33) Hi-di-Hi Campers!!

Simon and I always try to do something different for our birthdays.   Over the years amongst other things, I’ve been whisked away for a romantic break to a luxury hotel, we’ve been on the London Eye and Simon has been a racing driver, etc.  You get the gist.  The whole idea is that our birthdays are memorable events, a special day to mark the beginning of our next year.  So, when friends of mine mentioned a  Psychic & Spiritual Festival that started on my birthday I thought it would be a unique way to enjoy a get-away and experience the work of mediums that I hadn’t seen before.

As the event was being held right by the coast  “Sceptic Simon” agreed to come along, not to attend any workshops or lectures, but to go out and about with his beloved camera taking some landscape shots with his new filters.  So, we were two very happy bunnies, full of excitement looking forward to the weekend.

I rang the venue to ask if there was a program as my friends and I wondered if we had to book any of the workshops, but I was told that no-one knows the events until the day they arrive.  Goodness, I thought, they must be mega organised!  We where aiming to arrive at about 3:30pm and our timing was spot on. We were given the keys to our ‘chalet’ and directions,  but as we walked through the car park my heart began to sink  when I saw the rows and rows of ‘chalets’ – Hi di Hi couldn’t help but come to mind.  Our room was a double …. just …  it was so small, and the bathroom was something out of the ark,  it was what I would call VERY basic!   It was not what I had expected, but then it’s not what you expect that makes life richer!

I was keen to look at the programme and we couldn’t help but laugh when the saw the evening entertainment billed as Scott Paige and his High Octaine Show-Team.  Seriously, I felt like we were in a time warp and we had unknowingly been time travelling back to the mid 60’s!

After the disappointment with our chalet we really didn’t expect much of the food,  but have to say that it exceeded expectations.  The service was great and the food, although plain, was well cooked and we certainly weren’t going to be starving. We were given a table number and had to sit at the same table for the whole time.  We were sat opposite two women, Julie and her aunt Sylvia.  Julie was a florist by trade, with a very dry sense of humour and a houseful of assorted rescued pets with rather strange names.  Sylvia had a very fast mind, was great company and relayed some very amusing spiritually based stories. They were both real characters with great personalities and we felt we were so lucky to sit opposite them.

The first evening there was a medley of mediums demonstrating until 10pm.  I hadn’t heard of them before, but I gather they are quite well-known.  I must say that the evidence that was brought through by Philip Solomon was amazing.  He was giving people not just names and memorable dates but addresses as well.  I can’t say I agreed with everything he said about his beliefs on spiritual matters, but he did say that we all have our own views and that we must respect that.  I was really pleased because even Sceptic Simon was marginally impressed, and that is quite something!

Simon toddled off on the first morning to go and take some pics and I stayed with my friend Annette as we were working out which lectures or workshops to attend.  The problem seemed to be that there were never enough chairs in the rooms and they kept moving who was working where, which is quite confusing when there are about five hundred people all trying to find their way about.  I wasn’t too worried about missing any of the workshops as I hadn’t heard of the tutors before, but one person I particularly wanted to see was Jay Love.

I had met Jay several years before, when as students at the Arthur Findlay College in Stanstead we had discussed our spiritual development.  So many of our experiences had been shared it was quite uncanny.  He struck me then as a real down to earth kind of chap.  He was a gentle soul with kind eyes and had a wicked sense of humour.  He didn’t take himself too seriously, although it was obvious how much he respected spirit.  I had never forgotten him and a few months ago had found him on the internet and we had been in contact via Facebook, where I had learnt that his development had led him to physical mediumship and he was now able to bring through spirit using transfiguration.

For those who don’t know about this form of mediumship, it is when the medium goes into trance and spirits communicate and also temporarily materialise, usually over the mediums face, by utilising a form of energy that it is believed the medium manufactures within themselves.  It is rare to be able to see this first hand.

I had desperately wanted to see Jay demonstrate his physical mediumship, but as we arrived at the designated room we were told we would need to bring our own chairs and bluntly told by the lady on the door that she would be locking the door in one minute.  This didn’t give us enough time to go and get the chairs so we ended up in another room seeing a lecture about ghost pictures!

Most of  Saturday I saw various people do various things, nothing that I found totally astounding,  it was ok, but I was deeply disappointed not to have seen Jay.  Having said all that though there was certainly a good mixture of differing disciplines for you to take a look at, everything from pure spiritual communication to paranormal investigation to tarot, to sand box readings.  The choice was quite amazing.

In the late afternoon Annette and I found ourselves at a bit of a loose end and, almost by accident, found ourselves in a lecture about animal communication, which we weren’t planning to attend.  As we walked in there were two pictures on a board.  One was a very nice looking cat and the other looked  like my old dog Sam.  I even said to Annette “goodness, that looks just like Sam”.  We sat down and began listening and much to my surprise the lady, who was actually a medium, explained that she had only just drawn the pictures and these two animals wanted to communicate with their owners.  It wasn’t at all what I had expected.  Several people tried to accept information about the cat, who was a tabby called Tigger, but eventually the information given narrowed it down to one particular lady in the audience and she was given the picture.

Then the medium, Raye Edwina Brown, started to talk about the dog.  She said that his name was Sam!  My hand shot up immediately.  She explained that in his old age his back legs had given way and he had to be put to sleep, but that this happened at home.  That was exactly what had happened to Sam.  She said it was literally only a few days before he died that this had started, which was true, as Sam’s back legs gave out on a Friday and I called the vet on Monday as he couldn’t stand up.  She even gave the date of the year he was born.  I was so chuffed.  He sent me his love and told me that he was pleased that I had so much freedom in my life now.  I was called to the front to collect my picture.  I waited until everyone had left and went over to thank Raye and she took a photo of me with the picture of Sam and said she is going to put it in her magazine!

This had made my weekend, I didn’t really expect very much more.  I had loved Sam so much and felt so lucky that he had come through.  I had given communication from animals to people in readings in the past and had seen their delight, and now I knew exactly how they felt.

The evening was not so good.  To me, the mediums were more interested in being entertainers than mediums and I did feel on a few occasions that they were not respectful to either the spirits or the audience.  I watched three of them and decided I would rather go back to the cold chalet than sit and watch anymore.  I was so annoyed that it was typical that Simon was there, and this did nothing to improve his belief in anything spiritual!

On Sunday I had already decided that I wanted to go home.  I was cold, uncomfortable, fed up with all the last-minute changes and to be honest the mediumship the night before had really made me question so much that I felt quite unsettled.  I did though want to have the opportunity to see Jay give a demonstration and on the program it stated that he would be in the Lounge giving a mental mediumship and spirit guides talk at 11:30am, so I thought we’d go home after that.  Annette and I were heading for the lounge when I saw Jay walking away from there, I stopped him and asked where his lecture was going to be.  He told me it was going to be in the Games Room and that there should be enough chairs.  So, we headed off there, found Jay, but again no chairs! Annette went out and found some patio chairs to sit on and we sat expecting a mental mediumship talk.  We were so lucky as Jay was planning to give another demonstration of his transfiguration gifts.  The whole experience was nothing short of phenomenal.  Jay gave a really good talk beforehand, quite thought-provoking, and then his trance guide arrived and introduced himself.  He was nothing at all like Jay, although he did share a sense of humour.  The transfiguration was just mind-blowing.  Grown men and women were obviously emotional at  communicating with their loved ones in spirit and being able to see their faces materialise over Jay’s face.  What an amazing gift he has!

We left just after lunch and were home in the light, turned the heating up and enjoyed sitting on a comfy sofa!

Annette told me that the last night had been the best evening and it had been a shame I had missed it.  Jay had demonstrated his mediumship abilities and she said his evidence was brilliant.  An Irish medium, Sharon Neill, had given evidence that a member of the audience had waited over fifty years to hear and Annette said everyone in the audience had felt extremely emotional. She told me that Sharon had then finished by singing The Power of Love which she said was sung beautifully. It did seem like I missed out, but then I was needed by a friend first thing this morning, so I was pleased I was at home and able to help her.

It was an interesting weekend with mega highs and too many lows. Am I pleased I went?  Yes. Sam coming through and Jay’s demonstration were the highlights of my weekend.  Two fantastic experiences that I know I will never forget.  Just such a shame that it hadn’t been a little more comfortable and a little more organised!

.

32) Legal Beagles

English: Public court room in Independence Hall

We all think we are right!  It’s so true. We all think we are right because we see everything from our perspective.  It is how we are.  We often find great difficulty in looking at a situation from someone elses point of view.  It is very challenging to try to put yourself in someone elses shoes, to look at the world the way they see it. I feel it is impossible, even no matter how hard we try, to truly appreciate what someone is going through, to actually feel their joy, their pain, their concerns. And yet, even though we can never completely understand what it is  like to be someone else, we somehow feel we have the right to judge them.

Many of us make judgements about people’s physical appearance.  We make comments about their  choice of clothes, hairstyle, weight etc.   Even if we don’t verbalise what we are thinking, most of us do still think it.  How many times have you seen someone and within a millisecond a thought rushes through your head about how that person looks?  It is a habit that is so easy to get into. Even worse we think we know how to dress them better than themselves!  How can we always be so sure?  I might never ever in a million years wear a pink leather mini-skirt with high heels and wear bright red lipstick – but who says that I am right?  My choice in clothes most probably looks as dull as dishwater to someone else.

Have you met a friend’s partner and immediately made a snap judgement about them?  Just a look, just one word, or the way they dress can be enough for your brain to warp into judgement mode.  Even the way someone speaks, their accent,  can lead us to make sweeping judgements that could be totally wrong!

Our magazines and newspapers are full of judgements about people in the public eye.  Reporters judge everything about people: their lives, their love lives,  finances, children,  homes, even their political views.  Unfortunately it is rarely objective, and usually biased to entice more readers to read all the latest gossip, no matter if the ‘victim’ is a pop singer, a politician or a member of the royal family.  All appear to be fair game.  Even countries are attacked in the press, their cultures, their traditions, their politics.  It is felt that we are able to judge anyone/any country  who/that does not do as we think they should, who does not comply with what we consider is normal or correct.

I enjoy listening to lively debates on the radio and it surprises me how often I change my mind as I carry on listening to different views.  To begin with I am sure that Mr ‘A’ is making perfect sense, then Mr ‘B’ will chip in with his remarks and I start thinking, well, actually that really does make sense, then listening to Mr ‘A’ respond, I am once again seeing and appreciating his point of view.  From listening to so many over the years I have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult to tell the right viewpoint from the wrong one.  Even to the point where I wonder at times if there always is a right or a wrong one! It all depends from which angle you are looking at it.  As an onlooker it can be almost impossible to make a decision of who is right, but if you are personally involved then it becomes even more difficult to be objective.

My husband had to complete jury service recently.  Although he couldn’t discuss the case with me, I knew he was finding it very difficult to make a judgement about the ‘accused’.  Some days he would come home and feel he had totally understood what had happened and would appear relaxed. On other days he would come home obviously agitated after further evidence had been submitted into court which threw a spanner in the works, and suddenly the case didn’t appear as black and white as it had a couple of days before.  In the final days of the trial it was evident that Simon was really struggling.  He is a fair-minded man and was so concerned that he would come to the wrong conclusion, that because of his judgement an innocent man may spend time in prison.  Then he would be worried that if he judged the man innocent, and he was actually guilty, that he would be walking free in society, and what could be the possible consequences of that.    After much debate the jury found the accused guilty and Simon said he was so pleased when his previous convictions were read out and he had carried out similar crimes several times before.  He felt that they had come to the right decision.  His relief when it was all over was amazing.  The experience had really brought home the massive responsibility that there is in making judgements. Goodness knows how I’d ever cope if I had to sit on a jury!!

I do wonder what makes someone decide to commit a crime.  I have no idea of the mindset or thought process that you would go through to plan to take part in something criminal.  I avoid arguments and conflict as much as possible but it has crossed my mind whether someone decides to be abusive to someone else, either physically or verbally, or if it just happens, almost beyond their  control.  I do however know that I am extremely fortunate that I am not them, but somehow I used to think I had the right to judge them, not that I would normally tell others what I was thinking, but in my head I would be making judgements.  What right did I possibly have to do that?

I was sitting quietly one day, thinking about what is right and what is wrong, when I received the following words from one of my writing guides.

Look kindly on your fellow-man

Do not judge too harshly

For where he walks you too may tread

And understand his pathway

Just a few lines, but I feel it is a such powerful  message.  I have  had these words run through my mind so many many times over the years.  When I catch myself making a judgement about someone, suddenly I’ll hear the words “Look kindly on your fellow-man, do not judge too harshly ….” I immediately try to consider where that person is in their life and always ask myself “Who am I to judge?”  I cannot possibly imagine what made them make their choices about their lifestyle, their behaviour.  I have not shared in their life and come to their conclusions. I try to accept others as they are, accept they have their own opinions and have their own roads to follow.

Of course I’m not talking about our formal legal systems, these have to be in place, and we accept that our society chooses people to make legal judgements.  That is totally different to the judgements we all make that I am talking about here.

It  also made me think about the soul choices we make we enter this incarnation.  We can’t all choose to be kind and thoughtful or we would not be able to learn what is right and what is wrong, how to behave with care and generosity towards others.  How tough it must be to live your life as one of those people who are always on the wrong side of our man-made laws. How tough to wake up in the morning and know in your heart that you have been cruel or mean.  We can’t all be the same, we are all unique in almost every way and I say thank goodness for that.  In our diversity we have literally hundreds of thousands of choices throughout our lives, and who should ever judge us for them?  Only ourselves.  My guides know that we are not saints, that we have our human foibles, that we will most likely always make judgements, I feel it is a rare person who never does.  But, if you do find yourself judging, please just think of the words I received, and try not to be too harsh!

31) Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Eye Examination

Although I was used to being aware of spirits around me since I was extremely young, sometimes even catching a glimpse of  ‘someone’ or ‘something’, that was usually in my peripheral vision, it wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I had more of an understanding that there was far more to spiritual communication that just feeling them around me.  In a very short time I seemed to go through a massive awakening of what I would eventually call my spiritual vision.

