GILL HOW turns towards you, looks you in the eye and says “I help you grow”. She is expert at turning her own story, together with its transformative moments, into insightful, incisive and heartfelt learning for us all. Collaborative, creative, motivated by mutual learning, she works with individuals and groups, inside and outside organisations, to surpass expectations through personal and professional growth, and from developing our skills with others. She is excited by the next phase of her life, what it might bring, and helps you want this for yourself, become alive and at your best too.
This is how my friend and colleague, Elaine Hopkins, introduced me on her blog, in this cascade of why we write our blogs. She was part of Beverley Glick’s blog tour. We answer four questions, find three blogs we admire to introduce to you, and pass the baton on!
Question 1 – What am I working on?
The moment came last autumn when it felt that my blog just had to arrive – it seemed essential and fundamental to my wellbeing – as if an announcement was being made, communicating a new way of being – of living my life. That’s why the blog started just as my name, and the most vanilla version of software possible. It felt urgent to share what seemed to be important learning, rather than delay with branding and graphical design decisions.
At first, it felt just like a way of getting to a wider audience, instead of having coffee with people one at a time. For years, I had been told that I spoke well, explained things well, was articulate – about the things that were happening in my life, the sense or adaptation I made of them – and that the other person found it useful to hear me speak. They found it valuable to take my stories back to their own lives to help them look at their own, and to consider their next steps. I had not written any of my stories down though.
The blog became my chance to capture my thoughts on a more permanent basis and to share them with a wider, unknown audience – to risk and dare with topics which felt important to me (life feels a little short after my accident – there seems no good case for delay any more) – and this is what I am working on. Topics where learning has been personal and intense, and some form of transformation or resolution, or new, helpful, perspective achieved.
Question 2 – How does my work differ from others of this genre?
Does it differ? The most consistent feedback I receive describing my learning relates to my authenticity, courage and alternative perspective. How I share my thoughts, feelings and stories in a positive, personal, surprising, vulnerable, imaginative and life-affirming way – which the reader can connect with, identify with and choose from in their own lives.
I had an Italian friend who used to shrug and say “one day I will be pushing up daisies”, and use this to justify his even keel to life. It seemed to help him distinguish between the things that really mattered and those which don’t. With my blog, this philosophy helps me to describe things which the scared me thinks – I am the only one in the world with a particular dilemma, and that if I share it – I will surely die (professionally at least!). However, I know in my heart this is not the case, that there is benefit in sharing, and so I publish.
Question 3 – Why do I write what I do
I do believe that personal development stories left unsaid, leave us stuck – on our island of one, or in our cages – with our “oughts”, “should” and shame. We remain isolated and alone, sometimes with no knowledge or hope of a way forward.
It took me far too long to find out that I was not the only person who thought and felt the way I did. Connection and understanding , have been such important routes in my move towards self acceptance and self compassion. The fruits of this are some of the things I want to share in this blog.
Routes to Happiness – the genuine, inside, alive feeling –with achievement, fulfilment and satisfaction – I’d like to make a contribution here. If my blog can inspire me and others to aim a little bit higher for more of this, more of the time, I’m happy with that!
Question 4 – How does my writing process work?
Initially it was almost a compulsion, the need to share, for stories to be out not in. The idea would come – from my own learning, observation or experience – I would let it brew – and when I had gained a sense of completion, there would be an ease and flow in the writing, creating the message I wanted to share.
Since then, there has been something of a maturing process going on – taking time to choose my words more carefully to communicate my message more clearly and concisely. I am writing more to you, involving and connecting with you as I write. I ask for more feedback before publishing, to improve the quality and impact I hope to have.
I also took a pause after ten or so blog postings, to reconsider my purpose and audience and how I wished to engage with you. This was because I had courage failure, (yes it is possible!), and I needed some extremely direct feedback from a trusted colleague to carry on!
Like many others, I am not sure how my writing will develop, or what else this blog can or will become. In general, I have a strong belief that things lead to things, and this will also apply here!
The bloggers I would like to introduce are:
Kim Gregory is a collaborative, self-improver who can’t resist building relationships. She coaches, trains and consults with leaders who want to genuinely engage and inspire themselves and their staff. She blogs twice a month on the topics of positive leadership and the strengths approach, enabling people to be at their best every day. She occasionally flirts with other topics but it’s this focus to which she returns time and time again. I guess that you could call it a passion of hers!
Wendi Pasco-McGregor – initially triggered by a Mumford & Sons lyric, novice blogger Wendi wants to think aloud about different ways to make business work. Having roamed from international corporate life through global change consulting to her own niche consulting practice, the movie of her life has also shifted from Wall St in London to something more like The Vicar of Dibley in a bit of Norfolk which even Norfolk people think is a bit out of the way. Wendi is very clear at 50 about all the things she doesn’t know, but still finds the questions fascinating…
Ruth Paris works as a coach with an empathic, discreet, humorous, challenging, practical style, working in an astonishingly wide range of settings. She also has an allotment, in the middle of a roundabout, about which she blogs. Pictures of vegetables, recipies, the annual process of preparation, growth, surprises and variation make her blog a colourful metaphor for living one’s life well.
Finally, on a different note, as a alternative form of self expression, I would also like to introduce you to the art blog of Dawn Buckley, who both displays and writes about her paintings incredibly well!