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7 March 2023

On this podcast episode Emma Dempsey interviews Founder Nathan Blair.

Nathan explains what somatics and embodied cognition means and they discuss somatic terms like neuroception, proprioception and interoception. Nathan goes into some of what the Diploma at the The Somatic School includes, and explores his own background and route into the world of Somatics.

"I'd love the school to become one of the go-to providers for somatic work... but the secret mission is that we might learn to love each other better. Because somatic work, and this kind of the attunement work and the resonance it has, has so much to do with human connection but also the skills that we train people in have so much to do with the sort of patient attentive compassionate presence that we can have with our own experience and with one another. ...What is love if not accepting all of someone in their wholeness? And so that's our secret mission." Nathan Blair


Below is a transcript of their conversation.


[Music] so welcome Nathan I'm thrilled that


you're here I am I am honored honored to be invited thanks so much andwe had a conversation recently in my Mastermind


group and I know the people who were there really got so much out of itso I thought it'd be really nice to have you


would be great to have you on the podcast um to let a bigger audiencehear you and


to really kind of find out more about some mathematic coaching and thesomatic school and yeah just hear your voice


really would you like to start by saying a bit about who you are sure somy name


is Nathan Blair amongst other things including being a cheesecake[Music]


addicted I'm also the founder of uh coach Exchange store called thesomatic school so so magical really exists to


create opportunities for Attunement to ourselves to each other to theenvironment and in doing so embrace our


wholeness that's sort of what the school's all about one of thoseopportunities is a course that we run


specifically for people who are interested in developing coaching skillsbut that's called the accredited certificate and body oriented coaching


and that really helped a practitioners learn this because they need towork with the body's Intelligence online and


in person so it's a little bit about me and the school thank you um thebody's in Attunement tell me more


about that yeah yeah so the some people describe as the wisdom of thebody or the intelligence and there's a lovely


book called A guy called guy Claxton that's titled the intelligence Inthe Flesh I was I was quite like that as


well the whole idea behind somatic just to kind of break down the word alittle bit Soma is an ancient Greek word that


means the body in its aliveness not just the skin and bones but thewhole being and it's sort of in Greek it's it means


sort of an inspirited body the opposite of that would be necross whichwould be a body without Spirit or a corpse and so


Soma means more than just biology but what it means to be a human living


embodied being and from a somatic psychology perspective if you'reworking with someone's psychology but you're not


acknowledging the body in that you're only working with part of thepicture and the the more recent Sciences are


really supporting that so embody cognition has been around for a littlewhile now but that really sort of began


to look at and actually that's what guy claxton's book's all about ifyour listeners are interested in that but in


body cognition is all about how it is really an exploration of thisintelligence within our books that we


are we are shaped by life's experiences and the environment around usand and it


affects our how we operate as a human that's been taken a sort of stepfurther I believe in the field of interpersonal


neurobiology which really is painting this it's a so that's an area ofresearch that looks at 40 different


disciplines ranging from sociology to uh psychology Neuroscience biologyand


looking at where the findings coalesce and basically it's painting avery integrated picture of the human being so


so we are an integrated whole and that's relevant in coaching becausemodern psychology up until I would say


relatively recently except for in little pockets here and there hasfocused primarily on the cognitive reflective


mind so Insight logic mental meaning making and the body has always beenseen up until quite recently as the a taxi


for the brain you know and so there's a shift in our attitude towardsthe body it's not something that we have own but


maybe something that we are you know or even a process we can talk moreabout that later but that's the whole attitude


and the basic kind of underpinning idea behind somatic work


interesting I love that idea of like them the wisdom of the body and howyeah up to recently or you know recently


we've been thinking about the body as a taxi for the brain that's sointeresting and the funny thing is that I remember


this the last time we had a conversation that by just listening to Ibecome aware of my body like there's I can just I


don't know what it is it's almost like a feeling in my skin or somethingwhen I talk to you it's like things are kind of


waking up just by listening to you tell me what that is what might thatbe you know I think


that's I think that's wonderful I just love that as well because I thinkyou mentioned that last time and it's just it's great to see that organically


emerging you know that that sort of awareness of what might other beotherwise be outside of conscious


awareness for most of the day and I think that's quite common actuallyoftentimes people feel quite drawn to


