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Saturday, 17 September 2011

What do you value in life?

We have been dining with good friends at their home this evening, and have just walked the short distance back to our own home... I am sat up in bed at 1.41am, with my beloved asleep beside me...and it struck me-

What do you REALLY value in your life?

I am happy without great riches, I just want not to have to worry about money.
I am happy without a flash car, as long as I can get around.
I am happy without a big house, I just want to live here, in our home.
I am happy and grateful to have some wonderful friends,
I am constantly amazed to have such wonderful children,
...and I am very lucky to have somehow discovered the one person in all the billions on this planet who makes me so happy, and continues to make me smile every day, after 20 years together... <3

That's what I value, what about you?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bed bed bed

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hands together, eyes closed?

Do you pray?

What come to mind when you think about prayer and praying? For many of us it will something along the lines of 'hands together, eyes closed'; a phrase familiar (to me at least) from hundreds of primary school assemblies. There are also countless illustrations of small children kneeling by bedsides, comforting images of innocence from a time before VTech and Nintendo.

These days I suspect the vast majority of parents never raise the subject of religion or faith unless forced into it by the tyranny of 'homework'. It's a commonly held myth that you stop having to do homework when you leave education, but it's simply not true; the second you have children of your own, you are doomed to have to try and remember at some point how quadratic equations work, or worse, French verb tenses. Most parents will be asked about pilgrimage as a part of the Ethics and Philosophy GCSE!

The only time prayer comes into it is when they come home with their marks and you pray you remembered it correctly!

However, most of us DO pray...we pray instinctively, all the time, whether we realise it or not...

"Please God, let them get good marks"
"Please God, let me pass my driving test"
"Please God, help me get some money"
"Please God, help me get a job"
"Please God, don't let it be serious..."
"Please God, let them recover..."
"Please God, help me find my car keys!"

And when it happens in our favour, how many of us offer up a heartfelt
"Thank you God!"

All the time, regardless of whether we know who we are praying to, we pray.

A prayer does not have to be formal, use fancy words, liturgy or ritual.
You do not have to 'signed up' to a specific faith or religion to pray. All you need is the thought of what you need. The clearer that thought, the more focused that thought, the better chance you have of it getting through...

Now this is the best bit about prayer. It seems to work.

Scientific studies have been done to try and prove that it could work, or not...sound a bit nuts? How can you 'prove' that something that requires faith, something like prayer, actually has a real and measurable effect?

When churchgoing volunteers prayed for coronary patients (who were completely unaware that they were being prayed for), they fared a bit better than those NOT being prayed for... More research is ongoing.

So my reasoning goes like this...

It cannot possibly do any harm, and might conceivably do some good, so we might as well give it a go!

Also, if those who did not know they were included improved, how much better could we fare if we DO know we are being prayed for!

If you do not believe or have faith in a God, then try directing your efforts at the energy of Nature, of our planet and see what happens.

I would love to hear from you; tell me what you prayed for, and what was the response, if any!

A prayer I offered up many years ago was answered in the most dramatic fashion, in a way I could never have dreamed of. I'll tell you another day though, it's late and I need to sleep.

Hands together, eyes closed...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:My personal sanctuary and workspace...

Friday, 26 August 2011

What to do when life smacks you in the face with a wet fish!

There are times in your life when you feel that nothing is going right, that if there is a God, he/she is playing some sort of cruel game; laughing at you whilst sitting safe and warm from the comfort of his/her "Insert Paradise of Choice Here".

We had one of those days this week...

My husband Phil has been unemployed for a couple of months; he has had a couple of interviews, but as yet, no offers-and of course it is a worrying time for us. I am confident that the right job is out there, but it would be nice if it were to manifest soooooon!
(Incidentally, if you are reading this thinking 'Where can I find a degree qualified engineer with bags of experience on PLC's and other computery controlly stuff I don't understand, As well as years and years In the print industry... Just get in touch!)

So as well as being unemployed, his car completely died a month back, and he has been using mine, but we were struggling with just the one means of transport so another car had to be found... He has a 'new' car now, or 'preloved' as some say. It's really nice, an old Merc estate; we picked it up on Saturday morning from the Gatwick area, about 50 miles away from where we live.

The busiest days of the week for us are Wednesday and Thursday, I work at Waterstones during the day, and then run my Slimming World groups at night; Wednesday is the biggie, with just an hour between jobs and two hectic sessions to run!

Phil was pleased (I think that's the term!) to be able to help me again as we had a car big enough to take three people and all my kit, so we loaded up, collected Marion and toddled off down to Pompey. On the way, his phone rang and I answered it; it was the chap at the agency-Phil had been for an interview last week, so maybe it was good news!

He returned the call as soon as we wasn't good news. Ho hum.
I feel so shaking these daft employers who cannot see what a wonderful person he is... Anyway, he helped us set up, and then went home to do dinner for the hordes.

He picked us up again at 8.00 and we set off home...

We have to drop Marion off first, so we come off the motorway at Havant; as we paused at the top of the sliproad, the car began to judder in an ominous manner...and I noticed that smoke was billowing from under the bonnet...


We limped the quarter of a mile to her front door and stopped.

Out first thought was that the head gasket had blown, but the temperature had been fine, so Phil suggested it might be one of the injectors. We called out the AA, Marion made us cups of tea, and we waited...

The AA man duly arrived about half an hour later and had a look. It was an injector, it could be easily fixed, but sadly, not by him. The thread had stripped on the bolt, and his efforts met with casual indifference from the car which simply popped it straight back out again as soon as the engine was started!

A flatbed was required to get us home as it is a rear wheel drive automatic. You cannot tow them, it knackers the gearbox. It was a busy night and the truck would not arrive until at least 11.20...

I was absolutely shattered, having been working (writing for the magazine) until 1.00am the previous night, so Phil called our friend Ross who collected me and took me home so I could have something to eat and get to bed.

He then settled down to play golf on his phone and wait...

...For a man who turned up with a transit! It had some sort of gizmo to tow the car backwards...except that it didn't work because our car is an estate and he couldn't close the doors on the truck again! Well, Duh! They knew what the car is, and it is not exactly a rare model!

The estimate for the arrival of the flatbed was now 1.25am.

5 hours sat in a lay-by, less than 4 miles from home, on his own, having just been told he had not got the job he went for last week, in a car he had only had for 5 days... There is absolutely no justice in that at all.

My poor baby finally arrived home at about 1.15; the truck having turned up slightly earlier than anticipated. He was cold and depressed and who can blame him.

Then of course, there was the worry over paying for repairs; the Merc is 12 years old, you don't get a warranty on cars like that! We thought we might have to get Trading Standards involved and called them to check our rights.

We need not have worried, because the chap we bought it from could not have been more helpful. As we are so far away, he arranged for us to have it repaired by our local garage (who we have been dealing with for 25 years). He will pay the bill in full. He restored my with in human nature!

Then we had the call from the AA, to apologise for their part in the fiasco that was Wednesday night. They admitted full liability for the unacceptable wait and for sending out the wrong equipment and are sending us a cheque for £25 as a sweetener...

All we need now is for the interviewer from last week to call and say he made a terrible mistake in not employing Phil... The job is back up on the agency website, so it could happen...

...Are you listening up there?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:In Bed

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Life Worth Saving?

