Jan 16

Over the edge . . .

Today, it feels like story time…..

canyon bridgeI have a memory of exploring the desert near the Grand Canyon… it was late evening, and as dusk fell the shadows of the rocks loomed across my path, while the eerie stillness of the gunmetal sky was interrupted by irregular shards of lightning, and the protesting grumbles of thunder rolled across the landscape. In between the intermittent rolling bassline of the clouds’ soundtrack playing in the distance, the plains were still and silent, with only the occasional animal sound punctuating the emptiness.

As I walked, looking to see how far I could get, I came across a chasm slicing across the desert floor as far as the eye could see in either direction. Many metres below, the silver of a running river could be seen dodging from rock to rock, the boulders crested with foam as the water charged through the canyon.

Disappointed and frustrated by this interruption to my hike, I was about to turn back when i noticed a wooden post in the ground on the edge of the canyon. Maintaining a respectful distance from the sheer drop onto the rocks below, I approached the weather beaten post. Leading from the post across the canyon was a rope bridge – two ropes running out across the void with sturdy wooden planks between them, and two more slighter ropes as handholds. Every few metres cross-bracing held the handholds to the main bridge. It seemed solid enough, and the planks seemed worn by the passing feet of hikers and locals before me. And yet I have never been fond of heights, and the growing darkness added a further menace to the scene, the ominous growls from the lightning storm in the distance sounding like angry warnings should a mere mortal attempt to cross.

I had come too far to simply give in and turn back, and surrender has never been my preferred option, so with my heart in my throat I set out across the gap. At first the bridge felt solid under my feet, and yet as I inched forward, it began to sway alarmingly, the planks of wood beneath my feet increasingly swinging from side to side. I had seen the old westerns where one hurried footstep splintered through the planks, sending debris crashing to the canyon floor below, and these images played out in my mind as I attempted to rally my courage and forget my fears. All suggestions of ‘don’t look down’ were gone, my eyes alternately riveted by the river swirling below, threatening to reach up and pull me down, and the promise of the other side of the bridge, so many metres distant.

So many times the promise of a return to safety called to me – going back where I knew I could be safe, a place where the solid rock I had so recently left almost felt tangible under my feet. And yet the promise of a different world the other side of the emptiness still called – the opportunity to discover something new, to find myself in a new place with new explorations and adventures to be had.

It seemed that I made progress handhold by handhold, inching slowly across and keeping my eyes fixed on the end of the bridge, only occasionally being tempted to look down – or to look back. I could always go back to safety….there’s no shame in giving up….what if you find yourself in a dead end….it seemed as if the bridge would never end, as if the gap was stretching and expanding, getting further away…

Yet slowly the wild swaying of the bridge subsided, and almost without realising it I found my feet touching rock once more. I had passed the test and made it to the next step of my journey. My trembling legs would hold me no more as I collapsed onto the nearest boulder, uncorked the small flask I always carried, and steadied my nerves. There would be more exploring in the morning, but for now… I could rest in safety. The sky split open as a bolt of lightning shredded the horizon, and the following thunder reverberated like the applause of a thousand angels.

Perhaps now.. it’s time for a rest.

It’s not so different when we set out to do something new, is it? We don’t really have a map for the journey, because we are pioneering – going somewhere no-one has been before. Even when we are following in the footsteps of others, it’s still going to be different as we carve our own path into the unknown. We can prepare, we can consider the possibilities, we can plan, we can get advice.. and yet there comes a moment when we have to take a step of faith – to step beyond our safety and into the raw chilling unknown.

There’s always the temptation to go back – to run to safety, where those who called us foolish for setting out in the first place are waiting, willing us to fail. The further we go into the unknown, the more our fears cry out to us, and the draughtier and scarier, the more ‘on the edge’ we find ourselves.

Yet if we push past those fears, we find them slowly subsiding. One by one, moment by moment, we find ourselves becoming one with the very things that scared us at first. What we feared becomes a place of safety, until we can catch a breath and gulp down the fresh air of calm tranquillity again.

I cannot prove it, but I suspect that if you’re reading this, then somewhere that resonates with you… that there is an exploration to be made, a risk to be taken, a chasm to be crossed. In our relationships. In our careers. In our personal lives. Our dreams lie just beyond the point we can see – just over the horizon. Listen to the encouragement of those who have dared to pioneer in their own lives… and step beyond where you feel safe. The bridge will take your weight. Your nerves will hold out. Your dreams are real. As John Updike observed:

“Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”

It doesn’t take much to step into the unknown – but until you do, you will never know the power of what is possible. For you.

