Welcome to my website
I’m an award winning writer, a forum theatre practitioner and an accredited mindfulness teacher. Or rather, these are some of the things I do with my life!
I hope you enjoy the stories, reflections and poems on these pages . I’ve written and directed drama and film scripts for many years and then in 2021 was overjoyed to have my first book published, a narrative non-fiction book called “Stephen from the Inside Out.”
I love stories and myths, especially those that catch us out, make us laugh, ask us questions, help us to see truths about ourselves and others and open up the wellsprings of creativity within us. I used to think that creativity was an extra, now I know that it is essential. We’re all creative, but creativity only flourishes when it is valued and given space, love and encouragement.
What creates the environment for creativity to flow, to grow, to bounce and play? For me it was firstly, opportunity and then the warm, encouraging support of others. Mindfulness practice has also done its work on me: catching me out, helping me see truths about myself (with kindness) and taking me to a place where I finally had the confidence to say ‘I am a writer.’
From a character perspective, I was asked to describe myself in 4 words recently and with help from family came up with: Curious, creative, untidy , warm, dancy (son’s suggestion) and ‘sometimes annoying’. yes, I know that’s more than four.
Creativity and Radical Inclusion
Possibly my greatest passion is for radical inclusion and how to use drama, mindfulness and the arts to bring that goal closer.
There are however problems with radical inclusion… Here’s a story someone told me. ‘There was once a loving, kind woman who set up an inclusive open community. People came, inspired by her message. The community grew and blossomed. However, there was one man who became increasingly irritating. He was sullen, opinionated and critical of what the others did but never seemed to raise a finger to help. He was always suffering from some illness or other and having to ‘rest’. The others in the community became frustrated, angry and fed up. They started to bite back and argue with him. It was like swatting at a wasp. He got angrier and nastier.
Finally, furious and embittered, he left. Cue, huge sigh of relief. But a week later he was back, unpleasant as ever. The members of the community were beside themselves. They called a meeting with the head of the community and complained: why had she let the man back in again? She sat quietly, looking at her hands before she replied: “I didn’t ‘let him’ back in again… I went to find him and I asked him to return”. Shrieks from the room! Silence. She resumed. “He didn’t want to come back. Said he didn’t want to put up with our rudeness…. so I offered to pay him.” The community members were speechless. Simply speechless. Finally one hissed, “You are paying this lazy son of a bitch to come back? Do you think any of us is going to put with this? We’ll leave. Your community will be finished. Or you can pay us to come back.”
The woman looked at the people in the room, warmly, lovingly and replied, “Don’t you see? We need him. As long as we wish to be rid of him, we’ve failed in our aim of being inclusive. He’s showing up our weaknesses. We should be grateful to him for this chance to grow.”
I think of that story often.
This poem by Rumi speaks this truth in a different way:
THE GUEST HOUSE – by Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
As a guide from beyond