On the western edge of the world, as defined by the International Date Line, it’s Sunday afternoon. I’m sitting at 39,993ft above the Pacific Ocean, according to the screen in front of me, just under two hours out from Honolulu. From there I’ll have one more leg to fly before two days of travel will see be back home in Maui. Though right now I am feeling conflicted by that word ’home’. I am returning to where I live and more specifically to the house, the home that I share with my wife, my grandchildren next door, dear friends not far away. But I am returning from not only a life changing experience, the death of my father, but also six weeks in the city and country where I grew up. I have not spent so long there since moving to the US about 14 years ago. So many pieces from my time in Bristol, in Britain call to me of home. The smells, the sounds, the sights of the flora and fauna - they hold me in a way that other landscapes, however fascinated or pulled towards them I feel, never fully do.

I was in Britain as summer made way for autumn. September, the month which made up the majority of my stay, gifted us beautiful weather. More summer than autumn, though by the end of the month the temperature was just starting to drop. The leaves on the trees that line the road on which my parents’ flat is situated started to change from green to their autumnal colours. It won’t be long before they carpet the ground.

It is at that time of year that the conckers start dropping from the Horse Chestnut trees. Conckers are the chestnuts of Horse Chestnut trees. Here are a few that I picked up from the grass outside of my parents’ apartment building. The tree’s canopy aligns itself with the apartment balcony, and from there I watched the leaves change from green to orange, red and browns.

As a child, conckers were a part of school playground life for me as the autumn term started. The conckers would be strung onto a piece of string and one would take turns using your concker to break your opponent’s concker from its string. Pride was held in owning a concker that had fought and won many such battles and was still going strong. There were also various recipes which one could put your concker through, baking was involved in some of them from my memory, to harden it, assuring your conker’s longer life - though that was regarded as cheating.

A part of the concker season back then was not waiting for the conckers to fall, but knocking them out of the trees. Parents and children, would throw sticks up at the trees to free the conckers. I remember one particular road on a Sunday afternoon being populated not with cars but families throwing sticks up at the trees and running to collect the conckers that fell. Cars still used the road, but the situation on those afternoons was more one of sharing the road alongside the families. Here is a photograph of that same road during my recent visit. No concker collectors in sight.

Indeed I saw no one collecting conckers while I was back in Bristol. Walking past the school that I used to attend, I saw no kids outside in the playground having concker fights. Is this something else that time has seen the passing of?

The one constant in life is change. This trip home presented me with one of the most difficult manifestations of that. But I find it sad as well that such a simple pleasure as conckers, which took families outside together and was a fixture on the school playground, appears to have disappeared from British life. Someone please tell me it isn’t so.

When the Weather fits the Mood

Yesterday it was pouring with rain outside, really pouring. The proximity of my parents’ top floor flat to the roof amplified the sound of the falling water. For the most part the rest of the day was overcast, it was humid. Today is the same, perhaps a little clearer.

Following my father’s passing away on Tuesday, this weather has been a real comfort to me. I don’t want to venture far from my parents’ home at the moment, feeling safe and comfortable here, while feeling raw and vulnerable in my emotions. The wet and overcast weather gives me a reason, gives me permission not to venture out.

At the same time I recognize for me the healing power of fresh air, of being out and stretching my legs. The site of the Horse Chestnut and Beach trees that are abundant around here as well as the smell of the moist grass and early falling leaves reassure me and bring back happy memories of my time growing up in this corner of Bristol.

Yesterday evening, during a break in the weather I popped out to run a couple of errands. Unexpectedly I bumped into an old school friend out walking his dog. It was a fortuitous and lovely surprise. We stood for a while, each sharing a story of a loved one who had passed away. I was grateful for the meeting - a blessing.

The Cycle of Life

I’m walking to the shops, walking down back streets, residential streets instead of the main road. I find more joy and interest in looking at the houses and front yards instead the busy main street. Houses that I use to pass most every day as a kid. I haven’t been back to Bristol to visit my parents for two years. COVID has been the culprit there. I wasn’t planning on visiting until next year when hopefully COVID might have been a little quieter. I wasn’t basing that on any science, just hope. But now I find myself back home.

My father has cancer and is nearing the end of his life. It is hard to acknowledge that at times. The good days that he has definitely perk me up. The reality is a decline, or a roller coaster with a downward trend.

