Where am I ? How did I get here?

It seems strange writing about how a place came to be, that doesn’t exist yet. Where I am at present is a place of flux, ignorance, stress, and faith.

Is this where I write about my story of addiction? It’s pretty mundane I would say, only it’s not pretty and mundane is a word used by those who have lived more, when they judge those who have lived less.

At present I am in a situation which is enviable. I have time and I have money coming in. It won’t last. My first plan is to do an Masters in Psychology, my second to buy a farm somewhere. My third plan is bring all that together to set up The Healing Path.

French law and administration is a nightmare even for the French. I am currently working with someone who is supposed to be helping. As I tried to explain the project , I mentioned I was going to Italy,

‘Yes but this isn’t Italy’, she interjected before I could finish my sentence.

Later after many other interjections I tried to explain about a project I know of here in France, but that didn’t wash with her either, she was asking questions of me, that I should be asking of her. It was early morning I hadn’t meditated yet. She talked about this medical set up and finally I lost my cool. I found myself shouting and trembling.

” For God’s sake, shut up and let me talk, how can I explain anything to you if you keep interjecting? It’s not possible, this my life and my future here we are talking about, you understand nothing of the project. You are the one supposed to be telling me how to go about it. You are not listening, you are not letting me speak, really it’s not possible”

The last time I lost my cool through frustration was about 4 years ago. It’s not normal for me. A loved one had been incredibly short with me the night before and I hadn’t slept well.

A few minutes later still trembling I apologised for loosing my cool, she was very calm and offhand and forgiving. At least her attitude changed and she started to listen. She is set on my opening an association. It requires a secretary, a treasurer and a chairperson. I don’t have three people, I have me.

‘You can’t do it all alone, its not possible’ she told me. I don’t believe her.

Surely there must be other structures that are possible but she is not forthcoming. She is set on one answer, with no alternatives. This is extremely frustrating now.

My application to university has been accepted and my current company where I work in English, need to have the application so they can sponsor my studies. Her project manager needs it all translated into French. I don’t have the original anymore as her colleague helped me edit it and I don’t have a copy.

‘Don’t worry he will translate it into French.’

Long story short, I need to cost the project or no one will rubber stamp it. That makes sense. What is this talk of getting it rubber stamped. I am not asking for permission. I am turning my future home into a centre of recovery, in stages.

The Stages

Stage 1: Set up the property to be habitable and grow enough food for any who are living there. Those initial people may well be former addicts.

Stage 2: Welcome former addicts and alcoholics to live in a disciplined way, to learn about all aspects of food from planting to storing , preparing, cooking and selling. These sales will contribute to the centres eventual income. We have a restaurant and an online site, to sell pickles, dried products, honey, etc;

Stage 3: Now these same addicts or alcoholics learn a trade, bee keeping, market farmers, potters, wood workers, decorators, artists , massage experts, meditators, yoga teachers, etc; and their eventual businesses contribute to the centre to keep it working.

This expertise will be be sold online, in the local community and on site.

Stage 4: We seek people who will pay to come and stay and learn about food, peace, tranquillity, nature, meditation and spirituality. These are people, possibly artists, possibly former addicts and alcoholics who want time away from their busy lives.

Stage 5: We are a known centre of recovery, people come from far and wide to learn and profit from our Healing path.

None of this can happen over night in my view and this is probably a 3 or 4 year plan, so how do I cost it?

Well lets just make a start.

So my next step is to head to San Patrignano and to learn what there is to learn. In meantime I better start my research into my costs.

My actions

  1. Talk to people I know and see if they are interested in an association.
  2. Ask questions during the conference in SanPa about European funding
  3. Ask questions in San pa about financial stability and how the raise funds and how much from their own work and production.
  4. Visit Berdine with the same type of questions.
  5. Cost my first two years, including the property. What sort of revenue might we have in year 1?
  6. Fill in the forms sent to me by the support company which is kind of number 5 but more general information included.
  7. Translate the business plan into French.

I will leave the morning after writing this and it should be published, they next morning at 9 am. So if anyone is reading this. I am in Italy, I am asking my questions and doing my research. Keep me in your thoughts or prayers.

It’s an adventure, and despite the stress, anxiety, fear, I am conscious of the gratitude to. I am grateful for the adventure and this will be focus.

Collie

The Healing Path – A story of recovery.

A few years back after learning about a circular economy from my friend, Bela, I heard about a place in Florida that was a kind of high end healing restaurant and retreat centre and I came up with a vision.