somatics oftentimes people say they feel kind of called to it orintuitively it feels right I think that's not true for


everyone but for those that it resonates with I think it's maybe becauseit's it's nothing you don't already know yeah


many ways we are in body beings we have we exist as a body within a bodyand


sometimes simply bringing that that we exist as a body into ourawareness is


enough to be to get the ball rolling in terms of building up our whatAlan Fogle


describes as our embodied self-awareness so if conceptual self-awarenessis the


self thinking about itself or the self the person for example youridentity you know being a mother being a leader Etc


even your ideas of yourself in the future a vision of yourself in thefuture obviously very relevant and


absolutely you could say necessary within coaching depending on how youcoach embody self-awareness is the


self-experiencing itself so it's it's how who and how we are in thismoment it's how do we experience it it's at the


level of sensation emotion Etc so just becoming aware of this body youknow


already begins to get to build up that embody self-awareness because youcan only experience yourself here and now so


that itself experiencing itself what does that mean for and I know it'sthis


podcast is for coaches but I guess as coaches we're also humans so likewhat does that mean on a day-to-day basis if


you are an embodied being and you're tuning into that what does thatmean for you like walking to the shop what's


different for you it's interesting actually so in in the west and in theEast there are different views on the


embodiment and I think personally I sort of sits somewhere in the middleI think in in the west there's this idea a lot


of the time that embodiment is a sort of a Birthright it's our CentralState or something like that it's what we are and


in the in the East actually and it might be counted to some commonknowledge about the state in the East it's really


the attitude is that embodiment is cultivated so that we cultivateembodiment through practice over time


like I say I sort of sit somewhere in the middle so I think that youknow as I say you know just the ability to like in


a very basic level let's say you're walking to the shop and somebodyapproaches you and begins to talk to you


which was coined by uh Stephen porges as neurosception it's this ideathat our


nervous system is all scanning the environment for cues of safety cuesof Welcome or cues of warning and that's


our whole neurophysiology that's picking up on these this informationit's not it's not a rational thinking logical


consciously aware thing right so somebody's speaking with you and inthat moment you'll most likely get a sense of


whether I feel comfortable hanging around in that conversation or if I'dlike to move on or something like that


just to give a very basic example the ability to attend to that torecognize that in the first place attend to that


and then respond in resonance in other words actually um you know I'mI'm gonna exit this conversation now for example


in my mind that's already a form of you know that's already a form ofembodied intelligence and I think building up the


capacity to trust and listen I think that quality of listening to thebody acknowledging it and validating it


almost not not dismissing it as irrelevant it's just a sensation oh it'sjust a feeling in my gut oh it's just


you know it's it's actually that that capacity to listen in my mindthat's that's a form of embodiment you know


that's a form of embodied self-awareness and Alan Fogel wrote awonderful book called body sense that really makes a


real case for why cultivating our own body self-awareness is uh is agood idea


you know and yeah I love of that so that idea that like we all have thatbut it's


cultivating it and becoming more aware of it so like what is our kind ofwhat's happening in our body in any moment in


terms of that kind of safety reflex or what did you say with the twoswitches the neuroception and I suppose the


nervous system is scanning for cues of welcome and views of warningwelcome warning yeah so what can we do as humans


to cultivate that and what can we do as coaches when we're working withour clients so shall we start with the first


one um like what can we do as humans to really kind of harness that yeahokay so


I think just a basic intro when in the in the second module on uh on thecourse we train at semantics because we


actually introduced people to this notion of presence pie and uh Pi isan acronym for these three classes of


sensory perception so there's proprioception it's an awareness of thebody in space so it's an awareness that


if I look in this direction but my hand is over here I'm aware that myright


hand is sort of just above my shoulder and about you know half a meterout from one you know so it's it's that sort of


thing it's knowing where your right foot is in relation to your left hipEtc right so that's proprioception interception is awareness of information


from the inside so it could be a heartbeat be the quality of our breathfast uh slow deep shallow it could be


those classic kind of we people often talk about these gut feelings youknow that kind of tug in the gut that sort of


says oh yeah that's a bit of me that is you know that kind of like youknow I wanna I wanna move towards that all that


feeling that's says hmm something doesn't feel quite right about thisactually can we just take a moment and I mean that would be a I was going tosay


can we just take a moment pick pause here and just like that that takesquite a lot of skill actually to actually be


