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Author: Leigh St John

What is “abundance thinking”?

When exploring any topic – in this case abundance thinking – it is always a good idea to start with a definition or at least a framework upon which to begin one’s exploration.

According to Wikipedia, in his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen “Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others. He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation (see zero-sum game). Individuals with an abundance mentality reject the notion of zero-sum games and are able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.”


Look around you…

Chances are you will see more scarcity mindset than abundance.  There are advertisements telling us that if we don’t get in now, we will miss out.  Television shows based on one person wins and the rest lost.  Commercials telling us how devastated our families will be if we don’t do this or do that, and do it now.

We have built a culture where marketers largely rely on ‘scarcity thinking’ to drive fear-based purchases and actions.

It is relatively easy to identify scarcity thinking, but what about abundance thinking..?

What is abundance thinking and how do we recognise it?

Abundance thinking is essentially looking at the strengths, successes, and possibilities that surround you – not once, but on a continual basis.

Abundance-focused leaders do not ignore weaknesses, but they put the majority of their focus on the strengths and successes of their teams.  They do not frame their challenges in terms of not having enough time, money, energy or resources to achieve their goals.  As a result their people focus on growth, new frontiers, and embracing change.

When in 1961 President Kennedy committed the nation to landing a man on the moon before 1970, NASA did not even know if it had the technology to achieve such a daring and audacious goal – but they did it!  Kennedy focused on the possibilities, not the limitations.

I recall hearing a quote by President Nixon as he was staring at a photo of Kennedy that I believe came from a movie (I don’t know if Nixon actually said it, but it resonates regardless):

“When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are.”

Possibly the best description I have found on applying the attributes of abundance thinking is the work of Cooperrider and Whitney in their “A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry”:

Principle Summary Details
Constructionist Principle Words create worlds Reality, as we know it, is a subjective vs. objective state and is socially created through language and conversations.
Simultaneity Principle Inquiry creates change The moment we ask a question, we begin to create a change. “The questions we ask are fateful.”
Poetic Principle We can choose what we study Teams and organizations, like open books, are endless sources of study and learning. What we choose to study makes a difference. It describes – even creates – the world as we know it.
Anticipatory Principle Images inspire action Human systems move in the direction of their images of the future. The more positive and hopeful the image of the future, the more positive the present-day action.
Positive Principle Positive questions lead to positive change Momentum for [small or] large-scale change requires large amounts of positive affect and social bonding. This momentum is best generated through positive questions that amplify the positive core

Comparing scarcity vs abundance

Here is Stephen Covey’s take on the scarcity mindset:

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

Here is how Covey describes abundance thinking:

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

So, what is the problem?

The problem is that we tend to only notice the things upon which we focus – and if you agreed with the earlier statement that when you look around you, you see more scarcity than abundance – you my friend are focused on scarcity.

…and thanks to how your brain works, you get more of that upon which you focus!

For instance, imagine you are buying a new car and have decided on a yellow VW Beetle since you haven’t ever seen a yellow one except in the brochures.  As you drive your brand new, very distinctive car off the lot and home, you pass five of them!

Blame your reticular activating system!

The reticular activating system, or RAS, is a part of the brain into which all of your senses except smell are wired.  Its job is to essentially be a gatekeeper and filter the massive amounts of information that are constantly bombarding your senses.

With all the literally millions of sensory inputs to which our brain is subjected, it is little wonder there is a mechanism to funnel out what is not important – but it is us who decides what is important!

The simple fact is that if we do not consciously focus upon something, we often miss it entirely.

Most people have seen the Harvard study where they showed people a video of a small basketball team passing a ball around in a circle. Participants were asked the count the number of times the ball was passed. Simple enough.

After the video, the participants were asked if they had noticed anything unusual – over half reported they had not seen anything unusual (and were a little perplexed by the question).

I won’t give it away for those who haven’t seen it:  http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html

Because the brain had been asked to focus on the passing of the ball, in more than 50% of the participants, it missed something rather extraordinary.

…and so it is in our day to day life – whether at work or at play.

We only notice that upon which we focus!

…and when you have abundance thinking, you are focused on abundance – it is that simple.  Not easy, but simple.

Abundance thinkers: Scarcity thinkers:
Believe in positive possibilities Are pessimistic about the future
Think big Think small
Encourage others Find fault in others
Understand that everything that happens in their world (positive and negative) is of their creation Blame others for their circumstances
Believe there is always more Believe there is never enough and one needs to fight for more
Willingly share their knowledge and contacts with others Carefully guard their knowledge and contacts, only sharing when they feel they will directly behefit
Withhold judgement Judge others regularly
Trust people until proven untrustworthy Distrust until proven trustworthy
Are inwardly confident, self-assured and appreciative Lack self-confidence and display ‘entitled’ and often selfish behaviour
Welcome competition as a means to grow, develop and expand See competition as a necessary evil and seek to destroy the
Are open, honest, warm and welcoming May appear warm and welcoming, but often undermining those in their acquaintence
Believes collaboration is the way forward Believes competition is the only way
Has no fear of being replaced because they focus on what is best for all, not just themselves Afraid of being replaced
Embraces change Fears and disrupts change
Inspire others Condescend others
Know failure is a step toward success Fear failure
Do not engage in gossip, or complaining about people to others Talk negatively about people to others, often thinking they are being constructive
Ask themselves, ‘how can I be of service?’ Ask themselves, ‘what’s in it for me?’

So, how do I develop ‘abundance thinking’?

Part of the answer to that is now only understanding the ‘how’ but also developing processes (where I turn to my colleague Mike Russell) and ceremonies (where colleague Tom Meloche is the world’s best)…

…but that is for the next post…  🙂

~ Bella

Elegance and invisibility…

What I am about to share may be viewed by some to be elitist, snobbish, or other such reflection – or even plain wrong.

