Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Richard Rodney Bennett

His death on Christmas Eve saddens me. I had the privilege of seeing him three times.

Once in the 1970s when he accompanied a singer whose name sadly I have forgotten. I do remember she sang a Berio piece that sounded like a radio being tuned between stations. Him I remember as elegant, cultured and amusing. As well as being a wonderful pianist.

Closer to his death I saw him twice with Claire Martin and what sheer pleasure they were to watch and listen to. So matched were they in their love of the songs they offered and so obviously great friends.

I heard his music many times on the radio and like other polymaths, his range of abilities across the musical genres maybe played against him being taken as seriously as he should have been as composer. He made it seem easy and that most important of abilities not possessed by all artists.

Accessible. His attitude was, come and share my love of this. And if we had any sense we did.

Sad to think I won't hear him again live because it was such a joy.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas wishes from Eileen Parr

It's 5am on Christmas morning. I'm not awake because I want to see if Santa has visited but I am awake before the rest of the family.

So I'm taking a few minutes to be grateful before we launch into a day of feasting and presents.

The first thing I'm grateful for is a history of happy childhood Christmases. I was surrounded by those who loved me and early in my life, encouraged to be part of the world of books and writing. Annuals and Enid Blyton books sitting at the foot of the bed to give my parents chance to sleep longer!

That love of books has been at the core of my life and I hope will remain so and I've seen it passed on to my nieces and now great niece. Many of the presents surrounding the tree downstairs are books.

And I'm grateful that as a family we emphasise creating experiences rather than merely acquiring stuff. My great niece did a rough count of the presents and we were amazed at how many. If it sounds as if we've spent a fortune, we haven't. Limits on spending turn us creative about what we ask for and buy for the others.

My sister spent some time last week, doing a trawl round the charity shops looking for books for one of my nieces. She came back in triumph having succeeded in finding some authors she wanted to pass on.

This year I'm especially grateful that I'm building connections across the world with those whose love of words leads them to help others with their knowledge, skills and passion.

My love of books and words and the pleasure and connections it's brought me over my life so far is beyond any economic value I can assign to it.

Instead it's opened up worlds for me beyond anything I might have imagined in childhood.

On this Christmas morning, I hope that there's something, whether books or not, that opens your life out in the same way.

All blessings.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Will you be a leader in 2013?

I have to put my hand up and admit I've always been bossy.

There I've said it.. and the world hasn't fallen in on me.

Except that being bossy backfired on me more times than enough in my twenties and thirties and so I started moving in the opposite direction... not being bossy.

Which was fine except I began to realise that in some company, I seemed to come out all wimpish.

Are you the one who's the centre of attention or hovering on the edge of the group?

Recently I went to our local theatre, amateur companies only, to watch a performance of Round and Round the Garden, one of Alan Ayckbourn's Norman Conquest Trilogy. In that is a very bossy woman who tries to organise everyone else. She fails of course because most of us resist being organised, even if secretly we'd like someone to take charge of all the things we hate to do.

So what is leadership anyway?

My trusty dictionary tells me that a leader is:

  • a person who leads, commands or precedes a group, organisation or country
Being out in front means high visibility, commanding has too many nuances of being bossy, but maybe precedes might work.

When I look at the verb what I find is much more to my liking:
  • cause a person to go with one by drawing them along
  • show a person the way by preceding or accompanying them
Recently I went to a TEDx on family and community and a young woman talked about leading by serving others.

Then I found a definition that said a leader was someone who had the courage to go first. Unlike the character in Gilbert and Sullivan The Gondoliers who led always from the rear.

How cand you and I be leaders next year?

During the Writing From Your Heart Online Gathering, I received some wonderful feedback. Much of it focused on the same points.

How the writer appreciated the practical nature of the interviews and how touched they were by the courage I was showing by being vulnerable.

Was it deliberate on my part? To a certain extent it was... because I knew that if I wasn't authentic then I might as well not bother to host the event. I am as I am, with all my insecurities and hang ups. And my talents and strengths. 

All of which I have to admit to.

What does 2013 hold for us?

Let's face it. We have no real idea. We make plans, we vision, we dream, we hope. But we have no real idea what will turn up from one moment to the next.

Whether positive or not, we will be surprised by the year. We'll take some decisions with clear sight and others more hoping for a good outcome.

What I'm challenging myself on for 2013 is becoming the leader I need to be. And I think it's important because I have a role to play in the greater scheme of things. 

Whatever the size of my dreams, whatever scope I'm envisaging, I will have to take the steps out in front... before I can expect anyone to follow me. Whether it's to be part of my community or as a helper to create that community.

So how about you?

What will you be the leader for in the next year?

I'd love to hear about your visions and your thoughts about leadership.

Let me know and if you're not already signed up for my Monthly Enfolding join our community