Thinking in the Rain.

How is this for an idyllic place to rest?  

No, it isn’t Sue’s – she likes a warm bathroom, a loo, lots of home comforts, and a proper bed. But it is mine, although it has had none of those comforts (and I like them too!) but, I think you’ll agree, a stunning backdrop for listening and learning.  And it was where I camped on my first night, in the Picos de Europa, a breathtakingly beautiful national park in the north of Spain.

And where it started to rain. And rain.  See the clouds? In fact they were part of the weather system that hit the UK on Sunday night, with 80mph winds.  IMG_1573

But rainy days are part of life, and part of travelling too. Venturing beyond the confines of my comfortable home, I can expect the unexpected and learn to adjust.  The trips I do are an essential part of my work as a personal development consultant, helping me to keep a healthy perspective on people, life, and the world. Yes, I’m one of those people who get a lot of reward from taking time to think, and of being with this sort of magnificent display of the Creator’s art.  It resources me so I can better serve the world.

And, yes, for the interested observer, the bike is different too. The BMW 1200GS has gone to a good home, and I’m now riding a little Burgman 400 scooter.  Times change, don’t they? No major ‘off-road’ travel or 135mph across Germany, but an easy ride, and it will still go across fields and down gravel back-roads to the quieter places in our world (though the ground clearance isn’t brilliant and the frame a bit flexible).

Brittany Ferries sent me a text to say they had cancelled the ferry back from Spain, so I drove back through France in a day (getting lost in the backroads of Northern France somewhere and assailed by constant driving, gusty, rain) and caught the overnight ferry. I helped a retired couple on an ‘aire’ in the middle of France somewhere and we shared some croissants and coffee as they told me about their personal challenges. And did 10/10 with a boy and his auntie at the Ouistream terminal at Caen over rabbit and chips. And laughed with a truck driver from Lincolnshire.

And as we crossed the Channel and the decks were swept by the storm outside, I slept like a log, tucked into the warm, quiet, ensuite complimentary cabin, courtesy of Brittany Ferries.  (Sue would have enjoyed that bit.)

Today I’m thinking about how I want Powerchange to go on helping people live more comfortably in their own skin.  Happier. Richer. Lovelier. Free from depression and the scars of sadness. At peace with themselves.   Personal happiness as their ‘default position’.  If you’d like to help me do that, or would simply appreciate a chat, I’d love to hear from you. Call me or email andrew(at)powerchange(dot)com. Or you can forward this to one of your friends.

Enjoy taking some time out to be with yourself in the next few days.  Schedule it.   A few hours.  A day.  For me this time it was a week. Think about how you can more effectively help others – especially those, as Chris De Burg puts it, standing in the rain.

 

 

 

The Storm

When was your last storm?

The morning after a violent Atlantic storm breaks on the West Coast of Ireland. I was in a tent for the night.

Not the kind that you buy your weatherproof Goretex jacket for, or watch through the lounge window. Not a physical storm like a typhoon or hurricane in the natural world, but a more personal storm that bubbles up from nowhere, comes at you unyielding and unrelenting from ‘across the sea’, or surprises you when you are vulnerable up on the mountain.  Not merely a rainy day, but a fierce seasonal storm.  Every year or so…  Loss. Bereavement. Fear. Failure. Disappointment. Catastrophe. Serious illness.

And how do you weather that storm? It’s an interesting question isn’t it. How did you weather your last one? (Please tell me briefly in the comment box below.)

I’ve experienced a good few storms in my time. In the last few months I’ve been through another inner storm. Today, as I sit in a bar on the South Bank of the Thames in London between seeing clients, it has thankfully blown itself out. The weather front has passed. Calm has returned. The sun is shining again. There is a little damage, sure, but not too much. I may need to do some repair work here and there, but it is manageable, and I’m now in a different place, for a storm can be the catalyst to a profound reorientation of life. In a good way. A veritable Powerchange!  Or not.

Here are six ways that people react to storms:

  1. Stand in a sheltered place and watch.
  2. Hide until someone tells you it’s over.
  3. Experience it ‘full on’, feeling its every bluster.
  4. Pretend it isn’t happening.
  5. Be afraid and/or try to escape.
  6. Resist until your strength is gone.

My methods seem to oscillate between 6 and 3. I hang on for as long as possible, determined to weather it or even overcome it(!) but such is the strength of the storms that seem to come my way (or maybe I’m not as strong as I expected) I finally lose my grip and am blown away by it, away from the familiar territory I’ve become accustomed to, out of my depth, tossed like an autumn leaf by the wind of this disturbing adversity. Sucked up into the air. And when the wind dies down and its power spent I discover that I’m some distance from where I was before the storm took hold of me. In a new place, a good place, with the storm having blown itself out, and the sun warming my tired storm-tossed body. With new, refreshed territory to survey that wasn’t ‘there’ before. Better?  Wiser?  Stronger.

And when I’ve rested awhile and my strength has returned, I discover that the storm has blown me in the direction I actually wanted to go. And I notice the footprints of the Kind Stranger. And I’m sort of …

Grateful.

PS. I’m running a personal development course called SEVEN in London over the winter – First Saturday of the month in Hammersmith>  Here’s the link for more info: SEVEN.   I’d love you to come, perhaps with a friend.  Call me: 07771631945.

EVERY cloud?

Does EVERY cloud have a silver lining?

Storm clouds off the coast of France

In Powerchange we’re very suspicious of the word ‘every’. No room for manoeuvre is there? We ask, ‘Every? Surely some cloud somewhere doesn’t.’ Of course few of us could care about the semantics when we’re encompassed or overshadowed by cloud.  It is much more personal than that. This is the cloud I’m under.  My cloud, so to speak.  And it is blotting out sun for me.

The good news is, yes, every cloud has sun behind it – at least when daybreak comes. There is no place that I’ve heard of where the sun is 100% blotted out for ever (you may know of somewhere – I’d be interested to know). In fact where there is endless sunshine and no cloud there is drought and barrenness. Although human beings seem to love sunshine, and here in the south of England we’ve just had a wonderful spring week of warmth and sunshine, unmitigated sun is a catastrophe. It is the cycle of sunshine, and rain, the variety – whether daily or seasonally – that enables crops to grow and the land to be refreshed. And the people to live.

In my work as a Powerchange coach I meet many clients whose lives have been traumatised by negative experiences with high levels of emotional pain. These are not mere ‘clouds’ but terrorising hurricanes, or devastating cyclones, tornados vacuuming up hope and joy, overwhelming monsoons that are beyond any control.

So how do you come back from that? How do you recover from disaster?  Where is the silver lining?

It seems to me that it is the meaning we make of these traumatic times that drowns us or rescues us, not the experiences themselves. How we see them – and ourselves within them –  really matters. Each of us has more control over that than we might realise to start with. Look again and see with the eye of faith beyond the devastation, and new meaning emerges, a more useful one, a meaning we’ve chosen, one that lifts us up instead of takes us down. Ask: what new, more useful, meanings might this experience have for me? And what else? Look deliberately and as your free choice, for a silver lining. You don’t have to, and you may need someone to help you who knows how it works, but making that inner choice is your human right. It puts you back into control. It’s not what you experience in itself, but the meaning (the label) you attach to it makes it empowering or not.

Have a meaningful day.

 

 

 

 

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