51) Miracles do Happen!

My twin sister, Tina 2012

My twin sister, Tina 2012

Thursday April 23rd 2009 is a date I will never forget.  On the Wednesday evening Simon and I were supposed to be going away to Dorset  for a mini-break, but as Simon had a headache we decided to go down on Thursday morning instead.

We were up bright and early, just putting the last bits and pieces in the car when the phone rang.  It was my daughter Kristie, who lived with my twin sister Tina and her husband, Woody, and their family.  She told me that Tina was in hospital about to have an emergency operation.  She had suffered a brain haemorrhage late on Wednesday night and was due in theatre any minute to have life saving brain surgery.  I felt my legs go to jelly and I could hardly speak.  I had been speaking to Tina only the evening before and she had been totally fine.

I went straight to Tina’s house as her children all needed to be cared for and I wanted to be with Kristie too.  Tina and Woody had been unable to have children and had adopted seven learning disabled children over the course of several years.  They ranged in age from three to seventeen at the time.  It was an unreal morning, trying to hold myself together for the sake of the children, but desperately waiting for the phone call from Woody, who was at the hospital, to find if she had made it through the surgery.  Finally just after lunch Woody rang to say she was in intensive care but that the surgery had been successful.  I was over the moon.  I had been praying so hard and felt that my prayers had been answered.

Within a couple of days Tina was moved to the High Dependency Unit and was doing well.  She complained of the most dreadful headache but the staff told us that was quite normal due to her brain surgery.  After just a few more days Tina was moved to a general neurological ward and appeared to be making excellent progress.  She was able to walk and talk quite normally and  have a shower and walk around the ward. The expectation was that she would be home within the week!

Kristie and I were visiting her daily and on the Thursday, just a week after her operation,  we had all been sitting chatting about the programmes she would be watching that evening when the nurse brought her tea, which included a small bowl of ice cream.  Within minutes Tina’s speech was becoming confused and then I noticed that she was having problems eating her ice cream.  Her hand was making odd movements and she was unable to hold the spoon.  I alerted the staff on the ward and they explained that she might have some fluid on the brain and would carry out a lumbar puncture to release any fluid.  When I left the hospital that evening I was obviously concerned, but the staff had been very reassuring and it seemed that this was quite normal and that the lumbar puncture was routine.

The following morning I rang the hospital and they asked me to visit urgently.  They explained that Tina was once again in intensive care.  I was not at all prepared for what faced me that day.  The consultant explained that Tina had suffered a massive stroke due to having a vasospasm, a rare side effect of the brain surgery.  In layman’s terms, the blood vessels within her brain had gone into spasm and no blood had been able to reach the frontal lobes.  I was warned that they fully expected her to die.  I don’t know how I managed to physically stand by her bed, I was shaking and crying so much.  She was lying there covered with wires and tubes, buzzers kept going off and she was fitting, which was terrifying to watch.  The machines that were keeping her alive required almost constant attention by the special nurses who were with her.  I couldn’t believe that she had been doing so well and now they really thought she would die.  I prayed so much that day, I asked God why this happened and kept telling Tina over and over again how much I loved her and that she would come through this ok.   When I eventually left the hospital that evening I emailed every healer I could find on the internet asking if they could please send Tina healing.

I really didn’t think I’d be able to sleep that night, but nervous exhaustion thankfully sent me straight to sleep. I awoke in the morning dreading the news from the hospital.  I phoned and they said she was ‘stable’, but added that there had been no improvement.  I went to the hospital as soon as I could and was met by the ward sister who told me to expect the worse.  She explained that only the machines were keeping her alive, and even if she did survive the prognosis was that she would be severely disabled and unable to enjoy any quality of life as her brain was so badly damaged.  Yet again I sat with her, talking to her, stroking her hand gently.  I prayed that she would not leave me.  I had lost my Mum, my Dad and my brother all within the space of three and half months just a few years before, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my twin sister too. I talked to her about our childhood, about the fun we used to have, about family memories, even about the battles we’d had.  I just felt that I could not give up.

I was sure one day that she had lightly squeezed my hand as I was about to leave, but the nurses assured me that she wouldn’t be able to do that.  They said that her brain was unable to distinguish my voice and that she most probably did not have the ability to understand anything I said to her.  I ignored their advise and just carried on chatting to her right up until the moment I had to leave in the evenings.  Days went by and there was no progress and it became more and more likely that she would just fade away.  I was totally heartbroken.  I had never lived through such a time.  Being an identical twin is impossible to really understand unless you are a twin yourself.  We had been together since before we were born.  We had shared virtually every part of our lives, most of our childhood and teenage experiences, and even though we had fought dreadfully at times, we were always there for each other and loved one another more than can be explained.  Now, days in to her stroke, I was trying to come to terms with the real possibility that this was the end.  That I would not have my twin sister anymore.

They decided to carry out a further operation to install a shunt, a drain in her brain, which would release the fluid from her brain into her stomach.  The operation was in itself risky, but without it she didn’t stand a chance, the fluid in her brain was building all the time.  Again there was the dreadful time of waiting to see if she had pulled through and thankfully she did.  We waited for a couple more days to see if there was any improvement, but still Tina just lay there motionless, on full life support, with every vein in her body seemingly linked to some needle to give her life saving fluids and drugs.  They even had to start using the veins in her feet as they were running out of veins in her arms, her hands and her shoulders.

I continually asked God why this was happening and what more could I do to help her and her family through this, but I was too upset to hear any answers.  Finally, in desperation, I called a medium that I found on the internet. I didn’t want to phone anyone who knew me, I really wanted someone who had no previous knowledge of who I was.   Immediately she began speaking to me, she described our Dad in the most wonderful detail,  and told me that he was talking about someone very close to me who had suffered a bleed on the brain.  She said this person was in a critical condition and was literally between worlds.  She then went on to describe our Mum, both  physically and her character, and said that she was with both of us.   Amazingly she also described our brother and said that he was looking over us and that he was giving me the strength to cope with it all.  She told me that Tina was aware of them with her.  I asked her why this was happening and she said that Tina had chosen to go through this before she was born.  She explained that it was an experience Tina’s soul had wanted and importantly it would show who would support her and who wouldn’t, who would be able to understand, and who would turn away due to the severity of the situation.  I did ask if Tina would survive and the medium told me that she couldn’t answer that, but said that Tina had a very strong spirit and that whatever happened was supposed to happen. I was stunned by such an accurate reading, but still had wished that I could have been told what would be the outcome.

