I just re-watched Gandhi, some thoughts:

  • I choose to be brave sometimes: He was often very brave and courageous
  • I choose to care less about what others think: He knew what was right and just, and did not worry what other people thought of this
  • Patience pays: He gradually developed his philosophy and approach over many years
  • We can choose our actions, but not outcomes: We will never know if we will achieve certain outcomes, but we can be sure we act in good faith
  • Birds of a Feather Flock Together: By trusting one’s own path, one meets plenty of helpers and companions on the road

Quotes and Reflections #1

Your life — with all its complications and joys — is a priceless gift. Appreciating this, ‘what’s wrong’ becomes far less pressing.

I am going to start posting quotes and reflecting on what they mean to me!

Today, some 12 Step slogans (from

  1. ‘Keep It Simple’ (For me, it is incredibly helpful to not over-complicate things)
  2. ‘This, Too, Shall Pass’ (The good, the bad and the ugly. It has in the past, and will again)
  3. ‘Feelings are not Facts’ (This helps me a lot when I feel down, nervous, unsure or am in a bad mood)
  4. ‘Easy Does It’ (I am not a robot. I need to self-care)
  5. ‘Keep Coming Back’ (This helps me persevere- with work, family, friends, problems etc.)
  6. ‘Live and Let Live’ (I have learnt to be happy for and accepting of others. That doesn’t mean I need to be their friends, or even enjoy their company. )
  7. ‘Recovery is a journey’ (I have still got a lot to learn)
  8. ‘More will be revealed’ (I will continue to grow)

QAAD Conference 2016

I am so glad I went to QAAD Conference 2016.


Dennis being himself, I felt we were all being as authentic!

What I gained from it

  • Being part of this loving and understanding community is precious and important to me.
  • I was able to contribute from my own life honestly and openly
  • I was able to listen to so many F/friends share so honestly about how addiction has touched their lives
  • It was a real pleasure to meet Prof Chris Cook and his wife Joy. They were both wonderfully honest, caring and open
  • I feel grateful we set up an email group to keep in touch between conferences.
  • The theme was great- ‘Making a Difference’. We all make a difference- and the ‘small differences’ we make in our day-to-day lives soon act up to something wonderful and profound
  • It was expertly organised, creating a safe space for discovery, disagreement and honest sharing. I could be myself!

I was put in the room Gandhi stayed in on his visit. I bet he’d have enjoyed the weekend and felt welcome!

Stephanie Dowrick & My Growth

Photo credit: Jeannine St. Amand via / CC BY-NC-SA


24.09.2015- 570 words


Stephanie Dowrick’s work has been hugely influential in my life. I’ll introduce her work by connecting it to the story of my life in the last seven years. Her work has become a part of my life, and so I want to take you through it in the way that I have been changed by it.


I first came across her when I had been in twelve-step recovery for two years. The Twelve Steps teach a gentle, loving way to transform oneself, rather than the rational, linear solution many self-help books promise. I saw Stephanie’s ‘Forgiveness and Other Acts of Love’ in the library I work in I had never read a book quite like it. She writes of the seven humane virtues in such honest and practical ways I could relate to. I was hooked!


I bought ‘Choosing Happiness’ next. This has become over time my favourite book. It is one I refer to as my bible, and I return to it almost daily. It is 700 pages of the most practical tips on how to be happy in all senses of that word. There is also an audio version of the book, which has become the background soundtrack to my life, as I have it on when time permits, certainly on a daily basis.


Linked to this, Stephanie has written numerous books on the application of spirituality to psychology, covering the minute, daily choices we make. ‘Everyday Kindness’ is a fantastic, very readable example of this, which covers parenting, work choices and many more topics. ‘The Universal Heart’ is an even longer exploration of spiritual psychology, covering many common issues such as anger, assertiveness, etc.


There are also a couple of beautifully-produced short books of quotes. ‘The Almost Perfect Marriage’ has very practical tips on relationships.’Daily Acts of Love’ is a wonderful collection of Stephanie’s insights on daily living.