It all happened around the same time that I had met one of my spiritual guides, Minyon, in my first ever spiritual meditation.  That in itself was a massive change in my thought patterns.  Suddenly I wasn’t thinking that I may be accompanied on my life’s journey by spirit, I absolutely knew that I was. At the same time as meeting Minyon, I also had the first experience of actually asking spirit to come forward and give me evidence from a loved one that I could pass on to a total stranger.  This too had happened, and so easily, that again, my beliefs had no alternative but to change.  I had gone from believing that spirits could communicate when they had passed from this life into a spirit form, to totally and utterly knowing that they could.  I was overwhelmed by the strength of the communication and the difference it had made to my perception of the physical, material world in which we live.

I felt as if I had been asking and asking for real proof of spirit for years. Not anything that be could be a possible coincidence or a lucky guess, but absolute unequivocable proof and I had received it, with the added bonus of meeting Minyon.

I could see him as plain as day in my meditation, and almost felt a bit silly explaining to the circle that he was a native American, I thought they might think I was some kind of nutter. The great thing for me at that time was that I had read very little of anything spiritual and had no pre-conceived ideas of what a spiritual guide may look like.  The only guide  I had ever really heard of was my Mum’s guide, Topsy, who Mum had told me was a gypsy, so I was more than surprised to see that Minyon was a native American!

We had two large greenhouses in our garden at the time.  I was working away pricking out seedlings and placing them in their interim homes, ready for growing on.  I had the radio playing, happily singing along, immersed in my thoughts of plans for the summer garden.  I was always at my happiest working with plants with my hands  in the soil.  My Dad had always grown as much as he could from seeds or cuttings and I have the most fantastic memories of sunny spring days with my sister Tina and I helping him on his allotment. We would spend hours deciding what was to be grown and then the day would arrive when it was time to sow.  I was so excited knowing that our work would result in the most delicious fruit and vegetables for the whole family, never mind most of the neighbours too! I  had always been in awe of the wonder of nature, how a tiny weeny seed could become a magnificent flower, or a towering tree or something as juicy as a melon.  I was always fascinated by the way they just decided to grow, to put out roots in the soil and with a little water and tender care, they would blossom.

On this particular day the sun was low in the sky and was shining directly into the greenhouse.  I was about the pull the roof blinds over a little when I noticed something very odd.  There was a row of tall trees about thirty feet away from where I was and  there appeared to be a wide border of golden light surrounding each of them.  To begin with I felt sure that it was a ripple in the glass of the greenhouse, but even if I moved around it was still there.  Then I thought it was the low sun which was causing some sort of light refraction, but when I walked out of the greenhouse I realised the sun wasn’t on the trees at all.  I stood for a while gazing up at them and the border became wider and wider until there was no separation between the trees.  It was like a see through bubble of a shiny beautiful golden light.  I had never seen anything like it before.  As I turned around back towards the main garden I realised that I could see this border around all the plants!  Some of them had a much brighter colour than others, some had what seemed to be a slight pinkyness around them too.  I was fascinated.  The more I looked the more I could see it.  I finished my work in the greenhouse and walked back to the house, all the while looking at all the plants, trees and shrubs along the way.  Now this does sound strange, but it was almost as if they were smiling at me.

The following day I woke up and was seriously quite shocked to see that the left half of my bedroom was bathed in a pink light.  I thought that I must have something wrong with my eyes.  I covered my right eye but could still see the half and half bedroom, then I covered my left eye, it was still the same.  I got out of bed and went and looked in the mirror in case my eyes were bloodshot.  They looked perfectly normal.  This half and half lasted for only a couple of minutes and then the room went back to normal.  I was beginning to really think that I must have something wrong with my sight.  The rest of the day everything looked perfectly standard and I thought it must just be one of those strange things that seemed to be happening to me.

The next morning was even stranger.  I woke up and saw that the bedroom ceiling was pink.  It was normally white, and so I looked around the room to see if anything could be causing a reflection.  Nothing seemed to be able to do that.  I kept looking at the ceiling.  I stood up and looked up at it, I laid on the bed and looked.  No matter what I did it was still pink. I was really getting concerned now and made an appointment to go and see an optician.  In all my life I had never experienced anything like it and I was worried that something was seriously wrong with either my brain or my eyes.

I had to wait a few days to go to the appointment and in that time I kept seeing odd glows of pink and also started seeing what I can only describe as small bubbles of blue lights moving across the room.  They would appear from nowhere and then just disappear as fast as they had arrived.  I wondered if they were ‘floaters’ which is a physical problem with your eyes.  I was nervous of being checked over, but also had a sense of relief thinking that they would definitely find something wrong and that it would be fixable.  I explained the problem to the optician and she looked rather bemused.  She said she had never heard of anything like it, but she would reserve judgement until she had carried out a full examination.  After going through all the different steps of the eye test she told me she could find absolutely nothing wrong with my eyes at all, she gave me a ‘crazy lady’ kind of look as I left.  I was perplexed to say the least.

Over the next couple of months I saw lights all over the place, sometimes just one or two, often several.  I was almost getting used to waking up to find the room was a different colour from when I had gone to bed. I had to assume that it was part of my spiritual development. Laughingly I imagined a team of spiritual decorators working through the night with magical paints that only lasted a few hours!

I went on a mediumship development course at the Arthur Findlay College in Stansted, and met a fellow student, Jay, who was a real character.  He had a warm and bubbly personality and was so easy to talk to. I wasn’t in the same class as him but had heard on the grapevine that he was a brilliant medium. We were walking around the garden chatting when he started to tell me about the odd vision problems he had been having.  They were exactly the same as mine! It was just wonderful finding someone who had been through the same.  He had also gone to the opticians and the doctors and they could find nothing wrong.  He also felt he was at the beginning of his more intensive development with spirit.  It really seemed far too much of a coincidence.

I hadn’t really spoken to anyone about these odd visual experiences.  I was already thought of as rather peculiar by my family and friends and certainly didn’t want to add fuel to the fire, but having spoken to Jay I felt I must find out more.  I had begun to meet some wonderful spiritually aware people through the home groups I had started attending and felt safe when talking to them about the many unusual occurrences at that time.  They explained that what I was seeing were auras and that all life forms have them.  They are an extension of our life force, and the colour of them can indicate how well, how happy, how concerned etc we are.  I was amazed that I was able to see them, and so easily too.  I was also told that the bubbles of light were most probably a physical manifestation of spiritual energy.

Now when I am aware that spirit is around I often see the small bubbles of blue floating past me.  I feel that it is confirmation for me that they are around.  I am used to seeing the beautiful golden lights around any kind of plant form and consider that it is a blessing to be able to see their life energy.  I am often shown colours when I am working spiritually and have seen colours radiate from healers hands.  Sadly though, the spiritual decorators haven’t been around for a while …. it seems that it’s down to me now if I want to re-decorate!

30) You’ve Got a Friend

You've Got a Friend

How many times in your life have you felt utterly alone? Felt there was no-one who was there was for you? Felt that no-one could understand what you were going through?

Sometimes the very fact that you put a brave face on it, no matter the tough times you are going through, can actually back-fire because everyone thinks that everything in your life is fine.  Or, maybe people think that you are one of those lucky few who can cope admirably with anything that is thrown at them.  Could it be that maybe your pride is getting in the way of being honest and you prefer people to think that you are ‘strong’ ?

How difficult it can be to be able to reach out when you desperately need a friend.

After I left Devon and moved to Hampshire with my twin sister, Tina, and her family, I was in a very odd ‘friend free’ zone for the first time in my life.   After 26 years I had finally plucked up the courage to end my marriage and within a matter of weeks  many of my friends were doing exactly the same! It was as if a cosmic switch had come on somewhere and we all decided that enough was enough.  My friends are scattered throughout England, and very strangely, all were going through their own very similar difficult and often traumatic times.  After they had separated from their husbands they had all stayed in the same towns, so at least they had their local friends around them for support, but due to my ex’s threatening behaviour I decided it was better (and I felt safer) moving far away.

Friends that I had been in regular contact with for years were busy dealing with their own problems and I felt that I couldn’t bother them with my own worries at that time. Tina and her husband, Woody, had adopted six learning disabled children, whose ages ranged from two to fifteen, so they too were pretty busy,  sorting out the often complicated special educational and medical needs that the children required in a new area.  It was extremely rare for me to get more than a minute or so alone with Tina for a chat, there was always someone who needed her.

Tina and Woody had rented a very large old house so that the children could each have their own bedrooms and fortuitously  it had a two bedroom annexe that was perfect for me.  Although it was not as grand as the main house, it too had large rooms, all decorated in a very gaudy colours by the previous tenant.  The carpets alone were enough to give you a headache.  The main lounge was fluorescent yellow, the second bedroom, vibrant lime green and my bedroom was bubble gum pink!

Although I had not one jot of regret for the decision I had made, and knew I was fortunate to have a roof over my head, I suddenly found myself in an alien environment.  My ex-home was hundreds of miles away, I had none of my treasured possessions around me, none of the comforts of my previous life.    I didn’t have one stick of furniture so went to the local D.I.Y. store and bought the last two fold up garden chairs they had as it was the end of the summer season.  They were vibrant yellow and green so almost ‘matched’ the carpet in the lounge and as a bonus they came with cushions, which looked far more comfortable than they really were as I soon found out when I sat on one when I got home.  I had never sat on such lumpy cushions.  I also bought a table lamp and a small table, so that I could have somewhere to put my coffee, and a small radio so that I could at least have some music to keep me company. I had virtually no money, no income and most of my clothes were still at my old house, so not much at all.  My sister had loaned me a single bed and bedding which looked lost in the massive bedroom.

I remember one evening sitting on one of my lumpy cushioned chairs looking out over the garden which was a tangled mess of laurels and holly trees at the time.  I remember feeling so terribly lost.  I knew that all the legalities involved in both the divorce and the selling and splitting of assets from my marriage were obviously not going to happen overnight.  I felt I was in limbo and  as if I didn’t belong anywhere, like I had no roots.  I don’t think I’d realised how much I had relied on the roots of my life, the roots that come with familiarity of where you live, the friends you see, who you are with, what you are doing everyday.

It is often at times like these when we have to learn to become super resilient, super self-reliant, it is almost as if the universe conspires to put us in a place where we have no option but to dig deep, to delve into our soul’s reserves and find the strength from within ourselves to overcome our fears and concerns.

The realisation of my uncertain future really hit me that night.  I concluded that I could look at my life in two opposing ways.  I could think how dreadful it was, sitting alone in this cold quiet emptiness that was devoid of anything that meant anything at all to me, or try to look at my new circumstances as a blank canvas, ready for the new adventures of my life to be captured in bright cheerful warm colours.

I was so fortunate in that I felt that I could call on spirit, my guides, my helpers, my loved ones who had passed, and asked them  if they could come close. I had a need to know that I did at least, still have my spiritual roots to build on.

As I was sitting there, deep in thought, thinking of  my spirit friends, the sun was setting and the most beautiful deep pink and golden rays of the sunset came streaming through my window.  I felt my spirits lift, and my immediate thought was that old saying, ‘red sky at night, shepherds delight’ and felt a smile from within.

I shook myself out of my melancholy moment and put on the radio. Of all the songs that could have been playing  I heard James Taylor singing one of my favourites.  I had no doubt that spirit had played a part in my putting the radio on at that exact time, the choice of the music, and the station I was tuned to.   I felt my heart fill with love and comfort as I knew I had received a spiritual hug. Whenever I feel alone now, when I start to miss those that I loved so dearly, I think of that magic moment and the enormous effort that I am sure my family and friends spirit-side put into getting that message to me so clearly.  I know that all I have to do is close my eyes, think of them, and they will be here, right beside me.

Written and performed by Carole King, but actually made famous by James Taylor, “You’ve got a friend”.

You’ve Got a Friend

When you’re down and troubled
and you need a helping hand
and nothing, ooh, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you have to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah
You’ve got a friend.

If the sky above you
should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
and soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name,
and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you go to do is call
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah

Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They’ll hurt you and desert you.
Well they’ll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don’t you let them.

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Oh babe, don’t you know that,
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
Hey now, all you’ve got to do is call.
Lord, I’ll be there, yes I will.
You’ve got a friend.
You’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
You’ve got a friend

29) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Smiley Face

How easy it is to be a moaning Minnie.   I’m sure we all know someone (or ….. gulp, even ourselves sometimes) who get into moaning mode all too easily.

When I look back, which is far easier than looking forward, I know there have been times in my life when someone has asked ” How are you?” and it’s been all too easy to forget all the positives in my life and have a good old moan.  I honestly believe that there’s nothing wrong with that occasionally, we all go through difficult, challenging, heartbreaking times when I think we should not chastise ourselves for moaning, especially to our closest friends who are trying to help us, but it’s the habit of moaning that I’m writing about today.

I used to have a Father-in-law who could have moaned for England.  Seriously if there was a gold medal in moaning he would have been on the podium each and every day.  No matter what you did or what you said, he’d find something to moan about.  When we were first married we went to visit him in our old car, he complained that we were obviously not working hard enough and should be ashamed at driving an old banger.  A couple of years later we drove up to see him and we had a new car.  I couldn’t believe it when he started moaning that it was obviously alright for us, swanning around like we were above everyone else because we had a new car!  We just couldn’t win.

His wife, my ex-Mother-in-law, was also a pretty good moaner. She was staying with us for a while (too long!) and I remember asking her if she had any preference for lunch, whether she would like a hot cooked meal, or a light cold lunch.  She said she didn’t mind.  I even asked her if she was sure and she said yes, anything would be fine.  I was immensely busy at work so prepared a salad with some homemade bread.  She scowled as I put the meal on the table.  “I would have preferred a hot meal”  she moaned.  I can honestly say that in the twenty-six years I knew her, it was a very rare event that she made a happy, upbeat or positive comment about anything. They were obviously well matched.  In fact, thinking about, I can’t think of one instance where she was genuinely pleased with her lot.  How very sad.

I believe that this personality trait actually ages you.  When I first met my ex in-laws, when I was in my early twenties, I assumed that they had been old parents when my ex-husband was born.  Their whole house felt grey and dowdy.  Wrongly, I presumed that they were ancient, which to me at the time was anyone past sixty (how our perspective changes as we head toward the higher ‘tens’ ourselves).  In reality they were exactly the same age as my parents, and had in fact been extremely young parents.  You just would never have believed it had you met them.  The difference between them and my parents was that mine had the wonderful knack of finding the humour in everything, including themselves, they never took life too seriously.  Their houses were always colourful and full of life – they were not what I would call ‘grey’ people!

