Warning: Incorrigible Optimist At Work

You saw it coming, didn’t you?  Some of you even commented on it…

What do you get when you stick an incorrigible optimist in the bleakest and most desperate situation anyone could imagine?

Fantasy, Clock, Statue, Light, SpiralMagic – that’s what.

Only we know, don’t we, that it isn’t magic at all – it’s natural.  It’s the way life really can be.  It’s far, far more natural than cause and effect, far more natural than coincidence or random chance, far more natural – I’ve recently discovered – than synchronicity, even.

So, taking a deep breath, I’m going to say it:

There is no such thing as objective reality.

Certainly there IS such a thing as default reality.  That’s where almost everyone lives for the majority of their human life.  It’s the way Life goes when people believe they can do nothing about what happens, because it happens TO them.  It seems so self-evident and relentless that many people never dream that they can escape the tyrany of Fate, Luck, Chance or whatever deity they hold responsible for the events that go on around them.  Grimly and doggedly they struggle on through Life at default setting, feeling cheered when things go well and depressed or angry when they go wrong, but never thinking for a moment that they could take responsiblity for these events – far less that they could choose and affect the outcome.

There are others, though, whose lives turn out very differently.  There are those (and I’ve had many amongst my family and acquaintances) who expect things to go wrong, expect to be cheated, disappointed, short-changed and beset by inconveniences.  Sure enough, Life delivers.  They are not surprised.  They expected nothing more.

At the other extreme there are the optimists – those who expect that, regardless of setbacks, Life will turn out well and they will find something great and precious emerging from every situation.  They expect nothing less.

I’m one of the latter group.  Not every day and in every moment of course.  There are times when I can rail against my fate with the best of them, but it only takes a little nudge from a caring friend or a tiny synchronicity for me to remember, “Hey, yes, I’ve got this covered; I can choose how it works out.  I can learn something valuable from it.  Let me just think for a sec about why it turned up in my Life at this point.”

That’s what I’ve been doing this last week or two.

Certainly, some of the issues I’ve been dealing with have been serious and life-changing, but the example I’m going to give is of a much lighter kind – just to give any doubters amongst my readership confidence to start by choosing outcomes for the small stuff before building up to bigger and better things.

Sunglasses Glasses Fashion Style Summer HoA week ago I lost my sunglasses.  They were prescription lenses, as I’m quite short-sighted, and designer frames, so replacing them would have been costly.  I was irritated, naturally.  I searched everywhere I’d been and wondered where they could have gone missing.  What I didn’t do was to give them up for lost.  I maintained a conviction that they and I would be reunited.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a phone call from a staff member at some beautiful gardens I’d visited on the day the glasses disappeared.  I’d first noticed they were missing as I’d got out of the car when we arrived, so hadn’t been wearing them on my visit.  The other relevant fact is that I’d loved the gardens so much that I’d bought a season ticket, filling in a form with all my contact details.

“Is that Jan?” asked a cheery voice.  “I think I’ve found your sunglasses!”
I was stunned for a moment. “Well I have lost them,” I said.
“I KNEW it!” she squealed triumphantly. “I just KNEW they belonged to you. Describe them for me.”
I did so and – naturally – they were mine.
“But how did you know they belonged to me,” I asked. “The only name on them is Ted Baker’s!”
There was a slight pause before she responded, “I don’t know. I just looked at them and a sudden inspiration came to me that they must belong to you. I remembered you buying the season ticket and I knew they had to be yours.”

 

I’m happy to say that the important issues are changing too.  Since I arrived in my new temporary abode to support my family, one thing after another has slotted neatly into place.  My daughter is now also a believer in manifesting a great future and together we are planning and choosing each next positive step along the road to recovery and towards building a new, happy life for her and her children.  Still a long way to go, but all will be well … because that is what we have chosen.

In case anyone who reads this would like some specific help in manifesting change in their lives, I’d like to add a link to the wonderful words that helped us climb out of the abyss in our darkest hour and allowed us to move forward: Cheryl’s Prayer of Choices.

There is also a children’s version which I worked on with Cheryl here.

 

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Lost in Conurbation

“Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage.”

wrote Richard Lovelace, back in the 1600s.

