Love Letter to My Warring Egos

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 7 of 29

ego

Dear Ego

Did I just write Dear ego?! What a strange convention that in the world of letter writing we say ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Dear Miss Peachey’ ‘Dear Friend’. Yet over in the world of emails we seem to have gone to the opposite extreme: ‘Hi Sandra’, total strangers will write… ‘please… buy from me, pay me attention…’, etc., etc.

It’s one of life’s contradictions. And life is full of them. So I wander off into these tangential musings as I try to make sense of life’s twinning duplicities.

Even though I know these internal thought trajectories are my ego’s distraction from facing the external world – still they tramp through my brain; because if my mind is busy, then it’s distracted from allowing me to step into the spotlight… Oh I know all about spotlights, since I’ve spent a lot of time lurking back stage in theatre productions, conferences and class rooms. I’ve spent time on stage too, in many different capacities…

Yes – the spotlight! It’s a weird thing, that circle of super illumination. It has a warmth and brightness that beckons you to bask in it. It will follow you around the stage showing you the way, highlighting everything that you concurrently wish to reveal and maybe more; but sometimes it can blind you and often you cannot see your audience – since you are stranded in a peculiar, circular prison of concentrated, artificial light. Most people stand outside the spotlight – some ignore, some happy to watch, and some more standing in the dark contemplating how they can step in and be seen.

So with all these inherent contradictions, my ego both loves and loathes standing in the spotlight. What it loves is applause, agreement and praise. What it hates is indifference, disapprobation and looking like any shade of a fool. Meaning that, in the ebb and flow of my theatrical mind – the spotlight both is both seductive and destructive.

My ego wants many things… It wants to be loved; to have an easy life and an easy climb up onto the stage; it wants to be recognised and when it is – halleluiah – how wonderful, how edifying – the applause, attention and compliments make it glow and grow.

But then this ego starts to turn in to my alter ego and one compliment is never enough. This ego needs to be fed. It’s voracious – it can never have enough druggy adoration. And so it will always want its’ next fix…

And if it doesn’t get that fix, it soon forgets the warmth of the spotlight. When the audience leaves, what is the point of remaining on the stage? My ego then slinks off into the wings, shirks out of the theatre via the back door and leaves stealthily by cover of darkness.

It has such a short memory for praise, my ego. As far as it’s concerned, each piece of praise is a thing of the past almost as soon as it is uttered. Criticism though, lingers longer. It stabs like a dagger and its wounds often get infected as they fester away, ignored or untreated, in the dark.

So then my ego shuns the spotlight. It lives like a hermit in a dark deep cave and deliberately does not expose itself to further pain or ignominy. Or at least it tells me not to do that… And it’s a form of rampant protectionism. Essentially – it is telling me that I need to stay in the safety of the cave. It may be dark in there, but it is familiar and I know where everything is. ‘Leave the cave’ my alter ego says and I will be attacked by a savage pack of strange wolves, as well as being rejected by my tribe; and that will be death.

Maybe it’s fortunate that I have a low boredom threshold. Much as I love my cave, I do need to stretch my legs, and my ego beyond it.

One thing that gets me out there is my writing – just one of the many things that challenges my ego. I write and it feels as if my words somehow peel away all my surfaces, exposing all my vulnerabilities. It is something that I am impelled to anyway, not least because it completely confuses my duplicitous ego; which means that my writing begs both to be shared and to be hidden.

It’s a duality that fortunately I recognise. I post and publish (and be damned) anyway, because I don’t thrive in the dark and I don’t grow on my own. If I stay in my cave, I get demotivated and disconnected. My ego becomes the cave and wants to shut me in, so I don’t get hurt.

But if my ego will not commit compliments to memory, then I have to remind it of them in other ways. A year or so ago I started writing fiction and by doing so I’ve found a passion for it, so fierce, that I simultaneously want to shout about it and hide it. So I started, shared samples of it and then was scared of it. My ego told me it would be too much hard work to write a long loved novel, only to then face the ultimate rejection… But I know this pattern and so I store up the feedback too and here are the comments about my first public piece of fiction writing:

  • “Fiction is your thing. That is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing”.
  • “Your writing is beautiful, it drew me in and made me want to read more … and I feel the story you have to share is a soul message … your heart is ready to write this fictional masterpiece”.
  • “There needs to be a LOVE button. That was so beautiful, flowing, poetic … Had me wanting to know her life before and after this …”
  • “It’s beautiful … you do indeed have the wonderful gift of being able to write fictional prose. So pleased you are sharing this with the world… and you can’t keep this gift to yourself.” *

So after sitting in the dark with my book and doing nothing about it for so long, it is a shock to see those words of encouragement again…

But then sitting in the dark is painfully easy. I’m now choosing to put myself out there into the spotlight any way. I may be ignored, I could be criticised; but you see, the spotlight is not my final destination. It’s just a place where I have decided I will dance for a while. To me, recognition can be the applause of millions or even more satisfyingly, it is that one voice that tells you that you made a difference. And I have to tell you that both my ego and my alter ego can find no better contentment in this world than that.