Dad had nicknames for everyone, my sister was Prunella Pimple Face and I was Fish Face Charlie – we never knew why – we just were!  He had a wonderful sense of timing where humour was concerned, saying just the right word at the right time.  Very dry and extremely observant, he did catch a few people off guard at times, which made it all the funnier! He went through some incredibly traumatic times in his life, both during his childhood, during his time in the war and in latter years, due to his health.  Amazingly though, through everything, my Dad always found something positive to say about every event in his life.

He had to undergo life threatening surgery when I was in my early teens.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove one of his lungs.  This was in the late 1960’s and the medical treatments at that time weren’t as advanced as they are now, so it was very dangerous surgery at the time.  Dad had undergone a routine medical for the organisation he worked for and much to his horror a large shadow on his lung showed up on his chest X-ray.  He was taken into Harefield hospital and underwent an exploratory operation and they confirmed to Mum that he had lung cancer.  They gave her the choice whether to operate and possibly prolong his life by a matter of months, or to just leave it and let nature take it’s course.  Mum, after much consideration and heart searching, chose the operation.  Thank God she did, as when they operated they found that Dad didn’t have lung cancer after all.  He had an unusual form of tuberculosis in a cyst in his lung.  He was in hospital for quite a long time on a large ward. Everyone commented on how he was such a lively spirit and how he lifted the atmosphere.  Within a couple of days of the surgery he was cracking jokes, mainly about himself, and had everyone in stitches (pardon the pun).  I remember the sister on the ward saying that she would miss him so much when he went home because he had made their lives so much more enjoyable and how his warmth and humour had affected everyone so positively.  I was so proud of my Dad.

Mum too had difficult times but without fail she always managed to find something positive to say.  She used to quote Thumper from the film Bambi – “if you can’t say something nice don’t say nothin’ at all” , which is dreadfully difficult to adhere to at times (see above!), but she really did try to live by this, apart from when she and Dad were arguing, and then all their rules went out the window!

When Mum was busy working, more than full-time at times, she and Dad agreed to employ “a lady who does”, in other words, a cleaner.  I think it was Dad’s way of avoiding helping with the housework!  They employed a woman who left notes for Mum every time she left the house.  She complained that the vacuum cleaner wasn’t working properly, or that the polish Mum used wasn’t the right one, or that the broom wasn’t good enough, the house was too hot, the house was too cold etc.  The list was endless.  Dad called her “Mrs Moan-a-lot”, not to her face of course, but within the family.  The awful problem was that the name stuck and we could never remember her real name, which was embarrassing at times!

Mum and Dad had real highs and lows financially throughout their marriage.  Usually the highs where when they were both working for large companies and the lows were sometimes when Dad would start a new business and things didn’t always go so well.  They both took every opportunity they were ever given, even emigrating to Chicago in their mid-forties.  They sold their house and gave away everything they owned and off they went with huge smiles to start their new life.  Try as they could, they both hated living there!  They came back a year later and in that short time the property market had gone wild in England.  Neither of them had employment and their money, having been exchanged into dollars and back again, was nowhere near enough to buy a house again.  They moved into a bed sit and looked upon it as an adventure, both of them optimistic that something would ‘turn up’.

Much to everyone’s amazement, but no surprise to them, a large flat came up for rent in the town they both loved, Twickenham.  They had enough to put down the deposit and moved in to the two top floors of a large Victorian house.  Within a short time they both managed to find work they enjoyed within a short distance of their new home.  Two years later the landlord offered to rent them the ground floor flat as well and they jumped at it.  He was fine about them restoring the two flats back into one very beautiful large house.  Another year on and the landlord suddenly needed to liquidate his assets and offered Mum and Dad the whole house at a crazily low knock down price.  Of course they couldn’t refuse.  They bought the house, did a little work on it, and sold it six months later for a massive profit, putting them in a stronger position than when they had gone to America.  Mum took great delight in telling everyone that she had known everything would be alright.  Through all the ups and downs I never once heard them complain.  Dad used to say it was better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.  Mum being more of a romantic would quote, “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.  Looking back I realise how amazingly lucky I was to have such a pair of positive optimistic parents, which at the time I suppose I assumed everyone had.

Strangely I feel like my journey through life has always shown me two sides of everything.  I do believe that my parents were a couple of old souls, who made light of their problems and put a positive spin on their difficulties and challenges.  I wonder if my ex-in laws were younger souls.  In reality, they had very little to complain about it, but moaned about inconsequential things most of the time. My ex-in laws were pessimists about everything and saw life as a dull routine to be gotten through, whereas my parents were invariably optimistic and saw life as exciting  and enlightening.  How fortunate I was to have chosen them. I can appreciate why I feel that life is full of lessons because that is exactly what Mum and Dad taught me, and importantly, they taught me to ignore the dull routine and always look on the bright side of life!

28) Great Expectations

English: New Year fireworks at the London Eye

Will your world change after midnight?

Every New Year’s Eve there is a global feeling of anticipation that changes are afoot.  No matter where you are, who you are with or what you are doing, it is almost impossible to miss the  dawning of the new year.  All around the world there are massive celebrations, huge displays of fireworks, parties arranged and a feeling of camaraderie that only exists for maybe even just a few minutes either side of midnight.  If you are in a large city or even at a local event, complete strangers may well hug and kiss and you and wish you a happy new year.

And then, the morning arrives, and all is back to normal.  What happened to the optimism of the night before? Where has the camaraderie gone?  Is there any perceivable change in your life from yesterday?

No other species on our planet celebrates New Year.  I’ve never seen sheep dancing in a field at midnight! So why do we feel the need to make such a big deal out of a change of year in our calendars? Is it that we have an intrinsic need to focus on the possibility of change for good?  Is it that we are dissatisfied with our lives and want a better future?  Why is there such a negative spin in our news through most of the year, and maybe just a glimmer of positivity on New Year’s Eve?  Why do we look forward to the New Year rather than spend time celebrating the year we have just had?    How many people will look back at the year that is coming to a close and be thankful for the experiences they have enjoyed, the spiritual advances they have made, the new friendships formed, the new lives that have begun, the understanding and compassion that has been shown to them, or they have  shown to others? It always feels to me that it’s all about looking forward to the new and getting rid of the past.  What a shame.

I just read a wonderful blog written by a woman who has been making huge changes to her life.  About accepting that she didn’t have to be superwoman after all, that she can feel free to follow her dreams. I felt that this arrived in my inbox at just the right time to be included in this end of year posting.  She importantly mentioned the notion of ‘having it all’ and as I commented on her post, I thought long and hard about that well used phrase. Why can’t we have it all, I wondered?  But, most importantly, we first have to qualify what having it all truly means to each of us individually. It will be different for each and every one of us.  None of us have to adhere to the classic examples portrayed in the media, to the general consensus, to society’s view of what this phrase means.  No, we can take it and shape it to suit us.

My interpretation of  having it all had to change drastically when I became chronically ill, when my life had no option but to become smaller.  Suddenly, having it all had to alter to fit in with my physical capabilities.  My expectations had to change. It took a long time to adjust, but now I can say I truly feel fulfilled,  feel loved, respected and accepted.  I am true to my beliefs,  to my spiritual goals,  to my souls desires.  That to me is having it all.  I don’t try to be something I’m not and hope that I don’t expect that of others. My days of trying to be superwoman are long gone!

Instead of only focussing on what the New Year may bring to our lives,  just on New Year’s Eve, why not think of every new day as the dawning of a new year.  Feel the optimism and the camaraderie with others throughout the year. Consider what we, those we love and those who are in need, really require, and try to work towards that.  When we go to sleep at night remember to thank spirit for the positives we can take from the day and ask what our expectations and intentions should be for tomorrow.  Look at our lives and learn from our experiences. Feel if we have managed, in our own way,  to have it all, even just for that one day. Sense if we have inspired others and if we have been at all instrumental in them finding fulfilment in their lives.

Many people spend much time in thought and then make long lists of resolutions for the new year.  Maybe they find that the list will motivate them to bring about change in their lives.  Maybe their resolution list is in fact more of a wish list. How many of us have written this list and targeted massive changes that are due to take place from 1st January only to give up within a matter of days or even a couple of weeks?  The resolutions soon become forgotten.

So, for this change of year, as the clock passes midnight, and 2011 becomes 2012, I am not going to make a resolution.  I am instead going to make a promise to spirit.  I will promise to treat each day as a new dawn knowing it has the spiritual potential for the greatest of expectations.

Blogger Awards!!!

I was amazed and delighted to receive the Kreativ Blogger award from ‘Among Ghosts’ AND the Versatile Blogger award from ‘Life as I know it …”!!!  They feel like a belated Christmas pressies – how wonderful!

I gather that I now have to nominate other bloggers to receive these prestigious awards – so not only am I the grateful receiver, I am a judge too – lol!

So, here is my list and I do hope you will take the time to take a look at these blogs.  I enjoy them all for many different reasons.  Not all of them follow my own beliefs to the letter, but then that is what makes life interesting!

Six blogs for the Kreativ Blogger Award: 15 blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award:

http://www.crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com/

http://www.happinessforall.wordpress.com/

http://www.askamedium.wordpress.com/

http://www.anyonething.wordpress.com/

http://www.oldereyes.wordpress.com/

http://www.whisperingwordsofwisdom.wordpress.com/

http://www.siannaphey.wordpress.com/

http://www.jamesdez.wordpress.com/

http://www.showard76.wordpress.com/

http://www.lifewithhiccups.wordpress.com/

http://www.growingupweirdmedium.wordpress.com/

http://www.dark2light.wordpress.com/

http://www.delajus2.wordpress.com/

http://www.complexmuse.wordpress.com/

http://www.prairiewisdom.wordpress.com/

Also, part of receiving these awards, is that I have to share 7 things about myself for the Versatile Blogger Award and 10 things that not everyone would know about me for the Kreativ Blogger Award….. hmmm … tricky or what?

Ok, here goes:

1) I’m a ‘cougar’ – lol – I don’t feel like one but I gather I am as my husband is 13 years younger than me!

2) Strangely, my Mother-in-law is the same age as my ex-husband … isn’t life odd?

3) My body is one age (too old for my liking), my heart is years younger – see above!

4) I adore animals and if I won the lottery I would love to set up an animal sanctuary.

5) My favourite flower is a rose – I have masses of them in my garden, all repeat flowering with lots of delicious scents and many beautiful colours

6) My favourite smell in the whole wide world is freshly cut lawn

7)I love music and always have music playing – I dance too (but that’s not for the faint hearted)

Readers for the Versatile Blogger Award should stop reading now, for the Kreativ Blogger Award you are ‘allowed’ to read on!

8) I have a very deep singing voice – I sound like Rod Stewart or Alison Moyet

9) I don’t like my legs so I always wear trousers or very long skirts

10) I have a wicked sense of humour

Now all I have to do is work out how to send this information to all the above mentioned bloggers!  It took me over an hour to sort the award pictures, and I haven’t yet read up how to pop them on my blog yet …. but I can do that later!

Thanks once again to ‘Life as I know it…’ and ‘Among Ghosts’, I love both your blogs and look forward everyday to see what fresh insights will drop into my inbox.

27) Making New Memories

Mince Pie

Mum always made certain that even though she had three children she would make  time for each of us individually.  These times weren’t necessarily important dates or special occasions, just time we all had alone with Mum whilst we did everyday things.

Mum and I always used to make the mince pies for Christmas whilst the rest of the family would be in the lounge watching television.  In those days we would always wear a pinny when we were cooking.  I don’t know why really, because these days not many people ever do.  When we put our pinnys on it was almost a sign that we meant business, we were undertaking important and valuable work and we were set apart from the rest of the family in their civvies.

It was during these Christmas baking times that we would often chat about Mum’s life as a young woman, where she lived, what she did, who she shared her life with.  She had the most wonderful knack of talking about how life affected her when she was the same age as us.  It bought to life, in our minds, her history.  When I was growing up I always seemed to think of Mum and Dad’s childhood in black and white, like an old movie.  I always thought that their clothes would have been scratchy for some reason.  Strange what goes through children’s minds.

Mum had a difficult childhood, bought up by her Dad and a variety of Aunts, until her Dad married when she was nine years old.  She adored her Dad more than anyone in the world and would often become tearful when she talked about the wonderful Christmas’s she shared with him.  He had died before I was born, and she never really managed to overcome her grief.  I found that very hard to understand as a child, especially as I had never met him, so he didn’t seem real to me, even though Mum told me so much about him.  It was as if she was describing an old film she’d seen.

Something though that Mum said, that has always stuck in my mind, was that she always felt it was important to make new memories.  Not to erase the old ones, but to add to our itinerary of memories, to make our own histories. That seemed strange when I was a young girl, but as I’ve grown older I do understand what she meant by that.

We all have times in our lives that our thoughts go back to, especially at Christmas.  Times we wish with all our hearts that could be repeated right now. People that have passed through our lives who we miss and wish that we could be with once again. In Mum’s case it was definitely time that she spent with her Dad.  She would have given the world to spend even just a few moments with him once more.

I cherish the memory of my Dad singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve the last Christmas he was alive. We were at a very grand party and the local choir were singing traditional carols.  We were in a huge elegant room with a grand piano and we were sat on the type of furniture you normally only see in stately homes.  The type where the ropes are around them to stop the public touching it!  It really wouldn’t have mattered where we were, my memory is of my Dad’s twinkling blue eyes, his warm smile and his deep rich voice.  I was so very proud of him. I would give anything to be back at that party with my Dad.

I cherish the memory of Mum and I cooking Christmas dinner, drinking too much sherry, and laughing and giggling like a couple of teenagers whilst we jived around the kitchen to ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’.

I cherish the memory of my daughter rushing into my bedroom first thing in the morning, so excited to tell me that Father Christmas had been, with her arms full of presents that she wanted to open on my bed.

I cherish the memory of Ray, my brother, playing his guitar, making up his own silly verses to Christmas Carols, whilst drinking his favourite brandy and coke.  ‘Merry Crimbo’ he used to say.