The next day I went into the hospital again and as I walked in I said my usual ‘Hi Sis’ and took her hand.  I was sure her eyelids moved and then thought I felt her gently squeeze my hand again.  I didn’t mention it to the nurses, who I felt sure thought I was imagining it, but inside I felt a warm glow and a real sense of joy.  Something in me realised that she had turned the corner, that she would be ok.

For the first time in weeks I felt an inner calm, an inner strength,  I knew I could cope, as if I had been shown there was light at the end of the tunnel. I was full of optimism for her future.  Tina’s small movements became  almost like a secret code between her and I.  Many times that day her eyelids moved as I said something funny and her fingers softly brushed mine.  I gave her a kiss goodbye before I left and said I’d see her the next day.

The following day I was over the moon to see that Tina had her tracheostomy tube removed.  She could breathe on her own!  That was a  huge hurdle.  As usual I said ‘Hi Sis’ when I arrived and I  almost fell over when a few moments later she uttered, in a very hoarse voice,’ Hi’ – she was back!!! The nurses were laughing and clapping and the whole atmosphere in the unit was lifted.  She didn’t say anything again for a few days, but she still kept moving her eyelids and through her squeezing my hand I could feel her strength grow day by day.

After several more weeks Tina slowly made progress to the point where she was transferred to a neurological rehabilitation unit within the hospital.  She was paralysed on her right side, still doubly incontinent, unable to even turn herself, unable to swallow food, and only able to say a few words, but she could laugh, and we would share afternoons laughing at the times we had been through together.  I would sit with her and we would watch comedy shows and it would lift her spirits.  It really did seem that through joy and laughter she became better and better. Through everything that had happened to her she had managed somehow to  keep her sense of humour.

Over the two years Tina spent in two specialist rehabilitation hospitals, she showed incredible inner strength and courage, overcoming the most enormous obstacles. Learning to do even the most basic things from scratch which most of us take for granted.  She suffered dreadful setbacks, crippling pain in her paralysed arm and leg, frustration of a damaged brain that would not function as she wished, and the agony of a broken hip from falling over when trying to use a walking stick.  She had to be admitted to a normal hospital for a hip replacement operation and this caused even more problems as people didn’t understand her speech and her understanding of language, having had such a serious brain injury. Everytime they asked her if she required painkillers she said yes, even if she didn’t, and by the time she was returned to the rehab unit she was totally bombed by the amount of morphine in her body.  It took weeks for her to get back to some sense of normality. She suffered incredible loneliness and depression whilst trying to come to terms with the fact that most importantly,  she had lost her independence.

There were so many experiences that had me in tears over the time she was in hospital, but one of the most memorable occasions for me was when she was first able to stand, albeit with support, and we could have a hug. It was the best hug I’d ever had.  We were both in tears as for the first time in many months I held her in my arms and she could hug me back too.  Another wonderful memory was just before her first Christmas in hospital.   The nurses organised a Carol Service  and arranged for a local choir to come along and we all sat singing the carols.  Many of the patients sang too, including Tina, who still has a beautiful singing voice.  They gave her a microphone and she sang Once in Royal David’s City.  With tears streaming down my face it took me straight back to when we were both five and were angels in our school nativity play and we had sung that very song together back then.

I was amazed by the most wonderful work the teams at the rehabilitation units undertook to get Tina as far along the recovery route as possible.  Their patience and understanding was incredible.  I was overwhelmed by the gentleness and kindness of other relatives visiting their loved ones who were also going through the most traumatic times and yet there was a camaraderie between us all, all supporting one another and all living for the time when those dear to us would regain even a little of their lives.  The love within the rehab units was so strong. They were  places of both immense sadness and unbelievable joy, much laughter and sometimes, sadly, unbearable heartache.

I was stunned by the kindness from the wonderful worldwide community of healers, many of whom stayed in contact with me throughout her two years  in hospital.  The strangers, literally scattered across the globe who showed an interest and continued to send their healing thoughts to Tina. I will never be able to thank them enough.  I was so saddened by the lack of support from the friends and relatives that Tina had.  I would never have thought that those whom she had loved and considered close backed away and found themselves too busy to even phone to find out how she was.  I was appalled by the total lack of support from social services who I had assumed would be able to offer some kind of help to Woody and the children, but who in reality basically told me that as the children had been adopted and not fostered there was nothing they could do.   Just as the medium had said, it was an experience which  showed people’s true colours.

It was an eye-opener where friends and relatives were concerned, but it has made us both realise who really matters and who had only been there for the good times. The marriage vow, ‘for better, for worse’, often comes to my mind when I think of the people in Tina’s life who moved away from her and her family during this time, when they needed the love and support the most, and sadly received it the least. Some people even voiced that they felt it would have been better that she had just died. It is something I have tried to understand, but just can’t grasp.  Maybe the lessons are for all of them, maybe they too one day may require those they hold dear to have the patience and understanding to deal with such a trauma, who knows.  Some things are beyond my comprehension and maybe I will find the answers when I am once again back with my family in the spirit world.

Tina amazed all the consultants and specialists involved in her care. They said many times that her recovery was a miracle, that it should have been impossible for her to make the progress that she has. Although paralysed on her right side she is still improving.  She has learnt to walk again, to eat again, has regained her speech, kept most of her memories and importantly has made new friends through her involvement in stroke clubs that she regularly attends. She has become an avid reader, has learnt to master her i-phone and laptop, how to use Spotify to listen to her favourite music, and can play a mean game of scrabble! I feel blessed that I still have my sister  and that I have been able to share in such an enlightening experience.

I thank Mum, Dad and our brother Ray, for the continued love and support they have given us, without which I am sure I would have crumbled. I thank God for Tina’s ongoing recovery and for the strength I was given to cope with this.  Most of all I thank Tina for being my twin, she is an inspiration.

50) Is Love Truly Enough?