I’d sometimes wondered, passingly, how true that was.  Could the human spirit rise above physical incarceration and fly free, despite all?

Life – considerate as ever – has given me the opportunity to find out.  Not, I hasten to add, that I have been walled up in some dreadful prison cell.  I’m free to come and go as I wish and my surroundings are clean, dry and comfortable.  It is, nonetheless, a cell.

I will be living, through the rest of spring and summer and well into autumn, in a square white room.  There is a tiny shower room, but all other aspects of life must be accomplished here.  Where once I had rooms, now I have corners – one for cooking, another for sleeping, an eating, relaxing and working area.  Where once I had a garden to tend, stuffed with nodding daffodils, bluebells and tulips, I now have a single pot of hyacinths on a white windowsill.   Where once I watched the sun set amidst distant hills across the Somerset Levels, now it drops below a tower block across the car park from the one I live in.

My windows look out on to other blocks of flats.  A hollow-eyed woman with dark hair sometimes peers out from the one opposite.  A gaunt man coughs and gasps in the window as he drags at a cigarette from the room below hers.  Beyond the blocks are housing estates on two sides and roads on the others.

Yes, it would be easy to sink into self pity in this sterile, soulless, monotone place.  On my first night here, I lay in bed listening to the sound of traffic, far below, on the dual carriageway that leads to London – a soft, irregular swishing sound that rose to a crescendo and fell away again.  It could almost have been taken for waves, breaking on a pebble beach, I decided, before noticing that this gave me no comfort at all.  I’ve never much enjoyed the sea – too wide, too cold, too unpredictable.

I have with me the few comforts and essentials I was able to cram into a relative’s small hatchback and a few sticks of furniture I’ve borrowed, or bought from local second-hand shops.  It’s a world away from my lovely cottage, my dear friends and my contented life over in the west.

So is my spirit broken by this cruel exile?

Slightly battered, perhaps, in these early days of readjustment, but far from broken.  This has become an exercise in actively seeking out the positive.  Since my arrival two weeks ago, a froth of may blossom has covered the narrow strip of wilderness – a haven for dog-walkers and fly-tippers – that separates the estate from the trunk road, so that I now barely see the lorries and vans hurtling towards the city.  Tiny bluetits cling impossibly to vertical brick walls outside my window as they gather some form of sustenance from them.  Beyond the flyover, a single green field can be glimpsed obliquely from one window, if I position my chair carefully.

The greatest help, though, has come from the two little children I have come here to be with.  They and their mother have been permanently uprooted from their home, in the most traumatic of circumstances.  They, too, are living in temporary accomodation nearby, but with no hope of returning to their home and friends.  They have lost so much, yet they teach me, each day, about positivity and optimism.

“Grandma has a lake in her garden,” the six-year-old informed his mother, referring to the drainage ditch that crosses the small piece of grassland beside the flats.
Scale is unimportant. For us, now, it is a river, with meanders and tiny waterfalls created by twigs and leaf litter.

His three-year-old sister can easily spend ten minutes peering with total delight into a patch of wild violets she found there, stroking its petals reverently, or having earnest conversations with a passing beetle.

Even in my room, their imagination and creativity fills the space with magic. Image may contain: indoor A side table became an enchanted forest home for the fairies for a while.

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A garden, bath and sofa were created in a box for their toys.

For all of us, now, Life insists that we build our own joys and delights and that we trust to its bounty and goodness to allow my little family to heal and rebuild their lives, so that I can ultimately return to mine.

I won’t be the same person who left, though.  There is richness in this experience that will stay with me forever and I am deeply grateful for it.

 

 

Am I where I want to be?

Yesterday someone sent me an email.  If the photo the sender attached was to be believed, it was a smart, squeaky-clean young American.  He told me I’d been accepted as a member of an organisation called the Association of Spiritual Writers or some such.  Can’t remember the exact wording, as I deleted it pretty quick.

For a start, I hadn’t applied to join any such group.  For an end, he quickly moved into an unabashed sales patter, telling me that in order to get top price ticket sales at my talks, I needed to enrol on his training course, which would maximise my earnings.

Sorry to disappoint you, young Sir, but I have not the slightest interest in making money from spiritual writing or talking.  Sharing ideas, having dialogues, learning and discovering, yes – those things are hugely important to me, but that’s where it stops.

