the curious link between mind + feet

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting next week’ came the voice down the phone. ‘See you bright and early at 9am’ she added, ‘and do bring some brilliant ideas with you!

My heart sunk. I love my job, I really do. I love dipping my toes into exciting businesses and shedding light on how they might reach their consumer in new and exciting ways. But sometimes the pressure of ‘brilliant ideas’ can make those toes curl.

Except that now I have a new way of arriving; on foot. No underground sweaty armpits, no travel sickness on the big, red, lurching bus and all that time to catch up on my podcast obsession.

But, I was wondering, what is it about walking that makes it so amenable to thinking about all those ideas I was searching for (aimlessly) at my desk? So, imagine my delight to be sat so fortuitously next to a neuroscientist holding all the answers at lunch yesterday.

Dan (Glaser) first explained to me by using some (thank godness) simple maths. As you walk, you can work things out, see the sum for what it is. And with easy sums, the answer is in your pace. But once the sum was outside of quick fire times tables, your feet slow down as your brain struggles.

Of course your heart pumping faster circulates more blood and oxygen to your brain, our attention and memories are smarter and, by relaxing and not focussing too hard on the matter at hand, our answers are in our steps.

But perhaps the most profound relationship between walking, thinking, and idea generation reveals itself at the end of the walk. And that’s where you’ll find those ‘brilliant ideas.’

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after we’ve gone

This morning as many great grandchildren, grandchildren and great grand-dogs as possible were gathered together in a freezing Holland Park to visit a bench. The park was where our fondly remembered walked – often arm in arm – and the bench is where I sometimes sit to remember them and their inspirational ways.

Obviously their legacy is so much more than a bench but, since this morning, I’ve been thinking about what sort of legacy we all might leave.

I know that many think that our children are – quite simply – our legacy. But I don’t agree. Firstly, your children are who your children are. It’s too much pressure for them to carry your legacy aspirations. Also, for those without offspring, this is wrongly weighted.

Secondly, and more poignantly, what legacy are we leaving for our children – and our children’s children.

Either way, I’m comfortable enough with mortality to take on a deep consideration for my legacy. It needs to be considered. Never one for a last minute panic, I want to know that it’s in hand. Besides, the consequences of what we do now will certainly outlive us.

I’ve seen those children of the famous who never really find their own identity. Instead of feeling the drive or need to self-accomplish, they feel debililated and unmotivated to create for themselves. Living in a shadow is not living in a legacy.

Another common legacy pitfall is the financial legacy. And if the sense of expectancy is crippling, the pitfall is deep and dangerous.

In short, I feel that legacy is a choice (ie you can’t choose your parentage but you can your legacy). And the bench is nothing but a reminder of the legacy behind it. What these particular elders left behind was the quality of their existence, their moral and virtuous lives and the summation of their choices and actions.  End of story.

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look around you

 

do you ever look around you – at your friends and family – and realise that you’re the sum of all these parts?

along with the last book you read and the film you want to see.

yes, we dance to the music in our ears and laugh at those moments as they pass us by

but it’s not the draw of the ocean nor the roar of the gale which blow us off our feet…

and it’s not the ghosts in the dark nor the worries in our mind which guide us…

but it’s the very relationships we embrace,

the love that we feel

and those who surround us every day

who build our lives + fill our days in such beautiful ways.

 

happy new year, all.

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shiny conkers in this world

It’s that conker time of year and a good moment to confess: I have a bit of an odd relationship with conkers. You see, they don’t really make sense to me. Quite exquisite with their signature shiny richly-coloured protective coat, and yet lying there, in all their glory, on the ground… it’s so inevitable and only a matter of time before they’re ruined, squashed, pecked at, dirty and certainly never as shiny as when they first drop.

Last night I heard Dick Moore speak. I’ve watched his TedTalk on youtube of course, but it was the first time I’d been a member of his live audience. For those of you who don’t know, Dick was an English teacher, rugby coach, headmaster and housemaster. So that’s a whole career spent looking after, caring for and teaching children.

6 years ago, Barney, his third of four sons, took his own life.

Moore explained to us just how angry he had felt with himself, how he immediately took a mental health first aid course and joined the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, where he is now their lead trainer.

So, out of this hideous tragedy, he has re-emerged with a powerful purpose: to talk to young people, their parents and their teachers about mental health. To teach all of us about the important of resilience ( because this really is something we can learn and it will stand us in better stead than algebra).  It’s those warning signs, a deeper understanding and a guide as to how we can try our best to steer our emotions that might be missing from most of our children’s education.

I hung on his every word. Not only is his advice invaluable, it’s genuine, heartfelt and delivered with the type of humour of that favourite teacher. Personally, I’m particularly interested in how best to parent children in this what is an increasingly pressurised world. Spoon feeding them, over-protecting them and moving those obstacles slightly to the left isn’t going to help them at all. But it’s hard when they’re shiny, new, exposed… a bit like those conkers lying on the ground…

Take a moment to hear Dick’s words. Forward them to your head teacher. Invite him and his experience (which he so rightly states he’s now turned into a positive) into your world.  Because this ‘fundamental change in attitude’ he talks about needs to happen right now.

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