I cherish the memory of my twin sister, Tina and I, waking up to find chocolate santas lined up around our beds and beautiful party dresses, one made for each of us, hanging on our wardrobe door.

So many memories of wonderful Christmas’s, but now, as they say, those days are gone.  It’s tough.  I know it always will be. If I could just snap my fingers and be back there just once more …………..

Now, I have new memories to make.  Memories where in the future I’ll look back and long for these days.  Where I’ll wish with all my heart to be able to share these times once more. That’s the Christmas I’m going to have with the people who are in my life right now, the people I share these special times with, the people I hold dear and love and cherish.  This Christmas will be part of my history.

26) A Nudge from a Kindred Spirit

English: Instow from Appledore quay.

Occasionally through your life-time you may be fortunate enough to meet a person with whom you immediately feel an enormous connection.  I don’t necessarily mean a romantic love type of connection, but something maybe even deeper, more spiritual or soulful.  There is an instant bond between you that belies the actual length of time you have known them in this physical existence.  It is difficult to explain the overwhelming affection, fondness and sense of pure freedom you feel when you are with them.  The freedom when you know, totally, that you are accepted and loved for who you are, not how they perceive you to be, or how you may usually portray yourself, but just exactly as you.  It is a strange feeling of being stripped bare.  You know that this person knows you to an extent that very few ever will.

I felt so blessed to have met my very dear friend Janet.  We met at a creative writing class in Bideford, North Devon.  From the moment I saw her I recognised her, but not in the way she looked, more in the way she just ‘was’.  There was a familiarity that I had never really felt with anyone apart from my own family.  It was wonderful and odd all at the same time.  After the first class she asked me if I would like to join her for a coffee.  I didn’t hesitate, it was as if I needed to know more about her.  Not just a passing inquisitiveness, it was almost a pull from the depth of me, I felt I had found someone who I knew would play a uniquely special role in my life.

We couldn’t stop talking and before we knew it several hours has passed.  We both expressed how from the very first moment we met we  felt we had known each other forever.  Janet said that she felt I was her daughter or her sister in a previous lifetime and I could completely understand what she was saying.  The thought that she was my Mother resonated more with me, although at the time I still had my own wonderful Mum alive and well and living with me!  My heart felt the same emotion of attachment that I felt for my Mum, but in an even deeper sense, which on the face of it was crazy as I had only known Janet since that morning.

Our friendship grew and we enjoyed our times together so much.  We never ran out of anything to say.  We would have times full of laughter and sunshine and times of intense conversations about anything and everything.  The honesty between us was extraordinary.  The trust was implicit.  I had never known a relationship like it.

Very strangely, when we compared notes, we had lived within a few miles of each other several times during this life time.  This would have been odd if we had always lived in the same town, but both of us had lived in several counties over the years.  When we met we were both living in North Devon, she was in Bideford and I was living in a small village a few miles away. Amazingly though, years earlier, when I had lived in one property in Exeter, the view from my kitchen window was actually Janet’s house! We both felt that it was far too much of a coincidence and that we were destined to meet.

We would often go for a coffee at a quaint pub, The Boathouse,  overlooking the sandy beach at Instow in North Devon.  It is a small village off the tourist route with the most glorious sand dunes and views across the estuary to Appledore, a  picturesque Devon village with pastel coloured cottages dotted along the waterfront.  We would sit in the window of the pub and watch the sun cast its shadows over the green hills behind Appledore and watch the sail boats wafting by.  We would sit and discuss our spiritual experiences, our thoughts and our understanding of the greater picture of life.   She was totally convinced that we had shared many lifetimes before and that was why the bond between us was so strong, and the more I got to know her, the more I tended to agree.  Our experiences and our perceptions on life were far too similar.

After our coffee we’d normally go for a walk out to the water’s edge, and then wander along the seafront back to the car park.    Janet never once complained about my limited ability as I was not able to walk too far, but with rests on benches along the way I still managed to enjoy our walks.  She was very slim and what I would call ‘super fit’.  A keen surfer and swimmer, she had joined the local gym when she had moved to Bideford, and thought nothing of going surfing for a few hours then back to the gym to do even more exercise for a couple more hours.   Her idea of heaven was to go on a hiking holiday around the islands of Greece or in the highlands of Scotland.

One cold day in mid February, we had enjoyed a warming cuppa at The Boathouse, and having wrapped ourselves up in scarves, hats and thick gloves, we started walking out towards the sea. In a very short time Janet became unusually tired, she suddenly looked extremely pale.  She told me she thought she might be coming down with a virus and so we turned around and headed back to the car.  I drove her home and was concerned because she really didn’t look at all well.  I asked her to go to the doctor and she reluctantly agreed.  I went home and felt uneasy all afternoon.  Just before dinner Janet rang me, and I was so relieved to hear her voice, but I was shocked by what she told me.  She was in hospital.  The doctor had checked her heart and it was so slow he had called an ambulance immediately.  Janet explained that the consultant she had seen had told her that she would be having a pacemaker fitted the next day.  I was stunned by the news, but so pleased she was in the right place.

The following evening I went to visit her in the hospital and she was sitting on her bed looking happy and healthy.  Her colour was back to normal and she said she felt great.  She was laughing and telling me she had new rules to follow now that she had an electronic addition.  She said she couldn’t go through a security scanner in an airport, couldn’t stand next to a microwave and also that she would have to have the pacemaker removed if she wanted to be cremated when she died. Within a couple of days she was home and you would have never known she’s had anything wrong with her.

We resumed our walks on the beach and Janet carried on with her swimming and her gym workouts.  The only deference to her surgery was to give up the surfing until it was warmer.  The hospital was delighted with her  progress and she didn’t appear in the slightest bit concerned about having a pacemaker.  She was excited as she had just booked a hiking holiday with her brother.  They were going to Greece in later summer and were going to walk several miles along the coastline over the course of a few weeks.  She had thoroughly investigated the whole walk they were to undertake and was especially thrilled that it would culminate with a world-class opera performance in an open air amphitheatre.

I was at home in early March when I received a very distraught phone call from Janet.  She was at the hospital for a routine post-procedure check up to ensure that the wires of the pacemaker were in the correct place.  Part of the appointment was a chest X-ray.  She was told to sit and wait whilst the consultant checked her results and had been quite happy waiting as she was an avid reader and had taken a good book along with her.  She was obviously distressed when she rang and asked if I could go straight to her home to meet her when she returned from the hospital.  She said she didn’t want to talk about it from the hospital phone.

As soon as I saw her I just knew she was dreadfully worried.  She told me that the consultant had called her across to his desk and told her quite bluntly that he was seriously concerned with her X-ray and had made a further appointment with a chest specialist for the following morning as he felt something was majorly wrong.  With that unexpected news she was just given an appointment card and had been left on her own, absolutely bewildered.  She asked me if I would go with her the next day and of course I said I would.

We arrived at the chest department and were told to wait in a huge and very full waiting room.  Janet, who was normally such a confident and positive person, looked so nervous.  I prayed that the wait wouldn’t be too long.  She had already spent the whole night worrying about what may be wrong and said she had hardly slept, which wasn’t at all surprising.

Within just a few minutes we were called into the consultants office.  He had Janet’s chest X-Rays on a large illuminated board on the wall.  He was much kinder than the doctor she had seen the day before and very gently explained to her that both her lungs showed metastasis. He explained that she must have a primary tumour somewhere in her body and that the cancer had already spread to her lungs.    He told her that even if they found the primary site the secondary cancer had already spread too much for them to cure her.  It was a massive bombshell.  Janet  sat quietly, hardly uttering a word, visibly shaking,  with a look of fear I had never seen before.  He also said that even though he could offer chemotherapy it may only give her a few extra weeks and that the quality of her life would be reduced because of the treatment.  She immediately said that she wouldn’t take that option. He went on to explain that if she was fortunate she may have three months left to live, but he couldn’t guarantee that.  I felt utterly useless, there was nothing I could say or do to help her other than just being there.

With the words of the consultant still fresh in her mind it was evident that Janet was a crushed soul, I had to support her physically as we walked back to the car. I drove to a little pub overlooking the sea and we sat outside in the fresh air away from everyone.  For the first time since I’d known her she sat drinking brandy after brandy.  She was shaking so much she could hardly hold her glass,  all I could do was hold her hand and tell her that  I would be there for her.  We were both in a huge state of shock. It felt unreal. It was such a dreadful sad day.  I sat looking at my darling friend, such a beautiful person.  I was desperately trying to keep my own emotions in check, but failing miserably.  We hung on to each other, just sobbing and sobbing.  I couldn’t bear the thought of the pain and heartache that she faced and I couldn’t believe that my wonderful Janet was going to be leaving me. We had only known each just over two years and yet we truly were kindred spirits.

Over the next couple of months we spent an enormous amount of time together.  Janet’s appetite began to fade and the weight was falling off her already slender frame.  Braeburn apples became her favourite food and every time I visited she would ask that I bought her some.  I had never heard of them before, but it was so nice to see her enjoy eating, even if it was just fruit.  Her eyes gradually became sunken and her breathing laboured. We were fortunate to enjoy an unseasonably warm spring that year and spent much of the time sitting in her garden overlooking the countryside, watching the young lambs playing in the fields.  In her last weeks we discussed the afterlife and who would be meeting her, where she would be in the future and when we might meet again.  Just days before she passed to spirit she unexpectedly gave me a present, a book, The Alchemist, written by Paul Coelho.   She told me it was important that I read it.  I took it home, put it on the bookshelf and promised myself I would read it in the near future.

Janet’s brother and her two sons were visiting her over the weekend and I phoned her on Saturday, but could get no reply so had left her a message.  I had a prior engagement that evening and it wasn’t until the following morning that I checked my answer phone.  There was a beautiful message from Janet, spoken in short phrases between her gasps for breath.  She told me that she was sorry she’d missed my call but that she’d had a good day and that we would talk soon.  She also told me that she loved me. I rang her straight away and her brother answered the phone.  He was obviously upset and told me that Janet had died only a short while before I rang.  He said she had suffered a heart attack and that it was almost instant, and most importantly that she had not been in dreadful pain.  I put the phone down and just cried for hours, my heart-felt it had been ripped apart.  Even though I knew she was terminally ill, and I honestly thought I was prepared for her death, when it came to it I was not at all.  I had somehow convinced myself that she would still be around.  How could someone as vibrant and intelligent and funny and loving as Janet suddenly just not exist anymore?  How cruel. Life made no sense to me at that time. I felt lost without her.

Many years later I had a friend, Trudie, staying with me. Trudie  was a very good medium and worked as a communicator for spirit both privately and within the spiritualist church, often demonstrating her mediumship at services.  She walked into my bedroom one morning and just said “A woman is telling me braeburn apples and her name is Janet, does that mean anything to you?”  I was absolutely delighted because I hadn’t heard from Janet since she had passed to the spirit world.  “Yes”, I said, “it makes perfect sense.”  “Well”, said Trudie, “she is telling me that just before she died, the two of you were sitting in her garden in the sunshine”, “Yes” I replied, “and she is telling me that she gave you a present, a book”.  I was astounded at the accuracy of Trudie’s reading and confirmed what she was saying. “She is telling me that she told you it was important that you read the book, is that right?” she asked, “yes” I said, “I remember that well”, “She is telling me that you still haven’t read it and that it is even more important that you read it now”.  Wow, I thought, this was incredible. I spoke my thoughts aloud, knowing that Janet could hear me.  “I promise I will read it” I said.  She told Trudie to give me her love and then just went.  It was the shortness of the message that also spoke volumes to me because that is exactly how Janet would have said something she considered important when she was alive.

The next day, after Trudie left, I found the book and started reading.  I couldn’t put it down. I could see why Janet had been so insistent that I read it.  The book was wonderful and inspired me to look at where I was on my spiritual pathway, which spiritual teachers had been placed in my life, and most importantly, to recognise my destiny and  follow my dreams.

I was aware of Janet as I continued to read it, I could sense her approval, and see her twinkling eyes and her wonderful smile.  Due to personal circumstances in my life I had been ‘away’ from anything spiritual for a long while.   Her contact had come along at just the right time. I was sure the message was a huge nudge to get back on my rightful path,  as if she was saying “about time too, come on, get on with it!”.  I know Janet ‘s spirit is with me and that she is supporting me towards living my dream and pursuing my pathway.  Most importantly our friendship and our love lives on, we will always be kindred spirits.

http://www.paulocoelho.com

25) Am I who I think I am?

If you’d have read my previous blogs you will know that I am an identical twin.  I am positive that I chose this for this lifetime to ensure that I could learn several lessons that I could only experience as one half of an identical pair.

It’s very strange to think that my twin sister and I started out as one egg and one sperm and at some early time in our development, after the egg and sperm had fused, we chose to split in two!  How odd is that?  Theoretically then we should be totally identical, but if you know any identical twins you will know that there are differences, both physically and personality wise.  However, often the physical differences don’t show so much until you are a little older.  Mum told me that on many occasions when we were very small babies she did wonder whether she was confused about which one of us was which.  She said we were absolutely identical and that she would ask Dad and sometimes even our brother Ray as well, to see who they thought we were!

Mum said she was actually quite pleased when I fell out of my high chair when I was about 18 months old because I then had a small scar on my forehead.  She said she’d often check my forehead to see if I was me or Tina!

Relatives always became confused with us.  I don’t think some of my aunts and uncles ever really knew which twin I was.  It was sheer fluke that they would call me by the right name.  I could almost see the relief of their face when I replied to them.  It was like ‘phew, she didn’t realise I didn’t know who she was’, but it was a look I had learnt to recognise from a very early age.

As we grew up we knew that teachers could never tell us apart, hence, as I said in an earlier blog, we would both be disciplined if one of us was naughty – purely because they could never work out who had been naughty and who hadn’t.  It wasn’t too bad when we were little but when we first went to senior school it became pretty annoying.  There were several occasions when teachers would bundle Tina and I together in a sentence, for instance ‘the twins have not completed their homework’    I would be infuriated, as I had completed mine and given it in on time, and would often stand up in class and state that I was an individual, much to the amusement of both the teachers and classmates.