It made me think, though.  Do I have what I want now, in the autumn of my life?  And the answer seems to be that yes, I do.

I own a very small, sweet, though slightly damp and crumbly, old cottage in a beautiful part of England.  I get enough money from my pension to pay the bills and live each month and although I don’t run a car, have expensive holidays or buy luxury items, I have all I need to be comfortable and to give a little to charities I care about.

I still do some private tutoring, charging less by the hour than I pay a handyman to chop and stack my logs.  I’m fine with that, too.  I do it because teaching was my first love and I enjoy keeping contact with it and helping children who would otherwise be struggling.

I spend vast amounts of time making 1/12 scale miniature figures and room settings by upcycling mass produced and junk items.  It’s a brilliant hobby for me.  I can be creative, inventive and gloriously messy.  It involves constant problem-solving that keeps my mind active.
People say, “You must have such patience,” but for me it’s a kind of meditation.  I do my deepest meditating when I’m hand-stitching a minuscule white shirt or sticking tiny tufts of hair on to a wig base.
I display and sell the fruits of my labour at craft sales, get smiles and lovely comments and have fascinating conversations all day.  I make modest amounts of money – which I pass on to my son and his partner, as they are saving up for a deposit on their first home.

Strangely, at almost every sale I’m approached by some smartly dressed young man who eagerly tells me how I could make masses more money from my crafting by doing this on Instagram or that on You Tube.  I smile, thank them politely and carry on doing what I do.

I’ll happily trade the lack of stress, deadlines and problems for the lack of wealth and material goods.  I’m happy, I’m still learning every day and I have a wonderful life.

 

 

 

Being Grommit

Image result for wallace and gromit imagesI hesitate to write this, because there are so many people out there much better qualified to talk about it.  Still, it’s come into my head and it’s lodged there like an ear worm and won’t go away until I write it, So I suppose I’d better write…

There’s a huge amount of non-sense spoken about sensitivity and highly sensitive people, so perhaps I can add a modicum of sense, or maybe just more nonsense.

I wouldn’t generally count myself among these people (which is why I don’t feel particularly qualified to write about them) but I seem to have some kind of magnetic attraction to them.  They keep showing up in my life.  Once they are there, they tend to stick around.  Whenever that happens with people in our lives, it means we have something to teach or learn from each other – probably both.

So let me give you a very personal, no-holds-barred snapshot of how it feels to be a neuro-typical individual, living and working amongst highly-sensitive people.

They’d like to fit in with the rest of us.  They really would.  It would make their lives so much easier and they know this.  Some of them elect to go down the route of medication aimed at suppressing their sensitivity, dulling their responses and turning them into rather sad but apparently average people.  Many, many more prefer to self-medicate, using recreational drugs and/or a mixture of caffeine and alcohol to render their daily lives (or at least parts of them) more manageable.  Both of these seem to me a tragic waste – partly because of the unpleasant side-effects and partly because all these substances mask the true essence of who they really are.  Nevertheless, I understand the reasons behind the choices.  For those of us living and interacting with these people, we’re faced with a double problem of trying to understand their innate differences from our way of being and to deal with the challenges faced when dealing with anyone who is drugged up.

I frequently feel hurt, offended, rejected and dismissed by those I care about and love who live within this spectrum of being.  As a ‘typical’ person I crave affection – and some occasional expression of this, attention – such as responses to messages or to be looked at once in a while, reassurance that I’m getting things right, and trust.  I’ve discovered, slowly and painfully, that I will only get any of these by explaining my needs very carefully, providing detailed instructions on how I would like the person to react and then being satisfied with what they are able to provide, even if it does feel more like a rehearsed trick than a genuine, spontaneous action on their part.

Does that sound terribly harsh?

If we look at it from their perspective, they do NOT lack emotions and feelings.  They have them in such abundance that their fragile human bodies are just about incapable of containing them.  They probably dealt with this as newborns by screaming endlessly, as children by throwing tantrums or head-banging, as adolescents by almost total withdrawal from society and family and immersion in music, video games or self-harm.  During that long, painful process, they have learned to suppress almost all emotion, except fear and anxiety, which just won’t go away.  They care and want to please as much as anyone, but it’s deeply scary for them, and any tiny steps they can take should be welcomed with deep gratitude by those of us who can’t even imagine what it is costing them.

