Category Archives: humour

Dans Le Noir – Eating in the dark

I recently had a genuinely new experience.

My partner and I had a meal in the dark – I’m not talking about eating a burger with the lights off, I’m talking about a full three course meal, with strangers in total darkness.

It’s rare enough to be in total darkness – to literally not be able to tell if you have your eyes open or closed. Then we had the added layer of being around people we had never met (or knew were there) and eating a mystery meal.

Let me explain.

There is an amazing restaurant in London (and at other locations around the world) called Dans Le Noir. When you arrive, you go into a fairly standard waiting area with a bar. It’s dimly lit, but everything is easily visible. The host then asks you to use one of the free lockers provided to stow away your bag, coat and any piece of jewelry, watch or electronic equipment that can emit light or glows in any way.

Next you are invited to choose from the menu. You have the choice of 2 or 3 courses and a choice of menu plan – vegetarian, seafood, meat or chef’s choice, which could be anything at all. Being in an adventurous frame of mind, we both opted for the Chef’s choice and waited to be seated.

At the alloted time we were asked to enter an even more dimly lit corridor where we were told what would happen. We just needed to push through the curtain in front of us where we would be met by our waiter for the evening. With some slight trepidation we stepped into total darkness. We moved in single file with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, with the front person being led by our waiter. We couldn’t see him, but he gave us clear instructions as we all shuffled round the impossibly dark room to our seats.

One of the unique elements of this restaurant is that all the waiters are blind. In normal everyday life, it’s common to think of someone who is blind as being disabled or limited, but in this situation they had the upper hand over us. Without our waiter we would have been totally lost. He navigated the space with ease and we were utterly reliant on him.

When we were seated, we found our place settings, napkins (which we were advised to tuck into our collars) and water glasses. We were seated opposite our partners on a long trestle table – think the dining hall in Harry Potter but scaled down. I actually have no idea how long it was – I’m totally guessing!

After a few minutes of working out our space and checking in with each other we worked out that there was a couple seated to my right (who had recently got married) and initially empty seats to my left.

We were bought a bottle of water. Simple enough right? Try pouring yourself a glass of water from a bottle with your eyes closed – certainly not impossible, but it takes a bit of thinking about.

Conversation quickly started. As we had heard the couple to my right, we did the fairly natural thing of introducing ourselves. Under normal circumstances, that may have been the only conversation we had with those people as we became absorbed in our own experience, but that too was changed by the dark. When a question or statement was made, we had no way of knowing who it was aimed at, so the comfortable thing to do was to respond. At one point I mentioned (to my partner) that my eyes were playing tricks on me in the darkness and it was like I could see stars – but not like the sky at night, like I was going into warp drive on a spaceship from Star Wars or something – the next thing I knew we were having a 6 way conversation with people (some of whom I had no idea were even there) about Star Wars – so surreal!

Then came the food. I don’t want to tell you guys what we ate in case you try this experience for yourselves, but I do want to share what it was like for me.

The first challenge is finding your food on the plate – I’m not going to lie, fingers played an extensive role in my eating. You just don’t get enough feedback from cutlery to let you know what you’re dealing with. Then came the taste. When you recognise what you are eating, it all makes sense, but when you are unsure it can become very confusing. I thought one piece of meat was pork, then steak before I came to the conclusion it was venison. FYI I was wrong all three times!

We both quickly realised how easily things could be adapted to make it easier when you couldn’t see – for instance you could have dents or marks in the table so that you knew where your place setting started and finished and you could make the handle of the fork different textures on the front and the back so you knew which way round it was.

Part way through our main course some new people came in and were seated on my left. It was so interesting to hear them work through things in the way we had done and to notice how quickly we had become acclimated to the situation.

It was almost disappointing when the end came and we moved back to normality. Our waiter graciously helped us back to the lit world where we saw his face for the first time – I have to admit he looked nothing like I thought he would and at that moment I realised how much store I put in what someone looks like, despite my many and varied protestations that looks do not matter. The was a quote in the reception area that said one of the unique elements of this experience was it’s lack of Vanity, and that certainly held true for me.