From my perspective, this was a moment to cherish.

Sitting beside the fire in the bar of the Victorian mansion in which I am spending a week over the new year break, I was curled up doing research, and relatively oblivious to the rest of the world.

I also enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner of a delicious bowl of soup, and a couple of glasses of wine – and by this stage, had put away my research and was content to simply be absorbed by the beauty of the fire.

An older woman caught my attention and asked, “do you mind if I ask you a question?”

I smiled – her husband looked irritated – and said, “of course not.  How can I help?”

Her husband rolled his eyes and said with an air of both frustration and resignation, “I will wait for you in the drawing room,” then shuffled off.

The woman looked at me and said, “I have been watching you, and I couldn’t place you, but now hearing your accent, I know why.”

I was baffled but just smiled – I didn’t know what to say but felt if I just stayed silent she would continue.

“I taught social graces and etiquette in Oxford for many years and, although my husband disapproves, I like to observe how standards have slipped.”

I thought – “oh, no…  what did I do?”

“You, however, are a puzzle to me,” she continued.  “Apart from the two times you put your elbows on the arms of your chair, but redeemed yourself by quickly bringing them back down to your sides, there was only one time in all the while I have been observing you, that I saw an unforgivable flaw in your elegance.”

I went to ask what that was, but she continued with a diatribe of the things I apparently did correctly, even to the fact that I write with a gold fountain pen and have a leather pouch into which I place it when I am through.  She mentioned the way I eat soup, bread, hold my glass, order my food and drink, the fact that I regularly straightened my posture, the clothes I am wearing (I always wear long skirts), the jewellery…

“but your disgrace was in talking to the servant as he was tending the fire.  If he is good at his job, he prides himself on being invisible while undertaking such a task.  You stole his invisibility and that is unforgivable.”

I was flabbergasted – and honoured – and touched – and baffled………. and she was right!  This hotel is one of gloriously fine quality and the staff here truly do conduct themselves with the very highest levels of old-fashioned service.

I went to say something – although I am not sure what – and she stopped me, saying, “you can work on that.”

She nodded, gave me a half-smile, and walked off in the direction of her husband…

I felt as though I had just been given a gold star by my favourite teacher on a project on which I have been working my entire life.

This may not mean anything to many, but to me, this was one of the greatest compliments – and lessons – I have had the privilege of receiving.

I feel so very, very blessed…

~ Bella

What I read while driving

I’m not talking about texting while driving, nor holding a book, phone or tablet precariously while driving…

I am talking about audio-books!

As you probably know, I am about to head off on another road trip – this time up to Scotland for a few weeks.

Any time you are a captive audience such as travelling in a car, on a train or similar, rather than listen to the radio, my preference is usually to listen to an audio-book or two or ten.

My selection for this road trip is as follows:



This book is actually fascinating!

“Born in the small city of Thal, Austria, in 1947, Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to Los Angeles at the age of 21. Within 10 years, he was a millionaire businessman. After 20 years, he was the world’s biggest movie star. In 2003, he was elected governor of California and became a household name around the world.

Chronicling his embodiment of the American Dream, Total Recall covers Schwarzenegger’s high-stakes journey to the United States, from creating the international bodybuilding industry out of the sands of Venice Beach, to breathing life into cinema’s most iconic characters, and becoming one of the leading political figures of our time. Proud of his accomplishments and honest about his regrets, Schwarzenegger spares nothing in sharing his amazing story.”

  • Listening Length: 23 hours and 26 minutes

http://amzn.to/2CifJ60


Wayne Dyer is always one of my go-to places of inspiration…

“The author has researched intention as a force in the universe which allows the act of creation to take place. This title helps you gain inspirational tips for living life to the fullest by listening to the author live as he explores the secrets of the power of intention.”

  • Listening Length: 2 hours and 31 minutes

http://amzn.to/2ysm0Zu

 

 


“This is the original interview between Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill. Hill used this interview as the basis of his world famous book Think & Grow Rich.”

 

  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes

http://amzn.to/2ysxQTK

 

 


“In the spirit of Steve Jobs and MoneyballElon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs – a real-life Tony Stark – and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new makers.

Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius’ life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: Can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk – one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history – is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.”

  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 23 minutes

http://amzn.to/2BpnZ6o


It was wonderful being at Highclere (Downton Abbey) and this book by Lady Carnarvon, whom I also met at the party, is extremely well researched and quite a glorious ‘read’…

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’s Emmy Award-winning PBS series, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants: Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon.

Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war. Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart Lady Cora Crawley, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon’s ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.

This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.”

  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 32 minutes

http://amzn.to/2Ci2rpW


“What really is the Law of Attraction? How do you get it to work for you? These are the incredible stories you need to hear…

Neville Goddard’s The Law and the Promise contains arguably the most amazing success stories involving the Law of Attraction ever published. Inside you will hear dozens of incredible first person accounts from people who transformed their lives by unlocking the power of their imagination.”

  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 46 minutes

http://amzn.to/2AEXSsx


While there are literally more than one hundred audio books in my library (aka my iPhone), these above are the ones selected to accompany me on this particular journey.

I am heading off tomorrow…  Sooooooo looking forward to it!

~ Bella

The Faces of Third-World Entrepreneurs

We often see advertisements telling of the sadness and lack in third-world countries, and asking for our help.

Right or wrong, I have never been inclined to support those causes as, to me, it feels that my energy is going in the direction of focusing on the lack, rather than the abundance.

Being part of the solution…

So how do I support instead?

I fund entrepreneurs in these areas – people who only need a little to be able to set up, or expand their local business – and this is not a hand-out, this is a loan that supports more than the recipient.

The micro-financing loan is administered and managed by a field partner in the same area as the entrepreneur.  100% of my investment goes to the entrepreneur, and the field partner charges an interest rate that allows them (the field partner) to continue to grow and support even more entrepreneurs.