like I mean that's a practice and I you know that's something for mepersonally you know in relationship in


conversations that's a great thing to practice and it's never it's notalways it's easier said than done it's to be


able to say you know what I'm just noticing something and can we justpause here I just want to check in where it's you know that's a that's quite athing


to do so that's into reception extra reception is aware it's informationfrom the outside it's the five classic senses


so it's hearing it so hearing sight smell taste touch and so so acronymfor


that pie and um presence pie we call it because there's a quality ofpresencing that if you attend to each of those you


know it brings us to this moment and brings us to our embodies ofWellness our experience of ourselves in this moment so one thing that peoplecould do


is just remembering This Acronym pie and just you do need to know whateach of the letters stands for but


proprioception and how is my posture right now you know am I kind ofslumped over because we did something I think


didn't we on our on our last call of slumping over and sort of reallyslouching down and saying and mustering


as much enthusiasm as possible saying I'm having a fantastic day and itcomes out in a very incongruent because that's


that connection between a body mind it's just you know so how is ourposture is it is it supporting how we want to be


who we want to be in this moment you know um I'd like to to be in thisconversation and feel relaxed and


receptive so actually my posture might be more of this sort of positionI'm sitting back for those of you the


listeners who can't see me I'm sitting there kind of relaxing into mychair and I actually already noticed a deeper


breath comes with that it just emerged from me shifting my posture alittle so that's proprioception how's my posture


is my body comfortable you know In This Moment sometimes we can besitting on one leg you know it's it's gone


completely dead but we're not aware you know for example I'm just youknow the simple examples here intersection how am


I feeling inside am I hungry that one catches me out all the timenoticing I've seen that exactly conversations are


going swiftly I don't know what's going on oh I'm absolutely famishedbut I haven't actually become aware it's my


heart rate up and it's something I need to do differently right now tokind of chill a little bit regulate my nervous


system a bit you know um what's what's going on that's having my heartbeat so fast or is it just excitement and can I


enjoy that feeling of slightly heightened arousal in the system and thenextra reception and this is an


important one I think in many levels so what's happening in myenvironment right now I mean the extra section helps you


you know tune into your visual sense and notice the person in front ofyou and become more aware of them and more tuned


to them and what's happening with that person you're interacting withbut also actually it has a very important function of something that's known in


particularly the trauma work of orientation so as I bring my awarenessout to my environment through any of the


senses actually it sends signals to the brainstem of the very ordinaryHere and Now where typically speaking you know


unless there is an imminent danger typically speaking we're safe we arecomfortable it's a familiar environment


and all is okay and actually that orientation to our environmentparticularly through our visual senses


are particularly neutral one actually has the effect of really downregulating the nervous system it can help really


settle us um and it's a good thing to just do even throughout the dayand just allow the is just to take a little


journey through the space you're in noticing how the world is contactingyou for your visual sense so that's that's on the personal level so on a daily


basis like thinking about the fact that we're embodied beings whatyou're saying is like just really tuning into that not


just that but everything that you've said and just kind of trying tocultivate that self-awareness of like


what's good like so for me a lot of the time like oh what am I thinkingin this moment but actually what is the wisdom


that's going on in my body as well what am I feeling in this momentWhat's Happening physically and just being really aware of that so as coacheswhat


happens is when you go and see a thematic coach what's different greatyeah it's there's um I often describe


this uh first of all I just want to pick up on something you saidearlier which was you know you have that thought of like oh what am I thinkingin this


moment and then you're saying oh now you're exploring in thisconversation if it's another Avenue of information that comes through the bodyand these two


things in my mind and this is the attitude of somatic psychologists wellthey're intrinsically linked yeah so


actually you know as we become aware of what's happening in the body thethoughts meaning you know associations


images they come with that you know and that can be very insightful and


oftentimes working in somatics is working with that which is not alreadyknown and you know even if you look at


the topic of limiting beliefs you know limiting beliefs many people areaware of their limiting beliefs they know what


those beliefs are nonetheless they know that they're limiting for thembut they know of the belief I know that I have


this belief that I'm not a high earner or I know that I have this beliefthat I I'm not good around with people or


something like that you know but working with the body oftentimes we'reworking with these implicit beliefs these beliefs that are totally outside of


conscious awareness they are they sort of are held within the cells thesinews the muscles of our body the structure


the musculosphere it's like it's like the way that we are shaped throughlife's experiences you know if I have a


belief that here's an example like if I have a belief that people don'thave time for me I might speak very fast well


that's an interesting non-verbal thing yeah it's verbal it's it's a sortof a somatic manifestation it's speaking very


fast because I believe that people don't understand me and it's asomatic case we can work with things like that or for example if uh ifsomeone's slumped over


who knows what that might that belief might be about but we can explorethat I remember talking about this before


with you and that idea that like I recognize through um being aroundsomebody who I I suppose