I run a weekly Slimming World group in the Methodist Church in Copnor Road, Portsmouth (Wednesdays at 5.15 & 7.00pm). A preschool group also uses the hall during term time and we are used to seeing paintings and other things left to dry on the windowsills.

This year, they have been growing tomato plants, and inevitably one of them got left behind... I first saw it a couple of weeks ago, just after the end of the summer term.

There is a kitchen at the back of the church, a lovely bright and airy space with big, west facing windows. The plant was one of of the window sills; it was planted in a clear plastic disposable cup and was far too big for the container... I felt the soil (such as it was) and it was a little damp, so I gave it a drink and left it there, figuring that somebody was coming back to collect it.

However, I got a shock when I unlocked the kitchen the following week...

The tomato plant was still on the windowsill; it's leaves were hanging straight down, and some of them had gone yellow... I rushed over and felt the soil, it was bone dry. I quickly gave it some water and took it out of the glare of the sunlight streaming through the windows, then I went off to run my group.

Some hours later, after the groups had both finished, I went back into the kitchen to lock up... The tomato plant had recovered a little, but was still looking very poorly. I stood and thought about what to do; what if someone was coming back to collect it? Would it be stealing to take it home?

Whilst I thought, I had been gazing up at the window, as I looked back down at the plant, I heard it scream-no really, I did! In my head I heard it scream in panic!

"Don't leave me here!"

That was it. I could not, in all conscience leave it there! By the time I returned in another week, it would either be dead, or nearly dead, so if someone was coming back for it, they would not be getting a healthy plant anyway!

I carefully wrapped the plastic cup in a paper towel and wedged it upright in my car. On the way home, I found myself talking to it, telling it that it was going to be out in a nice courtyard garden with other pants to keep it company and plenty of water...

Once home, Phil unloaded the car for me and gave me a quizzical look on seeing the plant; I explained and he laughed...he is used to me by now!

I grabbed my gardening gloves and immediately took it out of the hated cup, repotting it into a nice large pot, filled with rich, damp soil. As I left it for the night, I could feel the waves of relief, like a huge *sigh* coming off the tomato plant as it stretched out it's roots and wiggled it's toes...

The following morning, the first thing I did when I got downstairs, was unlock the door to the courtyard and go and see how it was...

The difference was incredible! It had really perked up, the leaves were

standing out, and best of all, it had somehow managed to put out a bloom overnight! As you can see, it has dropped a few leaves, the yellow ones, but it is really trying to make a go of it, and I am going to do my best to help it along. If I am lucky enough to get a tomato...I shall save the seeds and grow more from it next year...

All I need now, is a name...I need something that demonstrates it's ability to survive in extremely testing conditions, something that says 'I will survive'...

I would have Gloria (who of course had the single), but that's the name of my stepmum, so that's out-and anyway, I want a boys name...Hmmm, I shall have to think about it!

If anyone has any ideas, let me know!?!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Out and about

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Those stupid moments

I often suffer from what I call my 'Stupid Moments', times when my brain simply refuses to work properly. I cannot recall names, or put faces to names, remember phone numbers, where I put things (my glasses!) or where I am supposed to be, at what time and on what day!

I am lucky to have an extremely patient dentists practice; over the last 25 years of attending, I have been there on the right day of the week, but in the wrong month, on the right day but at the wrong time...I have been days late and weeks early! I have also taken the kids out of school for appointments that don't exist!

Appointments are a particular frustration for me. I can arrange something on the phone, write it down at the time, double check it with the other person and still get it wrong! Unfortunately, it also seems to be rubbing off on the rest of my family...

...and then the who-are-you challenge... I have been known to talk to people at length without the slightest memory of who they are, in the hope that eventually they might say something to jog my memory... and even, on one day, walked side by side with a man up Cosham High Street for about five minutes, without realising he was my eldest brother! ...Although to be fair, he didn't realise it was me, either!

I am really embarrassed about all this; I feel so frustrated by my lack of memory, especially when I really should know something. I used to have a pretty good memory; almost photographic where the written word was concerned, although the appointments thing has been a curse my entire adult life... It was having to have chemotherapy in 2004/5 that really set it off on a downward trend, although I should point out that the official line is that there is no scientific evidence so far to prove a link with memory loss and chemo.

What can I do about it though? Nothing, really... All the brain training in the world won't repair my memory.

So, although I find it frustrating, I have to accept it. I cannot change it, stress makes it worse, so acknowledge, accept, release, as they say...acknowledge, accept, release...

This applies in lots of areas of life; if you cannot change something, acknowledge it, accept it, work with it, release that pain, anger and frustration...and move on.

If you cannot do this, then you may be allowing anger and resentment to clog up your energy and ruin your day.

If someone cuts you up on the motorway, resist the temptation to rant and rave, after all, the other driver certainly won't be worrying about you, and allowing that small incident to ruin your day just doesn't make sense!

Acknowledge, accept, release...move on.

This one small change to how you think can have a major effect on your well being, but it takes courage and practice...

Acknowledge, accept, release...move on.

Try it today?

You might surprise yourself!

Now then...who are you again?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Friday, 22 July 2011

Throw Away Your Loincloth!

I am absolutely delighted to announce that O Books will be publishing my first book; 'Throw Away Your Loincloth!', in 2012.

The book is aimed at anyone who wants to live a spiritual life in the real world-no loincloth required-and this is how it came about...

I have always firmly believed in God/Goddess/Divine Spirit-the names are not important (as a wise man once said: "There are many paths up to the top of the mountain, but they all reach the same summit."), and my life has been full of 'Weirdy stuff' (as my family put it), which has given me my proof that there is something else out there...

But believing in something and being able to weave it seamlessly into your everyday life are two different things; I would love to be able to spend my time touring sacred sites and stone circles (as long as a) There is a decent B&B and local pub nearby and b) Lots of lovely shopping!), but my life does not allow it! I have to work and look after my family, something which leaves precious little time for me...It's the same for virtually all of us!

To put it bluntly-who has time to spend hours sat meditating on a mountain top clad only in a loincloth?

I want to invite you to throw away your loincloth, because it does not have to be like that!

I can show you how to feel connected without feeling frustrated that you cannot devote more time to your inner self, your inner world...
...Because it can be with you all the time...

Until next time, in light, love and laughter,
Michelle x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bed of course!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Finding the positives in those 'Bleeuggh!' days...

I have not been a well bunny for the last few weeks; something which has come to a head over the last few days...

It started at the beginning of June; we were on holiday in Cornwall and my daughter had a 24 hour tummy bug, which I thought she had rather generously passed on to me! However, after more than a week of stomach pains, headaches, nausea and quite literally hurtling to the loo I thought I had better pop along to my GP. She organised some tests and we both thought it would settle down without intervention...

It didn't, and after a whole month of not being able to eat properly and generally feeling Ill, I went back to the doctor. I was not expecting to get a result, but was surprised and shocked to be told I probably had been harbouring a parasite!

The little devils are called Giardia, a single cell micro-organism easily missed on tests; if you search them out on Google Images they look like smily faced balloons with strings...well, the friendly pics do! The others are the stuff of nightmares that I would rather not think about!
Giardia is picked up through dirty water, or contaminated soil, or poor hygiene; having ruled out the dirty water, that left me with poor hygiene (public loos?) or soil, and as I have five cats, that is the most likely cause.
I do wear gloves whilst gardening, but I suppose it is a calculated risk!

