Let me wind you up a little?


What’s the “b” in “blogging”? Anyone remember? I’ll give you a minute……..

[And by the way, frankly, I have no list of quick tips or life hacks today.

Just indulgence in a penchant for metaphor for those similarly inclined!]

(Meanwhile) Erection of the maypole

It’s spring at last. And when I see the may-flower blossoming and the hedgerows thickening I think of carefree bygone days when European villages held their community May Day celebrations . There was a really “sticky” song I used to sing at primary school at just this time of year “Sing a Song of Maytime”.

Accompanied by such songs, on many a village green, an ancient rite of celebration of the coming of spring unfolded. Draped with coloured ribbons, coupled boys and girls would dance around the hub. Intertwining the ribbons in an elaborate dance, the shortening ribbons tightly wound around the pole and the Sunday best dancers finally gathered fast at its foot.

Back to my first point though.

About blogging.

You probably had to stop and think didn’t you? That’s it, Weblog was ultimately shortened to blog. Not so hard to work out really. How many other words, even habits, attitudes or mind sets do we currently use or follow that have a long forgotten significance? Relevance badly in need of refreshing.

Blogging…and maypoles?

Has anyone even witnessed maypole dancing in the last decade or two?

Just imagine.

The intricacy of a pre-rehearsed and scripted pattern played out around a circular human loom! Not one foot wrong, not one ducking or weaving to the left instead of the right.

Remarkable but increasingly restrictive

That was how we once understood the brain! As it aged, it decayed and if injured there was loss of function and disability. We thought our intellectual fate was tightly woven in terms of what each physical region was responsible for. We believed it was hard wired instead of pliable.

So what does blogging have to do with dancing the maypole?

Well I promised to come back to the idea of neuroplasticity last time I posted.

It is a rapidly emerging field of science and medicine in which we now barely recognise the scope and potential of once simplistically mapped brain anatomy and function. The power of our brains to evolve and adapt to a new demand is known now to be extraordinarily in excess of what we once thought.

That’s where I draw the metaphor of blogging as maypole dancing.

As a blogger I set out with a tight idea like a towering brightly striped pole that I will raise with a flourish and expect to draw some attention. Especially as the ‘dancers’ take their position and each of the gathering tribe pick up their own “thread”. However, even before it is published, the concept starts to loosen and unravel in my own hands. It bears little reference to the original idea. Now it begins to offer up numerous and intersecting patterns and unfolding spiralling circumferences. How can I stop at 500 words? It is alive; it has the plasticity of a growing idea, a theory or a grand design.

I let it speak to the world.

Even then it is unfinished. Preserved In all its incompleteness like the dismantled maypole and streaming ribbons, it is housed within its category or genre.

Then You take action. You comment or inspire me further!

This conversation is for the pure joy of creation. It is a picture of our trusty brain in a new situation. One in which you didn’t first have to know how to do it! Connections form and grow, there is emerging collateral and adaptation.

You watch, you comment, you do, you learn! You evolve.

The maypole is a picture of the intertwined World Wide Web(log).

It is a rite of celebration of a new idea that inspires and begs your participation.

It is a beautiful dance to behold and a sheer discipline to create.

Why not pick up a ribbon, keep it taut and step into the endless possibilities and patterns that creative thinkers love to play with? We will never exhaust them. The connections are infinite.

Please join the dance.

I’ll be chatting about my story This Monday

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/32531750@N04/4581295146/”>leavesandfeathers</a&gt; via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a&gt;


Hard-wired or soft? Brainstorming 5 misconceptions about creativity!


Years ago, in around 1993, I created and delivered what was my first piece of home grown curriculum for a cohort of district nurses. It was a teaching series on pain and symptom management.  I had experienced my fair share of workshops and trainings that felt to me to be fuzzy, short on content and over-reliant on peer participant contribution.

The second time through my new content I invited an anaesthetist to lecture on neural pain pathways. I had prepared the nurses earlier with an overview of the evolution of the science, anatomy and physiology of pain perception.  I should have known better than to construct an over- tidy version of reality for them!

What happened next, created chaos for my conscientious crowd!

Here are five misconceptions I had unwittingly absorbed and may helpfully alert you as you consciously embark upon a creative venture of any kind.

  • Learn from the Masters

My guest, a stereotypical Professor Branestawm character, with his shock of grey hair and crumpled jacket cut an awe-inspiring figure. However, in all his innocently wise and self-deprecating confidence he airily dismissed my carefully imparted body of knowledge.  Everything I had taught them about pain management to this point. I was horrified and the students shifted uncomfortably at my unease.

It was happening again.  That phrase that teachers say when you start a new programme of study “You know everything you were taught at GCSE? Forget that!”

Or “You know everything you were taught at “A” Level? Forget that!”

That day, for the first time, we were hearing about the concept of neuroplasticity.

“Think “spaghetti in soup” rather than “hard wiring”” he said.

Along with these disruptive and unqualified doubts and questions about what we actually knew about the brain with reference to pain (amongst many other things) my tidy theoretical world collapsed. I wasn’t sure I wanted to familiarise myself with yet more new horizons.

It is valuable to know what came before.  However it is also wise to value the innocence you bring to a new endeavour and to keep it free from contamination of old ways of thinking that no longer serve you or your generation.

  •  “There’s nothing new under the sun”

I wanted to help colleagues learn and apply new information! I demonstrated my propensity to biting off a good bit more than I could chew with this huge topic of pain control.  It was a severely underwhelming service generally to dying patients and their carers’ at that time.

I used words, pens, flipcharts, models, discussion, Q and A, guest speakers and group-work techniques. Barely cutting edge then, before video-clip, social media interactivity or even power-point. There was nothing new in any of that.

However, I did offer a brand new compilation and context. There is always something new about everything, every group formation, every new face, ever new act of creation.

  • “Wait for your muse”/ spontaneous inspiration

As a newly married, I spent my Monday evenings in front of this group. Three hours a week for ten weeks! This was quite a commitment, a specific plan to rack up my teaching hours.  There were plenty of other options, no inspired promptings, just an entirely deliberate effort. The result? A piece of professional development that was really unique in its day and very helpful in promoting consistent and contemporary practice.

There was nothing inspired about it, it was a necessary development I chose!

  • Debuts are definitive

I was a graduate nurse in a full time hospice role, training for certification as an adult educationalist.  This teaching commitment was a test bed for my adventure into education. I was terrified about teaching QUALIFIED and EXPERIENCED nurses.  Yet I was passionate about how much could be learned to improve the experience of the incurably ill patient.  This was a pain barrier of my own I had to overcome.

Remember the first time IS MERELY the first time!  I am sure most of those learners have long forgotten me and my outdated material content.

All you and I need to focus on is getting consistently and incrementally better at what we create EVERY time!

  •  “Now for something completely different”

Ah now THIS is the real bottleneck to creative activity!

We are SO scared of repeating a trend, of being “beige”, we have forgotten that we need some familiarity in order to breed contempt (read curiosity). If we are so radical that there are no longer any landmarks anchoring our efforts to commend novelty as valuable, its value as a statement is lost.

The need to be different is so, so inferior to having to be authentic. Authenticity will always be the convincing point of contact with your cohort, your crowd or your client.

  • Start with the end in mind?

This is one of my favourite quotations.

However, when it comes to creative work, this could be the biggest block of all. Our best inspiration comes when we are not attached to a fixed idea. So just start, listen and pay attention to the unfolding of the created with the creator

Finishing isn’t the deal. Doing it is.

Next time we will re-visit this curious thing called neuroplasticity and what it has to teach us creatives!

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