Monday, 9 December 2013

Why to have a Life Plan

When it was first recommended to me to build a life plan I was very sceptical. Who wants to have their life mapped out? What about sponteneity and excitement about not knowing what's round the corner? But I am now in full agreement about the necessity about having a plan.

Well, it is as it says on the tin. A plan which can be used to give your life direction. Think deeply. What is the future that you most want to see for yourself? Write that down. Any route that appeals more than others? Keep a memento of that. And then work backwards. How can you get there. What do you need to do? What skills would that role require, and do you have it already? If not, how do you go about getting it?

Write all this down, and then add in details about when you want to have this skill by, and when you want to have achieved this. It's not a static thing: it's constantly changing and evolving with the changes your life goes through.

Well, I can only use my own example in this instance. I find it helps me to move forward. When I face setbacks, and my My template life plan - Dates from when I made it and underneath the age I will be at that timerecent unemployment was one of those, I can look at my plan and tick a few things and think, by gum, it's not as bad as it first appeared. In fact, let's turn it into a blessing and just move this step forward a little bit and use this a little differently. In other words, it grounds my ambition and gives me something tangible as a waypoint. I like it, and I think it is a very underused tool.

If you are anything like me there will regularly be times when you panic slightly and think "ohmygod, I'm 26andstillnotdoingthisorthat..." but actually knowing where you are and where you want to get to does help with this. I'm a chronic over-thinking but feel much more content on my path since I have built my plan. It's a little thing, and takes no more than an afternoon at most, and yet it brings me courage and drive, and those are both brilliant things to have. It stops me sweating the small stuff, cause I have the big stuff ordered in my head so what else is there to worry about?

Don't dismiss the idea of having a life plan. Build one and see what happens. It might just help you get to where you want to go.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Life and Death

Growing up on a farm I always considered myself pretty au fait with death, having seen countless animals die, and even more (or how would the farm be viable...?) be sent off to death in an abattoir every year. Growing up, there would be many pet lambs that we would grow hugely attached to, only to be told one morning that they'd died in the night. We named everything and poured all of our innocent love and care into these animals and were gutted when they died, as they sometimes did. Of course, we remember the deaths more than the successes, as the successes always ended up with the lambs being released into the flock where they would become more wild as time passed, and would quickly forget their annoying human benefactors.

However, now, there is a death occurring that is human and is someone that has been close to our family since we were wee. And although I thought that I was accustomed to death, and that I am happy with the thought of becoming worm food, I suddenly find that I am, for myself - but I am absolutely and completely not for someone else.

It's something that it's easy to be philosophical about when it's not occurring. Everyone dies. It's a cycle and no one is exempt, but just as we are all individuals, what a vacuum that individual can leave when they're no longer there. There's no nurture or nature argument here. Some people are just wonderful people. True, and brave and strong. Faithful, welcoming and caring. All the things that we all want to be, but sometimes it's too hard to be. Sometimes you come across a very rare person that's all these things, and when that person's times passes it can be very hard to come to terms with. But what a gift they leave us that are left behind. There will be anecdotes and memories for a long, long time, and so the memories will live on. We are left the richer for having known this person, and can take their lessons forward. If nothing else, I will be reminded of how far kindness and care can take you in life, and will never forget having known them.

The other part of the title is life, and that's what we are all meant to do; live. They come hand in hand. Prior to death, we have our life, and it's a major, major mistake not to seize all the chances that the day gives us. Say yes, people, and live your life not in regret. Stop looking back and look to the future. Today hurts, but there have also been moments of joy in this day. The hurt fades - how else, if pain did not fade, would we be able to get up in the morning again? - but the joy remains. Share and share alike. The future is ours for the taking. Actually, I have a quote for you:

"The song of the waters is audible to every ear, but there is other music in these hills, by no means audible to all. To hear even a few notes of it you must first live here for a long time, and you must know the speech of hills and rivers. Then on a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over rimrocks, sit quietly and listen for a wolf to howl, and think hard of everything you have seen and try to understand. Then you may hear it - a vast pulsing harmony - its score inscribed on a thousand hills, its notes the lives and deaths of plants and animals, its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries." - Aldo Leopold

Listen to the earth, your soul and the people that have your ear. If you listen carefully you'll be able to hear some corresponding messages. Those of peace, reconciliation, and joy. Maybe that's a message to take for life, and for death.

Friday, 6 December 2013


"he spared no time that day for talk with other gulls, but flew past sunset....he discovered the loop, the slow roll, the point roll, the inverted spin, the gull bunt, the pinwheel...." - John Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

That paragraph is just beautiful; I love it. What a gull. What a day. You could soar with him; when you read these things that is what your soul is doing - it's soaring with the story.

We don't, as a nation, allow time for soul-soaring and mental-wanderings. We're concerned with school league tables and fashions and cars. We nurture competition and greed and consumerism, forgetting that the biggest lack in our lives comes from within. We're lonely pack animals and have lost sight of what's important to us as humans.

Children are born with the ability to let their soul soar, with their stories and their vivid imaginations, but then they reach the age when they're told to stop dreaming, to concentrate and to stop playing. We need to remember that freedom comes in many shapes, and freedom of the soul is one of those. What is freedom of the body if your soul is ensnared and cannot escape its bonds?

Fly with the gull; allow the feeling of soaring - of looping, slow rolling, undertaking a perfect point roll, an inverted spin, doing gull bunt and the pinwheel - to seep into your mind, your muscles and your joints and lift your tired arms as wings. You can do this on the bus when commuting to work, and you can do it without moving a muscle. Allow your soul to soar, and it will - it's just waiting for your permission before taking you on the trip of your lifetime.

Gee whizz, if that one small part of that book has the ability to set my soul on fire, imagine what the entire thing will do. Must get my hands on it asap....