I have recently been questioning one of my deepest held beliefs.  Not that I would ever doubt spirits existence, or that we are eternal souls,  no, I have no problems with that.  What I have been doubting is the almost universal belief that somehow,  love  conquers all. It seems to me that everywhere I look, either on Facebook or within spiritual internet sites, the over-riding message is that love is all you need, love will overcome anything, love is the key to happiness. I have been struggling with this the past few years.  Yes, I believe that if we all based our decisions on love, our actions on love and our thoughts on love, the world would be a better place, but unfortunately not everyone does!

Maybe it is true in the universal sense, and maybe it is also true in a soul sense, when you take many lives and average it all out, but I’m talking about this one particular physical life we are living right now.  In my experience, and that of some of my closest friends, no matter how much you love someone, they can still use you, betray you and abuse you. Recently a very dear friend of mine had been blatantly used and deeply hurt by someone she considered a life-long friend, a woman she had always tried to help and support in any way she could.  She can find no rhyme or reason for her friend’s behaviour and is extremely upset.  I feel powerless as all I can do is listen but I can’t take away her pain.  Finally, after many weeks of emotional hurt she came to the decision to end their friendship.  Whilst that may well help her to avoid any further mistreatment by her friend, she is left still reeling from recent events.  I wonder what lessons are being taught when someone who so obviously cares about another is mistreated by them.

My own personal experiences have been difficult to contend with at times.  I used to firmly believe that if you showed someone love and compassion that they would treat you well, but often through my life I have found the absolute opposite to be true.  I have puzzled over this many times and had thought that it must be a certain kind of lesson that needed learning.  I have even tried to feel grateful for the role that someone must have agreed to play to assist me in walking my spiritual path. 

Logically it makes sense to me that kindness should help people to overcome their difficulties. This is something I have pondered for such a long time and have asked my spiritual guides for some guidance on this but so far have not received any answers.

When you make the decision to help someone, in whichever way you feel they may benefit, whether it is just a gentle hug, a time to listen to them, or assistance in a more physical sense, why do they then turn around and be rude or malicious towards you?

It has happened in my life so many times that I can see a pattern of events.  What I am hoping is that one day I will have a ‘light-bulb’ moment and suddenly the reason behind this will fall into place.  My husband, Simon, tells me that he thinks I am too gentle, too soft and too forgiving.  I have so often wished I could toughen up as I think my life may be so much easier,  but the problem with that is that I wouldn’t be me anymore.

My brother  always used to laugh at my tolerance and lack of temper.  Considering the parents I had, who honestly  could have won the olympics if there had been an arguing event, you’d have thought I would have a quick temper, but this isn’t true at all. 

I still remember my Mum’s look of amazement when she saw me lose my temper for the very first time when I was fourteen.  We had been to visit Dad in hospital where he had just undergone life saving surgery and he was on full life support, so to say we were concerned and stressed was an understatement.  Mum was driving our large estate car, and I have to say she wasn’t the most confident of drivers at the best of times, but with the worry of Dad obviously on her mind, she had become distracted and taken a wrong turn.  We ended up in a very narrow dead-end street with cars parked each side.  At the very end there was little space to turn around.  It was only just after 9pm, so not what you would call very late.  Mum had to try to turn the car around which meant going backwards and forwards many many times.  She was, I admit, revving the engine a little whilst trying to navigate safely and gently between the cars, but the noise wasn’t that bad.  Well this chap came out of his house and started really shouting abuse at Mum.  Without a thought I jumped out of the car and walked right up to him and gave him such a ticking off.  I was livid that he had upset my Mum and certainly let him know it.  I told him where we’d been and what was happening to my Dad.  Much to my surprise the man became very apologetic and offered to help Mum with the reversing.  What a turn-around! 

I have always found it easier to fight other people’s battles rather than my own.  My brother used to say that I was like the worm that turned, and by that he meant you could push me so far and then that was that.  How right he was.  I have to admit that I can take an awful lot but finally there is the straw that breaks the camels back, and funnily enough it is often a very little straw!

I have had to break ties with people I have truly loved because they have behaved so badly towards me, and it comes to a point when you realise that all the love in the world cannot change their behaviour, and so very sadly and reluctantly, there really is no choice but to walk away.  Sometimes the hurt of staying in a relationship becomes so deep that your physical body cannot cope with the pain, and sometimes, and possibly even more importantly,  you have to learn to value and respect yourself, which I have found the toughest lesson to learn. 

I saw this too with my own Mum.  She tried so very hard to have a good relationship with her  Step-Mother and did everything she could to try to make it work.  When we were a young family we would all travel up to London to see my Nan. We would make this journey at least once a month. Mum and Dad would have to save hard to pay for the petrol and would always be  praying that the car wouldn’t break down because it was pretty old and extremely unreliable. At the time there were no such things as baby seats in cars and Mum would have to spend two hours sitting in the back of the car with my twin, Tina,  and I in her arms.  She laughed when she told us by the time they got there her arms couldn’t move!    As  Tina and I became older we both suffered from dreadful car sickness.  How Mum and Dad coped with this I just don’t know, it must have been a nightmare for them. I know that Mum would always keep a couple of spare outfits for us and on many occasions as soon as we arrived at Nan’s house we would have to nip upstairs and change into fresh clothes.  Thankfully our older brother Ray was not car sick, that would have been unbearable!

When  Tina and I were eleven we went to stay with Nan for the week before we started at senior school.  Mum and Dad took us up there and we spent a wonderful time with her.  We went to see shows in London and enjoyed meeting all of her friends and generally having fun.  When the week was up Mum and Dad came and collected us and strangely the mood in the car on the way home was decidedly frosty.  Sadly for us, that was the last time we ever saw our Nan.  A week or so after our holiday Mum made the decision to break all ties with her.  I was devastated.  I had adored Nan and couldn’t understand how Mum could be so cruel. 

As a young child, what I hadn’t known was that my Nan could actually drive and had a very nice car.  She would tell Mum of all the trips she took to see her various relatives all over the country and yet she had only ever made the journey to visit us once in the eighteen years since Mum had married. Nan was very comfortably off and would help all her  relatives, and yet she never once offered any help to Mum at all.  Mum told me years later that she had spent so much time broken-hearted at the way Nan treated her  that finally she couldn’t take the hurt anymore.  I know now it was not an easy decision for Mum to make and I know that she remained extremely upset about it for the rest of her life.  She had lost her Dad when she was in her early twenties, and having been told that her natural Mother had abandoned her as a baby, she had  desperately wanted to have a loving relationship with Nan.