I felt a bit stressed around and I knew that cognitively that I feltlike that and I was kind of working on my thought


password but actually recognizing that every time I was around thatperson I was like completely braced and I like


felt it in my body I remember saying that to you and like actuallytrying to like like was it that one came first or


which came first I don't know or do they come at the same time yeah andI think well I think that inquiry that you're in


right now like that question of which came first like the I guess inmany ways that where did it come from and why in


my mind when I'm working with clients it's not nearly as important asjust bringing that curious interest to the


experience as it's happening or as we can connect with it because whatwe find is just the bringing our Attention our


awareness to it even for a moment often brings that Insight so itdoesn't come


from you know I think a lot of time when people think about working thebody think about body language is a good example they think about that that's a


crossed arms and people like closed off you know or I'm you know I'm notbeing open to a person or the idea or whatever


it might be although some people might think that I don't know thatthat's um like looking away eye contact means you


know maybe not interested that's ascribing these sort of prescriptive orkind of these fixed ideas about what x x


means why you know but actually um in the somatic modalities that we


draw on at somatic School we're much more interested in okay as apractitioner I don't know I don't know


what your crossed arms mean in a true Spirit of coaching what does thatmean for you and so the question then becomes


so you said you gave an example of like oh I noticed when I asked youthat question you crossed your arms you know


for example that's you know you gave a similar kind of vignette of whatit might sound like in a coaching session so as we bring awareness to thatcrossed


arms clients clients can tune in and be like what is this what is thisfor me


not you know rather than saying oh you seem a little closed about thisor


something that's a different approach so this kind of circles right backto your question which was yeah within coaching


there are these kind of two you know three or four classic questionsthat coaches will often ask when they're


wanting to bring the body in so one of them is the one that youdescribed it's like you know I noticed when I asked you


that question you crossed your arms I'm curious what was happening foryou there I noticed that as you were talking about your boss you were you hadto hand over


your mouth I'm wondering I'm curious about that I'm wondering what'swhat's going on the thing about a question like


this is that gestures body language however you want to describe itthese non-verbal Communications they're


typically unconscious like they have like while I'm I'm moving my handsfor those of your listeners who can't see me


right now I'm I'm gesturing but I'm not choosing to gesture I'm notplanning out my gestures I'm not doing it consciously


or deliberately either completely unintendent like they're justhappening and oftentimes when we ask a question


like that you know oh when this happened you did that what was happeningto you there we're inviting a client to reflect


on something that they weren't aware of doing in the first place and thethe slight the the attitude we have towards


that is that the reliability of the answer you get to a question likethat


is questionable because we are meaning making machines and so when wereflect


on something that we didn't know we were doing we actually don't evenknow that we did it most of the time because a coach will say oh you did thisand they


go did I okay well yeah oh it was probably this and they'll have their


best guess so are we really getting the wisdom of the body there is thatreally


connecting with the body's intelligence oh is it more of the same is itis it feeling ourselves experiencing ourselves


or are we thinking about feeling are we thinking about what across ourmoment so the skills that we train coaches in the


skills that I will use with my clients are skills that help our clientsbecome aware of their experience as it's


happening so become aware of the Cross arms and be able to self-studyand get curious about this posture this


embodiment this particular gesture or microaction what does that notmean to me how does it feel as I'm doing this


what am I noticing so one of the ways that we might do that just to giveyour your listeners a little something is you


know a lot of people are aware of mirroring in NLP mirroring is oftenused to uh to influence you know there's this


uh I think they call it Pace I can't remember what the term is it's sortof like I can't remember but it's it's used


to to sort of match someone and then speak into sort of influence themtypically hopefully positively influence


