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I started a course called Creativity, Innovation and Change. The title intrigued me for one, but the idea of collaborating with over 127.000 students world-wide in a sort of social constructivist experiment was what really hooked me.

Sharing and developing creative ideas with people of so diverse circumstances as the head of a university in Denmark, a furniture designer in Mexico, a house wife in USA, a government employee in France, a psychologist in Russia a domestic cleaner in …… well, it has to be interesting, don’t you think?

Reality?

Here I am in week three, and 127.000 is a lot of people and how we will work together and how many of us will stay is yet to be seen. But the course kicked of f in a flurry of activity, with several of the more outgoing students organizing online meet ups via Google and Linkedin and the university releasing the first set of course materials of exercises and projects.

Step one seemed to be to help each of us find out where we were so to speak. Not in a physical sense of course but in a creative sense.

Through videos and transcripts, we were assured that everyone are creative, based on the fact that we make our own choices and thereby create our own solutions or problems, the main measurable viable being our creative style which could be measured by how innovative we were in these. Strangely enough our level of innovation wasn’t to be tested by any more clever or innovative means than a questionnaire. The questionnaire took minutes to answer and the results arrived back in seconds.

I was delighted to find that I came within the mildly innovative range, a range that most people come within, as was illustrated by the tried and trusted Bell curve at the end of the test.

On the Map

Flushed with pride in my averageness I promptly went on to carry out the next exercise which was concerned with putting me in the picture spiritually; the question being ‘what drives you.’

A lot of people really ran with this exercise, others moaned they had already done that kind of thing before. I have, but I think it makes perfect sense that if you want to make, you need to know exactly where you are now.

Like any kind of project, defining where you are and where you are going; what your objectives are is the recipe for success. But how often when we are lost, when we are unhappy or have a problem to solve, do we take the time to sit down and lay down the facts?

The CIC course again did not come up with an innovative tool, nevertheless the tool they presented to us was perfectly adequate; Mind Mapping. We were encouraged to put what drives us in the middle and up to nine departments of our lives to branch out from that.

Many of the students posted their map on-line for all of us to see, and it was very interesting.

Some people had ‘love’ in the middle, others had ‘me’ and ‘happiness’ one I saw had Nike’s slogan ‘just do it’ and so on. Finally all of us had to choose our position to the course; were we tourists, explores or adventures. A little like in life.

I wonder how you see yourself.

Creativity Innovation and Change is a free on-line Coursera course from Pennsylvania State University led by Dr. Jack V. Matson, Dr. Kathryn W. Jablokow, Dr. Darrell Velegol from Penn State University, the course modules are: Uncovering Your Creative Identity, Character Development, Idea Generation, Idea Evaluation, Creative Collaboration, Research, Metrics, Experimentation ,Synthesis of Creativity, Innovation, and Change.

 

I have been talking to Lily Byrne; a woman of great talent, with an insatiable appetite for dangerous liaisons and incurable need for speed.

She asked me questions about my new book ‘The Girl from Limerick’, how I wrote it, who is in it, and if it can really all be true.

Check out her page for my reply😉 :http://lilybyrne.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/writer-wednesday-interview-with-maggi-summerhill/

In celebration of my son’s birthday ‘The Girl from Limerick’ (possibly the next bestseller) will be made available to download for free from 22 June at 12 o’clock to 23 June at 12 o’clock.
Available at Amazon.

ImageHope you enjoy🙂 and if you do, you will be kind enough to write a review.

Thanking you in advance and happy reading.

Enter that special place in your mind. Unusual, beautiful and relaxing. Enjoy😉

Video  —  Posted: June 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
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andrew MeekYou don’t ever ‘get better’, ‘recover’, from mental health ‘issues’ – serious or otherwise; what you do is adapt to them, accept them, that is the ‘trick’ to coming to terms with a new way of living. And it is ‘living’, it is life, just a different one that you perhaps once believed you would lead.

And part of this new paradigm of living is to accept that you will fall back from time to time, but that this is not ‘the end’ and you will not die – because you have been here before, and you survived, and you will survive again, and you will go on, go on living, even thriving.

And with each fall back there will be, in the back of your mind, even in the worst of times, that knowledge that grows just a little each time you fall; that you have been here before and it did not kill you.

This is the ‘trick’ to living: to accept this new paradigm of being.