So, my dear twin egos – I see you for what are: friend and foe; light and dark; stupid and smart.

And that could just describe me, on any given day, couldn’t it?

Well, I’ve always said that I’m a creature of contradictions – so I’ll still feel fear and step out there, regardless. I’ll start with the act of creation and work towards the contentment of completion. Then my twins, we can deal with the feedback later.

That’s my decision made then. It’s time to bow out of this letter.

Yours egotistically
Sandra
Sandra Peachey
Coach, Author and Apologist

PS: As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into a beautiful non fiction book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

PPS: * If you would like to know what my readers were commenting about, check it out here…

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Love Letter to (Emotional) Resilience

Boxing Resilience

Dearest Friend

I’m writing to you today because I want to get in touch with you again and to have more of you in my life – because right now, I miss you…

I see you out in the world and you are quite ‘the thing’ now aren’t you? You are bandied about in corporate circles and trotted out for magazine articles and so you’ve become very fashionable of late and I wonder if you have time for me anymore, so I’ll put my own petty predispositions to one side and unashamedly reach out to you instead.

If I think about what you are, I can chew up a dictionary and spew out a definition of you: Emotional resilience is having the ability and resources to adapt to difficult emotional situations or surprises. When you are emotionally resilient, you are more able to accept such situations and better able to adapt – rolling with the punches of life, rather than being knocked out by them.

Interesting that I should start sprinkling boxing analogies in there… But not surprising, because I have of late, starting feeling that life has been punching me in the stomach a little too often…

I like to think of myself as a strong person, but woman cannot live by thoughts and preferences alone. As an observer of mankind and myself – womankind – the kind of woman who watches and tries to lovingly learn; I have noticed how I am subject to the rhythms of my life. So I am deliberately putting some time aside to analyse the waves of those rhythms and to decide whether to swim, surf or take a boat across them. Frequently you, see, I seem to be drowning in them; so it is time to traverse, rather to tread water. What I wonder is going on with me that seems to weaken my resilience, and what steps can I take to consciously build it up again?

So if I look at myself and where my life has taken me recently – there are both external and internal considerations. I made a big change to my work / life path around 9 months ago and I realise that I am still adjusting and balancing all the options around that. I am, I now realise, missing certain elements of that old life that filled me up emotionally and psychologically, and I want to redress the balance.

The first part of that process is to be really sure of who I am and what I want to bring to the party of life. So here is my Soul Manifesto: I want to earn a good income, doing work that supports others and enervates and pushes me. I want to go beyond existing and paying bills – to a state of feeling fulfilled. That involves putting positive energy into my corporate work, my coaching and my writing.

When I am clear about what I bring to each of these activities, then that clarity gives me a surety and strength in myself; and means then that I am not so desperately vested in the misaligned words, actions and opinions of the players and partners around me – all with their own agenda; but rather that I understand what these are, and so I dance with rather than deal with other’s demons – doing a do-si-do and a step to the side, rather than an intense one on one tango.

To be honest with you, dealing with my own demons is hard enough work and I cannot serve my soul’s purpose if I am drawing daggers with other people’s devils… But frequently I forget this and find myself out there with them in the boxing ring. So I’m standing there, thinking I’ve got the friendly audience and the outfit just right and that I’ll execute a few nifty and graceful shadow moves, when… Blam!!! Suddenly and without warning I am punched hard in the stomach by my opponent – who I thought was actually my partner. But no. Biff! Duff! Thwack! Now the punches keep raining down on me, even though I am now knocked out and lying on the sawdust strewn floor finding it hard to breathe. And then I realise that I am actually beating myself up. For the love of… Ouch!!! I can’t decide which kind of punch (internal or external) is more painful…

I’m also out in the audience, watching myself from the side lines – shouting encouragement one minute, then counting to ten the next, and I think ominously that this woman on the floor has a physical disadvantage as well as an emotional demon to fight…

And that demon / disadvantage or whatever you may call it is the menopause. I feel that I haven’t weathered it well. My hormones have raged and rampaged over my life for some years now and I feel like the layers of strength and learning that I have built up around my heart have been eroded away. It is as if my emotional resilience has been burnt out – has given up, along with my body, which has been fighting the transition with all the indecorous furore of a bull in a china shop. And I’m left, naked to my emotions and therefore open to the various blows that circumstance and psyche will inevitably rain on my heart.