This morning while walking to the shops I passed a house with a mother standing by the front window holding her young baby. I found myself reflecting on the cycle of life. The joy in the mother holding the newborn, my sadness as I experience the gradual decline of someone dear to me. In both, gratitude for life.

Sacred Space

Sitting alone at night, silence, small light on in the corner, stillness, dark outside, alone with a book, my thoughts, writing.

Walking across the crater floor of Haleakala. Bare, cinder cones, dried lava. The birth place of Maui.

Sitting chanting Puja in the Shrine Room of Lam Rim Buddhist Centre.

Pre-dawn, faint light in the sky, bird song slowly starting, a day awakening.

Sitting around a fire, dinner finished, feeding wood to the glowing embers, wood smoke infusing our clothes.

A washed up coconut taking root and sprouting in the shoreline soil.

Massive waves rolling in from the horizon and crashing against the rocks. Crowds stopping to look on in awe at the power of our Mother Earth.

The bare trees of winter, cold wind blowing through to the bones, stripping away any pretension.

A sand mandala.

Dogs barks from across the valley in the darkness of night. A monk chants.

The Harshness of Interruptions

When I read this this essay by Nancy Kline of Time to Think I thought, ”YES!”

I’ll go further - I felt, “YES!”

Kline speaks, not mincing her words, of how interruption is an assault. In the first paragraph of the essay she says as much,

Interruption is assault.

She goes on to say,

There is violence in it. Interruption is a slice made into the guts of an as yet unfinished idea. Interruption is arrogance masquerading as efficiency; it is efficiency massacred. It stops the thinking of one person in favor of another. It is the politics of the aggressive laying waste to the brilliance of the respectful.

Her words laid bare for me everything that I felt when I am interrupted, but was afraid to verbalize. Her words contrast with the relative tameness of my choice of title for this article.

A colleague introduced me to Kline’s work because of my interest as an introvert and highly sensitive person in having space, specifically quiet space, to think and work. While Kline’s work is not specifically for quiet people, she is interested in creating environments where people can think, her arguments around being interrupted really resonated with me and I would imagine for all those who value quiet, focused time.

I work at my best when I am alone and in a quiet space, maybe with some soft music playing. At its best there is absolutely no one else present. Just me and the task at hand. In such an environment I can just drop in and focus on the job that I am doing.

When I know that someone else is present who might blurt something out at any moment - a question, a statement, just making conversation for the sake of it - my body and mind are on edge and it seeps into my ability to focus and concentrate, eating away at my capacity to get work done effectively. In one of her recent newsletters, Kendra Patterson shared some words that really resonated with me,

it’s not the loudness of sounds that bothers me, but the invasiveness of them

Loudness can bother me, but I also relate to the invasiveness of sound. Patterson linked to a scientific study on misphonia, a condition where people suffer an extreme sensitivity to and decreased tolerance for sound. I like the passage that Patterson picked up from the article,

people with misophonia feel in some way that sounds made by other people are intruding into their bodies, outside of their control. The results of the new study support the understanding that misphonia is not about having a negative reaction to sounds, but that hearing certain noises causes brain activity in the areas involved in creating that sound.

I have been known when someone makes their presence felt, and by that it might just mean a person stepping into the room that I am in, that I will get up and involve myself in other work elsewhere. Work that might need to be done, but which I’m not in the space to do in that moment. Regardless, I do so simply to give myself the mental and physical space.

I admire people who appear to get things done in the middle of complete chaos, but that is definitely not me. Though I still wonder what the quality of the work is that that person does, and if they could get much more done in a more quiet and focused environment (my sense is sometimes yes, and sometimes not)?

I have been called out before when I turn the music down or step out of a room because someone has entered, the implication always being that I am doing something wrong. At other times I have stayed put, gritted my teeth, and tried to proceed with my work - but I can feel the others’ presence in my body, and wait anxiously for the interruption.

Some might have the superpower of working with mayhem happening all around them? All power to them, but it is not my strength or, dare I say it, ability. This is also a superpower that I have absolutely no wish to try and cultivate. I am quite comfortable with who I am.

If like me you feel as though interruptions are an assault, I highly recommend reading Kline’s short essay. It could become your ally.

Interview for the INFClub

I was recently interview by Jas Hothi, @jasraj on, for Episode 61 of the INFClub podcast. We had a great conversation, along with plenty of laughter, covering topics such as travel, buddhism, writing, men and high sensitivity.

