Sunday, 30 September 2012

Today is the last day of some of your life

...and all that sort of stuff.

Yes, the last day of September...

I'm looking at my plans for the day and wondering... if this happened to be the last day of ALL of my life, would I be pleased to have spent it like this?

The answer is probably...

          ...although why I should feel the need to tell Avril Lavigne about it is another question.  

Here's what's happened so far:
  1. Got up
  2. Went to the yard
  3. Wormed Poppy
  4. Failed to find a missing rug
  5. Came home
  6. Had disagreement with Peter... 
And, for the rest of the day - I've got some work to do and there's a pile of ironing and the cooking of Sunday dinner...  

Hmmm. There seems to be something missing...

This is what I need to put into my plans:

Though ironing can be fun...

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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Humor is the great thing, the saving thing.

 The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.

Good ole, Mark Twain. Except he can't spell humour.


That's an example of my sense of humour.. Well, someone else's -  that makes me, at the very least, smile.

I quite often write material that's meant to be funny and then it's reviewed by lots of people, many of them Americans. For the most part they fail to find it even slightly amusing. It could be that I'm rubbish at writing comedy. I accept that. Or is it that my (British) sense of humour simply doesn't cross the pond?

Then I got to thinking about all the American humour that I love to bits.
So - I love Calvin and Hobbes...



I would put in some Gary Larson here but he has Very Large And Scary Lawyers who don't seem to realise that any publicity is GOOD publicity...

Hmmm, perhaps it's just me and my inability to write humour...

Friday, 28 September 2012

" Music can change the world because it can change people."

...said Bono, from behind his dark glasses, inside, on a dull day.

Can music change people? I know it can change moods. This is what livened me up this morning.

 First movement of the English Folk Song Suite. I'm always fascinated to know if what makes ME feel cheerful and raring to get on with the day has the same effect on other people. Is it something inherent in the music it something inherent in me?

I have a hero in the world of music and I think his use of music as a tool for change is phenomenal.  He's called Gareth Malone.

(No, he's not 12 years old, but 36)

His new TV series, "The Choir: Sing While You Work," sees him go into four different work places – an airport, a hospital, a postal depot and a water processing plant – to form new choirs from a cross-section of staff.  It is, in my opinion, the second best thing on TV at the moment. And Gareth Malone is the best people-person, motivator, self-esteem builder, talent-nurturer I have ever had the privilege to witness.

YES, cynical people amongst my readers, it IS reality TV and yes, OF COURSE, the producers edit, and could be accused of manipulating scenes carefully to put across the desired message and tug at our heart strings...

...but honestly, last night it was magical to see the joy on Royal Mail employees faces when they'd performed and a delight to see the difference the choir had made (maybe temporarily, cynics, but what's wrong with a bit of optimism?) to staff morale right across the organisation.

Perhaps music itself can't change people but it is, for sure, a powerful catalyst for changing communities.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.

Here's a clue as to who wrote that:

Quite a big clue.

Here is a confession. Or perhaps not a confession because really I have nothing to feel guilty about - but I have never, ever read any book by Dr. Seuss. Neither, as far as I know, have any of my boys. Why, I don't quite know. Probably because we're British and it was an American phenomenon?

Good quote though.

It's not exactly how I feel sometimes. I struggle and battle up to the top of a mountain, only to discover that it isn't the top after all and there's still more to climb.

Tomyhoi Peak
Come ON...surely I must be at the summit now?

Still, when you DO get to the top, all that's left to do, once you've admired the view, is come back down again.

So, I'm thankful I'm still climbing.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

"TV gives everyone an image, but radio gives birth to a million images in a million brains."

Peggy Noonan, American author, speech writer to Ronald Reagan (aaargh!) said this.

Well, today's my big chance to give birth to some images in some brains, though to say that Uckfield FM has an audience of millions might be just a slight exaggeration. I could be wrong...

 I'm being interviewed about a project I've set up...or am in the process of setting up.

Thanks to Anne Hamilton for designing the flyer
Countless dear friends and members of my family from across the world already know about it and have agreed, without a moment's hesitation, to take part, either as individuals or as communities. To me that's such a delight - although I didn't doubt for a minute that it would happen, because I have the loveliest friends and family.

Here in Sussex, just as a start, my boys' first school - Buxted Church of England Primary School - is taking it on in a big way. Just as a start...interest is growing by the minute...

The website is still under construction but it'll soon be up and running and then you could find out more, if you chose to. (Within the hour, my techie son Tim informs me, the email address will be operational - but first he has to wake up and have a cup of coffee!)

That address will be: - but, needless to say, the whole thing will be mentioned on this blog...a lot.

I'm guessing that the internet gives birth to images just as much as the radio. So, just to stop you wasting your time imagining, this is what I look like:

Apart from the eyes...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.