The loan is then paid back over an extended period of time, allowing the recipient to grow their business to generate the additional income to service the loan.

Since Kiva (the non-profit based in America that administers the program) started in 2005, the average number of loans that have been repaid in full is 96.9%.

So, who are these entrepreneurs?

Along with other investors, these are the people I am personally funding – along with their stories…

Please meet Frankston.

Frankson’s story

Frankson is 42 years old, married, and blessed with three children. His business is selling timber and operating a car wash, which he has done for four years.This is his second loan and he will use it to buy timber to sell and a water tank for his car wash business. He will use profits from the expanded business to educate his children.His hopes and dreams are to open another timber yard and also build a permanent house for his family.

Frankston is from Kitengela;Nairobi, Kenya


Please meet Sarah.

Sarah’s story

Sarah is 46 years old. She is married with 3 children, ranging in age 18 through 21 years. They live at home while attending school.Sarah is a high school graduate. She deals in a business where she sells charcoal. A business she has operating for 6 years. Sarah describes herself as hardworking business woman.

She started this business with financial help from her brother and her mother taught her how to sell.

She transports supplies to her business site by car. Sarah sells from 7:00 am until 5:00 pm, making sure that her business goes well.

To add up her business, Sarah requires for a loan through BRAC Liberia and KIVA Field Partner. The loan will be used to purchase more charcoal to sell.

She likes her business because it helps to support her family. Sarah would like to build a house for her children within the future.

Sarah is from New Kru, Liberia


Please meet Nancy.

Nancy’s story

Her curiosity and natural abilities have made Nancy a successful farmer. She works hard to meet the demands of her small family, (husband and children) as well as her farm requirements. Nancy has been working on her farm for 12 years. Through farming, Nancy is able to meet the basic needs of her family. She also owns a small shop.The biggest problem that farmers from her village face is the huge deficit in access to agricultural inputs, meaning those farmers’ yields and incomes are far below what they could be. Juhudi Kilimo partnered with Kiva to provide financial services to smallholders around Kenya. Through these financial services, farmers from Kitale like Nancy now can buy productive assets and important agricultural inputs for use on their farms.

Nancy is seeking a loan to buy farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides. Your loan will enable her to improve her production through the use of quality farm inputs. This intervention will help her fill the increasing demand for food in the market and, in the process, generate more income to repay the loan debt and improve the quality of life for her family. To others it might just be a mere loan, but to Nancy it’s the biggest opportunity she will have this season of changing her life. Kindly lend to her today.

Nancy is from Kenyenya, Kenya


Please meet Justine.

Justine’s story

Justine is 30 years old and lives in the town of Kajjasi in the Abaita Ababiri region of Uganda. For the past six years, Justine has been working hard to manage her retail shop, which sells essential items like sugar, salt, and other home use items.To help expand her business, Justine has requested a loan of 3,000,000 Ugandan Shillings from BRAC Uganda. The loan will be used to buy sugar, maize, flour, beans, biscuits, milk and cooking oil to attract customers, and will help Justine to generate greater profits and pay her mother’s medical bills and buy new clothes for herself.

Justine hopes that in the future she will be able to open up a new branch of a retail shop.

Justine is a member of BRAC’s Small Enterprise Program (SEP). The program primarily serves small entrepreneurs like Justine who do not have enough collateral for commercial loans, but have businesses that have grown too large for microloans.

Justine is from Kajjansi, Uganda


Please meet Rosalinda.

Rosalinda’s story

Rosalinda is 42 years old and a housewife that lives with her family in the municipality of Barranquilla. She wanted to generate her own income and to support her spouse by selling products to her neighbours and friends.She has started her sales of products three years ago and she today offers a broad variety of products: cold meats, footwear, clothing and other requests from her customers. Rosalinda is looking for financial support so she can accept more orders from her customers, currently she is often in the position that she is unable to make the necessary purchases.

The loan she is asking for will be used to buy cold meats such as ham, local types of sausages and other requests made by her customers.

Rosalinda is from Barranquilla, Colombia


How can you support?

Everyone has different things that touch their heart.  For me, it is people who are stepping up and creating something that helps others as well as themselves.

No matter your passion, you can probably find someone who fits that place in your heart.  Here is a list of the categories of people seeking a micro-loan (and bearing in mind, your loan can be as little as $25):

Categories

I love being part of this program.  Whatever you choose to do to give back, on behalf of everyone else here on this pretty little blue planet…

Thank you!

~ Bella

 

Appointed Official Photographer with Prestigious Bradt’s Travel Guide Company

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking that it would be wonderful to have my photos distributed to a wider audience…

Almost immediately, I learned (as I put in a post a few days ago) that The Guardian Newspaper had featured one of my photos; and then that seven of my photos were featured and shortlisted in the International Historical Photographer of the Year Awards…

and now…

The multi-award-winning Bradt’s Travel Guides has appointed me as an official photographer AND…

…they are featuring twenty-four of my photos in the upcoming newest edition of their “Slow Devon” book!

Since 1974, Bradt’s guides have been among the most loved guide books in (initially) England and then across the globe.  From their website: “Bradt has a reputation as a pioneer in tackling ‘unusual’ destinations, for championing the causes of sustainable travel, and for the high quality of its writing. Our books are intended to be as entertaining to read as they are useful reservoirs of tourist information. And they have personality. Each is a one-of-a-kind expression of the author’s interests, expertise and passion for telling it how it really is.”

Hilary Bradt has given so much to the field of tourism, that in 2008 she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by HM Queen Elizabeth for Mrs Bradt’s services to the tourism industry and to charity.

I feel so incredibly privileged to be supporting such an icon of quality – by doing what I love!