Out in the audience, as I watch myself sitting up slowly, with the moths of pain and pity flying round my head (instead of cartoon birds and stars), I walk over to myself and whisper in my ear, the same things that I tell my coaching clients…

“You are sitting up, you are breathing – you are safe. Acknowledge the pain – accept it and that you are in it, for now. This too shall pass. See it for what it is and choose what you want from this. Choose to learn and if you feel that you are beyond choice, then ask yourself what you would choose if you could and ruminate on those thoughts – even disassociated choice will heal and change the psyche. Analyse and accept what has happened. Don’t fight it with recriminations, angry self-talk, and victimised surmises. The surmises that equate to you making up tales and stories – ‘but they did X / I always Y, oh why, oh why’ etc.)… This is just your mind creating tall tales, it is not your reality, so change the ending. Fighting (in whatever form it takes) is always painful, so take off the boxing gloves.

It is always tempting at times like these to drug the pain – with tablets, wine, television or whatever our real or psyched pharmacy of choice is. But instead of drugging – how about distracting instead? Take a walk, take a break; breath deep and a get a change of scene and perspective – even if that is just walking into the next room.

Find a supportive friend, colleague or coach who will be a positive sounding board. Get it off your chest. Then listen – to them, and most importantly to your self – that self that goes deeper than those perceived punches in the heart. What is really going on here for you – what is the lesson to be learnt?”

And sometimes at this point I’ve seen myself and clients snap right out of it and of course, at others, it takes a little more energy to be able to get back on your feet.

Out of that imaginary boxing arena now, these are the two vital underpinning elements to bolster emotional resilience:

Firstly – consciously keeping the right company. Not just running to someone to moan and unload, but being part of a group/community where you give and take. Somewhere where you learn and teach. For some this family and friends, others combine this with being part of communities like Broadband Consciousness or Damsels in Success – any number of options are out there and available for you to explore.

Secondly – keep up a routine of self-development practices. Read the right books (and given your situation, the choice of these will change); learn to meditate, and journal. Get a notebook and as a minimum – write out 10 things / reasons / situations / people every day to be grateful for. What can you be grateful for in those emotional punches..? This is training your brain to find positive thoughts and is ultimately building your resilience.

These two practices become even better if you combine them with getting a deeper level of support from a coach or counsellor – work through your stuff – not just in times of crises, but as a matter of course / routine. Please don’t tell me that you cannot afford the time or financial investment that this will involve. There are many forms of support out there – from free to expensive. A lot of what you choose (including doing nothing) will depend upon your concept of value, but where ever there is a will, there is a way, so find the right resources to invest in yourself.

A constant positive self-analysis along with supportive guidance, is a powerful combination. The external support means that you have a wealth of resources to draw on. The inner practices – that you can be more simultaneously wise and resilient, because you keep up a constant and conscious practice – meaning that you become humble enough to keep learning, and quiet enough to let the answers come to you, all in in their own good time.

How you do all this is part of this process, you will inevitably experiment with what works best for you and don’t think that you will find one easy source for all this support. By varying what you do, you will strengthen what you do – as with most things in life – don’t put all your eggs in to one basket.

So, my friend Resilience – of course in clichéd fashion, I find that you have been with me all along – I had just forgotten you, but knew secretly too that you were always there within me. And if I have been stripped back, and emotionally laid bare, then all to the good – it is time to build myself up again – to be better, and to be more. Always of course, with a little help from my (internal and external) friends.

So now, my emotional vulnerability becomes my learning and of course my ultimate strength and turns back in to my emotional resilience.

Thank you my friend, for all that you give me: the love, the learning and the strength to serve – myself and so too then, the world.

Yours, with dancing feet and dry eyes…

S xXx

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of loss, love and life in all their gore and glory? This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: Cats, Coffee and the Compliance of Civits

Number 27 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Indonesians Farm Civet Cats To Produce World's Most Valuable Coffee

The ‘Coffee Pooh’ Civit

Over the course of this month’s blog challenge on my twin themes of Coaching and Cats, I have been digging deeper into one of the coaching tools I often employ, which is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for the four main personality traits it describes: namely Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I have been gently evolving this in to DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall now be consciously combining the personality and the puss.

