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Posted @ 09:04:09 on 19 July 2010


Oops! I vanished there for a while, but it was for a very good reason... I was writing a book that was commissioned by a publisher. It is a book of stories for children or young people (and adults!) that are based around a philosophical concept, stories with a message I guess. I got to study the Tao in great depth, which was absolutely fantastic as I had been wanting to study that for some time now. For each story I took a quote from the Tao that particularly resonated and then wrote a children's or Young person's story around it. So the gratitudes were shelved for a while as my manuscript submission date loomed. It was pretty tight as I had to write two stories a week to meet the deadline, which was quite heavy on top of the very full time day job and all my other stuff... So the gratitude this time is one of being grateful for the unusual opportunities the great Cosmic Joker sends our way sometimes... Lord only knows how the publisher found me, but they did, and I thought it would be a challenge (and it was) but I loved every minute of it, which reminds me that this is what life is about for me - all creative and spiritual paths lead to writing stories... love it! And this time I didn't even have to worry about "will it be published?" as it was commissioned, and I got paid for it - how cool is that? When my final year as an actor gave me an exact salary of nil pounds and a second-hand umbrella, things are looking up! Two blockages destroyed in one fell swoop!

Posted @ 09:45:08 on 26 August 2010


I can't believe I am keeping this up... is it helping? Yes, I would definitely say so. Having to look for something to be grateful for even if it is one small thing, means I am re-training my brain to be a little more positive. It does mean I have to reframe a bit if I am thinking the world is all black... For instance, this morning's journey to work was crappy. It was so packed it was unbelievable - noisy, smelly, grumpy people snapping at each other and telling each other to piss off, it was one of those many mornings where I wonder why we choose to live in London when it would be much more civilised on Dartmoor where there are only sheep to tell each other to piss off, and they tend to be a bit more friendly than that... One of those mornings when I choose to withdraw and emotionally distance myself from my fellow commuters as they tend to feel quite toxic. (Notice the in cause language of "I choose", and not "they make me" language of being in effect - see it is working!) So the reframe I chose this morning was, "great! Chosing to withdraw inside from the rat race means I have managed to finish one more Taoist story for the book - only 5 more to go!"

Posted @ 09:42:54 on 03 August 2010


Gratitude 13 is for the books in my life. I have written about this before, paying homage to them in the Lychway, but that was one step removed as I was writing about Chessen's love afair with books. Mine has been with me since my first Reading Club meetings with the librarian at Princetown Library. It started with Enid Blyton, the Faraway Tree and the Wishing chair, continued with EB - the Famous Five, and then grew into CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. From there I had some dark years of teenage fiction, which I will fudge over for now, and then from 13 onwards I started on the classical canon - Jane Austin, the Brontes, Dickens, Shakespeare, DH Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and others. At eighteen I explored Modernist writers which is kind of handy now I will be studying them again. At 13 I had also discovered women writers - Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood and I was completely hooked, and remain so to this day.... Give me a good bit of magical realism, or a mystery I can get my teeth into, a dollop of folklore and maybe a ghost or two and I am happy as a pig in the proverbial... Yesterday I read a book calledthe Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse, borrowed from the lovely library, and I couldn't help feeling grateful for having access to this stuff, these different worlds I can step in and out of. Without having read the things I have read, my life would have been less than it has been, flatter, duller; and I would have been a different person.... I am grateful that so much of my upbringing sang the praises of reading and encouraged me in that direction. If I can make one iota of an impression on someone reading one of mine, I will know it was all worthwhile.

Posted @ 09:40:06 on 02 August 2010


Today has been busy, so in haste it is the simple things...

Travelling on buses - I much prefer it to any other, especially around Mill Hill and Totteridge as it is stunningly green

the key lime desert my colleague gave me - it was a lovely surprise (Unconscious Mind - note to you, I do love surprises, so feel free to drop them in whenever you feel like it)

the beautiful London Plain tree that stands just outside my office window - I love the fact I am sitting up amongst the leaves

the Vision Board an interior designer gave me for one of the buildings I am working on - I do so love tactile blocks of colour and squares of carpet and all the pictures...

Simple stuff really. Now I am off to catch another bus, this time to go home.