but we can also use mirroring as a way to sort of being bring awarenessto are


you even on purpose so right so so I mirrored a little


something Emma was doing with her knuckle against her face and as Imirror


you I didn't say anything about it but you became aware of yourselfdoing that


very powerful way to use mirroring because it can help without naming itwhich can sometimes leave client's


feeling slightly if we when we name something they their attention goesto listening to what you're saying more


than it goes to the action that they're doing but if you mirror theirawareness immediately comes because there's


something about mirroring as I mirror your mirror neurons fire up whichmeans that parts of your brain and body that


are associated with that movement light up so you become more aware ofwhat you're doing in that moment and then you


can get curious together about oh what is that what is that so it bringsour clients awareness to that so that's one


of the one of the three kind of classic questions and one of thealternatives to that that we put it personally would


think is more effective ways of kind of accessing that body'sintelligence I am


curious about like what has led you here Nathan like with the I I loveyour


energy around this I love that you've created a school around somethingthat you're really passionate about and we'll


talk about the somatic school and I'm aware of time as well but justcurious like what led you here to this point


it's quite a long journey so I'm keeping it okay well I'd say but it'sreally


interesting as I reflect back on my life I can really see the threadsyou know or the thread I should say but I can really


see the way that things have kind of led me to where I am today but youknow as a teenager I was very very sensitive very


aware of people's emotions non-verbal facial expressions and things likethat I often be described as oversensitive


you know because I would not just notice these things but I'd respond tothem you know I'd be maybe in reactive ways quite


a lot of the times well but around that time I was also diagnosed withADHD and uh attention deficit disorder for those


who don't know add something alternative and have opinions about thattoday


generally speaking because I actually in my later on in my mid-20s Idropped the label completely and I don't take any


medication these days because partly that's because I learned I read awonderful book with the mindfulness prescription for ADHD and it helped me


begin to connect with my senses in a meaningful way like it consciouslydeliberately not just become aware not


just be sensitive but use my sensitivity as a means of regulating myemotions


becoming present at the moment you know when I'm kind of spinning awayjust centering myself you know whatever that


might be and I was always very interested in this I remember I wasworking at leadership development consultancy for a while and while I was


there that was very some people might describe that it's quite heady butwhile I was there I was reading this book I


mentioned earlier actually intelligence In the Flesh and I was justsoaking it up so I knew that the field of somatics


which I didn't know the name for it at the time actually but I knew thatthat this was something that I felt very cool to I actually went for a periodof time


I was working looking at an organization that was all about consciousrelating and sexuality and that you can't separate sexuality in the body it was


there that I really had a an embodied experience of how connected we areat a visceral level and they were very hot on


listening to the body for example in conversations even in team meetingsthey would some people sometimes someone


would say oh I just felt like this Clint like just from this clench inmy chest you know as you said that like that


feels totally off to me you know and that's that's what that's how theywould communicate with each other and uh there


was a lot of projecting that happened there as well there was a shadowside to that but there was but it was


fascinating to hear that that come into dialogue you know everydayconversation that you know acknowledging the body in


that way but yeah I I really wanted to work in this way as a coach atthe time I just couldn't find that's a place to


you know somewhere to develop that skill set yeah and um and so I turnedto the


body psychotherapies I trained in Folk focusing in hakomi to both ofthose approaches I absolutely adore and they


they have their Roots sort of in in some of the wisdom Traditions likegaoism and Buddhism but also very much Carl Rogers


work you know about if anyone's read early Carl Rogers books like I'mbecoming a person it mentions Eugene


gentleman in that who created the focusing approach they work veryclosely together and so already you can see that


this it's interesting because Carl Rogers certainly the the founderoften just describes as the founder of the


human potential movement and the humanistic tradition um within thehelping professions and Carl Rogers


massively influenced Eugene German who create the focusing approach andalready there's this amazing kind of picture


that comes together of these body psychotherapies and then the kind ofthe the roots of coaching and though I've


only become really aware of just how interconnected this web is morerecently in my own life it wasn't it's not


surprising when I look back at how these the world of coaching in a veryperson-centric my coaching has always


been very personal and this world of process oriented bodypsychotherapies work kind of they're


totally interconnected and when they're brought together in body oreducation that's why we can bring these together


they they it just makes sense they're totally complementary and thensuddenly the body becomes a very real a


