Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

My niblings (a gender neutral term for the children of my siblings) are getting to the age I was when one of my aunts started sending me ‘anonymous’ Valentine’s cards every year. I struggle with whether to start doing the same thing myself.

On the one hand, where is the harm? It’s a bit of fun, an expression of care. And yet, it also upholds the commercialisation of care and affection, the raising of romantic love above all other kinds of love, and heteronormative models of relationship.

All of these are aspects of culture, society and…


Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche at his 65th Birthday party at Samye Ling, April 2, 2005. Used under license CC BY-SA 3.0

This piece was originally published on 26th October, 2013, at a personal blog of mine which no longer exists.

Doesn’t the guy in the picture look sweet? He’s Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, co-leader of Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Eskdalemuir. And he’s been dead for nearly three weeks, stabbed, along with his nephew and another monk, while in Tibet. He was making his annual visit to all of the projects which his Rokpa Trust supports.

Community: a part and apart

Living in Eskdalemuir and not being part of the Samyé Ling community is an interesting experience. It has its advantages — regular…


We need all of us to create the world we want

Pale blue, deep indigo, yellow and magenta paint are splashed onto a large white board, with the word ‘TOGETHER’ on it.
Pale blue, deep indigo, yellow and magenta paint are splashed onto a large white board, with the word ‘TOGETHER’ on it.
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Something that’s come up quite a lot recently in conversations I’ve been part of is the importance of diversity of strategy and tactics in our work for social and environmental justice.

This is important firstly because a lot of time and energy is wasted in criticising one another’s tactics and strategies that could be put to better use in working towards our common goals.

It is also important because too often hierarchies develop in movements, in which only particular ways of working towards our common goals are regarded as ‘activist’ or ‘activist enough’. This tends to exclude people who are…


radical liberation or neoliberal bait and switch?

“We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.”

Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977

A young female-presenting, Latinx-looking person wearing lipstick is looking at herself in a mirror, write on forehead.
A young female-presenting, Latinx-looking person wearing lipstick is looking at herself in a mirror, write on forehead.

“Identity politics” has come to be extremely contentious among liberals, progressives, and leftists. It is decried as neo-liberal, following the logic of hierarchy and scarcity that living under capitalism has instilled in our understanding of the world — and not only by white male leftists who don’t want to do the work of tackling their own racism and sexism.

However, its origin is utterly radical.

It originally came…


Since the beginning of this round of #BLM actions in the USA, what feels like the start of a global reckoning with the impact and consequences of British and European colonialism, and an intensification of state control in many countries around the world, I’ve felt that anything I have to say will be nothing more than noise.

Thankfully, a conversation with some colleagues a few weeks ago reminded me that one thing I can offer is perspective.

My 50th birthday was this week. I’ve been involved in action for social and environmental change — activism in some shape or form…


Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

I was ordained as an Interfaith Minister on 6th September, 1998. The day before, at our pre-ordination retreat, I and my fellow ordinands sat in a circle together, and witnessed one another’s vows.

This, with a couple of tweaks I’ve made over the years, was and is mine:

Beloved, I vow to keep opening my heart to you, to receive your love.

I vow to serve, and to celebrate, and to reverence Life, in all Your forms, with all of myself.

Part of the point of Interfaith Ministry is that it doesn’t have an agenda, or a dogma, or a…


Death and the Maiden 2 by CapCat

In February of 2016, there was a lot of sudden transition in my life. My partner was beginning to make fundamental changes in her life, I had to abandon my PhD, and I suffered a close family bereavement.

As part of facing these various upheavals, and the grief that inevitably arose, I researched myths, legends, and traditional tales about how death came into the world.

Moon and banana

In a tale from Madagascar, the first humans are faced with a choice between dying and renewing like the moon — shrinking and growing on a monthly cycle, until the end of time — or…


Back in the autum of 2015, I created and told a story as part of a partnership between the Dig It! 2015 project of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, The Surgeons’ Hall Museums, and myself as an apprentice of the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

The story was created to highlight tattoos at the Surgeons’ Hall Museums, mortuary art at Greyfriars Kirkyard, and also included a cursing bone from the National Museum of Scotland (pictured above).

I started with the tattoos: from a 19th century sailor, and an army deserter (which you can see here and here — behind links in case…


A jumble of reflections from a selection of differently sized triangular mirrors, including one of a person.
A jumble of reflections from a selection of differently sized triangular mirrors, including one of a person.

I’m what used to be called a polymath. Nowadays, it’s more likely to be called being multi-passionate, or a multipotentialite.

I like to call it simply ‘being creative’. I’ve also in recent years come to realise it may also be called ‘ADHD’.

Whatever we call it, it comes with a problem: I have so many ideas, and end up working on so many projects at once, that keeping track of them all is a challenge. A big challenge.

At present, I’m working on three non-fiction books, three paintings, two stories, two courses, and a fan fiction. I have an endless…


A multimedia artwork: watercolour on canvas, appliqued plants, a feather, and a fabric hand and heart with gold threads.
A multimedia artwork: watercolour on canvas, appliqued plants, a feather, and a fabric hand and heart with gold threads.

In September 2014, two things happened which were important in my world:

Firstly, Eskdalemuir Community Hub opened.

Secondly, my fibromyalgia symptoms drastically increased.

There was no connection between the two, of course, but they happened at the same time, so in my mind they are forever linked. The opening of the Hub was the first time I used a stick in public to support my mobility. It also marked the moment when I stopped trying to convince myself that I could run a business, and allowed myself to begin to recover.

Recover from what? From the stress of massive loss…

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