Thank you to Jas for inviting me to join him on the podcast.

The show notes and links to the podcast, audio and video, can be found here.

David Johnson thumbnail


I like this short definition of ’pilgrimage’ taken from The British Pilgrimage Trust website,

Pilgrimage (n.): A journey with purpose on foot to holy/wholesome/special places.

Of pilgrimage, the site goes on to say,

To turn a walk into a pilgrimage, at the beginning set your private ‘intention’ – dedicate your journey to something that you want help with, or for which you want to give thanks.

This has felt like a difficult weekend. Mentally exhausting. It has not all been difficult - beautiful weather, and good company on Saturday night, outside round a fire pit - but my take away is my brain just feels tired.

Nothing like some back pain to kick me into exercising more. It has been a gradual start, but I am getting out more and feeling better for it - mentally as well a physically.

Chronic Fatigue and the HSP

There’s pattern which repeats itself pretty much each time I find myself home alone for a few days - which with the presence of the COVID pandemic is not that often right now. It goes something like this,

I drop my wife off at the airport - living on an island, that is usually the start of the home alone period. On the way home I run a few errands, pick up groceries, and perhaps go for a walk. Over the the days that follow, as commitments are crossed off my todo list and I get into my bachelor rhythm, I notice a weariness start to creep over me. It is more than just feeling tired. It is a fatigue that seems to come from deep within my bones.

With my home life running quieter, and with nothing planned socially I find myself just resting. A phrase comes to mind - I “sit deeply”. I am perhaps reading or writing, or just sitting and watching the world outside. As I do so I feel exhaustion rise up from my body calling me to rest, and so rest I do.

As I say, this is a pattern. Whenever I find myself spending time alone for a prolonged period of time, the weariness manifests. I want to explore here what has brought this about, so first let me step back and give some context.

Pushing myself too far

Weariness and exhaustion have had a presence in my life for many years now, I am going to say for two decades. I used to push against the fatigue. I was aware of its presence, though due to peer pressure, that is me wanting to be seen to be able to be keeping up, I would deny its presence and try to push through. “Keep going, keep up with others, don’t show any signs that you are not up to the job (read weakness as my self-imposed put down).” That was the place that I lived in, measuring myself against those around me.

More importantly, and with the benefit of hindsight, I did not have a context for how I was feeling and so put my feelings down to something wrong with me. I think if I understood the reason for my feeling fatigued and had the support behind me, I would have acted more responsibly towards myself much earlier.

So, how was I feeling?

This is maybe not an easy one to answer, as at the time I wasn’t clear myself! Tired and weary, yes. Another symptom was a racing heart. I use to describe it as feeling like I had put my heart beat through an amplifier. There was this intensified beating happening in my chest and “yes,” it was uncomfortable. I could also add to these symptoms a pain in my left wrist, as if a lot of pins were being stuck into the wrist. So there was physical pain and discomfort, but no cause that I could relate these symptoms to…and so I just pushed on.

Eventually my discomfort became too much and I went to see a doctor, however the visit was not of any help. My vitals all checked out fine, and I came away with no diagnosis. Dissatisfied and now desperately wanting an answer I went to see separately a Tibetan doctor and an Acupuncturist/Chinese herbalist. From those initial consultations I choose to receive treatment from the acupuncturist/herbalist, but in their own words they both gave me the same diagnosis. It was,

that I was pushing myself, physically and mentally beyond what I could cope with, and that I needed to stop and take a look at what I was asking of myself. My batteries were drained and needed replenishment.


When I heard those words, I had a sense of relief.

I believe that deep down I knew what was going on with myself, but that I was sitting in shame (see below). With so many around me being able to operate in a different way to me, I felt as though I had to step up - whether I could or not. These doctors were giving me permission to own my pain, physical and emotional, and to step back and take a look at what I needed and who I was. They gave me permission to stop and take stock.

That diagnosis pulled the wind out of my sails. I collapsed. The next two years were spent receiving regular acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I owe that doctor so much, and regularly think of my gratitude towards him. I rested a lot and paced myself. Some days I could not get up from my sofa. I just lay there. This was fatigue, not tiredness. Like the fatigue that I spoke of at the beginning of this article, it ate through to my bones. Although no formal diagnosis was given, for those two years I now say that I had chronic fatigue.