Accept it, make it a simple thing to accept it: that you will never be ‘normal’, but then again; define ‘normal’? No one is that thing, it’s just that some of us are at a different point along an imaginary line that means we feel the sting of being human that bit more than most.

But we also feel so many other things at a heightened level, and they are there; the ‘highs’, these are the gifts of our ‘condition’. Enjoy them, revel in them, and in time, they will help you realise that you are very lucky to be who you are. You may not feel it today – but it will come. It will come. Hang on, hold on to the world with both hands – there are more of us than you know.

By Andrew Meek author of Code Words: A Poetry Collection on the Theme of Love and Loss and Being and Becoming.

Alison Taft – by Kirsti Robinson

 

Alison is out of the ordinary. Growing up in Burnley – how many of us can make such a claim? She then went to live in Crete, moving on to the Middle East and later the Far East.

Determined to have a job she repeatedly got fired for insubordination. Adamant she would never get married, she‘s spent the last fifteen years living with Mark. Earnest she would not have children, she had two. And convinced she would never realise her childhood dream and become a writer; she has written three books – so far.

How so contrary?

Alison doesn’t know, but confesses her grandfather used to ask her that same question. Halso used to say she was telling stories. Telling stories is something she does very well. Her first book Our Father Who Art Out There…Somewhere is entertaining and deeply engaging. To Alison’s genuine surprise readers reception has been both enthusiastic and emotional. ‘It has been a revelation,‘ she admits: ‘People have come up to me and told me I’ve helped them deal with their own, similar situations. I never realized my writing could be good for other people too,‘ she explains.

On the arrival of her children, Alison became consumed by the need to find her birth-father. Her mother had re-married when she was very young, she was adopted by her stepfather and although she always knew she had a different dad, she felt it wasn’t something you could talk about as a family. But her own children fostered the need to know where she had come from and while searching for her father, the scene in her mind was set for their happy, loving reunion, complete with her proud introduction of her partner to her birth father and her father triumphant with his grandchildren in his arms…… Instead she got a letter – he did not wish to have contact with her.

Alison was not prepared for such a brutal blow. ‘I was reeling; how could anyone reject their own child and go on living as if s/he had never existed? – How could he reject ME!?’ she exclaims. The hurt and disbelief went deep but along the road she discovered writing brought her relief. ‘I found writing fiction allowed me to examine my emotions from a safe distance. I needed to mourn, and writing down meant being able to let go somehow,’ she muses.

At first Alison was only able to write about her emotions, but slowly, like peeling an onion (tears and all) she was able to go closer and closer to the core of her distress. As she finally was ready to face her pain head on, a character was born: Lily. Lily was someone who, like Alison, secretly believed her father would never voluntary have given her up. Unlike Alison however, Lily at 19 with her mother dead and no children or husband to protect or care for, was given free rein to unrestrained emotion and selfish indulgence.

Alison’s friend, who was allowed to read her passionate and sometimes outrageous scribblings (in one scene Lily kidnaps her fathers other daughter and as she refuses to believe that her dad lied to her, Lily shows her the wedding album) was impressed. ‘She researched ‘chick noir’ and found a publisher, Caffeine Nights,’ says Alison. ‘I only sent it to them because it said on their web-site they’d give feedback on rejected manuscripts. I nearly fell off my chair when they said yes.’

And she continues to smile, because her fathers refusal to acknowledge her as his daughter sent her on a journey where she discovered that writing is not only useful for escaping the day to day stresses, but also for gaining a clear vision and control over her own emotional life. But, most importantly, he has inadvertently given her the opportunity to help others and for that she is truly grateful.

Since 2005 parents can no longer have a child anonymously, but there are still families today, living with ‘the secret’ of having one or more adopted children. The concealment may go on longer when there is one natural parent and half-siblings involved and more often than not the reason given is to protect the feelings of the adopted childAlison is adamant that telling the truth early saves pain later. 

What is your opinion?

Alison talking about her fist book.

Alison’s favourite reads:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Firm – John Grisham
Danny Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
The Beach House – Jane Green

Do you have a story you believe might benefit others?

Please don’t hesitate to contact me on maggisummerhill@gmail.com- Thanking you in advance and thank you for reading. Your comments and ratings are warmly received. Maggi

Kathryn Ma with mum and dad

I first met Kathy thirteen years ago in a pub in Brighton UK. She had come over for a few weeks doing a tour visiting friends. We instantly got on and spent a few days together, shopping, laughing and generally having a lovely time. Little did I know that back in Hong Kong my new friend was a celebrity and a regular guest on local radio shows.

