Hacked!

That was not fun. In fact yesterday was one of the most difficult and trying days I’ve had in a long while.

First a text from my email provider saying there had been unauthorised access to my account and they’d blocked it. While I embarked on the long and ridiculously complex process of trying to get myself back into it, there was a phone call from my son, telling me he’d had a suspicious-looking email, claiming to be from me, and asking for ‘a favour’. He said he feared I’d been hacked. That was the opening of the floodgates.

Messages came through on every social media platform from anxious, concerned friends, family members and contacts I hadn’t seen or thought about in years. What was wrong? they asked. Did I need help? What had happened? People I barely remembered were sending sweet messages of care and support and I was having to thank each of them in turn for their warm wishes and concern, then tell them that it was a scam, that if they responded to the bogus email, someone pretending to be me would try to relieve them of large sums of money.

In between all that, I was frantically trying to prioritise who to call next and warn about the scam – friends with autistic perception, elderly friends and relatives, those who didn’t have English as their first language, people in other countries… Anyone, in fact, who might not know me well enough or read the situation clearly enough to realise that I would NEVER email them and ask for money.

It took all morning to regain my email connection. It was only achieved with the caring and patient help of a lovely Scottish BT engineer who guided me gently through the process and interspersed each set of instructions with something like, “I’ve got everything crossed for ye Jan. We’re gonnae do this!”

Me want cookies!

Once I was able to view my contacts list (not easy – the virus scan I’d had to run had wiped every cookie from my laptop) the size of the task really hit me.

By lunchtime, the stream of confused enquiries and people thoughtfully calling to tell me I’d been hacked had become an avalanche. From Seattle to New York, from the cottage behind mine to Switzerland they came, and each, once they understood the situation, offered commiserations, friendship and little messages about how they and their families were getting on. I learned how former pupils were faring at college and university, heard from forgotten friends and those I hadn’t spoken to in far too long.

Sadly, my warning came too late for at least one dear friend. They had already sent the money off. I was heartbroken. And yet even this person, after ruefully commenting that they’d waved goodbye to 200 dollars, still took time to update me on their news and wish me well.

So yes, my stress levels were through the roof, my day had been ruined and I went to bed hurt and sad, yet I was strangely uplifted by the waves of kindness and consideration from friends and virtual strangers alike. There are some unkind people preying off others in cruel ways in this world, but the vast majority of humanity is kind, caring and generous.

Abject apologies if you were stung by this or a similar hoax and huge thanks if you were one of the people who helped me through that day.

Where Was I Last Night?

I’m fairly sure, now, I know where I was.  Things had been building up to it, if you know what I mean.

When I say ‘last night’, I’m talking in temporal terms, obviously.  The experience I had took place sometime between around 2am and 7:30am this morning.  Since my mind was dreaming, though, the timescale for the events didn’t belong in that time at all.  It was, like all dreams, non-local.

What I recall most clearly is the excitement, the enthusiasm, the anticipation my fellow protagonist and I were experiencing.  We were family, although he had no obvious counterpart in my current life.  I’d describe him as a sort of brother, maybe even a twin.  All of our attention was focused on the task before us.  Each of us was choosing a new adventure.

I can only describe what we were examining in terms of geometry.  There were tubes – dark flexible cylinders or wormholes perhaps – overlaid with uneven grids and lines of bright, greenish light which intersected in interesting ways.  Each was a different ‘adventure’.  The tubes were the destinations, while the patterns showed different timeframes.   We poured over every detail with intense concentration and excitement.  The more complex the slashes of lines and the patterns they created, the more enthusiastic we became.

“Oh, this one looks interesting!” he would exclaim, pointing to a place where a diagonal crossed a group of parallel lines then veered away in a dynamic tick shape.

“Yeah,” I would laugh, “You might need a bit of help with that one!  I could probably lend a hand there.”

Ever had your palm read, or an astrology reading?  They are the nearest analogies I can think of.  Every line and every crossing had huge significance.  They represented the challenges, the exciting parts, the fun of this unique adventure.

Each of us was searching for a location and a timeframe within it that would give us a thrilling rollercoaster of an experience.  There was no fear or trepidation, no hunting for the easy bits.  We both wanted a full-on white-knuckle ride with plenty of problems to solve and puzzles to overcome.

Despite our emotional closeness, we were aiming for quite different adventures.  There was no regret that we would be separated, but there seemed to be an underlying acceptance that we could, at any point, call on one another – and on a rather nebulous ‘back-up team’ who seemed to be lurking nearby – if we needed support at any point.