It took me a very long time to realise that what I and others had perceived as weakness, was in fact an enormous act of strength on my Mum’s part. I can’t imagine the courage she must have mustered to be able to walk away under those circumstances, but she did, and I am sure that in the following years she certainly didn’t miss the heartache that she had endured for so much of her life. One day, when I am once again in spirit and I have my life review, I feel certain that all will become clear …… but in the meantime I must admit I really find this all so very hard to understand.

38) Pros and Cons

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Yesterday I was supposed to be going out for afternoon tea with two good friends, Kay and Annette.  We had planned to go to a large garden centre where we could have sat outside enjoying the afternoon sunshine.  It was a special outing as Kay had been housebound for several months since last August and Annette has recently recovered since going through, what can only be termed as, an onslaught of medical problems.  She really had been through the mill and we were all so pleased to be able to finally arrange a get together. I had been so looking forward to the three of us having chats and generally enjoying one another’s company. Unfortunately though my own health issues decided to play up and so I had no option but to cancel.

It all started last weekend when I had the strangest experience which I must admit at the time, I’d wondered if it could spiritually based.  I suddenly lost some of my vision and then saw the most wonderful iridescent colours, sparkles and light beams.  It was seriously like something out of a science fiction movie.  Diamond shaped lights zooming around the room and lines of the brightest golds pinks and blues.  It was a little like an indoor firework display but without the noise. It lasted about fifteen or twenty minutes and then just stopped.  I thought it was rather odd, but had no other symptoms or pain and as I had been talking about spiritual matters at the time I did wonder if it was just one of those peculiar things that has happened to me from time to time.  I had previously, many years ago, taken myself off to the opticians when I had experienced some very unusual colours and odd visuals but had that time been assured that my eyes were fine. I am sure now that spirit were involved on other occasions, but on Sunday it was totally different to anything I’d had before.

On Monday I had to see my doctor about an unrelated matter.  At the end of the consultation I mentioned the light show I had seen.  I fully expected her to be dismissive and tell me it was nothing to worry about, but instead, with almost a look of panic, she told me I should go straight to eye casualty.  She said that I may have a detached retina.  Goodness, I was more than a little shocked.  My main concern was how on earth do they stick a detached retina back on! Is there some kind of eye super glue?

Thankfully when Simon took me to the hospital we quickly saw an eye specialist and he asked me my medical history (poor man!) and decided that it was more than likely that I’d had an ocular migraine.  He said that I should go back and have a full examination the next day, but not to worry.  When I came home I looked up the diagnosis and it certainly seemed to fit. The following day another doctor put what I would call ‘stinging liquid’ in my eyes to fully dilate them so that he could take a more in-depth look at the back of my eyes. He confirmed that everything looked fine and that he too felt I’d had an ocular migraine.  I was told I shouldn’t drive and I was lucky that Kay drove me because when I came out my vision was all fuzzy and I couldn’t even see the curbs, let alone a cyclist I almost walked into!

My body never seems to want to behave ‘normally’.  I have had what I call typical migraines since my late teens and over the years have been able to manage them quite well with some powerful medication and learning what works best, which for me is absolute silence, absolute darkness, absolute stillness and cold damp towels on my forehead and back of my neck.  In more recent years I have been diagnosed with vestibular migraines which cause the most dreadful dizziness and vertigo but no pain and I have to take daily medication to try to avert them. Now I have the ocular version! A free light show and no pain.  I know which one I’d choose if I had a choice!

So, I thought everything was fine. I came home from the hospital with my eyes looking like I was some kind of junkie.  Simon just kept staring at me with my massive pupils, which I couldn’t see because my vision was still all blurred.  I wish he’d taken a photo of me now because he said I looked so weird!

Typically though my body decided to react.  Anything unusual and it plays up.  I’ve done all the positive health affirmations for years. I have spent hours of my life saying out loud ‘I am well’, ‘I am healthy’, and various versions.  I still do.  I say it as if it were right now, not in the future.  I should have a diploma for all the affirmation books, hints and tips I’ve read.  I’m still hopeful that one day the words will suddenly slip into my subconscious and my body will sit up and take notice.

Today my twin Tina was supposed to be coming over for the day.  I know how much our Fridays mean to her, and I just hate to let her down.  She and I look forward to spending time together, no matter what we are able to do, even if it’s just sitting reading or listening to music.  Our Fridays are special, we talk about our childhoods, our parents, our brother, our shared memories all of which are so important for Tinas recovery after her stroke.  If she’s feeling up to it she might be able to peel a few carrots, which for her is a mega achievement, or even make a cup of tea.  We take great delight in every step she takes along her path towards becoming more independent.  Yesterday I was feeling so lousy I thought it only fair to warn her that I might not be up to her visit today, but ever hopeful said that I would ring her this morning to let her know for sure.

I had an early night after already sleeping most of yesterday, but even though I slept well I knew the minute I woke up that I would have to have another day hibernating, recharging my battery, if I was to get back to anywhere near my normal energy level (which is a pretty pathetic 4/10 compared to my pre-illness 10/10) . I dreaded ringing Tina and sure enough she was very upset and crying.  I know she understood but her emotions are raw since her stroke. Very small things can easily annoy her or upset her and she becomes frustrated by her lack of ability to deal with matters which she would have not given a second thought to when she was well.  I looked out at the beautiful spring sunshine and crawled back into bed.  I do know that I am far luckier than a lot of people.  I have been going through a good phase recently where I have been able to stick to most of my plans for several weeks.  I have to organise everything with breaks and rests but by doing that can enjoy my life immensely.

In bed yesterday afternoon, with Maddie loving every moment of being able to lay beside me, I did think about my life before I was chronically ill.  I wondered, health wise, if I had no option but to make a choice between my previous life or my life now which would I choose? I thought about it on and off for quite a while.  Weighing up the pros and cons.  One thing that most ‘well’ people do is take their health and energy for granted, whilst most unwell people make the most of every good minute they have.  I thought about seriously wealthy people who waste their money and rarely value what they have, whereas people on a budget plan their spending carefully and make the most of every penny they have and truly value what they can afford.