Posted @ 09:39:17 on 30 July 2010


Today I am grateful for my job, which is quite a thing when it is my "day job" in my head, and not "what I do". I don't define my identity by it. Although I may joke about the fact that I have been in this organisation for 10 years, which is more than some people get for murder, it has at least given me some really amazing life skills and learning over the years. I have really gown up over that time, I have gone from being the actor who said she would only stay another month, right through my Saturn return, and then brought kicking and screaming and dragged by my hair into what and who I am now. Looking back I have really changed, and while some of it was inspired by what was happening outside of work, some of it was most definitely driven by what was happening inside of work. While I may not have chosen to make some of those changes, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see they have been useful at least, and make me a wiser and more grown up person. And the good parts about the job still remain, no matter what else is going on. I do still really like the fact I work in social care, and am therefore contributing to making some people's worlds a better place, and I like the other people who are drawn to this work. They are passionate, and have all been round the block a few times, so they have life experience and wisdom to be found. The rebel in me also enjoys the double take that people do when I tell them I work for a Drug and Alcohol counselling charity. I like the creativity I can apply in setting up new buildings, and the difference I can make by making sure that services get moved to nicer environments (wherever I can) I also like the fact that my property knowledge is also useful to people I care about outside of work too.... Now, back to furniture lists and budgets...

Posted @ 09:36:05 on 29 July 2010


(Posted retrospectively on 29th July) I am very grateful for giving myself a day off yesterday... it was manic, and I am still trying to regain the energy I expended at work yesterday.

Posted @ 09:34:58 on 28 July 2010


Today I am pondering on the diversity of people in my life... and feel very lucky to have access to the people I have around me. I spent Saturday with my friends, exploring spiritual interests and being inspired by our spontaneity and ability to turn a mishap into a thing of beauty and fun. Yesterday I spent time with colleague-friends talking about social care-related stuff, enjoying the passion in the people around me at work and last night I met with one of my writer-friends and we talked books and stories and ideas over tea and cheesecake. Then I went home and talked about religion and culture with E. It feels as if all of the things that interest me are available to me in the people around me at the moment, and with more studying on the horizon, it is just going to get richer. I have always been quite solitary by nature, and my old life was really quite lonely, but these days I am enjoying the interactions with each and every person, and it doesn't have to be great big profound conversations, sometimes it is just chit chat over tea, and sometimes it is examining the very depths of what makes writing and the other creative stuff so satisfying, and what makes life so worth living, to the brim full. Sometimes it is just talking about nail varnish and hair-dos, and sometimes it is just having a nice cuddle at home and a chat. Cuddles are always worth being grateful for! ;o)

Posted @ 09:32:53 on 27 July 2010


Gratitude the eighth - I went to join the library this weekend, and what a revelation. I haven't set foot in one since I had several unfortunate incidents in Plymouth Central library in my late teens... That particular gem seemed to be the favoured hang out place for men more aquainted with Mother Fist and Her Five Young Daughters than any interest in the reading material. It was creepy, disturbing, and not the kind of place I ever wanted to set foot in again... There is nothing like the reflection of a man doing something very personal in his trousers in the microphiche screen to put a girl off going to a place. So imagine my pleasant surprise to find Mill Hill Broadway library had no one wanking behind the book stacks, and quite a nice collection of books and audio books... I managed to persuade E that Jane Austin is a fine way to brush up on the finer points of English, (I shall have him speaking in the dulcet tones of Mr Darcy by the end of the year!) and then I found this little gem, the Fox, by DH Lawrence. Never heard of it, never seen it before, but catch this: She took her gun again and went to look for the fox. For he had lifted his eyes upon her, and his knowing look seemed to have entered her brain. She did not so much think of him: she was possessed by him. She saw his dark, shrewd, unabashed eye looking into her, knowing her. She felt him invisibly master her spirit. She knew the way he lowered his chin as he looked up, she knew his muzzle, the golden brown, and the greyish white. And again she saw him glance over his shoulder at her, half inviting, half contemptuous and cunning. How gorgeous is that?! And I didn't even have to buy the book, I just got to borrow it for free.... I think I am immensely grateful I have rediscovered libraries!