I was beginning to wake up – to return to the physical world.  I didn’t want to!  This was fun.  There was another pattern on another tube I was desperate to explore.  My companion, too, was still busily engaged in the activity.  I managed to climb back into the dream state and spend a little more time there, but the physical body was becoming restless and finally shook itself free of that other existence, bringing my mind back to its daytime residence.

Now it was time to consider what I’d seen from a human perspective.  Surely that happy, excited, fearless aspect of me had been wherever-it-is we go between lives.  My companion and I had been selecting our next incarnation.  Everything pointed to that conclusion.

As I said, things had been building up to it.  Recent conversations, news items, personal experiences, channeled messages from others I follow on social media… even a friend who just yesterday re-read and commented on a post I had written several years ago.  The message had been the same:  We chose this location and this time in which to live this life.  We chose it – warts and all – in order to give it our best shot and see what we could change, what we could figure out, what we could take on and deal with.  Moaning, protesting, trolling or grumbling just won’t do any more.  We judge and complain about our fellow humans but write them glowing eulogies and obituaries when they pass.  We beg and insist that gods, spirit, world leaders, politicians and anyone other than us must change our lives for the better.  No wonder so many channeled beings are metaphorically throwing their hands in the air and reminding us that we chose it, and we intended it to be fun.

So yes, I woke up to an overcast drizzly day in October and a world beset with challenges and problems galore.  I’m off now to try to reconnect with the cheery, excited and optimistic aspect of myself I experienced last night and to bring as much of her hope and enthusiasm as I can into this amazing timeline and space I opted for this time around.

The Truth is (not) Out There

Back in 2012 I wrote a book (Life: A Player’s Guide – still lurking in the musty vaults of Amazon somewhere, I think).  Near the beginning of it, I wrote these words:

My truth works very well for me, and it may well work for you, but please notice that I am not proclaiming it as THE truth.  I am perfectly comfortable with people holding different beliefs to me.  Once I start proclaiming that what I believe is ‘The Truth’, I move into the realms of fanaticism and religion; discrimination and wars.  It makes me right and other people wrong, and that is not a space I want to be in.

So I say instead, “I have found A truth.”

You are free to follow it, or search for one that works better for you.

I stand by that.  I think those were amongst the wisest words I ever wrote.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says ""A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, 'You are mad; you are not like us."" -St. Anthony the Great"The world today seems more factionalised and divided than it was back when I wrote those words, as we are confronted by issues no one can ignore.  This image and quote appeared on a social media post I saw this morning.  Perhaps you can guess the context or viewpoint of the person who posted it.

So OK, let’s take the Covid issue as a case in point – although we could just as easily select global warming or a host of other current issues.

Side A takes a particular stance.  Side B takes a very different stance.  Both sides seek out and pay an impressive array of experts, statisticians and graphic artists to emphasise their point.  There follows a stand-off with both sides spewing out endless media to support their ‘Truth’.

The problems come when the establishment espouses one of the two viewpoints, because once governments have decided which one they believe, they have (or borrow) vast amounts of money to hammer home their Truth as the only one.  This instantly galvanises a counter-establishment which becomes increasingly vocal in proclaiming its alternative Truth.

Once the establishment begins to legislate, the anti-establishment groups begin to unite in acts of protest and defiance.  The protestors and their attitudes vary from nation to nation, depending on their government’s policy.  So in Brazil, for example, they protest in their thousands against President Jair Bolsonaro’s refusal to acknowledge the dangers of what he termed ‘little flu’.  In much of Europe the protests are against vaccination and perceived infringements of liberties.  In the UK, we recently had an interesting situation in which freedom activists went ahead with Saturday marches to protest about being forced to wear masks in indoor public spaces, despite this directive having been repealed a couple of days before!  A shame to bin those carefully made placards, perhaps.

So yes, governments love legislating – it’s what they do.  And protestors love protesting – it’s what they do.

Nurse, Man, Male, Spray, MedicationNow, though, there is the vaccination issue.  Here the truths on every side become ever more woolly and difficult to prove.  Vaccination was a bone of contention long before Coronavirus reared its spiky little head.

The French government has decided to take a hard line – there the ‘health passport’ (proof of vaccination or negative covid test) is already in use in cinemas, tourist sites and nightclubs.  From the beginning of August this will be extended to bars, restaurants, cafés, some shopping malls as well as long distance train or bus services.   Other governments are watching with interest…

Meanwhile, on the other side, I was told yesterday of an elderly man who approached a friend of mine in great distress.  He is on one side of the vaccination debate and his wife is on the other.  He is double-jabbed.  She is not.  She has now told him he must stay away from her and her friends because of the danger he poses to them.  Her argument is that since he has been vaccinated, his DNA has been changed and he has been polluted to the point that he presents a hazard to herself and other ‘unpolluted’ citizens.

