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In France, we are fast approaching the “grandes vacances” (big vacation), the time when the academic year is complete and people who work in corporate professions are winding down and preparing with their families to decamp to southern climes for a month or two. Even though I have come to accept the very peculiar characteristic of French society for their unending confidence in prescribing to an annual schedule of events that somehow must happen, no matter the turmoil of what has been the presidential election for the first half of the year (when the very essence of the political system is questioned), I was still surprised to hear from a French friend who lives in Paris that he booked his summer holiday rental last November!

During the past couple of months, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how easily the human mind grasps onto seeming certainties about life - the place where we live, our relationships with our family and close friends, the stability of our job and salary, the plans we make for our retirement and what we will do once we stop ‘work’, and so on. Where I live in the Beaujolais region, there is a plethora of festivals, events and fairs that happen each month throughout the year: Vinification and maturing of wines; 2000 years of Beaujolais history; How to pick grapes; Tastings and appreciation of different vintages; Arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau; Nights of the Beaujolais Rose; Walks among the vineyards; Wine fairs; Chefs and winegrowers conferences. Every village has its annual traditions, which contributes to people’s sense of believing in certainties year on year. And these are just the festivals about one sole subject, wine!

Inevitably, the reality of life does not pander to our mind’s construct of certainty, the comfort we desire, primarily because all of life is constantly moving and changing, moment to moment. Yet still we hope and look forward for ‘things to settle down,’ for the ‘calm in the storm,’ for that ‘holiday from the stress of living.'

At the moment, I am experiencing change in every aspect of my life. I am trying a different tack; learning how to embrace intense discomfort while still doing the work of daily living. It takes a conscious will to experience the shifting emotions, doubts and confusion without wanting to ‘fix the problem’ or be comforted by certainties. A wise teacher has suggested, “All you can do is sit with it until clarity finds you.”

The attached blog is titled False Nails are Killing Your Creativity!

+Fariyal Wallez

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Over the past month, the whole world seems to have been in political turmoil. When I say 'whole world,' of course I mean my world, specifically France (with the presidential election), the USA (in relation to American friends who are becoming activists in opposition to Donald Trump), and the UK (the triggering of Article 50 of Brexit and the forthcoming General Election). Everyone I meet and talk to feels overwhelmed, tired and tightly stretched, as though living in this atmosphere of political 'battle to the death' is the reality of our lives.

I too have been feeling tired unfocused. So I stand back and look. Question a little. What is the reality of my life? I live in a beautiful and peaceful village, where I do not fear soldiers will attack and rape and kill everyone from one day to the next. I go to sleep safely, knowing that not only will I have a shower with running hot water when I wake up, but that I can go to the supermarket, choose from an endless number of brands of food and drink, for which I have the resources to pay, and I can bring this food home without running a gauntlet of bullet-fire and starving faces. The thought of existing in a life and death situation, as people have to do in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and so many other places on our planet, is not the reality of my world.

What makes us tired, overwhelmed and stressed is that we spend too much time and energy talking and not doing; debating 'til the cows come home why someone else should do the work to change, wasting hours reading media and scrolling social networks, overloading our brains with information that has no effect on our day-to-day attitude to living. We are all activists in proselytising about what everyone else should do (Theresa May should agree to a debate, or Donald Trump should listen to his advisors, or Vladimir Putin should get out of Crimea), yet the fact is that each of us is responsible for electing Governments (who in turn support businesses) that collude to maintaining conflicts and the spiral of damage for the sake of profit and power.

The 'problem' of our global world is that we are connected. To everyone and everything. However, real solutions always begin at home. Nothing changes unless we each decide to change ourselves first. Which means changing our thoughts, our habits, letting go of depression, not 'getting used to' being overwhelmed and stressed, appreciating what we have and doing the work necessary to create happiness.

In France, Emmanuel Macron (running against the extreme right and xenophobic Marine Le Pen) was elected President only because there is a two-round voting system (and even then, a third of those eligible voted for the Front National in the second round!). The UK does not have this luxury. Our first vote is the one choice we can make. The question is will we vote for an inclusive world, or an isolated one?

Political rant over! Thank you for reading and remember that I am always available to support you in being the kind of activist who can transform every aspect of your life.

The attached blog is titled Pleasure and Sex

+Fariyal Wallez

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Last week, I mowed the grass for the first time since before the winter and was awed to find that our two baby wisteria plants had grown their first tender pale purple blooms. Springtime and Easter this weekend, is a period of the year full of physical, emotional and symbolic connections to awakening, change and renewal.