I thought of the friends I have who accept me with all my limitations, who show such enormous patience when I sometimes have to let them down, who really care how I am and where possible make allowances for my limited energy.  I also thought of the friends I used to have, many who sadly disappeared into the woodwork when I became chronically ill.  My friends now are very different, more ‘real’, far more caring and also far more fun.  I feel I am so lucky. I am rich in friendships and time spent with my friends is always so worthwhile. Would I have valued my friends so much before?

It’s tough to crawl back into bed when the sun is shining, but then many people are working, often doing something they don’t particularly like, and not even seeing the sunshine.  Many people are trapped in their hectic lives, trying to be the best, have the best, striving to achieve perfection but never feeling they are succeeding.  There I was curled up in my comfy bed with my beautiful dog by my side listening to gentle meditation music whilst a warm breeze wafted over me from the open window.   Hmmm …. the choice would not be easy!

35) Busy, busy, busy!

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I seem to go through phases in my life when everything, spiritually speaking, goes very quiet.   At other times I feel that whichever way I turn they are almost shouting out at me, “Wake up – we are here!”.

The problem is that sometimes I have too many activities going on. Before you think, wow, this woman lives life in the fast lane, I’m talking more about catching up on the washing and ironing, sorting out the freezer, balancing the bank account etc, not terrifically exciting.

I feel that recently I have been busy with people, which is wonderful, and I never complain about that, but the weeks just suddenly whizz by and I realise I haven’t been spending the time I feel I need to be moving forward spiritually.

My weekends with Simon are precious and so I tend to keep Saturday and Sunday free for ‘us time’.  I spend a day a week with my twin Tina, then I see friends a couple of afternoons a week.  Since writing this blog I now follow other blogs and can easily lose a couple of hours a day reading them, replying to them, and researching what they have been discussing.

On top of that I have just started to become acquainted with Squidoo, which is another way of publishing information on-line.  Simon’s hobby is photography and he was told about Squidoo a couple of weeks ago, and of course, once he had looked at it he told me I should, so suddenly another few days went A.W.O.L. as I became engrossed in learning all about it.

There are also friends who live dotted around the world who I try to keep in touch with on a fairly regular basis either with emails or phone calls, relatives who live closer who come over for dinner, pets that need attending to, holidays that need researching etc …. the list is endless!

I also have several books on the go.  A friend told me about a book I ‘must’ read which is an alternative way of treating thyroid problems, which I have been battling for years, so that book has joined the other three beside the bed that I am part-way through reading.  Then I have my beloved kindle which I have become hopelessly addicted to.  I see books that I feel I should read, and now, instead of spending a fortune, I can, for a fraction of the price, download them literally within seconds, and ‘bingo’ yet another book to read!

On top of all of this, due to my health problems, I have to take lots of breaks, and if I don’t my body soon decides to enforce longer rest periods, which is unbelievably frustrating when there is so much to do, that in my head at least,  I feel somehow I should be able to fit in.

Well recently I have felt slightly disconnected from spirit.  I haven’t attended any workshops or circles for months and haven’t been along to any demonstrations of mediumship for almost a month (my wonderful weekend away!).  Everytime I have tried to meditate recently I have found myself falling asleep in the chair and waking up with a stiff neck, so that hasn’t had what I would term the desired effect of feeling closer to spirit at all. Spirit though have a way of letting me know they are around, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes not quite as subtle as I would like.

If you read one of my earlier posts, 6) Man in the Mirror, you will know that whilst having a shower one day, I happened to see my spiritual guide in the mirror.  Since that time I must admit that at times when I’m going to have a shower I do get just ever so slightly spooked.  Often I am not, and happily go and have a shower without a thought, but at other times I just suddenly feel that I would be much happier if Simon was sitting close by.

On Sunday I went upstairs to have a shower and Simon was sitting downstairs watching t.v.  I felt absolutely fine, not spooked in the slightest, I had put the hot water on, organised my shampoo, conditioner, hair remover etc, and I was just about to get in the shower when I felt aware of  ‘something’.  I can’t say I was really that worried, but thought that some music might be nice to take my mind off any weird feelings.  I bought my portable radio into the bathroom, turned it on and just couldn’t believe my ears when the tune ‘Man in the Mirror’ boomed out!  I think that was quite a coincidence – if there are such things as coincidences – which I gather from a spiritual point of view there are not!  I decided that I would be brave and continued to have my shower, on my own, and really felt that I had overcome one of my fears. Fortunately nothing odd appeared in the mirror that time! Phew!

Last week I went to see my friend Kay.  She has been very unwell with vertigo for several months and has been rarely able to leave her home due to her unrelenting dizziness.  I love to go and visit her as she is very good company, full of interesting stories, and we also share a lot of common experiences from our childhoods.     She has had an awful lot to contend with health wise over the last few years and she always amazes me with her positive approach to life.  She is one of life’s fighters and I have never once heard her complain or make ‘poor me’ comments, she just takes everything in her stride, looks for the best in every situation and most importantly, looks at how she can help others in the same boat as her.  She is one very strong lady!

Well that very morning Kay had been to the doctors for some test results and was told that she was diabetic and that she would need to take medication and change her diet.  As we were sitting talking, I suddenly felt compelled to give her healing.  I should explain that I am not what I would call a healer at all.  There have been a few instances in my life where I have had the same feeling, and always gone along with it, knowing that spirit obviously see a need.  I sat there whilst Kay and I were discussing her new diagnosis, becoming increasingly aware of what I can only describe as an instruction, that I should give her healing.  I ignored the feeling for a few minutes until it became overwhelming and I really had no choice in the matter.  Now, Kay has been ill since last summer, and I hadn’t once felt I should give her healing, so this was quite a new experience for me.  I asked her if she would mind and she said it would be fine.

