Inspire / Aspire for 2011

I really need to look outwards and upwards again. Having holed myself up in the small hot claustrophobic world of family (see Christmas blog!) I now need to gulp fresh air, fresh ideas and look forwards. I need to be inspired!

So many people do inspire me; so I don’t really know where to start. Next door to our office lives a 94 year old woman. I see her go up and down the pavement on her zimmer to her daughter’s house to look after her garden, or do the housework if she is out at work. She lives on her own, always looks immaculate and has a smile for everyone. I have never heard her complain. Quiet dignity. I love that idea. I am such a vociferous person who rolls around in words – ‘quiet dignity’ would be a quality to aspire to.

I also love the wisdom deep in Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer; ‘Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference …’.

These words are as profound as ever with a challenge that I will be grappling with until the end of my life. I often reflect on what it is I should stop reflecting on and just let go – and what challenges I should be focussing on with all my energy. In the end though it is always best not to take yourself too seriously. Too much introspection can be as indulgent as too many mince pies! I loved a recent re-wording of the serenity prayer to the senility prayer.

“God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway. The good fortune to run into the ones I do and the eyesight to tell the difference …”. This made me laugh out loud and maybe laughter will be the thing that gets us through 2011! On this note, Patch Adams, (there is a DVD available, it is old but great, where Dr Patch Adams is played by Robin Williams), is a wonderful GP who discovered that laughter could help heal children. His work has inspired huge changes in the way we work with children and in Great Ormond Street there are laughter therapists working with sick children. Excitingly he is coming to the UK to run a conference in May at the wonderful Findhorn community in Scotland. Lesley, a hospital clown therapist, will be giving a day’s workshop too (on the 30thMay). Even more excitingly (for me!) I am also running a day on ‘How Laughter Helps Learning in Schools’ and I will have with me the deputy head and head of one of the most joyful schools I have ever worked with – and we are going to show how only love and joy can lift a school so that excellence can be released in bucket loads! (For more details please look at the Findhorn website, Calendar of Events, Loving Work, Loving Play, May 28th and May 29th – mine is on May 31st).

(My lovely Christmas flower arrangement – designed by Rosalyn)

If you read any of my blogs last year, you will know that one of my current passions centres on getting all older people’s homes adopted by schools. But am I really up to this challenge? Will I really muster the drive, the focus and the extra time to make this rallying cry heard by all those who matter? We have had some great responses already and Jean Gross, ex-director of SEAL, and currently the government’s communication champion for children, is very enthusiastic about our venture and is alerting many key people to what we are trying to achieve. What I need to do now is to rattle the doors of our charity ‘All Round Success’, set up a pilot project with my senior consultant, Sarah Bentley, and the activity manager of the older people’s home we went into last year … and write a simple handbook that can be used by all adults and children in schools – who want to walk down the road, to their nearest day-care or residential centre and engage in their weekly ‘lets have fun together’ circle time.

This handbook will be full of simple ideas to help the young and old to engage together to help us all reminisce and listen well, engage in old traditional and new games, to move energetically, to relax reflectively, and, at the end, to hold hands gently and say thank you to each other and really mean it. A true circle of warmth, safety and fun – a magical space to dip into each week to get refreshed and restored.

In order to stay inspired, I love it when I can have a wise person’s words in front of me. Just one sentence that I focus on for a whole week has always helped lift me and keep me on track. During my conferences I will often tell people the thoughts that have inspired me. They come from a range of sources – Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, six year old child. Afterwards people always ask me to write them down. So in 2010 I decided I would pull them all together into ‘100 Golden Inspirations’. These will very soon be available for everyone and they are A4 sized and can be stuck up on the staff notice board – anywhere you like. I would suggest putting them up for at least a week. Some of you have got some that you really love so why don’t you send them in to me. If you know who wrote them then add the name in – and your name will be referenced as the person who gave us the idea! It could be great fun! I have got 100 here in front of me so I don’t really know which one to start with …

… I will start with this one: “Worrying does not take away the tensions of today. It drains tomorrow of your strength”.

I don’t care if some of them are well known old clichés. Clichés survive only because they have their own irresistible truth so let ‘em roll in 2011.

I will try and put a new one at the end of each blog – but if you want them all shiny and gold framed ready to go straight up on your notice board, they will very soon be available on our website and in our new catalogue (we will post an announcement on the website and on Facebook when they are ready!). If you do want our new 2011 catalogue just ring 01225 767157 or order it from the website. We are trying really hard to keep teachers inspired and sparkly – so if you have any ideas you want us to make for you, of if you like any of the things we are doing, we will then add your review to the resource on your website.

Good luck, good luck.