I believe that the seeds of chronic fatigue still rest within me. I now allow myself to rest or sleep if I need to. I am so much more in control of my energy levels now. If I do feel a drop in energy manifesting, I wind things down as soon as I can. Some previous symptoms can still arise, but I take them as warning signs and use them as a signal to slow down.

So what was going on with me?

To what do I put my exhaustion down to? I identify as an introvert and highly sensitive person. I don’t let knowledge of these traits in my personality run my life, but they do inform me. I now understand where overwhelm and exhaustion are coming from when they manifest in me. I now understand the ”why” if I don’t feel like engaging in some social activity while others around me do. I understand and I listen to my needs, and don’t let shame run my life…quite so much. I used to not only not listen, but also not understand what my needs were. I told myself that I should show up just as those around me were showing up in the world, and so pushed myself to keep up with them - shame was running the show. This was not only a physically exhausting thing to do, it was emotionally and psychologically exhausting as well. As I increased the demands on my body and mind, with my reserves slowly disappearing as I wore them away, so fatigue crept up on me.

Once I started to learn about introversion and high sensitivity, I was given a context for what gave rise to my limits. With that understanding and finding a supportive community, I started to change my behaviours.


Shame is a focus on self. It is feeling bad about who you are because of what you did or didn’t do. It is equating your’s or others’ judgement of an action you did or didn’t do as a reflection of who you are as a person. Brené Brown says,

shame is a fear of disconnection,


shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can do and be better.1

That makes total sense to me when I look back at what I did to get myself into such a fatigued state. For me shame and lack of understanding not only corroded self belief, but also personal health. It was driven because of fear of being judged and with that, of being left out.

The blessing behind that, the silver lining is what I learnt about myself, and about shame and self-worth. I can now look back at that time of chronic fatigue with a sense of gratitude, of lessons learnt.

The Comfort of Memories

I find myself sitting in my car on our driveway. It is overcast and there is steady stream of rain falling. The weather looks set in for the day, and likely tomorrow as well.

   I feel at ease, comfortable, safe.

This weather takes me back to weather in Britain that I grew up with. At times it might be weather that the British poke fun at, or complain about. Or it might be weather that visitors tease the country for. But for me this weather would fit my introverted spirit, giving me permission to hunker down, to write, to read, to be productive at home alone and not feeling as though I need to go out and be sociable.

I feel comfortable and at ease.

I’m grateful for the climate that live in here in Hawai’i, and when it closes in I remember what I miss.

Video - The power of quiet leadership

A short, inspiring video on the power of quiet leadership.

The power of quiet leadership - BBC Ideas

Announcing a new, old podcast

It was early April 2017. I was sitting in an Airbnb in Portland, OR. My wife and I had returned to the city that had been our home for eight years, to sort out a storage room of our belongings, to decide what was going with us back to Maui and what we were going to sell. Behind The Thoughts  3 Border I had decided to start a podcast to help people start and build a meditation practice. It was to be called Behind The Thoughts Podcast. I had been fortunate to have a community around me when I started meditating, a community that was a source of a lot of support as I built this new habit. I felt that this probably wasn’t true for everyone, and wanted to offer something to help those who wanted to learn about and start a meditation practice. Podcasting was new to me, but I just felt like doing this.

So here I was in the Airbnb, sitting in front of my laptop on take ”x” trying to get past the nerves and just record the first episode. Eventually, through frustration with myself that I might never get this done, I put down my first episode. It did not have to be perfect, indeed never would be as I did not have studio grade equipment for recording. My tools were, depending on where I was recording it, - my MacBook Air (the microphone on that) - my iPhone (the microphone on the accompanying headphones) - an application to capture the recording - a sound file of a meditation bell/gong - Apple GarageBand to string it all together - a service to host the podcast (Podbean at that time)

On my way

Once that first episode was out of the door and I got use to sticking the sound files together, I was off. Over the course of the six months I recorded forty episodes. They were recorded in all sorts of different locations, some outside, some inside. I was enjoying myself…and then it just stopped. There was no particular reason. I reached the fortieth episode and recorded no more…

…until now.

Thoughts of starting up again

In May 2019 Jean MacDonald ask me in an episode of Micro Monday if I was planning to launch a podcast on At the time I was and my affirmative answer has stayed with me, though I could not find the push within me to get a podcast out of the door.