One of the other big problems that Tina and I shared was when we joined a new school.  I remember distinctly the first day at our senior school.  Nobody knew anyone else in the class and gradually over the course of the day it was obvious that people were becoming friends.  The problem with being a twin is that everyone seems to think that you already have your friend and so you don’t need any others. The teacher hadn’t helped by putting us together at adjoining desks.  It was like we were a self-contained unit.  I have spoken to other twins and they all had the same experiences when they joined anything too.  It’s the same even when you are a grown up.  Although I enjoy going along to a new club or church with a friend, I actually prefer to go alone, as nerve-wracking as I find it,  because you tend to meet more people when you are on your own.  People can see you don’t know anyone and come over and introduce themselves, whereas if you have a friend with you they tend to leave the two of you alone.

I do consider that even though I loved so much about being a twin, I also desperately wanted to be accepted as an individual.  Most ‘singletons’ take their individualism for granted, they are just themselves, and they know that there is no-one exactly the same as them in the whole world.   I know that sometimes people will say that someone is just like their brother or you can tell that they are sisters, but generally they have been born at least a year apart and so have not been in the same nursery, classroom or after-school clubs together.  I found it was a tricky balancing act because whilst I adored the company of my twin, and we shared the same choices in so many things, I did still want to be me, and not always just be seen as one of the twins.

When you are in a school with a strict uniform code it is very difficult to show that you are an individual.  What didn’t help was that Mum cut our hair for years, and although I loved her very much, she was no hairdresser.  We had the type of haircuts which I gather are called the pudding bowl cut, which meant it was chopped to the same length all the way round.  Mum thought a fringe would suit us, but again, not being a hairdresser, she was not a natural stylist.  She would always cut our fringes crooked, and the more she tried to straighten them, the shorter they’d become until we both had tufts instead of fringes.  One thing I certainly wasn’t was stylish!

In my early teens an astigmatism in my left eye became more apparent and in a funny way it was a blessing, because at last people could see a real difference between Tina and I.  I was the one with the wonky eyes.  My left eye had a mind of its own and I could tell that people didn’t know which eye to look in when they talked to me.  I can’t remember minding  that at all, but when I started suffering from double vision then we knew we had to do something about it.  I was sent off to the local hospital every Wednesday afternoon for eye exercises.  It was basically a gym for my eye muscles. I’m not joking!  Two cards would be placed on a stand either side of me, one with a seal and one with a ball and I had to try to use my eye muscles to put the ball on the seals nose, another one was a cage on one card and a lion on the other.  I had to try to put the lion in the cage.  Very strange really.  When I was fourteen it was decided that my muscles just wouldn’t do what I was telling them so I had an operation to straighten my eyes.  It was fantastic as I had no more double vision, but the downside was that Tina and I were back to looking the same again!

We had always shared a bedroom until our brother left home and it was then agreed that we would take it in turns each having the bigger bedroom for a month and then the smaller bedroom for a month.  The problem was that having always slept in the same bedroom it felt so strange to sleep on our own.  Without any knowledge at all, one of us, or often both of us, would go into the other bedroom during the night.  Mum would often come to wake us in the morning and find that we were either in the same bed or that we had swapped rooms in the middle of the night.  Even at that age Mum would have problems telling us apart and very often would call us by the wrong name!

In our final senior school year it was obvious that my sister and I had different strengths and weaknesses where our studies were concerned.  I would always have to work very hard to try to remember anything, whereas Tina could just read something once and remember it straight away.  I would spend hours and hours working on a piece of homework, Tina would just spend about twenty minutes and complete the work brilliantly.  Strangely enough though over all our school years we worked out that our average marks for every subject was actually less than 1% different. Quite amazing.

The problem though was that our school also based its class position on behaviour and attendance.  I was far quieter than my twin and would never consider not attending classes.  Tina would skip anything she didn’t feel was essential, which normally would have been fine, but she hated physical education and couldn’t see the point in attending classes for netball or hockey, so used to go and sit in the art room with her friends when the classes were running. On the other hand, although I was no great athlete, I always turned up for the P.E. classes and tried my best.  When we received our last reports from the school my average mark was the same as Tina’s, which on the face of it appeared fine, but when we went through the marks for each subject and the reports the teachers had written it became clear that our P.E. teacher had us completed confused.  I received a D and a damming report, Tina received a B+ and a ‘well done for trying’ remark. Talk about unfair!

I am sure that my experiences growing up as a twin, being obviously different from most others and also  having to fight for my individuality, were lessons to help me to learn that it’s ok to be who you truly are, and that no matter what your birth circumstances, you can still carve out your own niche.  Having my spiritual awareness and beliefs has put me apart from people most of my life, but it is only in the last fifteen years or so that I have felt bold enough not to just accept those differences but to embrace and celebrate them.  I learnt that I do not have to justify why I am who I am, which is how I had felt through so much of my growing up.  I am just me, Tisha  ……. but, I do sometimes still wonder …… was it me or Tina who fell out of that high chair?

24) Darn those Flu Heroes

I had wanted to sit down last week and write my blog, but instead I was shivering, aching all over,wrapped up in bed with boxes of tissues and cough mixture by my side, with the smell of menthol, camphor and eucalyptus wafting

"Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases - As ...

around the room from my ‘breathe easy’ vapour plug. My lips were sore and cracked, my nose looked like an impression of Rudolph and my hair was a mess.

Simon had come home with a nasty sore throat a couple of weeks ago and then spent the weekend feeling lousy with a bit of a temperature, the usual sneezing, coughing, shivering type of thing.  He had said earlier in the week that a couple of people at work weren’t well and he felt they should have stayed at home, but they were too stubborn to give in.

When the Monday arrived Simon was no better and decided to stay home. For him to actually accept that he is not well enough for work is quite something, so I knew he was feeling very unwell.  He is not one of those men who has ‘man flu’, quite the reverse, he rarely, if ever, complains about anything.  Amazingly I was still ok at this point and was able to look after him for a change. He is an absolute saint putting up with all of my ailments, and for once I was able to help him.  After a few more days it was obvious that the bug, virus, flu, cold, or whatever it was, was not going away in a hurry and had gone to his chest, so he popped along to the docs where they confirmed that his chest was ‘crackly’ and put him on a course of antibiotics.

Within a few days I was beginning to have the same symptoms as Simon and took myself back to bed and started taking the usual over-the-counter remedies.  The problem with me, with my array of auto-immune diseases, is that once something like this takes a hold it is very difficult to shrug it off.  Frustratingly I had no option but to do virtually nothing and just rest, rest, rest.  If anyone has a virus for a week I tend to get it for at least a month.  Great, as we are at the beginning of December and I have Christmas to organise!

What I find so infuriating is that it only takes a couple of people to drag themselves into work sneezing, coughing and spluttering over everyone for a week or so before everyone around them becomes ill.  The worse thing is that they seem to think they are some kind of super-heroes.  The type who sit at their desks obviously not well, but think that they are either too important to have a few days off or they will be letting people down and so carry on, nicely spreading their germs.

So I would just like to say this to any so-called Flu Heroes: please ….STAY AT HOME!

Now,  hopefully I am well on the recovery road, and I can start with my blog again.  I wasn’t able to stick to my blog a day promise, and I doubt if I’ll ever catch up on that, but it was obviously just not meant to be.  What I did manage to do though, through my illness fog, was to read some really enlightening books, which I just know, had I not been ill, would still be sat on a shelf gathering dust.  I also found some beautiful meditative music on u-tube which I could put by the bed and drift away to, again something I know I should do far more often, but life always seems to get in the way.

So, although I am still cross about the stupid flu-heroes, looking on the positives, I have managed to catch up on some great reading, meditated at least once a day, and I have completed ALL my Christmas shopping on-line.  It wasn’t a total waste of ten days after all!

23) Learning to say yes!

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All too often we hear the phrase “it’s just so tough learning to say no”.  Granted, it is one of the hardest lessons to learn, but what we often overlook is the other, and in my mind, equally difficult lesson, which is learning to say yes.  Not a tentative maybe, or not now, or possibly, but a positive, resounding, unequivocal, confident, yes!

How many times in our lives do we really want to try a new experience, but something in us makes us hold back?  Often it might be fear of failure, or, and this can be true also – it might actually be fear of succeeding.  We can all stay in the same place, in the same town, with the same friends or in the same job.  Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong in any of that, but it is a dreadful shame if you choose not to move or change your employment or the people in your life, because you are afraid of success!  Afraid of change. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  But look around you and see how many people you know who prefer to live a ‘safe’ life doing what they have always done, going where they have always been, eating what they have always eaten.  Then, they say that their life is dull or that they feel they missed opportunities. There are lots of them about.

I was on a wonderful week-long spiritual course run by Accolade Academy of psychic and mediumstic studies, in Margam, Wales.  Two of our course tutors, Debbie and Paul Rees, welcomed us all to the week with an uplifting and inspiring talk.  The students were split into two groups and I was with Debbie.  She asked us what we all hoped to achieve in the week and most of the responses were fairly standard for this type of course:  to strengthen our links with spirit, to learn to distinguish between our thoughts and those of spirit, and the answer that came up again and again,  to feel confident in our demonstration of spiritual communication.  She told us that the week was ours, it was only us who could push ourselves to the limit, it was only us who could choose how much to move ourselves forward.  It was only through practise, practise and more practise that we would feel confident. She rightly said that she couldn’t do the work for us, she could only facilitate our choices. She said it would be so sad if we went home wishing we had tried harder, wishing we had taken risks.  She said it was the perfect environment to test your skills, without fear of failure.

When she had finished talking she asked who of us, right there and then, would like to stand up and actually give a demonstration of our mediumship. I put my hand up. I was so surprised, because when I looked around I was the only one!  Hadn’t anyone else taken on board what she said? Someone always has to go first, but why was it me?  Was everyone else afraid of saying yes?

When you work with spirit you have to be able to say yes to them.  It would be all too easy to ignore them and just carry on with your earthly life.  But, the moment you say yes, they are very definitely there with you.  They know that you have acknowledged them and that you are willing to work with them. The very first time you tell someone that you have a spirit with you who wants to communicate, you have said yes, you will assist them.

The first time you do anything in your life you have in effect said yes.  Even at the very beginning of your life you are actually saying, yes, you will try eating solid foods. Imagine if you had said no, you would still only be drinking milk! When we are young and learning all about the world we say yes without even thinking about it. We say yes when new people come into our lives in the playground and want to be our friend. Yes, I will learn to skip, yes, I will learn to paint, yes, I will try peanut butter in my sandwich.  It’s all so easy when you are young.  Then as a teenager you say yes, you will listen to a new band, yes, you will try five-inch heels (if you’re a girl), yes, you will try a new hairstyle.  You get the gist of what I’m trying to say here.  But, there seems to come a time, when you have run out of yeses, maybe when you have become comfortable and settled and suddenly the yeses have become no’s.

I do wonder if children are more aware of spirit because of their open minds, because of their ease in saying yes to a new experience.  As we become older our awareness tends to shut down, but then so too does our ability to say yes. We seem to lose the zest for trying new things and I wonder why.  I did read a few years ago that people say that as they get older time appears to speed up and when they look back at when they were a child the days always seemed longer, time seemed slower. There is a thought that the reason for this is that everything takes on more importance when it feels new or when you are learning. If you look back over even the past month of your life can you say it went slowly or quickly? If you just carried on with your normal daily routines the chances are the month whizzed by, but had you started a new project or learnt a new skill, or went somewhere new, you might find that looking back, each day actually mattered, even the hours that you were involved with a new experience would seem far longer in your memory.

When I moved to Hampshire just over seven years ago, I didn’t know a soul apart from my sister and her husband.  Not being well made it difficult for me to get out and about and meet new people.  After several weeks of sitting watching tv with my sister and her family in the evenings, a friend suggested that I try internet dating.  My first instinct was to say no, but after much thought I decided why not and  joined a reputable site.  After several dates with the wrong men and two definitely wrong marriage proposals later, I was at the point of cancelling my membership.  However, one auspicious evening I decided to be quite forward and take at look at the men on the site instead of waiting for them to contact me.  One profile stood out from all the rest.  It wasn’t the usual ‘I love red wine and romantic moonlit walks by the beach’ type that I had read at least a hundred times.  This one had no photo and the profile was cheeky and funny and it was obvious the man didn’t take himself too seriously. I decided to send him a wink!  The next day he emailed me and introduced himself as Simon. What was amazing was that I had no idea where he lived when I had sent him the wink, but he lived only a five-minute drive away!  We got on really well and talked online for a while before I gave him my phone number.  After chatting on the phone he asked me out and I said yes.  When I met him he was absolutely great.  Simon and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in March and he is still great!

Not all decisions have to be so life changing or mind-blowing. When I met Simon he offered me a chilli crisp.  Now I had never eaten a chilli in my life and must admit my first thought was a resounding no. I had tried a prawn curry years ago and absolutely hated it and thought all ‘hot’ food would taste the same,  but then I thought, why not, I only have to try one.  Much to my surprise I loved it.  Since we have been together I have learnt several new recipes that include chillies and can’t imagine not having them now. In fact my beef chilli has become a firm family favourite and has been requested, again, for the family get together on boxing day!

When someone asks you to try something, anything, that is new or different, why not just say, without a moment’s hesitation, yes.  How many wonderful experiences pass us by because we hesitate, and then, in an instant, the moment is gone, sometimes never to be repeated? Yes?

22) It’s good to share!

I obviously thought for this life-time I would choose not to be born alone and would instead have the fairly unique experience of being a twin.  When I was born there were far fewer twins than are born today, largely due to the fertility drugs that are available now, and so it was more unusual.  In all the schools we attended there was Monoamniotic-Monochorionic twinsonly ever  one other set of identical twins!

I wonder if my twin and I, in our soul existence, were in on the plan together, or whether having made the decision, separately, the higher powers decided who we would be conceived with.  It will be very interesting to find out one day. There are so many different facets to being a twin that one blog would be far too long, so for this posting I am just going to write about one aspect of twin-ship, if there is such a word!

Having shared my Mum’s womb for the nine months before my birth, I can actually say that I am a born sharer, as is my twin sister.

From my very first memories, I had no choice but to share.  Obviously we had to share the love of our parents and brother, but more of that in another blog sometime.  My identical twin sister, Tina and I, were born in the period after the war when, for most, including our family, money was still very tight.  For the first few months of our lives we had to share a cot and a pram, and it was only when we grew too large that we had our own.