~ Bella

My photos shortlisted in international Historic Photographer of the Year Awards

Following your passion…

Sitting here happily working away at The Grand Hotel in Torquay, and probably as it is only two days away from the commemoration of Armistice Day, the music playing in the background is all 1940s…

Several of the songs being played were favourites of my great-grandmother who largely raised me – and as such, I knew all the words and could hear her voice in my head as I sang along… and living here in England for half of the year each year, I am more and more gaining an understanding of just how profound and impactful an experience was WWII on the people here…

Add to that, I am in the process of writing cards of thanks and appreciation for Books Two and Three of my Quantum Lace series – with Book Two being focused on WWI (in particular the sinking on the Lancastria – still Britain’s worst maritime disaster)…

I began thinking how much I love the music of that era; how much my Nan (my great-grandmother) loved it; and the fact that there are still people living to whom that music meant so much…

…and then my mind floated to the fact that the people we are still blessed to have with us are well into their years and will not be with us much longer…

…and after that, thought about how much I love that music; that at one point I made my living singing but no longer sing professionally (and hardly ever even in the shower!)…

Sooooo…

I decided to follow several of my passions and have already just today set up several small concerts at senior citizens homes and facilities where I can live my passions of loving the music and sharing my voice and inspiration with others – and the guests can sing along to their heart’s content – and hopefully together we can bring back many happy memories of loved ones and times gone by… and I can honour the memory of my great-grandmother…

“Following your passion” doesn’t have to mean dropping everything and taking a completely different path…

It can simply mean doing a small concert for a group of seniors, singing songs that mean ever so much to both of you…

When an opportunity to follow your passion comes up, please consider embracing it with both hands…

~ Bella

Natural Anti-Depressant

For personal reasons – as well as being laid up with a nasty bug – this weekend was quite sad and challenging.

Rather than put on a brave face and shove the emotions down or aside, I chose to honour the feelings and allow them to simply ‘be’.

When, by Monday morning however I still felt emotionally flat, I decided that before I went to sleep that evening, I would be back to my normal bright-eyed, bushy-tailed (if still somewhat feeling the effects of the bug) happy self.

After a short walk by the marina in the morning, and ensuring I was extremely productive during the day, when 5:00pm rolled around and one of my favourite places opened for business (aka the lovely wine bar and seafood restaurant next door), I dressed up and took myself out for the evening.

The view from the wine bar is always stunning, and watching the clouds roll by, the boats in the water… it was lovely…

As the sun began to set, the entire bay took on a completely different feel… and I was in raptures just watching the ever-changing hues and contrasts…

…and I wasn’t really hungry, so settled for oysters that tasted soooooo light and fresh and … amazing.

The staff there know me and given that it was early in the evening and on a weekday, I was the only person there for much of my visit – so chatted about all sorts of happy and interesting things with the very talented sommelier…

Several hours later, by the time I left to walk home (literally next door), I was feeling light and happy, refreshed and reinvigorated.

…and this morning I awoke feeling equally so.

When life gets you down and the world feels just a little too big, may I suggest you find your own version of this natural anti-depressant to bring you back to feelings of joy.

It certainly worked for me – and I feel ever so blessed…

~ Bella

The Extraordinary Geographic Heritage in My DNA

Oh my!  I have been busily tracing a particular line of my ancestry and what I find most astonishing is not that I have been able to trace them back to the late 1400’s… (and to the left is the family crest)

What astonished me – and, if I’m honest, touched my soul – was that my entire lineage is at most within around a 60 mile journey from the place on the planet I finally feel “HOME“!

To put that into perspective…

I grew up in Australia but never felt at home there and, while the country is quite amazing, I never liked living there.

While I felt very at home for many of the years I lived in America – and Charleston South Carolina felt most ‘home’, it was still not “it”.

I didn’t even set foot in England until last year and I had leased an apartment in St. Leonards on Sea (near Hastings in West Sussex).  While I loved it there, it still wasn’t ‘home’ – but…

One night I woke up around 02:00am with “Torquay – you have to move to Torquay” repeating in my head.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know I call the voices we all have in our head (if we are honest!) my Hamsters.  Anyway, my Hamsters were going ape about the fact I needed to up-stakes and move to Torquay for the remainder of my stay six-month in England.

I didn’t even know where Torquay was!

They would not let up – and since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I was curled up under the covers researching this place called ‘Torquay’.

Finally, I told the Hamsters to be quiet, that I needed some sleep.

Move forward to the morning – and upon waking, within the space of 18 minutes, I had cancelled my lease on the apartment in Torquay – leased an apartment at the marina in Torquay – and arranged for my luggage to be sent from one to the other.

Now, that in itself might sound – well – ‘interesting’ (some might suggest a less kind word) – but the moment I arrived in Torquay, I literally cried.

“I’m HOME!”

For the first time in my life of now over fifty years – I knew what “home” felt like!

Now, at that time, I knew several of my ancestors came from Exeter – which is around 22 miles from Torquay – but apart from that, I had no other connection to the place…  that I knew at the time!

My ancestors are my neighbours!

Going right back to the late 1400’s, the ancestral line with whom I felt the strongest connection out of all my various branches on the ‘family’ tree, all lived in one of four places – and almost all within 22 miles of where I call ‘home’ in England (there are a small handful going back to the 1500’s who were from Trewen):

Torquay to Paignton = 3 miles

Torquay to Brixham = 8 miles

Torquay to Exeter = 22 miles

Torquay to Trewen = 66 miles

To give you some visuals…

The X below is my home in Torquay (cfor six months of the year at present) and the other yellow spots are Exeter, Brixham and Trewen (and you can see Paignton)

To zoom out to see how small that space is on the map of England (and actually, my box is way too large)…

…and in this map below, the tiny yellow dot covers basically the whole of England!

Furthermore, this is the geographic name distribution for the family surname:

I managed to find the tiniest spot on the map that after a half a century of searching finally felt like “HOME” and then discovered that my ancestors going all the way back to the 1400’s lived mostly within 20 miles of this tiny spot on the planet that I absolutely adore!

