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.

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38) Pros and Cons

This is an approximation of the zig-zag visual...

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!

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.

29) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Smiley Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21) What are you thankful for?

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

What a fabulous topic!  Whoop!  Whoop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16) I’m going to post a blog a day!

Inspirational Barnstar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12) Inspirational Meditation

Ocean

On one of my courses at the Arthur Findlay College, Stansted, many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be in the class of Nora Moray-Stringer.  She is truly one of the most delightful women I have ever met. She has a calm surrounding her, a dignity, an aura of kindness, lightness and spirituality that is all-encompassing.  Her voice is like a crystal, so clear and pure.  I could listen to her all day.

As a tutor she would not stand for any nonsense, but she was as fair as she was strict.  She taught that to work with spirit you must respect them and yourself.  She would always push you for the highest standards of evidence within your mediumship.

I remember once describing a room that I was seeing.  I thought I was doing quite well as I described the furniture.  I mentioned a tall glass cupboard which the recipient could accept, but that wasn’t good enough for Nora!  She intervened and asked me to look within the cupboard and describe the items that I saw.  I looked and could see cups an saucers.  That was still not good enough!  She asked me to give a detailed account of the colours and patterns on them.  To my amazement I managed to do this and the woman I was communicating for could confirm that the information was totally correct.  As I said, Nora was not a pushover in any way, but my goodness, she moved my mediumship abilities far higher than I ever thought possible.  Even now, so many years later, I always try to work to her exacting standards and often hear her in my mind asking for better evidence.

In one of her classes she told us we would be sitting in a meditation and asking for inspirational words.  I had never done that before and didn’t hold out much hope of receiving very much at all.  I had been sitting with my eyes closed, listening to her voice as she led us on a journey, when I was aware of being touched lightly on the back of my head.  I now know that it is my writing guides special sign that they are about to give me words to write down, but at the time I wondered what on earth it was.  Had I not been in a meditation at the time I would have felt my head, but as it was I couldn’t do that and just had to sit with this odd feeling.  Sure enough I began to hear words, beautiful words that I knew weren’t from me. Nora was explaining that we should remember them and write them down when the meditation was over.  I was desperately trying to remember, but felt sure that I would lose them by the time we were finished.  When she bought us back into the room we all hurriedly wrote down what we had heard. I knew I had forgotten some of the verses, but managed to write down the first four lines.

She explained that we would each read out loud that which we had just received. Then she added a twist – she always did!  We  would then have to go to the huge table in the window and from maybe thirty or forty books scattered across it, just choose one that we were immediately drawn to.  We  had to stand at the front of the class, open the book we had chosen at a random page and read what we first saw.  The correlation between the passages that were read and the writings other pupils  had received was amazing.  I nervously picked up a large heavy book in a brown cover and was astonished when I opened it and read a passage that was something about breathing into the light, breathing to enhance our auras. I can’t recollect the exact words, but I was dumbfounded considering what I had just read out to the class:

Breathe gently into the sea of light, The blue cascades, shimmering and bright

Breathe softly through the lilac mist, The touch of love, the gentle kiss

Breathe calmly over the mist of time, Hold yourself strong and feel sublime

The breath you hold within your heart, Fills your life and keeps you part

Of the universe in which you stay, The brightest star by night and day

I knew there were more verses, but at the time I couldn’t retrieve them from my mind.  It was a couple of weeks later as I was sitting quietly that I heard the beginning of the words again.  I went and got a pen and paper and wrote down the rest of it, just as I had been told in my meditation.  The next time I went to Stansted I took the words with me and read them to Nora.

As silent as a feather flight, As gentle as the touch of silk

Hold close your truths, your ivory hand, The pen of thoughts, the spirits command

Breathe in the oceans, breathe in the lands, Breathe in the earth, the stones and the sand

Fill yourself with the sky above, The sun and moon, and above all, love

Feed yourself from plates of gold, Fill cups of silver in which you hold

The essence of life’s mysteries, The completed pages of histories.

Hold lightly the hand that touches your soul.

Whenever I have read these words they have taken my mind straight back into that classroom with Nora, and her overriding message, to work with a sincere and high regard for spirit  and to work to your highest possible standard of mediumship.  I promise Nora, I will never forget!

To me these words are almost meditative and I always feel a wonderful sense of calm and a deep connection to the earth, the universe and to spirit when I read them.

I hope that all who read them now will enjoy them and be aware of whatever emotions they invoke.

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