New Year at Lime Cottage

It’s been a while, but it’s time to put the cottage back into the blog, because like the year, it’s turning.

This time last year, owning my own home was no more than a distant dream – and not one I took very seriously.  It was there on the wish list, though – waiting to manifest when I was ready to receive.

Half a year ago I was in a very different space – battling with officials and contractors, packing up my possessions and getting ready to take one of the largest gambles in my life.  I was just about to move into a cracked, leaking, broken-down old building and hoping that somehow I could turn it into a home.

Oh there had been miracles and synchronicities a-plenty, just to get to the stage where I owned it, but whether I’d be able to bring it back into a habitable state was very much in the balance.

cottage scaffoldingSummer happened, but not at Lime Cottage.  The building was encased in scaffolding, so that almost no sunlight reached inside.  The beautiful garden was disappearing under an ever-increasing mound of builders’ junk.  The rosemary bush was almost flattened by the cement mixer; the hollyhocks uprooted and pushed aside by the roofers; the marigolds were cowering under broken tiles and guttering.

As autumn arrived and days shortened, the scaffolding finally went.  So – very gradually – did the workmen.  At last, I had the place to myself and could begin what my builder called, “just the cosmetic stuff” – the process of turning it into a home.

That’s what I’ve been doing this month – transforming the tiny study into a warm, vibrant space where my young students can work and – when he comes visiting – my little grandson can sleep.

 The budget is as tight as the workspace, and the preparation is gruelling – filling cracks in the plaster, sanding, priming the woodwork, painting the ceiling… but finally I could start to make a ‘cosmetic’ difference – painting the walls, whilst watching the most glorious sunset over the Somerset Levels and the Polden Hills beyond.

Things are turning.  Days are imperceptibly starting to lengthen and by the end of the coming year I could be living in a fully decorated and welcoming home.

Warmest thanks to everyone who has read, empathised, sympathised and encouraged me during this year. the journey has been amazing – and you have helped me on my way more than you’ll ever know.

A very happy, peaceful and joy-filled New Year to everyone out there.

 

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Celebrating Solstice my way

 

Living as I do in Glastonbury, there are endless ways in which to welcome these turning points in the year.  All day today there have been and will be meditations, retreats, activations, celebrations and gatherings.  Robes will be donned, headgear dusted off and worn; drums will be hit and fires lit.  Invocations will be said to ancient gods and goddesses and dances and rituals will be solemnly performed.

 

The diversity of beliefs and observances is wonderful and adds to the magic of this unique place, but I have not joined in.

 

My pictures are grainy and blurred, but they mark my own personal Solstice celebration.  I don’t follow the angelic or shamanic paths.  I’m not a pagan or a druid.  I simply AM and I walk my own path, happily and with humility and gratitude for being a part of this wonderful game of Life.

 

Yesterday I welcomed the longest night of the year by watching a beautiful sunset across the Polden Hills as I painted the walls of LIME Cottage’s study.  What a glorious back drop for such a mundane task!  (No photos of that – I was far too paint-spattered to risk touching the i-Pod 🙂 )

So today Chalice Hill winter solstice 2014I headed out early and admired the mistletoe-laden apple trees on Chalice Hill as the sky started to lighten.

solstice torFurther along the road, the Tor came into view.  The angelic light to the left came from a street lamp, by the way – at least I think it did…

Usually I – and many others – head up to one of the hills.  Today, though, I decided to take advantage of my first solstice spent living just above the edge of the Somerset Levels, so I took the Old Butleigh Road and wandered down to the fields and rhynes below the town.

By now morning had broken, so it seemed very fitting – solstice blackbirdin an Eleanor Farjeon kind of way – that a blackbird began singing in a tree right next to me.  You can just see him – tail in the air – in the lightest part of this photo.

Away to the left, across fields that are already heavy and clogged with water, the clouds had parted enough to let in some dawn light.  No sunshine, but solstice sunrisecertainly an ending to the longest of nights and a promise of the return journey, with days gradually lengthening at the turn of the year.

So no drums, robes, bells or whistles for me as I headed back uphill along the gloriously-named Cinnamon Lane (pausing to greet a pair of sheep who had somehow strayed into the children’s playing field there and were grazing gratefully).

I felt grateful too, to have witnessed and welcomed the solstice dawn in this beautiful place at this very magical time of year.

In homage to that blackbird and with seasonal greetings to all who read or follow my little blog, I send this with a wish that however you mark or celebrate the turning of the year, you may have a peaceful, joyful and memorable experience and find something to enjoy as each new dawn arrives.  Meanwhile, I’ll return to the painting 🙂

 

 

 

A ‘Dark is Rising’ Night

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

This train of thought began a few nights ago, as wind and something wet and very cold lashed against my bedroom window.  I’d been working on my latest manuscript, so I suppose I was in that slightly altered state that books always bring about in me.  At any rate, the combination of the storm, the creaks and groans of the cottage and this dark, deep magical time of year as we approach the winter solstice made me think, “Whoa – it’s a Dark is Rising night!”

It was then that I realised how Susan Cooper’s stunning and fearsome children’s novel had seeped into the very bones of me.  It had shaped my perceptions and altered the person I was.  A truly great book should do that.