The final part of the experience was to have the menu shown to you. I was genuinely surprised at how wrong I had got some of it. I like to think of myself as a bit of a foodie, and whilst some of the dishes were a bit unusual, I had got some really simple stuff wrong. Like – really wrong.

I would strongly recommend this to anyone, especially someone who enjoys a great meal, but even if you’re not a gastronomic explorer, do something that changes your experience. You learn more in a couple of hours of immersion than you ever will thinking about what it would be like.

There is so much more I could write about this – it was (if you will excuse the pun) an eye opening experience, but I’ll finish with a couple of my favourite quotes from the evening.

“Just pop your finger in and you can’t go wrong”

“The tentacles got the better of me”

“Are you still there?”

and last but not least

“That’s not my hand”

 

 

 

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Amazing People or What makes you special?

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about some amazing people – mostly because they have just died. I’m referring to the sad loss of Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. All three have had an impact on my life in some small or large way – I’m guessing they have had some impact on yours too.

They all had a gift to entertain. They were brilliant lights in a sometimes foggy world. They were the characters that we knew, and so much more besides. The only ones who really knew these people were the ones closest to them. Those people would probably be able to tell us a million other things that made them special too.

I was watching a program on children’s development. There was a little girl on there who had been born with one short foot. She had no toes and the foot wasn’t much more than a stump. She took her shoes off and proudly showed her ‘small foot’ to the kids and announced that it was what made her special. I was thrilled at the confidence she displayed and thought what a great job her parents had done to help her to feel this way. whilst I was thinking about this I saw a facebook post saying why you were already one ahead of David Bowie …

DB

The thing is, all of those things that we’re worried about because they make us different, are all the things we should be celebrating, because they make us different.

We are fortunate enough to live in a society that celebrates individuality, uniqueness and difference, but sometimes people still somehow seem to want to turn that wonderful difference into a weapon to attack people with. That can make people afraid and doubt themselves.

If you’re lucky enough to be different – enjoy it. Own it completely and utterly and use it for whatever advantage it gives you. Find what makes you special and be proud of it. That way no-one will ever be able to use it as a weapon against you.

One of my favourite comedians is Eddie Izzard – if you don’t know his stuff you have a fun time on YouTube awaiting you. One of his routines that stands out for me is when he was talking about being a transvestite. He said he was worried about gangs of lads shouting out ‘look at the bloke in a dress!’, but then he discovered that if he replied with ‘yes, I am a bloke in a dress’ that they suddenly lost their power. As he put it ‘he didn’t have the victim mentality that they required at this point’. Instead of things escalating he made them feel uncomfortable by owning his difference and being proud of it.

So my challenge to you is two fold.

Firstly, find out what makes you different. Own it, be proud of it and let it work for you.

Secondly, and just as importantly, never be one of those idiots who try to shame others for being different. Otherwise you may one day be faced with a bloke in a dress who finds a way to turn the tables on you.

p.s. I’ll be standing next to him with all my friends waving our wonderful freaky flags.

 

If you need help with confidence, hypnosis is a great tool to help you feel the way you want to feel. Check out www.talktherapies.co.uk for more info

 

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What’s in a name?

What do you call yourself?

If you had to name yourself today what would it be?

What would it say about you?

What do you want to project to the world and what do you want to keep hidden?

What defines you?

What is ‘you’?

The same question can be asked when your naming anything – a child, a pet, a business or even a blog.

In T.S. Elliots poems of the Possums book of practical cats there is a poem called the naming of cats. In this poem he looks at the 3 different names all cats have…

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Another wonderful example of naming comes from Doctor Who. In one episode the Doctor talks to a baby. The parents have named the child Alfie Owens, but the Doctor tells the parents that the child prefers to go by the name Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of all. He calls his mother ‘Mum’, hid father ‘not Mum’ and the doctor ‘also not Mum’.

