Autumnal Colours

Moving is never easy. It brings with it new energy. New opportunities that can exhaust you as you consider, and then act on, them. Even though this energy and momentum creates joy, it can also create stress.

We moved to the UK about a year ago, arriving in October. I’m very grateful we did. For many reasons. As we are now firmly into November, the seasons are changing strongly and creating beauty everywhere. The reds, yellow and oranges are in ‘full bloom’ and this is certainly my favourite time of year. It always has been, in many ways.

In Australia, growing up in Melbourne, the city there takes on this beauty and crispness around April that was always welcome to me. I remember crossing over the Yarra River on those early mornings, the water flat and glass like as the cold air gentle kissed my cheeks.

In San Francisco, October and November brought with them a subtle natural change but a larger cultural change, as Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays played a large part in the rhythms of our family. They brought us together.

And now, in the UK, what I experience is probably the strongest natural seasonal change of the places I’ve lived. The colours on every tree are turning autumnal. The weather is getting colder, and there is often that crispness on the air that you would only briefly taste in Melbourne. The days are shorter, and darkness is in place by 5pm.

The thing that strikes me is how different this energy is, compared to spring and summer here. Spring and summer are full of growth. Our gardens exploded, with grass and shoots rampaging towards the sky. It was quite stressful, and whilst those times of year have always been synonymous with good weather and relaxing days, the reality of them seemed anything but!

Autumn in our new home is calming. Nature settles down, as if it’s tucking in to bed to read a good book before turning the lights off. The trees and earth sighs a relief after a hard spring and summer. It relaxes. It contemplates the year its just had. We arrived here a year ago, and as we round our second autumn here, I’m taken by how the energy of the place we live also impacts our own energy and perspective.

The three principles of Mountain Spring

I found this video really useful when listening to it this evening, and wanted to share quickly the three principles that Br Phap Hai shared in a video during 2020.

We use what we have: He laughs at the story of how they didn’t even have a shovel when they started their retreat centre. I love his example of not having a meditation hall to share with their visitors, and so they take meditation and classes in the nearby forest, as well as the local community hall that is also close by. This has allowed them to connect with the local community, as well.

We can often think that we’re not enough, or that we don’t have enough. That we’re limited. Changing our focus to what we do have, helps us bring ourselves fully to our path as we are.

We are what we are. We have what we have.

We will not ask for anything: Practicing in Oregan, where he was enjoying a solo retreat. He had very limited conditions, and limited things. As he practiced with his full heart, and be joyfully open to receive. To not worry about things. As Br Phap Hai suggests, this isn’t about being passive aggressive, but about being open to joy and accepting what is and what people will bring. He shares the story of sitting on the floor of Mountain Spring centre, and discussing a their idea of finding a coffee table. Days later, a practitioner unexpectedly showed up and brought with them an old coffee table.

Always just enough. Never too much. Don’t demand anything in particular, but live simply and celebrate the gifts that are received. Don’t live, wishing that things were different.

What we have, we share: We we have something, or receive something from our friends, then we share. With our neighbours or with others that need it. I liked his example here of when they have three apples one week, and begin to discuss how to ration, and limit, how they distribute those – before they reassess that and look instead to share them with abundance.

When we have the mentality that we have finite things, then we always seem to be lacking something. But if we share out what we have, then counterintuitively we have an abundance. It just flows like that. This can be applied to insights, as well as material goods.

“We won’t hold back, thinking we’re not ready. Rather, we’ll do our best to react to the environment we’re facing. Even when we feel like the view of the insight we have isn’t complete, we’ll do our best to share.”

I really enjoyed this talk. I hope you do, too.

Over the long arc of time

It feels good to be writing here again. It’s been a while since I did so, with my last post being in mid-2017. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those ‘old’ times and especially given the current COVID-19 crisis, about how things might change in the future. But more so, the old times.

