Sunday, 31 March 2013

You take the bad with the good, rise up through it.

Live in the midst of it. It's the bad that lets you know how good the good really is. Don't let the bad leave you thinking like there ain't any good. There is, and lots of it, too.

Charles Martin from Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery

I haven't referred to Seth Godin in a long while. Here's his blog from yesterday, called Just The Good Parts

"I want to be an actress, but I don't want to go on auditions."
"I want to play varsity sports, but I need to be sure I'm going to make the team."
"It's important to sell this great new service, but I'm not willing to deal with rejection."

Caroline Coxon says: Add to that list, "I want to be a published writer but I don't want to pitch my work."

Seth continues: 

You don't get to just do the good parts. Of course. In fact, you probably wouldn't have chosen this path if it was guaranteed to work every time.

The implication of this might surprise you, though: when the tough parts come along, the rejection and the slog and the unfair bad breaks, it makes sense to welcome them. Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you've chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you're doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.

The very thing you're seeking only exists because of the whole. We can't deny the difficult parts, we have no choice but to embrace them.


We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

from Pope John Paul II - the most human and lovely (though I'm not Catholic)


Lots of hallelujahs today!

Yesterday, my wonderful middle son Jamie married the lovely Breanna in Toronto.

Jamie and Bre celebrating at the Bier Markt!

This was the legal bit of their marriage. The main ceremony takes place mid-April in the Dominican Republic.

I can't wait to see them, and Laurie and Irene, and Laurie and Irene's bump!

Happy, happy days for the Coxons.

Hallelujah is our song,  indeed!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Thanks, Lao Tzu. (See, it's always possible to find a quotation that justifies one's position!)

Changes by Gracie Ackerman

(Oooh, what a lovely image, too)
I've been feeling a little fickle, a bit disloyal to Tom Odell - my favourite singer of all time, ever, ever, eternally, yesterday.

Thing is, I heard a track from Richard Hawley...Long Black Train.

Heigh ho. Can't win 'em all, Tom.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.

 Lemony Snicket...

Goodness me, there are some very scathing opinions about tradition flying about...

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.” - Blimey, Krishnamurti, just chill!

"Tradition:one of those words conservative people use as a shortcut to thinking," - Warren Ellis

“Sometimes tradition and habit are just that, comfortable excuses to leave things be, even when they are unjust and unworthy." - Matthew Scully.

Well, excuse me, everybody. There are some traditions that are OKAY. What, please tell me, is wrong with traditions that bring back happy memories of childhood?

SO - today, being Good Friday, I WILL be eating hot cross buns (ONLY today) and I WON'T be eating meat, only fish.

Hoorah for tradition!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.

Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.

Dale Carnegie, named after that famous hall, wasn't he? (Yes, I know I made that joke before but some are worth repeating. No?)
No job too small
I have a list as long as my arm of small jobs that need doing - those small jobs that you leave when you've got more important things to do and then they pile up and threaten to engulf.

Such SILLY jobs, but it always amazes me how much time they take...arranging insurance for the horses...finding a mislaid document for the financial bods...sorting out airport parking for the wedding trip...organising a stair gate for the dog...trying to remember all the other small jobs that need doing...

It SHOULD be satisfying rampaging my way through that list. Somehow, it isn't.

What I need is a Personal Assistant.

Or a wife...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

...that's what you hope for. The sunshine on your face,warm enough to make your heart sing.

Sarah Ockler, from Bittersweet

My heart's singing today.

First - the sunshine, and a lovely ride in its warmth.

Second - yesterday, I finished a huge piece of work. (Huge in effort, not in size of paper!) It's called 'Graded social integration: maintaining expectations of recovery and therapeutic optimism in secure and rehabilitation services.' So, not only was it a joy to finish, but fulfilling to write.

Third - I'm listening to Ziggy Stardust.

That reminds me of being a teenager, which I still am in so many ways.