…and for the first time in my life, I have a sense of what it feels like to have such a sense of belonging that you would fight if needed to protect your homeland.

Of an evening lately, I have been watching some episodes of the BBC production, “Who Do You Think You Are?” and have been fascinated by how many people going back through one’s lineage share traits, or occupations, or characteristics…

Without knowing it, in the middle of the night in West Sussex, my ancestral geographic DNA called me ‘home’ – and I feel more blessed than I can ever express…

~ Bella

Post Script:  Tonight after posting this, I have been watching a documentary called, “Faces of Britain” hosted by Neil Oliver, and what I found fascinating was the genetic research that is being undertaken by people such as Sir Walter Bodmer, including tracing ancestral lines genetically to certain geographic areas in Britain.

As Neil Oliver said in the opening –

“Who were they, where were they from, what were they like – and we try and answer those questions by the things our ancestors left behind – but that never gets us the the people themselves, and that’s why the science of DNA is so fascinating … it’s looking at something else our ancestors left behind, but that they left behind inside us!

PPS:  I emailed Sir Walter Bodmer and he has been kind enough to provide me with a summary of the findings of his work that he wrote following the publication of the major publication on their work in the science journal Nature  in March 2015:  Faces-Britain-POBInewsletter06_March2015 copy reduced

What an amazingly ordinary extraordinary week…

You know those weeks where nothing of great significance in the overall scheme of the world has happened, but yet there have been so many little amazing things that together the week has felt quite extraordinary?

I have been struck several times this week with the thought that today – at this very moment – I am the youngest I will ever be again…

I will never again be this young; I will never again have this few wrinkles (LOL!); I will never again have exactly this outlook in life because every experience changes one’s outlook…

While a very logical statement, it has had a very profound effect on the way I view each day.  I already live the best life I can, moment to moment – and I have done more with my life to date than most people even dream of achieving – but this conscious realisation has given me an even more pressing drive to make sure I focus on only what I want from life, and what I want to give to the world – because as Michael Landon said in his beautiful quote, “we only have so many tomorrows.”

In my week, as I mentioned, nothing amazing happened – but here are the very cool things that did…

  • I discovered that Bram Stoker’s mother lived only a short walk from where I am living while I stay here in Ireland – on the banks of the Garavogue River in Sligo.  I found that extra-interesting given my recent trip to Transylvania!
  • While binge-watching Downton Abbey (I needed an ‘elegance’ fix, plus I am researching Bridgit’s Book Four), I found something that seemed odd, so I sent a message to Downton Abbey’s Historical Advisor, Alastair Bruce (who also happens to be Equerry to Prince Andrew and Godfather to one of the Prince’s children) asking for an explanation.  The domino effect of that is that Mr. Bruce has given me his contact address and has invited me to ask him any questions I might have in relation to my research!
  • Speaking of Downton Abbey, I had a beautiful compliment paid to me during the week – at one of my ‘local watering holes’, the waitress greeted me and said, “You always look so lovely – just like a modern Downton Abbey character.”  I don’t need to tell you how thrilled I was to hear that!
  • I finished Bridgit’s Book Three!  YAY!  …and celebrated with a delicious dinner of pesto chicken and steamed vegetables, followed by a nightcap of good Irish Whiskey.
  • Speaking of Bridgit – she found four new fans this week, all wait-staff at my various watering holes!
  • You will probably already have seen the posts I updated with my excursions this week to Counties Donnegal and Leitrim.
  • Going back to Bridgit – if you have read Book Two, you will understand the importance of me discovering the television program that brought the Lancastria to my attention.  When it aired, I only saw about five minutes of it, so had no idea what the program was nor how to track it down – but during the week, I was watching some programs online and happened to come across an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” that looked interesting… and lo and behold – it was the same program in which I learned of the tragedy that forms the basis of Book Two.  That may not seem like much to you, but it meant the world to me to be able to put a reference to genesis of Book Two – and to be able to send ‘thank you’ notes in appreciation.
  • In researching Book Four, I came across an interview that was recorded in May of this year with a man who actually knew the family, including the wife, of the main person around whom Book Four is based (and no, I am not giving that away just yet) – and so I reached out to the producer and I have just today been given the elderly man’s phone number and he is keen to speak with me and allow me to pick his memories with him!
  • When speaking with a potential client during the week, I had such a soul connect that I just know I have made a lifelong friend with this person – I love when that happens.
  • I adopted Merlin!  What? I hear you ask…  Merlin is a Great Grey Owl at the Devon Bird of Prey Centre (near my beloved Torquay in England) – and he was in need of an adoptive parent, so I couldn’t resist…  Will post about him separately soon…
  • …and I watched a glorious old movie, “A Rather English Marriage”, that brought home even more so, the fact that today, at this very moment, we are all the youngest we will ever be again…

As I said, nothing earth-shattering, but all in all, a most gloriously ordinary, extraordinary week…

Sending love and smiles to all…

~ Bella

 

Quantum Lace Earns The Literary Classics Seal of Approval

More good news!  I am SO proud of Bridgit…

Here is the review they posted when they announced Quantum Lace had earned the Literary Classics International Seal of Approval:

In 1895 Lady Bridgit’s dream is interrupted by a lucid encounter with a man named Markus, a person living in the future.  Shrugging the encounter off as nothing more than a vivid dream she nearly forgets about the incident.  Then one day something happens which calls to question everything she ever believed to be true.  Thus, begins the magnificent tale of Quantum Lace, a novella.

There are books out there about time travel that we’ve all read and enjoyed.  But this one is so entirely plausible, so highly engaging, that one can’t help but wonder if the concept of time travel is not only possible, but is perhaps undeniably real.  Taking science fiction to a whole new level, Quantum Lace is a book that will have readers packing their bags in preparation for their own expedition to an alternate place in time.  With a strong female protagonist and a cast of other well-developed characters, this book is sure to hit a home run with hard-to-please audiences and will leave them itching to get started on the next installment in the series.