They know and feel and see things we don’t.  They’ve learned that in our society, people who know more than others are usually considered clever, so they can easily become so supercilious and self-opinionated that I want to punch them.  They’re frustrated when we don’t get what seems ludicrously obvious to them.  I find myself thinking, ‘Good grief, here you are, treating me like a five year old, when you can’t even walk into a shop and buy a pack of underwear.’

So why is it like this?

In my opinion, all of us are – first and foremost – pure consciousness.  You can call it soul or spirit if that works for you.  We have all chosen to bring a portion of this pure, rarefied consciousness into physical bodies – to be born as humans.  It involves a fair bit of give and take to do that.  If you think of the consciousness as Light, there is only so much we can squeeze into a human body.  Most of us have been happy with that trade-off as it means we can experience physical existence and use this unique way of (human) being to grow in a way that can’t be achieved otherwise.  Image result for wallace and gromit images

Now think of the way consciousness works.  There is an innate wish to push the boundaries – to go farther, faster, higher than anyone else has done.  Consequently, ever-growing numbers of conscious beings are trying to squeeze more and more Light into the frail, delicate human bodies they are being born into.

It means the fit is not great.  They can’t bed down into their bodies so easily and some of the Light isn’t properly held in.  I keep getting this mental image of Wallace frantically screaming, “Grommit – these are the Wrong Trousers!” in the wonderful Aardman animated film!

Image result for wallace and gromit imagesAnd I often feel like poor old Grommit, frantically trying to avert disasters and melt-downs, and help my enLightened friends, students, relatives and acquaintances to fit into the crazy trousers-of-life they’ve entered, while assisting them to understand that yes, the world DOES need the Light they’ve brought with them and that their brilliance is an absolute gift to all of us.

So stay with us, all you wonderful Wallaces.  Try your best to function in those trousers.  We Grommits will keep trying to help you in every way we can – because that’s why WE incarnated.

 

 

Mother

Bag Gypsofilia Seeds, Gypsophila, BagIt was Mothers’ Day here yesterday.  I say ‘here’ meaning the UK, because I know other countries celebrate it at other times.  Our Mothers’ Day changes each year – something to do with Easter wobbling about, which is something to do with the moon, I think.  Never really figured out what or why because it never really interested me that much.  All I know is that it often more-or-less coincides with my birthday, which means my offspring tend to send me some sort of greeting on one or the other, but rarely both.

This year the two dates were separated by a few weeks.  All three remembered the birthday.  For Mothers’ Day I received a text message and two phone calls, plus a DVD which arrived a week ago, it’s computer generated Amazon gift message proclaiming it to be an extra birthday/Mother’s Day gift.

I just didn’t rear the kind of kids who splash out on expensive mail order bouquets, trawl through Etsy for the perfect personalised gift and quirky card or spatter Facebook with multi-coloured ‘best mum ever’ photo collages covered in hearts and anaemic-looking teddy bears.  For that I’ll be eternally grateful.

No longer having a mother in the physical realm, I spent my Mothers’ Day communing with Mother Nature in my garden.  It was a glorious spring day and I was blissfully happy, up to my elbows in deep, dark loam, planting out a new herb bed, enjoying the nodding daffodils and clearing the grass from the ever-expanding clumps of primroses and cowslips that beam up from every cranny and corner.  My garden had a gift for me, too – a beautiful little tumbled crystal, just lying on the earth’s surface and waiting for me to find it.

In the evening, I sat down to watch the gift DVD – a sci-fi film called Arrival.  My youngest had selected it for me because he knew I would love it – intelligent, very cleverly constructed, with some fascinating takes on how language, communication and – most important of all – time itself works.  One line shone out and left me buzzing by the end.  It was something like: Imagine writing a sentence, using both hands, and starting from both ends at once.  You’d need to know everything that the sentence was going to contain in advance and you’d need to know exactly how much space to leave so that it met up perfectly.  You’d need to know the future.

Yes, my kids don’t shower me with trinkets on Mothers’ Day, but they know me very well.  I’m one lucky mother.