So what might your name be?

I think I’ll go with Sue Imagineerer ….. as for my last name – well, that would be telling.

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Do your best

Have you ever done your best?

Have you ever tried as hard as you possibly can?

Have you done all of the preparation work that you possibly could?

Have you trained as hard as you could have?

Have you reread and rewritten your work enough?

Have you been focussed enough?

Have you tried every possible way to get it done?

Have you sought professional help or expertise?

Have you eliminated distractions?

Have you avoided all temptation?

Have you given it everything you’ve got?

Chances are that the answer is a big fat NO.

That’s OK.

(almost everyone else will say no to that too)

Stop beating yourself up. Accept that your not perfect and be a little nicer to yourself

There are, of course, exceptions – maybe you’re one of them – and if you are – Well Done.

I’m very impressed and all that but seriously – get a life!

Smile, relax, have fun, eat a cake, daydream, watch silly TV, make up stories in your head – it’s all really cool stuff 🙂

So maybe do your best, but then again, maybe don’t.

Try to be happy…

…but don’t try too hard!

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Laughter is the best medicine

Laughter is the best medicine – unless you have an upset stomach.

Fortunately my stomach is doing just fine, because I’m off out tonight to watch Jimmy Carr do his live show – No pressure Jimmy, but I’m expecting it to be hilarious.

When someone is feeling down, low and generally a bit rubbish, laughter can really lift the spirits and get you back to feeling good again. Why?

Well first of all laughing produces lots of lovely hormones in our bodies that make us feel good. Endorphins and seratonins can become elevated which just cheers us up. Literally just the act of laughing.

Don’t believe me – give it a try. Laugh as mightily as you can for a minute or two. Do real ‘belly laughs’ and a few giggles. Even if you start out faking it, you will soon find you are genuinely laughing and that it feels good.

There are many laugh therapists all over the world who use this special aspect of laughter to help people to feel better in themselves. Quite often they will work with groups of people at the same time because laughter is contagious. It also brings me onto my second point about why laughter is good for you.

As a very general rule of thumb, when we laugh out loud we are in company. Now you might think about a time that you watched or read something and laughed to yourself, and you were completely alone. This can happen, but usually if we are alone we tend to smile, or just give a little exhale of air. This is NOT the same. Laughing is often considered to be a social cue to demonstrate to others in a group that we are on the same page, that we understand what is going on and we are participating in it. Have you ever noticed that you laugh much more if you are at a comedy performance than you do if you are watching the same or a similar performance alone on DVD? Being around others and having social interaction is incredibly important for your mental health. I’m not saying you have to be around people all the time to be mentally well, but those who spend more time isolated are much more likely to suffer from mental health issues. Whether you’re naturally an introvert or en extrovert, millennia of evolution has formed you into a social being. How much you crave and accept that social aspect varies from person to person, but we all need to have some interaction.

Another reason laughter is good for our mental health is that it’s distracting. When you laugh you are generally in the moment. Your conscious thought processes are working on whatever it is that is amusing you – you are not thinking about what may happen tomorrow (anxiety) or what did or did not happen in the past (depression). By simply being present in the moment you can distract yourself from a lot of other worries. This gives your poor old brain a break and lets it know that it’s not all about stress and worry.

So, I say again, Laughter is the best medicine – unless you have a serious illness – then maybe a visit to a health practitioner rather than the local comedy club is your best bet.

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Plot Twist!

One of the few constants in life is change – ironic right?

Change can be fantastic.

Change can be devastating.

Change can be invigorating.

Change can be unnerving.

One of the few things you know it will be, is different.

So, when life throws you a curve ball – and make no mistake – at some point it will,

just yell

‘PLOT TWIST’

and move on.

Trying to hang on to the past will not help you.

Do what you can to embrace the new because before you know it your new ‘new’ will be the status quo that you are worries about changing.

