One of the most striking characteristics of living organisms is change.

These little leaves I photographed in the garden at the weekend are gone now. (which reminds me of the importance of taking a camera everywhere and not hesitating to use it!)

I’m particularly conscious of change just now because I’ve just moved country. Maybe you’ve done that before, maybe even many times, but it’s a first for me. I don’t mean simply travel and holidays, I mean to actually relocate, to go and live in another country entirely, maybe especially in a country where the language is different.

But change has always fascinated me. The byline of this blog is “becoming not being”, not just because I have always resisted being pigeon-holed, or categorised, but because I really don’t think any human being can be understood as an object frozen in time.

That’s just not reality.

The more there is change within a system or organisation, the more we recognise it as “dynamic”, and is there any more dynamic phenomenon in the Universe than a conscious human being? Not only are all of our cells constantly changing, not only is our heart constantly beating, our lungs constantly filling and emptying, our complex immune systems and endocrine systems altering moment by moment, but our minds are never still.

It feels to me there is a constant flow of a life force through me. It never ceases. When it moves on, this physical me will have moved on, but the me of ideas, of thoughts, of creative expression, of ebb and flow between me and the others who share, or have shared, parts of this life with me, that will, in some ways, continue to flow.

Human beings live in both a constantly changing physical universe (some parts of which change very slowly indeed), and in a rapidly changing, shimmering, universe of consciousness. Really, is there anything in the Universe which changes as much (as constantly) as a human being?

As Heraclitus said so long ago, you really can’t step in the same river twice.

That’s why, as a doctor, it didn’t make sense to me to try to categorise patients. It didn’t make sense to me to reduce a person to a diagnosis. A person is a constantly changing, flowing, growing, developing phenomenon, not an object to fitted into a category, to be measured and classified.

Becoming not being………it’s about the reality of constant change.


In the second part of the A to Z of Becoming, U stands for the verb Unwind.


I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the idea of unwinding, but how do you actually do it?

What does it mean “to unwind”?

For me, it’s about addressing that tendency to become too tightly coiled – not just where you feel stressed, but that almost background, or default, state of a higher tension, where your muscles, your neurones, your whole system contains a build up of energy…..where everything gets tighter, stiffer, less flexible, less flowing.

I think we often don’t even notice it happening. Like with breathing. We can breathe using our diaphragm, taking big, slow, even, conscious breaths, of we can breathe using the muscles of our chest wall, the muscles between our ribs. This latter breathing is largely unconscious. It tends to be shallow and quite fast. The more tightly wound we are, the more likely we are to be breathing with our chest muscles, and the more we breathe with our chest muscles, the more tightly wound we become.

Unwind is a verb. It’s an action. It might happen unconsciously, but, probably, it requires a deliberate choice.

Choose to unwind.

Choose to let go of the tension.

Easier said than done? Try a simple focus on the breath. Deliberately breathing with your diaphragm for a few breaths can produce a quick unwind.

But I think unwinding should be for more than just a moment. One of the rhythms I’ve discovered since moving to the French countryside is that of Sundays. I’m sure there was that rhythm in my life when I was a child, and it’s a good feeling to rediscover it. Sunday becomes a different day. Not just another day.

The thought that provokes is that we can create the habits, the rituals, or even the environments which induce unwinding. So, here’s your challenge for this week…..how do you unwind? What helps you to unwind? What conditions or habits can you create which will encourage unwinding?

Try some different ideas, some different options, and find when and where is the best time for you to unwind. Then…………….unwind.


Pond life

My monthly theme for November is reflection, so I thought I’d share a photo I took a couple of days ago.

Sometimes, you just turn a corner, and there in front of you, is a spectacular reflection.

Seen any striking ones this month?

A different autumn


I’ve taken a lot of autumn photos over the years, mostly in Scotland and Japan. But now I’ve moved to an area of France which is full of vineyards. Have you ever seen a vineyard in the autumn? Isn’t it beautiful?

So, these autumn views got me thinking again about why I love this season so much. It’s not just about the colours. It’s that it, like Spring, feels a season which is abundant with becoming not being. The changes in the countryside are not only striking but they are constant at this time of year.

It’s great to feel in the full flow of change, to be living a life of daily becoming…..

Sunburst sunset

Every single day I encounter something which amazes me, inspires me, or thrills me.

Every single day is unique.

This is the first time I have experienced today.

This will be the last time I experience today.

In France there is a phrase for this approach to life – l’√©merveillement du quotidien. (the every day marvel or amazement)

I’m sharing this particular photo of a sunset, taken from my garden a couple of days ago, because I’ve never seen this actual phenomenon before. That burst of sunbeams or reflections in the cloud, above the setting sun…..like the spreading folds of a fan.



In the second part of the A to Z of Becoming, T stands for Trust.



Trust in the Universe, God, another person? Trust that, as the sign above declares “everything is going to be alright”?

Trust will mean something different to different people, but for me, it’s about a mixture of confidence, hope and experience in the processes of resilience and adaptability.

I don’t trust predictions. I don’t trust outcomes. I don’t trust politicians’ promises, drug companies’ claims, the certainties of the arrogant.

What I trust is that as I live this life I learn and develop skills which enable me to cope with what comes my way. More than that, I learn to trust that it is worthwhile thinking the best of people, and expecting them to be friendly or helpful. Expecting, at least, that the next person I meet will not wish me harm. That doesn’t mean that they won’t harm me. What I trust, is that I will cope if they do, that I’ll learn something from the experience, and that I’ll learn something about them.

Trust for me involves hope, and it does involve a kind of faith….the faith that the Universe is developing consistently towards ever greater complexity, ever greater integration, and ever deeper consciousness. Trust in the growth of diversity, uniqueness, and the extending network of links and bonds.

I trust that every day I will be amazed, or surprised, or inspired by something….and I am!

What does trust mean in your life? How do you experience trust? And what does trusting add to your life?



When I lived in Stirling there was a robin which was very fond of the bush right in front of the space where I parked my car. I looked forward to seeing him, and the familiarity was really satisfying.

Well I moved to France a week ago, and over the last few days was pleased to see a robin frequenting my new garden. This morning I stood very still with camera in hand and, finally, he came and sat on the fence post to pose while I adjusted the zoom and the focus till I got this photo.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Now I don’t imagine the very same robin has followed me, but I’m sure glad his cousin has turned up!


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