Anyway, the GP prescribed some antibiotics and I thought that was it; I wasn't expecting that nobody would be able to find the first lot (Tinidazole), so that I had to have another instead!

Metronidazole and I are acquainted of old, and not in a friendly manner, so I was expecting to be ill and wasn't disappointed. The last time I felt this bad was when I was undergoing chemotherapy 6 years ago!

But there are positives to be taken; counting my blessings if you like...

I have watched an awful lot more telly...

I would not have seen the amazing programme on Iceland on BBC2 last night for one; Julia Bradbury's Icelandic Walk is on the BBCiPlayer and I can heartily recommend it!

The programme before it was rather good too; Coast was featuring the swedish coast and that made me feel distinctly wistful...Is it possible to feel homesick for a place not your home? Ok not Sweden for me, but Finland, just across the water... The Nordic people have a wonderful attitude to summer...get out there and enjoy life to the max! We could all take a leaf from their book on that one!

...and then back in time again, and I watched rather more golf than was probably healthy! Darren Clarke won the British Open; what a nice chap he seems to be, not someone that anyone would have bet on to win in advance, ranked 119 in the world. He lost his wife 5 years ago to breast cancer, and (along with his lovely fiancee) thoroughly deserves the break.

So apart from the telly?

I have read a couple of books that usually would have taken ages because of the lack of free time; both of them were most enjoyable:-

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen is an enchanting tale of finding ones roots and discovering true magic.

Times Legacy by Barbara Erskine is a fabulous novel set in and around Glastonbury, both 2000 years ago and today. Timeslip novel that you won't want to put down!

What else...?

Oh yes, how could I forget my wonderful husband running round for me, ferrying cups of coffee and sustenance up and down the stairs and generally being a saint!

The kids have come up and chatted every now and again and all in all, although I have felt absolutely Bleeugghhh! It's been a positive experience.

...and having said all that, I cannot wait to get back into the real world!

Too much laying around just doesn't suit me!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:My sickbed

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The car that cried wolf! A modern cautionary tale...

'Tis a sad day today. Forever shall it be marked by a black spot on the family calendar, next to the reminders to buy more cereal and crisps, and the menu from the curry house.

On Saturday, Phil collected me from work in his car, but as we drove down the A3 towards home, it quickly became apparent that All Was Not Well...

My dear husband began making gentle comments like 'We're losing power, what the bloody hell is wrong with this thing now!' whilst I made soothing noises... We pulled into a lay-by at which point the Depollution filter light blinked on, to warn us in its' cheery way that we might have a problem.

I say might, because in the two years we have owned this car, it has flashed a whole series of cheery little lights at us...mostly in error.

I think my favourites were the series relating to tyre pressure. It would start off gently by warning us that it was unable to monitor pressure, then move up to telling us that we had a puncture and should pull over. It had a pretty picture of a tyre with a nail in it in case we couldn't read. Our failure to pull over was followed by a further message shouting at us to STOP!

It shouted in vain as we knew we had no puncture, or Depollution error, or any of the other cheery little warnings...what we did have was a car with a serious early onset dementia problem, which cost us a small fortune in continually being connected to command central. Command central would give it a good talking to and for a short while all would be well...

Sometimes the shirt while while was very short indeed, and a new message would flash up on the drive home. The drive home is precisely 7/10ths of a mile!

So you can see, I was failing to take this latest episode at all seriously as in my mind it was just crying wolf again.

How wrong can you be.

Anyway, we pulled into the lay-by, got the message, and did the only thing that seemed sensible, we carried on to about 30 miles an hour on the A3, when everyone else is doing 70+. I did suggest that Phil should wear a flat cap and shrink down so that his head did not appear above the headrests, but to no avail. I know how much he hates travelling significantly below the speed limit, many is the time he has cried 'If you are incapable of driving below the speed limit, you shouldn't be on the road!' and I thought it might help other drivers to think he was somewhat more stricken in years and therefore give him an excuse.

When we reached Morissons, it was clear that there was something actually wrong, not just because of the lack of power thing, but also the strong smell of diesel that was following us, along with the increasingly dense pall of smoke.

So we did the only thing we could do, in the circumstances...

We bought some beer and carried on fifteen miles an hour, which is a bit on the tardy side, even for me!

By the time we had limped that last mile and a half, the car was clearly sick; black smoke pouring out from the back...and white smoke/steam emanating from under the bonnet. It could not manage the final push onto the drive, so we had to enlist the help of Matt to help us push it up there...

...and there it stayed until yesterday, when the man-from-the-garage came with a trailer to take it away.

The practicalities of taking it away were most entertaining; it was facing the wrong way for a start, and although it spluttered briefly into life...enough to get it off the drive...that was it. We had to manhandle it into facing the right way and in line with the trailer.

I say 'we', I just stood out of the way whilst Phil, James, Matt and the man-from-the-garage huffed and puffed as they tried to manoeuvre half a ton of metal without power steering on an upward slope making helpful comments like 'Don't you think you should put your foot in the car darling, we don't want the door closing on it!' You get the picture.

After a couple of lifetimes in the blazing sun, it was ready to be pushed up and onto the ramp; except we very rapidly realised that it was far too low, and the slope too steep to get it up there without ripping the front skirt off!

The man-from-the-garage was not dismayed though, he had clearly dealt with this particular hazard before and before long we were too, with the aid of some bricks and sawn off skirting from the kitchen leftovers.

The skirting had been lurking in the garage for more than 3 years just waiting for the day when it would finally come in useful. Michael MacKintyre would have been proud.

We waved goodbye to the car and set to dreading the call-from-the-garage with the damage report...

It came today and was worse than our wildest dreams. No, really, it was!
None of us could have known that the cheery little lights had been building up to such a catastrophe...the car had finally been telling the truth.

The EGC thing had failed; this is a thingy to control the emissions, it sounds quite vital. The flywheel? Or at least something in the gearbox had gone too, causing the engine to lock up...which doesn't sound awfully healthy...and the starter motor had started to disintegrate, with bits of it potentially now rattling around the engine like raspberry seeds under your bridge that you can never fish out and are bloody uncomfortable!

The man-from-the-garage said he'd never known anything like it, all these things to fail at the same time! He then went on to say that just to take it apart to the extent that they could properly assess the damage and work out a quote for repairs would cost about a £1000 in labour!

This is garage-speak for 'Your car is f***ked'.

So now we are a one car family, at least for the moment. Somehow I think the delights of the Peugeot estate have been too exciting for Phil and we may take the advice of Mr. Clarkson and co and go for a Merc estate next time. We've had one of those before, and they didn't have annoyingly cheery lights that lied for a start!

Would anyone like to buy a large silver blue garden feature?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Yep. In bed.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

To be a pilgrim

I am currently reading a fascinating book by Peter Stanford, called The Extra Mile. The author travelled the UK to visit traditional sites of pilgrimage; Walsingham, Iona, Glastonbury, Stonehenge amongst others; with the aim of seeing how these ancient religious destinations are faring in our supposedly secular society...

...and guess what? They seem to be flourishing!

Although initially I was a little surprised by this, on reflection I feel that I shouldn't be. I am not affiliated to any specific religion; I rather Intend to use the 'insert deity of choice here' approach, at least when talking to others, but I do believe in that something 'other' that defines (for me) a Divinity, something up there watching over me.