The cat trait I shall be investigating today is the ‘C’ of the DISC model, which stands for Compliance.   And my four legged muse to assist me in this exploration, is a very intelligent and self-possessed puss I used to be the guardian of – a handsome ginger tom by the name of Muttley.

Muttley was an urban tiger, twice the size of the average domestic cat and probably three times as clever.  He was a rescue cat I took guardianship of (from a cat charity) when he was, we guessed, around eighteen months old.

On first acquaintance he was neutrally grateful for his warm new home, then gradually, slowly, more of his personality started to emerge.  I only ever had to tell Muttley anything once and he got it.  I soon realised too that this cat understood all the rules of the house instantly, and in fact knew them better than I did.

Not long after he arrived in my life, I went away for a night and left him alone with a cat feeding device – a machine with a timer that was programmed to pop open at a pre-determined time, in order to dispense his dinner.  It was a new fangled, fan dango’ed sort of machine that took me around 2 hours to figure out, assemble and then set up.  Despite this complexity, I discovered, when I returned home 24 hours later, this same device, broken in to little pieces, easily dis-assembled by my cat and now scattered across the kitchen floor…

I never left Muttley on his own again – for he had taught me the intricacies of Compliance – not a sissy, ‘do as you are told’ sort of compliance, but a ‘I know it all, so let me show you how’ kind instead…

The C in this trait stands for Conscientious as well as Compliance.  It is all about detail, preciseness and perfectionism, which was why, when I was casting about for a wild cat to cast as a representative for it, that I thought of the Civit – or to be compliantly precise – the Asian Palm Civet…

Some where, way back, down along their long genetic lineages, it is thought that the cat and the civet had a common ancestor.  Over the morass of millennia, convergent and parallel evolution has produced different animal lines, which because of their common ancestry and habitat may even develop some similar traits, including the ‘C’ one.

The Asian Palm Civet is actually a small, (domestic) cat-sized grey / black, long tailed creature. It has a more pointed muzzle than a moggy – and looks like a hybrid between a cat and a raccoon.  In fact, rather than being a cat, it is more closely related to the modern mongoose.

It is a carnivorous creature, living most notably in Indonesia and feeding in the wild on rodents, insects, fruits and curiously (for us humans), coffee berries.  Because of its’ coffee habit, this Civit has a paw in the production of ‘Kopi Luwak’, a coffee that is prepared using the coffee berries which they eat and partially digest.  The beans are then harvested from their fecal matter.   The reason that this coffee is so prized, is that Civits only eat the finest and ripest beans – since by sense and smell they know exactly which are the very best.

The civet’s efforts allegedly add to the coffee’s prize aroma and flavour.  As such, this ‘Civit Pooh Coffee’ is therefore the gold dust of the caffeine world, commanding big dollars in comparison to its’ non-digested coffee cousins.

So just as my mog Muttley could see exactly how everything worked, consequently the ‘coffee pooh’ Civit can also only select the correct coffee berries.  It is, of vital importance to the ‘C’ trait, that things are done exactly the right way and according to the rules.

This all works when the ‘C’ characteristic knows what the rules actually are… I remember taking Muttley with me to stay with family for Christmas, and on the first night he wandered around the strange house, dis-planted from his territory and meowing constantly, whilst the rest of us attempted to sleep… At this juncture, if he were a human ‘C’ – out of his comfort zone, his meows would be signifying a whole range of questions – where, why, how and what..? All asked in order to re-establish the direction of his internal compass.

The ‘C’ then, is most comfortable when things are ‘right’.  So they tend to be motivated by getting things right and hence, by being right; and they are very good at it, for they are great listeners and attentive to corrective detail.  Then, with all these details established and to hand, they can then make sure and certain decisions; yet without all the data, statistics and cogent facts at their disposal, they are reluctant to commit to a conclusion. C’s do not tend to thrive on tension and will avoid it or will pick at the holes and flaws of its’ concern, (which they can see a hundred paces ahead), in order to steer clear of combustible conflict.

So where Muttley knew his territory, tricks and escape routes, he would stand his ground, yet where there was any element of uncertainty he would flee, back to his safe home and to me. So whether human, cat or small, (lithe-bodied, nocturnal), mongoose like mammal, the ‘C’ has its’ detailed role to play – notated and checked to the nth degree – to check and perfect and to get life right.

