Friday, February 05, 2016

Potting Shed Podcast - Season 2, Episode 5

How do we stay positively focused instead of turning to the Dark Side? In this episode Luke talks about dealing with fear and criticism.

Books mentioned included The Idea in You by Martin Amor and Alex Pellew, and the musical documentary The Sea In Between by Josh Garrels.

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Interview with Rob Penn

How many uses can you get out of one tree? This week in the Potting Shed I'm in conversation with Rob Penn, author of "The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees".

Rob is a bike nut who wanted to be more connected to the landscape he lived in. He thinks the ash tree is under appreciated - the working man's timber - and he explains why he'll never buy furniture from IKEA again!

You can buy Rob's book here (and in all good bookshops), and connect with him via his website www.robpenn.net 

If you're not subscribed to The Potting Shed Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.







My Random Musings

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Potting Shed Podcast - Season 2, Episode 3

Are there any habits in your life that have gone rusty? In this episode Luke suggests that even rusty rails can carry us a long way.

If you're not subscribed via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.


Friday, January 22, 2016

The Dark Side

We all feel a pull to the dark side at times...
I must confess that I’ve lived much of my life in the shadow of Star Wars – hard not to if you’re called Luke and at school in the 1980s. Most weeks I’d hear a classic quote from the films shouted across the halls or playground “Luke – I am your father” (actually a misquote but we won’t go into that here).

Bizarrely my earliest memory is seeing Return of the Jedi at Criccieth cinema in Wales on a family holiday when I was 3 or 4. I must say that I do really enjoy the films, I love the classic “hero journey” storyline, and deep down I’m quite a fan of sci-fi anyway.

Whether you’re into Star Wars or not, you may know that the underlying narrative is the fight between the dark and light side of the mystical “force” which binds the universe together. Various key characters wrestle with the dark and the light, either using their force-inspired skills for good, or for harm. The stand-out character is Darth Vader, dressed all in black with a distinctive face mask and samurai style helmet. His story is one of the most compelling in the series - a talented but troubled young man who, as a result of grief and love, is lured towards the dark side of the force to become the ultimate bad guy. His story is also one of final redemption.
"Whether you’re a fan of Star Wars or not, you may know that the big picture narrative is the fight between the dark and light"
The other day a friend remarked to me about how relentlessly positive my posts generally were, and how that was an antidote to some difficult circumstances he was facing. He was right, and there's a reason why I craft my writing with that deliberate bias. It's not that nothing bad ever happens in my life, or that I'm in denial about the daily tragedy in the world. I don't believe that positive thinking by itself can completely solve all our problems either.

Don't go all Darth Vader...
Like Darth Vader I think we all feel the pull of the dark side in our lives - perhaps in our creative expression most of all.

At the heart of the dark side is selfishness and self-centredness, and when we start to feel like the world revolves around us that's when we can begin to spiral downwards. Yoda, another Star Wars character, describes the descent as beginning with fear, which leads to destructive negative thinking.

It's easy to be fearful in our lives. When I'm writing there's always a nagging fear about what people think, whether it's any good. It's easy to be selfish and self-centred - to want the fame, glory and fortune - but none of this really does any good in the long run, or even in the short term!

When expressing my creativity it's a constant battle for me to stay outward looking, generous, seeking to serve and to enjoy the process rather than using any of my talents for purely selfish reasons.

None of us ever have truly pure motives, but we can make the choice to err on the side of the light, the positive, the good rather then to become self-absorbed and self-obsessed. We can create with authenticity despite pain, grief, disappointment - even despite fear - when we're seeking to serve others with what we do.
"we can make the choice to err on the side of the light, the positive, the good rather then to become self-absorbed and self-obsessed"
My underlying goal with my writing, podcasting and general content creation is to help others become the best expression of who they're made to be. This is why I choose to write with a deliberate positive bias - it's encouragement, motivation, inspiration to reach higher, to go deeper, to stretch wider in our talents and gifts. And it's in all our best interests to do that. When we're doing what we're made to do, not only do we get built up but we fulfil a need for the world around us.

Reach out, and up
I'm a big fan of the music of Josh Garrels, the awesomely talented musician and songwriter. His beautiful musical documentary "The Sea In Between" is one of the most inspiring films about the creative process I've ever watched.

A quote of his that stands out to me every time I watch it is about how we can use our talents as weapons to put less talented people down, or we can use them instead to invite people into our deep joy.

I believe in a loving God who has given us all diverse and deliberate talents, dreams and passions for a reason - not just for our own sake but for the benefit of those around us too.