In the early months of the COVID pandemic I ran a series of meditation videos, still available on Vimeo, to give people some tools to deal with the isolation of the lockdown that was happening in many parts of the world. I enjoyed putting together this unplanned series and it made me think again of my podcast that I had stopped and was now archived on Google Drive.

New website makes it very easy to host a podcast and so the idea came to me of taking the old episodes off of Google Drive, uploading them to and use that as the basis for continuing the Behind The Thoughts Podcast. So over the Christmas/New Year holidays of 2020 I purchased the domain name for the hosting website and uploaded those first forty episodes. With that done I re-registered the podcast with Apple podcasts.


With that done, on Saturday, January 9th, 2021 I recorded the forty first episode and published it. The Behind The Thoughts Podcast had officially been relaunched. The aim of the podcast is the same as before. To help people build and maintain a meditation practice. It is for anyone regardless of level or experience with meditation. The first episode includes a short guided meditation. Going forward I am expecting to offer more guided meditation sessions than in the initial forty episodes.

The details


  • Behind The Thoughts Podcast website
  • On Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts (if they draw from Apple’s podcast directory)

How often?

  • My plan is for once a week. That will be the guiding frequency, but occasionally this might vary less and more often

Material covered?

  • Building a meditation practice
  • Dealing with obstacles to meditation
  • Taking your meditation into everyday life.
  • At times informed by things that I am dealing with in my life (on the good chance that they’ll be something in there for you)

And You? - If you have a question, concern or something that you would like me to cover, please get in touch

I hope that you can join me on the podcast and the meditation journey.

Managing my Life

On January 1st, with a new month here, never mind a new year, I worked through my December todos, seeing what was undone and bringing those items forward to January.

This is not my Bullet Journal, rather it is a hybrid system that I have been cobbling together from a number of different systems. It has taken me a while to get here, but I am feeling more comfortable than I have done for a long while in managing my life and for that I am grateful.

The process of getting here has been a reminder to me of sticking with it. If the intention is there, I believe that a way forward will be found. The key for me has been perseverance.

Now also feels like a good time to review where I have got to.

A sketch of my system

I have borrowed from the following places and systems,

  • Bullet Journalling
  • Patrick Rhone’s Dash/Plus system
  • James Clear’s work on building habits
  • The community at

Probably the biggest move, and this started over a year ago, has been the move away from digital task management to good ol’ pen and paper, in the form of notebooks. I think as digital devices became more portable, I thought to manage my life with their help. But I had to be honest with myself, it wasn’t working. It was also pushing me into a corner of feeling as though I had to get things done, either because of how the apps were constructed or how I understood to use them.

With benefit of hindsight, this move to notebooks made total sense. I have been keeping journals, both written and digital, for a number of decades. The written journals have always been my most enjoyable in keeping - making the time to write and then having that visceral experience of putting my thoughts to paper through a pen, a favourite of course, traveling across the pages of the notebook.

Let me take a look at how the systems listed above have come together to create what I now use.

Returning to the list above, I’ll start at the end. I have found the community very helpful as members share where they are at in managing tasks in their own lives. While I can’t point to one specific person or piece of advice, I have appreciated the thinking out loud which has nudged my own thinking along and given me new ideas where I was getting stuck. So “Thank you, all.”

Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal method by Ryder Carroll was my first attempt at transitioning from digital to paper. At first I stayed away because the learning curve looked too steep to me. I forced myself back to have another look and ended up using Carroll’s system for many months. I enjoyed the ritual of sitting down and writing, being away from the screen, both big and small. With time though the Bullet Journal felt too involved for me, bringing an added layer of complexity to my todo management that I did not want. Whether that was how I was using the system, sticking to rigidly to how I thought it should be used, or it simply not being for me, I don’t know, but I moved away from Bullet Journaling.


The Dash/Plus System is a metadata markup system created by Patrick Rhone, whom I met on Like the Bullet Journal, I started using it and then stopped. It is not as involved as Bullet Journaling, something that appealed to me, but it still did not work for me. With the benefit of hindsight, I think that I was probably trying to stick too rigidly to the system as Rhone presented it as opposed to making it my own (ironically, something that he encourages). I put it down and did not return until I picked up James Clear’s Clear Habit Journal.