At this moment, I am sitting at one of my favourite writing ‘establishments’ (aka place where they are friendly, I can curl up for hours in comfort, and they serve good wine!  LOL!) and about to dive back into writing Book Three…

Receiving this news was such wonderful inspiration to get this next book finished!

It’s funny…  Even with all the really cool and, on occasion, extraordinary things I have achieved in life, I truly feel this series is the best thing I have ever done…  Ever.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your encouragement and for loving Bridgit and her journey…

~ Bella

Quantum Lace Awarded ‘Honorable Mention’ in NY Book Festival

I was thrilled just now to receive an email advising me that Bridgit (my Quantum Lace series) was awarded an “Honorable Mention” in the New York Book Festival!

I am currently (at the time of writing this post) writing Book Three and expect to have it published within the next few weeks.

While I do not write Bridgit’s books in order to get accolades, I must admit, I am so very delighted when her story (and the research that goes into writing it) is acknowledged in such a way…

OK, back to writing..!

~ Bella

My Personal Tips for Living an Extraordinary Life…

I live an amazing life many people say they could only dream of living… but when it comes down to it – therein actually lies one of the keys to living an extraordinary life – ‘dreaming’ that you can!

However, that’s where most people stop.

We have all heard that we must set goals that are realistic (I disagree with that word in relation to this subject), time-based (disagree in part with that notion), achievable (who’s to say what’s achievable?) etc…

When I am asked by people how I am able to travel the world, see and experience such amazing things… my response is that (a) I can work wherever I have wifi and (b) I made a decision some time ago (actually several years ago) that I didn’t want to be where I was (geographically, figuratively, financially, emotionally and physically) and so created a list of things that I DID want to be and experience – and it is that list upon which I focus pretty much daily…

That lead to my continually expanding my BUCKET LIST!  http://luxuriousnomad.com/bucket-list/ (and just in the past couple of days, I have now added some items and checked some others off – expanding it to be over 600 items – about half of which I have already achieved).

 

Think about it – if you decide to go on a journey and you ask your GPS to give you directions – the GPS kinda needs to know WHERE you want to go in order to be of assistance.

 

That’s where the Bucket List comes in – it is essentially my road map of things I want to do – places I want to visit – experiences I want to have… but it is more than that…

We have all had times where we see a documentary of an amazing place and think, “I need to go there someday!” but how many of us actually capture that thought and add it to a list we are continually checking off?  I do!

In addition to the Bucket List being a wonderful resource for achievement, we all have those days where the world gets just a little too big… and the list can be a wonderful tool to live an extraordinary life in these moments as well…

For me on those days (in addition to getting chocolate and a good bottle of red wine!) I read through the ‘done’ parts of my Bucket List.

It is amazing how inspirational it can be to reflect on what you have actually done and achieved in your life thus far…

“and what about being positive and happy as part of living an extraordinary life” I hear some ask…

Well, I have that covered in the Bucket List as well!

It doesn’t matter what you want in your life – to become a Luxurious Nomad like me travelling the world 24/7 (that has its pros and cons); whether it is to raise a wonderful family; build a phenomenal business; be the first person (that we know of! LOL!) to step on Mars…

 

What matters is that you capture WHAT YOU WANT! in some form of visual list – believe you can achieve it – and then take inspired action – EVERY SINGLE DAY – toward what you want.

 

It’s often not easy – but it is simple.

So, your action step – if you choose to accept this mission – is to review my Bucket List and then create one of your own – and put it somewhere you can and you WILL refer to it every single day…

As Yoda said…

~ Bella

Welcome Caesar and Commando to the Family!

Something that has been on my bucket list – and my heart – for quite a while, is to adopt, or at least sponsor, a retired working horse.

So, when a new client fell into my lap unexpectedly, I decided to check another two humanitarian things off my list – making a Kiva loan, and sponsoring a retired working horse!  (hmmm, ok, so I’m a softie and ended up sponsoring two of them!)

…and I am SO excited to go and visit my beauties when I get back to England!


All hail the mighty Caesar! This striking 18.2hh Shire worked for Thames Valley Mounted Branch.

Caesar was the largest police horse and was the sergeant’s horse due to being extremely brave and imposing.

His duties included day to day patrolling of the entire Thames Valley.

Described as big and bold, Caesar has been injured on several occasions by missiles and objects during his working life.

His confident presence made him a very successful security horse, providing Close Protection security to HM The Queen’s Royal Procession.


Commando is a gorgeous 17.3hh, black gelding, born in 1997.

He had a long and distinguished career in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

He also spent time at the Household Cavalry Training Wing.

Commando served at both the Golden and Diamond Jubilee parades (2002 ans 2012) as well as at the Royal Wedding in 2011.

Described by Officers as “a perfect Cavalry Black”, Commando retired to The Horse Trust in 2012.


If you would like more information on sponsoring a retired working horse, there are organisations all over the world – just Google “sponsor a retired working horse” and follow that by your state or county.

If you get stuck, just reach out to me and I will see what I can do to hook you up!

~ Bella

I just made a Kiva Loan!

A what???  A Kiva Loan!

Kiva is an international non-profit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people all over the world and through lending – not charity – to alleviate poverty.

I am very much a believer in giving to people who are working to manifest a better and brighter existence for themselves and their families – and that’s exactly what Kiva is all about.

…and so today, when I had an unexpected new client land in my lap, I decided to give back – and to check a couple of things off my bucket list!  A Kiva loan and sponsoring a retired working horse (more on the latter in a separate post).

Rosalinda is 42 years old and a housewife that lives with her family in the municipality of Barranquilla. She wanted to generate her own income and to support her spouse by selling products to her neighbours and friends.