Our challenge is to do the best with what we've got, no matter how much that is - and that's the heart of my writing.

We're all tempted by the dark side, I know I am, but instead of becoming Darth Vader I'm committed to becoming the best Luke I can be - and to helping you become the best version of you too. It's not a Jedi mind trick, simply a choice to dwell on the right things, as Paul so neatly summarises in his letter to the Philippians:

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Phil 4:8)

It's as simple and as hard as that - focusing on the right things not dwelling on the wrong things. So next time you feel the lure of the dark side, look up, and make the choice to focus on the light.
"Our challenge is to do the best with what we've got, no matter how much that is"

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Thanks for taking the time to read The Dark Side. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.





My Random Musings

Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview with Tom Graham

This week I was joined in The Potting Shed by Tom Graham, author of the book "The Genius of the
Poor".

Tom shares his story working with a social transformation organisation in the Philippines and challenges us to live lives that make a difference.

I'd love for you to listen below or subscribe directly to the podcast using the links at the bottom of the post.

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

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Thanks for checking out this post. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Potting Shed Podcast - Season 2, Episode 1

It's a new season for the Potting Shed Podcast, and if you're not subscribed via iTunes, Stitcher or any other means then feel free to listen directly below!

In this new season, Luke shares how we can take courageous action towards our dreams by "building the plane as you fly it".

If you'd be willing to leave a review of the show the links are here for iTunes and here for the UK Podcast Directory.

To listen to the show via stitcher the link is here.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Rusty Rails...

Have you got any rusty rails in your life?
Over the last few months the tram system in Birmingham has been reintroduced right into the city centre.

Previously the system terminated at Snow Hill station, adjacent to my usual commuting trains, but this tram terminus has recently become defunct as the trams now divert around the station and deeper into the heart of the city.

The other morning after alighting from my train, in the darkness of a winter morning, I noticed that the tram lines into the station were developing a fine patina of rust since the trams had stopped running into the terminus.
"A new year is often a reflective time in our lives..."
Of course, if trams started running again tomorrow the rust would very quickly wear off, and otherwise all the infrastructure remains in place to convey the light rail vehicles – the rails remain strong enough, level enough and straight enough to carry the trams.

Have any of your good habits been derailed?
A new year is often a reflective time in our lives as we dwell on the things that really matter to us and perhaps plan how we might adjust our lifestyle in the year to come to achieve health, wealth or happiness goals.

I’m not a great one for resolutions, but having had a shock on the weighing scales after Christmas, I’m introducing more positive eating habits (mainly less alcohol and puddings) since I’d become a little derailed over the last year!

Getting back into my usual working routine after a couple of weeks off over Christmas and New Year has felt a bit disorientating – perhaps you can relate to this. It’s as though the rails have gone a bit rusty and need wearing back in again.
"It’s as though the rails have gone a bit rusty"
When we’re thinking about our dreams, or our resolutions, or habits that have lapsed it’s easy to be put off or disheartened by the rust isn’t it? Perhaps it’s picking up an instrument we’ve not played for a while and realising our fingers aren’t as fast or as resilient as before. Perhaps it’s putting on those running shoes and realising that we’re no longer the elite athlete we once were – whatever it is, it can feel a bit disorienting, like the return to work after a holiday.

But like the tram tracks in Birmingham, all the infrastructure is still there – it’s likely that, even though we may need to go through the motions a little, it won’t take long for the rust to wear off and things to start moving smoothly again. And there’s an encouragement there for us to keep on, little and often, so that the rust doesn’t build up in the first place.

Resolutions are great, but they can be both too big or too vague – and as a result we never get close to them. They remain out there as “someday” goals or results. A book I’ve read recently which is helpful about focusing on what’s important is Gary Keller’s The One Thing. A key conclusion of his is that to really get where we want to go we need to regularly take the time to lay the track, so to speak.
You may be able to go further than you think!
"If you feel that you’re starting the year with rusty rails, take heart!"
He goes into great detail about how to set aside and protect time in our lives so that we can really focus on that “one thing” we really want to do. It’s worth a read and has some helpful advice on bringing those “someday” goals into tangible actions.

So if you feel that you’re starting the year with rusty rails, take heart – you may be able to go further than you think!

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Thanks for taking the time to read Rusty Rails. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at stricklandmusings@gmail.com 

If you want to stay up to date please sign up to my mailing list, and do check out my book Life Space on Amazon.



My Random Musings