Tag Archives: sharing

How to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves

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Writers can be cerebral creatures. By its nature, writing is sedentary and we spend a lot of time in our heads. But when the writing loses all sense of embodiment it becomes remote and ineffective. Writing in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology Rosemarie Anderson notes:

Embodied writing seeks to reveal the lived experience of the body by portraying in words the finely textured experience of the body and evoking sympathetic resonance in readers

Our bodies matter. Despite being someone who will get so far into my own head that I forget to move or go to the bathroom when deep in flow, I also know that his has an impact on my writing, however subtle. When I write after doing yoga, adopt a better posture and get up between sections to stretch or walk, the writing changes.

So how do we become more holistic as writers?

Replace the dualistic model

To quote Rosemarie Anderson again:

Continuing to write in a Cartesian style seems no longer acceptable … Disembodied writing perpetuates the object-subject bifurcation between the world of our bodies and the world we inhabit.

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How to stop valuing relationships and make them gifts

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Economics is everywhere — we talk about the ‘value’ of relationships. If a friend gives us a gift, for the sheer joy of it, not because it’s a birthday, we begin to wonder if we ‘owe’ them something or feel uneasy about being ‘indebted’.

Transactions have run riot to such an extent that even children in nurseries find that ‘value added’ is the criterion measuring their education.

We hear people who are in love saying they don’t feel ‘worthy’ of the other person. When you are asking ‘Do I deserve this person’s love?’ there is no answer that makes sense because the whole question arises in an economic mindset. But that’s the wrong paradigm for relationships.

An overwhelming amount of relationships are transactional. Not only those that are set up as bald economic deals, but from work to marriages. Transactional relationships are all about self-interest and what you get. If conflicts arise, the goal is to win, not to resolve. In transactional relationships what matters are outcomes, not emotions; systems, not people.

Transactional relationships have been important throughout history in encouraging cooperation, whether between bartering individuals or nations. There is a place for transactional relationships, but ultimately they only work if the receiver will return the favours. They are quid pro quo.

And not only are they economic-based, but they are also scarcity-based. Transactions and fear are frequent partners.

  • Let’s make a treaty with that tribe so they don’t come in and destroy us.
  • Let’s do favours for these people because then they’ll be in our debt when we need something.

In a transactional relationship unconditional generosity is a scarce resource. We may not use money (unless it’s about buying a product or paying for someone’s time) but there will be trade and bartering taking place and a jostling to ensure that we get ‘good value’ for what we give. Transactional relationships involve:

  • competition
  • manipulation
  • negotiation
  • keeping a tally
  • winners and losers

Deep, meaningful relationships need another basis. They need a mindset of trust and abundance. These kinds of relationship are not transactional, but transformational. They don’t fizzle out when there is nothing to be ‘gained’. They go on energising because the power of collaboration changes people; together they can address intrinsic needs.

In transformational relationships there is a shared purpose. The relationship itself becomes the focus rather than competing egos. So why do we experience so few transformational relationships? And how can we shift from the economic model of transaction to the ecology of relationships as gifts?

Shift to an abundance mindset

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If we want have amazing relationships we have to be givers. What stops most people from being generous is not intrinsic meanness, but fear. People are afraid that if they give, others will exploit this and ‘take advantage’ (more economic thinking).

And it’s true, this can happen and it’s rife in many workplace settings. The people at the bottom often make the most value for a company and only to gain least.

And in personal relationships there are people who will see giving as a weakness that they are more than happy to use and abuse.

But despite this, generosity isn’t something that runs out. Generosity is something that multiplies with use, not diminishes.

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Gathering Eggs

 

There are things happening in my garden. Half of it is no longer wilderness, but dug over with lawn appearing as the rather grey summer plods on. A large trampoline now sits near the riverside fence. A few weeks ago a chicken coup appeared and within days was inhabited. Last week I woke to find, overnight, a handsome and hefty five bar gate had appeared at 90 degrees to a newly repaired drystone wall. And today I opened the curtains to find a very lovely little shed sat out there.

For years I’ve thought one day we would get around to doing something with the garden, but the house is probably enough of a project for a lifetime and a spinal injury doesn’t make me the most suited person to digging. Anyway, there is always editing to be done. So how is it all happening? I haven’t suddenly discovered treasure in the garden with which to pay for gardeners, but instead I have discovered sharing. We blithely tell toddlers to share, but often quietly forget about it as adults.

“There is no delight in owning anything unshared.”
Seneca

My garden is becoming a place to grow food and house chickens and provide play thanks to my neighbours and it is such a delight to see it taking shape. Dylan has incredible energy, working late at night often a full day’s work, and he’s started a trend. Other neighbours have been busy clearing my garage to use as a workshop for their beautiful vintage American cars and in the process have done masses of clearing and tidying of the area around the garage. Tomorrow a skip arrives and Seth is going to have fun with sledge hammer helping to take down a semi-dilapidated outhouse. By sharing the outdoor resources of the house everyone benefits: the garden looks better, three families have a more useful space, there is more sense of local community and there are gorgeous fresh eggs.

At the end of Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) says:

I thought of that old joke, y’know, the, this… this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but I guess we keep goin’ through it because most of us… need the eggs.

Sharing puts us into a different relationship with neighbours. It’s probably absurd by many conventional standards – disregarding fences and blurring boundaries, slightly dissolving the insular nuclear family mentality. It’s messier than just closing the door and saying ‘mine’, but there are eggs.

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