I don’t remember when I first discovered The Dark is Rising.  Probably in one of my jobs as a school librarian/ head of English in the early seventies.  There was some wonderful children’s literature around at that time – Ursula Le Guin‘s Wizard of Earthsea, Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Penelope Lively‘s meticulously crafted time-slip adventures, Peter Dickinson‘s Changes Trilogy – but it was Susan Cooper’s masterpiece which helped to craft the person I am now.

Kids bookshelf with German and American childr...

So all this got me thinking:  What other books have shaped my life?  Notice I’m not talking here about favourite books, books I’ve enjoyed, books I’d recommend (although – to the right person – I’d recommend every one of them).  I’m talking of books that have jolted me into a new understanding and way of seeing.  I’m talking of having my prior perceptions dragged – kicking and screaming at times – into a new paradigm or, in some cases, of having my wildest and most cherished suspicions and hopes about what is really going on here validated and encouraged.  In either case, what follows is a list of books – whittled down reluctantly to ten and in no particular order – which have changed me forever.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper  Written for children but reaches the magic deep inside each of us.  For me, the boundary between the normal and the magical was broken down forever once I’d read it.

CosMos by Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan  Magic for grown-ups!  Here I discovered highly respected academics writing about and expanding upon the cosmos as I wanted and needed it to be.  (I’ve been lucky enough to encounter both authors in life, and they are two of the most delightful and inspiring people I’ve ever met.)

The Crack in the Golden Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce  This book kept appearing in other authors’ bibliographies, so I decided I needed to read it for myself.  Thank goodness I did.  Stunning and life-changing revelations on every page.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell  Yes, he’s a brilliant novelist and I loved The Bone Clocks too, but it was this book and it’s way of weaving infinitely subtle links between lifetimes and personalities that shifted my way of seeing other lives and times.

Autism and the Edges of the Known World by Olga Bogdashina  With a title that great, how could I resist?  This (along with my next choice and Suzy Miller’s Awesomism) should be required reading for anyone with an interest in the autistic spectrum and the amazing people who dwell on it.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida  I’ve already devoted one blog post to this stunning little book but it still deserves a place here.  For me it was filled with moments of joyful recognition as I was shown that hunches had been right all along, or gave me insights I’d never have found alone.

The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto  Needs no introduction.  A beautiful, wise, witty man (I was fortunate enough to hear him speak once) whose unique vision and stunning images changed the way the world worked for me.

Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts  Before I settled here in Glastonbury, I came for a long weekend and – as visitors do – went for a psychic reading.  I was told many things that day.  One was that I would become a writer, but that first I needed to find and read the Seth books.  I did.  They are complicated, abstract, awkwardly written and lack the easy readability of Abraham Hicks, but they changed my life and I re-read them constantly.

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch  This is where I first discovered a God I liked.  Neale’s God was witty, charming, wise and surprising.  I struggle with the financial empire the books have spawned, but the words resonate deeply.

Khalil Gibran (April 1913)

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran  Last on my list but the first of these books I discovered and – if I had to choose – probably the most life-changing.  I love this beautiful, deceptively simple little volume like no other.

 

So there you have it: the books that made me.

Please feel free to share any of your own life-changing reads below.

 

 

Analogy 2

In my last post I compared life to a funfair ride and several people mentioned how that analogy worked for them.

Screenshot of ERD - Estrada Real Digital, A So...

So here’s another…

Imagine our souls/higher selves/eternal beings or whatever you wish to call them as a group of eager adventure gamers.  Maybe it takes a bit of imagination, but bear with me.

These eternal aspects of us are addicted to a game called Life.

It’s not surprising.  The game is a totally immersive experience.  To play it, you put on a skin suit and become a character in a drama that you have helped to script.  That doesn’t mean you know what’s going to happen.  As in most action games, you get to choose your character.  You also select fellow players who will act out the parts of the heroes and villains in your game.  You sort out with them before you start the roles each will play, so that you can all gain the most experience from the game. (And yes, that does mean they are not terrible, bad, unkind people, but eternal souls made of light who have willingly agreed to take on these roles – act out a part – to enable you to have adventure, challenge and gain new experience.)
Your avatar starts off as a very young and inexperienced character, because part of the skin suit’s purpose is to give you temporary amnesia: You forget – or almost forget – that you have a life beyond the game.  You forget all the other versions of the game you’ve played as other characters.  As you work through the levels you gain experience and, if you’re playing mindfully, you start to remember that you’re more than just this game character and find yourself able to draw on advice and inspiration from the ‘real’ you.
Of course (as you’ll have noticed) it’s a hugely complex game and I’ve only scratched the surface of it here.  There’s a far more detailed Player’s Guide available in Kindle or paperback editions, which I try not to plug too often, but maybe once in a while is OK, especially at a time of year when many people are buying gifts or looking for ways to spend vouchers 🙂 .

The Amazon Kindle 2

So, here come the plugs:

The link to my US Amazon page, which has details of how to buy either version, plus the cheaper-than-chips Kindle taster is here.
If you’d like to see the UK version, which also has all my reviews and star ratings (Amazon won’t put UK reviews on their US site, and no one in the US has reviewed it yet) go to this link.
If you’re an Amazon hater and would prefer to buy direct from my publisher, head over here.  Oh, and if you follow this link and leave your name and email, you could even win a free copy of the paperback: http://feedaread.com/p/3493/
Available in paperback and Kindle editions

Available in paperback and Kindle editions