Once upon a time there was a man with a ruck sack.

Learning life’s lessons

He spent his time wondering round the world cleaning up after his friends and family – picking up all their problems and worries and putting them in his ruck sack so that people around him did not trip over them of get contaminated by them. It was hard work but he loved the adoration he got for doing it. Everyone saying what a lovely guy he was – how caring – how selfless….

The man felt good because he was carry the baggage so those he loved did not have too, and they liked him for it.   He did this all his life – his short life because carrying all that weight and contamination was hard work and put extra strain on his body.  Physically from the weight and emotionally from the contamination seeping out of his ruck sack.   It was too much and one day his body gave up.

God said to him “why have you been carrying everyone else’s baggage all your life?”

“Well,” said the man, “so those I love are free to be all they can be and get all they can from life.”

“Ah,” said God, “yes life is about living and learning and if you get it right you get to stay here for eternity and rest.  But all those you have carried baggage for will not be able to stay here.  They will have to go back without you because all that baggage your carrying is life lessons and when you hid those lessons in your ruck sack no one learned anything.  So they must go back and go through those lessons again.  So you have not really helped them”.

“Ah,” said the man, “but as I did this thing with a good heart, I take it I can stay here now and rest?”

“No,” said God, “you were so busy and so consumed trying to carry others baggage,you forgot to deal with your own, or rather so you could avoid dealing with your own.”

“But I am happy.  I don’t have any baggage. I have had a happy life,” Said the man.

“Really,” said God, “put that ruck sack down.  How happy are you without the sack of other people’s problems to hide behind?”

The man suddenly felt very naked, very vulnerable, and a little lost.

“Back you go,” said God.


  * Disclaimer:  results may vary from person to person

How to teach children empathy

Can you imagine a world where kids understand the words and meaning of self-worth, resilience, empathy…

I think that would heal our world, but to start to teach kids a word they maybe have to be able to pronounce it and you kind of need them to have an understanding of its true meaning. I am 50 years old and I had to look up the meaning of emotional resilience!

I write children’s books about a lad called Ollie.  Ollie has super powers.  These super powers are his emotions.  Through my training as a therapist I teach kids that they do have control of their superpowers and that only they can control them and choose what super power they want to utilise to get them through stuff. Through the Ollie stories we playfully and very simplistically introduce the concepts of resilience and empathy.  Only then do we use the big words.

I believe there are no bad kids.  I believe all behaviour serves a purpose, usually a positive or protective purpose.  And that our youngsters don’t always have the emotional understanding or language to explain where they are at sometimes and that all they can do is use the emotions we resort to in heightened emotional states, happy, angry sad etc.

Imagine a world where kids get empathy…. What would that world look like? Through the Ollie books I am doing all I can to try and ensure future generations will get to live in that world.



  *  Disclaimer : results may vary from person to person

Ripples in the pond ……

How you change affects those around you.

I did networking today with some local therapists. It was really interesting to hear where they trained what techniques they favour and the type of clients that find them.  It was great as we were all very different in our approach.  One size does not fit all. The most important thing is that we help you achieve change.

There was a younger lad in the group just starting his training and so full of questions for us “veterans” ha!!  He asked each of us for the most important lesson we had learnt so that he might learn it now and not cock up. Bless him.  Felt like saying “buckle up mate”. My peers came out with sensible stuff.  In fact, they pinched all my words of wisdom reference doing no harm, roots not branches etc.  I had a sneaky feeling they had been reading my posts.  How rude!!!.

So when it got to my turn my material had been used up. All the advice so far had been about clients so I thought let’s give him something that none of us discuss but he will face, but a thing he won’t notice until it’s too late unless like me he is surrounded by people not afraid to give me a virtual slap every now again. I said “beware the ripples in the pond”.   You see, as therapist we help YOU change. It’s like throwing a pebble in a lake – a big splash and things change for you.

My example was me. My pebble in my boring, calm, going nowhere lake was passing my exams and making the decision to be a full time therapist. Well those ripples started changing my world and I have to say for me in a fantastic and awesome way. I love what I do and have never been happier. But here’s the thing about ripples.  They spread across the lake and hit the shore line and can erode it away over time.  Uncovering good stuff, widening your lake but also changing the landscape for those who share your world.  I was lucky.  I had life guards and wise friends who made sure I was aware of the ripples.


My advice to this young chap was ‘go for it, you will love it but your ripples change the landscape for everyone in your world’. Imagine the fisherman on the bank of your lake.  Happy to sit and fish the calm waters.  Fishing is his dream just as you are following yours. All that splashing from your ripples make sitting quietly by a calm lake very hard.  I told him to make sure to consider the fisherman on his lake.

  * Disclaimer:  results may vary from person to person