Aside from religious strictures and rituals, and the miracle of a resurrection, which just happens to be one of the many stories that people attach their sense of faith to, I've been thinking about the purpose of Lent (shortened from an old English word, Lenten, meaning Spring).

In the Christian faith, Lent represents a solemn commemoration of Jesus's journey into the desert, where he fasted for 40 days and overcame the temptations of Satan. It is a time of prayer (to draw closer to God), repentance (of sins), self-denial (abstaining from eating meat, fasting, or giving up luxuries), reflection (on the sacrifice Jesus made for humanity), and almsgiving, which culminates in the celebration of Jesus's resurrection from the dead.

Being neither a Christian, nor religious, I usually look at how I can apply the symbolism of the Easter story within the context of my daily life. I reflect on the idea of what it means to begin afresh. As with the story of Jesus, and in fact how life works in Nature, it is necessary to let some things die before beginning anew. I have to let go of what has withered and no longer useful to my evolution, so that I can make space in the ground for new seeds to sprout.

Letting go of our attachment to old and withered habits, however, proves difficult for the most disciplined of us.

Recently, I attended a "Getting Unstuck" workshop, where I learned that 80% of our core beliefs and values are 'programmed' by the time we are 8 years old, and another 15% by the time we are 18. Which leaves 5% for self-development! While this view is quite generalised, we all recognise the experience of our thoughts, analysis, judgements, and conclusions as being 'the truth.' We hate to admit when we're wrong and resist accepting a different perspective that we've not seen before. We do not want to change our ingrained habits, even when we know some of them are detrimental and do not work anymore.

Fortunately, we do have the power of intention! Like a ball rolling in a certain direction, when an external force is applied, it shifts and travels in a different direction. This is how I view the initial 'support' of my coaching work, because it enables the base 'programme' to get an upgrade; new information and software with the potential freedom to create a new story.

The story of Jesus in the desert resonates deeply with me, because it reminds me of the solitude in which the real work of change must be done, away from the showy demanding personas we present on social media, in the quietness of our day-to-day living where no one is watching to give us a pat on the back and acknowledge how great we are! The meaningful work is always done in the seemingly small acts - when we feel angry at our partner/spouse and don't shout...when we do the best job possible for a mean-spirited boss...when we show kindness to a friend who has hurt us...when we pick up a pen and write in spite of our fear and doubt...when we wake up and look in the mirror, and instead of being critical, we say "I love you!"

The attached blog is titles A Photograph of the Dead

Happy Easter and to new beginnings!

+Fariyal Wallez

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As I listen to the blustering wind howling in a seemingly chaotic mood through the night, rattling against the louvres and glass windows of the house, I think back on the past weeks spent in London and the day I saw the splintered and broken trunk of an enormous tree lying wounded in the grass near Bounds Green tube station. The turbulent weather of late echoes perfectly the turmoil I've felt raging through every part of my life. I've been feeling emotional about everything; my relationships, family, friendships, my work and artistic pursuits, my health, and my sense of why I am here and what I am meant to be doing with my life. In tandem, it has also been a very productive month, with coaching, writing and painting, so my instinct is to let it be, to sit with the feeling of shakiness and see what unfolds.

During my two and half weeks in London, I felt incredibly sad at the realisation that I no longer seem to have the defences necessary to shield myself from its frantic energy. I noticed how people are busier than ever, that they drink more alcohol than on my previous visit, and that the tubes and buses are increasingly crowded by people living in isolation on their i-phones. There is no stopping, no stillness, no peace, in this ever-densifying city of dreams, where the very nature of its abundant luxuries; cinemas, theatres, galleries, museums, shopping arcades, restaurants, and even more restaurants, means that leisure and entertainment is no longer a choice, but a necessity. To stay plugged into the flexible, adaptable, constantly changing global world, our "free" time is as busy and scheduled as a day at the office. When do people actually stop and be still?

I arrived back in France exhausted. Then, having the space and time to reflect and re-energise, life impresses upon me more than ever, why it is so necessary to expand my vocation and serve others to the best of my ability and skill. Hence, this month, I am launching a new offering on my website, a 2-day Intensive Coaching Retreat.
Finding support; an external, objective, and crucially, non-judgemental ally, who will be of service in helping you to see the reality of your life's landscape, and then nourishing the direction and actions that will transform your experience of who you are, is a priceless gift to yourself. Even for those of us who are "introverted" loners, we are still social beings, who want love, connection and meaning in what we do.