1-TimSignature

Jan 10

Listen to your story

dr who storyStory is incredibly important in our lives. They create a magical world of possibility and of truth, of wisdom and of dreams. We listen to our parents and our teachers tell us stories and thrill to the scenes that open up for us – moments where anything is possible, where our dreams are real, where there are real heroes and knights, fairies and wizards, where we can believe in a talking cat or a fire breathing dragon.

Stories are a way that wisdom is communicated from generation to generation – whether those are the children’s stories that we learn tucked up in bed, or the tales that are woven from cinema and TV screens.

But stories are more than that, too. Stories resonate deep inside us. The success of the Harry Potter books was down to a deep understanding that magic should be real, that we can do amazing things, that even the most ordinary amongst us is capable of something extraordinary – and, of course, there’s no such thing as an ordinary person!

900 years

You’ll have to excuse the Doctor Who quotes, by the way… Doctor Who was a huge part of my world when i was growing up. It seemed that anything was possible, and that here was someone that could control time and space…. and that caught echoes inside me, and I folded that away with the other stories that spoke to me.

For each of us there are stories and mythologies that speak to us, particularly when we’re younger. Stories of magic, stories of heroes, stories of explorers and of kings and rulers, of wizards and wise men. Those stories hold keys to who we are – particularly the stories we loved as children, because when we’re young we haven’t been told what the world must be like – we’re more in touch with our intrinsic purpose, our reason for being here. Think back to those stories, if you will… you will find a true connection to what your heart longs for.

And don’t discount the stories that you hear now you’re all grown up.. those stories still find a way to speak to you deep in the core of your being. For sure, they may be saccharine coated or even hidden in darker tales, but the secrets are still there.

Take some time and consider the stories you’ve loved – you won’t have to think hard – and listen for the message inside. And maybe take a moment to reconnect to the magic that was oh so real when you were younger… because perhaps that magic is more real than you think….and maybe anything is possible.

TimSignature

PS if you’re interested in learning more about the power of myth and story and understanding how heroic archetypes play out in your life even today, then subscribe to my series ‘Pathway to Power’ HERE – you’ll get a subscription to my ‘Walking With Heroes’ program which goes into the power of myth and the Hero’s Journey in an inspiring 3 month series!

Dec 20

A Christmas Story

Melbourne (1)Perhaps it’s the time of year to publish this story again, which makes me cry and smile whenever I read it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Picture – Melbourne, Christmas 2010)

Are you sitting comfortable? Then I’ll begin . . .

 

A few years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. “Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?” “Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.  Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.  “She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted. “What is it?” Santa asked warmly. “Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but ..” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. “The girl in the photograph… my granddaughter well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. “What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,”  he thought with a sinking heart, “this is the least I can do.”

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.  “Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face. Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day. “C’mon…. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly. Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.
Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day.

A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah. Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IVtubes in tact. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.

Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels. “Oh, yes, Santa… I do!” she exclaimed.

“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you, “he said. Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease.

He asked that angels care for her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, “Silent Night, Holy Night…. all is calm, all is bright.” The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.

“Now, Sarah, “he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!” He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he knew that in some way he had to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.

Yes, Santa! “Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quicklyand rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.  “My only child is the same age as Sarah”, he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.” They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. “Hi, Santa!  Remember me?!”

“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her.  After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.

“You came to see me in the hospital last year!” Santa’s jaw dropped.  Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. “Sarah!” he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her,for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed –and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope.  This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you.  It’s a very, Merry Christmas!”

Oct 14

For God’s sake get some perspective

imageOne of my all time favourite authors is Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (and more) – he was a fabulous thinker and showed more insight into the workings of the Universe than people might think. He was a ‘radical atheist’ and yet a deeply spiritual thread ran through his writing – a faith, it seems to me, in the spirit and power of humanity and of Who We Are.

 

One of my favourite HHGTG stories is that of Zaphod Beeblebrox, when he has been sentenced to death in the “Total Perspective Vortex” – a machine so fiendish that “when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little mark, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, ‘You are here.’

The shock of this realisation of the victim’s total insignificance is apparently so huge that it annihilates the brain.

 

However, when the door is opened on the vortex after Zaphod has entered, he walks out, snatches the piece of cake that powers the device (a long story) and walks off… when asked what he experienced, whether he saw the Universe, and his relationship to it. “Yes”, comes the reply. “And?” “And I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox”.

 

So why do I tell that story? Why do I love it so much? Because it reminds me just who I am. Because it reminds me of my importance in this Universe. Each one of us is unique, with our own set of gifts, with our own mission on this earth. Each one of us has something special to bring to this planet, a special contribution to make. No-one else can make that contribution. No-one else can be ‘you’. I can stand up and say “Hey, I’m Timothy Hodgson” – and be proud of that.