She started her sales of products three years ago and she today offers a broad variety of products: cold meats, footwear, clothing and other requests from her customers. Rosalinda was looking for financial support for a total of only $350 USD so she can accept more orders from her customers, currently she is often in the position that she is unable to make the necessary purchases.

The loan she asked for will be used to buy cold meats such as ham, local types of sausages and other requests made by her customers.

The Kiva loan is managed locally by a non-profit organization in northern Colombia dedicated to developing programs for the country’s poorest communities. In addition to numerous social services, the non-profit runs a micro-finance program to strengthen micro-businesses in the areas where it works; as well as offering several non-financial components as part of this program, including training to help entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

To learn more about Kiva, you can go to www.Kiva.org.

~ Bella

‘Quantum Lace’ is a 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards FINALIST!

Unlike most people, I actually enjoy checking my emails of a morning – primarily because I love what I do, the people with whom I work, and the really cool ‘stuff’ (technical word – LOL!) to which I have subscribed…

…and when I checked my emails this morning, I was greeted with an even greater gift – notification that Bridgit’s series has been named a 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards Finalist!

2017 Literary Classics Book Awards. Top Honors Book Awards. Book Award Finalist – Literary Classics Announced its 2017 list of book award recipients.

I will let you know if Bridgit manages to score an award..!

Thank you again to everyone who has read and loved the books…  I have already finished the research for book three…  Now I just need to knuckle down and write it… (or more precisely, get Bridgit to dictate…  LOL!  …and if you have no idea what I am talking about, then I guess you haven’t read the books!)

~ Bella

quantum lace book two

Quantum Lace Book Two is live!

As I write this, I am sitting in a lovely penthouse in Italy (technically in Lido di Ostia, less than an hour from Rome and only two blocks from the Tyrrhenian Sea), researching the third book in my Quantum Lace series…

…and I completely forgot to let you know that Book Two is available on Amazon already!

Here is a snippet to give you a taste of Book Two:

Bridgit awoke to find herself clinging to a life-preserver, the water thick with oil. Screams and hollow cries filled the air and the salt water seemed to shower her from both above and below as what she would later learn were German planes made several passes, strafing those bobbing about in the pandemonium, their bullets whizzing past and creating a bloody spray as they hit the water.

Somehow, she found herself in the worst maritime disaster in British history – a disaster that occurred during World War II (and that Churchill refused to allow the news outlets to cover for fear of a further drop in morale). In that one single incident as many men, women and children died as in the Titanic and 9/11 disasters combined…

…and that, my Friends, is where you find Bridgit in Book Two…

Here is your link for Book Two on Amazon:

…and in case you are wondering about Book Three…  Here is a snippet…


“Are y’all right, miss?” Bridgit heard a deep male voice ask in a slow drawl.

As she opened her eyes, Bridgit saw a woman beside her fussing about, waving a handkerchief in Bridgit’s face, and a tall figure of a man that seemed so large and impressive as to obliterate the entire view.

“She fainted when she heard about General Lee’s surrender,” said the woman in a high-pitched drawl that sounded to Bridgit as though the woman was doing her best to add the letter Y in the middle of as many words as possible. To Bridgit’s ears it sounded like, “She faYinted when she heaYrd about General LeeYs surreYnder.”

Bridgit had awoken in April, 1865 back in Charleston, South Carolina and at the end of a conflict that divided a nation – not just across the line delineating North and South, but across questions and arguments that still to this day have not been effectively answered, nor the wounds healed…

Over the coming days, Bridgit is witness to actions driven by both the highest ideals for which a man can stand and the lowest to which he can stoop – and she will completely reassess her definition and understanding of the entire concept of “FREEDOM” (and it will not be as ‘black and white’ as you might think…)


OK, back to work for this Princess Pixie…  Will let you know when Book Three goes live…

~ Bella

My Next Chapter…

The subject of death, dying, epitaphs and such has been strangely prominent with several of my friends and colleagues lately, so I thought it apt that given I don’t have immediate relatives who know my wishes, to state them here.

…and just in case you are worried – don’t be – I don’t plan on going anywhere for a long time to come..!  🙂

However, this is something that has come up more than once and since my wishes are not exactly the norm – and since I don’t have anyone who is legally responsible for me, such as a husband, parents, children etc – I thought I would do the next best thing and post it here!  🙂  (OK, so you already know I am unconventional at the best of times, so why should this be any different? LOL!)  🙂

So, short version – do not bury my mortal remains! – do not cremate them! – please simply wrap the physical vessel that once contained my spirit in a very lovely, elegant, expensive, soft, silky piece of cloth and drop said vessel overboard in international waters.

Seriously!  That is truly and honestly my wish and makes me so very happy.

After all, it is merely my physical body about which we are speaking – the essence that is ‘me’ will continue on for energy cannot be destroyed, merely transmuted…

If anyone would like to put some type of epitaph to me back on terra firma, please make it interesting and preferable one that brings a smile to people’s faces 🙂 such as:


Leigh (Bella) St John

At least she wasn’t boring!


OK – that’s it.  Time to get back to work!  🙂

…and I am soooo loving the research I am doing for Bridgit’s Book Three! – stay tuned…

~ Bella

______

PS:  Almost immediately after posting this, I had several friends contact me to ask if I was OK.

Yes, I am not only fine – I am better than I have been in ages…!

However that did bring up an interesting point…  Consider your parents for instance, who may share this type of information with you as they want to simply have the peace of mind that their wishes are known – then all of a sudden they feel they have unfairly burdened you by you now thinking something is ‘wrong’ when in fact, nothing is wrong – they are just taking care of some personal business…

As Freud said,  ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’…

What do you want?