We have stayed in contact despite the physical distance and over the years I have learnt that behind that laid back happy-go-lucky demeanour lies a person who is incredibly driven and determined. ‘Hong Kong teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times.’ She says and adds : ‘As a woman you have to be even better.’

Kathy makes friends wherever she goes, despite this she is surprised when I asked her to be interviewed for my blog: ‘But why? I’m not very interesting.’ She says’.

Kathy is unusual; she is a Chinese Australian living and working in Hong Kong. She is psychic and a serial entrepreneur and yet she is one of these people who lives her life without a plan, accepting whatever challenges it hands her with gusto and flair.

You may think knowing what the future holds solves a lot of problems, like making the right choices and getting involved with the right people – foresight must be better than hindsight. But she insists that’s not how it works: ‘Psychics are unable to make predictions for their own futures.’ She says and explains: ‘Emotions get in the way, we make mistakes like anyone else.’

In fact it took Kathy a while to realize she could read the future. Not from a psychic background, while growing up she tried to reason she was a good guesser and her anticipations were logical rather than psychic. But after meeting a psychic in her early twenties she gradually realized she had an ability. Despite this she was still at loss to fit it into her life and it was only years later, attending a World Health Expo in San Francisco and meeting working psychics she realized she had to trust her ability and decided to embrace her gift fully. Kathy admits:’ it was a now or never moment.’

Kathy being Kathy not only set about giving personal readings, but quickly got involved with the business community as well, giving readings and strategic advice. ‘I wouldn’t give financial advice. I would convey the intentions of the participants of a meeting and the tone of the meeting itself which obviously went a long way to help good decisions being made.’ She says.

Attending other people’s meeting and reading other people’s lives was not enough for Kathy in the long run. She set up a Mind, Body and Spirit shop (The House of Energy), followed a few years later by a dating online website (DateAsia) and a paid Privilege lifestyle card purveyor in Hong Kong (VivAsia). At this point, much to her amazement she was hailed as one of the major trend setters in HK. ‘I’m not like that!’ She protests: ‘Things capture my interest and inspire me. Then of course comes the challenge to see if I can do it.’ She laughs.

Viewing her success and popularity I have to ask: ‘Why Hong Kong? Why not the world?’

Kathy doesn’t even pause to think: ”In Hong Kong you’ve got total efficiency – it’s amazing what you can get done in a day.’ She explains: ‘ Australia is too laid back and I did have offices in China, but it drove me crazy – it drove everyone crazy. Initiative and responsibility was basically alien to them.’

Hong Kong by Trey Ratcliff:stuckincustoms.com

Like Kathy, Hong Kong is full of contrast; densely populated it still has the feel of a village. Its inhabitant driven and demanding yet they are exceptionally friendly, helpful and creative.

Like in most of Asia the extended family in HK is very strong and despite living accommodations in general being very small by western standards it wouldn’t be unusual for a married couple to have one or two grandparents living with them and looking after the children. However there is an emotional and financial need to work.

Kathy driven as she is values her family more than her personal ambitions. You see while HK teaches you not to be lazy and try your best at all times – family always come first.

Kathy’s favorite reads:

1) A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani

2) The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

3) Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde

4) There’s A Customer Born Every Minute – P.T.Barnum’s Secrets to Business Success by Joe Vitale

5) Any books by John Sandford or Harlan Cohen – I do love a good crime mystery.

Thank you for reading. If you know anyone who you think should have been interviewed by me, please let me know on maggisummerhill@gmail.com. Comments are very welcome and so are ratings.🙂

Roger, foster son Leon and Caroline

A few years ago Roger and Caroline attended the same lectures as I at Lampeter University. My curiosity was immediately aroused, while Caroline’s playful intelligence

and Rogers easy laugh and sharp humour was attractive; it was their high level of energy and drive that intrigued me.

But who are they?

Their stories could not be more different yet they are a team; a married couple with a shared passion.

Caroline originally from Guilford, Surrey, had a happy childhood. ‘ We were the privileged families who were able to climb the social ladder by newopportunities, buy

our own home and become what I supposed was middle class.’ She says. Her contentment was to end most horribly when she was sexually abused as a teenager.

