Saturday, 31 May 2008

Coaching the coach

I was really inspired by a course that I attended this week. It was without doubt the best course that I have attended for many years. The topic was “Coaching in Leadership”, and was facilitated by a guy called Joe Lafferty.

His style and the topic appealed to me in equal measure. I guess that the coaching approach fits naturally with my approach – although there are still lots of things to learn and develop.

During the practical exercise, the facilitators had to join the small work groups to make the number work, and Joe joined the group that I was in. Being a bit slow on the uptake, I let my colleague go first, then I realised that this meant that I would be playing the role of coach for the coach. (Must learn to think ahead a bit more!) Actually it went fairly well, and Joe was complimentary about my efforts.

During these exercises we were dealing with real issues for each of us. While I’m not going to break the confidentiality agreement, using the coaching approach with Joe’s problem triggered some thoughts for me. There will be developments in the near future – check back over the next couple of days for more info.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Friday photo: thrupenny bit

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A terrible thing happened at school today...

... don't panic - it's not real.

Dolly D attended a stage make-up workshop as part of an 'activity day'. The results are quite impressive. So impressive that she had to go to her cello lesson like this! The Fish Wife had to go in first and warn the teacher that it wasn't real.

Activity days!! Call that education... when I was a lad we actually learned things at school (but try telling that to young people nowadays).

Monday, 26 May 2008

Inspired - first tentative steps

I started to write an entry last week and interrupted myself... several days later I've remembered what I was going to write about.

A friend lent me a book a while back (which I will return soon), which really inspired me. It was called Doorposts by Timothy Botts. The basic idea is that he has taken passages of scripture and presented them as calligraphy. Now my talents are significantly less impressive, but it inspired me and I've made some tentative steps of my own (see below). It kind of links to my thoughts on Praying in Color and also Richard Rohr's idea of having a current mantra. Anyway I'm finding it quite useful and therapeutic and challenging and inspiring. I may show some of my further attempts in due course.

It's also prompted some thoughts about motivation, which I'll come back to later.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Friday photo: Arbroath marina

Monday, 19 May 2008

Inspired #2

This wasn't what I'd planned to write about tonight, but...

It was a beautiful drive to work this morning. I was a wee bit early and the traffic was a wee bit lighter. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and as I approached Arbroath the sea was shimmering and glistening before me. So, I took a slight detour, down to one of the harbours and spent a few minutes taking photos. It was so lovely, and still, and inspiring - a really good start to the day.

This was the scene shortly before 8 a.m. this morning.

And the rest of the day went pretty well too!

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Last week I was at a conference for a day. To be honest I wasn't really looking forward to it much. Aye, I expected some interesting presentations; and, aye, it would be good to catch up with people that I only ever seem to see at these sort of things; and, aye, a wee bit of time thinking about the 'bigger picture' rather than the day-to-day minutiae of Sleepy Hollow would be good. But there was that nagging doubt about priorities and the added value of a day out of the office etc, etc.

I should say that I'm normally a big advocate of cpd activities, so this was an unusual mood for me. Especially since a friend of mine was taking on the role of President of our association at the conference. But I was giving up a role that I've held for a couple of years, and while I'm glad to be released from the responsibility, I guess I will miss it (a wee bit).

Anyway, the first session was one of those "in conversation" things. Famous presenter talks to someone with an amazing personal story etc, etc, etc.

It was brilliant - and snapped me out of my truculent mood. The presenter - Sally Magnusson - was superb. Probing, insightful, well-researched and deft of touch - lightening the mood when emotions were heightened.

But the subject was truly inspirational. He's a guy named Jamie Andrew - he's a mountaineer who got caught in a storm at the top of a French alp in the middle of winter for five days! His climbing partner died and Jamie had such severe frostbite that both feet and both hands had to be amputated. He told his story with humour and insight - aware that what he did was risky, but not overly risky in his view. The remarkable part though is how he has recovered. He has climbed again, including ice climbing; run marathons, completed an iron-man triathlon; snowboarded; skiied; and adopted an incredible, positive attitude. You can find out more at his website, which also contains links to the charity that he has co-founded.

Amongst other things that he talked about:

"The flame of passion [for mountaineering] hadn't been extinguished."

"It's a hugely important part of being a human being to push oneself."

"There's always a solution out there."

"Make the most of your strengths and work around the weaknesses."

An amazing story and an amazing man - truly inspirational. I'm glad that I went to the conference!

