Personal Democracy

May 26, 2014


For me, Personal Democracy is about how individuals can shape their lives and contribute to/be an active and useful part of the system(s) to which they belong – those systems might be friends, family, work, political or universal.

Personal Democracy is about what we are willing to add into a system and what it is we need to take out from it.

It is about the choices each of us decide on as we make sense out of the interaction between our internal and our external worlds, and the compromise we make from being an individual yet at the same time part of a collective.

The systems we become a part of are normally built on what makes them different from other systems. Democracy is about how personally we (or a society collectively) can successfully reconcile those differences. Therefore democracy does not mean you will ‘get your way’, but it does imply you can adjust to the system and successfully tolerate the frustrations from interacting with it.

In some ways the authorities of old are losing their credibility and power. That does not mean they are or were wrong, just that things will be different. What is important is that we understand our own internal source of authority, finding out where to invest the trust we place and how to appraise the authorities we give it to.

These authorities are often paternal and set goals of ‘we will get engagement from (long list such as; voters, staff, parents, etc.)’ Personal Democracy suggests it is individuals that should be active and engaging.

It is also about the new ways of communicating and interfacing and yet again at the same time the old ways of understanding.

It is about personal development.


“Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick”

January 4, 2014

St IgnatiusI was asked for my philosophy on life and it always pays to reflect on it and hold it up to scrutiny. How else can transformation take place?

I have studied many of the different spiritual traditions (and most psychological theories) that we can all enjoy. I have learnt much and have so much more to learn. I do understand that none are perfect, but also that as humans, comprising of mind, body and spirit (the X-factor), we are formed of certain preferences, patterns and way of understanding the world (archetypes). Some call them habits.

Our ancestry, parents and learning re-enforce those preferences. They are universal patterns and yet at the same time have been honed, by our upbringing to become personal patterns – I guess that is what makes us unique.

Being from the West I grew up (there is no right or wrong judgement in this) with a Christian influence. In Catholicism, this includes age old ancient rites and rituals, pre dating Jesus, which still form part of our ways and reflect the universal archetypes.

For me, if we want to learn, to adapt, develop and transform those patterns that don’t seem to work, it pays to know where our secure base or starting point is or was. It seems much grief comes from trying to deny it rather than work with it.

This was my start:

My father studied at the St Xavier Seminary in Cape Town, which follows the spirituality of St Ignatius, the wounded warrior healer. Before he completed his studies he left to be an active member of the South African Communist Party in the early 1950’s, fighting oppression.

He taught me to see God in our everyday world, showing me that if God is active in all things so should we be, in service to that world, making decisions with discernment through the guidance of our own inner world. This is taking responsibility.

God, he taught me as well as being all about and universal, is personal and always close, here and now – and within. Intelligence, he explained is about living with paradox. Some things are simply a mystery and it is healthy not to have to control or know everything, but still be able to act.

He showed me that my decisions and actions should be guided in constant communion with my God. This has become known to me as IGGSY (my Inner Guidance System). At school, the ‘Sisters of Our Lady’ taught that this was my Guardian Angel.

These Nuns live by the Spirit of St Ignatius too.

Neither my father nor the Nuns ever taught me once that God was male – just that it is ever present (like a father), active in this world (as in the body of Jesus the Son) and an all pervading energy (called Holy Spirit).

For me the male naming simply was a metaphor and I personally experienced (indeed still do) IGGSY as delightfully feminine and mothering, because that is what I lacked as young boy!

Besides I was taught the God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were begat through Mary, so the power base was clear to me! In times of distress I did and still call to her for guidance and support. I knew that male and female made the world grew, who could sensibly doubt it? I never knew that made me a ‘liberal catholic’.

If so, then for me the liberalism seems to be encapsulated in mission of the Mothering Nuns, who were pretty much my mother(s) from my 6th to 16th birthday, to:

1. Provide a home for the integral development of the whole person.
2. Help vulnerable women and children until they are able to help themselves.
3. Help the individual become reliable in and responsible for the development of their country.
4. Constantly declare and celebrate the beauty of this Universe (“God is good!”)

My father counselled me on my values “women and children first, create more than you consume and never flinch from duty”. He led by example.