Fourth? Oh, I think my list's long enough already.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.

Oh yeah, Mark Twain. One of the advantages of working from home. Generally, I'm so keen to get to my desk when I get back from the yard (for keen, read wracked with guilt!) that I don't even change out of my riding clothes.

Caroline Coxon, power dressing:

Hair neatly combed:

Sock neatly darned:

I can assure you, however, that my soul is Very Tidy.

And - potential clients everywhere - my attire in no way affects the quality of my writing...


I scrub up pretty well!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Without music, life would be a mistake.

That's what I think too, Mr. Nietzsche.

I listen to music a lot when I'm working - and have certain things that I play if I want to create a particular mood but all the time I'm finding new stuff that I love.

As a young thing, it was  Pick of The Pops and Radio 1 and  Top of the Pops - but now -  how do I discover music? I'll tell you - and it ISN'T mentioned in this article from the Telegraph.

The top ten places to discover new music online

(perhaps because my source isn't online!)

The latest, greatest source for me is BBC TV trailers. The people who put them together are nothing short of genius. The musicians' agents, or whoever decides to allow the music to be used, are Very Clever Marketers.

Recently - thanks to the trailer for the new drama series The Village, I've discovered Beck Goldsmith.(the wonders of Google searches!)

And a few weeks ago -  my Number One Favourite So Far This Year - for BBC Drama's general trailer:

Tom Odell.

Keeps me alive, keeps me young, keeps me inspired and uplifted, discovering new things.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I suppose the pleasure of country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live...

said Vita Sackville-West, splendid woman. (I know VirginiaWoolf agreed with me, in her own particular way...)

By Shoshana Kertesz
 There are brave efforts going on in a very bleak and bare garden to illustrate this determination to live.

Smiley miniature daffodils!

Cherry blossom (just about) on the tree I bought to remind me of my trip to China.

That's about it, folks. But it's a start!

While we're on the subject of the garden, may I introduce you to my Patent Wind Gauge? Everyone should have one.

Mostly, just one chair blows over if there's wind. Yesterday, the wind force was 2 on the Garden Chair Scale. Apparently, when we were away in Switzerland, all four blew over. Must have been practically a hurricane!

Ah, extreme conditions in an English country garden!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

One day you stepped in snow, the next in mud...

 water soaked in your boots and froze them at night, it was the next worst thing to pure blizzardry, it was weather that wouldn't let you settle.― E.L.Doctorow, Welcome to Hard Times

What IS it with this weather at the moment? Come ON, it's nearly the end of March.

This morning, on the forest with Alfie, Serena and Ripple, it rained...then it snowed...then it sleeted...and the wind blew...

It was not too pleasant. I dared to say this when I came in, fingers frozen to the bone - and Peter said, tartly, 'Well, it's not obligatory to go for a ride.' Fair point, but...(insert own thoughts here)

So here's a song to cheer us up:

Even if it IS meant to be spring.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.

Is it now, David Dunham? Or not.

"This quotation is attributed to David Dunham on many web sites, but when contacted David said "I believe I first ran into the saying in the early 1980s, but I didn't remember or record the original source."

Hmmmm. I'm not really intelligently lazy, if you must know. Sure I work LONG and it feels like HARD but what I produce doesn't equate to the time spent.

I do the work of two women. Unfortunately, both of them are inefficient. The trouble is...

Must be more efficient. Must be more efficient.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.

No, the quote's not from a 21st Century happy-clappy positive-thought motivational evangelist - but Robert Louis Stevenson.

I was thinking about my new found assertiveness (which sometimes may come across as aggression because I'm just a beginner) and wondering whether or not it was completely at odds with New Kadampa Buddhism, the basis of my meditation classes.

SURELY we're not expected to accept mistreatment and bad behaviour and abuse and disrespect?

SO - I Googled 'Buddhism Assertiveness' just to see what came up, and was fascinated. And of course, distracted for ages when I should have been working!