Having Fun

Munich, Oktoberfest, Ride, Carousel, FunRight now, at this point in my life, I’m having fun.

Should I feel guilty about that?  Would I be more worthy if I focused (as many wonderful people I know do) on wars and famine and the-state-of-politics and all the other worrying aspects of our world?

I dare to say it: no.

My life – all six-and-a-fair-bit decades of it – has had it’s share of disasters, problems, heartbreaks and despair.  I’m now – in hindsight (which is a much cosier place to view from) – thankful for all those difficult and testing times.  They’ve etched lines on my face, turned my hair white and allowed me to understand myself and others far better than if I’d had a safe, comfortable time reading the papers and keeping the house tidy.  (I do neither of those things.)

At this point, I have no major problems in my life and I have the most inordinate amount of fun.  If you’re about to say, “Oh don’t say that, you’re tempting fate”, you are missing the point.  In those terms, I don’t believe there is any such thing as ‘fate’ – or, for that matter – a vengeful deity of any kind, which must be appeased and bowed down to.  I don’t believe that I have a preordained ‘lot’ that will come to me, whatever, or can only be avoided if I follow the rules, or store up good karma.

I believe that I create my life.

Now the devil’s advocate will be saying, “So if that’s the case, how come you created all those heartbreaks and disasters, huh?”

I don’t mean that I create the whole shebang consciously and meticulously (although I have come across a few people who are just about able to do that).  However I am coming closer to a conscious awareness of the process.

Since I started to see myself as moving through a thixotropic aether (see my last post for details if you have no idea what I just said there) rather than a vacuum which happens to have a bit of air in this particular portion of it,  I’ve altered my way of viewing life.  It’s great!  I’m loving it.

The Sand Dunes, DuneThe way I considered it was this:  Quicksand is thixotropic.  The more you bash and flail and struggle, the more unyielding it becomes.  If, though, you very softly and gently relax, flow with it and – causing as little resistance as possible – swim slowly and carefully towards the edge, you can gradually escape.

The thing is, if my whole life is a journey through this substance, just crawling out once won’t help that much.  There isn’t, in this existence, a place of safety, where no perils or challenges can possibly occur; physical life just isn’t like that.  I could argue that it’s one big sea of quicksand.  Once I know how to deal with that, though, it stops being a problem.  I can drift gently through it.  I can get used to the way it pulls and sucks at me.  I can stop seeing it as the enemy and just resolve to move lightly through it, not taking it too seriously, not resisting it.  I can start to enjoy it’s texture and the whole adventure.  It was my choice to be here, after all.

So I’m not living in some kind of fool’s paradise.  I know just how it all works.  I know the hazards and dangers, but that is not going to stop me enjoying myself.

Like I said, I’m having fun.

Didn’t know I had a petard, and here I am hoist with it

Grenade, Bomb, War, Weapon, DangerI had to look petard up: a small bomb apparently.  As for being hoist on/by/with it, we have Shakespeare to thank for that one.  All I knew was that it meant, roughly, to fall into one’s own trap, and that I’ve certainly done this week.

Embarrassed, but trying hard to be authentic, so…

Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take on a pair of new students – young brothers who shared a genetic condition with their mother.  “Multi-systemic” I was told, so the effects of this syndrome involve skin, joints, brain and just about any part of the body you can think of.  The words ‘complex learning difficulties’ were also mentioned.

To be honest, I was almost at full stretch before these lads appeared on the scene.  Planning two lots of lessons in maths and English tailored to their particular mix of strengths (very high intelligence) and challenges, as well as homework each week would, I knew, take at least an entire day.  Then there was the teaching itself, which I could only just slot in amongst my other young pupils.  Everything logical in my mind was screaming, “No, don’t do it!  What about that work/life balance you wanted?  You are past retirement age, you know.  And this lady wants you to work on right through the summer holidays.  When will you get to see the family?”

But the kids were lovely.  Finding ways of working around their difficulties would be fascinating – previously uncharted territory, the type of challenge I thrive on.  They weren’t fitting into schools.  Their constant pain and exhaustion, as a result of the syndrome, was too much for them when combined with a normal school day.  The mother, though, was being threatened by the authorities for not providing sufficient education.