James Clear on building habits

I started reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, and using his methods of using small habits to build larger habits. I was making progress there and so decided to buy his Clear Habit Journal to help track my progress. I never finished Atomic Habits, but in the Journal I adopted some of Clear’s ideas alongside creating a Dash/Plus / Bullet Journal hybrid method unintentionally (see below). This I feel is still under construction, but has been working for me since August 2020.

David’s Tracking Method (for want of a better name!)

Clear’s Clear habit Journal can be used in anyway that one likes, but has some features that made me think in a particular way.

  • The bulk of the book is dotted pages which put me into a Bullet Journal / Dash/Plus mindset. Clear offers some suggestions for how to use the dotted pages, but they did not work for me.
  • The front of the Journal contains an Index. With that and the dotted pages, I dropped into a daily list of todos, short journal entries and reflections, and occasionally some data points around what I needed to remember. I use some of the markup from Dash/Plus and created a couple of my own. Days just run on below each other, separated by a short, drawn line.
  • At the end of each month, I start a new page bringing forward undone items from the previous month.
  • The initial pages in the Journal offer space for a single line journal reflection each day. I currently use it to reflect on what I am grateful for.
  • The back pages offer a way to track habits per day, each month. I use that to keep up with some habits that I wish to build.
  • I also use the back dotted pages to keep notes on meetings I attend, projects I am working on, or fact sheets I need at hand.
  • All of these have quick access from the Index at the front of the Journal.

In conclusion

This still feels like a work in progress, but truth be told I have pretty much dropped into a rhythm which I think will stick with. I use my iPhone and laptop’s Calendar and Reminders apps for some appointment checking - sometimes these will start in my journal and then be moved to the appropriate app - otherwise it is in my journal.

As I start to see the end of the current Clear Habit Journal in site - I’m not using a notebook year on year, just as I use it up - the next decision is what notebook will be next? Clear’s Journal has a lot already in place, lessening the need for setup, but there is also a lot that is superfluous to my needs. So I am looking elsewhere, and again the pen and paper crowd on have been helpful as they share their tools. I’m am looking forward to that hunt!

Seeing life through other’s eyes

I started writing this earlier in the year while spending a weekend in Hana, on the far east coast of Maui. My wife and I, and a couple of COVID free trusted friends rented a house. I arrived feeling nauseous after navigating the twists and turns of the Hana Highway, and so stayed behind to rest while everyone else went for a walk.

I sit watching a bug crawling across the top of the wooden balcony railing. It looks like a cockroach. A youngster if so. The ever moving feelers are my give away for cockroach identification, though I claim no expertise in the field.

I was reading, looked up and saw the bug scuttling across the railing, and I thought - I am living in my world view. Sitting here in this rented house in a remote part of Hawai’i, listening to the ocean crashing against the rocks not a 100 yards away, and this little bug is in its own world view, whatever that looks like - does it even know that the ocean is so close? What is, does it have a concept of the ocean? I am thinking and judging that its world view is much simpler than mine.

And I then stop myself and think about everyone’s, everything’s world view. All probably contain some truth. Then there is how we process and use our worldview. And maybe the greatest challenge, how do we share our worldview and opinions on it alongside everyones’ and everything else’s?

I’m not necessarily going anywhere with this train of thought right now. Just putting out there what a cockroach crawling across a balcony brought to my mind.

The Introvert and The Wet Weather

In this little corner of Hawai’i the wet weather has been slow in coming. While the seasonal changes are not as noticeable as in the far northern hemisphere, there is a subtle, perceptible change in the atmosphere - the light, the sensed feeling of the days. Autumn arrived a few weeks ago … in part. The part that was missing was the wet weather, the rain.

Days have been hot, the sun piercing in its strength. We have been running the sprinkler system off and on to keep the lawn from turning brown, and watering the vegetable garden three times a day to keep life in our vegetables and salad. There have been hints on rain, a few minutes or an hour or so of wet weather, but never coming to much.

In the early hours of this morning I lay in bed listening to rain falling. It was still falling when we woke up a few hours later, and although a little brighter now, the clouds are lingering and drizzle is in the air.

I love this weather. Not only do I appreciate the break from the hot sun, but it also takes me back to wet weekends that I grew up with in England and Wales, and then subsequently when I lived in Portland - weekends when I would stay nestled at home. The mood of this weather fits with my introvert nature - no reason for going anywhere, for getting involved in the noise of life. Of staying comfortably at home, reading, writing, or perhaps watching a movie.