But regardless of our particular preference in faith, we can all respond to those places that somehow 'feel' spiritual. I know that is a little woolly, but let me explain with an example.

We visit Finland as often as we can afford to, it is a beautiful country, with some of the best chocolate in the well as countless thousands of lakes and islands, just stunning.

The first time I visited Helsinki, I wanted to visit the cathedral; I love walking around cathedrals and churches, drinking in the atmosphere of concentrated prayer... Of course some churches have a better atmosphere than others, but the Lutheran cathedral had absolutely no atmosphere at all, nothing...if anything the white echoing space had a feel of 'new build' to it!

Our friend Ross suggested visiting the Tempeliaukkion Kirkko, or Church in the Rock, a short walk away. This building, started in 1968, is a multi denominational church, in a quiet residential area of Helsinki, blasted out of one giant granite outcrop...
From above it resembles a half buried UFO; from the street, it is nothing more than a discreet glass door leading into a reception area. It could be anything from a hotel to a call centre, although I am reminded a little of Newgrange, in Ireland.

But then I walked into the main space...

Nothing could have prepared me for the feeling in there. If anything at all were to prove to me anything at all about the power of place, it would have to be the Tempeliaukkion Kirkko... It hit me like a hammer, I found myself overwhelmed by emotion, tears running down my cheeks; right then, at that moment, I would have done anything to have stayed there forever. I have not experienced anything like it before or since.

The walls are bare granite, blast marks clearly visible, the different colours within the rock giving a warmth to the light. The auditorium is filled with rows of seats for listeners of the many classical performances as well as religious services. The roof is an incredible disc of solid copper formed by connecting sections of copper plate into a spiral...

The difference between the two churches could be more marked; the empty shell of the traditional cathedral, and the Church in the Rock, saturated with spirit.

Every time we go, I have to top up my fix! I am an addict to this incredible energy...and so will you be...

Book your flights and make your pilgrimage as soon as you can!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bed again!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunny days and muggy nights!

Just a quick post tonight as I am pretty tired...and apparently I have to get up hideously early tomorrow morning to make fresh lemon curd for my daughter's Lemon Drizzle cakes in her 'Food Tech' lesson. She cannot make do with a jar from the co-op up the road, she wants to score brownie points by having freely home made...and yes, I know I am pandering to her, but it does taste jolly nice, even if I say so myself!

By the way, It's not cookery anymore, or even home economics...just the soulless sounding 'Food Tech' - and they wonder why kids don't find cooking inspiring? Call it something exciting and they might just discover a passion for creating delicious dishes! (I can dream!)

Now what could we call it eh? I shall give it some thought.

Anyhow, that was not what I had been planning to write about...

It has often been commented upon that whilst other countries have a 'climate'; Britain only has 'weather', something which has always amused is just so true!

The last couple of weeks have been, erm, variable on the weather front. Anything from blazing sunshine and hot sticky nights to torrential rain and thunderstorms with a good dose of humidity, occasional cold days and some windy weather thrown in for good measure.

Of course nobody likes it.

It does not matter one jot what the weather is, we don't like it. It's too cold or too hot, too wet or too dry, too windy or not a breath of air to stir the heat. As the saying goes, if I had a penny for every time somebody had said that it was too hot for them over the last few days, I would have had enough to buy half a pint of diesel.

We have no choice of course...we invest a huge amount of time and effort in predicting the weather, watching and reading about the weather and even now, fiddling with weather apps!

In our home, 5 of us have smartphones and I have my beloved iPad that's 6 different weather apps to compare with the tv, radio and newspaper forecasts. Why cannot we just accept that the weather will do what it eases and go back to the ancient art of looking out of the window?!

Better still,use the time spent trying to work out what the weather will do, to gazing at what the weather is doing now...
There is a beautiful scene constantly changing and unfolding above our heads, but only a few of us bother to look up. We are blessed with wonderfully changeable weather which gives us incredible cloud formations to give perspective and background to our daily lives.

As an added bonus, the good weather right now is throwing up some of the most beautiful sunsets... Get out there and enjoy them!

Incidentally, I have what I hope are some stunning sunset pics uploading from my husband's phone as I type...I shall upload them here tomorrow!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 1 July 2011

You can't hurry a Murray...

I am watching Andy Murray play Rafa Nadal...

As always it is a stress ridden, edge of the seat, frustrating, nervy and downright ohgodIcannotbeartowatch experience.

The Tsonga match was bad enough; I did so want him to win, but in the end, Jokovitch had the better game and will be playing in the final on Sunday.

But who will he be playing?

Nadal is playing extremely well, Murray has had a distinctly dodgy second set, after a fabulous first set and Rafa won something like 7 games on the trot. He has broken Andy's serve in the third set as well.

Andy now needs to 'dig deep', as the commentators, safe in their comfy studios and commentary boxes are fond of saying. It is all very well for them, they are nice and safe...not like us shredding our fingernails here at home!

Hey ho.

However Murray plays it, he will need to draw on his reserves of focus and determination and somehow keep playing to the highest standard he possibly can- despite being down that break, knowing that the hopes of the nation are on his shoulders... I think we put so much pressure on our hopefuls, that they are almost bound to crumble under the pressure.

Still, there's a long way to go in this match yet...I really hope Andy Murray can win it...but if he does not win it this year, there is always another chance next year...and the year after that!

Whatever happens, I am proud of his achievements, and so should he be.

My best friend is hoping that Rafa wins...We may fall out...!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:At my best friends home! (For a change)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

An Angel Shouted 'Hoi!, What's Your Game Chummy?!

If you ever wonder if the gods, whoever and wherever they may be, have a sense of humour, this should give you an idea...

I had forgotten about this incident until recently; I was looking through some old diaries and found this from December 1976...I was just 14 at the time...

'Today started out well at school, we had all clubbed together to buy John Boy, (name changed to protect the guilty!), the bloke we all fancied, a Christmas present. We bought him a cigarette lighter, but decided we didn't want him to get lung cancer, so we wrote a warning on the wrapping paper.

I was the only one brave enough to give it to him (out of a form of about 30!), so we all signed the card and at lunchtime I went to find him. I did find him, but he was snogging a sixth former in one of the I waited until they came up for air, and then gave it to him, on behalf of all of us.
I think he liked it, he said thank you a lot!'

The poor chap must have been terrified at the thought of 30 manic hormone ridden teens all lusting after him...and as for writing a warning on the present not to smoke...oh god the whole thing is just too painful!

I was always the one who went up and asked, who crept into empty classrooms and left notes in desks...I think I was hoping it would give me a greater sense of being included; I was lucky to have some very good friends, but I suffered from lack of confidence...and made up for it, by appearing over confident.

Over the years I have managed to mostly get it under control; anxiety can make us behave in all sorts of bizarre ways...I have even asked for Jim 'Here's what you would have won' (Bullseye) Bowen's autograph on behalf of a work colleague in a hotel in Woverhampton!

The moral of this story is don't take yourself too seriously, and don't feel obliged to do all the daft things you are asked to!

...And if the angels didn't have a good laugh setting me up for that last one, they really don't have a sense of humour!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Snoozy place

Monday, 27 June 2011

Guardian Angels

I firmly believe that each of us has at least one Guardian Angel; I have had several experiences that have convinced me of this, although my proof may not prove anything of the sort to you!

Let me give you an example.