I thought about an off grid centre of healing that could promote the idea of a circular economy. However I had no idea how to do it. Working as an English teacher at the time in the south of France, I was required to teach the principals of permaculture through English to a group of French ecology students. The three main points of Care for the Earth, Care for People and Share the surplus, blended well with my own spirituality and with the principles of a care economy. So the concept, even though vague, still had some specific direction.

I spoke with another friend called Dani and she suggested making it a rehab for addicts and alcoholics. That also seemed very logical, very new and definitely needed. The only solution we were aware of on the Cote d’Azur, was either 12 step programs, if you were lucky enough to hear about them, or what we commonly call mental hospital.

More than one acquaintance ended up in one of the hospitals here, voluntarily, under lock and key. They had been dishonest about their drug use. They had elected to have electro shock therapy, and 2 of them are now dead. A third struggles with bipolar disease, and yet still manages to apply the 12 step program and help others, who can neither get to hospital nor work a program at this point of their lives.

Months went past and not much progress was made. I was struggling with my own financial challenges and couldn’t see beyond a dream. Was it really what I wanted to do? How could we do it? Where would I start? Fear is a great miner of questions that will trip you up and have you fall into a hole of procrastination and prevarication if you let it. I did.

I watched the news of celebrities dying from overdoses, I watched close friends relapse and almost kill themselves. I saw people come into a program and run away never to be seen again. I met people who knew they had a problem but were too afraid or perhaps just too hurt to do anything about it. I saw the guy on the street who over time developed wet brain and screamed at the ghosts of his past that no one else could see. Surely a community of recovery was the answer for all of these people. But it did it have to be my home? I am a renter not an owner. How do I become an owner with land to grow food and sustain us?

Eventually , possibly out of frustration, it was time to write a business plan.

The first business plan was written about 5 years ago. I still don’t know if the business plan I have is ‘a proper business plan’ but it’s a plan. Friends continued to relapse. Strangers were reaching out to me from the blue asking was there anywhere they could send someone they loved. Each time I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t acted sooner and got my shit together, but how?

Then somehow , I don’t remember how, I came across an article about a place in Italy. It was a craft magazine highlighting how the community in San Patrignano had pursued excellence. I was intrigued at this community of addicts who were producing top notch materials for 5 star hotels, leading chefs, and the fashion houses of Italy. Now this was a grand plan indeed.

It seemed just a couple of weeks later that I fell across a Netflix documentary called San Pa. I watched it all in one sitting. I was enthralled at the story of success, delighted that so many addicts had found community, recovery and connection and purpose in life. Could I dare do the same thing here in France? How could I make that work?

One of the things I notice in my story are the coincidences. Those things that come together unexpectedly as to leave you with no other obvious choice than the one in front of you. I hope to capture a few of these in the telling of the story.

I spoke with Bela about San Pa. Eventually we decided to make the trip down in his Tesla and see for ourselves just what it was, and how it was happening.

I would love to tell you the rest is history. Instead I will tell you more of the decisions I am facing today and how it came to this juncture in the road.

The Healing Path

Here I go again. Once more trying to rededicate myself to writing. At least now post pandemic, post getting to know the ropes of a great job, post many things, I have time. The site is back up. The admin side is full of spam , but I will get to it.

I am looking for a property to build a sober community. I don’t have a huge budget. I do have a business plan. Permaculture, care economy, sobriety, spirituality. Is that a way you would want to live or help others?

Recovery is a life long process. Sober living is a spiritual way of life.

In the next few weeks I hope to start detailing the business plan and property search. There is a lot to write. How I handle the fears that come up, the doubt and the stress. I haven’t had a client for healing in a long time. I have been looking after the coaching side of things.

It’s time to step into my vision and get this going.

More to come…..

Stepping Back Up and Forward

It’s been too long since I was here. Distracted by life, a world wide pandemic and many many changes. However like most people I have been growing or stuck. I haven’t been stuck. Something has shifted greatly in this last time.

I am starting a project. I want to step up and forward and I feel I have found the way. I have a vision of a holistic recovery centre. Somewhere where the suffering can come and heal. The artists can come and create. The healed can share their experience.

Ecologically minded, self sufficient and mindful would be the main principles of the entity I hope to create with a good friend. Spiritual ? Yes absolutely. A centre of health and abundance. No drugs or substances in bottles boxes or people. Not into going the chemical route.

Most food grown on site ecologically.

An absence of social media, phones, screens technology that distracts.

Promotion of tried and tested methods of giving people the tools they need to heal themselves through self reflection, exercise, diet, support, community and creativity.

