“Kintsugi.” Making something precious out of our “smashedupness.”


A Japanese word that describes the process whereby a cup, plate or a piece of ceramic if broken (or more likely, when broken) is mended by using lacquer dusted with gold. Go on, Google “Kintsugi” and you will see pictures of broken yet beautiful pieces of pottery laced with gold lacquer where the breakages have occurred. They really are works of art, whilst retaining the ability to be useful, everyday.

A dear friend of mine a number of years ago faced life threatening cancer. They have, following this life changing and on-going brokenness, established their own Life Coaching consultancy. You will not find someone more alive, empathetic and present to the struggles of others. Kintsugi.

Or, take the works of many who through the Northern Irish “Troubles” and to this present day, have journeyed with the “loss of a loved one” type of brokenness. Some, out of their brokenness have established agencies that support many individuals and families who have lost their nearest and dearest due to conflict. Others have set up projects that seek to build peace. Kintsugi.

I can think of other Kintsugi examples. They are all over the place and probably more everyday than we care imagine…

The family coping with love and care for a parent with dementia. Kintsugi.

The teacher giving their all for a class of 14 year olds, who (in the main) don’t seem to “give a stuff” for English Literature. Kintsugi.

The Nurse working extra shifts due to staff shortages, still offering care and tenderness. Kintsugi.

The neighbours pulling together with meals and emotional support after a family in their estate has their house broken into. Kintsugi.

Indeed, amidst the “smashedupness” of the global pandemic, Kintsugi somehow is keeping many of us going…

A few questions to ponder…

“In your life, when has brokenness revealed a new Kintsugi?”

“Who are the people you can trust when life’s ‘smashedupness’ occurs?”

“This week, how might you help another with their “golden repair?”

Picture courtesy of @savbrown

My head is…”melted”. A short reflection for Mental Health awareness week.

These “Covid 19” days are really difficult. My head is “melted” as folks say round these parts. Each of us has our own unique set of challenges to turn around. For me with elderly parents (in isolation), young adult children studying across in Great Britain and a wife on the front line of patient care with the NHS my thoughts and emotions have, well, frankly been “melted” (as in the classic Belfast phrase “my head is melted”.) I have found myself incapacitated with the news feed regarding the pandemic, not quite able to get into a routine and if truth be told beginning to grieve the loss of what I had taken for granted…a diary filled with meetings, networks and activity, Friday night watching Ulster Rugby at the Village Inn, Sunday worship, family visits. Generally coming and going as I pleased has ceased, and with good reason. Oh. As lockdown eases (ever so slightly) a new set of concerns are surfacing. As I say “melted”.

I am (like so so many) facing challenges but I am mindful of those whose tenure is uncertain or have lost jobs, learning to home school their “wee” one’s or sadly those dealing with the full force of the pandemic and its impact on their loved one’s. Devasting.

Strange as it may seem a few words (well thinking through these words) are beginning to work themselves out in my life and being (which, honestly entails struggle as much as anything else!)

Make of them as you will…

Pause. (What am I paying attention to?)

As noted above, a new reality is appearing and many old routines and general “busyness” has been disrupted. There is much discomfort. It is difficult sometimes when the “pause” button regarding life is pushed.

Some key questions may lead to deeper insight and self awareness…

What are you noticing at this time of difficulty? What is your body saying? What emotions are surfacing?

The ability to regulate our emotions (and their impact on our thinking patterns and behaviour) begins by paying attention and noticing what is emerging.

Practice. (What actions build and sustain me?)

In terms of navigating your set of challenges and opportunities what practises will build and sustain your practice…whatever your professional background or personal circumstances? Regarding everyday living during lockdown (and quite possibly into the near future) what can we practise that builds our well being and the well being of our loved one’s and communities and businesses?

Pivot. (Remaining centred yet responsive to a changed world and its needs).

As an individual, as a professional, as a business or organisation, what does it mean to “pivot” during this time of global disruption? Not simply throwing “the baby out with the bathwater” in terms of the offering(s) you make but remaining centred on your “core” whilst developing new ways of doing. You might say developing the art of being able to “pivot”, reaching for a new future through a deeper appreciation of where you, the family, the work team, indeed the organisation are.

Purpose. (Focussing on what really matters).

It was Viktor Frankl (a survivor of Auschwitz) who noted that a person’s ability to endure trauma related to an individual finding purpose and therefore meaning amidst their experience (even to the point of death.)

Given today’s troubling times with the pandemic impacting across creed, colour, background, age (to name but a few “categories”within society) maybe now is the time to reassess what is really important and who is really important.

Methinks, looking out for other’s is one means of addressing the “melt.”

Keep well Keep safe. Keep an eye out for the most vulnerable.

Picture courtesy of @savbrown