Sam Radford

August 4, 2021

Book Notes – “The Boy from the Woods” and “The Innocent” by Harlan Coben

I was away on holiday last week – hence the lack of blog posts. We had a family trip in a caravan that was a lot of fun. Weather wasn’t amazing, but we enjoyed lots of day trips and had an all-round a good time. And, surprisingly, I managed to read two novels while away. I say surprised because, as I’m sure any fellow parents with youn...
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August 3, 2021

Let us serve love with our strength

One of the books I dip into periodically is called Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by John Philip Newell. It’s a collection of morning and evening prayers for each day of the week. One line, in the Tuesday morning collection of prayers, has been leaping out at me these last few weeks: “Let us serve love with our strength this d...
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August 2, 2021

Just be nice!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard myself telling my daughters to ‘just be nice’ to each other. I can say that it’s a lot. I found myself thinking about that word ‘nice’ today. It’s a strangely bland and yet deeply powerful word. On the one hand, it can feel like a nothing word; a lazy descriptor for something we cannot think o...
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July 27, 2021

A curious idiot

Austin Kleon shares some great thoughts on curiosity in a recent blog post of his. He starts by sharing sharing a quote from Jason Sudekis, discussing his approach to playing the character Ted Lasso: “What if you played an ignorant guy who was actually curious?” Austin then points to another quote, this one by Mike Monteiro: “The secre...
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July 23, 2021

Seven types of rest

I came across an article on the TED website this week about rest. It’s easy to think of rest as something singular. And, not only that, something we merge with sleep. But we’ve all experienced those times when, despite a good night of sleep, or a decent period of what we thought was rest, we don’t feel rested at all. Why is that? It’s ...
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July 22, 2021

Losing track of what we spend

Tim Harford’s recent column for the Financial Times, reproduced on his blog, addresses the challenges of living in an increasingly cashless society. What is the main challenge? How easy it is to spend money! With contactless payments, Apple Pay, Amazon’s one-click payments, it’s never been easier to spend money. Online stores have, oh-...
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July 21, 2021

Generosity and kindness: The true nature of humanity

As some of you may well have picked up, we’ve been isolating as a family for the last 10 days. Today was the first day we were allowed back out following Imogen, my youngest daughter, getting Covid. The main thing that struck me throughout this time has been the kindness and generosity of friends, family, and neighbours. So many people...
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July 20, 2021

How to give advice

Baltasar Gracian, a Spanish philosopher, had this to say about giving advice to others: “When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.” I love this! No one likes to feel stupid. Or that they don’t know something. And the truth is, more often than no...
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July 19, 2021

Max vs. Lewis (AKA despair at human nature)

Though I don’t watch much Formula 1 racing nowadays, I do still follow it. And, since we’re currently having to isolate after my youngest daughter tested positive for Covid, I was able to watch the British Grand Prix yesterday. What a race! (Quick aside: before you switch off thinking this is a sports post, it isn’t a sports post – tha...
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July 16, 2021

Easy has a cost

James Clear’s latest newsletter delivers a good reminder that there’s a cost to always taking the path of least resistance: “Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy. Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder. Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your ...
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July 15, 2021

How many close friendships are sustainable?

You’ve probably heard of “Dunbar’s number”. It is the number of stable relationships people are cognitively able to maintain at once. And, in case you’ve forgotten or didn’t know, that number is 150. But it’s not just about that number 150. In reality, that 150 consists of a series of concentric circles, each representing different kin...
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July 14, 2021

Slowing down to go further

I enjoyed Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s recent article on slowness for Ness Labs. She explores the benefits of slowing down, reminding us that faster is not always (often?) better: “It may seem counterintuitive, but slowing down can be a faster way to achieve your goals. Fighting our urge to live and work faster can lead to clearer thinking, d...
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July 13, 2021

The death throes of masculine power

I’m reading Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul by John Philip Newell at the moment. It came out last week and is an exploration of Celtic wisdom and what we can learn from various Celtic teachers through the ages. Two chapters in and I’m loving it. I’ll write a ‘Book Notes’ post once I’ve finished it. But this, from chapter two, entitled ’Sacre...
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July 12, 2021

Inspired by a 19 year-old

So, it wasn't to be. England lost to Italy on penalties in the final of the European football championship. Ultimately, the penalty shootout came down to England’s 19 year-old player, Bukayo Saka. Score and the shootout would continue, miss and the trophy would head to Rome. And he missed. You didn’t have to imagine the devastation and...
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July 8, 2021

Watch what you say

In Katy Milkman’s recent newsletter, she interviews Alison Wood Brooks about how to reappraise or reframe anxiety. This from Alison makes a lot of sense: “One way is just talking about your feelings differently. The way we label our emotions verbally to ourselves, out loud and to other people is consequential. So, when someone says, “H...
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July 7, 2021