Most  twins were always dressed the same in those days, but, unless it was for a special occasion,  Mum and Dad just couldn’t afford to buy two of everything, so we often had to wear  the very odd clothes that Mum made from old clothes that family or friends donated.  I remember Mum showing us a revolting pair of trousers that a rather large friend  had given her and thinking how utterly horrible the pattern was, a blend of browns and blues, totally yuk in my eyes.  The next thing we knew was that Mum had transformed the trousers into a couple of skirts for us – she was so delighted that she had managed to make two identical skirts, we weren’t – they were awful!  We used to sit for hours holding old jumpers whilst Mum would be undoing the wool and rolling it into a ball which she  would then use to knit us misshapen jumpers and cardigans.  She always said the next ones would be better, but they very rarely were.  I often wonder what we would have worn if Mum hadn’t been such a dab hand at sewing and knitting.  Damn that treadle sewing machine she was given!

At  school we had to wear a uniform, so we did look the same.  We were always put in the same class and strangely treated like one person.  It was quite bizarre.  If one of us did something wrong they would tell us both off – we would be in trouble. One teacher actually admitted to my Mum that they couldn’t tell us apart so that’s why she would discipline both of us – we both thought it was jolly unfair.

In the ballet school production of The Nut Cracker, we were both chosen to be butterflies, in the junior school Christmas play, we were chosen to be angels, in the school choir we were always given the same pieces to sing.  I think that everyone felt that we had to be treated the same, that there could be no distinction between us. There was also no favouritism.  Whatever I had, my twin sister had, and visa-versa, and what we couldn’t have individually, we shared.

Mum and Dad actually managed to save quite a lot of money by having us twins. Instead of having to buy two of many things, they just bought one, and we had to share.  We had one pram, which we would take in turns pushing round the garden, one tricycle, which again, we would take in turns riding, one scooter, one pair of roller skates.  Looking back I suppose that was a bit odd, but it felt normal because it was all we had ever known.

Christmas and birthdays were the same.  My brother would get his own presents, which he could use or play with, all by himself.   Tina and I  would often receive one present between us and we’d open it together and play with it together.  Our Nan always bought us joint presents, but, what we loved, was that she would also buy a dress for each of us for Christmas, always the same style, but maybe in a different colour – wow!

We even shared our baths until we were about ten years old, again, I thought nothing of it.  Dad was a frugal soul and wouldn’t for one minute have considered running two baths for us. We shared our bedroom, our clothes, our toys  and our books.  It was easy, we just took it in turns.  It never seemed a problem to me.  It didn’t bother me one jot.

There were very few differences between Tina and I.  At school our results tended to be neck and neck, our skills were normally at the same level.  However, when we were about eleven we went along to Richmond Ice Rink to learn to skate.  We were both put in the beginners class but Tina had her eye on another class where they were practising their spinning skills.  The teacher told Tina it normally took months until a student could get to that class.  Well by the end of the class Tina was in the spinning group – she was a natural-born skater – whilst I on the other hand never ever got the hang of it and spent the next three years of Saturday mornings hanging onto the edge of the rink or falling over.  Because Tina was such a good skater Mum and Dad bought her all the proper skating kit including her own white skates.  As I was such a klutz on the ice no investment was made in my kit at all and I had to make do with the dreadfully uncomfortable brown hire skates.  My ankles were so weak I even had to wear calipers that were attached to the skates – I looked a real treat!

Well, as I said, Tina had these beautiful white leather skates.  One winter it was particularly cold and we had the worst snow and ice for years.  I was  delighted when Tina suggested we could go out skating on the road and we could share her boots.  Imagine it, twins of about twelve, each with one skating boot on, what a pair of total nitwits, but we went out and had so much fun that day.  She thought nothing of sharing her wonderful boots with me.  Funny thing is I don’t think it even crossed our minds to take it in turns to wear a pair at a time – we were enjoying ourselves too much – how very odd we must have been!

On our seventeenth birthday Mum and Dad bought us a car between us. It was an ancient Ford Popular, 27 years old.  We called her Poppy .. how very predictable!   ‘She’ was green with white leather seats.  Sounds like a  luxurious interior, but I can assure you it wasn’t.  She always smelt like a jumble sale, had three forward gears, with no synchromesh, which meant we had to learn to double de-clutch – which was a nightmare, and she had those funny indicators that were like little arms sticking out the side of the car. The heater was a huge tube thing in the middle of the car where you either opened the flap and had very smelly hot air blasting over you, or the flap was closed and you froze.  The hand brake was very hit and miss on anything that had a slight incline, so was pretty scary when you are learning to drive.  We saved up together until we could afford driving lessons, which we took together too. She was our car for a couple of years and we lavished much love and care on her until one dreadful day her big end went and we couldn’t afford to have her fixed. We watched with sadness as she was towed away to the scrap heap.

We left home at an early age and rented a flat just outside London.  We shared the flat with two other girls.  They each had their own bedrooms but Tina and I shared ours.  Since we were about twelve  Mum had given us a clothing allowance, and we had always bought everything between us, clothes, shoes, make up etc.  We had one wardrobe  which we put our clothes in, and we always discussed each morning who was to going to wear what.  Even our shoes were shared as we had the same shoe size. It was fantastic because we had such a choice and I had never even thought of going out and buying a dress or pair of shoes on my own.  Fortunately we both liked similar clothes and colours, so it was easy. There were very few arguments and I never felt either of us really had to compromise that much either.   Our flat mates thought it was amazing that Tina and I shared everything, and it was the first time I had ever really considered that it was unusual.

We always saved up together for larger items, like our first record player, which we put by in a local hi-fi shop and paid off weekly until it was ours and we could bring it home. We went  together to buy our very first LP (long-playing album to those too young to remember), which was Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd. We bought all our LP’s between us and ended up with an enviable collection.

We went along for interviews together and worked together for several years.  We shared jobs.  If they gave one of us a pay rise we would share it.  For a long time we had one shared purse with all our money in, and two separate purses that we would take out when we went out on our own.  When we opened our first bank account, it was a joint account and looking back they seemed to think that was a bit odd, but we didn’t. Everything was equal.

When we were twenty we decided that we had had enough of renting flats and decided to downsize to a very small one room bed sit to enable us to save a deposit to buy somewhere.  We shared a single bed for months, me one end and Tina the other.  We both had three jobs on the go and lived on cereals because they were cheap, but it meant we could save. The upside was that we were both really slim!

We both had day jobs, evening jobs working together in a wine bar where we would swap being either the cook or the waitress on alternate nights, and then we had a market stall on the weekend where we sold, of all things, children’s slippers.  We loved selling on the market, it was such good fun.  We would set targets for our sales and increase it every week.  When we were twenty-one we had saved enough for us to buy our first flat together in Twickenham.  It was a one bedroom flat as it was all we could afford, but one bedroom was fine for us.  We bought a double bed and shared it.  It was a dream come true and one that would have never come together had we not shared our dream and shared in the making of it.

Being a twin, and an identical one at that, is an adventure that I am so very pleased I chose, and one of my greatest pleasures has been learning  that sharing is the most marvellous experience.  I really think that if I could wave a magic wand everyone would be born a twin.  Sharing would become the most natural way for us all to be and I really believe the world would be a better place for it.  How many of the worlds problems are caused by selfishness, jealousy or possessiveness?  Those emotions just don’t work if you’re a twin.  Sharing is an easy form of generosity where you don’t have to give everything away, just share it with who you choose.  It truly is a soul growing  positive experience to share what you cherish, what you love.   I ‘think it would be great if people could try thinking like a sharer for just one week and see the difference it could make to their lives and those they love.   It would be interesting to see how much they could find to  share.

21) What are you thankful for?

In answer to the "Is the glass half empty...

What a fabulous topic!  Whoop!  Whoop!

The problem with this question is where to start?  It would be too easy to list everything I am thankful for, although I don’t think there would be enough space on my blog.   My list is endless.

Instead, I would like to take a little more thought about this, and consider what makes some people so thankful and others so lacking in thankfulness.  It could be the old glass half full or glass half empty scenario, or  the classic, are you an optimist or are you a pessimist question.  Do these personality traits play their roles in thankful appreciation?

We are all so individual, and why someone may find an experience a reason for celebration, another may find the exact opposite!  For arguments sake, if we just look at birthdays.  We all have them, and the more the merrier I say, but there are those who are delighted to be alive on, let’s say,  their fortieth birthday, whilst someone else may be devastated to be turning forty because they think it will make them feel so old.  It is all a matter of perspective.

When I was thirty-five I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  (I can’t  believe it, twenty years ago)   During my surgery and my various treatments, I was fortunate enough to meet the most amazing people.  My first contact was with a wonderful surgeon, Mr Knox.  At first he appeared quite brusque, but over time I felt a massive fondness for him.  He had an instinctive awareness of my fears and concerns and had a very reassuring presence.  He told me he was going to give me some important and life changing advise and I assumed it would be something to do with diet or exercise, but I was so wrong.  He told me  never to buy a newspaper again!  I was surprised and asked him why.  He said that  bad news sells newspapers, and that my life should be full of positivity and I must not allow negativity into my daily routine. He said that the world revolves around negativity and fear and he felt strongly that fear played a massive role in people’s recovery from serious illness. I have hardly ever bought a newspaper since!

I then met the wonderful and caring  Dr Hong.  She was in charge of my radiotherapy treatment.  She told me that she felt she was so honoured to work with cancer patients as they had taught her so much.  I asked her why and she told me that when people recover from cancer they never look at the world in the same way as they did before.  She felt that for those who recovered, having cancer was a real blessing!  At the time I must admit I found that hard to swallow, but she assured me that in the years to come, and she insisted there would be many of them, that I would look back and realise how lucky I was to have had cancer.

I do believe now that she was so right.  My whole outlook on life changed and I also became increasingly thankful for every blessing in my life.  I know that a huge shift took place within me and I desperately wanted others to feel the same.  The difficulty is that until you truly have a life threatening experience, you do somehow feel quite immortal and tend to take so much for granted.  When you have recovered from a life changing event even a previously insignificant and minor occurrence can fill you with appreciation and wonder.  Everything tends to take on a greater meaning.

I know that for me, my ambitions changed dramatically.  Suddenly so much I had worked so hard for, had strived towards, became inconsequential.  It caused many problems too, because at the time I was not surrounded by those who would share my new enthusiasm for a different way of life, away from the materialistic and career dominated existence of my past, towards a more meaningful, altruistic and spiritual pathway.

There are those of course who are almost born being thankful.  These, in my experience, tend to be happy bods, who bounce along in a happiness bubble and see and sense and feel so much to be thankful for.  Thankfully, pardon the pun, I have been the fortunate partner of one such soul for the past seven years.  He has never experienced anything majorly bad in his life but nevertheless, he is a thankful person.  He is always saying how wonderful everything is, how blessed he feels and how lucky we are.

However,  I also have a friend who has, in material terms, lived one of the luckiest lives I have known.  Is she thankful?  No, quite the opposite!  She is and always has been, stunningly attractive, very clever, very talented.  How sad, that whatever she does is not fulfilling, what she has is never enough, whatever she experiences is never good enough.  She takes several idyllic holidays a year and yet within weeks of her return is complaining that she needs another holiday!  She drives a brand new car and yet complains she cannot afford it – so why buy it???   Sorry, is that being unfairly critical? She has three wonderful children, she is so blessed, yet cannot see it and has such a negative outlook on life. I often wonder why.  To me it makes no sense.  Is there an answer?  Will she ever feel truly thankful for the many wonderful gifts in her life? I often feel  I would like to give her a bottle of spiritual tonic to open her awareness and for her to be able to see the wondrous world in which we live, to feel fulfilled by the simple things in life, to be content. To be totally honest sometimes I just feel like screaming at her … be thankful for goodness sake, but that’s not particularly spiritual of me, is it?

Is this taking me back to my soul choice questions all over again?  So much in my life seems to point me back to that, again and again.  Did I choose to have cancer to be able to experience life both before and after the massive shift I felt?  Did my husband choose a happy thankful personality for this lifetime, and did my friend choose a personality with such a pessimistic and ungrateful outlook?  Did they swap from their choices from their last lives? Do their choices enable others to grow and learn from them.  Funnily enough, whenever I have spent time with my unappreciative friend her negativity has the reverse effect on me and I always come home feeling so incredibly lucky and thankful for how much I have in my life.

20) Stairway to Heaven

My brother Ray

I would have thought that as a soul, when I believe I chose my earth family, I would have tried to incorporate even a little harmony into the mix. I often look at other families and to me they look ‘smooth’, it’s like they dovetail together and everyone fits in.  Through my life I have met many people who are fortunate enough to share an easy relationship with their siblings.  Of course, I’m not saying for one minute, that is always the case, but speaking generally it seems quite usual.  I don’t count the usual sibling bickering when growing up, as a major problem, because it  is quite normal  as people’s personalities are coming to the fore as major clashes.

If you watch a litter of young cats or dogs you will observe the same spats as they are growing up and trying to assert themselves within their ‘family’.  It seems to be the way of the world, not just with us humans but within the animal kingdom to a large extent too.

I am sure that I decided to choose one of my siblings who was so very different from me in many ways,  in order to challenge my views and to teach me a myriad of life’s lessons.  It is often said that you learn by example, but  in my case, I often had to  look at what my brother did, the decisions he made and basically do the opposite!  I refer to Ray as our older brother, because being a twin, I shared him with my sister, which maybe was a good thing, because I think it diluted him a little.

I often likened my brother to a diamond with its many facets because he had so many different aspects to his personality.  You were never sure what you were going to get and it was quite imperceptible to even understand from hour to hour which would be his dominant personality trait.  He could be the most gentle caring and generous person you could ever meet, but within a short space of time you could be faced with a very different man who appeared to be full of selfish needs and could be considerably rude and abusive.  He was certainly tough to understand, and I don’t think even now I could say I ever really managed that.

Our older brother, by five years, Ray, was  a massive personality.  On the plus side he was immensely talented as a writer (he won a national story competition when he was 11), a brilliant artist and a talented musician.  He was outgoing with the most engaging sense of fun and perfect timing for comedy.  He had what I would call a quiet interest in all things spiritual, and possessed an inner  knowing, a deep understanding of life and a wonderful appreciation of the natural world. Sadly very few people ever saw that side of Ray, it was like he wore a dark cloak of protection around him and only those incredibly close and trusted, one of whom I was so fortunate to be, would ever get to see the real gentle and spiritual side to him.