Posted @ 09:29:20 on 26 July 2010


When I started this, I was clear with myself I wasn't going to the more obvious "I am grateful for my husband, friends, family" posts. I know I am grateful for those, and when I start with those ones I invariably run out of people and then get stuck, which is why this time I am attempting to dig beyond the surface and go for things that are deeper and more hidden. This way there is always something to be grateful for, as the deeper you dig, the more treasures you find. This morning, this one is husband related, but it is a specific facet that I am thinking about. Before E arrived from Egypt, he said to me that I would need to make sure he was ok, and feed him, as he had never set foot in a kitchen and didn't really know what to do in there. His family home is a traditional Egyptian one, where everyone lives in the same building - Mother, Aunts, Uncles, children of assorted Aunts and Uncles... Each branch of the familiy has their own self-contained flat, but there is also a separate bigger kitchen on the ground floor that they all share, and invariably most of the cooking is done there and not in each flat separately. The women of the house run the kitchen, and if E has ever tried to go in there, he has always been told to go and sit down as that is not his place, so he didn't know how to cook, as no one had never taught him as this was deemed unecessary. In E's first week, I was cooking him breakfast one morning, and he didn't like the look of how I was doing it, so he decided to take over and show me how it was done in Egypt (as he had at least watched his Mum doing it, and had a pretty clear idea of how she did it.) Rather than be offended, I prefer to keep an open mind and see the results first, so I watched and waited, and I am so glad I did. Something that day must have really given him an itch, because from then on, he decided he wanted to cook. At first he would look recipes up on the internet, and then he started to not need the recipes anymore, as he has enough of an idea to work things out for himself. So somehow, though osmosis, he seems to have learned the ability to cook. This is great for me, as while he is not working and I am, I get home from work, and have these amazing dinners cooked and ready. It has given him something to focus on while he was not working, and he has developed a real passion for it. While this year has brought some huge challenges in element earth on the money side, we have never stopped eating really well. Good healthy food, cooked from scratch. Shortcuts and processed food are an alien concept to E as he believes they are unhealthy (his Mum will never take a shortcut). We always eat together (something my family always did which has been missing from my life over the last decade and I didn't like it) and we always eat well. Of course I know this will change when he does start working, but for now I will enjoy eating like a pharoah.

Posted @ 09:25:18 on 25 July 2010


I wondered if I should give myself the weekend off, but those thoughts are just the thoughts that have helped me to sabotage projects like this in the past. So no, I wont! I am sitting at my kitchen table, voice recorder poised.... I will explain. One of my freelance projects this year has been to do some voice recording. I have been editing a book called "The Sketchbook of Vincentas" which was written by Sara Eldridge, and author who died unpublished. Her friend found her manuscripts and decided to publish them, and I was privaleged enough to get the job editing this and her Journal that she was keeping when she was writing the Sketchbook. If you want to read a sample of it, click here. I really recommend it. Anyhow, following the editing meetings I had with the publisher, they asked me to voice record the book for their website. It is a multi-media site - it has the book, art work by Sara, films and photos made using her techniques, and also my narration to download. It has been quite a journey doing it. I have had to break through all sorts of blockages I gave myself when I was acting - "I can't do accents" - yes you can! "I can't sing in front of people" - oh yes you can.... I am just about to start recording some pick ups and while it is could be the last thing I want to be doing at 8am on a Saturday, I also have to acknowledge, that is not a bad annoyance to have. "Oh darn, I have to voice record!" Duh? Are you kidding me?! Yay! I get to voice record more like. And what's more, I get paid for doing it too, which is something else I never used to be very good at.... Gratitude Number VI - doing freelance work that gives me all sorts of creative opportunities I would never have dreamt of before... and working on projects where the people I am working with (even if they are dead - which is really just a question of technicality, and it is not the first time!) are immensely talented. And getting paid for the privalege.