Stephanie is a trained Interfaith Minister, and has a deep understanding of the world’s spiritual paths. ‘Seeking the Sacred’ is an incredible overview of spirituality, drawing on all the world’s religions. ‘Heaven on Earth’ is a wonderful compendium of the world’s most inspiring prayers from all religious traditions, and prayers Stephanie has written herself. ‘Heavenly’ is a CD of music co-created with Kim Cunio. He also contributes to the Interfaith Services she holds at a church monthly in Sydney, Australia.

Stephanie also has articles on her website and runs a ‘Universal Heart’ Book Club on Youtube Finally (!), Stephanie studied a PhD in the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, and produced the highly-readable book ‘In the Company of Rilke’.


Stephanie has inspired me to live out my faith, and look at my own behaviour rather than judging others. I am sure I’ll keep learning from her for the rest of my life. I love producing cards with quotes on, and I have made many of her quotes from Choosing Happiness into mantra cards that I use daily. I’d love to see Stephanie talk again in the UK (she was a main speaker at the 2007 Sea of Faith Conference).

Julian Wood



’Daily Acts of Love’

‘Heaven on Earth’


‘In the Company of Rilke’

‘Seeking the Sacred’

‘The Almost Perfect Marriage’

The 95% we all share

What unites us is central


One of the gifts of a spiritually-led life is that we can reflect on what unites us as well as what divides us from other people.

I struggle with attending church- but then often think, ‘Hang on- I agree with all of Christianity apart from the church dogma’.

This is a creed I can sign up to- and I think almost all Christians, non-Christians and people of other faiths can sign up to as well. Can you?

Ø I believe in the centrality of love in life- that we are here to love and care for each other.

Ø I believe in the great value of life in all its manifestations- in the value of each human life, in the lives of animals and of all nature

Ø I believe there is a dimension beyond the eyeryday- I call this the transcendent. Christians call it a variety of things, including the Holy Spirit, God and Jesus. It is summed up in Pierre de Chardin’s famous quote “We are spiritual beings living a physical life”

Ø I believe in the importance of faith- as do we all. We need faith to walk out of our front doors and trust that the ground will not collapse under us, to quote Desmond Tutu.

Ø I believe in the moral aspect of life, as did Martin Luther King. That breaking a moral law, such as murder or hating someone, has a moral consequence, and that these laws are just as important as physical laws.

Ø I believe in the value of trust between people for healthy relationships, and trust in ourselves.

Ø I believe that I do not have the whole truth, and that I need to live in community to understand myself and others fully- that there is a wisdom beyond my own wisdom and that of other individuals

As I see it, these beliefs are far more important than church dogma- I see them as the 95% on which all humanity virtually can agree on- and the 5% of other beliefs (concerning whose God is ‘right’ etc.) as relatively unimportant.

And this gives me great hope. If we all share this 95%, we all share religion.

Report on Big Mental Health Day, 10th October 2015, by Julian Wood

Report on Big Mental Health Day, 10th October 2015, by Julian Wood

Programme of the day:


I very much enjoyed attending this day for the Mental Wellbeing Concern. I was nervous beforehand that the evangelical Christian groups organising the day would make the material and discussions difficult to stomach as a Quaker.

I was wrong about it. The message from the whole day was that people in church communities have a clear and caring understanding of mental health. Rob Waller started off the day by saying that every one of the 500-plus attendees probably have experienced mental ill-health or know someone intimately who has. All the main speakers spoke of their own struggles with mental health. They also stressed that all Christians are struggling with their own mental and emotional health.

I attended an interesting session on Pastoral Care, i.e. how to support people in Christian communities with mental health issues. It was stressed that mental health issues are in many ways like physical health issues. They may be short-term or long-term, acute or less acute, and permanently damaging or not. Most importantly, Christians experiencing mental ill-health should be encouraged to take medication, just as those with physical illnesses would.

I was greatly encouraged by the people I met in the breaks, too. Many were evangelical Christians, with a strong Bible-based faith, yet cared deeply for their fellow Christians (and non-Christians!). There were many mental health professionals who showed a clear passion for translating their practical training into better practice, and finding a way to bring their faith into their work without having to convert or force Christianity on anyone.

A final message from the day was that we can all help those in distress. We need not be qualified to do this. People with mental health issues want to be accepted for who they are and how they are feeling. They want to be part of society, and church can play a central role in their recovery. They want to contribute as well as be helped.