I said, ‘Yes’.

Of course I did.

Writing, Boy, Child, Student, KidFor a couple of weeks it went fine.  Yes, I did end up doing lesson prep all through the weekends but they seemed to be progressing well and I was enjoying working with them.  Then this week they appeared full of smiles but without homework.  A casual ‘lost it somewhere in my room’ from one and ‘I didn’t realise you wanted me to do that’ from the other.

Inwardly I was irritated.  The homework sheets had taken me ages to prepare.  The work I’d planned for this week followed on from what they were meant to have done.  Their mother had particularly requested homework.  It was meant to protect her from being taken to court… and blah, blah, blah.

Outwardly, I smiled, suggested mildly that maybe they could try to get it done for the following week and carried on.  The lessons went fine and I went to bed that night feeling very happy.

Oh I know at least one of my readers knows exactly what’s coming!

I woke up the next morning to a text from the children’s mother.  Both of them had told her I was ‘grumpy’ during their lessons.  She wondered what was wrong.

I was mortified.  The lessons had (I thought) been lovely – lots of laughter and progress.  Was I just a delusional old bat?  Had I ended up like those elderly lady teachers I remembered from my own school days – miserable and past it?  Was it time to stop and give up – to sit in a rocking chair knitting all day?

I flashed a quick message back, saying I had been disappointed that they’d not bothered with the homework, but wasn’t aware of being grumpy about it; that I’d tried hard to keep the work lively and enjoyable and so forth.

Then I sat and thought.

Why was I choosing to be so upset by this?  Why had this incident shown up in my life?  What did it have to teach me?

The reply came almost at once, in a further message from the children’s mum.  She hadn’t wanted to upset me.  She just felt she had to be authentic and tell me their reaction.  It wasn’t my words or actions they had reacted to, it was my feelings.  They were, she added, extremely sensitive and picked up on the energy people projected.

Heart, Love, Idea, Light BulbAh.

Got it.

That heart-based telepathy thing.

So I thanked her – and the universe – for providing me with that reminder.  I told her about my last blog post, on exactly this subject, and promised to attempt to be more open and authentic in future.

See what I mean about being hoist with my own petard?  This communicating-from-the-heart business is not easy.  I’m glad to have these two young teachers.  Like all good teachers, they’ve appeared just as the student is ready 🙂

 

I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

logo Well that’s a lovely surprise.

Dull and cloudy here in Glasto, but the lovely and hugely talented Swetha M has nominated me for A Sunshine Blogger Award.

Cheers, Swetha!

So here to celebrate are The Temptations, circa 1965, and assorted deer, badgers, foxes, frogs and things. (I know – the relevance eludes me too.  Very sweet, though.)

Now the rules for sunshine blogger award: 

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you for the award.
  • Display the banner /sticker /logo on your blog.
  • Share 7 facts or things about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 bloggers that you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

So I’ve said ‘thank you’ and the banner is up there above the warthogs, and it now falls to me, as the proud recipient, to list 7 facts about myself.

Let’s see…  I was going to do a bucket list, but I’m actually the most ridiculously contented of people and I don’t think I could come up with that many desires, so I suppose it has to be facts.

  1. I don’t have any pets since the last of the goldfish died in October, and I have no plans to replace him (Could have been a her – not sure how you tell with fish – but its name was Merlin, so ‘him’ it was.) as I want to encourage wildlife in my pond.
  2. English: Good Hare Day!!!!!

    I love animals, but it has to be a glimpse of a red kite, hare or fallow deer on a country walk to really rock my boat.  The neighbour’s moggy relieving itself in my garden or a pug-on-a-pink-lead just doesn’t do it for me.

  3. I lose myself totally in gardening and disappear off somewhere magical – that’s the kneeling on the ground with hands deep in loam variety of gardening.  When I return to the planet, I feel pure joy for hours afterwards.
  4. My favourite place in the world is the Chalice Well Gardens.  I used to regularly travel hundreds of miles to visit them and now I live just across the road.  How lucky am I?
  5. Deutsch: Aspidistra elatior (Habitus)

    I don’t drive.  Never have.  Yet I love travelling, so do masses of bus and train journeys; less convenient perhaps, but greener, and they’re far more fun, as you get to meet such amazing and interesting people.  Last year I had a bus ride around North London chatting happily with a  pair of young Afro-Caribbean guys nursing a huge aspidistra; would love to know the back-story!