It’s a pity St Anthony the Great (apparently there are quite a few St Anthonys.  This one was a third century Egyptian.) did not choose to define either madness or indeed ‘men’.  To either side, if a truth is held to be absolute, those who disagree must be mad.

That’s why I prefer to hold my own truth and not to attempt to foist it on to others.

Stitching a new garment

Iphone, Smartphone, Apps, Apple IncA week ago, my phone pinged.  One of those Facebook PM things.  I’ve been getting a lot lately – little gifs of cute cats, uplifting pictures of sunsets or seascapes, prayers in pretty fonts garlanded with flowers or rainbows, even the annoying ones that instruct you to send the flickering candle or whatever back to the sender and on to all the women/true friends/grandmothers etc. you know…  Kind thoughts, sent with love – people doing what they can to connect.  I send a smile icon back or a heart or whatever I feel will best please the sender so that I can then move on with my day.

Life at LIME Cottage right now is not Netflix, gin and scrolling through social media.  It starts at 8.30 with lesson preparation (daily multi-age primary school phonics and English resources posted online for harassed parents – opentheboxweb.wordpress.com).  God I hate phonics!  A ridiculous system, but that is what the kids have been learning, so that’s what needs to be done.  At 11am it’s a video call with the grandchildren.  Their mum gets an hour to work from home unhindered while I chat, read stories, deliver the wretched phonics and writing, cram in a bit of maths and help the little ones to make some sense of the way the world is now.  A quick lunch, a daily walk or burst of gardening then on to the afternoon job – sewing scrubs and gowns for a local care home.  It’s all very organised in our town.  The coordinator sends out packs of fabric and patterns via masked and gloved volunteer couriers and our team of makers gets to work, each in their own home, just as the spinsters and weavers of yore may have done in this very house before industrialisation came.  My ‘working day’ ends at 4.30.  I check on the salads and tomato seedlings growing around the house on sunny windowsills then put some dinner together.

So it was surprising, really, that I heard the ping.  It was from a lady I’ve been in touch with for many years.  One of those social media friends I’ve never met, and never will, but somehow feel I know.  We exchange messages from time to time and, I confess, as I opened the file I was half expecting another cat picture.  She likes cats.  What I saw instead stopped me dead. Image may contain: text  It was this:

My words reflected back to me!  She had sent me a screenshot of a passage I wrote all those years ago – back in 2012 – in my book LIFE: A Player’s Guide.  No explanation came with them.  Perhaps she had stumbled across the image and found it helpful, or perhaps she guessed that, at a time of such utter disempowerment, they were words I needed to be reminded of.

Either way, they worked.  I was transported back to the time I wrote it, returned to a state of optimism and reminded that what I’m doing now is valid.

 

Let me go a bit deeper here.

You see I’ve known a world-changing disaster was coming for a long time (see last post for details).  Stashed away somewhere in a cupboard upstairs is a rather expensive multi-use survival tool, some packs of waterproof matches and a self-sufficiency handbook.  Their time may or may not come.  I wasn’t expecting it to be this way, but I knew some cataclysm was heading inexorably towards us.  My source was impeccable.

I’d been told that me being a teacher would be important at this time – hence the time-consuming daily lessons.  I’ve been trying my best to follow the scant guidance I’d been given.

I was told more, though.  I was told that although technology would remain in tact and be beneficial, ‘finance’ – the economy – would undergo seismic changes and this in turn would have a huge effect on people.  It would, in fact multiply the changes occurring in society, leading to an attitude of altruism and general goodness prevailing over the cut-throat world of inequality, exploitation and global destruction.

It is that prediction which had been bothering me.  I’d had 15 years to prepare for this.  Now it was here, I fervently wanted to see that change.  I read eloquent passages and watched inspiring videos from people around the world stressing that we must not return to the old ‘normal’, that we need to change and that Covid 19, for all it’s cruelty, was giving us all a chance to stop and wonder and see the disparity, foolishness and waste of our old world.

Sew, Protective Mask, Sewing MachineAnd what was I doing about it?  Making a few bits of PPE for the local nursing home.  Growing a bit of veg.  Liking and sharing the positive ideas on social media.  Tiny drops in the ocean – pathetic!

Reading that message from my friend (and myself), however, helped me to rediscover the bigger picture.

