This was the message with my morning cup of tea. "The art of happiness is to serve all". That speaks to my happiness project, which is going very well by the way. My mantras are working. I've been cultivating the art of Doing Nothing and finding that actually it makes me far more productive than I am otherwise. But there's one thing that I've been procrastinating about for a while.
I've been trying to write an invitation for two weeks now. I've written and rewritten it about 5 times so far. It's still not ready. It's not ready because I haven't been able to write it from the heart. To get to what I really want to say. To tap into my source. Instead what has come out is corporate technical writing speak, mixed with cheesy cliched pseudo-marketing guff. Which doesn't really work. But we all know that we're supposed to start before we're ready, otherwise we'll never start, so that's what I'll do.
Usually when I write blog posts they just flow out of me - they turn up on the page as a finished product. So I thought I'd write my invitation as a blog post instead. Generally I get hit with inspiration, an idea of a story that I want to tell. I open my computer and approximately an hour later there is a fully formed piece of writing asking to be published. So I obediently publish it. Maybe that will happen with this.
But I've procrastinated about writing this blog. I've hesitated about putting this invitation out into the world, even though I know it will be well received and I believe with all my heart that people will want to come here and be with us. I know this because actually this is what we've been doing since we arrived. Many people have passed through our little homestead since we arrived 6 years ago, and so many have felt the benefits of it.
So what's the hesitation? Charlie suggested this morning that I wasn't doing it because there was a part of me that was resisting people coming. And If I didn't address this then it would be glaringly obvious in the sub-text of whatever I wrote. So I made a list of the reasons why I didn't want people to come. It was quite a long list. But I was able to summarise it in 3 points:
- You might not like me
- It might not work
- Maybe I'm not good enough to make it successful.
Now when I look at this list, it's not that unreasonable. I suspect that everyone who has started a new creative project has felt at least one of these feelings if not all of them. Vulnerability. Rejection, judgement, failure, shame. Common feelings that hold so many of us back. Because all of them may happen.
But here's what I know. This is my passion. This is my service. This is what the work here has been about for the last 6+ years. This is what the personal development, the growth, the pain and the joy has all been about. Creating a place where people can come to seek refuge and figure stuff out. It's why Emma and I came here, to find something else - to create and live a different way of life. This project is the latest evolution of The House and The Hill. A place that is continuing to evolve and grow just like us, and hopefully like you.
My invitation is to you. To come to stay for a few days. I want you to experience what I have experienced living here - to feel what its like to step out of normal life, to slow down, to ask yourself some questions. To take time and space to chill, feel and create.
And I want you to have some amazing people around you. Just like I've had. I want you to have the peace and quiet, the beautiful countryside, the fresh mountain air. To take all the time you need to figure out what you want to figure out. To live Life as Normal at the Hill.
We are calling this Slowcoaching. Living at a natural pace, enjoying the moment, with super-high quality coaching from a collection of people passionate about being in service to others to help them find their creativity, expand their capabilities and live their passions. Over the space of a few days. Not rushed, squeezed into an hour between meetings. Slow.
Individual personal retreats in rural Southern France
Now anyone who knows me (or has read my blog posts) knows that I have been on quite a journey over the last few years. I've taken responsibility for my life, put down all the things that have made me unhappy, and have picked up only those things that serve me well. And the less than rapturous day-to-day things that I have had to keep up, I approach with the Joy of a Small Boy Feeding a Hungry Duck (thanks to Marshall Rosenberg and Non Violent Communication for that one). So I think I have some experience of change and learning to live the way I want to. I'm happy to share my stories with you and see if they resonate.
I know I'm nowhere near perfect! And I know that the cycle of up-down-internalise-externalise-learn-grow will continue indefinitely. But generally, I know I'm on a good path: one that puts me in service to others while taking tender care of myself, allowing me to experience the joy of being present. Of listening to my needs and responding to them in a heartfelt, compassionate way. And of course listening to other people's needs and responding to them in a heartfelt, compassionate way. So I want to serve you.
Come and spend time with us on the Hill. Walk, talk, relax, learn to balance on the slackwire. Maybe do some gardening or cut wood with a chainsaw. Paint a picture, make music, cook and eat together with us. And in that time feel free to talk about your passions and dreams, how you can achieve them and how you can overcome obstacles along the way. And generally experience the joy and benefit from Doing Nothing. I know how much this has helped me and I want it to help you too.
And the truth is I am ready. I have been building up to this for the last 10 years, since the need to live outgrew the need to stay safe. I know that people like coming here. Many people have come here who thank us, return and often stay for far longer than they had originally intended.
So that's my invitation. Come and stay with us for a few days, to experience the joys of living in a tiny village, out in the countryside, away from the urban sprawl, in the tranquil Fosse valley in the hills. Take time to examine where you are in life, whether you are on track or want to make changes. Make concrete plans about the new business you want to start, or the new venture that is calling you, or the hobby that you want to get serious about. Remember how to listen to yourself - what your body is telling you with that tight wrenching gut, or that shortness of breath, or that lower backache that twinges every time you think that this is it and your life is now set. Stop, look, listen and find your flow. Talk it out with people that care and are dedicated to helping you find answers - me, Emma, Charlie, Bridget and a host of other people - coaches, artisans, artists, writers. Come and laugh, cry, drink, eat, walk, talk and just be. With us. Here on the Hill.
Job done - its out there now. We're offering a special rate for first six people who come with prices starting at £200 for a 2 night stay. If you fancy it, get in touch and we can talk through the details. To join us at the Hill call 00 33 4 68 84 79 12, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill in this form.
If you know anyone that might benefit from a few days of slow time, please share widely.
Hope to hear from you soon xx