QUICK READ – Who moved my cheese – Dr Spencer Johnson

We’ve a new starter at work (seems lovely) and during the whole ‘getting to know you’ chat she asked me ‘which mouse are you?’.

And then stared at me expectantly. Like it was a perfectly normal question.

From my entirely blank expression, she breifly explained that it was a book about decisions that you could read in a half hour then could change my – …and didn’t get much further due to work and all that.

The following day, I arrived in to find the above book on my desk with a note – ‘Read this and let me know which mouse you are!’

BLURB (from Amazon)

It is the amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organisation you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change in their search for the cheese. One of them eventually deals with change successfully and writes what he has learned on the maze walls for you to discover. You’ll learn how to anticipate, adapt to and enjoy change and be ready to change quickly whenever you need to.

Discover the secret of the writing on the wall for yourself and enjoy less stress and more success in your work and life. Written for all ages, this story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights will last a lifetime.

This is a very quick read – a simple analogous story that focuses not on how you feel about any given decision, but on how you react to changes.

The Cheese is any desirable state – whether work or personal life – and in this story, it has been moved.

There are 4 characters – two mice – Sniffy and Scurry – and two little people – Hem and Haw. Each demonstrate an aspect of our decision making process and reaction to change. The mice are non-judgmental and adaptable and quickly seek out ‘new’ cheese. While the little people are more analytic – with their lives and personalities derived from ‘the cheese’ – therefore they react far more emotively and more slowly – if at all – to the event that has created a moment of change.

So which  mouse am I? Well…as you might have guessed…I’m all of them!

In (aspects of) my work life, I tend to be the mice – sniff out change then make it happen, not tied down to any particular system or protocol.

In my personal life, however, I’m far more likely to Hem and Haw. I have been far slower to recognise that change is inevitable and that attempting to cling to old cheese rather than embracing a new way  will only hold me back and hurt me.

While I completely appreciate that this story isn’t for everyone – and in a few cases will likely get people’s backs up – I am pleased to add this into my mental repertoire. Hopefully being aware of my own responses to change will allow me to navigate life and evaluate change a little more effectively.


NOW READING – No one is too small to make a difference – Greta Thunberg

Just finished this micro book, with a big message.

Which is that we need to act now, to effect the necessary changes to prevent a global catastrophe.

Great Thunberg has become the unexpected spokesperson of the Climate Change movement. She is 16 years old, from Sweden and adamant that ‘our house is on fire and we need to panic’. By panic, she means react.

This short collection of speeches places great emphasis on our capacity to effect great change…but only once we decide to.

And Ms Thunberg is becoming increasingly stressed by the current political failure to focus on climate change, instead wasting our limited time and resources arguing whether racist language denotes racism or the merits or lack thereof regarding Brexit.

As someone who wastes far too much time and energy on both, I heartily agree.

This is a call to action, but not a prescriptive list. I’m with Greta, we need to change. I need to change.

And I guess I need to start reading up on the science to figure out how exactly. But I need to start soon.

Greta Thunberg Ted Talk


SONGS – haven’t I heard you somewhere before?

Taylor Swift’s latest song owes quite a lot to Lorde’s Royals, to my ears anyway…

You need to calm down

And Royals

Musical Mood 🌦

Earlier in the week we were all…

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – Heat Wave

Continue reading

BOOKS – Non Fiction (but I wish they were!)

I’ve been reading a bit more non-fiction books across the book clubs in the last few months (to be fair, 2 of them were my suggestions!).

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MUSIC – The Lost Words – Blessing (and book of spells!!)

This weekend, my dad sent me on the most beautiful song. It’s one of the most evocative and soothing sounds I’ve heard in a very long time.

BLURB (from youtube)

The album concludes with The Lost Words Blessing. It is offered both in hope and light, and in grief for the losses and dark times yet to come. We are proud and delighted to share this beautiful video of the creative journey. Filmed by Elly Lucas Photography and edited by Ben Davis.