So why not get in touch and open yourself to another possibility? I am here to be your ally, to support and guide in every which way I can.

The attached blog is titled Being a Woman in a Man's World

+Fariyal Wallez

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Following the quiet, dark mornings of the New Year holiday period, when I was feeling very introspective, the past month has been an intensively active time. Denis and I ran retreats three weekends out of four, and it has been a great counter-balance to focus my energy on our clients and to take a moment to appreciate the commitment, persistence and dedication it takes to hold our common and individual mission for Dharma House and for our respective opportune reminder (again) that no collective, community, business, or service can create genuine value and be a win-win outcome without the heartfelt support and encouragement of others.

Hence, in this unusually brief February missive, I'm doing some unabashed advertising for my wonderful husband, who also happens to be a skilful and inspiring teacher. As many of my clients are women, I would like to promote the "Women Only Spring Retreat",
which is running in English, and is scheduled for the weekend of 18th - 19th March 2017.

"Our mission is to inspire and show by example that it is possible to create another way of life, free from ordinary pettiness, free from complaining about our circumstances and free from mental rigidity." At Dharma House, we are passionate about opening our home to welcome anyone who wants to reflect, to question, to heal, to explore...

Come and stay in a tranquil environment, surrender to being looked after with love, and give yourself the opportunity to slow down and have space and time. Please feel free to contact either Denis or myself if you wish to have more details.

The attached blog is title On Writing Pages

Have a nurturing month!

+Fariyal Wallez

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Whether you've spent time with family, friends, or with yourself this Christmas time, I hope it has been a restful, nurturing and joyful one. The great advantage of the holiday is that we are forced to stop and step away from the stress and manic-ness of our usual day-to-day; busy professions, family schedules, exercise commitments, traffic jams, crowded metros, after work socialising, and so on. Although, in and amongst the merrymaking, relaxation and indulging in food, wine, gifts, and television, inevitably there comes the moment, when we stare hopefully into the void and wonder, "Will 2017 be the year when I finally [fill in the blank]?"

I too have been looking into this void, into the soft, vulnerable part of me and have faced several weeks of bloating, nausea and stomach pain. The sickness is fear. I know it and feel it to the depth of my bones. My instinct tells me this overpowering sensation is the worst part of me wanting to run and hide from the work that awaits me this year, the kind of work that will fulfil the void in ways which have never been presented to me before. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am standing at a precipice, where to leap into the unknown means going beyond the constant preoccupation of deadlines, of 'suffering' work in order to pay the next bill, to actually embody and be the artist I've dreamed of being all my life. I have created the time and space to focus on my creative journey and it is the scariest place I have ever experienced.

There have been many years of my adult life when the sickness and nausea was connected to nervousness and 'looking good,' when I had responsibility towards others in my role as a coordinator of events, meetings, trainings, seminars, and coaching qualifications. Today, the responsibility is to myself – the baseline truth of our engagement with everything and everyone, when we give up measuring success by what we expect of others, or by how many accolades and strokes we can win for our ego – to be willing to choose the work and energy I want to put out into the world, which fulfils the deepest part of who I am at the core of my being.

Surely that's a great place to be? Why the fear? Because with every orbital return to awareness, the fear is the same, that maybe I will find nothing of any worth at the centre. This feeling of amorphous emptiness that fights for meaning, which I have always allowed to be crushed by the weight of a lifetime's sense of worthlessness, is exactly what the fear feeds on. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever have the courage to go beyond the circle of laughing demons of my youth. And yet, what I also know is that my youth simultaneously holds the origins of my artistic and creative self.

My blog this month, The Wedding Dress, is a piece I wrote in 1998 during a project in Bosnia (with just a few present-day edits). Throughout the past 19 years, not only do the consequences of war keep circling back again and again, but also my fear of writing, which remains a part of me, as consistently as I have been developing my art during that time. I now understand that the way to go beyond fear begins by having compassion, and then creating a frame of support in order to embrace these same laughing demons, because they are in fact the raw material for my art and the source of my vocation to heal. It is only by showing the most vulnerable expression of who I am that I can truly be confident and 'at home in my skin!'

This year, I have two creative goals: to polish my novel and get a literary agent, and to show my paintings in an exhibition.

