been steered by social expectation, slowed by fear, stymied by conflicting demands. Bad news: If you’re a normal human, you probably act like Sonya at least some of the time. Good news: As your own jailer, you-and only you-can free your heart whenever you want.

To release your heart, you simply reverse the two-step process by which you locked it up. First you begin to listen for messages from your heart-messages you may have been ignoring since childhood. Next you must take the daring, risky step of expressing your heart in the outside world. It’s lucky this process is so simple, because it’s also terrifying.

Step 1: Tune In

People with captive hearts often spend years thinking very hard about things like reawakening their passion or discovering their destiny. This never works, because such information is stored in the heart, not the brain, and is expressed by feelings, not thoughts.Sonya was so numb to her emotions that she couldn’t tell a surge of love or pathos from, say, gas. Not to worry. Paying attention to any feeling unlocks your heart, and if subtle emotional nuance eludes you, physical sensations will do nicely. Try the exercise I assigned Sonya: Write a detailed description of everything you’re feeling in your body. If you do this for more than ten minutes, you’ll find that you’ve also started describing your emotions.

As Sonya began to write about her chronic exhaustion and headaches, a torrent of truth burst from her heart into her conscious mind. “I hate the socialite scene,” she found herself writing. “I want solitude. I need music.” For years her heart had been trying to send these messages through physical symptoms. As she began to listen, those symptoms faded. Sonya’s prison walls were coming down.

Step 2: Think of This As “Shock” Therapy

Once you begin listening to your heart, I guarantee it’s going to say some things that shock you-otherwise, you wouldn’t have locked it away in the first place. You may discover that your heart wants to spend your paycheck on flowers or wear purple spandex to a board meeting. You don’t have to act on these impulses, but you must not judge or repress them.

Treat your heart like a tired, hurt child: Accept its tantrums, revenge fantasies, and pity parties, but don’t get stuck in them. Say kind things to yourself: “It’s okay that you love your goldfish more than your in-laws” or “Of course you want to stab Billy’s third-grade teacher with a meat fork-all the moms do.” When you acknowledge your forbidden feelings calmly, you’ll find that you actually have more control over your actions. It’s when feelings are repressed that they burst out in dangerous, unhealthy ways.

The more you tune in, the deeper the truths your heart will tell and the more intense your emotions will become. You may feel great pain about times others have hurt you-and, worse, times you have hurt others. But as this pain flows through you and begins to dissipate, you’ll find something beneath it, something astonishingly powerful, something one philosopher called the “all-pervading radiant beauty” of your heart of hearts.

Step 3: Defy your inner jailer

At this point you’ll begin to realize that your heart is telling you where to steer your life. You’ll know the next step because you will begin to long for anything that connects you to it.

When desire really comes from your heart, deciding to act on it will bring another strong sensation. You’ll feel an extraordinary clarity, the sense that something inside you has clicked into place. Of course, your Inner Jailer might not agree. You may be flooded with reminders that your heart’s instructions are stupid or boring or rude. Don’t listen. Run.

Step 4: Run for the jungle

I’ll never forget the moment Sonya stopped daydreaming about sending her songs to a music producer and decided to Just Do It. It doesn’t sound like much-until you try it yourself. Acting on your heart’s instructions means abandoning all those careful strategies for avoiding rejection and bolting toward the fertile, gorgeous jungle of human imagination and possibility.

I’ve watched in awe and admiration as many clients took the enormous risk of freeing and following their hearts. I’ve seen high-income executives joyfully switch to low-paying careers as artists or forest rangers, and people who grew up in poverty dare to believe they deserve decent money. I’ve seen folks adopt children with AIDS or lose 50 pounds. As a 13th-century Zen master said, “The place is here: The way leads everywhere.” Once you are present in your own heart, you’ll find your life going places your mind has never even dreamed of.

Step 5: Spread the word

Toni Morrison said that “the function of freedom is to free someone else.” This is the final step necessary for keeping your heart at liberty, and you do it in just one way: by telling your story. However you do it-a journal, an artistic creation, the pictures you hang on your walls, or the way you raise your children-telling your story demolishes the barriers between your heart and the outside world. I won’t lie: This means that your heart will be exposed and, yes, broken. But it’s important to remember that a heart is imprisoned not by being broken but by being silenced. There will be people (often the people you most want to please) who won’t like what you say. It’s going to hurt-and it’s going to heal.

