Category Archives: blogging

Gathering round the fire

This year I’ve had the real pleasure of uniting some of my deepest interests – music, poetry and my humanist outlook on life – to write some songs for the British Humanist Association.

Here’s a song we’ve recorded recently – it’s now released on itunes and all proceeds go to the British Humanist Association, with some of the money going to support the BHA choir to record more music for humanist celebrations.

Flame and friendship, gifts and giving
Defying the winter’s ire
An instinct known to all the living
Gathering round the fire

May your fireside be warm and the people you hold dear be close at hand either in the real world or in this mad and wonderful online network!


Six months’ worth of writing, living and learning

To celebrate six months of blogging (over 200 posts and nearly 100 poems!), I thought I would share thirteen things I have learnt in that time, many of them directly from blogging:


  1. Hearts can heal, and a thoroughly healed heart is stronger than one that has never been broken.

  2. Creativity, particularly new creative projects, is a great way not just to recover from a broken heart, but to grow immeasurably from the experience.

  3. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary activity – and sharing drafts with an understanding audience is a great way to keep motivated.
  4. Writing things in a public forum, even to a small audience of people whose faces I have never seen, is different from just writing them for yourself – and it can be much more healing.
  5. Sometimes the things I don’t want to say are the ones I most need to say. Sometimes the things I don’t want to say are also what others are most interested in hearing

  6. Free writing practices often produce some of my best writing… and paradoxically often my most structured writing too. And I’m increasingly realising that the ideas and experiences that go into my poems are strong enough to stand as free verse. I enjoy playing with different structures, but I can have more confidence in the interest of my own voice. 

  7. It’s better to say too much than to be too vague to be understood – even if you have to clarify what you meant, or soothe someone’s agitation, you’re communicating. And being so tolerant of other people’s views and beliefs that we don’t express our own is almost always counterproductive – and leads to much less interesting discussions.

  8. It’s far too easy to accept arguments and evidence that supports your conclusion, and not notice the obvious flaws. Reading and participating in the debates in the blogosphere has made me very aware of this, and hopefully made me a more honest debater!

  9. There are some wonderful people out there in the blogosphere…. as well as a lot of people who can’t string a coherent sentence together. Many people out there have had lives incredibly more difficult and complicated than mine has been. I’ve been touched and moved and shocked by some of the things I’ve read. I don’t know whether bloggers are more likely to have trauma in their past, or whether it’s just that in the blogosphere, people tell stories that you would normally hear only from your closest friends. Either way, thank you all for increasing my awareness and understanding of what it is to be human.

  10. Finding my own words to express myself is, right now, more important to me than singing the music and words written by others, however beautiful and powerful.

  11. Always follow your dreams can be a good principle, but it can also be a trap that leaves us struggling and miserable, feeling like failures or forcing ourselves to do things that just aren’t right any more. So it’s important to leave room for both you and your dreams to change and grow.

  12. This last year has been an intense time – difficult in many ways, but I don’t regret a moment of it. I have learnt so much and grown so much, that it’s a hundred times worth all the tears and the pain of heartbreak.

  13. Writing means far less without readers – so thank you all!

If your blog is your home, show us around…

The door is always open, and visitors are welcome.

The picture in the hall that you see as you enter
is a flying pelican that I saw one bright day,
walking hot and happy along a pure white beach
in the Galapagos islands.
May you find the happiness and peace
that I felt on that day beside the pacific surf.
(But ssh… don’t tell the pelican that
thanks to photoshop he’s now
flying in the opposite direction!)

As you explore, you’ll find
That there are pictures everywhere.
Glimpses of the beautiful places
I have been privileged to see.

And some photos I have been happy to
borrow from the generous collections of others
– each carefully chosen
because it means something to me
and I hope it will mean something to you, too.

Come and riffle through the papers on my desk.
You’ll see the quill still shiny with fresh ink
freshly used to arrange words
in pleasing patterns around
the ideas and emotions
that mean most to me.