What are your creative goals? Why not write them down, or speak them aloud? Why not go beyond your fear and get the support you need, so that you don't have to 'fill in the blank' this time next year?

The attached blog is titled The wedding Dress

+Fariyal Wallez 

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Just one year ago, Denis and I moved to our new home in Charnay, with a stack of cardboard boxes and empty rooms. It was unsettling and scary to embark upon my part of the commitment to take care of a big house and garden, to furnish and design the atmosphere we had imagined, to evolve our own individual work and projects around the retreat space as it began to take shape, and to make the house a home. And amongst some amazing outcomes of the past year (having wonderful clients to work with, running an intensive 2-day coaching retreat, facilitating a creativity workshop, expanding my engagement with the Lyon community, and my novel being longlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize in the UK), I am aware there are also grave events unfolding in the world, which feels like we are retracting backwards as a civilisation.

Governments across Europe, the Brexit vote, and a US President being elected upon a platform of nationalism, sexism, and hate against minorities and religions, cannot create a tolerant or inclusive society. Instead, doors have been opened for people to vent their frustrations, uncertainties and fears through violence, without the need to stop and question their prejudices. It is heartbreaking to read the news stories about discrimination in the UK, a place I called my home only two years ago.

Recently, I was invited to give a talk to a group of Applied Language students at Lyon 2 University about my experience of being a British Indian. Being an Indian in France is a rarity, and they were curious and intrigued to know what it meant for me to grow up within two cultures, how I dealt with the language, studying in an English school, the challenges of being part of a minority population, and the life choices I've made as a result of this context. More important than the differences, however, beneath the layers of my darker skin colour, misogynous culture, spicy food, Hindu religion, Kshatriya community, British education, etc. is the truth that I am the same as everyone in my environment; an organism of skin and bones, of blood and flesh, life in the human form. The most crucial aspect I wanted to communicate was that the reality of engaging with another person is not about appreciating the differences, but to dig and find that which connects us, that which is the same, in our aspirations, fears, challenges, thoughts, and experiences, which enable us to imagine being in each other's shoes and feel true compassion.

The creative quest is not about doing Art (painting, music, design, dancing, writing, etc.). It is the journey each of us must travel to engage with, and own, the innate power and responsibility we have to create the life and world we choose to be a part of. Artistic endeavour is one of the best ways of experiencing our creativity, however, it is not the end game. In fact, it is just the beginning of looking into the void and seeing the reality of what we are, and the choices we are faced with in all aspects of our lives. And regardless of the identity we assume at any moment in time (Indian, British, wife, daughter, sister, coach, writer), they are simply characters that we play in the story of life, which is constantly moveable, changeable, illusory, and intangible. The only two questions that are relevant are:

1. Who do I want to be in this moment, here and now?
2. What will I do?

This Christmas, I feel incredibly grateful for this timely reminder. To witness how we are becoming a society of nations with an increasing unwillingness to engage and be curious about those who are from different cultures, who practise a different way of life, is something we must take a stand against in our everyday actions, if we are to be a truly diverse society.

The attached blog is titled The Lie of Our Birth

I wish you a holiday time of peace and compassion.

+Fariyal Wallez 

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The brisk and fresh days of the past week, since the clocks went back, already seem to be drawing in the winter. Part of me is feeling the animal urge to stay snuggled under the duvet and hibernate until the Spring. However, I had the fabulous opportunity to run a Creativity Workshop in Lyon a few days ago, and was reminded why I love the work I do. Even in the space of a couple of hours, when there is a clarity of intention, to be able to connect to our creative vision and purpose is astounding. The projects that people took away to manifest in their lives were truly incredible!

Hence, I was inspired to write this month about my life coaching work.

When I first entered the world of work, I was the personal assistant to a highly respected executive coach. While he gave me a tonne of opportunities to build my coaching skills as his apprentice, he also often vented his anger at me, to the point of being a micro-managing bully. I had grown up in an anger-fueled, shouty household, been bullied at school and at a previous job, and while inside I cowed in fear at his aggression, I put up with it and remained silent because this was my habit. I intensely hated conflict of any kind.

UNTIL someone supported me to understand that I had to face the anger head on, to clearly say that it was not okay with me. Unused to doing this, it started by me telling my boss to 'Fuck Off!' and quitting my job. This one act, however, completely transformed my relationships with colleagues and my entire career. Ever since I found the courage to be heard as an equal, I was liberated from my fear of being sacked from any job, or being demoted, or complying to unrealistic demands from managers. I realised that I possessed the freedom to direct my career towards doing what I loved, with integrity and passion, and without the pretence of behaving confidently or always worrying about what my colleagues thought of me. I could be myself, not just "put up with..."