In amongst all the mnemonics in DISC I can see the need for ‘C’ and all the different elements in my world.  And, like a lot of people, cats and civits, have many of the traits blended to a certain degree, to make a constant and evolving recipe of me.

PS: Sadly the Asian Palm Civit’s coffee talents have been abused by some in their native Indonesia, who have force-fed them a debilitating diet of coffee berries in diabolical living conditions, in order to harness their excreted harvest.  Fortunately there is now a campaign under way to encourage ‘ethical’ civet coffee…

PPS: Today’s Civit centric information has been digested and regurgitated from the websites o: f A-Z Animals, Wikipedia, messybeast.com/cat-prehistory.htm, and Cat Poop Coffee Inc.

PPPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: The Steadiness of the Leopard

Number 26 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

leopard

As a Coach and an admirer of Cats, I realised some time ago that these two things need not necessarily be mutually exclusive; in fact they could cogently combine, and so I find, that I am constantly developing my philosophies of and musings on, ‘Coaching with Cats’.

As a qualified Occupational Tester, one of the tools I use most often is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I am now gently developing this in to DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The trait that my cats and myself shall be scrutinizing today is the ‘S’ of the DISC model, which stands for Steadiness.   And my assistant in this task today is the living, loving teddy bear that is my cat Taz.

Taz is not always the most obvious of creatures, (apart from at meal times), and rarely is he bothering and badgering me for attention. A sweet but solitary creature, he often likes to hide out at the top of the stairs, squeeze into dark corners or park himself behind curtains – under desks or any where that offers him a good view and a secret blanket of safety.

He reminds me of a small Leopard, one of those graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars.  His wild cousins have territories spread across the vast reaches of Africa and Asia, and have been known to humans throughout long millennia, being featured in the art, mythology, and folklore of many places, from Arabia to Britain and far beyond.

Leopards are in nature elusive, solitary and largely nocturnal, of which aspects Taz quietly draws upon.  The key thing about personalities that belong to this type is their rhythmic pace and steadiness, and as such they can offer a calm predictability.  They are very grounded in the present, but are also great at meeting dedicated deadlines ahead of time.  Hence Taz will linger around for food, insinuating him self into my presence often two or three hours ahead of the pre-prescribed time.

Taz is definitely a lover rather than a fighter, preferring to do things the peaceful way – yet if the occasion calls for it, he will see off intruder cats from the garden, simply by staring them out.  It is a magnificent thing to observe – seeing him in his silent, steady power.
For all his independence and secrecy, Taz is too, very loving and steadily affectionate.  He is naturally friendly with everyone, but like all ‘S’ types, will take some time to get to know you before he loves you.  And since he is a true creature of habit, he likes to demonstrate his love, for me, with regularity, at round about 10.00 pm each night, when I will be sought out, then head butted, paw pounded and purred at.

It is always a two way scenario with this little Leopard and so I must, of course love him back…

Taz is one of the quietest cats I know, but when he has something to communicate, he draws on rich variety of methods.  Leopards too produce a number of vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, meows, and purrs.  My favourite Taz talk is his ‘thrup’ or what is known in the wild cat world as ‘prusten’ – a blown breathy nostril snort also made by tigers and snow leopards, as a sound of happy recognition.

Since they are such good communicators and excellent listeners – S’s tend to be great problem solvers too and will often reach their conclusions through group consensus.  Hence more and more Taz is to be found hanging out with all members of The Pride – especially during his patterned and favourite time of evening.

Taz rarely pushes or forces and loves to be quietly adorable and agreeable, even under pressure.  And unless it is a matter of food or safety, he would rather I called the shots and made all the decisions. This means that he can then just quietly takes his purring place in The Pride…

Taz is truly my own little Leopard.  He is a sweet hearted and gentle panther of a fluffy black cat, and a beautiful constant, quietly making his presence felt in my life and in the circle of The Peachey Pride.

PS: Today thanks go to the Wikipedia and National Geographic websites for their excellent information on Leopards.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a book.  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a ‘purrfect’ present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

The Gorgeous Serendipity of Cats, Writing and World Book Night…

Number 25 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

World Book Night 15

Yesterday I received an email, which began:

“CONGRATULATIONS! We’re thrilled to tell you that you’ve been chosen as a World Book Night 2015 volunteer! You will be joining thousands of other volunteers across the country to share your love of reading and inspire others to begin their reading journey.”