meaningful Avenue for exploration within the coaching context so


um my own training kind of in body Psychotherapy actually from sort oflemony line full circle to coaching and


then these two worlds came together as as you know it now with thesomatic school yeah I think that's that's


probably my that's probably how I ended up here in part it's sointeresting it's so interesting when we look back on our


lives and go actually like the pads we took you know they did they LEDhere or we can see more like from looking back


but the connections that were there that led us to where we are and whatis your mission with the somatic school


that's such a big question it's funny because I I feel very very


actually daily I feel kind of very humbled by the sematics field becauseit really feels like it has a life of its


own and I'm just enjoying the ride I feel like I'm a faster on thissomatic


School journey in many ways My Hope Is that those the amazing peoplethat we have you know part of the somatic school


team it's um Craig Rachel and Cecilia Ramon you know but all of thesethe


people who are working in at the somatic School My Hope Is that theirVisions what this could be will see this the


school just unfold in wonderful ways that we haven't yet considered umpersonally I think I always say that


we have a secret mission at the somatic school so we have the kind ofpublic-facing one which is all about you


know working with the body's Intelligence online and in person learningcoaching skills to to enable you to do so and you know in many ways I


would love to be you know one of the you know I'd love the school tobecome one of the go-to providers for somatic work


within the coaching but the secret mission is that we might might learnto love each other better because somatic


work and this kind of the Attunement work and the resonance it has somuch to


do with human connection but also the skills that we train people inhave so much to do with the sort of patient


attentive compassionate presence that we can have with our ownexperience and with one another and to embrick to be


all embracing you know of whatever somebody whatever comes up forsomeone that we can be a yes and to that and we


can Embrace that too and you know what is love if not accepting all of someone you know in their wholeness you know and


so that's a kind of secret mission and yeah but not such a secret now I've


shared a review I love that secret mission and I just I've loved talking to you today and I think people are


listening will get so much from this episode um if people want to find you where will they find you so I mean the obvious


place if when people want to find most things is to Google it so you can type into to Google the somatic School you


can go to the best are you checking us


I'm taking this event actually the best way to learn more about this


American school well actually learn more about the field of somatics broadly speaking but also the somatic school and how we train people to become


body-orange coaches if should they want to be is to come along to our free online introduction to body or into


coaching and the next one which I was checking is on the 29th of June which is next Tuesday okay so this podcast will


be out by then I'm not that organized but if people want to find out about those information data they listed on


the website they are datia and how often are they but they happen once every two weeks or so okay yeah yeah they're quite


just very frequent so do you want to say a bit about what they are what people come along and is that you yeah so I


host that event first half the event is all about the field of somatics and the body oriented approach broadly speaking


we look at what is somatics what is body oriented coaching or what is the body oriented approach and some of the


shoulders we stand on where it came from why somatics why now you know what is it about the world we live in today that


has this feel relevant to so many people because increasingly it is it does feel


that way and then we take a break and when we come back we talk about we introduce people to the semantic School


the flagship program that we train here the accredited certificate and body into coaching go into detail about the course


content structure and how you can enroll should you want to and then people can express an interest if they're


interested in speaking again but it's a very easy you know no commitment at the event so it's a nice it's entirely free


to attend it's a great place to get your questions answered hi thank you so much Nathan for this conversation is there


anything that you're taking from this conversation today I am taking well it's


been a joy and I guess one of the things is this classic isn't it so one of the things at the school we one of our uh we


call them intentions it's one of them is your reception makes me brilliant okay so that's that's how that's the name of


it you know another one is you know if it stops being a simple stop you know but one of them is your reception makes


me brilliant and what that's all about is the way that we receive one another has the power to either build someone up


you know evoke genius in another or diminish that yeah and you Emma are so


receptive so wonderably receptive you're so responsive and so if I've been any


form of good in whatever way that I mean on this podcast I would say it's thanks to you because well if the quality of


your exception wasn't such then my best would never come out you know that's we really believe in that that the impact


we have on one another in that way so I'm I'm really taking I'm feeling very nourished and it's been generative and I think that's that's thanks to the


connection that you've facilitated here in this conversation thank you I love that it's a theory but I also yeah your


words are kind and I'm grateful and it's been a pleasure um so thank you so much Nathan and maybe


we could continue this conversation and another time it would be a pleasure