Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Lock those doors

Lock those doors

Day 1 (Thursday 1st December 2016)

Illustration by Simon Heath

Happy 1st December and welcome to the Advent Blogs series of 2016. The theme this year is Heights, Hearts and Hollows

I have received some wonderful pieces and I know that there are more to come. What soaring heights and terrible hollows some of you have experienced; however your year has been, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you all for sharing your thoughts here.

As in former years, I will be posting one new blog per day, during Advent and into the holiday period/New Year. The daily illustrated numbers are based on topical events of the year (2016) and do not express my particular interests or leanings.

1 American, like him or loathe him, will soon run the USA - 
a real estate magnate, tycoon and former reality TV star and TV producer -  
he achieved the majority of electoral votes 
and is now the President-elect of the U.S.A.
Donald Trump will become the 45th President when he is sworn in on the steps
of the US Capitol at noon on Friday, January 20th 2017.

The Advent Blog series is not a competition, you will not be asked to vote for your favourite. However, we have some striking, thought-provoking and at times touching reads ahead. I hope you enjoy the journey.

We are getting off to a great start. The first post in the series is written by the very talented Mark Catchlove. For the past 18 years Mark has worked for Herman Miller. He is the Director for Knowledge and Insight and spends his days commissioning workplace related research and informing designers. I first encountered Mark on Twitter (you can follow him too - his handle is @markcatchlove). He writes an excellent blog. I am often struck by the fact that he is so clearly principled and values-led.

Mark wrote a beautiful piece for last year's series, encouraging people to shed a bit of light in others' lives, which was very well received. This year, again, he entreats us to do our bit to make the world a better place and it is a fitting start to the 2016 Advent Blogs. Enjoy!


An Advent calendar is a daily acknowledgement of the anticipation of a special event – Christmas.

Christmas, a time of laughter, fun, giving and a family get together. A time of eating copious amounts of food and imbibing rather too much alcohol.

However, for some they desperately want those doors on the advent calendar to stay firmly locked.  They have no anticipation or excitement for Christmas and its jollities. Another day nearer to a time when all the hollows of their life are highlighted more than any other part of the year.

Some will not express their despair and angst outwardly – they will smile, they will dance, they will give and they will receive. Inside, however, their heart is broken into small seemingly irreparable pieces. Shattered by bereavement, bad news, illness, broken relationships or a myriad of other heart breaking episodes.
Broken hearts don’t have to stay broken – but this won’t happen without support and help from someone like you. We all need to develop a heightened sensitivity at this time - seeing what is really going on behind those smiles, and being available to do something about it.

If you’re the one with that broken heart, then please connect with somebody, anybody – using any of the communications tools that we are blessed with today. You don’t have to give all the details unless you think it would help – but that listening ear might be the difference between slowly opening those advent calendar doors and desperately hoping they stay firmly locked.

Have a blessed Christmas

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Advent Invitation

It may feel as though we live in times of constant change:

·      Today the Americans go to the polls to elect a new President – whichever candidate wins they will leave their mark not just on the U.S.A. but on the world as a whole;
·      The UK’s Brexit referendum has already caused a wake of comments and legal, economic and diplomatic reactions, with its on-going ripples being felt around the globe;
·      Sir David Attenborough launched the second of his outstanding insights into Earth’s wildlife and, in the first programme that was broadcast in the UK last Sunday evening, he highlighted the huge impact we as a species have had on our planet even over the decade since the first Life on Earth series was run; and
·      I listened to an inventor earlier this morning describing a small solar powered ear tag that will enable farmers to assess the health of their livestock over a fifty mile radius, while sitting in the warmth at home, they now can, as an example, locate a single sheep (within a scattered flock on a misty hillside) at the moment it goes into labour due to signals indicating a drop in temperature and an increased pulse – technology is changing almost every aspect of how we live.

But, some things do not change – The Advent Blogs Series will be published again this year and I am both delighted an honoured to be the host. However, I cannot do it without your help…

By way of an explanation to those who are new - Traditional Advent calendar windows start being opened from the 1st of December, with a new surprise being revealed daily. The Advent Blog series is the same, in that a new post is published each day. However, despite being called the Advent Blog series, these blogs are not a religious countdown and the series is not limited to just 24 posts. In recent years the contributions have continued well into the New Year, with people contributing posts from around the world and from a mixture of backgrounds and outlooks - you can read a summary of some of last year’s posts here. All authors are welcome. I remain indebted to Alison Chisnell for founding the series back in 2011; it is a credit to her and all the contributors’ enthusiasm that the Advent Blogs have now become a much-loved annual tradition.

Last year’s series, under the heading of “Comet Tails and Coal Dust” was amazing, with people commenting on a range of personal highs and lows, as well as individual family reminiscences and topical observations. This year’s theme is “Heights, Hearts and Hollows”. I hope at least one of these words will resonate with you and inspire you to compose a piece to be included for the pleasure of all who follow and read the series.

So, what is the story that you want to share this year? What dizzy heights have you scaled? 

Whose heart have you touched or what has moved you? 

Have you had to cope with challenges ? 

or felt low?

What are you aiming for next year, what do you want to be different or better?

For me, one of the best things about the Advent Blog series is that people use it as a place to be themselves – open, honest, no sales or spin, just a global group of individuals, from diverse backgrounds, doing something together and for each other. Each contribution is unique – every submission makes its own personal impact, and as a whole they create an extraordinary series.

If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with me via the comments section below, via Twitter or by any means that you can find to track me down. I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say.