You won’t see my face,
But you’ll hear my story.
My heartbreak and recovery.
My silence and my self-expression.
My scepticism and my spirituality
Serious musings and cheerful humour.
Words to a lover who refused to hear them.
Words to a lover I have not yet met.

Oh, and sometimes you’ll hear
drifting down from upstairs
(sweet, but surprisingly loud)
the sound of my voice
singing songs to heal a broken heart.

(I have to admit, my favourite
of the many useful things in the corridor
is the map of the world, full of red drawing pins.
I love to look at it. For I feel full of wonder that
my words are being read
in Mongolia and Mauritius, Iceland and Iran, Alaska and Australia.)

So come in
Sit down. Kick off your shoes.
Be comfortable.

I hope you find this
a harmonious space.
One where you can come to feel renewed,
as well as entertained and philosophised-at.

A place where you can feel
that your pains are understood
but also believe they can be transformed.
That no tunnel is endless, however dark it seems.

A place of peace and gentleness
where I share the wisdom I have gleaned –
a modest but sincere offering.

And please, leave a comment
In the visitor’s book
Before you leave!

You’ll see, if you look
the inspiration and comments
of the wonderful visitors
who have enriched my writing, my blog and my life
through their generous sharing of words, images and thoughts.

So please, join the conversation.
For the door is always open, and visitors are welcome.

This responds to a prompt at Rockin’ Chair Writers to show readers around your blog as if it is your home. I saw it and immediately realised that this was just what I had been wanting to do!

Blog life-raft

Sometimes I really feel the strain of being alone in a foreign country, doing a difficult and unpopular job…. Right now it’s making me really tired and demoralised. There comes a time when you’re just too tired to do the things – like going out to tango classes – that cheer you up and bring you into contact with friendly human beings. I’m having one of those evenings now, and it’s not fun. One of the most difficult things is that there are long periods when I’ve done all I can and just need to wait for other people to do the things I’m waiting for – so I’m not only stressed but bored a lot of the time!

I know it won’t last – the weekend is nearly here, we’re making progress on the difficult issues that are wearing me down, so next week should be better, and in 10 days I’m going to be travelling to a neighbouring country – a change of scene and a bit of tourism will do me the world of good, I think!

In the meantime it feels like blogging, and reading other blogs, is the only thing that’s keeping me sane. I’m slightly worried I’m churning out too many posts and overwhelming my poor patient readers, but there’s always the delete button if it gets too much!

It does help hugely to be able to express what I’m going through, and, at the same time feel that I’m doing something productive and creative through writing poetry. And the friendly, supportive comments that people have been leaving are manna for a tired soul.

Tomorrow will be a better day…


Having fun with wordle…. here’s a cloud based on my post “100 posts and counting”


I feel that publishing post number 150 and passing 10,000 hits on the same day calls for a minor celebration.

And what a fantastic picture of a Birthday cake this is – thanks to Yehudit G for baking, photographing and uploading it!

I just wish I could give you all a slice of cake to take home with you as a token of my appreciation for reading and commenting and generally making blogging a worthwhile experience!

Talking about difficult issues

I need to have a difficult conversation with someone at work. I don’t want to have it, but if it were just up to me I would just get on and do it and get it over with. But there are a few things I need to sort out first, and I’m dependent on other people. So it’s dragging on, and I can’t make progress. Every day I go into the office hoping I’ll be able to resolve it, but there’s always something else needs to happen first. So at night I find myself going over the decision, and rehearsing the conversation, in my mind. It’s such a nuisance… I wish I could just get it done and out of the way!

In the meantime I find it’s difficult to  concentrate on other things that need to be done. Particularly things involving the same person. The whole situation is adding unnecessary tension to my working life, which is difficult enough anyway. So I find myself blogging at work (which I normally don’t do at all!) to distract myself from this problem I can’t yet resolve. It does help, particuarly blogging specifically about the problem as I’m doing now…. hopefully having got this off my chest I will be able to start doing something productive again. 

And with a bit of luck I’ll be able to resolve the problem this afternoon. And if not, there’s tango this evening, which is always an excellent distraction from all work-related problems!