  6. I’m not afraid of death.  Absolutely not at all.  Dying could be unpleasant, of course, depending on the circumstances, but I’m with Peter Pan on this one: ‘To die would be an awfully big adventure.’  Not that I’m suicidal, I hasten to add.  I find life a huge adventure too, and am very much enjoying it.  When the time comes, though, bring it on.
  7. Just one bucket list item to finish, then.  I want to write another book, or maybe more – something that will help people feel good and important and generally as wonderful as they really are.  So a book to banish fear, basically, because that’s all that holds people back.

Right, and now for my nominees…

Yes, ridiculously difficult to select just five, and I do want these people to understand that if they don’t want to accept or do anything with the award, that’s just fine by me.  However they are people whose writing inspires and/or fascinates and brings me great pleasure, so I hope other readers will follow the links and discover the magic:

First a couple of ‘Version 2.0’ writers (You’d have to have read my book to understand that!).  Love reading their blogs and their comments on mine.  Don’t always understand everything as my mind isn’t wired that way, but enjoying learning and finding out more…

Atxero on Wording Through

Synamex on Startower

Next some wonderful, generous people who give freely of their time to channel incredibly wise Guides and answer readers’ questions.  I’ve learned so much from both sites…

Cheryl on Ask Higgins

Cynthia and Bob on Ask The Council 

and finally, a new discovery whose wizardry as a writer just blows me away…

‘Rosie’ on La Tour Abolie

Oh I never have been one to follow the rules…!  There’s a sixth blog I simply have to nominate.  Sorry if this brings WordPress crashing down around us, but I illegally nominate this wise and heart-based blog from an amazing and perceptive lady who has taught me so much:

Mariner2Mother on Life is a Journey… Not a Guided Tour

I’ll creep away quietly now… 🙂

 

 

A Fairytale Finale

English: Ballet shool Deutsch: Tanzklasse

A true story, this – and if not stranger than fiction, it at least has more or less all the features of a fairytale.

Those of you with long memories, who have been following my blog for quite a while, may remember the Tale of Tuesday.  Tuesday (her real name, for once, as I’m sure someday she’ll be famous) was a young girl I taught here in Somerset until a year or so back.  My job was to teach her maths and English.  It wasn’t always easy, as sitting at a table writing was the hardest thing in the world for her.
“I need to MOVE!” she’d say, so there would be several breaks in a lesson when she was allowed to waft around the study, arms and feet stretching and waving wildly, before settling for a bit more learning.

All she wanted to do – and I truly mean ALL – was to dance.

Her ballet teacher told her parents  how talented she was.  She advised them to try for a place at a ballet school.  So it was that, in the spring of last year, Tuesday was accepted at one of London’s most prestigious (and expensive) ballet schools.  Now she was not from some wealthy, upper-middle class family.  The cost of moving to London, paying rent there and covering her fees would have been prohibitive at the best of times but this, it turned out, was the worst of times.

No sooner had Tuesday got her place, than her father was diagnosed with cancer.  He is one of the most focused people I’ve ever met, and thinks the world of his daughter.  He’d been quite prepared to work all hours to fund her place, but his health deteriorated very fast and things became incredibly difficult.

So do you believe in magic?  Friends rallied round, a crowd-funding appeal was set up and somehow – none of us are quite sure how it happened – the rent, the fees and the cost of all the extras a young dancer needs were paid month by month.  I know that some of my blog followers were kind enough to contribute to her fund, so heartfelt thanks to them.

Those were hard and difficult days.  Her mother was worried sick each day.  Her dad was battling his illness and still trying to work when he could.  Tuesday struggled to fit in with a class of children from very different backgrounds to herself.  When I met up with them in London last Christmas things looked bleak.  None of us knew what would happen.

Bridge, Wood, Forest, Woods, Tree, TreesTime for a sprinkling of fairy dust now, though.