Book Notes: “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley

I finished reading The Guest List a couple of nights ago. This was a book recommended to me when I asked people via social media for some fiction suggestions a couple of months back. I can’t recall who mentioned this, but I’m so glad they did. I loved it! The setting is a remote island off the Irish coast. Guests are heading over for t...
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July 6, 2021

We all need a not-to-do list

I love the not-to-do list Anne-Laure Le Cunff shared on the Ness Labs website recently. I’ve copied the first three of the ten below, but do take a look at the rest: “1. Do not constantly check your emails. Instead, batch your email-checking time in one or two slots during the day. Some people also add an auto-responder to let senders ...
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July 5, 2021

Wasting years by not wasting hours

Morgan Housel shared this quote in a recent blog post of his, and I couldn’t agree more: “Psychologist Amos Tversky once said “the secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”” Work can easily become little more than completing one task after another. Very ofte...
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June 25, 2021

Six weeks on, one week off

It’s hard to believe another six weeks have already passed. Regular readers of my blog will know what I've decided to take a week off from writing here every six weeks. I consider it a sabbath or rest week. I also break from social media, news, and my exercise regime. And I then use that time to freshen things up: read more, journal mo...
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June 24, 2021

My journey with back pain

Since around October 2019 I’ve struggled with back pain. I hasn’t affected me much during the daytime, but it has caused me considerable discomfort at night. Until the start of this year, it would be a very rare occurrence for me to sleep through the night. Typically I would wake several times – often for significant amounts of time. I...
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June 23, 2021

Why we need to keep writing by hand

My friend, Geoffrey, sent me a link to a delightful article about hand-writing last week. I loved this paragraph in particular: “I believe that handwriting still serves a deep purpose in our lives and that letting it fade away will be a loss to our spirit. Precisely because it is no longer essential for communication, handwriting can n...
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June 22, 2021

A true view of ourselves and others

There’s lots of wisdom in Morgan Housel’s latest blog post. He explores the problems of how we perceive the people around us, and how, more often than not, what you see is not what you get. And that causes us problems. He writes: “When you are keenly aware of your own struggles but blind to others’, it’s easy toassume you’re missing so...
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June 21, 2021

Book Notes: “The Girl with the Louding Voice”

If you have access to Between the Covers (on BBC Two and iPlayer here in the UK), it’s well worth a watch if you’re a fellow book-lover. I mentioned the TV show a month or so ago, and it continues to cause me to add new books to my book pile. One of those recent additions was The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. After hearing A...
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June 18, 2021

Mare of Easttown

I’ve been watching Mare of Easttown with my wife this week. Still have a few episodes to go, but what great TV! (UK readers, it’s available on Sky Atlantic or Now TV with an entertainment pass. If you’re in the US, it’s on HBO.) First off, Kate Winslet is her usual, brilliant self. I love the fact we get to see top notch actors in tele...
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June 17, 2021

A time to multitask?

I wrote last week about multitasking. Pointed out there’s no such thing. It was unlikely a complete shock to discover that our attempts at multitasking are massive productivity killers. But is there a danger in being too quick to pick one thing to focus on? Anne-Laure Le Cunff thinks so. Her recent article for Ness Labs makes the case ...
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June 16, 2021

Overcoming our need to appear perfect

I love it when a provocative quote gets inside my head and starts messing with me! That’s been the case all day today since reading this from St. Francis of Assisi: “We can patiently accept not being good. What we cannot bear is not being considered good, not appearing good.” I think that’s something that fits in the category of ‘bruta...
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June 15, 2021

Beauty and brokenness go hand in hand

Avni Patel Thompson wrote a moving piece on her blog recently*, reflecting on beauty and brokenness. Her words are powerful and true: “I’ve been thinking a lot about “kintsugi” over the past couple of days. It’s the Japanese art of putting together broken shards of pottery – only instead of using a clear glue, you use a lacquer dusted ...
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June 14, 2021

Fail small, not big

If you’re anything like me, you may have an unfortunate tendency to make negative occurrences a bigger deal than they really are. Something goes wrong and your response is: ‘This day is ruined!’ But does the whole day have to be written off, just because something has gone off track? Gretchen Rubin doesn’t think so. I love what she say...
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June 11, 2021

The way we heal each other

If you’ve not yet seen Ethan Hawke’s TED talk, ‘Permission to be creative’, you should make the time. It’s nine minutes long and full of sage insight. It’s a healthy reminder of the roles creativity and art need to play in our lives. These comments in particular resonated with me: “Do you think human creativity matters? Well, hmm. Most...
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June 10, 2021

Practicing for non-addiction

I was reading through my collection of quotes in my Notes app earlier, and I came across this from Fr. Richard Rohr: “You practice non-addiction every day by letting go, not needing, and not desiring anything in particular. Fasting, detachment, and simplicity were the original words for non-addiction in the spiritual traditions.” Readi...
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