It shaped her view of the world and she spent her early adulthood ina state of confusion. She had four children amidst a world of poor choices and abusive relationships.

‘I had become a magnet to them.’ She states simply.

In her early thirties she hit an all time low and following some depressive periods decided to take control of her life and went to University to study an Access Course

(aimed at mature students who want a higher education.). ‘It opened up a whole new world for me and my confidence soared.’ She recalls.

She earned herself a BA and got a job she immediately loved, working with the Princes Trust as a team leader with teams of 15 young people at a time on a twelve-week

personal development course.  Promoted very quickly, she soon found herself struggling to balance her job with home life and her children studying A levels and leaving

for University. ‘I had to say enough was enough, but I so enjoyed supporting young people I decided to become a foster carer with the support of my kids.’ She smiles. ‘

And haven’t regretted a single day.’

Roger started life in one of the roughest areas of Swansea. Roger affirms: ‘You had to make a lot of choices at an early age to survive.’  But his hard working, loving parents

instilled their values in him and an exceptional teacher in school inspired a thirst for knowledge; including arts and music and a love of life. Despite this he never finished his

A levels. His father had a serious accident at work and he left school before his exams to work in a local toy factory as a trainee cost accountant to support the family.

He was seventeen. From then on he had a succession of momentous turning points where he had to change his life. ‘I applied for a job in the Swansea’s Magistrates Court and

got it.  Then at 21 I married someone I had known since we were 16. We had a rough time for about six years, mainly due to my immaturity. At 29 I had my first child, Victoria,

and moved to Leeds with the family for a fresh start.’ Roger recalls.  While working in Leeds Magistrates Court, Roger had become a semi pro musician and in 1976 he had

another child, James.   Twenty four years later his wife, Chris, was diagnosed with cancer and she died three years later. ‘I choose a selfish and destructive lifestyle, but,

ironically, everyone thought I was great company for a party.’ He observes.

He met Caroline a year later and a whole new life started when she introduced him to Buddhism and fostering.  ‘I had found my mission (fostering) and meeting Roger was

perfectly in alignment with how my life was progressing.’ Says Caroline. Fostering has been part of their lives for eight years now and the couple help train new carers in Wales.

There is no doubt their combined life experience goes a long way to understand how unpredictable and sometimes cruel life can be and the kind of choices people make in

stressful circumstances. However, the pleasure of assisting children and their families often comes with some pain. ‘We have had sleepless nights’ Roger admits and adds there

have been times where they have been unable to connect with a child.

Writing, drama (Roger helped set up an amateur dramatics society, Memorama,  when he was widowed back in 2003), playing music and practicing Buddhism has proven a great

way of channelling complex emotions. ‘And the children can join in if they want to.’ Says Caroline.

Will they ever retire from fostering?

‘Our happiness is entrenched in what we do, we love our own 6 children and having them around, we love our community and getting involved witheveryone, we love having children

come to us that need a bit of guidance and direction AND LOVE, we love working with Mother and Baby placements thatwe have recently seen so many of.’ Says Caroline while Roger

nods emphatically. ‘We are supposed to be retired, but fostering gives you themomentum to stay young.  And it’s so rewarding. ‘ Roger smiles.

Roger’s playing with Brass Ear, you can find them on:  YouTube (Vehicle march 2012 Brass Ear.mpg)

If You would like to know more about the amateur dramatics society Roger and Caroline supports, check out:  memorama.org.uk

Rogers favorite titles:  
Legend of a Suicide (David Vann)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon)
An Evil Cradling (Brian Keenan)
Elephant (Raymond Carver)
Plays 2 (Anthony Minghella)
Caroline’s favorite reading:
The Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton)
To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
At-Swim-Two-Birds (Flann O’Brien)
The little Prince ( Antoine de Sainte-Exupery)
The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)

Thank you for visiting and reading this true story, I hope you enjoyed and would love to hear from you.

Come back again or click “follow’ for the next story – Driven: Kathy Ma is half chinese, half Australian but Hong Kong is her home.

RC Bridgestock; Robert and Carol are one of the most promising crime writing team in Europe today.

Truth be told, they know more about crime than most people.

Carol had two children and was looking for a change in career from hairdresser and fancied working in an office. However her dad an office worker himself tried to put her off as he thought she would be bored ‘Finally I joined the Police as a support worker and it was everything I wanted – working in an office but there was always something to do and never a dull moment,’ she says.