We visited Helsinki in February this year (Finland; beautiful country, wonderful people, magnificent chocolate), but unfortunately I broke a toe a couple of days before we left. I was extremely nervous about boarding the plane, it is always a scrum, allocated seats or not, and the thought of my toe being trodden on was making me feel nauseous...

We were waiting at the gate, and Phil, my husband wandered off to find a loo...naturally the flight was called the minute he vanished from sight, and horror of horrors...we had to go by bus to the plane!

I watched as it filled up; so many passengers in such a small space! By the time Phil reappeared, there were no seats and very little standing room and I was certain of being severely injured...

Now whilst I was waiting for Phil to reappear, I had been on the hotline to my Guardian Angels, with an emergency request for help...

As we went through the gate, all I could see were people crammed into the bus, right up to the doors...I wasn't even sure there was room for us...when suddenly, the driver came up to us and said there were two seats right behind the drivers seat, and we should have them!

Now at no time had I told anyone of my predicament, or asked for special treatment, he had appeared right out of the blue!

The other standing passengers (there were many) looked on in surprise; it was almost as if those two seats had been invisible up until that moment...

But more was to follow!

As we approached the plane on the tarmac, I knew I still had the worst part in front of me, fighting through a narrow aisle full of folks trying to find their seats and put luggage overhead...but as the bus stopped by the steps, the driver only opened the doors in front of us, so that I was the first off the bus and the first up the steps and onto the plane!

I have to believe in Divine intervention after that!

...But I appreciate you might not!

So how do you find your own 'proof'?

The first thing is to accept (just for the purposes of this experiment), that angels exist. You then need to ask for a sign that they can hear you, and that sign can take all sorts of forms; what you can be absolutely sure of, is that it will be a sign which only means something to you.

The most convincing evidence comes when we are in real need, like me with my toe (!), but your Guardian Angel will respond to every one of your just might need to learn to spot them.

Look for something that comes when you ask...not hours or days later, something that provokes a real response from you, at a deep emotional level. I tend to laugh a lot; somehow knowing that they are there watching over me just makes me giggle!

I shall write more on angel signs another day, but will leave you with another of my personal experiences...

My car is called Baby Blue; she is a 2008 Fiesta in Pompey (Portsmouth Football Club) Blue, and she is the only car I have had from brand new!

She has a little glitch...something it will probably take a man with a computer days to trace...which is why I am not bothering right now! Sometimes, the radio console is dead when you turn it on; no lights, no anything. It stays dead for a varying amount of time and no amount of fiddling will have any effect.

So one morning, I get into Baby Blue, start the engine and there is no radio; I was not a happy bunny anyway, things were not going well, so as I drove I was asking the Angels for a sign that all would be well...

...About 10 minutes into the journey, the radio sang into life, right at the point where Aretha sings the line 'I say a little prayer for you...'
I burst out laughing and thanked them for their attention and response, but then, a few minutes later, I was worrying again, so as I parked up, I was asking for yet another sign, to prove the first one was a proper sign!

I had hardy got to the end of the plea, walking along the pavement under some overhanging trees, when I walked into the perfect fluffy white feather hanging by a gossamer thread...

Fair enough. I get the message!

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Location:You guessed it!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Frustrated Golfist Blues

It has been a really hot day; blue skies and soaring temperatures, an ideal day to try my hand on the golf course!

I have always liked golf; one of the few good things my father shared with me, was his time out on the golf course..

Over 18 of the 20 years that Phil and I have been together, he has robustly maintained his Opinion that golf was a good walk spoilt, however, a round with our friend Ross 2 years ago changed all that, so that now I am danger of becoming a golf widow! I got straight out there with him, but fate took a hand (or foot) and comprehensively killed a tendon in my left foot!

This has left me seriously impaired in the golfing stakes; unable to wear the proper footwear and with treatment ongoing, I had to take a break...

You simply cannot buy ladies golf shoes with a wedge heel, well, except for the TipTeeToe ones in the USA, which cost as much to ship over as the shoos themselves! So today, I tried it with an orthotic support in shoes...way too painful...and then my sandal...feet don't hurt but it puts me off balance so I have to learn my stance again...

Oh boy was I awful...

My swing ranged from mildly ghastly to laughable...the ball went just about everywhere but forwards...and of course, the more frustrated you become, the worse it gets...

It wasn't all doom and gloom, I had a few passable shots, but I have relearnt an important lesson or two, or three...

1. Don't try and play all the holes... Select the ones you like, and drive the buggy the rest of the time!

2. At least try to stay calm...

3. Celebrate the better shots, and learn from the rest, and...

Enjoy the sunshine and the company!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:In Bed Again!

Friday, 24 June 2011

It's Very Late

Despite what you might think from the time displayed on these Blogs...actually I write late at night, from my bed! I am not in bed in the mud afternoon even though it insists it's about 3.00 or 4.00pm...

So if anyone has worked out how to set the time...let me know please!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Still in bed!

On being a winner...

I have been glued to the telly tonight, watching Andy Murray in action in the third round at Wimbledon. He was playing Ljubicic (loo-be-chitch), a veteran player at 32, and someone who has certainly come through an awful lot to get where he is.

As a young player, being driven around by his father in Bosnia, they were stopped by hooded gunmen and scared stupid; his father sent him and his mother abroad to safety after that and for six months he did not know if his dad he was alive or dead...

Thankfully, he did reappear and after some time as refugees in several countries, the young Ljubicic was spotted by an Italian coach and the rest as they say, is history. He has been ranked in the Top 10 in previous years, but is most definitely not yet ready to throw in the towel and retire!

He played with skill and determination, his years of experience at times giving him a distinct edge and demonstrating that you do not always need power shots to get the upper hand... He used very gentle short taps over the net to devastating effect on several occasions!

Ljubicic won the first set, Murray won the second, and stormed through the third. The game swung first to one, then the other, and even for those of us used to the edge-of-the-seat-nerves of watching any British player at Wimbledon, it was stressful!

But young Andy has come a long way, not just physically, but mentally.

Yes, you could see the frustration when he lost a point, or fluffed a shot, but he got over it, and moved on. Not only that, but he moved on very quickly; in any fast paced game, such as tennis (or life!) you cannot afford to hang about, you need to be taking the positives and using them to learn how to avoid the pitfalls next time.

Murray eventually won in a tiebreak at the end of the fourth set; we all heaved a sigh of relief and can now relax and watch the Roger and Raffa show tomorrow!

But both players were winners tonight; it was a fantastically entertaining match! Murray may be headed into the fourth round, but we haven't seen the last of Ljubicic, I am sure of that...

Remember, never give up...if things don't pan out as you plan, change the plan!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Yep, in bed!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Embracing the mud at Glastonbury!

So Glastonbury weekend is upon us once more and this year, just for a change, it has rained!

However, in an unexpected twist, it hurled it down mightily just as the gates opened, which has led to the most incredible quagmire of mud...two whole days before the music has even started!

Are the festival attendees downhearted?

Absolutely not!

One family, putting up their tent in driving rain commented on their determination to enjoy themselves come what may in a display of pure British grit, whilst other announced their intentions of 'embracing the mud', a sentiment that seemed entirely appropriate!

I think that they are all going to have a truly fabulous experience...the forecast for the rest of the festival is not that bad, but whatever the weather, they certainly won't forget the first day, with the torrential rain and thick, all consuming mud... It's the stuff of legend!