 

You’re not ‘just one in seven billion’. You are a special, unique, incredible, amazing and totally irreplaceable ‘one in seven billion’. If you don’t give your gift, the world loses out.

 

Maybe it’s time to stand up a little straighter, a little prouder, with a bigger gleam in your eye – look yourself in the mirror and like what you see. Maybe it’s time to stop calling yourself an idiot when you do something ‘wrong’. Maybe it’s time to see the perspective in your life.

 

It’s actually taken me a long time to really learn to like myself – and I probably still have some learning to do there – but I make sure that I give myself positive strokes, that I remind myself how well I am doing – that I allow myself to be all I can possibly be.

 

So what’s the true perspective? Know how important you really are. Know what you’re capable of. As a friend of mine says, if you could see yourself as God sees you, you would smile a lot.

 

So will you do me a favour? Get a true sense of perspective. Step out from the shadows. Let your light shine. Give your gift. Be all you can possibly be – and let’s rock this world together.

 

TimSignature

PS – I’ll soon be launching my new web site with new products and giveaways – so watch this space (because I’m stepping out of the shadows too)

Jun 25

The magic kitten

I remembered this story this morning, and it made me smile so much that I just had to share it. I got this from one of my favourite authors, Joel Osteen – his books have been a permanent companion on my trip round the world. I don’t agree with everything he says, but when he talks about the favour of God and how to create the life of your dreams… well, it’s worth listening to.  He’s one of the few American preachers that I really like and trust – and he has the biggest church in America (I think the biggest church in the world is still Paul Yonggi Cho’s in South Korea. See www.joelosteen.com – tell him I sent you.

I’m writing this from memory, so please forgive me if I don’t get it quite right….

image

ANYWAY. Are you sitting comfortably?

A little girl out in America desperately wanted a kitten. She longed for one, prayed for one – and pestered her mom for one. “No, there is no way we are having a kitten”. This went on for weeks until one day in desperation, her mom said “the only way we are going to have a kitten is if God sends us one”.

The next day, the little girl knelt down in the yard and prayed “God, please send me a kitten”. The next thing she knew, a small bundle of fur and feet fell out of nowhere and landed at her feet. Thrilled, she ran into the house and showed her mom the kitten that God had delivered in answer to her prayers.

A few weeks later, the family found out what had happened. Apparently, the kitten had got stuck in a tree a couple of  blocks away, and to try and get it down the householder had tied a rope to the tree and was hauling the tree down with his SUV. The rope slipped, catapulting the surprised kitten into the little girl’s yard.

That’s the way Joel tells it… so just think – what magic has Divine Intelligence got up its sleeve in answer to your prayers, your dreams, your longings? You do HAVE those prayers, dreams and longings, don’t you? Well – that’s the sort of stuff we’re going to start exploring in ‘Journey Into Power’… coming soon.

Feb 22

Do you know where you’re going?

After a day on Noppharat Thara Beach in Thailand, I decided to take a walk back to the hotel to do some work. It had already threatened rain, but just a few drops were falling, so I felt comfortable walking rather than taking a tuk tuk (taxi). I even felt pretty confident that I knew the way to the hotel – although I had been driven that morning by the hotel owner, it seemed pretty straightforward – just follow the road.

Ao Nang (3)

About five minutes into the walk, the heavens opened. Quickly putting the cover on my rucksack to protect Tigger and Snuff, my soft toy travel companions, and to guard my precious journal against damp, I set off up the road. As I walked, though, the road started to seem less and less familiar – and it seemed to be much further away than I thought it was going to be. All the little shops and hotels by the side of the road were strangers to me – and I began to doubt my plan. By this time, I was totally drenched. I’d got no money in my pockets for a taxi, and the locals were too busy getting where they needed to go to stop and pick up a drowning tourist.

“So, do you turn back or do you carry on”, I asked myself. I wasn’t sure how i could have made a mistake – I thought I knew where I was going – and I thought I had started off in the right direction too. As I thought back, I was still pretty certain that I had started out right – so why did everything look so badly wrong?

I’m not sure why I carried on going. It might have been that I couldn’t see an alternative – it might have been sheer bloodymindedness – it might have been despair – or it might even have been faith that I had got it right after all. The rain carried on pouring down in sheets, and the crackle of thunder and lightning echoed off the hills. And as I walked further, still nothing seemed familiar. There was a lake that I had not seen, a hotel that wasn’t in my memory of the street.

And then suddenly I realised that the 7-11 store I could see was the one I was expecting, and the fairground sign was exactly what I was looking to find. I was right after all. A few minutes later, I was in a hot shower.. I’d made it.