...said Jessamyn West (Quaker writer) or Jessamyn West (librarian). Take your pick.

I go through these phases of sending my novels and stories out to potential agents, going on the premise...

...and then mostly I don't hear back, or I do hear back and it's a kindly rejection, or I do hear back and it's a peremptory rejection, and I go into the phase of thinking that trying to become a published writer is about...

( I AM a published writer - but not for my creative work)

So then I give up for a while. Rest. Regroup.Summon up the passion and enthusiasm again. I mostly always have that for the writing...less so for the getting the writing out there...

I was thinking to myself this morning...are there any other jobs like this where you are constantly putting your heart and soul on the line (if you have the guts) and getting rejected and doing it again and again and again and sometimes feeling philosophical about it and sometimes feeling crushed. Acting! Attending auditions. I'm sure that must be the same. I suppose too, searching for any job, filling in application forms, attending interviews, being turned down...

I try to explain it to Peter and he says 'I don't know why you bother.'

I bother because it's my dream.

Bluebirdie the dream writer

Monday, 24 September 2012

"We are bemused and crazed creatures, strangers to our true selves, to one another, and to the spiritual and material world --"

"-- mad, even, from an ideal standpoint we can glimpse but not adopt."

The irony of it all does not escape me! I look for a quote about being bemused and the quote I find, courtesy of R.D. Laing, has me feeling more bemused than ever.

(R.D. Laing - British psychiatrist noted for his alternative approach to the treatment of schizophrenia - and for making me feel more bemused on Monday mornings)

My original bemusement was caused by the fact that, for a full hour, I hadn't felt any pain. I'm not wishing to dwell on my health, which I'm sure has become very tedious for everyone, not least me...

...HOWEVER, my body was saying to my brain, 'Something's up, mate! I'm not used to feeling like this. It is WEIRD.' and it took my brain quite a long time to catch up. (How quickly one becomes accustomed to a certain state of affairs...)

It wasn't until the pain came back, just to remind me how it's been for the last eleven days, that I realised...

More irony...

 Most people, when they're ill, can't go to work. Instead they sit down. My work IS sitting down (writing at the computer)  I can't do that. Instead, I walk about.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The man who can't visualise a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.

I'm rather taken by this quotation by André Breton, French surrealist. (Surrealist? Surely not?)

I think my mind works in a surreal way most of the time and particularly now I'm taking such a cocktail of pain medication. Every cloud has a silver lining.

It helps me as a writer - not the pain medication, per se, although writing can be torture sometimes. I mean, having a mind that works in a surreal way helps me as a writer. I think. Though people who try to comprehend what I've written may disagree.

'Brain chamber of a surreal mind' by Mandelwerk
"Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur."

Hooray! An intelligent sounding interpretation to justify my muddled butterfly brain!

Rather like people attributing poor spelling to undiagnosed dyslexia. Or over-lively and, frankly, downright badly-behaved children to ADHD.

Labels, don't we just love 'em?

And with that, I have a phonecall to make.

Salvador Dali at the beach, by Peter Duggan

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us

 I have a feeling I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating...over and over again...until everyone's been enchanted.

The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre, poem by Rudyard Kipling

I heard it on the radio this morning and was at once soothed into blissful calm.

The White Seal is a beautiful story, classic Kipling, dark and rich. The tale begins with the mother seal singing softly to her young pup.

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

 A Saturday gift for you, with my love.

Friday, 21 September 2012

“Never feel self-pity, the most destructive emotion there is. How awful to be caught up in the terrible squirrel cage of self.”

I love that metaphor, Millicent Fenwick, American fashion editor, politician and diplomat.

 The terrible squirrel cage of self...

It's one thing being ill and accepting that you can't, simply can't, carry on as normal, and letting go and allowing other people to help you...

It's quite another wallowing in self-pity and being furious with the fates for defeating you and demonstrating that you are, after all, fallible and, heaven forfend, not the superwoman you imagined yourself to be.

Note to self: must avoid kryptonite and seek extra energy from sunlight.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

One swallow does not a summer make

One day of feeling better does not a recovery make, either...

Feeling just the teeniest bit sorry for myself?


Feeling HUGELY sorry for myself.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

“The best way to keep young is to keep going in whatever it is that keeps you going. With me that's work, and a lot of it. And when a job is finished, relax and have fun.”

Mostly, Ingrid Begrman, mostly.

It's what I do. Not with the idea of keeping young but of keeping alive and always curious and learning, expanding my world not shrinking it. That and sheer bloody-mindedness. I will NOT be defeated. I will NOT show signs of weakness.

It's what had me run the marathon with a cracked rib and both ankles trussed up like Christmas turkeys to stop the pain of tendonitis - and run it with a smile on my face.

But the last few days, I've been in such pain that I couldn't. And even when I tried to rest, the pain didn't go away, not one iota. No amount of painkillers touched it. No way I stood, sat, lay down, moved afforded any relief.

