The Scotsman is a National newspaper for Scotland, and one of its reporters, Gaby Soutar, has included Landmark Education in her list of “seven secrets of survival.” Parts of the article appear below:
1) I need to write to stay sane, so the greatest gift I give myself is a writing retreat. A room with a view is even more important than a room of one’s own. Writing is 90 per cent gazing out of the window thinking and 10 per cent putting pen to paper. My first writing retreat was on the Scoraig peninsula. The cottage was ramshackle, with no running water and waist-high weeds in the garden. My bedroom looked out over fields. I couldn’t see the sea but could smell it. I wrote like a demon from 10am to 4pm every day, breaking only for lunch. On my birthday, I walked to another part of the peninsula and found the clearest sea I’ve ever seen. It was embedded with pebbles bright as jewels. I paddled, collected firewood and felt as if I’d been baptised.
2) I’m a Northern Soul aficionado. The only true way to immerse myself in the music is to dance in a club with a maple sprung dancefloor, next to sharply dressed mods and soulies with 40in flares and beer towels hanging out of their pockets to mop up the sweat. When the dancefloor is full, everyone moves as one. Northern Soul is the blues on fire. You forget what year it is, you find yourself in the middle of the floor in the middle of the tune in a zone that lasts for weeks. Bliss.
3) My partner and I bought a tandem in 2004 and went on a cycling holiday in Belgium and the Netherlands. We cycled an average of 60 miles a day. To put this in context, I believe holidays are for relaxing and I resent having to do anything other than laze on the beach, visit the odd art gallery and eat good food. But that two-week holiday totally converted me. The cycling lanes, totally flat routes, stunning Dutch countryside and excellent evening meals helped. But the best part was getting into a cycling rhythm and emptying the mind as if in meditation.
4) I attended an amazing course called The Landmark Forum a decade ago. It was an intense, confessional three-day examination of the self. I sat with 200 others listening to individuals sharing aspects of their lives. The most important thing I learned was to question my consistent complaints. I was good at whining and bad at problem solving. The course enabled me to challenge the fear preventing me from improving my life. After a two-year block, I started working on my second collection of poetry – Transformatrix. I started to seize the day again.
5) Nothing beats a good, deep-tissue massage. My first was a 15-minute taster at an alternative therapy day in North London. It took me a further 15 minutes to get up out of the chair. Ever since then, I’ve made it my duty to have a regular massage. It’s a wonderful way to relax the mind.
6) If you eat three good meals a day, I’m convinced you’ll live longer. Never underestimate the power of delicious, nutritious food. I like to eat healthily but I have to like what I eat. My partner cooks a mean Sunday roast, meat and so much veg it meets the five-a-day quota. My Nigerian mum makes amazing moi-moi – a steamed, spicy black-eye bean snack. Being cooked for is ideal. I love eating out, eating abroad and the way that food unites loved ones. My partner and I can’t wait for our boys to be old enough to eat the same as us, to sit down for a family feast.
7) Film noir is the perfect way to survive a Friday night when you have young children and no babysitter. We slot the DVD in, cuddle up on the sofa and escape to 1946, when the dialogue was as razor-sharp as the suits and guns smoked more than the femme fatale. If the baby screams you press pause and give him a cuddle: if he needs feeding you feed him; you do all this in the half-light, in the land of shadows, which is where you spend half your life. Except that on Friday night, it’s just a touch more glamorous.