Yes, in terms of the physical self, there are limits.  Once I begin to think of ‘me’ as thought and energy, though, everything changes.  There are no limits to thought or energy.  They are not confined within single individuals.  Thought is a million times more contagious than any virus.  It spreads through the aether, gathering energy and impetus from everyone who acknowledges and shares it.  Once the intention that we choose these beneficial changes in our world has been held, it grows exponentially.  It becomes our creation.

There is nothing – no multinational corporation, no bunch of self-serving policiticans, no reactionary lobbyist who can stand against the groundswell of opinion that is forming as we sit in our separate homes but combine our intent.

As I sit over my sewing machine this week, I will be pondering the deep and abiding changes that are happening in my thoughts, my energy and those of the world community around me.

Sonya Renee Taylor’s words express it perfectly:

‘We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.’

Twerking the message home

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus (Photo credit: rwoan)

I wasn’t particularly keen to write on this subject, but each time I try to put it aside, I get another little nudge telling me to get on with it.

So here we go:  the ‘Thank you Miley Cyrus‘ post.

Back in the day, my sex education lessons to classes full of anxiously giggling eleven-year-olds usually began with something like this:

Did you know that when a caterpillar develops a chrysalis and begins changing into a butterfly, every part of its body goes into a complete meltdown, and from the resulting goo an entirely new creature is formed?  Adolescence is a bit like that.   You start off as children and emerge as young adults, but the process in between can be pretty messy and radical.

Nothing I could say, though, would prepare the kids for the massive and traumatic changes that hormones would be wreaking on their bodies over the next few years, or the social and emotional fallout this would create.

The thing is, no one – not even the most sorted, mature and contented adult – can take self-esteem as a given.  Each of us is still racked, from time to time, with self-doubt, insecurities and a wavering self-image.  Yes?  And I’m pretty certain that everyone reading this can look back to their own adolescence and recall how exaggerated and extreme those doubts and horrors were, when sudden and dramatic changes were affecting their entire beings on a daily basis.  You’d wake up in the morning to find your voice, your skin, your smell, your height and weight, your emotions and mood and, of course, intimate parts of your body had suddenly transformed you into something quite new and unfamiliar.  How on earth were you supposed to go about developing self-esteem, when you didn’t know, from day to day, who you were?

Chrysalis to Butterfly (#1 of 5)

The caterpillar/butterfly is able to make these changes within the privacy of the chrysalis.  Our society doesn’t provide so much as a curtain for our developing young people to hide behind.  All these changes take place as they are going about their daily lives, interacting constantly on social media and – for an unfortunate few – in the full glare of publicity.

This is where Miley Cyrus comes in, of course.  How unimaginably ghastly for a talented and beautiful young girl to have to play out a fantasy life in front of millions on TV for years as she grows up and then to attempt to redraw herself as an adult in the same, unrelenting media glare.  It would seem that caring and helpful mentors have been sadly missing from her life, replaced instead by greedy and self-serving individuals encouraging her to boost their profits by – well – doing what she’s been doing.

I think we needed to see this hideously exaggerated adolescent transition played out on our screens, in order to recognise how much help and support the rest of our young people need.

A week or two back, the British media were reporting a story that many young people are being blackmailed into sending pornographic images of themselves to paedophiles.  They are, apparently, approached via social media by someone pretending to be an ideal potential friend of the required sex and age.  They are then asked by the new ‘friend’ to send compromising photos or videos of themselves.  

This they willingly do.

After that, of course, they are trapped.  The blackmailer threatens to send the pictures to their family and friends unless they provide more.  The suffering this causes to the kids in that already fragile, insecure and confused adolescent state can easily be imagined.

The point I want to pick up on is that so many of our young people will readily send such images of themselves to total strangers – because, I suppose, their lack of familiarity with their new, sexually aware selves, together with the blatant soft porn images surrounding them in the media, trick them into believing that only this will make them sufficiently attractive and desirable to a potential boyfriend or girlfriend.

Why did it take young Ms Cyrus’ public gyrations and disrobing to alert us to the warped message being fed to her generation?  Surely it’s vital for all of us who live with, work with or otherwise care for young people, to help them to recognise and respect the fragile and incredible beauty of their bodies, and to lovingly guide them through the hazards and fears of puberty so that they can emerge from the process as adults with a relatively secure self-image and the confidence to  seek out and attract partners who will recognise and admire their intrinsic uniqueness and value.

We should not be leaving them prey to those who would destroy and devour them greedily before they can emerge from the chrysalis transformation.

When is a prank call a wake-up call?

The 14-year-old boy was trying to put his vision of December 2012 into words for me. He was clearly shaken by what he was seeing and as confused as anyone looking into the future might expect to be. He didn’t make a habit of this, but he was one of those special, Version 2.0 kids and sometimes he just ‘saw’ things. I was used to him picking up a book I’d been reading, for example, and without glancing beyond the cover, summarising the information it contained. This was a bit different, though.