My body, finally, defeated my spirit.


Today, my body is, she says hesitantly, feeling a little better. A little better and slightly smug to have succeeded in conquering my will to persevere against the odds.

Like a contrite child, I've learned a lesson.

Keeping going is not ALWAYS the best thing to do.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Not good...

...maybe even later today, but I am not fit for anything, waiting for doctor...

Monday, 17 September 2012

The secret of patience is doing something else in the meantime

By Nina Paley
Patience may be a virtue but it isn't one that I possess in huge quantities.

I want to be better. NOW.

I just want to get on with my life. My life, on workdays, involves spending many hours sitting at my computer. It's too painful to do that.

I am going to have to make the most of this enforced inability to sit down (Do you sense my frustration?) and do other things...

Well, it's a start...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Dolce far niente

and, by way of translation, just in case...

That was the plan, yesterday, at any rate.

Sometimes, my body plays dreadful tricks on me. A trapped nerve in my back (don't ask me how I managed it. I have no idea) which bizarrely migrated around to the front as well, meant that I couldn't sit or lie comfortably in any position. All I could do was walk about. The pain got so bad that the out of hours doctor suspected kidney stones...

In hospital until late last night. Now it's concluded that it's several things coinciding by chance, all completely unrelated. Unrelated except for the fact that they are all in my body at the same time.

So I did nothing, but it was by no means sweet.

 Today I'm hoping for the sweetness!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

Said John Burroughs (April 3, 1837 – March 29, 1921) -  American naturalist and essayist,  important in the evolution of the U.S. conservation movement.

And  also said Caroline Coxon (August 8, 1955 - as yet to be determined) - British writer and blogger, important in the evolution of errrm...blogging?)

I had a wonderful day yesterday, on a hedgerow foraging and medicine course. Here...

Hawthbush Farm...

Completely idyllic. We made pesto out of nettles, sorrel and wild garlic bulbs...oxymel out of elderberries, blackberries and hawthorn berries...a muscle rub ointment out of plantain, St. John's Wort and beeswax.

We lit a fire using a bow drill...

....and best of all, I fell asleep on the forest floor in dappled sunlight.

You know that phrase 'Coming to your senses' - that was me, yesterday. The sight, the sound, the smell, the taste, the touch...of nature.

Friday, 14 September 2012

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

 Bravo, Nietzsche (even if I DID have to check the spelling of your name... Twice!)

"Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent and radical those views might be."

Today, I AM remembering to breathe. I AM affirming life. I am dancing.

I'm off on a 'hedgerow foraging and medicine day.'

What? No computer? No telephone? No radio?

No indeed.

Wish me sunshine!

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.”

says Gregory Maguire, revisionist reteller of children's stories.

Today I've been Out There Doing Stuff. Good stuff that will make a difference to lots of people. Other stuff that will make a difference to Alfie and Poppy, like arranging for their saddles to be refurbished...

One appointment after another appointment since 7 a.m. with no break in between.

I've just arrived home completely out of breath as though I've been racing with Usain Bolt.

(I'm in Lane One, just out of the picture)

My to do list was long.

Nowhere on it did I write 'remember to breathe.'

So I forgot.

Remaining alive is quite important if you want to change the world.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

“Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don't go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won't laugh at you."

Great quote, Jim Rohn, (American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.)

By Caz Ink
I don't think I'm very good at asking for things. Is it a British thing? A girl thing? A human thing? The latter, I suspect.

EXCEPT...people are good at asking ME for things, probably because I nearly always say yes. (Don't tell anyone I said that, please. I don't want to be inundated.)

I'm so bad at asking for things that I can't even think of anything I want to ask for. 

I'm not much good at invoicing for work I've completed either. (Ask my clients!) That doesn't say much about how I value myself, really. Or rather, it says a LOT about how little I value myself.

By Jessica Esch
...this week, I'm going for one unreasonable request a day. BY me, not TO me, that is.

Oh look! Everyone's leaving...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

There is no person so severely punished, as those who subject themselves to the whip of their own remorse.

Wise man, Seneca.

I would really love to find a quote by Seneca that was extremely foolish, just for a bit of balance.

Anyway, today's thoughts came from a picture I found to illustrate an e-mail to my coachees reminding them to do stuff!

To me, that's quite a disturbing image. It's me. Super jolly, dancing and bells ringing on the outside but carrying a whip at all times with which to beat myself up if I ever dare to forget that I must do MORE and BETTER.

Oh, I AM talking about whipping MYSELF. I have never once whipped a coachee, honest. (Except maybe metaphorically and with their best interests at heart!)

My whip is quite useful, though. It had me work until 10 p.m. last night.

Is that useful?

Well, I'm still alive and I got a whole lot of work done...and I'll do a whole lot of work today, as well.