In between distresses, at the start of each day, he showed me how to pray that for the grace to ‘act as if I could make a difference’, to pay close attention to IGGSY, do my duty and then at close of play to reflect and take stock, allowing myself to rest knowing ‘it has all beautifully unfolded exactly as intended’.

That intention he taught me was to find the divine in all things; nature, people, and culture whilst seeking freedom and taking responsible action in the pursuit of social justice. He reminded me that Jesus explained the new covenant was to ‘Love yourself, love one another and love God”.

We can do this because the universe is filled with bounty and wonder, and there is plenty for every being to enjoy and explore. “Be grateful for that” he taught and “never stop learning and experiencing. Engage your own and others imagination, mental intellect, physical prowess, emotions and courage to inspire leaders, to serve in community, protect the vulnerable and build a humane, fair and just society. Never give up” – he instructed me.

I witnessed him in the 1970’s as a senior shop steward imaginatively, intellectually and physically, often alone, fight management on behalf of workers, then in the evening call upon the sick with the St Vincent de Paul Society. He knew his role, what his purpose was and he was unwavering in meeting his obligations. “Walk softly and carry a big stick” was his mantra. I saw the Nuns stick consistently to their mission, giving all they had, filled with humility.

He showed me the beauty of the Mass (if you must have a religion, note the imagination loves the bells and smells!) of how in community, when we ask forgiveness, become humble, give praise, blessings and thanks, and allow the gifts of grace to energise us, we can overcome our challenges. I saw the Nuns remain simple and honesty in their Spiritual practice. I have experienced nothing that conflicts with my earthy, sky clad enjoyment of pagan celebration.

That and they helped me form a theory of the Universe and of the person; the mind, body and spirit. They then taught me to how find purpose in my life, set my intention and bring my attention to meeting, as best I can, the obligations and appointments that show up on the way. I call it personal democracy. I am grateful to them for giving me it. It is a big stick.

Go on, be of service and at eighty years old, stick two fingers up and say “Two more decades to go”.

November 24, 2013

Eisba and Babies

It is an interesting time as we, and me in particular, moves towards my dotage (I am a very proud granddad you know) and I follow a path, long planned for the last 15 years, that brought me to 50 and will move me into the next 25 years.

It was the great social and business philosophy (Irish I believe), Charles Handy who described to me his concept of the Age of Unreason.

He was advocator of and taught me well that retirement is unreasonable. We humans are simply not built for retirement. As my psychological and philosophical studies revealed to me afterwards, we are problem solving animals. If we are not engaged in taking care of ourselves and others, we are in the process of becoming helpless and superfluous.

Ruthless, maybe, but it will save my children a fortune in care home costs (although I do promise to still spend my meagre wealth before I go), because as Handy said we should plan a three stage career:

1. The first where we make our money (and build the retirement pots we have been told will keep us in the lap of luxury.
2. The second where we follow our passion (here I am today!)
3. The third where we engage ourselves and earn survival money (just enough is a feast for a true elder).

My first career was in business. It was hard and challenging. I do not doubt it is the game of the young and energetic, with the wise vacating before they become drug addicted, stress-relieving seeking, highly incompetent risk takers.

My second career has become portfolio like as Handy went on to describe, a career in which we use our broad experience and knowledge and have several strings to our bow; for me that is in healing, teaching and coaching. I still do a little business consultancy too.

My third career (in my real dotage) is of course Deck Chair Attendant Bournemouth, but I won’t work from April until October, nor Bank holidays, but I will do double shifts in December and January.

This second career thing is useful. It meant this week when I was instructed to do something, unclear, divisive and unpalatable. I replied:

“When I was a young energetic man, doing mini-triathlons I had Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ blazoned across my chest. Now it says ‘Why’? I guess it is grumpy granddad thing.”

I now have an invite to an adult conversation with my antagonist (or maybe he has with his?) nonetheless, the freedom is enjoyed.

And the why?

“To serve, strive and never to yield.”


‘My particular interest is with businesses (and people) who are ambitious and want to lead out apprentices and develop their management teams (and themselves) to achieve future and ongoing growth’.