He was attractive to women, of whom he had many calling and falling for him from an early age.  All our friends thought it must be so fantastic to have such a talented and good-looking brother and would even ask if he would be home before they arranged to come and visit, just hoping for a glimpse or even just a hello from him.  He undoubtedly had a magic about him which endured throughout his lifetime.  He was a natural charmer, easily making  friends wherever he went.  He was a magnet that most people found almost impossible to resist.

On the negative side, he was outrageous with no respect for rules or authority. Always in trouble, from a very early age, he spent many of his teenage years in approved school, then in and out of  borstal, and as he matured, he advanced to prisons.  It never fazed him in the slightest.  The rest of the family would be falling apart but he took it in his stride. It was never for very long and Ray saw it more as an enforced break, often he would write wonderful songs or stories and use the time to learn new skills before he would rejoin the world.

Invariably his earlier custodial sentences were due to his involvement with illegal motor bikes and cars, and when he was older for driving dangerously and at crazy speeds.  He had a desperate need for excitement. When I would ask him why he would drive like a maniac, he just used to say that he enjoyed the high, the buzz, the thrill of it.  He said he enjoyed the chase, the adrenalin charging through his veins.  I never understood. We were complete opposites in this regard.  I have always preferred peace, quiet, calm and steady, and the safety of rules and regulations.

I watched as our parents tried everything they could to make their young son conform, but it was just a waste of time.  He truly was a free spirit, a young brave who would have been an asset to the tribe, had his father been a native American chief.  He would have ridden his powerful stallion across the open lands and bravely fought for his tribal rights.  He would have understood the nature spirits, the shamanic laws, the mother earth.  Adorned with headdresses of feathers and shells, with his wolf by his side, I am sure he would have felt complete.  Instead he felt confined in our western society and kicked like a young buck against the rules which he felt should play no part in his life.

With Ray as my older brother, the age gap appeared much wider when we were younger.  As a young girl of seven or eight, Ray being then twelve or thirteen, seemed so grown up. I always felt he was my defender, somehow I felt safe with him around, which in hindsight was quite the opposite of how I should have felt. He appeared worldly-wise and being so unafraid of anything, he would take us out on fantastic adventures.  He always made the most of every opportunity for experiencing anything and everything.  He would always give anything a try.

On our many excursions during school holidays we would often go much further than our parents would have allowed.  He would ask Mum if it was ok to take us to the village for a couple of hours, but then we would find that he had planned that we would catch a train.  I’m not talking the usual way of catching a train.  There was no way that Ray would line up and pay for a ticket, no, he knew where the holes were in the chain link fence near the station and we would crawl through the undergrowth, sneak along the tracks and wait in hiding behind the station buildings for a train to arrive.  Then we’d scurry on board, and with our hearts thumping with excitement we’d be off to wherever the train took us.  That was part of the magic, never knowing where we’d end up. I don’t know how we never got caught without a ticket, but we never did!

Buses were always more of a problem with their conductors on board.  Ray would buy us tickets for 2d (yes two old pennies!) and we’d know that we’d have to get off at a certain stop, but Ray would make certain that we’d travel on crowded buses where the conductor wouldn’t notice us straight away if we stayed on the bus a little longer.  His plan didn’t always work and many a time we were thrown off the bus because we had no more money to cover our extended journeys.  Then there would be the inevitable long walks, normally through forests and across muddy fields.  Even these arduous treks would be made magical by Ray’s wonderful stories about the nature surrounding us and the mysterious creatures that lived there.  He would concoct the most amazing tales to keep us enthralled as we wearily made our way home. We were far too loyal to him to ever tell our parents of our law breaking.

He had played a guitar since we were very young and my memories of falling asleep whilst he played to us are always close to my heart.  My favourite song through many of my earlier years was Yellow Bird, which he would sing so softly to us, ‘Yellow bird, high up in banana tree, yellow bird, you sit all alone like me.’ So very different to the heavy rock he would end up playing as lead guitarist and singer with his band.

Ray led his adult life as a rock’n’roller, rubbing shoulders with those who had ‘made it’, but never quite getting there himself.  He ran various businesses, many of which were very successful, but he would soon become bored.  He had his own commercial recording studio and was in his element involved in music.  He always felt the need to escape from the confines of our culture and sadly relied heavily on serious drug use and at times became embroiled in a life surrounded by drugs.  He tried many times to move away from drugs, but in a strange way, when he managed it, his senses appeared dulled and his lust for life diminished as he tried to conform. His was known locally simply as Animal – his friends said it was because he was a party animal – which he was through and through.

When I was in my mid-teens Ray and I would sometimes spend a couple of days together at his flat.  I  felt so blessed that the Ray I normally shared my time with was wonderfully funny, gentle, and considerate. I was sure he made a huge effort for me. He’d take me out to some wonderful bistro for dinner and treat me like a real princess.  We would have the most deep and meaningful talks about life, our family, our souls, our choices.  They are still magical memories which I will always treasure. When it was just Ray and I together I felt so proud that he was my brother, but when I, quite regularly, read local newspaper reports about his appalling behaviour,  I would wonder how he could behave so differently, and dreadfully, with his close bunch of friends. I never found an explanation and could never reconcile the two extremes.

Ray’s flat was painted completely in black, and had mysterious red lights shining out of dark corners, it smelt of odd substances,dust, wine and old ashtrays.    There were candles everywhere which had been replaced many many times, but the remains of the old candles were still evident. Heavy dark velvet curtains were hung at every window, and strangely were very rarely pulled back. It was like walking into an underground cave where you would expect bats to fly at you.

The furniture was odd and bulky with old dusty velvet cushions placed everywhere.  All the wood in the flat had been acid washed back to its natural finish, and somehow it always felt sticky.

He had built a large rustic wooden cabin over his bath, complete with psychedelic lighting and speakers, so that you could lay in the bath and listen to the heavy rock music that was always playing in his home.

Huge amplifiers and speakers were in the sitting room, and his collection of electric guitars were everywhere. Shelves upon shelves of albums of his favourite bands were jostling for space in the crowded room with an ever-expanding odd array of artwork, ornaments and writings adorning every wall or shelf.

Massive mugs of tea or coffee, barely washed from many uses before, were offered along with his unusual home-made cakes and biscuits which contained a selection of various herbs and spices and which had a reputation to make you feel quite odd!  I learnt to avoid them.

He’d always want to play me the latest album he had just acquired and on one particular visit he had just bought Led Zeppelin IV.  He wanted me to hear his favourite track, Stairway to Heaven.  As the music boomed out of the speakers, loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear, he opened his french doors and we stood, arms wrapped around each other,  looking up into the dark sky picking out each twinkling star we could find.  He was telling me how we are all  from the stars, from the universe, how massive the galaxy is.

I remember thinking just how perfect the evening was with my big brother, when a very strange feeling came over me.  The garden appeared to be moving and my head felt odd.  I started to feel sick.  I told Ray I wasn’t feeling well.  ‘Ah, darling’,  he said, with a wry smile, ‘might have been the tea’.  He had, he said, added ‘magical’ ingredients.  My legs were like jelly. It took what felt like hours to get from the french doors to my bed in the spare room, which was not easy as the bed was built only a foot or so from the ceiling and I had to climb a ladder to get up there. Ray was laughing and singing to me  ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold And she’s buying the stairway to heaven’.   It certainly didn’t feel like heaven to me!

19) Will we ever stop greed?

Ugandan anti-corruption sign

Almost wearily, and with more than a hint of despondency, I opened my topic for the day email.  At least I had the right intuitive thoughts, which were confirmed when I opened it, although I would much rather have been wrong.  Here it is: Why does corruption exist? Can it be stopped? What can bloggers do to help?

Another fantastic topic with a positive thought for the day ………….not! Come on guys, give us a break!  I had looked back over the years ‘blog a day’ ideas and there were so many that I thought would be fantastic to write about, which is why  I signed up to this crazy idea.   Please, for tomorrow, give us all something cheerful and uplifting to blog about.  PLEASE.

Back to todays ‘must do it, only because I said I would, blog’.

The very first word that springs to mind has to be greed.  In every society it seems that greed is one of the most prevalent emotions/traits, whatever you want to call it, that drives so many people.

With corruption, what is even worse, is that sometimes the perpetrator coerces the victim by a form of blackmail … if you don’t pay me, help me, support me, whatever…………. then I won’t …. give you the order, let you pass your exam, assist you in any way.

The awful truth is that corruption can take many forms.  In the classic sense I am sure that most of us think of countries where corruption is rife.  Where whole communities are run by people in power who only work because of the gains they can make through their corrupting regimes. More locally, in the UK, I am sure you’ve heard in the news where planning permission has been granted because of some financial gain for the planner from the builder.  I believe it is called colloquially, a back hander. It brings to mind so many negative ideas about the people in power.  Thats the whole crux of the matter. Power.  Give anyone a little power and for some they will use it wisely, for the betterment of others, but the weaker characters, and I do firmly believe they are weak, use that power to gain control and use  people to give themselves an advantage.

I have, in a small way, personal experience of corruption, and even now after several years, it still makes me angry.

I was the financial director of  a business for many years, and fortunately I was never asked, and certainly never offered, to give an incentive to any of our customers.  We endeavoured to offer the best quality products and service at competitive prices. Our reputation grew and the company did well.  However, after twenty years we  made the monumental decision to sell our business because of my ill-health. We were advised to build a solid management team who were to stay in place after the sale.  We employed a sales director who had previously worked for a large American organisation. We had known him for several years, he had worldwide contacts and an excellent reputation in our industry.

Within a few months of his arrival at our company he came to me with a good-sized order from a new customer.  I thought nothing of it, and just assumed that our prices and products had obviously been acceptable to the client.  However, much to my absolute astonishment, a few days later the sales director came to see me with a claim for a receipt he had.  He wanted me to pay him for a personal computer. I was perplexed. Why on earth would I do that?  He explained that he had only received the order from the new customer because he had agreed to give him a personal computer! I was stunned and appalled, I immediately said that the customer could take back his order and that we did not work like that.  The sales director informed me, in the most condescending manner, that in ‘real’ business, that’s the way the world worked.  I stuck to my guns and refused to budge. I refused the order from the client.  Every part of me wanted to sack the sales director on the spot.  His way of working was against every thread of my being.  How could we tolerate such behaviour in our business?  Also, I wondered,  what had he personally gained from this transaction?  I never did find out.

I was though stuck in a moral dilemma.  At that very time we were in the final stages of selling  and the prospective purchasers would not have approved of my terminating this mans employment, almost no matter what the circumstances.  They had insisted that in buying the company they would also be employing all the well-trained and valued staff we had, including the well oiled management team.

In the final days of the company sale, new employment contracts were issued to key personnel, including the sales director. They had all been aware of the impending sale for several months and we had ensured that the terms of their new contracts were as good, if not better, than their current ones.  I was flabbergasted when on the way to a pivotal meeting he rang me on my mobile.  He said he would refuse to sign the new contract unless we made it worth his while!  To begin with I thought he was joking but it became evident he was not.  A massive part of me just wanted to tell him not to bother to sign it and to call off the sale, but it had taken over a year to get to this point, my health was appalling and we were only three days away from completion.  Against everything that I had ever believed in we agreed to pay him a substantial amount of money to sign his contract.  The company was sold and ironically within three months he had left, to set up his own business.   I do wonder how much bribery, corruption and blackmail he has used or been involved with to enable his business to grow. How does he sleep at night? Does he have a conscience?

So, how do we, how does anyone, stop it?  There are new laws … the anti-bribery laws were put in place in April 2010 in the UK, but I wonder how easy it will be to apply them. How can blogging help with this?  Would this be a name and shame type of blog?  I can see this could be extremely dangerous in many circumstances and it is also far too easy for people who hold a grudge against someone to use a public blog to cause an innocent person possible irrevocable harm.

Sadly, very sadly, I think there always will be greedy people.  People who think that they have found a way to make easy money, no matter the cost to others. People who want their own way, to go against laws and legislation by offering to pay officials. Are they here in our lives to give us lessons to overcome?  All we can do, even if only in a small way, is to hope that people become enlightened to a new way of life, a way that shows that materialism is not  important in the huge scheme of life.

18) The Perfect Society

Well yesterday was day one  of  ‘blog a day’.  I thought it was a bit of a tough call, trying to come up with a blog about naming a currency.  However, today, wow, the guys at WordPress have surpassed themselves.

"We, the people" iPhone Wallpaper

Some kind soul decided that nothing would be better than to confound us daily bloggers with this wonderful exciting topic:  Explain the difference between socialism, communism and anarchy.

My first thought was can it get any more difficult or dull?  Which saddo is behind these daily blog ideas?  But, the more I pondered on this, the more I came to realise that I’m quite a politically minded woman with some fairly strong views.

It’s difficult to be objective about different political ideologies when I have only ever lived my life in a capitalist society.  I can look up socialism, communism and anarchy on the net.  But, does it really give a true interpretation of life under their rules? I suspect not.

I live in a capitalist country, and if you look up capitalism it sounds pretty good. It is supposed to be a ruling system that encourages an individuals economic growth. From that growth the idea is that we individuals can enjoy enormous freedom in all areas of our lives.  But, how true is that statement? How many people truly have the opportunity to enhance their lives just through their own volition? I have lived for well over 50 years and I know very few people who have been in a position to use their talents to make major improvements in their lives, or the lives of their families. I know I am generalizing, but, it appears to me that those in power tend to have had the best opportunities from the very beginning of their lives.  I find it is rare that someone from a disadvantaged background has exactly the same opportunities as one from n privileged one.

One of my friends and I have often discussed our society. We both feel a great sadness when we realise that at its core tends to be an overwhelming desire for more and more materialistic trappings, more consumerism, more consumption, rather than working towards a fairer society which looks after its more vulnerable.

