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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)