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Lessons from Squirrels

Here are two great little ‘squirrel movies’, each with a message. :)

What persistence! This wee squirrel is a lovely reminder not to give up but keep trying until we reach our goals. And it’s also a reminder not to scorn a helping hand when one is offered!

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’. (Mary Anne Radmacher)

The second video was made as a commercial for EDS, an IT company.  It’s very amusing, but also reminds us that big is not always necessarily the best. The small and nimble can be just as powerful.

Or, as Anita Roddick of The Body Shop once said:

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.

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Wordplay with Wordle

I’ve just discovered and begun playing with Wordle.  Ok, so I’m a latecomer. :-) I’m sure most other people have already been there and done that.

One thing that really struck me about Wordle is how it can lead to new ideas or fresh perspectives. It’s a “word kaleidoscope”, in which words are tumbled and turned to produce new patterns, new synergies – and perhaps new insights.

For example, here’s a Wordle of my Music and Memories post.  I loved finding “Dad determined musical horizons – listen“.  There was whole new stream of reflection for me in that one short sentence!

Music and Memories Wordle

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The Power of Play: Shirley’s Story

I’ve just finished reading Richard Reeves’ great blog post on Playfulness, and it’s inspired me in turn to write.

There’s an an old saying “We don’t stop playing because we get old – we get old because we stop playing“.  It’s certainly true that as folk get older they can tend to forget how to play with the mindfulness, sponteneity and joyfulness of children.

It’s perhaps ironic that ‘fun’ has become an engineered thing in some organisations – a kind of forced group activity that lacks the very spirit of play it’s intended to engender.

Play – genuine, spontaneous, and heartfelt play – is definitely a source of strength, resilience, creativity and inspiration. But it can’t be engineered – only encouraged. It’s a mindset, not a map. And it needs to be a philosopy of life, not some kind of mandated policy.

Girl PlayingSpending time with children is always a great reminder of the power of play – it’s almost impossible to remain unplayful in their presence. But there are also grown-ups who’ve not forgotten the magic.

I remember Shirley, a wonderful woman and the mother of a friend of mine, who always brought the light of play into her own and others’ lives until she passed away at 60+ years young. She’d not forgotten her six-year-old self, and she helped others re-discover their own capacity for play.

And at those times she and those around her would become ‘lost in the unfolding’ as Richard so eloquently expressed it.

As I read Richard’s post I found my head filled with memories of Shirley. And I also remember the playfulness she brought to much more serious things. She contracted cancer that proved incurable, so the last year of her life was a time you wouldn’t think would lend itself to playing.

But Shirley’s indomitable spirit meant she created fun even as she fought a losing battle with her illness.

Silly HatShe made herself crazy hats to wear as she lost her hair through chemotherapy, and also made a game of this with friends and family who gave her gifts of ever-crazier hats.

Shirley wore them all, returning to the gift-givers her own gifts of love and laughter.

She even had fun ‘playing’ with arranging her own funeral. Dickering over details with various funeral parlours. laughing over the stuffiness of some, and being as cheekily provocative as only Shirley could be until she found one she liked.

On the day of Shirley’s funeral, there was standing room only for the last folk to arrive. The chapel was packed. Family members and friends spoke of the difference Shirley had made in their lives – and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

But at the end of the service, as we were about to leave, the song Shirley had chosen to end the service rang through the chapel. It was Always Look on the Bright Side of Death from the Monty Python Life of Brian movie!

It was Shirley’s last playful gift to us all. And we found ourselves smiling through our tears.