Bob had joined the Police as a young man. ‘I kept being picked on by the local officers, I’d heard the saying ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ After a particularly unpleasant experience (he was bitten by a dog handlers dog) I thought I’d better join them.’ He laughs. He signed up for 30 years and by the time he met Carol he was a Detective.

Meeting at work, they quickly realized they were on to someone special.

‘Despite our track record in personal relationships after both our marriages had broken down and against all the odds we trusted each other immediately.’ She remembers. ‘That trust never waived.’ Bob agrees.

Getting together proved to be the start of a healing journey for them both. ‘Bob worked hard and hardly ever took a holiday and often couldn’t even take his day’s off,’ Carol remembers. ‘When he became a SIO (Detective Superintendent, Senior Investigative Officer), working on a murder case and serious incident the children and I would lose him to the family of the victim for the duration.’ On one day he gave evidence in three different murder trails that he was in charge of in a Crown Court – one of the cases had seven defendants who all had different Barristers. But Carol knew it was the only way, and supported him the best she could.

In their book titled Deadly Focus Jen gets Jack Dylan’s suit out in the middle of the night when he gets called out and puts fruit in his briefcase… Some say she is ‘too good. But this is exactly how Carol was. ‘It’s exactly how it needs to be.’ Bob says. ‘We are a team.’

The authenticity of the characters and police methods in Deadly focus are so compelling, laymen and police have commented on it.

They confess the books are to some degree autobiographical. ‘The cases are fictional but Bob is just like Jack and Jen is exactly like me. ‘Well in book one, two and three she is, I can’t vouch for the rest. You will have to wait and see,’ Carol smiles.

Writing together has proven to be the icing on the cake for both of them. A new venture to work on together after spending so long apart and a chance to revisit their past.

Carol feels writing has helped her deal with the psychological trauma in particular the fact she was bullied in her workplace by her immediate female boss.

Writing about it made her realize how much it had affected her. ‘It has taken me three books to work it out of my system.’ she confesses and adds ‘I can smile about it now.’

Bob agrees. For him it was an undetected murder playing on his mind. He was in charge, the pathologist got it wrong. Possible evidence was missing and the offender is still at large.  ‘It was one out of 26 murders I took charge of in the last three years of my thirty year police career, and I have come to terms with the fact I couldn’t have done more than I did.’ He says.

Writing together was Bob’s idea and when they retired from police work he enrolled them both on a course. ‘He wanted something we could do together.’ says Carol.

Bob laughs ‘Well the reason I didn’t want to go alone is that Carol can type quicker.’

In Bob and Carol’s world there is not much time for leisure as they have three more novels planned, Carol is Chair of the Wight Fair Writers’ Circle, Bob is a member and Bob is at the moment helping the well-known scriptwriter Sally Wainwright with background and police procedure on her new police television series. ‘We are enjoying our selves, it’s like a breath of fresh air Carol says.’

R.C. Bridgestock are authors of the crime thriller ‘Deadly Focus’ and ‘Consequences’.  The Publishers are Caffeine Nights Publishers http://www.caffeine-nights.com. The books are dedicated to victims of crime.

 Want to know more about Bob and Carol? Visit their website

http://www.rcbridgestock.com .

The Wight Fair Writers’ (www.iowwritingircle.co.uk) each year organize two writing competition to raise money for a charity and try to inspire all age groups to enter. Their next competition is the ‘Crime & Intrigue’ short story competition and the launch will involve a mock crime scene, police dogs and the firearms team – all who will come and take fingerprints to make into badges too for the children of the 1st Godshill & Rookley Cubs on Wednesday 7th March.

Carol’s favorite reading is: Diary of Anne Frank,Through the Stones by Diana GabaldonSense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

And Bob’s: Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian, Abide With Me by Ian Ayris, Turtle Island by Darren Law

  

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed and look forward to your comments. Please come back next month for another installment of Inspirational Lives and feel free to contact me with your story via my e-mail: maggisummerhill@gmail.com. Best wishes – Maggi🙂

All books mentioned in my blog are one click away from the Book Store below.

  
Carol Bridgestock

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed and look forward to your comments. Please come back next month for another installment of Inspirational Lives and feel free to contact me with your story via my e-mail: maggisummerhill@gmail.com. Best wishes – Maggi🙂

All books mentioned in my blog are one click away from the Book Store below.