The ballet school discovered the desperate situation the family were in.  They also discovered that Tuesday was an outstanding dancer – one they wanted to hold on to.  They offered her a bursary, so that she could keep attending for free.  Her dad was moved to one of London’s best hospitals specialising in cancer, so that he had access to pioneering treatment and expert care.  He’s still with us.  Tuesday began to earn the respect of her classmates and to fit in far better.  By the summer, things were looking up.

Every Christmas, the school puts on a performance of The Nutcracker at a small London theatre.  When I discovered that Tuesday had been chosen to dance Clara – the leading role, I knew I had to go and watch.

As in all fairy tales, though, there are twists and turns in the plot right up to the end.  The theatre was closed at very short notice and it seemed the show would have to be cancelled.  I did tell you it was a prestigious school, didn’t I?  There were friends in high places and somehow or other they were given the run of one of the most famous theatres in London’s West End for a day.

Statue of Anna Pavlova on the dome of the Vict...

Thus it was that I found myself sitting in the royal circle, watching the most magical production, while the little girl who had twirled and glided around my study just a year or so before was giving an immaculate performance and capturing the hearts of everyone in the audience.

The ballet school had thoughtfully sent a car to pick her father up, so that he would be able to watch.  During the interval Darcey Bussell – one of the UK’s most celebrated ballerinas – introduced herself to him and told him how brilliant Tuesday’s performance was.

I just could not have been happier and prouder as I watched Tuesday take her curtain call and accept a bouquet of flowers with poise and grace that belied her tender age.

On the tube going home, I overheard a couple discussing the show.
“That little girl who danced the lead,” said the man, “What a future she has ahead of her!”
“She was splendid,” agreed his partner.

She was.

 

 

 

 

The Pillow Monster

IMG_20150802_150019This morning I wasn’t woken by the Pillow Monster.

It’s the first time in over a week that little footsteps and the gentlest of touches on my head didn’t pull me back from dreams.  Once I’d stirred, the gentle three-year-old would transform into his alter-ego and clamber boisterously into the bed, giggling, attacking me with pillows or force-feeding me ‘pie’ or ‘cake’ made of plastic toys.

There are worse ways to awake.  This morning’s was easier, but felt a little lonely.

My grandson and his family were here for nine days.  Sleep was hard to come by; a hungry, teething 6 month old saw to that.  My cottage, which feels spacious and airy to me when I’m alone was transformed into a tiny, cramped place by the mountains of paraphernalia required by a young baby and toddler.

A traditional Punch and Judy booth.

We made bugs from egg boxes, watched dragonflies in the garden, did pirate treasure hunts for ‘golda balloons’ (yes, it took me quite a while to work that one out!) and made a fire engine from a huge packing box.  We yelled anxiously to Mr Punch when the crocodile tried to steal his sausages and sang whispered lullabies to little sister when she couldn’t sleep.

To my grandson, everyone is a friend.  Having just had his face painted as Spiderman, he shouted a cheery greeting to a pair of lads we passed drinking and smoking outside a pub.
“He waved to us!” one remarked.
“Look out, Spidy’s about,” laughed his friend.
“D’ya think I look cool?” the little one asked, tugging on my hand to go and chat with his new friends.
“Very cool,” they grinned, “Yeah.”

As I marched him on towards the playground he continued waving and shouting fond farewells.

Of course he’s been warned about strangers, but he stares reproachfully at us when such things are spoken.  For him there are loving adults surrounding him and the world is a place he trusts and enjoys, filled with excitement and fun.  His heart is so open it almost hurts to watch him sometimes.

As we sat in a cafe, he looked around the table, telling each of us in turn that he loved us.
“Hah!” winked the old man at the next table, knowingly. “What’s he after then?  There’s always a catch when they say that.”

I thought about that man’s experience of the world and my grandson’s.

So different.

There was no catch.  He loves unconditionally.  Certainly he can throw a mega-tantrum because he wanted his drink in the blue cup and it’s been poured into the red one, but he makes few enough demands.

“The thing what would make me really happy,” he told my daughter on his journey home yesterday, “is if I could sit on the sofa, watch a DVD and eat toast.”

When that very modest request was granted, he phoned me to tell me how good it had been and how happy he now was.

I feel so privileged that this lovely small person has arrived in my life and poured so much love into it.