So, here’s the thing. How many of us set out on our journeys and give up? We set out in confidence, thinking we know what we’re doing – but after a while we begin to doubt ourselves. Perhaps things are harder than we expect – perhaps a little rain starts to fall. It all looked so easy when we set out – but now we are in unfamiliar territory, and nothing’s as we thought it would be.

And it’s taking so much longer than we thought it would – so we panic and turn round. But just a little more patience – just a little more faith in ourselves and in our judgement would see us safely home – would see us reach our goals.

For me, when I set out to create my own business, I thought it would be easy. I thought I would be in profit by the end of the year. I was severely tempted to give up. It was harder than I thought, and I really felt I had lost my way – I was going in the wrong direction. All I had to go on was my original plan, my intention, my inner knowing – and I had to reach back and trust that.

So what is it for you? It might be a dream that you’ve given up on – the feeling that you must have been wrong in the first place. You might be thinking that it should be happening by now – that you must have got it wrong.

Hang in there. Trust your dream. Trust your desire. Trust your plan. Sure, you might have to adjust it from time to time – but the heart of it will be right. You’re going in the right direction… and you’ll get there. Probably sooner than you think. Keep the faith. Hold on to what you know. And trust yourself – you are wiser than you think.

Dec 19

A journey in Tasmania

Many of the stories I tell are ‘Journey Stories’ – because we are, all of us, on a journey through life. Some of those stories are based in myth, in story, in invention – and others are based on experience. Some of those stories make an obvious point – and some of them mix metaphor and hidden meaning. Those of you who’ve been part of an event I’ve taught at will know what I mean…

When I was out in Tasmania, I took a walk through the Larmairremener tabelti aboriginal cultural walk in Lake St Clair National Park…

Now, sometimes, you know exactly what to expect on any journey – and sometimes you don’t. But often it’s the things that we don’t expect that we remember. Sometimes, we can’t even put our finger on what was so amazing about the journey, but something, somehow, has changed at a very deep level inside each of us.

Throughout the Larmairremener tabelti walk, there are panels, here and there, little signposts to give us some history and explain the walk. Some of those panels explained the way that people can live in harmony with the land. Some of them tell of the pain of their experience – of imprisonment, sickness, of feeling lost, alone. There is a panel that tells how the aborigines used fire to regenerate the land – how seeds would remain safe and hidden throughout the fire, and would grow and blossom once the fire had passed – and without the fire, nothing would happen, and the land would remain barren.

Yet it wasn’t what we read as we travelled – not what we experienced, but an inner voice that spoke to us and said “Listen, with all your senses. Hear what is going on around you. Feel what is happening in your heart. Enjoy the experience, and still remain open to learning, to hearing. Sometimes that voice will be evident – and sometimes it will be a quiet whisper deep in your heart, a gentle touch on your soul.

As we journeyed round the trail, sometimes the path was easy to follow… and sometimes it wasn’t immediately obvious which way we should go. Sometimes the route was paved, or a wooden boardwalk had been constructed for us to walk on – and sometimes we were left to make our own path over gravel, or over the bare earth. Sometimes we could raise our eyes to the sky – and sometimes we had to concentrate on every step we took, to avoid tripping, or falling as an unexpected rock, or a straggling tree root threatened to upset us.

Sometimes, even, it felt as if the forest was closing in – as if we were alone on the trail, with only the birds for company.

Our road led us up hills where we felt as if we were scrambling, and down easy slopes. Sometimes we could see little but the trees and branches in front of us… and sometimes we could see for miles, as suddenly the view cleared and revealed a beautiful sight. Sometimes we just wanted to stop and take a closer look at something that occupied us – and sometimes we wandered off the trail to explore something else for a moment.

And sometimes we could hear the faint echoes of other voices – people who had travelled this path before, who had lived here, who knew more than we did, who had lived at peace with the land..

And as we journeyed further, as we walked more and more down the trail, we seemed to go deeper and deeper… and I felt myself becoming still and quiet inside, as if a voice was speaking to me. And where that voice came from, I don’t really know. Was it from deep inside our beings – or was it the voice of God? Was it the voice of our souls – or did we simply make it up? But something in that voice created a new peace, a new tranquillity and a new calm.

And something in that moment said “It’s time. It’s time to take what you know, deep inside, and share it. It’s time to open up to others – to become more transparent, to let people know what you feel, what you know. It’s time to live from a place of freedom, and a place of power.. it’s your time.”

Sometimes, a journey is more than it seems. But as we learn to listen to our inner being, then somehow the journey will change us.