Today, I am able to step back and be detached, to communicate without the associated upset and emotional turmoil, to make choices that move a bad situation forward rather than feel vengeance or have fear constantly eating away at me. And not only at work, but in all my relationships, professional and personal.

As I think again about the forthcoming onslaught of Christmas advertising, I am hoping that you will stop to contemplate for a moment, the question of what it means for you to live a fulfilling, happy, inspiring life, at work and at home? What is the enduring value of the (self) gift of a coaching programme that can transform your life, versus the quick and empty pleasure of the millions we spend each Christmas on clothes, toys, shoes, games, gadgets, jewellery, home ware, hairdryers, etc? The list of products pushed at us is endless because it is designed to be this way, so that we are consumed (forever consumers) and do not have the time to look into the void and ask ourselves "Who am I?", "What is my life really about?"

Coaching is not a gift you can buy in a Christmas catalogue, or mindlessly click into "my basket" in a last minute frenzy on Amazon's shopping paradise. It takes an effort of will and courage to make an investment in transforming your relationship with yourself. You already know what needs to change (you are the expert on your life). Coaching is the external force that shifts the inertia from knowing into ACTION and DOING.

So why not make the change this year? This Christmas?
I am always available for a conversation. You just need to reach out and ask.

The attached blog is titled Change is the Only Certainty in Life!

+Fariyal Wallez 

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This is a time of the year forever ingrained in my memory as the start of a new term at school; the excitement of seeing my friends after the summer holidays mingled with the nervousness of moving up a year, which meant more difficult lessons and exams (I was a nerd and loved school, so always wanted to be the best in my class). I feel this familiar mixture of dread and delight this year, as my life begins to enmesh more substantially into the fabric of Lyon and with the people of the region. The swathes of grapes on their vines across the countryside have ripened and been picked, ready for making wine, and I too feel like I am starting a new phase of fruition, from seeds that were planted in previous seasons, which have taken root in the soil and grown abundantly.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined the art class in my village, run by L'atelier de Charnay. It is humbling to be a student again and reconnect with my love for drawing and painting. This month, I will also be facilitating a workshop for the Lyon InterNations community, which is scary-exciting! No matter how often I run workshops, retreats, or begin work with a new coaching client, I always feel anxious and ecstatic, simultaneously. It is a good place to be, because I feel alive and know that my intention is to do the best job I am capable of doing.

I want to take the opportunity this month to say a big "Thank You" from my heart, to the many friends and family members who have supported me to integrate and make my home in France, and who have visited over the summer. I am grateful to have you in my life.

If you're interested in following more regular updates about my coaching work and creative endeavours, I am now posting weekly on Facebook [].

The attached blog is titled Reject Your Anger!

Have a wonderful October!

+Fariyal Wallez 

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France is famously proud of its traditions and culture. The summer vacation, when the majority of French people decamp to the warmer climes of the south for a month or more in July and August, was one annual ritual I spontaneously decided to join in this year. (Hence, a belated apology for my missed August newsletter.) And rather than me doing the decamping, I've had the opportunity and pleasure of welcoming friends and family to the sunshine in my part of the world.

It is always such a joy to share my home and the retreat space with others, and with no television, no loud music system, and no car traffic, people have been surprised and bemused by the tranquillity of the house. Beneath this seeming calm, I've noticed that nature in the summer is teeming with the pulse of life and death. Grasslands are reaped into enormous hay bales for animal fodder, bats fly crazily in the evening dusk to stun their prey, swarming wasps surround the rosemary bush for its nectar, and a dead snake lying across my path in the woods becomes carrion for the birds. Even the spiders spin webs across the garden chairs and window shutters faster than I can dust.

We are a society that does not confront the idea of dying, yet death cannot be avoided. By paying attention, I am forced to contemplate my relationship to all that is around me. And allowing death to inhabit my everyday world, it feels possible to see beyond the constant fight for survival, to deepen my engagement with the reality of what is... At which point, I can also re-engage with the important questions: Why am I here? What am I doing with my life? What will I do before my death?

The attached blog is titled An Ode to Siblings

Embrace new beginnings this September!

+Fariyal Wallez 
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