She was sitting down and I stood behind her and placed my hands on her shoulders.  Within moments my hands felt as if they were fizzing, and they also felt extremely hot.  My whole body became hotter and hotter, even my toes were hot, and I normally have cold feet.  Even though my eyes were closed I could see a bright light, almost like a beam, coming towards me.  I felt that we were both immersed in this wonderful healing ray.  Kay said she could feel the heat across her chest and she too was aware of a light, which she felt was going to her heart.  It was a truly beautiful serene time.  I kept hearing the word opalite, which meant nothing to me.  I tend to ignore anything I hear until I am told it several times, just in case it is my imagination, but I just kept hearing that word.  I have never had much interest in crystals and know nothing about them at all, but did feel that this was something to do with a crystal.

I gradually felt my hands return to normal and the heat left me.  As I sat down I told Kay that I had kept hearing the word opalite.  She didn’t know what it meant either, so we looked it up in a reference book she has about crystals.  I was stunned when I read that it is used to regulate insulin!!! My goodness, I just couldn’t believe it.  I just love it when spirit gives me pertinent information that I would have never known about before, and when I research it, it proves to be totally correct.

I had always considered crystals a little ‘new age’ and never really thought of them as a serious way to heal or balance the body before.  I shall certainly view them with more reverence in future.  Hmmmm …. I feel another book or two that will need reading!

Where will I ever find the time?

34) It’s Only a Number!

A picture of a birthday cake

I’ve just had a birthday.  Hooray!

The problem is that I can’t get used to being so ‘old’.  Although my body doesn’t exactly feel ‘young’, my head, my mind and my heart does.  I’m like a ‘cut and shut’ where bits of me just don’t fit together quite right.  My body hasn’t felt very young for a number of years now. Due to a chronic illness I always have pain somewhere and the lack of energy is annoying, but I’ve got used to that over time, it’s been with me for nineteen years, so I should have by now!

No, now the problem is that my body is actually ageing.  I’ve noticed the wrinkles deepening and my eyelids kind of folding over, its difficult to describe, but all of my eyelids used to be visible, but now there is extra skin that hangs over them – I’m sure there is a technical name for it – but it’s happened all of a sudden.  My legs have never been my strong point, being knock-kneed how I rejoiced when maxi dresses came back into fashion, but now they too are beginning to look like old lady legs.  As I’ve aged I’m seeing more and more the family genes take over.  Auntie Violet legs – thanks Auntie!

My twin used to be very good at pointing out my short comings, but since her stroke she hasn’t so much and I have been thankful for that.  Last Friday when she came over she was looking intently at my hands.  Now, she doesn’t often say a lot these days so I normally relish a conversation with her, but on Friday she was not having a good day and was more ‘there’ (wherever that is), than ‘here’, so when she started to talk I was really pleased. “You’ve got”, she looked as if she was frustrated trying to talk, “You’ve got” she tried again, “What am I trying to say?”, “I don’t know sis” I replied, as I often do, because she often asks that.  There was another long pause and I always imagine her brain is trying to get into gear, “You’ve got  age spots on your hands” she piped up with a big smile, “Oh” I said, a little shocked, “and your hands” she went on, “your hands”, I waited patiently as she gathered her thoughts once again, “your hands aren’t looking so pretty these days, they look wrinkly”.  Gee, thanks sis!  Well that was certainly worth waiting for!

I hadn’t really looked at her hands before, they are lily white as she has been indoors for almost three years now and she only had one very tiny insignificant age spot.  One of her habits since her stroke is applying hand lotion many many times a day, so I must admit her hands do look very soft.  Maybe it should become one of my habits too. She isn’t capable of doing any housework or washing up either and I’m sure that plays a big role in my wrinkly, aged spots hand syndrome! Bless her!

I think the reason this birthday has hit me harder than all the rest is that it really is the heading towards sixty birthday, I can’t say I’m in my early fifties anymore, I’ve tilted over the edge of fifty five and fifty six does sound so very grown up! I think, for all of us who have gained some weight, we can look in the mirror and think about when we are slim again, there is a hope that one day we may shed the weight and be back to our ‘real’ slim selves.  For me too, there is always the hope that one day I am going to wake up well, that my illness will have scuttled off into the night, never to darken my door again, and I will once again return to the ‘real’ healthy, full of vitality, capable of anything, me.  But, looking in the mirror now, seeing my droopy eyelids and, thanks to Tina, being aware of my aged hands, there is no hope that one day the droops will disappear and the wrinkles will all smooth out.  I’m not even going to consider discussing the other, more covered up, bits of me, that are patently struggling with age.  A girl (or maybe I should at this age say woman) does have to keep some dignity! No, this is it.  It really is the beginning of me looking old.

I was chatting to my sister-in-law Wendy just before my birthday.  Wendy is sixteen years younger than me (eek, I’m ‘just’ old enough to be her mother!), she is extremely pretty, very petite and super fit.  She goes to the gym most days and also leads a very busy life as a hairdresser, a Mum to my two beautiful neices and has a very active social life.  She is also, absolutely lovely and great fun to be with.  As the years have gone by and we have got to know each other better we enjoy an easy relationship and chat away and discuss anything and everything.  I’m so lucky to have her as my sis-in-law.  She was asking me how old I was going to be and when I told her she said it is just a number. I laughed, yes, I agreed, but said it was a bloomin’ big number!

This week there was the shocking news of the death of Whitney Houston and it really got me thinking.  She had died when she was only forty eight years old.  I met Simon when I was that age, and how I would have hated to have missed the wonderful time we have shared together.  I have met so many wonderful new people since moving to Hampshire when I was forty eight.  For me it was an age when my life turned around, when I had the courage to stand up and be me, to leave an old life and start afresh.   I didn’t have Whitneys fame, her talent, her money or her looks, but I did have my own identity, which I sadly feel she was lacking.  How sad that her life ended when my new life had just begun.  I was thinking that Whitney won’t ever be old enough to be complaining about droopy eyelids and how very fortunate I am to have made it to have a big number birthday.

How sad that so many amazingly talented people just can’t cope with their lives and end up relying so heavily on drugs and alcohol to get through.  I wonder how many of them feel lonely, how many question who really likes them for who they are, not what they have or what they can do for them? It must be tough to cope with public adulation when in your heart you are not prepared, when deep down you must know that you are not coping with the success.

I find it strange how many young people say they want to be famous, and yet fame has so many drawbacks, I just don’t understand why anyone would want to be in a position where they can’t even pop out to their local shops without someone taking a snap of them. Where everyone feels they have the right to comment on and often criticise what you wear, who you spend your time with, what you do. What a dreadful way to live your life!