Friday, 16 May 2008

... so the cycle continues

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The beauty within

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

spring wildfowers

All on Moncrieffe Hill

Monday, 12 May 2008

coiled like a Spring

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Six word memoir

I want to play. I'm voluntarily joining in with Lucy's tag thing! My memoir (at least for today):

Seeing things positively. Still challengingly restless.

Please play - if you want to!

The promise of spring

I've always liked spring - with the sense of hope and vitality that it brings. This year it seems to me that spring lasted a long time (which is a good thing). The first snowdrops appeared in our garden in late January, and as I write we still have a crop of daffodils mixed in with our tulips and other things. The herbaceous plants that died off last autumn are unfurling their leaves, and generally things look not too bad.

That is, it doesn't look too bad if you look at the garden with a positive disposition. This brings me back to my theme of optimism and pessimism. Pessimistically, there are weeds sprouting everywhere, the lawn is mainly moss, the veg patches are weeks behind schedule, compost corner needs some serious attention etc, etc.

This year that's not the picture that sticks in my mind. Now I see the curled up hosta leaves preparing to spread and amaze; I see the dogwood coming into flower for the first time since we planted it; I see the ornamental bed that we planted up last year really taking shape; I see the rampant rhubarb; and also the berries beginning to form on the blackcurrant bushes (must remember to net them soon, before the birds have a feast!).

What has changed? To be honest, the garden hasn't changed much - it's always a mixture of fruitfulness and the promise of ever more hard work; order and mess; achievement and disaster. I think I'm looking at it in a different way. This is the first spring that I've had my new camera, so I'm literally looking at life through a different lens. It's the first year that I've been blogging, so I'm looking at things from another perspective. But I think that the real change is summed up by Lins' comment on, my recent post. I'm trying to be more positive in outlook.

Aye, I know, I can still be as grumpy as the grumpiest person in grumpy-land; and as cycnical as the most cynical person in cynic city, but I'm trying to look for the positive in every situation.

With this in mind, I was delighted to find this in an e-mail that I received recently:

Why does spring have such a powerful attraction? This may, of course, be mainly a feature of seasons in the earth’s temperate zones. Yet it does speak of resurrection, new life, regeneration and renewal, of the dormant brought out into exuberant life. And our delight in spring is a delight in a new earth washed clean, a promise of a new heaven and a new earth that will be both glorious and familiar. And also, I hope, a delight in love! Praise him!
- Margaret Killingray (LICC)

As a kind of celebration, I'm going to post some more spring photos over the next week or so - some from our garden, some from walks - all from this year. I've started with my favourite daffodil (don't know what it's called) from our garden.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Friday photo(s) - Bursting with life

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Optimism and pessimism

I recently heard a phrase that seems to describe my mindset (most of the time). It was about being a ‘short-term pessimist and long-term optimist’.

The phrase came back to mind when Lins asked me a question over at That Hideous Man’s blog (are you keeping up with this?).

I think that there are many areas of life where ‘short-term pessimist and long-term optimist’ could be applied – but probably nowhere more than in the area of parenting. It’s the perfect description, especially during teenage years. At least that’s my experience to date, although I have to admit that the pessimist element often fails to materialise.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The blessings of location

We enjoyed a walk up Moncrieffe Hill today (practising for Dolly D's Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition). It was a wonderful May day - warm sunshine, the vitality of spring all around us, and time spent together. Although it helped to highlight how out of shape I am, it also made me realise how good my life is in so many ways. Living in this part of the world fills me with joy and thankfulness.

And as you read this, spare a prayer for the people of Burma, who are not so fortunate at this time.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Friday photo: Seeing beauty in the ordinary

Thursday, 1 May 2008

After housegroup

So we meet together every Tuesday night - have a chat, a cup of something, laugh together, study a chunk of the Bible, pray and then go our separate ways. Housegroup - for me the essential building block of the church. Intimacy, support, warmth - ye cannae beat it.

After a long or difficult day at work, it's sometimes hard to make the effort to go - and our group meets in our house! But it's always worth the effort. I may blog more about the significance of housegroups another time.

Tonight I want to briefly mention what I do after housegroup these days. We usually finish at about 10:00 p.m. and I head up to channel hop for half an hour before getting ready for bed etc. No channel hopping now though. It's straight to BBC2 to watch 'Later Live... with Jools Holland'. He presents a truly eclectic mix of music - some brilliant, some garbage. But fast becoming unmissable for me.

This week he introduced me to Melody Gardot - an outstanding young (22 I think) musician from Philadelphia. If you have access to the BBC's iPlayer - stop reading and go and watch it now...

... Are you still here??

If you don't have access you can find some of her stuff on YouTube. I've included a sample below. Enjoy!