In the next 24 hours I am finally… ( and it has taken me a long time to get to this point) going to go look at a possible site for this project.

This blog might become a record of progress , I am not yet sure. I have to speak to some people about the best way forward. However, I hope I find the discipline to keep it updated more than have over the past years.

It’s good to be back.

The Big Shift

After over a year on a lock down that no one saw coming, no one ever experienced and most people felt something about, it’s time to ask where are we now? Have you undergone or do you now wish to undergo a big shift in your life?

Through out my life I have worked jobs because they were there, some of them were highly skilled and some were much less so. It was just what I did, need money to live, need a job for money. I didn’t hang around. I have worked in hospitality, camera crews for movies and television, hospital maintenance, also with the sick and dying, and with the dead, I have worked in I.T. and photography and I am a writer. I have made my money over the last few years teaching, amongst other things. My life has been a huge adventure but I know now I am ready for something else.

One of the things I know for sure is I am not my job. Perhaps during lockdown, you have spent more time doing some things you never really had time for before, or more time discovering, or perhaps more time procrastinating, complaining, delaying, prevaricating and wishing it was different. I made great strides in my spiritual life, I became certified as a life coach, I read a lot of great books, and I also did a lot of delaying and procrastinating.

Being locked up against the will isn’t fun. Neither is working in job where I feel under appreciated or not accepted. I don’t need any more training or certificates. I have a plethora of them because I enjoyed learning. Nowadays I am actively learning from others and finding my worth and strength. I am finding my true power. I am good with people.

I am a creating a new business in the area in which I live. I have been working on it for the last few months. Sometimes its daunting and scary. Sometimes it’s exciting and exhilarating. Keeping it in the day, and being true to myself are just the key elements.

One of the concepts that has helped me is Ikigai.

What is Ikigai? Well Wikipedia tells me ” Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are not forced on an individual; they are perceived as being spontaneous and undertaken willingly, therefore they are personal and depend on a person’s inner self”

How I find my Ikigai is at the intersection of the following

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I love?
  • What can I get paid for?
  • What does the world need?

If you can answer at least these four questions and see where the concurrence is or where each intersects, then you have your bliss. It might help you in making the big shift and moving forward into a more willingly productive happy life.

Why Do I set myself Goals

I wrote about Goal setting and it put me on writing pause. I keep thinking, why ? They say Why is not a spiritual question, but… Why do we set ourselves goals? Or should the question be why do we set goals for ourselves? Already this is a sign of overthinking and getting into a spin.

So it would seem, the society we live in is a Hierarchical , goal oriented, winner takes all, pyramid shaped, top down, celebrity driven model, whereby we must perform, we must excel, we must do better than the other. I have never been a competitor, at least not a successful one. My reality is one of participation. Why? Simply through low self esteem I never thought I could be the best at anything. That didn’t prevent me from being the best. I got a distinction and was top of my class in my graduate diploma, but that had not been a goal. The goal was just to make movies. It’s still a goal of mine. However being the best, or at the top or the number 1 is … not so attractive. So why do I, Collie, the guy behind crackingthecircle.com , why do I set goals if not to be at the top?

I set goals to manage my day. I set goals so that I don’t , especially in these pandemic times, get bored. I set goals to give myself direction, and mostly, I set goals to be my best self.

All of us have a skill set. All of us have a contribution to make to society, or humanity. Each and every one of us has value. We all know something that can help another person. I have learned that just because I don’t appreciate someone’s views or actions, it doesn’t stop those views or actions being appreciated and beneficial to others.

So in keeping with the philosophy of , ‘I am here on the planet, what can I do? ‘ and also the finding solutions instead of looking at problems, I have set myself a goal. It’s a vision. It’s a big thing in my eyes. It’s a challenge to myself. It gives me purpose, it will definitely help others and I have the drive and the passion to make it happen, perhaps partly because the alternative is unimaginable.

In order to achieve this high and mighty vision I have to take baby steps. I have to work on my self esteem. I have to take small bites. Not that I would ever eat an elephant, but as the question and answer go, it’s only something that can done one bite at a time.

As I move forward most days, I might set the goal of just sending out a query, or a bigger task of completing a project plan. It doesn’t really matter. The goal or the intention is set in order to realise the vision. The vision exists because it’s what I finally choose to do. I choose to do it, because I have gotten to a place where I believe I can do it. I believe I can do it, because I have listened to the voice of the universe, speaking to through those I love and care for and what I have heard has led me to this conclusion.