Hopefully Whitney is now beginning a new life in spirit where she will be able to realise how amazingly fortunate she was in so many ways, where she will be able to find some of the joy she had in her life here.  I do hope that her soul will heal and with help she will be able to move forward along her pathway. Maybe in her next incarnation she will again have the voice of an angel, but our society may have moved on and she will not be put on such a pedestal, where from such a great height so many have fallen.  Maybe next time she’ll happily get to the big number birthdays.  Let’s hope so.

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

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.

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

5) Come and get me …..

A Black Cat Crosses My Path Every Day

Image by aturkus via Flickr

I have loved animals all my life, well, that is, apart from spiders, which tend to freak me out a little, but I am happy to catch them and put them back outside and must admit I have squashed the occasional wasp … sorry God … just can’t cope with them at all.

So, where was I? Oh yes, me and animals.  Ever since I can remember I have been surrounded by various pets.  My parents had an Alsatian when I was very young, Bruce, who I gather adored my twin sister and I because we would sit in our high chairs and call him ‘Fru’ (we couldn’t pronounce Bruce) and feed him anything that we didn’t like.  As an animal loving family we went on to have a collection of cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, tortoises, goldfish, tame hedgehogs and even a salamander.

When I first married at 22 I was feeling quite lost with no pets around me.  My twin had decided that she wanted a kitten and I knew she was going to look at a litter.  What I didn’t know was that she couldn’t bear to leave without the last kitten and arrived on my doorstep with a little black bundle of fluff with the biggest green eyes I’d ever seen.  Babs had arrived.  Her mother was Burmese, and her father was a moggie, but Babs didn’t like to even think about that, she looked and behaved like a full Burmese, which meant she felt she was far superior to any of the other cats in the neighbourhood.

She was never what you would call a cuddly kitten.  She would sit on your lap for a couple of minutes and then be off climbing.  I say climbing because that was one of her favourite past-times.  She would climb up the walls hanging onto the wallpaper, climb up the curtains and sit at the very top and then fly across the room and land on a top shelf, then spring off again and she’d be balancing on the top of the open door.  I had never known a cat like it.  We lived in a bed sit, so our bedroom was in our sitting room, or if you like, our lounge included a bed, whichever way you want to look at it – it was a small space and we had to share it with Babs.  In the middle of the night she sidled under the covers and took great delight in sharpening her claws on our unsuspecting feet or legs.  She was the wildest of cats.  She grew ever more wild as the months went on, to the point where she would sit in wait on our garden wall for the neighbour to come out into her garden and then leap off the wall and attack her.    For no apparent reason she would have violent outbursts attacking everyone and everything in sight. I was at my wit’s end.  I was covered in scratches and bites, everything in the flat was scratched and chewed.  She even hissed at me when I arrived home from work and would walk sideways growling, which is pretty scary!

I managed to get her into a wicker basket, and with her hissing and growling all the time we were on the bus, I took her to the vets to ask his advise.  I had always thought that if you treated an animal with love and affection they would respond lovingly, but Babs had taught me that she didn’t share that belief.  The vet tried to examine her.  I had warned him that she could be quite vicious but he assured me, in a very condescending manner, that with his vast experience he knew how to cope with any cat. By the time he had managed to get Babs back in the basket he had been bitten and scratched many times.  Babs had won.  He shook his head in disbelief and without any tact whatsoever, told me, that in his opinion there was nothing to be done except to have her put to sleep.  I looked into her beautiful green eyes and knew I just couldn’t agree to that and implored the vet to give me any other possible solutions.  He wearily muttered something about how some cats can calm down a little after they have had a litter of kittens.  Well that was obviously the answer, I thought, delighted that I had the ultimate excuse to have kittens around me for at least 8 weeks!

Babs duly complied and in a short space of time it was very obvious that she was pregnant.  She had always been very slim and now she had a very large tummy which we could actually see moving as her kittens were stretching and vying for position inside her.  Her tempestuous nature though hadn’t changed one jot, except as her pregnancy went on she did give up the climbing and leaping.  I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right decision.

Eventually, after what seemed an eternity, Babs went into labour.  I had been to the library and read all about kitten births and had everything at the ready, although everyone told me that she would be very independent and would most probably prefer me to just leave her alone.  I had made a kittening area in the corner of the bed sit, and was chuffed when Babs decided it was the perfect place to give birth.  I put on gentle music and soft lighting so that it could be a relaxing environment for her.

I went over and stroked her and spoke gently to her, telling her everything would be fine.  The contractions became stronger and I thought I should now leave her to it.  As I walked away she got up and followed me, so I went back to the corner and sat with her again, comforting her.  I could see that a kitten was due any second and really thought it was time for me to leave her, again, as I got up to leave she got up to be with me. OK,  I said, and I laid down beside her, and stroked her all the way through her first kitten being born.  Instinctively she knew exactly what she should do and within a short time the tiny little kitten was hooked on to one of Babs teats.  About ten minutes went by and contractions started again and another kitten was born.  I stayed with Babs the whole time, speaking softly to her, assuring her as best I could.  After just over an hour had passed she had given birth to six beautiful kittens.  I cleared up the area and gave her new soft towels to lay on.  What I had realised was how gentle she had been with me through the birthing and hoped it would continue.

From that day onwards our relationship changed dramatically.  She became the most wonderful cat I could wish for.  I became quite ill and had to undergo several operations, and she would sit beside me all day until the family came home. As I managed to walk a little further each day she would walk beside me.  Neighbours would comment that whatever time I came home from work, which could vary greatly day-to-day, Babs would wander up to the gate about five minutes before and be waiting for me.  She talked incessantly and would be telling me all about her day as we walked together along the path to the front door.  It sounds mad I know, but she would really be trying to talk to me, I could feel it.

Although she was great with me she still was not good at the vets, so much so that the vet would only examine her or give her  annual vaccinations if she had been tranquilized.  We did this for many years and for some reason I always felt like I was letting her down.  On one particular occasion she was due to have her pre-vet medication and as I was about to crush the tablets into her food I was sure I heard her thoughts.  She told me that she hated the feeling of being tranquilized and promised she would be very good at the vets.  I held her face in my hands and looked deep into her eyes, “ok” I said,” I’ll trust you, but you have to be on your best behaviour.”  If anyone had heard me they would have thought I’d gone mad.