“How can you possibly see the future?” I was asking. “Surely it’s only potential as yet.”
“Oh yes,” he agreed, readily. “There are infinite possibilities… It’s just that they all seem to lead to this one point.”

So for the last seven years (the conversation happened in 2005) I’ve been watching with interest as one after another of his predictions has come true.

“It will all start with finance,” was his opening line. He explained as best he could that the financial world would go through a drastic and sudden change. He saw a deep polarity between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ developing and said it would have an effect on everyone. We would all have to re-think our relationship with the financial world.

In 2008 I texted him. “U predicted this.”
“Yep,” he replied.

The financial crisis, which still rumbles on, was the first of these events – the ones that take accepted aspects of our daily life and shake them to the core, until we wake up to what’s going on and decide to make some drastic changes.

Here in the UK, we’ve followed up with the MP’s expenses issue, the media intrusion debate and the maelstrom unleashed over allegations about a deceased DJ’s sexual behaviour. Other countries have had their own political, financial and social awakenings – the so-called Arab Spring being the most wide-ranging and important. Quite suddenly, shabby, unpleasant but long-tolerated practices cease to be acceptable. Dirty linen is hauled up for public inspection and washed very thoroughly.

The changes are happening at a personal level, too.
“It will be a bit like Noah’s Ark,” the boy told me. “Not the same as that, but something like it.”

Watching pictures of people’s homes, cars and livelihoods being washed away by the extreme floods this year has witnessed in many parts of the world, I can see what he meant.

The Chinese glyph for ‘crisis’ is, I learned recently, a mixture of two others – ‘disaster’ and ‘opportunity’.

The loss of life, given the huge amount of devastation, has been relatively small, but the changes at neighbourhood, family and individual levels have been massive.

Based on what my prophetic young friend told me, I’d suggest that this World Shift – the much-heralded 2012 End of Age – is not about mass destruction so much as mass transformation.

What if you’d always indulged in some rather dodgy work practices because everyone around you did, and then found yourself at the heart of a massive scandal? A disaster for you, but an opportunity to become more authentic in future. What if you’d dreamed of giving up your job and ‘following your bliss’ but been held back by knowing you had to keep up the payments on the car and the house? Suddenly they’re both washed away in a flood. Where does that leave you?
With both a disaster and an opportunity.

So, then, what if making prank calls to innocent victims had been a seedy but accepted part of your professional life? No one could doubt, after watching the interview, the depth of horror, remorse and pain those people in Australia are experiencing, or the deep changes the recent tragic event will make to their lives. Perhaps, though, they – and others engaged in similar forms of ‘entertainment’ – are being given an opportunity to make some core changes.

Our individual and collective wake-up calls to live a more honest, authentic and transparent life, free of subterfuge, sleaze and unkindness began with a tap on the shoulder. If we ignored that, the taps became more insistent… and if we reach the end of this Great Age without heeding that call, surely we can expect the kind of sledgehammer blow we are seeing around us.

Facebook – when is a ‘friend’ a friend?

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m probably the world’s last convert to Facebookism.

For years I’d held out against it.  I’d insisted that ‘liking’ someone or something was an emotional response, not a cute little thumbs-up symbol; that a friend was someone I cared about, related to and interacted with, not someone I’d never met who clicked a button in order to build their virtual popularity.

I was dragged, kicking and screaming almost, into opening a facebook account.  “It’ll help you publicise the book,” the (real) friends told me.  “It will drive sales.”

So I relented.  I joined.  Initially my worst fears materialised. (Fears tend to behave that way, of course, since we create our own reality, but my guard was down – I’d forgotten that!)  I was carpet-bombed with banal posts about the drinking and partying exploits of people I barely knew, I was exposed to the angst-ridden adolescent ramblings of  ex-pupils and I was approached to befriend people I didn’t know from Adam.

Then something quite amazing happened.  A genuine pre-Facebook friend began sending posts.  They were wise, profound, intelligent and thought-provoking.  She invited me to join a group and suddenly I was virtually meeting all manner of people who behaved the way my sort of friends do.  They sent personal messages and we started to get to know each other.  It was beginning to feel like a community … and I understood.

Yes, Facebook is a virtual, 2D version of friendship, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  All experience is real! We respond to this incredible world around us in all manner of ways – face to face is just one of them.  I’ve now found yet another way to interact with it.

So feel free to become my friend – real, virtual or both – and if you’d like to follow me, you’re very, very welcome.  I’ll do my best to lead somewhere worth going.