Go on, be of service and at eighty years old, stick two fingers up and say “Two more decades to go”.

Are you getting ENUF?

October 31, 2013


The case to answer
This case concerns a member of our species, wishing to summon the ‘Housework Fairy’ to attend to her needs. It is a cautionary tale and follows, by way of a narrative public information broadcast, the line of ‘don’t make yourself useless or lazy and especially don’t assume you are deserving’.

The narrative continues is the style of a ‘Hill Street Blues’ briefing ………

Narrator:Summoning? Sounds like a slavery issue. I will arrange for the to join ENUF (Eternally Nocturnal Union of Fairies). We want shift and night premiums, less feeding on the wing, ring fencing and an end to summoning by foot stamping. Disenfranchised Fairies everywhere are shouting “we are not getting ENUF”.

The retort
The specimen, a beautiful, vivacious and intelligent and kindly girl replied reassuringly that she only ever “Summoned Respectfully”. The wizened, old grumpy man continued;

Narrator:Respectfully Summon? Now how would you do that comrade ? Clap hands? Stamp Feet? Do a little dance? Get down tonight?

Two cases have recently been brought to the of the National Operations Team of ENUF (NOT ENUF).

The first involved in mischievous wee male Mouse, lets call him Mickey or maybe Walt, a Sorcerers Apprentice with chores to do. He summoned our members with some odd refrain and disaster ensured. Wet washing with water everywhere. Even the accompanying music was driving and forceful.

This is the Teams review of the video evidence and their findings

Now the word summon has two particular meetings. To order, as in “we politely and respectfully order, please, all you naughty English Criminals go to the other side of the world” or “please jump up and sit comfortably in the electric chair”.

Or the other meaning of the word you have of summon is as in call up, galvanise or bring to the fore the special powers we have inside ourselves (of which you are one of the most resourceful species our members have ever known).

Following on from that the other case concerned a beautiful young lady, lets call her Snow White, who was serving the needs of little ones. The vulnerable ones should always come first, so please ensure when calling on the nature and goodwill of our members, you do with a clear and useful intent in mind.

Again here is the evidence, please read the words and captions.

So in this age of enlightened, independent, conservationism we suggest a polite request “give me the strength to do what I must, with good cheer and if it is worthy, please ensure I have Just ENUF”.

Our members are sure to pop up everywhere. That’s FAIR ENUF.

Any suggestion implied or otherwise that young males can be lazy, inept and destructive, whilst ladies are resourceful, engaging and focused, is wholly intentional.

Magic Moments

October 9, 2013
Bare footing, light and easy.

Bare footing, light and easy.

Why is so easy to forget the simplest of things? Andy Williams reminds of those ‘Magic Moments’?

For me like the small boy crafting clay dams in the brook filled with wonder, the fit warrior strong, brave and full of energy and the young (then less so young) father smiling over each and everyone of the five bundles, full of joy and love and courage.

In these moments I am enabled, full of potential, again, ready to meet the world and work out how to be a grandfather and an elder, even walk across hot coals!

Now that’s shape shifting.

Oh and remember God(dess) gave us memories so we can smell Roses in December.

Sacred Space

September 21, 2013


I am pondering the nature of Sacred Space. For me, it maybe be a physical place, but it need not be, for I know it to be the space between my understanding and my courage to discover more. For me it is a place somewhere between my head and gut, where the Divine Spark beats.

A place where I can dare to be unsure, self critical and afraid without judgement. It is where ideas, creativity and reassurance can come from and is what I have come to know as my inner guidance system (IGS).

It is here that my imagination and inspiration can be stimulated, where I can explore my curiosity and feel the collaborative co-operation of IGS (or Iggsie as I often refer to what for me has taken on the personality of a tough, but benevolent female!)

Is it guided imagery? Is that Spirit? Is it a Spirit Guide? I can’t answer that, it is for you alone to decide. I can sense that it brings me comfort, I am never alone and it feels so much like that unseen friends of my childhood are present with me the adult.

I do know that through my studies, psychology, physiology, spirituality (that is mind, body and soul) all seem to acknowledge the existence of such a place, and that feels cool.