The vets face was a picture of concern as the realisation dawned on him that Babs was not sedated in the slightest.  I took her out of her basket and put her on his examining table.  I told him that she said she would be good as gold.  He gave me a ‘that woman is crazy’  kind of look but was surprised how well behaved she was.  She was looking straight at me as he put the needle in the back of her neck.  I heard her say, by what I can only think was some kind of thought transference, see I told you I’d be good!

I was working but always had Mondays off work to do the washing/ironing, shopping etc.  This particular Monday had started off quite normally.  My husband went to work just after 8am and I took my daughter to school just before 9am.  I popped into the shops on the way home. I remember it was a lovely sunny late summers day.  We had moved into a brand new house in the January and hadn’t met many of the neighbours at all.  It seemed to me that every morning there was a mass exodus as everyone went to work, and the only time many people were around was on the weekend.

As I opened the front door  a feeling of utter doom came over me.  I started crying and as I walked into the kitchen I looked at Babs bowls and I remember hearing her say ‘come and get me’.  I knew she was dead.  I was howling.  I phoned my Dad and sobbed down the phone to him that Babs was dead.  He asked what had happened and I told him I didn’t know.  I said I didn’t know where she was but that I knew she was dead. My Dad tried to calm me down and told me that she was most probably fine.  He asked if I had called her and I said no, I knew there was no point.  I told Dad that I would go and find her and would phone him back.  I phoned my husband and told him too and I am sure he thought I had gone mad. He too told me to go looking for her and he thought she might have been locked in a garage or shed somewhere.  It was so difficult to explain to them that I knew absolutely that she was dead.  There was no point in looking for her in the garage.

I picked up a shopping basket and walked aimlessly down the road, looking at all the empty drives by the houses.  Eventually I saw a house with a car on the drive and knocked on the door, as it happened I had met the woman who answered and she could see I was very distressed.  I asked her if she would come with me and look for my cat.  She kindly agreed and I instinctively knew where to go.  We walked along the road, quite a way, we turned left, past more houses and finally I walked up a bank onto a single railway track.  Babs was lying on the track.  She had been hit by a train. I couldn’t bear to pick her up and had to ask the site manager if he could go and get her for me.  I phoned my Dad and told him straight away.  He asked me how I had known and I tried to explain.  Dad was always aware of spirits through his life and he said he thought it was because Babs and I had such a strong bond.  I phoned my husband and he was just stunned.  He came home from work straight away.  I felt desolate.

For many months afterwards I was aware of Babs walking up the bed and even now, many many years later, I am sure I see her momentarily.  She was one very special cat and I shall never forget her.

4) Put a shirt on!

Pleiades Star Cluster

Image via Wikipedia

I have often wondered about the ‘dreams’ or what I prefer to call ‘visits’ that I’ve had for over 40 years now.  In my sleep state I have often spent time with relatives and friends who have passed to spirit.  Sometimes we just sit and chat and at other times we sing and dance, or my favourite, we fly, plane free, over the most beautiful countryside, over the sea or even up into the darkness of the universe, the wind rushing past us as we effortlessly fly past shining stars.  There are two  main differences I have noticed between these experiences and ‘dreams’ .  Firstly I remember that I am aware that they have passed from this physical life, in fact we often discuss it at the time, and secondly,  I have vivid recollections of these’ visits’ and years and years later I can still remember every moment of them.

A couple of weeks ago my good friend Kay loaned me a wonderful thought-provoking book. It was the kind of book I just couldn’t put down, it just made me think so much.  One of the chapters was about astral travel, something I admit I have never really been interested in, but the book was so good I thought I might as well read it.  I was stunned to find similar  examples of my own ‘dream/visit’ experiences and was really excited to read that you could actually ask spirit to travel to you before you fell asleep at night.  So all tucked up, next to my unsuspecting, sceptical husband Simon, I said my usual prayers and then remembered to ask my spirit family to travel to visit me.  I didn’t even think to mention it to Simon.

At three in the morning I was awoken by Simon literally leaping out of bed, racing round the bed to the bedroom door and putting the main light on.  I was shocked!  I asked what he was doing.  He told me that I had been in the doorway and I couldn’t see because it was dark so he had to put the light on.  I laughed and told him I’d been asleep and told him to come back to bed. I didn’t even think about the request I’d put in with spirit a few hours earlier.

The next evening I went to my regular development circle run by my friend Annette.  She was standing outside with other members of the circle as I arrived.  She was obviously excited and couldn’t wait to talk to me.  She told me that she had been aware of being in my house in the middle of the night! Then she went on to tell me  that she had seen Simon (with no clothes on!) and had told him to put a shirt on.  She said that there had been quite a gathering and she had wondered why she was there.  I was stunned and couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.  I was covered in goose bumps, which I call truth bumps, which for me are always a sign of a spiritual truth. Her face was an absolute picture as I then told her what had happened in the night and especially when I told that I had specifically asked for my spirit family to visit that night.  She was struggling to come to terms with what had appeared to have happened.  We were both just so amazed.

I couldn’t wait to get home to tell Simon.   In his typical sceptical way he said it must have been a coincidence.  I asked him how many times in his lifetime he had jumped out of bed and put the main light on.  He admitted he never had before.

A few days later Annette was discussing the events of that night with a good spiritual friend of hers and said she had been wondering why on earth she would have been in my house that night. She told her friend that I had asked for my spiritual family to visit and her friend told her that it make perfect sense as she is most probably a member of my soul group.  When Annette told me I was again covered in my truth bumps, the explanation made so much sense to me.

Annette decided it would be a great idea to set up an astral travel experiment and Kay agreed.  Now every night before we go to sleep, all three of us ask if we can astral travel together.  Kay really fancies popping off to Hawaii, a place she visited and loved on holiday.  Every morning we contact each other and compare notes.  So far, not one of us has any recollections of travelling anywhere, but there is still that wonderful anticipation  every night that we could all end up in our hula skirts on a sun-kissed beach!

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