Set goals. For yourself. Set goals because of who you are. Set goals to be your best self within your abilities. Set goals every day, and don’t worry if they are not achieved. We are not perfect, we miss the target sometimes. But set goals and stay open . The Universe may tell me the conclusion I see ,is not what it wants, perhaps it only wants me on the journey for a small time. Nonetheless, I see the possibilities, I believe in them. So I set my goals.

Now I have my answer. Why do you set goals?

The problem with Goal setting.

Cloudy rainbow.

Can you make it out? Can you see this blurry rainbow there somewhere in the distance? You know it’s a rainbow, it gives you hope but you just can’t really get it crystalised in your head.

Have you ever had that sort of response to goal setting? That kind of feeling, of vagueness about what you should and could and might be able to achieve that sort of gets you stuck is very common. We seem to lack the sharp edges, the definition. We lack the belief that our pot of gold is obtainable. Sure look right over there, even if there is a pot of gold it’s in very cold water and who wants to be bothered?

I know you can identify now. I have seen it so often in my own life, and in that of the clients I have worked with. A belief that somehow we cannot, or should not be crystal clear, defined, brilliant, rich happy and content and loved.

So we don’t bother with our goals, we sit in the mud of doubt and fear. It’s warm, it’s what we know and anyway we are stuck. They are unrealistic in any case, right? Nope. We are better than the photographer who doesn’t bother to check the focus. We have the tools. Let’s use them.

So I have an exercise for you. I want you to take 5 mins and write or draw or dance or express in some artistic way, your perfect life. Not the one you have now. The perfect life. That one that is full of love, abundance, purpose, or full of relaxation joy or play. Whatever it is that you think would make you happy. Now … once you have it once you have visualised and recorded this ideal life… I want you to improve on it. That car you visualised, make it a better car. That house you visualised, make it a better home. Keep improving. That perfect relationship, how could it be even better? Keep improving it.

Don’t tell yourself that money is an object or barrier, it’s not. Neither is your relationship history, nor your family situation. Visualise that there are no blocks no issues. Everything you could ever want desire or aspire to, is within your grasp. If you were the best, perfect version of yourself, if you were 10/10 in everything, what life would you be living?

This is our issue with goal setting. We put on brakes and blocks and barriers and we tell ourselves yeah I would love to be, but I am not good enough. I would love to have, but I can see how that wouldn’t work out. It’s not really realistic is it?

If you really wanna set goals, set lofty high goals. Forget the blockages forget the barriers forget logic. Do you think Copernicus had thoughts about being realistic? If he had Columbus should have sailed off the edge of the earth. Do you think Nelson Mandela had realism? Do you think Buddha decided it wasn’t possible? Set real goals. Set true goals. Getting off the sofa today is not a goal, although in this time of covid it can and will be classed as an achievement. But REAL Achievements are never realistic. Goals are the mini destinations on the road of life.

If you need help setting yourself some new goals, getting unstuck and moving forward, reach out and connect. I am more than happy to help.

Thanks for reading.

PS.. Our dreams are the stars by which we charter the course of our lives, Happy is the one who follows the dream.

It’s Spring if you want it to be.

Spring traditionally was Feb 1 when I was a kid, but I lived in a different country with a different culture. Spring is a time of new beginnings, so in a sense, every day can be spring if you want it to be.

I can remember a man, he was considered holy. He told me there is no such thing as endings only new beginnings.

I liked his philosophy and I have tried to apply it in my life with varying degrees of success.

As I have often stated here, what you tell yourself, even right now reading this, is just an invention of your own, to make sense of what you experience. It’s your unique experience. We are all different yes it’s true. However we are nothing without each other. I don’t believe a community of one is viable for a human. Everything you think and feel reject and accept is because of your interactions with others.

In these interactions with others I have made choices. I can easily make excuses for those choices. I can easily say I thought that way because what of the others did or said or how I experienced them. I can easily put it down to personal, national or international culture and education. However, My life is not to be about blaming others for who I am. My life is about me being the best version of myself I can attain, to be me, being responsible for my choices. Not guilty, not shamed either. Just understanding that some of my choices were not healthy ( how could they have been? ) for myself nor for those around me.

At some stage I have to put my hand up and take responsibility, let you know I am aware I made bad choices, that regardless of my intention , you were affected, hurt by them. At some stage I am apologising for this lack of awareness and this self centered obsession that I didn’t even consider you or your feelings. I am apologising for the hurt, unintended or otherwise, and hurt that I will not diminish, or belittle. I respect it as being your hurt and I acknowledge that it came from my behaviour and I am sorry.