Posted @ 09:21:42 on 24 July 2010


A struggle with this one. I had the day from hell yesterday, as a number of problems that had been brewing at work all decided to converge on Thursday, then someone fell on the stairs and pulled a ligament. I was there until late, and was unable to resolve all of the problems. The biggest problem was very serious, and completely out of our control. (Of course if I was in full NLP mode I would be asking myself for what purpose did I manifest that?) I saw it coming, and tried to avert it, but to no avail. It is not my fault at all, but being able to say "I told you so" is no fun when it happens. Ouch! What defeatist "effect" language... Crap NLP Master Prac! Added to this I have deadlines coming out of my ears, so I will be working all weekend with little let up. I have voice recording pickups to do for monday and more stories to write. As you may see I have woken up grumpy. I have anxiety butterflies about today and would really rather go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, stay home with my beloved and emerge in a weeks' time. So in other words... a perfect time for another gratitude. Dig deep.... My Garden Before I moved to the tiny flat, I used to dream of having a garden. I lived on an inner city housing estate for seven or eight years. It was ok, but not pretty. There were occassionally gangs of feral teenagers setting fire to cars, and it was a pretty terrible area. A few weeks after I left my local shopkeeper was shot. It was a second floor flat, and it used to overlook all the neighbours gardens. Some days I would hang out of the window and look down on their gardens, and feel really envious. Sometimes I would feel really annoyed if I saw they weren't using them and were letting them get overgrown. My then partner didn't want to move, or try and find a bigger place with a garden, so I thought I was stuck there. Then the Nile flooded, and washed me up here... The tiny flat has a garden. We share it with the two other tiny flats in our part of the building, which is nice, as it means we can sit and drink tea and chat. We have a lovely pear tree at the bottom of the garden, and a shed that has vines growing all over it. In late summer we have lots of Buddlea, and lots of butterflies. I like the fact we have outdoor space, somewhere I can go to right outside the door and feel the grass between my toes. This year is my first try at growing veg, so I have potatos, tomatos, courgettes, lettuce, beetroot, carrots and herbs all growing nicely. I never grew veg before because on Dartmoor we were too high above sea level, and nothing would grow. The courgette flowers are beautiful, and the bees are happy bumbling their way round that and the lavender. It is a no frills garden - scruffy and wild - but I like it.

Posted @ 09:16:07 on 23 July 2010


This morning, I finished another story.... I am currently working on a new project which has been commissioned by a publisher, writing stories for young people that have an embedded philosophical message, mostly from the Tao and other Eastern Philosophies. The project is very long, a lot of hard work, and has a very tight deadline, but I am really enjoying the stretch. This is fantastic for me on many levels. Firstly because it brings in all the best parts of my NLP training, where we use metaphor to get a point across to clients in a coaching setting. If someone has a blockage, it will be occurring at an unconscious level, and the unconscious mind loves stories. All learning and change happens at an unconscious level, which is why however hard you try, you can't force yourself to change, you have to allow it to happen at an unconscious level. Battering yourself over the head with the crap stick won't help you to change, it just gives you a very sore head. Knowing this has helped me to understand why I love reading and creating stories so much, and also to be really clear on why that is of value to other people as well. It also links in with all of the elements of my life's purpose. So gratitudes number 3 goes to creativity and inspiration, and the immense role it plays in my life. All roads lead to it as far as I am concerned, and is the basis of my spiritual life. The act of creating relies on inspiration, which I would literally translate as "the breath of God", and this in turn relies on keeping the "channels" as open as possible, meaning that my happiness in all the other areas in my life enables to me to work with inspiration and my gods to create stuff, and if those channels of communication get blocked up with stuff then I can't be creative. Of course I can also be inspired by sorrow, but happiness works better! In fact, you can more or less be creative with anything life throws at you, it is just a case of learning the ways to tap into this and use it. I very much see this as a work of collaboration, and other writers I know have all given me similar feedback. That when you are in the flow and creating, it is as if someone else is working with you, and I believe this is the case. I choose not to try and examine too closely who or what this might be that works with me on creative things, but instead choose to think of it as "Great Creator". I am grateful that all the hard work I have done in the last decade in terms of training and development and change has given me the tool kit I need to be able to tap into things and use them. My spiritual life, the NLP, Psychic School and also the massive changes I have made in my life over the last two years have all helped me to unblock myself and get a more consistent relationship with flow, and then break through all the blockages one by one that I have lived with all of my adult life. Each one is slowly being chipped away at and clearing the way for more wider changes, and I have to say if I hadn't met Ewis, that wouldn't have happened, or if it had happened, it would have been a much slower and painful process. As a child I used to write stories that completely reflected what I was reading at the time, (which meant I would write stories about four children and a dog drinking lashings of ginger beer), but these days I am better at writing stories that completely reflect what I am living at the time, as well as being able to suspend myself a little more, so I can write independently of what I am living. Of course, this all applies to my beading and soaping as well, but the writing is playing a bigger part at the moment.