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Perfect place

In Hypnotherapy I often ask people to think of a perfect place – a place where they can feel safe and comfortable, a place where they can be entirely themselves. I ask them to think about where it is, what it looks like, what it feels like, what the light is like, what smells they can smell and what sounds they can hear.

It’s good to have a perfect place.

It reminds me of this song I used to love as a teenager. Still do actually.

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Magical Metaphor

I’m over the moon to be writing about metaphors. You know – metaphorically speaking.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Metaphors are also described as figures of speech, allegories, parables, analogies, word pictures and symbols.

They creep into our everyday life without most of us even noticing.

Have you ever really been as sick as a parrot? (I didn’t even know parrots were particularly prone to sickness).

Do you ever get run off your feet?

Have you ever actually been on cloud 9? (or clouds 1-8 for that matter)

Does your head get foggy? (or rainy, snowy or windy?)

When was the last time you said something was amazing or awesome? When was the last time you were genuinely amazed or in awe?

Is the world a stage?

Have you ever drowned in debt?

Metaphors are everywhere.

Personally I rather like looking out for them? When you start to spot them you can start to notice the language people are using with regards to their metaphors – it can be quite revealing.

As a hypnotherapist I deal a lot with metaphors and symbolism. The subconscious mind is much better at changing things if you give it symbols to work with.

You might want to give this little exercise a go.

Let’s imagine you have something coming up that you feel uncomfortable with. Maybe it’s a test or exam, maybe it’s a meeting that you are worried about, maybe it’s a conversation you are not looking forward to having. What ever it is try to think of a symbol that represents how you feel about it at the moment. The symbol can be a shape, a colour, a character, an object – whatever works for you. Now think about a symbol that represents how you would LIKE to feel about it – easy, relaxed, confident – whatever is best for you.

Once you’ve got the new improved symbol in your mind, make it destroy the other, less useful symbol. It can squash it, rub it out, fade it away, blow it up, burn it down, screw it up and throw it away – what ever suits you – just make your new improved symbol the only one that left afterwards.

Now – ask yourself how you feel about the thing that you were concerned about….

…better?

Using this technique along with hypnosis can and does make powerful changes for people – you should give it a try – it could leave you feeling on top of the world!

(metaphorically speaking of course)

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Don’t lose your head

I have only recently discovered Shel Silversein’s poems – If you haven’t seen them before you should check them out. They’re simple, sweet, funny and incredibly thought provoking.

The Loser
from the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (1974) Shel Silverstein

Mama said I’d lose my head
if it wasn’t fastened on.
Today I guess it wasn’t
’cause while playing with my cousin
it fell off and rolled away
and now it’s gone.

And I can’t look for it
’cause my eyes are in it,
and I can’t call to it
’cause my mouth is on it
(couldn’t hear me anyway
’cause my ears are on it),
can’t even think about it
’cause my brain is in it.
So I guess I’ll sit down
on this rock
and rest for just a minute…

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The Harry Potter approach to fear

spider phobia

I’m guessing most of you have seen at least some of the Harry Potter films.

If you haven’t, go and check them out immediately – they’re ace!

In one of the films the students are asked to use a spell to defeat a monster that manifests itself as the young wizard’s greatest fear. For one of them, the greatest fear they had was that of spiders.

Arachnophobia.

It’s pretty common.

The way that the creature is dealt with is by using the ‘Riddikulus’ spell. You imagine it being as ridiculous as you can.

I think they’re onto something here.

Can you honestly be scared of something that you find funny?

If you’re scared of spiders, try giving it a silly name, with a funny voice. Hear it talking to you asking to be your friend. Put it in some strange outfit or think about it being drunk or scared. Play with the ideas in your imagination.

The weird thing about your subconscious (well, one of the weird things) is that it has trouble distinguishing real memories from imagined ones. If you play around with this concept often enough it starts to remember spiders as silly and funny rather than scary.

Now, isn’t that ridiculous!

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