It seems crazy to me that someone who chooses a career of care, for example, nursing, is paid far far less than those in the public eye.   Here in the UK we have ambulance drivers and firemen who cannot afford to buy the most basic homes for their families.  These are people who work tirelessly to help others.  If you look at our celebrity culture in the west, it appears that anyone who can sing, act, or kick a ball around a football field, can earn vast amounts of money.  Even those who are celebrities, just because they have been on a reality show, earn huge amounts  compared to people who are employed as the backbones of our society. Surely that just shows how capitalism has failed.

Now, if you then consider living under communist rule, from our western capitalistic viewpoint, everyone in a communistic society should be paid the same. We gather they should live in standard accommodation and expect the same levels of education, healthcare etc.  I wonder how true that is?  It sounds like utopia until you realise that some people are hard workers and others are clearly not.  Some are highly intelligent, some are not.  How would you feel if you worked exceptionally hard and were paid the same, had the same standards of living and lifestyle as someone who shirked as much as possible?  What would be your motivation to study or enhance your skills? How would you feel if you felt that no matter how hard you tried you could not improve your life? My overwhelming feeling  is one of personal imprisonment.

My favourite aunt was a staunch promoter of socialism.  She felt the ethos embodied total fairness and equality for all. A society where the working classes and minority groups are considered worthy.  A constitution that rules for a fair distribution of wealth. She was dismayed at the lack of support for socialism by the ruling classes. How easy would it be for those wealthy in the capitalist countries to agree to re-distribute some of their wealth? I would say nigh on an impossibility.

Most people would think that anarchy means that there is no order, no rules, no governing body. However, looking at this from a totally different viewpoint, you might even think that it could actually work.  Instead of a centralised government, a country run with pure anarchistic rules, offers more of a collaborative system whereby all citizens have to be responsible and be able to compromise to achieve what is best for everyone.  It is almost like a series of local committees which all come together for the greater good.   The community itself would set its own standards for moral values, much like a family does now.  Was this the type of rule that was prevalent in the tribes of the Native Americans or in deepest Africa? Possibly.

I do believe there is not one perfect solution, not ‘one size fits all’ political constitution.  If we were all born with the same capabilities, the same intelligence, the same desires, it would be so easy.  We are not a planet of robots.  That is the problem.  We all have our own individual views, which is what makes us who we are.

I sincerely hope that one day,  throughout the world, the average Jo, the backbones of our societies, the vulnerable, the much talked about but seldom heard, silent majority, will be heard, will be considered worthy, will be able to enjoy a good standard of living.

If mankind could all just live by this one rule:  ‘treat others the way you would like to be treated‘ and that was carried throughout society,  from local councils right through to our world governments, wow, now that would be a perfect society.

17) No Banks Required

The World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C.

Da-da!!

Today is the first of my blog a day challenges.   The “B-a-D” topic  was waiting in my inbox when I woke up.  I felt like a kid at Christmas.  Full of high expectations, surprisingly excited at what feast would get my creative juices flowing.  I savoured the moment. The suspense was palpable (well no, not really, but I did leave it a minute whilst I popped the kettle on).  What would be the fascinating subject that would inspire me to write today?

Click: If you made your own currency, what would you call it?

Boring!  First day. Disappointed.  Deflated.  No interest in that one little bit.  Dam. Why on earth did I sign up for this? Simon (husband) said it would be awful, said it’s not easy when you don’t choose your own theme, said I would give up, said I shouldn’t have told everyone I was writing every day.  Why not once a week? he asked, or even once a month? You don’t have time, he said.  You don’t have the energy, he said. Can you un-subscribe?  He knows me too well …. give me all the negatives and I’ll come right back at him with all the positives and then prove it, so there.  Drat, this is not good though.  Money, Euros, Dollars, Yen, yawn.

Then I noticed a descriptor for the topic: What would the currency be called if you had your own country?

Ah-ha. That is far more interesting to me.  Suddenly I can be the master of my surroundings. I can be a creator of my very own ‘kingdom’. The first image after that word popped into  my mind was of a magical place.   An enchanting fantasy land of pastel colours, towering castles and spires. Mythical dragons and unicorns. Ice creams and candy floss. Pancakes and maple syrup with ice cream.   Manicured  lawns and white picket fences.  Flower beds where weeds wouldn’t dare to exist. Pavements made of pink and mint green tarmac.  Houses with wrap around porches and pretty white rocking chairs.  Everything clean and gleaming and smiley and happy.  Tinkerbell and Mickey Mouse.  Oh my God, back up, it’s Disneyland!  No! I cannot create that in my head.

Start again.  Right, I’ve got it. An island.  Name of island … hmm …..  St Sharmon? Yes, that’ll do, it sounds friendly and inviting. Warm climate. Surrounded by clear crystal blue  waters. Shores of pure white sand. Turtles and dolphins playing in the waves. Palm trees.  Thatched villas overlooking the sea. Smells of freshly ground coffee.  Gardens full of perfumed roses and lavender.   The waft of Calypso music.  You get my drift.  Yet, it still just doesn’t seem right to me. It’s too …. oh, what’s the word ……….manufactured, too perfect and prissy and just downright unreal!

This is far harder than I ever imagined.  It’s like playing scrabble and you get to have a couple of blank, go anywhere, do anything, tiles.  They are such a complete nuisance.  I’d much rather sit there with a W or even an L rather than having to work out what these blank tiles are supposed to be!

This task of designing my own country is so tough. Taking it all a step further, away from the landscape, the architecture  etc, I have to start considering the nature of the place.  The animals that will inhabit the forests, the mountains, the rivers.   Are all the creatures suddenly vegetarian or do I have to populate my island with carnivores? The horticulture. Which plants do we need to grow to survive?  Can we import some of our foods from other islands? What have we got that can be exported?  Where will our building materials come from?

Goodness, the enormity of my task has left me quite dumbfounded.  I cannot possibly design a country with all these far-reaching complexities.  The problem is too great for one human mind to comprehend. It has made me realise more than ever the genius of our Creator, who many call God.  Our whole world that somehow came together and everything but everything works in harmony. All that we know, that we have, that we need, has a place and a purpose.  What a plan that was. Our creator got so much right and yet left us room to make our own choices. Very little is set in stone.  There is room for growth, for improvement. It is never stagnant. The resources we all take for granted are right here for every living creature on this earth.

So I am going to leave the conception of a country in the safe hands of our Creator.  I have no right in meddling in perfection.  I cannot possibly start to improve on anything that has, and is, and always will be, part of the divine composition of life.

Which means, now, having realised my limited abilities, I have to get back to the topic in hand.  Currency. Ok, I have given this some thought and in my country, which I had no hand in creating whatsoever, the currency would be called the Cashanka. Translated into English means, Handshake.  Simple as that.  You do work, you’re paid with a handshake. You ‘buy’ goods, you pay with a handshake. Simple. No debts, no savings, no deficits, no interest rates, no inflation, no fiscal policies, and, most importantly …….. NO BANKS ……..  just a handshake.

16) I’m going to post a blog a day!

Inspirational Barnstar

WordPress have this wonderful idea – Post a Blog a Day!  They even give you a nice little intro that you can copy and post to your blog – but of course, when I tried, it refused to paste, so here is my version:

Having weaved my way around the WordPress site, trying to glean tips for the a new blogger, I somehow came across what is termed The Daily Post.  Its is full of inspiring ideas to help us bloggers blog a little more.  To begin with we have to add widgets and tags and things, some of which I find more than a little formidable.  I have read, re-read and read again the easy to use instructions, and as the intelligent woman I still try to consider I am, I find I am still none the wiser.

I have, as instructed,  pointed my mouse at the widget picture and clicked and then gone backwards and forwards to my blog ‘dashboard’ (that’s the technical word for the technical background bit of my blog, a bit like an engine for a car) and clicked here and there and have still found I haven’t got the widget I need.  It’s so much like my car, I know where the pedals are and the steering wheel, but put me under the bonnet and I have no idea what is what! I have learnt more about tags in the last couple of weeks, but I’m not quite sure of the difference between a tag and a category, so I always end up with a mixture of the two.  My ever helpful husband, advised me to keep a list of tags and categories on my desktop so that it would be easy for me to find for future use.  Hmmm, I’m sure it would be if I knew where on earth my computer had saved them.  I’ve made several lists of tags and categories now and can never find them again.  There must be a mass of lists somewhere in my laptop that I’m sure one day will come to light, but for the moment at least they are very much hidden.

So, to get back to this wonderful innovative idea of ‘post a blog a day’.  The challenge is to find inspiration from ideas that the Daily Post will give us bloggers, and then be able to write about it.  To me it sounds very much like a class I took with the Accolade Academy in Margam, Wales, with the most wonderful spiritual tutor, Tony Stockwell.

He had the bright idea that each of us would choose a random word and then someone in the class would have to talk about it for at least five minutes.  You couldn’t prepare this talk, or do any kind of background research, it had to be totally off the cuff and ideally inspired by spirit.  We all had to have a go, and I must say it was good fun once you get over the ‘I’m sounding like a total idiot’ phase.   The problem was, that unknown to us students, Tony was walking around the class listening in and was deciding who he would choose to demonstrate inspired speaking to the whole course on the final night.  He walked up to me with a big smile on his face and told me I was going to be one of his chosen students!  It was more than a little daunting, he told us that we could talk about absolutely any word at all, for at least five minutes.

The other classes on the course also had students that had been chosen by their tutors and the evening before the ‘performance’ I could see everyone busily writing notes and discussing their ideas.  I thought I must have the wrong idea, because I had not prepared anything at all.  I guessed that if it was supposed to be inspired then you should leave it to spirit and trust them to inspire you. I went to bed that night concerned that maybe I should have spent the evening in preparation instead of chatting socially with friends.  I spoke to Tony the next morning and asked him if I had got it wrong. He laughed and said, no, it was supposed to be inspired and no preparation was necessary.

In a way that sounded too easy and too terrifying all at the same time.  The whole day my tummy was full of butterflies, not gently fluttering away, no, these butterflies had boots on and were stampeding around, and I was dreading the moment I would be called to talk.  As we all took our seats I thought that I would feel better once I had seen a few others give their talks, but little did I know that I was to be called up first!  Looking back though it is a bit like having a dentists appointment first thing in the morning.  You get it over and done with and can then get on with enjoying your day.

I had been visibly shaking at the thought of standing up in front of all these people, my stomach was churning, my mouth was dry and my palms were sweaty. Amazingly as soon as my name was called and I walked to the front, a feeling of calm came over me.  I still had no idea what I was going to talk about.  There was a stand by the side of me with a description of all that Accolade Academy offers its students.  “Understanding your Awareness”, was one of the phrases that caught my eye.  Suddenly I was off, chatting about awareness.  I don’t know how long I spoke for, and to be honest I can barely remember what I said, but I did feel it flowed and was certainly inspired.  Phew, was I pleased when I could sit down.

So, I am going to try to approach this ‘blog a day’ challenge in exactly the same way.   All I have to do is trust that spirit will inspire me …. they have never let me down yet!

15) I was a Catherine Wheel!

Dizzy thorns

I had been chronically ill for a long time when I went along to my first ever healing evening at a spiritualist church.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect and only went  to accompany a  friend.  I thought that as it was at a church we would all sit in rows, someone would talk to us about healing and that we might sing a couple of hymns and say a few prayers. I had no knowledge of healing, spiritual or otherwise, and didn’t expect the evening to be particularly special or eventful.

So I was surprised, when instead of rows, the chairs were  just dotted around the room, and as we walked in I was asked where I would like to sit.  I just chose the closest chair and felt a bit odd just sitting there, with no idea what was about to happen.  After a few of us had taken our seats the person in charge then allotted a healer to each of us.  A very old lady with a gentle smile came and stood beside me and introduced herself as Jeanie.  She explained that she was a student healer but that everything she did would be overseen by the woman in charge.  I immediately felt at ease and relaxed and just thought to myself that her healing may do some good and certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

The lady in charge said the most beautiful prayer and soft spiritual music was played. The room then became quieter and everyone spoke in hushed tones.  Jeanie stood in front of me and asked if I minded her holding my hands, which I said I didn’t at all.  She looked straight at me and said “I shouldn’t really be telling you this but I am sure I have your Dad with me,”  she went on to give a detailed physical description which exactly fitted him.  She told me that when she was healing she shouldn’t really be connecting to a spirit, but felt that she had to tell me my Dad was there because she felt his love so strongly.    Then she said something that I will never forget.  She said “he is telling me to tell you that if his love could cure you, you would be well”.  I was stunned, and desperately trying not to cry as they were the exact words that my Dad had said to me the previous summer when we had sat in my garden.  He had held my hands and told me he loved me and said that if his love could cure me I would be well!

I had been pretty certain that Dad was there because of Jeanie’s description, but that message just blew me away.  No-one would have known that Dad had said those very words to me.  I knew how upset both he and Mum had been seeing me so ill and feeling so useless at not being able to take away my pain, all they felt they could do was show how much they loved and cared for me.

Jeanie walked behind me and asked if she could then place her hands on my shoulders, which I said was fine.  She said if I wanted I could close my eyes.  I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by her message and then felt total peace as I closed my eyes and just listened to the music in the background.  The next thing I knew was that I was not aware of my body at all, it was the oddest sensation, I felt so light and like I was floating. I tried to feel my feet on the floor, but it was like they didn’t exist.  All I could see was the colour green, a bright vibrant green, like a fresh leaf in springtime with the sun streaming through it.  I was surrounded by it, enveloped by it and strange as it may seem, it was as if I was it.  I felt like I was a disc at the centre of me and I was spinning round and round.  The spinning became faster and faster and faster, all I can really say it that I was, or became,  just pure and utter bliss.  I tried to work out what I was and all I could come up with was that I felt like a Catherine wheel!

I was unaware that I had slumped forward in the chair and the next thing I knew was that the lady in charge was asking me if I was alright.  I felt dazed, and to be honest, almost a little annoyed to be bought back from ‘Blissville’.  Jeanie later told me that it was the most profound healing session for her.  She said she had never felt so much love coming through her.  I felt elated knowing that my Dad was there for me.

It was only several months later when I first started to  learn about chakras that I was surprised to read that chakras are discs that spin, sometimes described as energy vortices throughout the spiritual body.  The heart chakra is normally green and is  often associated with love and healing.  Now, when I meditate I sometimes visualise my chakras, working my way from the base chakra upwards through my body, and I always smile when I get to my heart chakra, because to me it will always be my very own Catherine wheel!

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