Curled up at home here in Italy, I just watched one of the most EXTRAORDINARY movies I have ever experienced – and one that is about a lot more than just Formula One…

Directed by Ron Howard, to say this movie is about the rivalry between Nikki Lauder and James Hunt would be akin to saying War and Peace was just a love story.

In addition to being perhaps the most exciting, thrilling and magnificently shot movie I have ever seen, this multi-dimensional film also looks at the psychology behind what it takes to achieve your dreams…

The quote, “everyone’s driven by something” is interesting…  Some are driven by what they want to achieve – while others are driven to avoid what they don’t want…

While the battles between Lauder and Hunt are legendary, it is interesting to note that when Hunt finally won the world championship, he essentially retired from racing.  He had achieved what he set out to do – and although he died not many years later from a heart attack, he continued to focus on what he wanted and to go for it…

…as did Lauder.

Two world-class achievers who knew exactly what they wanted and followed their passion to the extreme.

What do you want?

Now, you may not want to go so far as to put your life on the line to achieve your dreams and goals, but do you know what you want and what you will do in order to manifest it into your life?

Over the past few months I have been re-absorbing myself into the works of people such as Earl Nightingale, Neville Goddard, Robert Collier, Albert Schweitzer, Wallace Wattles and others who essentially all say the same thing wrapped in different examples…

Decide what you want, trust COMPLETELY that it or something better will come to pass, and then take the next inspired step…

So, I know what I want – and each and every day I live my dreams, and every day more and more of them come to pass…  Nikki Lauder and James Hunt both knew what they wanted – and they both continued to live and achieve their dreams…

What do you want?

Language Folly

What language do they speak in Vienna?

One would think the obvious answer is “German”, ya?

German may be the official language, however during my stay I have been making myself understood with a variety of English, German, French and Italian (and given that the only language in which I am moderately fluent is English, it has been quite a comedy)…

Not only that, but the servers at cafes, shops and restaurants seem to talk in a fluid mix of several languages.

Just yesterday I went back to the yummy gelato shop and this was the conversation with me noted as B and the man serving me noted as G (for gelato):

G:  Bitte, yes?  [German/English]

B:  Stracciatella, bitte.  [Italian/German]

The man scoops up my yummy stracciatella into a cone and rather than put it into the cone-stand-up-gizmo, hands it to me –

G:  Pour vous.  [French]

B:  Danka!  [German]  (and I licked the side of the cone as it was about to drip)

G:  Deliziosa, si?  [Italian]

B:  Si!  Questo delicioso.  [Italian]  (I gave him the money and as he gave me the change…)

G:  Danke.  Au revoir.  Caio.  [German/French/Italian]

Talk about united nations!  LOL!

~ Bella

quantum lace

Feedback on Bridgit

Feeling so blessed…

quantum lace

I just took a moment to read the reviews thus far for my beloved Bridgit (Lady Bridgit Darnell) and not only do I feel so very honoured and blessed by the reviews that have been posted, but feel ever so appreciative for the time these people invested to read the story that I crafted and that means so much to me and then to take the step and actually leave a review.  That means so much!

Although I have published well over twenty non-fiction (business and personal development) books, this work of fiction-based-on-fact (meaning the entire forthcoming series, not only this first book) is, in my opinion, the best thing I have every created.  Period.

I have already completed the research for book two and when I get settled in Italy, will pick up where I left off…

Btw, Bridgit is not at all happy with me as although I have made significant headway writing book two, she is at this moment still floating in the English Channel covered in oil…  She is decidedly not impressed…  🙂

OK, back to work…

Sending love and smiles to all…

~ Bella

WWII history

Lovers of History

Their Sacrifice is Not Forgotten

Just outside the window where I oft curl up at Torquay Marina (literally across the road from where I am staying) and work, write, read and enjoy a vino is a D-Day memorial.

WWII History

What warms my heart each and every time I am there is that without fail, someone stops to invest time reading the plaques.

WWII History

No matter the age, people of all walks of life stop and read… and often not just for a few seconds, but for several minutes…  Even this gentleman (who looks like he is scooting past) actually invested around 10 minutes reading each panel in detail.

WWII History

Especially given my love of history and my being immersed in it while writing of Bridgit’s adventures, my heart soars that those who gave their all have not been forgotten.  That people still stop to learn, to ponder and to remember…

WWII History

WWII History

WWII History

My profound gratitude goes to both the men and women who gave their lives and also to the Torbay Council of 2006 who had the foresight to erect this reminder of their sacrifice.

…Lest We Forget…

~ Bella

Torquay marina

Today’s Office – Marina-Side in Torquay

Torquay marinaI love my offices..!

Over the past week or so I have been really ramping up my physio and both today and yesterday even felt up to going for a walk around Torquay – literally ‘around’ – along the waterfront.  OK, so every step hurts quite significantly, but I don’t care – just being mobile is such a blessing!  …and besides, there are plenty of people who are worse-off, so I am a very happy Princess Pixie!

Torquay Pavillion
Torquay Pavillion

After a lovely walk this morning exploring in particular the magnificent but neglected Pavillion (I will put up an entire post just on that over on my Luxurious Nomad blog), have now settled in to another ‘office’ to get some work done and have lunch.

As I type this, people are strolling by, the tower bells are chiming twelve for noon, the seagulls are chiming in with a squawk from time to time… (by the way, as I typed that word, squawk, I thought how delightfully funky it is! – ok, must be the low blood sugar affecting my already unique outlook on the world – time for food)

Local fish and not-chips
Local fish and not-chips

…and lunch has arrived!  Freshly caught this morning, local fish (substituted plain jacket potatoes for the fries – am being a little good…)

It was soooooo tasty!  Light and flaky…  Yum!

I do love it here in Torquay ever so much…

Well, back to work for this little Pixie…

Today is continuing the actual pulling together all the research I have done for Bridgit’s second book and beginning the actual ‘writing’ process…

Wishing you a truly magical day!

– Bella