When Sonya started sending out her demo tapes, she became what she called an overnight failure. For months no one so much as acknowledged her creations. Sonya’s heart broke, but she refused to send it back to prison. Instead she began to think like Khet facing execution: Since things could not be worse, she decided to drop her inhibitions. Her music became less derivative. She began writing raw, gut-deep songs that horrified her family-and impressed some producers. Sonya began to find her “tribe,” the people who understood her true self. She’s still far from famous, but her heart is free, “and that,” she told me, “is what it’s really about.”

As you learn to live by heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story, calling your tribe, and liberating not only your heart but the hearts of others. This is the very definition of love, the process that makes all-too-human people and societies capable of true humanity. It will chart you a life’s journey as unique and authentic as your fingerprint; send you out, full of hope and breathtaking exhilaration, onto paths you never thought you could travel. It is the way you were meant to exist. If you stop to listen, you’ll realize that your heart has been telling you so all along.”

find more from Martha at www.marthabeck.com

Find more from me at www.timhodgson.org

Mar 05

Buddhism and bliss

plinki

Terry nails it again.

Overnight, nothing will change to make our problems look better. The morning simply brings a new clear light to shine on the things that face us. And yet, as we decide to choose to change our own attitudes and acceptance of what is – as we learn to be happy in the moment of now.. then things do look better. When we cease to fight, and to struggle – when we learn that what is, simply is – then, with tearstained face we can look on what faces us and be glad in the simple things – a ray of sunshine swirling motes of dust into the air, a cup of tea that gently wafts its warm fragrance over our tired hearts, a soft word that reminds us of love, compassion and kindness. What we resist tends to persist in our lives. what we release and accept loses its power to harm us, giving us a true position of power to change our world as we wish.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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Jan 17

Finding the big happy

big happy

It’s been a busy weekend for me. my friend is celebrating ten years running her dance school, so it was all stops out for the celebration weekend. which went a bit like this:

Motorcycle 20 miles to van rental. Arrive late. Too late. Motorcycle 50 miles to dance venue instead of going in van. Lay dance floor and set up event. Run event til 3am. Pick up dance floor and tear down event. Motorcycle (brr) 10 miles to hotel. Get two hours sleep. Wake up, motorcycle 40 miles to van rental (even more brr). Get van. Drive 50 miles back to dance venue. Put floor in van. Drive 20 miles to gala dinner venue. Lay floor and set up event. Run event til midnight, eat dinner, hand out prizes, dance. Pick up dance floor and tear down event. Load van. Drive 20 miles to hotel. Get 6 hours sleep. Wake up, drive 10 miles unload floor out of van. And have breakfast, go for a walk. and feel very very happy. If very slightly exhausted.

The previous few days I’ve spent plotting with some others and preparing one or two surprises for my friend, who promptly bursts into tears. Fortunately, these are happy tears.

And today, I feel deeply deeply content, deeply deeply peaceful and deeply deeply happy. I feel totally ‘on purpose’ and fulfilled. I’ve not advanced my life a great deal.. but I have helped about a hundred and fifty people – people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, different abilities – have a fabulous weekend – building confidence, laughing, feeling good. and helped my friend feel loved, fulfilled and proud of what she’s achieved.

And this seems to be where the big happy can be found – as we find ways to make those around us happy, as we find ways to help them fulfil their goals, find their path, become more confident, live their dreams – as we cry with them, laugh with them, grieve with them. as we help them find their own big happy, then the big happy finds us.

My life isn’t about me – it’s about all the people that I come into contact with, from my closest friends and family to the supermarket cashier and the hotel receptionist. Your life isn’t about you, either – it’s about everyone that you brush up against during the day, about each of the people that you meet, no matter how fleetingly, and in every moment have the chance to bring life, and joy, and hope, and peace – the chance to help them see themselves through the eyes of love.

May the big happy seek you out, track you down, and wrap its arms around you this week.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Jan 02

A New Year wish for you….

canyon bridge

So, another New Year is upon us, and I felt drawn to share this post with you again.. I fell in love with this quote years ago when a friend shared it with me, and it has stayed with me.