It occurred to me that, coming back and rereading some of these old posts and the associated comments in many ways bring me back to those moments. Some posts, many in fact, I can remember where I was or who I may have been speaking to at that time. It’s a form of time travel. I think I’ve always known this, but feeling that not-quite-nostalgia lately has been an interesting feeling for me. I’ve also been reminded, yet again, of the Fred Wilson School of Blogging. That these blogs that some of us have maintained over decades become in many ways something that at the end of our time provides a view into what we built and did with our lives. It does evolve, even if only in fits and starts between posts (sometimes between years). The person writing those posts does evolve and change. Yet we carry them forwards as personas. Echos of ourselves that we’ve learned to cope with or amplify depending on the environment those personas thrive in most.

So, I felt compelled to come here today and simply mark time by posting something. Anything. And keep marking time, through time.


Following along

This past week, Rose was trekking through Yosemite with a philanthropic group from Australia. It was a wonderful chance for her to get out into the wilderness and do something she loves. A chance to reconnect with herself and with a California we’re still getting to know better. It also meant I was solo parenting the kids for the week. Whilst that was exhausting, it was also amazingly refreshing for me. It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re spending each waking moment with a couple of kids under 4.

One of the highlights of our days together at home, was when we would update our map of Yosemite National Park with where Rose was hiking that day. Edie and Willow and I would crowd around the map, consulting the itinerary of Rose’s trip, to place her location on the map. Even through we were out of phone connection, it helped us all feel connected during our time apart. When she got back, I felt like I’d experienced some of the trek with her as we knew the routes and various day’s activities.

All of which is to say, it’s easy to forget that following along on someone’s journey is a wonderful thing.

Blogging in 2015: Mindfulness, Technology and Org Culture

It’s amazing to look back at the things I’d written at the start of the year and to reflect on what I have and haven’t done. I remember that, at that time, I had a flurry of passion and desire to get back into blogging and renew the act of noting and sharing my thinking. It helps me enormously to do this and to gain clarity and insight into my own thoughts and those of others.

As it happens, 2015 has not been the year that I continued blogging! I dropped off the wagon in mid-January, not having posted since. I think a mixture of work kicking up a notch and me realizing that I would prefer to prioritize spending quality time with my family were the reasons that it suffered. I remember it being quite a conscious decision back then.

I can often be bold in suggesting the things I’ll do but often not as diligent in following through. I guess that’s just me. I’m pleased to say that two of my other goals/resolutions for the year are things I’ve managed to incorporate into my life. I wake early every day now, shaken from sleep by Edith waking up and wanting to get on with her day. I also journal often. Whilst not every day, it’s been a really great practice for me in a lot of ways and one I’m proud to have made progress on.

There’s also something else here about the difference between a practice and a goal. Earlier this year, I also set a goal to run a 10km trail run each quarter of the year. At the time, I had managed to consistently go for a couple of runs a week. Importantly, I was enjoying running. I found it freeing and liberating. So, I set myself the goal of running a 10km trail run, expecting it to continue liberating me.

No sooner had I signed up, than my joy for running disappeared. For some reason, the idea of running the 10km organized run shifted my focus. Whereas previously I would run without any digital devices, I now started using Strava to track the details of my runs, to ensure I was training well. I put pressure on myself to run more; at least 3 times a week, and longer.

All told, my seemingly exciting and harmless goal crippled my nascent practice of running for freedom and enjoyment. That was a big lesson for me and something I wouldn’t have picked up on without the astute feedback and compassion shared by Melina Chan after discussing it with her. Now, when I think about the things I’m doing, I try to think about the joy of the practice and how I can enhance that rather than a goal I can try and foist my desires into.

So, onwards into the second half of 2015.

The Squiggly Line

It’s 2015! This year, I’m going to look to post again regularly here on the blog. If you’re keen to do the same, or perhaps have made a resolution to ‘blog more’ in 2015, then this great Blogging 101 class being run by The Daily Post may be right up your alley. I’m going to do it and am already looking forward to it. It starts on Monday the 5th.

However, this time I’m going to do something a little different. I’d like to share today that I’m going to focus more of my writing on particular areas. I’ve even Skitch’ed up a little Venn Diagram to outline my thoughts so far.


Last year, I thought a lot about the idea of the craftsman – a person so deeply engaged in what they’re passionate about that their work product just flows. It caused me to reflect on my ‘craft.’ Needless…

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