Book in the Car

In my attempt to read more, I have put a book in the glove compartment of my car. I am not the fastest of readers, and find that I do not have a lot of time to read - perhaps a few pages before turning off the light at night. Other opportunities are grabbed here and there…and that was the motivation for the book in the glove compartment idea.

No, I do not intend to read and drive. However, perhaps after going into a store, I’ll stop for a moment and read a few pages? Or maybe I will tie in a lunch break instead of rushing home, pulling over in a park or beside the road to munch on a sandwich and read a few pages?

I just figured that maybe with a book nearby, when I am out and about, it might engender in me a new habit and find me taking time to read. I believe that the time is there, even if I convince myself otherwise at times, I just have to find those opportunities. I say to people who struggle finding time to meditate, that the time is there, you just have to be creative and look for time. Now I a throwing that back at myself and looking at reading. Yes, the time might not be what I ideally want, but it will be something.

Now I just have to remember that the book is in the car!

Sonder - n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

By John Koenig and his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, “that aims to fill holes in the language—to give a name to emotions we all feel but don’t have a word for.”

The 2nd Highly Sensitive Men's Seminar

Here is a promotional video of the 2nd High Sensitive Men’s seminar taking place over Zoom on December 5th. See my previous post for more details and where to purchase tickets.

The Second Highly Sensitive Men’s Seminar

Towards the end of the second week of December, the 2nd Highly Sensitive Men’s seminar will be held. I am not an organizer of this event, but plan to attend. The first such seminar, A Weekend for Highly Sensitive Men, was in person in California and held just before the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, this seminar will be online (see Details below).

Why am I attending?

First and foremost to be in the presence of men with the same or similar personality type to myself. I find that whenever I am around people who just accept, understand and get me, I can show up in a way that I might not be able to do if there are a mixture of personality types. I do not have to make excuses for myself. The ground of presence is one of acceptance and understanding for my being highly sensitive. Everyone can start from the same place and move on from there.

Secondly, to network, to build community, to hear and learn from other highly sensitive men. I would have liked to attend the original conference, but that was not possible at the time. I am grateful for this opportunity.

I hope to meet you there.


This seminar will focus on the Highly Sensitive Man and career. The tentative moderators will be,


  • When: Saturday, December 5th, 2020
  • Time: Noon to 5:00pm CST
  • Where: Online on Zoom
  • Cost: $150
  • Tickets & Further Details: Eventbrite

A Bird Flew Into A Window

Last weekend was one of unplugging and heading to the beautiful community of Hana on the eastarn edge of Maui. So isolated is the community, that at the height of the recent pandemic lockdown there was a road block established to prevent all but local residents from traveling out there, thus protecting their vulnerability. Along with my wife and a few friends, we spent the day at Hamoa Beach, enjoying its crystal clear waters. We left early in the day, some of our party cycling out there. With our early departure the road was empty, though truth be told nothing about the day was busy due the pandemic and no or few visitors being on the island.

By mid-afternoon we were beached out and ready to head home before sunset. A quick stop on the edge of town for an energizing coffee and cake and then into the twists and turns of the road to Hana.

The Road to Hana

The road to Hana is a justifiable attraction for visitors to the island. The lush vegetation overhanging the road, the waterfalls, and views across the ocean make for a very special experience. As well, with the twists and turns of the road, the drive requires concentration. After a day in fresh air I was tired, and along with the road dancing between shade and sunlight caused by the late afternoon sun, I found the never ending bends in the road exhausting. Arriving home, I had enjoyed the day and at the same time I was pleased that the drive home was over.

The Bird and the Window

With everyone on their ways to their respective homes, I unpacked the car, took a shower and sat down to rest. I could still feel the drive home in me.

Suddenly there was a bang on the window. Getting up I saw a small bird on the ground. It must have flown straight into the window and was twitching on the ground. I went outside to see if it had survived the collision. Reluctant to be picked up, but unable to fly in that moment, it flapped its way across the ground every time that I reached down to it. Eventually I picked up the bird and went to sit on the grass and cradle the little creature in my hands.