Posted @ 09:13:58 on 22 July 2010


I am really grateful for the access I have to nature, and really grateful for having grown up in such a beautiful place. Dartmoor is almost like another relationship in my life, as without it I would be bereft and soulless... My grandfather once told me that Dartmoor get's into your blood, and I have to say he is right. Without it I feel empty and not compeletely myself. Wherever I go in the world, whether I live in London, Egypt or some other country not yet found, without access to Dartmoor I would be only half of myself. My soul lies amongst the heather and the gorse and the willow trees. If truth be told, I really wish I could live there now, but the realistic part of me remembers that when you live there you also need to have a way of earning a living which is self-generated, and a way of getting out regularly too, as it is a bit like living on an island. And you have to be prepared for going back to the mindset where everyone wants to know your business (all the ins and outs of the cat's behind, as they say there) and you can't even open the front door to a boiler engineer in your pyjamas without it being reported back to you by half a dozen people before the end of the day is out. I think if I had a magic wand I would live part of the time on Dartmoor, part of the time in Egypt and part in London. That way I would get the best of all three, and when the worst started to niggle at me, I could just pack up and go to one of the others.... I would also like to be there so I could be closer geographically to my sister and my lovely friends down there. I love it so much in fact, that I must confess I have already bought my little plot of land to be planted in when I have croaked. It lies next to my Mum's grave. This gives me immense peace, because I know that wherever I go, I will end up there eventually (although who knows, by then I might be on the West Bank in Luxor instead!)

Posted @ 09:08:44 on 21 July 2010


I am grateful that I was brought up by a woman who taught me the value of independence and was a shining role model in terms of going up against life, beating the odds, and fighting for the rights of people to be given a second chance in life when they screwed up the first time. She formed my personality, not by forcing or moulding me, but by showing me in a very gentle way that she was very wise and very kind. She said to me once that she hoped no one ever said she was mean or ponky, and to this is aspire!

Posted @ 09:06:57 on 20 July 2010


I realised last week that I haven't posted anything here since April, which is partly because I have been really busy - lots of writing, editing and sound recording, which is all fabulous stuff, but also because this year has been... well, a bit of a bitch. The job hunt is interminably long, and meanwhile E and I are doing fine, but unable to get out and do all the things we want to do because we don't have any money to do them... and I don't mean we are a bit broke, I mean we have been completely broke. So this has all gone in to the life laundry, and get's processed along with all the other stuff... I feel like I have had a spiritual rehabilitation, and part of that has meant I have really had to go back to basics... 101 spiritual life... So I was listening to Marci Shimoff a few weeks ago, her brilliant book "Happy For No Reason" (which I really recommend) - I have my iPod set to shuffle most days as I like the surprise - and it reminded me that gratitude is a really important part of finding happiness day to day, and also in freeing up energy blockages around happiness and element earth. Hey if it helps me stop paddling upstream quite as furiously as I have been doing then I figure it is worth a try... So the homework I am setting myself over the next few weeks is to think of my gratitudes and put my money where my mouth is by recording them here... If I do it in my private journal I know I will flake out after a day or two. When I say gratitudes, I want to look beyond the obvious... yes I am grateful for my happy marriage, my loved ones and the usual guff, but here I want to dig beyond the surface a little. Sometimes it will be a shallow dig, and sometimes it will be the excavation of KV17... who knows. This is just an experiment after all... Gratitudes Number I One day this may become the title of a book (or my friend Lizzie's second play, depending on which one of us gets there first). Thank god for the bearded biker who said no! Roughly translated, this means thank goodness that the tattoo artist I found in Aukland when I was 17 refused my request have my chosen picture tattooed on me, and told me to come up with something more original instead... what was done instead is much better, and has not been the source of a single moment's embarrassment since. Had I gone for the little red devil I asked for, I am sure I would have been humiliated on many an occassion, where as the one I got instead was at least something I would not "grow" out of...

This is harder than it looks... because it is easy to let it feel insincere and cheesy... Push stubborn if that is what you say you are! Why is it so hard for us to feel gratitude, but really easy to moan?

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