I have taken part as a volunteer for World Book Night before, for a number of reasons – not least because I have a love of books and words, which I got from my father (now departed), who read to me every night as a child.  As a result I was transported to exciting new worlds and introduced to a host of characters; I learnt and grew my vocabulary: and to this day love where writing can take you, in every sense – allowing you to escape (from the every day), to learn, and to grow, and all this whilst being entertained.

Of course, not every one has had the start that I did, nor have formed a reading practice for what ever reason…

Run by The Reading Agency, World Book Night is celebrated in Britain on 23 April and the Their Website explains what it is all about:

“Reading for pleasure is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, yet in the UK 35% of people don’t regularly read.

World Book Night brings together a powerful collaboration of national partners – publishers, printers, distributors, libraries, booksellers, private donors, trusts and foundations – to inspire more people to read. Thousands of volunteers share their love of reading by giving out books to people in their communities who, for whatever reason, don’t read for pleasure or own books. National, regional and local events up and down the country celebrate the difference that reading makes to people’s lives.”

As an avid reader and a published author, my wish is that as many people as possible get the opportunity to receive and read.  Every year there are a number of titles that are donated by publishers to give away and when you apply to be a volunteer, you also apply for which particular titles you would like to give out.

The organisers weren’t always able to give everyone their first choice, but did manage to allocate volunteers one of their top three choices.  I am delighted to say that I got my first choice and I chose my title for a very specific set of reasons.

So, on the evening of the 23rd of April I will be giving out 18 copies of: ‘Street Cat Bob: How One Man and a Cat Saved Each Other’s Lives. A True Story.’ This is a brand new, ‘Quick Read’ edition of a book I read several years ago called: ‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets’.

Street Cat Bob

The book tells the true and uplifting story of James Bowen, a drug addict, busker and Big Issue seller, living off the streets of London, and his cat – a ginger tom called Bob.

When the author found this injured street cat in the hallway of his sheltered housing, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. Soon the two were best friends, and their funny and sometimes dangerous adventures would change both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.

It is an easy and inspiring read, taking you into the world of James and Bob and detailing the slow, not always easy redemption of each of them.

As a reader, writer and cat lover, it was therefore the perfect choice for me, not least because I am currently exploring ‘What Cats Teach Us About Life’ in a series of blogs that I have been posting online this month, as part of a blog challenge I have set myself.  My brief is to write a piece every day of the month of February and it has been a fabulous experience, exploring how cats can give us so much pleasure, support and if we choose to see it – learning too.

The serendipity of World Book Night offering the opportunity to be a volunteer (acceptance is not guaranteed); then offering this title (they offer a wide variety of options which are different every year) and then accepting me as a volunteer to give out this particular book, all in this month when I am writing about cats and what they can teach us, is completely perfect and also an opportunity for which I am gorgeously grateful.

Alongside this, I will also be giving away some free copies of my own book ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’, showing how the simple act of writing a letter, can be a healing release that any one who can write, can do…

During March, World Book Night will be releasing details of events across the United Kingdom so you will see more from them, me and the army of volunteers gearing up for the evening of 23rd April.

I now have to decide where and who the books will go to… I live near Coventry in the West Midlands, so will be staying as local as possible.  I already have some ideas, but would also welcome ideas for organisations, groups and individuals that would really love the opportunity to start, re-discover or develop a new reading routine.  Please feel free to contact me through my blog with any suggestions that you have.

I have three cats of my own of course – so George, Taz and Sophia – whether they know it or not, they are all lending me their support.  And this year, as far as I am concerned, four paws is most definitely the way to go…

Watch this space for more World Book Night news… 

PS: World Book Night can be found and followed on Facebook and Twitter.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a book.  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a ‘purrfect’ present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: How to find the ‘I’ in Serval…

Number 23 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

Serval

I am blending and blurring the lines of my life… Linking the disparate and disciplined, making a whole picture out of all the multi coloured jigsaw pieces of my creation – born and made. And by doing so, I am bringing more of me into who I am and what I do, in everything, so that life is more natural and more easy… Blissful sigh… Smug pause…

Whilst I am practising the art of being more of myself, being more ‘natural and easy’, cats of course, are just getting on with it.  And the elements of my life that I shall be drawing together today, are the observation and interaction of (human) personality theories, as applied to cats…

As a qualified Occupational Tester, one of the tools I use most often is a psychometric inventory based on the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I shall now gently develop this in DISCC – ‘DISC for Cats’, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and so I shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The trait I shall be investigating with my cats today is the ‘I’ of the DISC model, which stands for Influence.   And my four legged muse to assist me in this exploration, is the youngest member of The Pride – my kitten-cat Sophia.