Initially the bird struggled and flapped some more, but eventually it calmed down and fell silent. Although its eyes were closed, I could see that it was still breathing. With the sun setting the day was cooling down. The wind was quietening and a special stillness was falling over the property that only comes with dusk. As the bird calmed, so did I. The drive home faded from memory. Just being present with the bird, the landscape, the air and myself became what was.

For a moment I became aware how we can be somewhere, but not there. Not present to what is immediate in that moment.

As I sat there quietly holding the bird, I became more present to my environment - the stillness of the air, the wispy seed heads of the vetiver grass, the colours of the sky as the sunset, the tiny feathers of the bird and their intricate patterns. There was no adding  to my being there. I was simply present.

Moving on

With time, I got up and gently placed the bird, still resting, in a large plant pot. That way it would be off the ground and out of site of any night time predators, and at the same time could still rest.

The next day it was not there. I like to think that it had recovered and flown away.

Looking Out on the World

This is a strong image for me, an image from the past,

A remembrance - sitting in my bedroom window at Tandderwen. Late at night, silence, quiet, looking out over the world.

Tandderwen was the name of my house when I lived in South Wales. It is not unusual for houses in Britain to have names rather than numbers. Tandderwen is Welsh for Under the Oak. I don’t speak Welsh, but when the house was nearing completion and I was pondering what to name the new property, a friend lent me a book of Welsh words (along with their English meanings). Tandderwen jumped out at me as I thought of the big oak tree that stood by the small gate leading to the house. It was a beautiful old tree, and I valued its presence standing guard over the gate and land, rooted deeply in its age.

I lived in that house for ten years. I think about it from time to time, and though my life has moved on and changed, I do miss my old home and what it gave me.

I lived there by myself. Situated in the South Wales countryside, it was quiet and peaceful. The house was designed with extra thick walls, full of recycled newspaper as insulation. The triple glazed windows added to the stillness within the house, cutting out sound.

A couple of windows, including my bedroom window, protruded out from the side of the house. The bay that they created offered up a seat on which to sit and survey the surrounding countryside all the way to the distant Black Mountains.

On occasion I would sit in my bedroom window at night, all the lights in the house turned off, gazing out into the night. I felt as though I was looking out on the world. In the distance I could see the orange glow of city life. Nearer by lights of neighbours’ houses across the fields shone out from behind curtains. Car lights moved through the country roads. Aircraft flew overhead, lights blinking.

I felt removed from the world. A part of it, and yet distant at the same time. From that vantage point, both physically and metaphorically, I was able to reflect on what it was that I was a part of, the world in which I lived. I felt in someway as though I was looking out on the lives of others, looking out on the world. People going about their nightly routines, returning from work or an evening out. Joys and sorrows, struggles and successes all happening under the night sky. We were all in this together.

In that I felt a comfort. A comfort in being able to step back for a moment and reflect on the bigger picture. A reflection that I could take out into the next day.

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Pen & Paper helping to find a way forward

There are times when I find myself loosing focus on what I am doing and I start looking for distractions. Not unlikely it is because I am coming up against something that I don’t enjoy doing or find difficult. When I hit those situations, I am trying to train myself to get to paper & pen to gather my thoughts and find a way forward.


📚 I love coming across phrases in books that just jump out at me. One the books that I have on the go right now is Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. I loved the imagery that Yoshimoto conjured up in this passage,

Until only recently, the light that bathed the now - empty apartment had contained the smells of our life there.

Oh, the treasure of books.

I’m alone at home right now

It is Sunday morning. I am sitting at our small desk that looks out onto the front garden and from there, in the distance, to the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I am home alone. Sunday morning music is playing. By that I mean music which reflects my mood on a Sunday morning and allows me to drop into a reflective space. I’m appreciating the quietness, the space, the time to step back and think, write and reflect. I’ll be heading outside soon to do some work, but for now this time is important and feeding me. It is allowing a host of disparate thoughts, books, writing to all sit present in my life. Nothing is vying for attention. Everything is allowed into the mix with the trust that out of this will come some insights, or at the very least a clearing away of the nagging attention that some things are bothering me for. It’s a valuable time that I do not take for granted. I wish at times that I had more space like this, but when it does materialize, I am grateful and make the most of it. Life in these moments feels expansive, nourishing and necessary. This too will go, but for now I will gratefully accept its presence. Thank you world.

Written as one paragraph as that is how it came out, a stream of consciousness that did not feel as though it needed to be edited.