31) Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Eye Examination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29) Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Smiley Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28) Great Expectations

English: New Year fireworks at the London Eye

Will your world change after midnight?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20) Stairway to Heaven

My brother Ray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16) I’m going to post a blog a day!

Inspirational Barnstar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15) I was a Catherine Wheel!

Dizzy thorns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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