Life often is a difficult trail to follow, leading us off on tangents, sometimes seeming to circle round on itself and going nowhere.. full of seeming dead ends, unexpected diversions. And yet always it is leading you on. The truth is, there is no such thing as a mistake – life unfolds, and the gift of a new year is to put all that behind and step into a moment of glorious new creation. Everything IS working out perfectly.

Sometimes does feel dangerous – as if at any moment, the world can crash down around us. We feel as if we walk a tightrope of disaster, a razor’s edge which will send us plummeting to disaster at any moment. Yet the truth is, that we are always safe. Always held. As it says in the introduction to ‘A Course In Miracles”

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God

 

And sometimes it does feel lonely. It is our life, and only one can walk it. And sometimes it feels as if we are all alone on our journey. Yet the truth is there are cheerleaders on the way, encouraging us, supporting us, loving us. Some we know – some we don’t. Some we see, and some are invisible. But know this. you are never alone.

For me, the New Year brings up a new quest – a new part of the journey. This year feels special, somehow. In some ways, there are what seems like insurmountable obstacles in the way – and yet I have faith that those can be scaled – avoided – or that they will simply dissolve into a wisp of irrelevancy. There is something spectacular about a quest. There is a sense of mission, of purpose, of destiny about it. There is a sense of danger, of solitude – and of companionship, loyalty and shared challenge. There is the knowledge of a price to be paid – of stepping away from what is comfortable, what is known, what is certain – and into uncertainty, into the unknown.

There is a scent of achievement, of possibility. There is the likelihood of continual change, of growth, of becoming in some sense ‘more’ than we are today. It opens up the vista of wonderful experiences, glorious sights, fabulous adventures. There is the chiming of a story, of a tale to be told. It is redolent of camp fire conversations, of nights spent out under the stars, of gazing out at mysterious views.

Where will your quest take you this year? What story will you have to tell at the end of 2016? Something spectacular calls to you, I know it, or you would not have been drawn to this invitation. Let’s make this an incredible year, a year of adventure, of peace, of joy and above all a quest for Love.

And may it take you to a place that you could never imagine – a place where something more wonderful and more beautiful than your deepest dreams awaits you.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Dec 31

Your one rule for 2016

brilliant self

A while back I discovered this card in a shop round the corner from my home and fell in love with it immediately. The artist (Leigh Standley) has crammed so much of what I feel into one image, and it has been pinned above my desk ever since.

As many of my friends will know, I take the New Year very seriously, as a space in which I take time out to think, to dream, to plan, and above all to listen to my heart as it learns to beat more in synchronisation with Source. I take time to look back at the year – to discover the lessons learned, to look at what I have achieved, and what didn’t quite go to plan. Like for many of my friends, this has not been an easy year, and in one sense it’s a relief to say goodbye to the old and to look to a new future.

Then I close that book and look forward into possibility, into adventure, into new encounters, new opportunities, into a magical world of ‘what if?’

And this year, I’m not placing so much emphasis on my goals – on what I want to achieve, the things I want to do, the adventures I want to have, the contribution I want to make, or the destiny I want to step in to. I’m looking to see who I can BE. As David Whyte said, “What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make enough plans”.

For sure, there are some things I want to achieve next year. But they are not the important things – for me, or for you. Who are we going to BE, you and I?

I’m choosing to be bolder, braver, more prepared to stand up for what I believe and to speak my truth. I want to live simpler, with more passion, and more kindness. I want to have a bigger impact on the world. I want to be more magical, more connected to my Source, more in the flow, more truly alive.

I want to be more loving, more peaceful, more inspired. I want to live deeper, be wiser, more grounded. And I know that as I do, people around me will discover more peace, more wisdom and experience more love themselves.

So in 2016, I choose this – to live true to myself and in the end to have only one rule – to BE my wild, courageous, brilliant self. Every. Single. Day.

So.

What is it YOU plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

May you have the most magical, unlimited, abundant year ever – may you never fail to express all of the wild and wondrous things you are – and may every single one of your fabulous dreams come true.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – it’s been a long time coming, but I’m hoping to make a ‘what’s next’ announcement next week. No promises though!