...and if you are wondering how that translates into a 'spiritual' lesson, just think for a moment...

How do you react when things don't go as you planned?

Do you huff and puff...complain that it's all gone wrong...maybe even sulk...or do you revise the plans to embrace the changes, face up to things with a smile and do your best to enjoy yourself anyway!

It is not always easy to shrug things off, but a positive attitude and a willingness to work to make the best of things brings many benefits...not the least of which is being a happier, more contented soul.

Embrace the mud! Be dirty, but happy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bed again...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo...

How do you make your choices?

Do you weigh up the pros and cons of each option, look at what others have to say, write lists, think about what you are prepared to compromise on...get second you just go for the first thing you see, or whatever feels right?!

I know it depends on the situation; you are going to compare tv's or computers, of course that's only right, but what about those choices where you cannot look at what ReeVoo has to say?

What about those situations in life that could make a real difference?

For example, some years ago now, I was offered two different jobs. Both paid about the same, both had a similar status, career progression etc.
How did I choose?

I used my Inner Voice, the deep seated instinct that knows what is good for us...

The thing is that most of us tend to ignore that voice; we override it with what our ego mind, that part of us that looks after the everyday stuff, the me me me stuff, we listen to what that voice says.

Try this simple test; it's daft but you'll get the idea...

Take two different bars of your favourite chocolate (or biscuits, cakes, beer, whatever) and get a friend to hide them behind their back, one in each hand.

They have to be things you have real difficulty in choosing between...

When the hand is revealed, was it the one you really wanted? Or did you really want the other one?

What was your inner voice telling you?

Here is another one; you are out shopping when you spot a stunning pair of boots that you really want, but don't really need and cannot you walk away with a happy heart...?

Or do you (eventually) give in and buy them anyway!

We know what is good for us, we know what is right for us...but most of the time we ignore it and do as we damn well want to!

So next time a choice comes your way; listen to your inner voice, and put away that credit know it makes sense!

By the way...those two job offers? I did not take either of them...I stayed put. My inner voice told me to tell my boss I had been approached by a rival company-and he promoted me and raised my salary!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:My bed!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer Solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Now I have heard quite a few comments today, along the lines of it being 'all downhill until Christmas'- and it can be really easy to allow ourselves to be drawn into this way of thinking...but I want to challenge you to think differently.

Ask yourself this question: 'Which of the following statements improves my mood-makes me feel better...?'

1. It's the longest day today...that means the nights will start drawing in soon!

2. It's the longest day today...that means the summer is here!

Ok, so I hope you went for the second statement, but you see what I mean.

How we think about things, down to the smallest details or our everyday lives, has an impact on our mood, our sense of well being.

Try this: for one whole day, make sure every single you say is a positive thing; if you cannot say something positive, don't say it!

My 'Big Grandma'* used to say that if you couldn't find something good to say about a person, keep your mouth shut! Good advice!

It is so easy to slip into using negative phrases, we don't even realise it is happening...

But back to the Summer Solstice...
It has been the sort of day you would expect in England for summer, glorious sunshine interspersed with heavy showers, but the skies have been incredible and I have been busy with my camera...
Remember to look up occasionally, sometimes the skies are filled with angels...

All the following pics were taken from the passenger seat of our car in a 20 minute journey from Petersfield to Cowplain...

The sun through layers of dark grey...still shining through...

Through the vast glass roof of our Peugeot Estate, the rain streaks across at speed, whilst blue sky is visible!

The violent shower has passed and there are many layers of cloud at different levels in the atmosphere...

By the time we are nearly home, the sky is filled with these beautiful cirrus hooks!

Taken from my front doorstep, these incredible glowing cirrus remind me of hosts of angels...

Do you have any fabulous cloud pics? Send them to me at

Until next time, stay positive and Look Up!
Michelle x

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Home in the South Downs

Monday, 16 May 2011

Rambling on...

Now that we are approaching the lightest part of the year (how I don't know, honestly it is only a couple of weeks since Christmas isn't it?!), lots of us are taking to the great outdoors...

We have had a glorious prelude to summer (oh please let it be a good one!) and along with millions of others, I have 'casted my clouts, before May be out'.

The summer clothes came down from the loft a lot earlier than usual and I then went through the annual process of sporting out which of them were still worth keeping and/or wearing. Rather scarily, I am disposing of an awful lot this year, helped along by my daughter, who at the ripe old age of 14, has decided she ought to move on from wearing stuff for 11-12 year olds!

Anyway, I am desperate to get out and up on the downs...

There are places up there where I can sit and forget everything except the sun and wind on my face, the sound of the breeze through the leaves and grasses, and the glitter of the Solent away to the south.

I feel a very strong link to my ancestors up there; I can never prove that I was from here in the far far distant past, not prove with documents, and family trees... But I know that I was.

Every time that I drive up and down the A3 past Clanfield, I feel that pull...that sense of belonging somewhere. A few years ago, we did some research into our family history and discovered that our children, by a random stroke of fate, had ended up attending the same school as their great great grandmother...sitting in exactly the same classrooms as she did.
It's a very strange thought...

They attended Buriton Primary School, a delightful village school in the heart of the downs; the village has a wonderful and ancient forebears are in the churchyard, something I had no idea of during the 16 years of attending school nativity plays!

Buriton used to be a major stopping off point on the way from London to Portsmouth; Henry VIII would have passed through on his way to review the fleet...
Nowadays it is a sleepy village, just off the A3 Dual Carriageway, 2 pubs, no shop.

If you go up Kiln Lane from the crossroads by the Master Robert, you can turn left and enter the recreation ground through a gate set into the hedge.

I highly recommend it, you are greeted with the most wonderful scene; the smooth green of the recreation ground, complete with cricket pitch; the Victorian school buildings on one side,,,and the tree covered downs rising up on the other. The effect is of being in a vast amphitheatre, or bowl; for me it is quintessentially English.

In the Village Hall car park, also next to the recreation ground, is my favourite Horse Chestnut tree; it is no exaggeration when I say that I have had thousands of conkers from that tree!

I have rambled away from my point here-sorry-which was to say that if you are hoping to get closer to that sense of connection to the Divine Spirit, to your Guardian Angels, to Mother Nature...then you need to get outside!

It doesn't matter if you live in an urban area; I know I am incredibly lucky to have the downs and the sea on my doorstep; what matters is that you take yourself outside.

Take off your shoes and feel the ground beneath your feet; feel that connection to the earth.
Lay down and spend some time watching the clouds passing overhead; have you ever really watched the ever changing is beautiful...

If you have a really special place, somewhere really personal to you, then go and sit with your eyes closed; take some deap and slow breaths, in through the nose, and out through the mouth...

Ask for your Guardian Angels to come close, to keep you and yours safe; ask them whatever you want! when we are outside, it is easier for them to hear us.

In a couple of weeks we are going on holiday, to Cornwall. we did not manage to get there last year and I cannot wait...

We will drive down the hill into Padstow and it will feel like coming home; a different home, a home from home...

I have special places there too; I am looking forward to reconnecting with those places, spending time in St. Georges Cove/Bay flying the big kite, building labyrinths in the sand.

All the different types of sand...

Hard sand
Soft Sand
Ripple Sand
Pillow sand
Soft Pillow sand
Painful sand
Wainful sand

...ask my daughter!

I really am rambling now, and I haven't even had a drink!


Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Importance of Being Positive

Like many folks in these times of economic stress, we have been watching the pennies and hoping that nothing happens to upset our fragile balance of financial equilibrium.

It can be difficult not to become anxious about money, after all, it is something we all need to live; we need to keep a roof over our heads, to eat, clothe ourselves and yes, have a few luxuries too...!

So what can you do to relieve any anxiety and attract good things?

This simple exercise takes a few moments and can be done anywhere-but before I share it with you, I need you to consider something...

Let's say you are working in a job that you are not that happy with...there are several ways it could go, from staying there and complaining how much you hate it, to leaving and looking for another job, but what goes on inside your head, how you think about it, will have a profound effect on your overall peace of mind, happiness and well-being.

What you really should NOT do, is make lots of noise about wanting out, unless you have a clear idea of where you WANT to be!

If you are thinking (and confiding in colleagues) about how much you hate your job; how much you want to leave-even though you cannot afford to-then don't be surprised if something happens that means you are suddenly out of a job!

The universe may hear your heartfelt plea; whoever, or whatever you believe in...even if you do not believe in anything...sometimes those passionate wishes are answered, and you might suddenly find yourself out on the street with no way to pay your bills!

This happened to me many years ago. Way back in 1979 I was a clerical trainee for a major company; it was my first job, and I really hated it... I kept on and on telling people how much I hated it, how it wasn't for me...but at no time did I do anything POSITIVE, to find something else!

I got made redundant. At 17, I was without a job, without money and without any prospects.

I had not given any real thought as to what I wanted from life, only what I didn't want.

After a month of sitting at home and bemoaning my lot, it occurred to me that it was up to me to do something about it...I caught a bus into town, went into every single shop to ask about vacancies and got a temporary job for 2 weeks with Woolworths to tide me over. I loved it!

The funny thing was that when I was at school, we all used to use working for Woolworths (and the Pick 'n' Mix counter in particular) as an example of what you did if you were useless!

I discovered that my career contentment depended on my having a job where I dealt with people as a part of my routine. I loved the fact that no two days were the same, that I was not tied to a desk but could move around.... After the two weeks was over, I found a permanent job in a busy city centre newsagent cum record shop and that led to a successful career in Personnel and Training Management within retail.

You would think that I would have learnt my lesson, but years later, I did it again! I was working as a Personnel and Training Manager for a major UK chain and the company decided to 'restructure'...something which is becoming ever more common.

In the morning I was told my job was being made redundant. I would have to re-apply and take a lesser role-if I was employed at all!

My husband was incredibly supportive, but also angry on my behalf. We decided that evening to go out on a motorcycle ride in an effort to make me feel better, but my thoughts were absolutely full of rage, disappointment and how I wanted to 'get back' at the company.
We all think we are indispensible, that the company will fall down if we are not there and I was thinking about how I never wanted to go back again; then they would see how necessary I was!

The universe heard me, and answered.

My wish was granted.

We had a serious accident that evening; nobody at fault, just a slippy road surface and a slow speed crash with nobody else involved... but I was badly injured and never went back to work...

What happened then is a story for another day; ultimately that accident proved to be one of the biggest blessings in my life!

However, this is my point. This is important.

If you want out of your job, for whatever reason, you also need to put in place a POSITIVE wish.

This is what I should have done, I should have visualised myself in a brilliant new job, being happy and content.

It is not enough to ask to be out of your current position, you need to be very careful to back it up with the positive request for help to find your ideal job.

I have also found that although you can end up wishing for a long list of specific requirements, actually it is better to trust the universe, and your guardian angels to do their stuff and put the opportunity in your path that is right for you, right now.

So...instead of saying something like this:

"I want a job that pays £30k a year, with 9 weeks holiday and a company car"


"I want a job that means I don't have to find childcare, don't have to work late, or at weekends and is based within walking distance"

I might say something like this:

"Please help me to find the job that is right for me; something that means I will feel happy and secure- and please help me to recognise the opportunity when it comes!"

If you have a specific ambition, then visualise yourself doing the job. Visualise yourself happy and confident, with everything running smoothly. If you have any doubts about your ability to do that job, your anxiety will come through.

If that job is something to work towards, something you need qualifications and experience for, then ask for the right opportunities to come to you so that you can reach that dream job...

I always ask for signs that I have been heard by the way; I am never disappointed! Those signs will be very relevant to you, personal and targeted; only you will recognise them. When they come, remember to thank your angels and the universe for helping you.

The current economic situation means that money is tight and jobs can be scarce. By using positive visualisation you can increase not just your chances of getting a job, but staying in it and being content.

You can use positive visualisation for anything; it costs nothing, requires no equipment, just an open and honest heart.
Positive visualisation improves your mood and optimism and lifts your spirits. Try it!

One final thing for today:

NEVER leave a job voluntarily unless you have another to go to; principles are all very well, but they don't pay the mortgage and put food on the table.

Until next time...

Michelle x

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The News in Portsmouth feature my story and bid for publishing deal

This is the full text of the article published by The News in Portsmouth on January 4th 2011.

Journalist: Sarah Foster

Life got So Much Better

Michelle Jones got the tummy tuck she wanted, but had to battle breast cancer first. She talks to Sarah Foster about her journey and what she hopes it can teach others.

It could be the plot of a Hollywood film, featuring a motorbike accident and a brave fightback from breast cancer,

But this is Michelle Jones real life and she insists she's actually got a lot to be thankful for.

As she and her husband Phil were finally getting their lives back together after redundancy and injury left them broke and struggling, Michelle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breats cancer.

'It sounds like a disaster story,' laughs Michelle. 'But it's not.'

Despite the gruelling chemotherapy and the fear that she might die, michelle says good things did come as a result of being told she had breast cancer.

Her illness has brought her family closer and it also provided the tummy tuck she'd always wanted, but couldn't afford.

In October 2004, what she longed for most was some cosmetic surgery to take away what Phil affectionately referred to as her 'baby bag'.

A month later she was about to start chemotherapy and had no idea her wish was on its way to coming true.

'I said to Phil "I'd do anything for a tummy tuck" and the universe heard me and granted my wish in a way I could never have imagined.' she explains.

The 49 year old had to have a mastectomy and a friend told her about a type of reconstructive surgery that could also involve having a tummy tuck.

surgeons used skin and tissue taken from her tummy to reconstruct her left breast-getting rid of the bulge of skin she'd always hated.

And the whole operation was done by the NHS so the family, from Waterlooville, didn't have to spend a penny.

'The surgery was absolutely fantastic,' she adds, 'I really was on cloud nine. all i wanted was a tummy tuck. Phil used to say it was the baby bag, but it used to hang in front. I went to sleep for nine hours and when I woke up I was in intensive care for three days on morphine.

I didn't realise I wouldn't wake up and be a size 12, but of course I wasn't.'

No-one would choose to have breast cancer, but michelle has used her own experience to illustrate a book she plans to write.

At the moment she's pitching her idea for 'The Answer.' in a publishing company's X-Factor-style internet competition. and if enough people view her entry and like it, she could see her book become a reality.

'we've had a series of what might look like disasters that have actually been really positive,' she says. 'I think I can really ciope with anything now. It's not an autobiography in the conventional sense. They like books that use your situation to appeal to other people about how you can help them to get over this.

'It's about using the positive in certain situations-even when you are at your lowest. It's about being careful what you wish for. The book shows you how to make your wishes-and that's to put them into a positive light.