Once I can accept my past and own it, I have a new beginning. Once I have a new beginning, then everyone else has one too.

Enjoy your spring.

New Beginning Same Story

Here we are in 2021. After all the talk about leaving 2020 behind because it was a horrible year . So we have this new beginning called January 1st where everything is supposed to change. Here in France where I am writing, we have the whole month of January. On Jan 31st if you meet someone here for the first time since last year, you wish them a happy new year.

You all the know the story of the kid who asked the wise man about life. He was told about the two wolves the black one which is despair pain and suffering, the white one which is joy gratitude and acceptance. They fight for position within us. The one who wins is that one which you feed.

Thankfully I have not been feeding the black wolf by watching endless news, or making events that are nothing to do with me, all about me. Neither have been trying to control any viruses or tell myself I am invincible. While I don’t agree with the rules or find much sense in them, I have generally applied them to my daily living. I don’t have a degree in science but I get it.

It is not the end of my world if I don’t get to celebrate a certain day with anyone, after all it’s just another day.

I can if I choose tap into the trauma, drama, concern, conspiracy and clamour of the outside world. It’s my choice. There are other ways to spend my time. Some very productive some not so. I have been focusing on becoming rather than just being.

So all that said and done, this year this 2021, is entirely up to you. Do you want good year? Do you want the best year of your life? No excuses, no reasoning it away, just a simple yes or no. So if you answered yes, good for you. Go do it make your new beginning.

Forgetting is Forgiving

Morning Glory

If you haven’t forgotten you haven’t forgiven. That’s a statement right? Forgiveness is something I have been challenged in greatly of late. What is there to forgive? Why should I forget?

I can pardon wrongs done to me by others, I can pardon unacceptable behaviour. I can make excuses and say that the other was in their special space, perhaps it was baggage, their buttons were pushed, or even yes their hormones were too strong. In any way it wasn’t intentional… Oh wait, it was intentional? Well I still forgive you, because I want to move on, I don’t want to let go, I don’t want to remove you from my life. Any and all sorts of excuses could be made for the behaviour of another. But how do we behave afterwards?

Even though in our relationships we think we have gotten past the incident, the hurt, are we now a little more cautious? Has it got to the extent where we start to compromise ourselves for fear of another event? Are we actually in some form of mild trauma, because we haven’t forgotten, that if we blow our nose at the table one more time our significant other will go off on one?

Well the truth is there is BIG difference between coming to terms with, and accepting, and knowing about the behaviours of others and truly forgiving them. Forgiveness is not about just acceptance. As long as there is a grudge, a painful memory, a regret, a wish that it was different, or had been different, then we haven’t truly forgiven. We are still in someway holding onto the resentment.

Resentments as I am coming to learn, are that magic trick we do whereby we drink the poison and hope the other person gets ill. Or to be more specific shoot ourselves in the hope that someone else will feel bad. Wow heavy analogies there right? Nope. Who benefits from me holding to a resentment? Even if I understand the reason that my parent wasn’t parenting the way I expected, even if I have talked myself round and flipped the switch and tell a different story to that of victim or survivor, if I am holding onto it in any way, If I am remembering it, recounting it, then I am repeating it and then I haven’t forgiven , because I haven’t forgotten.

Not only that, but If I am still acting out because of it? Then I have not even come close to forgiveness.

See forgiveness, is not easy.

NO they won’t win if you forgive. You will. Your holding onto whatever bad feelings is what is causing that pain in your body, that discomfort in your breathing, that blockage in your intestine. I am pretty sure, after manifesting many physical conditions and listening to the gurus and the teachers and the lightworkers, and going through 12 steps programs time and time again, resentment ( lack of forgetting) .. is the number one cause of pain discomfort and dis-ease

Our quest as many sages and wise ones have stated, is to live in the now, to know God ( whatever that means) , to be our best selves. We cannot do this while we are grasping the nettle of our past and telling ourselves that just because we are used to the pain, it doesn’t really hurt anymore.

So in my quest to be my best self and of best use here on earth there are two questions I have to deal with daily. Can I let go, can I truly forgive those who through no fault of their own, who were ill equipped to deal with life or step up in a way I expected? If I cannot , then there are no winners. If I can, then it is I who win. How? Because I heal, I let go, I free myself and I move on. Now who wouldn’t want that? If I win, there is a ripple effect. But here’s the rub, can I also forgive myself?