Karine Polwart suggested the idea of a blessing that borrows images and phrases from many of The Lost Words spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Bluebell, Dandelion, Fern, Heather, Heron, Kingfisher, Lark, Otter, Raven and Starling), as well as from new spells (Goldfinch and Grey Seal). The form is inspired by blessings in Scottish Gaelic, particularly from a beautiful collection of charms and incantations called Carmina Gadelica.

This will be the last track of The Lost Word – Spell Songs album, set to be released on the 12th of July. (I’ve pre-ordered!)
Now, the website is absolutely gorgeous, so I would heartily recommend that you have a look at it – HERE!

The song then lead me to The Lost Words Spell Songs by Robert Macfarlane (author) and Jackie Morris (illustrator and artist).

My dad had attempted to explain what the book was about via whatsapp, but it was late and I didn’t really get it, conceptually.

Spell-poems written in response to the Oxford Junior Dictionary? A quick google and suddenly all becomes clear. A few years ago, the OJD introduced new words – primarily technologically based – and removed or reduced several words relating to the natural world. In 2015, the naturalist Lawrence Rose composed a letter to the dictionary, signed by several heavy weights in the literary and artistic fields – including (as you might have guessed) author Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris.

The words cut out are ones that I grew up with, that describe a natural world that completely enhanced my formative years – acorn; blackberry; conker; kingfisher and bluebell. I can’t fathom a childhood without bluebells (in this country and context etc etc). This book is therefore an attempt to restore those words so ignobly cut from the younger generations , with glorious looking images accompanying each one.

A proportion of the profits will go to Action for Conservation, a charity that works with “disadvantaged and socially excluded children” and is “dedicated to inspiring young people to take action for the natural world”.

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. These are the words of the natural world – Dandelion, Otter, Bramble and Acorn, all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children’s minds.

The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.

Now I just can’t wait to grab a copy for myself!!

Read Jackie Morris’ reaction to the Lost Words: Blessing song HERE 

Lyrics to Blessing

Enter the wild with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you travel far from heather, crag and river
May you like the little fisher, set the stream alight with glitter
May you enter now as otter without falter into water

Look to the sky with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you journey on past dying stars exploding
Like the gilded one in flight, leave your little gifts of light
And in the dead of night my darling, find the gleaming eye of starling
Like the little aviator, sing your heart to all dark matter

Walk through the world with care, my love
And sing the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home

LBC White Swan is tonight 👍

Looking forward to donning my @LeedsBookClub cap this evening.

Am meeting up with the #LBCWSwan crew to discuss Canongate Myth book The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino.

Equally thrilled that I’ll have a bestie from home with me. Huzzah!

(Still feeling guilty that my other Irish friend who joined us at book club last year had done the reading…but I hadn’t! 😱)

MUSICAL MUSINGS – The ‘Becoming Neevil’ Years

{This post was found unpublished in the archives. Not sure why I didn’t post it – presumably I had more to add. But as that appears unlikely – here you go}

First song I remember my dad singing to me:

Fair Rosa – an Irish sleeping beauty fairy tale.

This is not my dad. This is a lady from youtube.

First song that made me cry:

Puff the magic dragon

(Mind you, I was by no means the only person that has an unexpected emotional response to this song. When I was about 12 years old; some family friends popped over for dinner and a natter. They brought with them their beautiful little girl. When I stuck my loyal and trusty tape into the player; her father – a BFG of a man – burst into tears. He hadn’t heard the song in years and and ended up having his own formative years flashback. Naturally, he ended up leaving with the cassette! )

First album I learned by heart: 

The Simpsons – Sing the Blues

First Album I bought for myself:

The Lion King Soundtrack (AND IT’S STILL PERFECT!!!)

First Album Crush:

The drama of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours just captured my imagination and my heart. Stevie Nicks remains a constant fascination to this day.

MUSIC VIDEO – Surjan Stevens

The Child with the Star on His Head

MUSIC – Balcony Scene – Craig Armstrong

From Romeo + Juliet 1996