'I would have wished i'd had a windfall so i could have paid for a tummy tuck, but I can't regret having had cancer, it's brought so many good things.'

Over the years, Michelle and Phil have had a lot of tough things to cope with.

In May 1995, Phil was riding his motorcycle on the A27 between Chichester and Bognor Regis, with Michelle on the back. The bike skidded on its side and Michelle suffered a fractured leg and severe bruising to her left leg and pelvis. She was on crutches for 18 months which meant she could no longer work.

'Our lowest point wasn't about the cancer, it was after the accident,' she adds. 'For five months we had no money, that was a really scary position. Phil was made redundant and things started to look pretty bleak. Three days later we got married. We went ahead with it because everything had been paid for. But we really didn't know how we were going to be able to keep the house. It sounds like a disaster story, but it's not.

'It's three months I would never care to repeat. We were both hoping for a miracle.

'If you wish for something hard enough, the universe will hear you. But you have to be careful what you wish for.'

Michelle thinks their request for a miracle was answered when an old friend got back in touch with Phil and offered him a job.

The accident also gave her time to become more creative and she started painting and writing. Things were starting to look up and they were finding their feet again. Phil had gone back to work and the kids, James, now 22, Matthew, 18 and 14 year old Holly-were growing up.

Michelle had decided to train as a holistic therapist and was all set to start a business from home when she found out she had cancer.

'Everybody kept saying "It's nothing",' she explains. 'There was no lump or bump. It was just a twinge in my shoulder that would come and go. You don't go to the doctor for a vague twinge. But then I went for something else and said "By the way, while I'm here".

'everyone said "It's probably nothing serious". Then we went and had the official results from pathology and this guy said "It's breast cancer, it's category three, it's aggressive, you'll probably need a mastectomy".'

Michelle started her chemotherapy in November 2004 and the treatment lasted until March.

The kids were obviously worried but Michelle says it was the thought of losing her hair that concerned her most.

'I was mainly focused on the chemotherapy. I'd always had very long hair and the thought of losing it was making me panicky. If I put myself in control of my hair loss I would feel better about it so I had it cut into a very short style and we raised about £1000 for charity.

At the first dose of chemotherapy it started coming out so I had it shaved off. If the chemotherapy had taken my hair I don't think I would have been able to cope. By me doing it, I was in charge.'

A mastectomy was planned and it was while she was looking at her options for reconstruction that the TRAM flap was mentioned.

TRAM flap stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous and combines mastectomy with abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, allowing the breast to be reconstructed with the sufferer's tissues, instead of a foreign implant.

Michelle had the surgery on 26th April 2005, and although it's left her with a large scar, she says she's delighted she got her tummy tuck in the end.

'If you want something bad enough, then sometimes the universe will provide it,' she says. 'I want to share the message that you can be more happy and more content, it's not just about trying to win the lottery. it's about looking at what you've got now and being happy with that. seeing positive in everything.

'At the end of each days, you need to find something that you are proud of and feel positive about, especially now, when everybody is tight for money.

'You've got to be thankful for what you've got and try for what you want.'

She adds: 'Life is what you make it. If you think positive, life will be positive.'

The Book Proposal

Michelle Jones has used her experiences to submit a book proposal to publishing company Hay House, the world's biggest publishers of mind, body, spirit and self-help books.

From an initial group of around 170, she's one of only around 13 who have got as far as submitting their book proosal and accompanying You Tube video. The more people that watch the video, the better her chance of winning. But only one winner can be picked to have their book turned unto reality.

Michelle will find out if her book-called 'The Answer.'-has won on Friday*

*Actually Monday 10/01/12

She says "The phrase "Be careful of what you wish for" can be all too true. However, i have not just survived, but discovered that actually The Answer to your wishes can be simpler than you think.

to watch Michelle's video.

You can also find out more by visiting

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Years Resolutions that last more than a month!

January can be a depressing month; the aftereffects of all that indulgence in December, plus generally grey and cold weather can lead us to despair-but it doesn't have to be that way!

Making New Year Resolutions is a traditional thing; but how many of those resolutions do you actually manage to keep?

I know from personal experience how hard it can be; my favourite failed resolution was one I made 20 odd years ago... I decided that I needed to lose some weight (which I did), but by January 3rd I had given up my diet and was back on the chocolate!

So why do many resolutions fail? It is really quite simple; nobody plans to fail, but we sometimes fail to plan!

If we start something, if we have a cherished dream, or an ambition, then in order to achieve, we need to plan how we are going to get there.

So this is my guide to making-and keeping, and achieving-those New Year Resolutions.

1. Make them realistic; it's no good resolving to be a brain surgeon by March!

On the other hand, you could resolve to research how to become a brain surgeon, what qualifications you require, what you already have and what your first steps would need to be.

2. The 'personal' resolutions: Losing Weight, Stopping Smoking, etc.

I did lose weight in the end; 4 1/2 stones of it...but I could not have done it alone, and for most folks, I think that is an important point. Find a local group that fits in with your personal circumstances and be prepared to have to work at it, after all where my weight was concerned, I did not put it on in two weeks, and therefore I could not expect to lose it in two weeks!

Make sure you can live with the diet you choose, and be prepared to make some sacrifices!

3. If you have a dream or ambition, remember they cannot come true unless you are prepared to actually work towards them...

If you want something badly enough, the universe will hear you, and you may find that things begin to fall into place to allow it to happen, but you still have to actually take positive action yourself.

For example...

In 2005, I desperately wanted to be a writer, but I did not have the first idea about how to actually get my meanderings into print!
In October that year, I was working at an Angel and Faery Fair in Penzance; the organisers did not realise that it clashed with a Festival of the Sea, and it was very quiet... On the second day, I plucked up the courage to talk to a lady who had a stand near mine; that was Jacky 'The Angel Lady' Newcomb, and she is now one of my closest friends...

She suggested I start by submitting articles to magazines; you might get rejected at first, but you have to keep on going and eventually someone will take one!

I bought copies of lots of MBS magazines and sent off articles, but heard nothing. Then, the following month at another event in Haslemere, I met a man who knew the editor of a new magazine looking for writers! I bought a copy, studied the articles, and wrote a couple of samples in the same style and to the same wordcount and submitted them-and Diana Jarvis, who was the editor, took one of them and published it!

I can still remember the excitement I felt at seeing my writing in print for the first time!

The point here is that whilst the universe will do what it can, it is up to us to take those opportunities and make something of them.

4. The 'I want...', holidays, homes, etc.
These are the resolutions requiring money, sometimes lots of money! You have to work out where it will come from, and it is no use relying on the lottery!

If you need more cash, it may mean getting another, better paid job, which brings another set of questions of course!

5. Back to the Brain Surgeon!

If you want or need a new career, but are not sure what sort of job you would be suited to or like, then there are lots of online resources these days, but you can always start by writing a list of all the things you are good at, and like to do...and discover which career choices would play to those strengths.

I started out as a clerical trainee, something I was completely unsuited to! After a very uncomfortable 18 months, I was made redundant and got a job in a busy town centre newsagent/record shop which I loved!

Make your New Year Resolutions count!

This year, make not stern sounding 'resolutions' but rather kind and gentle 'promises to yourself'; things that you know you can keep to, that you can discover how to reach, and above all promise that you will make the effort!

Happy New Year!