I know a lot about this particular trait since I, most definitely am a ‘High I’, so far be it from me to chastise Sophia for displaying all its’ inherent aspects – really loudly and really intensely.  Now, aside from the delivery, the ‘I’ is about influencing, so Sophia always wants me to be on her side and therefore keeps up a constant barrage of conversational mews, meows, trills, chirrups, and squeaks. These linguistic gambits play on a constant, incessant communication – of what she wants, how she feels, and where she is.

In the wild cat world, this would make her a Serval, a creature which lives in the savannahs and grasslands of Africa. Servals are show off cats, being the only wild feline that has both spots and stripes, allowing them to camouflage perfectly in to their grassy habitat. This helps them to be both an efficient hunter and a hider – ensuring that they are not seen by larger predators.  And just in case they then happen to be happened upon, the Serval also has markings on the back of its ears that look like big, scary, ‘leave me alone’ eyes.

Servals fit into the ‘I’ trait in that they are very well adapted to their environment. Most I’s have a quick paced flexibility to react to and fit into their surroundings; and also with their peers.  They will also have a tendency to hide from trouble rather than meet it head on. Servals have very large ears, enabling them to hear prey from up to 20 feet away, just as Sophia can hear the opening of a cat food pouch through walls, doors and fields away.

After the Cheetah, the Serval is the fastest of the wild cats, reaching running speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.   Any one who has met Sophia will know that she displays the typical High I characteristics of being incredibly fast paced, virtually all of the time.  These adaptations serve the Serval well and so this cat catches nearly half the prey that it goes after, in comparison to the lion, which only catches about 30 percent.  Sophia too is speedily adept at being the first to the food bowl, to the lap and out of the cat flat, all three achieved, usually within the space of speedy seconds.

If you were to ask an ‘I’ how to go about doing – just about anything, you would invariably find them carrying it out in the most fun, sociable or brightest way.   Servals and Sophia alike, want to get to the bottom of things and so as a type, are typified by the question ‘why’, and as arch socialisers, will want to know ‘who’ too. Sophia is always whizzing around, focussing on the next best thing, paws flying definitively towards the future.  She loves to be acknowledged and praised and will squeak back her undisguised pleasure at your ministrations, be they physical or verbal.

She is, most definitely an ‘I’ in that she is like quick silver – sensitive, reactive and intuitive, blowing with the wind or racing like a Serval across the Savannah (of the garden).  Her mission is to entertain and amuse you; but put her under stress or cross her, and the claws will (literally) be out and she will hiss out her (rare) displeasure.

The Serval type is a natural motivator, coercing you firmly and positively towards the end goal – usually of food or love.   This can all become all too much when a salvo of deliberate posing, posturing and purrs can just amount to manipulative attention seeking tactics, with  desperate striving to get to something or some one, regardless of whether the object of all that forced attention, wishes for the same thing.

Usually though you are on the same page, and visitors are enchanted by her obvious charms.  I had a recent guest who had not met my I-type cat before and wondered where she was. I explained with a twinkle that one thing is for certain – you will never miss Miss Sophia’s entrance into any room; and sure enough, in she soon flashed, meowing her little head off, demanding every one’s attention and then enthusiastically checking them all out.

I like to think that some how I am more soothing and subtle to be around, yet appreciate that this I-trait, is after all, all about the ‘I’… And in that respect Sophia and I are most definitely twin attention seeking souls…

PS: The source of the Serval information was: georginadp6.weebly.com/characteristics.html

PPS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

What Cats Teach Us About Life: How to be a LION…

Number 21 out of 28: This piece is part a Blog Challenge to write and publish a post, every day of the 28 days of February 2015, from Coach and Writer Sandra Peachey – the author of ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’.

lion 1

I commenced this blogging challenge with the intention of playing around with some concepts for a potential book and then, how like me… I start getting ahead of myself…  My blog posts are splurges of various themes, concepts and embryonic ideas.  And having already published a book, I now know that for me to write the next tome, demands that I grab all these disparate elements and turn them into some sort of sensible structure.  The (not yet) book is cat and coaching themed and has gone by various working titles… For the longest time it had the vanity title of ‘Peachey Cats: Lessons in Love Life and Litter’; then the simpler ‘Coaching with Cats’ and most recently, the ‘does what it says on the tin’ title of ‘What Cats Teach Us About Life’.

