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Spoon by Spoon

Here they all are. There’s no order, other than I wrote the first one first and the second one second…. you get the picture. If you fancy going back to the start of all of these, then head for the bottom of this page. But don’t feel obliged to, you could just as well rummage around and read what you like.

Why we need to dig deep

Life can be dispiriting at times. We put huge effort into an endeavour (art, music, love, work) for it to go nowhere at all. Or we find ourselves toiling away, creating, building, refining, and then have only a modicum of success. Neither seems to match the blood, sweat and tears we’ve expended. I was remindedContinue reading “Why we need to dig deep”

We can all stickle it

Growing up in the 1970s, I was fed a diet of BBC children’s programmes like Bagpuss and The Clangers. If you’re unfamiliar with them, please allow me a short childhood reminiscence.  Bagpuss was first shown in 1974 – the story of a magical cloth cat that came alive. Every episode a young girl, Emily, wouldContinue reading “We can all stickle it”

Trusting your gut

Guts are having a renaissance. It’s 2021 and it’s now perfectly acceptable to bring them up in conversation. Look in the bookshop window and the shelves are groaning with guts. The gastrointestinal tract is merely a 4.5 metre tube, yet it’s the most densely populated spot on the planet. A place that 100 trillion microbes callContinue reading “Trusting your gut”

The relative size of things

The time we spend thinking about something often doesn’t match its importance in our lives. If we parked all our worries in a line, they would stretch to the horizon. When is the ‘eat by’ date of the yoghurt? Did I use the wrong title on the presentation? Should I smile more at the check-outContinue reading “The relative size of things”

Being a frog in a well

Count the number of times I’ve included Japan in my blog posts and you’d think I was in love with the place. Japan appears every few weeks – here on regrets, here on career advice, this on the power of words, one on having a calling and here on the strength of letting go. I use the word “appearing” as I’m not doingContinue reading “Being a frog in a well”

Why we’re always learning

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The author of this saying is lost to the mists of time, although it’s routinely attributed to The Buddha, the Chinese text The Confucian Analects, The Theosophics, or even Tao Te Ching (in a longer form): “when the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready,Continue reading “Why we’re always learning”

Being lost and also found

Who doesn’t love a horror film? Me actually, but many people do. Why do we snuggle up on the sofa to watch gore? Why do we invite terror into our homes? Isn’t life stressful enough anyway? Christian Jarrett wrote about this in The Psychologist magazine. “Fear coils in your stomach and clutches at your heart. It’s anContinue reading “Being lost and also found”

Words, schmerds

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.” Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll, 1871 Words are funny things. They’re a jumble of letters and sounds which intrinsically don’t mean anything. A few words are onomatopoeiac – the ones that sound like the things theyContinue reading “Words, schmerds”

Money, money, money

“I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay, ain’t it sadAnd still there never seems to be a single penny left for me, that’s too bad” ABBA, 1976 Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid grafted for decades before they made it. Their break came in 1974 at the EurovisionContinue reading “Money, money, money”

Waking up from unmindfulness

Here’s a bit of Greek mythology that I discovered the other day. In Greek legend, Lethe is the River of Unmindfulness, one of five rivers in the Underworld. The river winds around a cave where a character called Hypnos lives and anyone who drinks from Lethe’s waters forgets everything that went before. As is the wayContinue reading “Waking up from unmindfulness”

Choice is not always our friend

Ever found yourself rooted to the spot? Overwhelmed by choice, unsure what to buy? 30 sorts of cooking oil, 23 brands of shampoo, 15 types of eggs. The issue is not what. It’s which. Renata Saleci is a Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Law (an interesting combination). This is her talking about the paradox ofContinue reading “Choice is not always our friend”

Why eating salad isn’t enough

I’ve just finished reading Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversations – Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Turkle is a Professor of the Social Study of Science and Technology at MIT. She’s spent 30 years studying people’s relationships with technology and her book is a great read. But if you haven’t got time here’s a summary: putContinue reading “Why eating salad isn’t enough”

Industrialising food and people: why it needs to stop

There are 300,000 edible plant species on the planet. Yet 60% of our plant-based calories are from wheat, corn and rice. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that 75% of our food is made up of five animals and twelve plants. And we’re losing plants all the time. Since the 1900s, 90% of the US’s native fruit andContinue reading “Industrialising food and people: why it needs to stop”

When giving is really receiving

With the Christmas holidays upon us, my mind turns to gift giving. I thought I’d share with you a particular type of present: a Chewbacca present. This is something we buy for ourselves under the guise of buying it for another.  The name comes from the first Chewbacca present. It was selected by my husband in the late 1970s.Continue reading “When giving is really receiving”

What I say is not what you hear

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw During the Korean War, a British army unit was holding a hill above an important river. But the British were on the back foot, surrounded and increasingly becoming outnumbered by the Chinese army: eight to one. The BritishContinue reading “What I say is not what you hear”

The crucial art of telling your story

Storytelling is literally as old as time. And the people telling those stories were around long before historians. Nicholas Read studies indigenous Australian languages at the University of New England in Australia. In this fascinating article by Scientific American he says, “It’s almost unimaginable that people would transmit stories about things like islands that are currently underwater.” AndContinue reading “The crucial art of telling your story”

Why change is so hard to notice

How do we know what is changing in our world if we can’t see things moving? It’s a distressing situation for people with Akinetospia, a condition where you can’t process moving objects. One example is a 60-year old man who was struck on the head by a pole. Afterwards he couldn’t tell that his dog was running.Continue reading “Why change is so hard to notice”

Having a ‘calling’: why it’s not always a good thing

Lesser Water Boatman. A beautiful name for a bug. Corixa punctata have bodies shaped like boats and legs like oars. Gold coloured backs and red eyes that darken with age. These tiny creatures skate effortlessly across the water like they’re flying. Olympians diving, punctuating the surface, leaving just a ripple. They feed on algae at the bottomContinue reading “Having a ‘calling’: why it’s not always a good thing”

Running away or running towards? Why it’s important we know the difference

“I was much further out than you thought. And not waving but drowning.” Stevie Smith From a distance it’s hard to know why someone is running. Are they fleeing from or racing to? To the casual observer they look the same. It can be equally baffling to the runner. Some of my Spoon by Spoon interviewees areContinue reading “Running away or running towards? Why it’s important we know the difference”

Old dog, new tricks: why it’s never too late to learn something new

Neuroplasticity is the new kid on the block. It’s been around for a long time, but it’s having a second wind. A bit like the Rolling Stones. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change itself. When it’s injured or diseased it can re-route traffic to avoid roadblocks, re-organising cells or re-mapping whole areas. Neuroplasticity isContinue reading “Old dog, new tricks: why it’s never too late to learn something new”

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