The (not yet) book is a constantly evolving concept, with various possibilities and opportunities to explore.  Today, three quarters of the way through my 28 day blog writing challenge, an idea for a structure, struck me, like these often do, like a soft thunderbolt…

It has arisen out of one of the recurring themes that has come up during this spate of writing, which is that whereas the various aspects of my life (work, dreams, hobbies, interests, etc and so on) used to be compartmentalised; now increasingly they have merged… So it happens that I am currently writing a book about cats, being a coach and about me, weaving in anecdotal strands about my cats, my clients and myself.

The structure will reveal itself all in good time and for today, I will start to add in some of the more major structural elements, even though as yet, they will still lay scattered about, rather like a jigsaw waiting patiently to be pieced together, to create the whole picture…

So the elements of my life that I shall draw together today are personality theories and cats.  I doubt very much whether I shall be either the first or last writer ever to do this, but I know I shall be the only one ever (I trust), to include four particular cats called George, Sophia, Taz and Whiskers as my muses and (four pawed) metaphors.

I shall now start on the Personality Piece:  I am a qualified Occupational Tester, which means that I have been trained in and practised, for an incessantly long time, a number of inventories that assess a number of things, including personality traits, aptitudes and emotional intelligence.  Much as I love to think that I intrinsically know people and can quickly get their measure, I have found the use of such tools invaluable, not least because they provide a model for measurement, comparison and discussion that can be used in many and various ways, not least as a coach.

One of the tools I use most often is the DISC personality assessment system.  The letters stand for what are regarded as the four main personality traits – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  I shall now be promulgating ‘DISCC’ – or DISC for Cats, since, as well as personality assessment, I also have extensive experience in the field of cat guardianship (not ownership – you never own a cat) and I now shall be combining the personality and the puss.

The first trait in the DISC model is Dominance and the first cat in The Pride is George, so it is natural that one should signify the other.  In the cat world this trait is firmly and fairly represented by The Lion.

So how does George demonstrate the facets of being the Dominant Lion?  Firstly, despite his fluffy, charming exterior, he clearly regards himself as both the Head and Alpha Male of the Pride.  Lions easily can turn on their strong directed charm, if it gets them what they want. Of all the cats in the Cave, George has the most dog like, ‘standing in his own power’ characteristics.  The phrase that most fits him is, ‘I want it my way’ – not yours, not theirs’, but my way and mine alone. George is very exacting in his wants – he wants the best sleeping spot (next to me), he expects to lead, never to follow and even it if is dinner time – that or the mere fact that the other cats are starving, is of no consequence – he will demand to be fed, when he wants to be fed, not led by minor dinner dictates set by the rest of us in The Pride.

George is a ‘what?’ cat.  He always wants to know what is going on – and always insinuating himself into my coaching sessions, or my reading, or writing and what ever else is going on in the Cave and basically taking charge, just like any lion.

His focus is always about ‘now’.  He wants what ever he wants right here and now.  I may have a fourteen inch screen laptop perched squarely on my lap, but such an obstacle will never stop him if he has decided he wants to lay across my legs.  Rebuffals will be met with a persistent nonchalance and an utter determination to get to his goal.

It is not about the anticipation with the leonine George, he is instead, motivated by getting things done / completed / sorted – all as they should be, which is always as he decrees.

When it comes to decisions, he is all about the impulse – what ever is the quickest thing that will get him to where he wants to be.  And the timing for that destination, will always be now. Lock him out of the bedroom where I and the sweetest sleeping spot is, and he will loudly yowl his right to have that door opened for and to him.  Like the lion he is, he will keep on yowling, until he gets his result. Put him under stress or duress, and suddenly the Cave becomes an Autocracy – and George will take charge and deal with the situation.  He will ensure that he gets the result he wants – even if that means that he has to be aggressive in pursuing his point – as any unwarranted human or feline who breaches the confines of the cave will attest.  He will doggedly pursue any intruders and see off the cat sized ones in an instant.  The human sized ones will be swiftly sussed out and then quickly either accepted or rejected – placed in their Pride order and so acknowledged or dismissed.

So that is the DISC personality theory according to George.  And George being the lion that he is, knows exactly what he needs to know about all that…  The Lion has roared…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, whether you be a cat lover or no.  All of human life is in this gorgeous book – all the fear, light, dark, and of course love, for any one who wants to be entertained and to know that they are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you, even if it isn’t all about cats… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)