First, an article on by Matt Ramos on how to become more assertive so opportunities don't pass you by.

Then, a link that led me to an idea I'd not heard of before called Rejection Therapy.

Click on the links, if you're interested.

The idea is to make requests of people every day or even do something as simple as smile at a stranger. Your day is not successful unless someone has rejected you, either by saying “No” or by not smiling back.

If you're NOT rejected then your requests aren't big enough. It's meant to take away fear and is a means to learn that no matter how much it hurts, rejection is better than the alternative, which is to live without putting yourself out there.

Hmmmm, there's a 30 Day Challenge. What do you reckon?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs.Hyde

Me, that is.

(By the way, I can't remember which is which from the story.)

For most of the time, I'm quite a nice person! I won't go into details because that would sound like vanity rather than pride. - as discussed yesterday.

I used to be a doormat. Seriously. People could walk all over me and I wouldn't do a thing (except cry in private)

Not any more!

Lately, some people have been thinking I'm fair game to be treated with disrespect...


It feels a little strange to me. Not entirely comfortable.

But certainly more powerful...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously.

 A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.

Jane Austen from...guess which novel!

Pride and Prejudice
It's something I struggle with - being proud of a piece of work, but thinking it is vain to think so and not an appealing way of being. In fact, on occasions if I have openly said 'I'm proud of this,' I have had comments from Peter such as 'Blow your own trumpet, why don't you?' It's the British in us...self-effacing to the point of inauthenticity.

However, I completed a challenging briefing paper recently - which, if you must know, was entitled "Relational and physical security: generating a culture of hope and recovery in secure settings." I am proud of it. And for once, I didn't need anyone else to say anything to know it was a good piece of work.

It was the icing on the cake when people were complimentary though!

But I didn't NEED that, where in the past I wouldn't believe anything was any good until someone else had said so.

Perhaps I'm growing up?


Monday, 18 March 2013

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play...

...his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation.

He hardly knows which is which.

He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing.

To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

From L.P. Jacks, English philosopher, died the year I was born.

I'm going to give it a go!

I had such fun last week, so now I'm going to bring the same to my work, my writing, my life. I think that would be...courage...



Welcome to my desk, one and all!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries everyday with new experience and character”

And holidays, Thoreau. And holidays.

A tremendous week. Lovely people in our chalet (apart from us!)

Just imagine how dire it could have been, confined in close proximity with people we didn't get on with for a whole week. But I think we have some lifelong friends, so thank you, Rachel and John, Philippa and Paul. Not to mention Tom and Angie, chalet host and rep.

There are holidays where you lie in the sun and don't do a thing. There are holidays where you stretch yourself to the limits, physically and mentally. This holiday was one of those.

I feel refreshed and invigorated,  I suspect far more so than if I'd been sunbathing, sipping Pina Colada by the pool and reading chick lit. 

My over-active work-worrying issue-tussling brain has had a complete rest. It was too busy thinking up survival tactics in treacherous circumstances, and making sure I was still smiling even though sometimes I could have cried.

"Mont Gele? Pah! EASY."..she says loudly, to convince herself more than anyone else.
 And we had SUCH FUN!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

I don't deserve this award, but I have a sore throat and I don't deserve that either...

(Adapted from Jack Benny)

Awards ceremony, last night.

And the winners were:

Geoffrey - The Faff-Meister of the Week. (Nobody, but nobody can take longer to adjust his clothing, his rucksack straps, his goggles (oh no, let's change to sunglasses shall we?) his ski binding and his boots...)

Peter - The Snow Is Always Whiter Award. (Everywhere we went, almost, Peter thought it might have been better in another valley or on a a different slope, or if he had been wearing different clothes, or if the weather had been hotter/colder/less windy/duller brighter.)

David - The Unfortunate Quote Of The Week - "I think I'll buy my partner a cow bell so I can hear when she's coming."

Caroline - Weeble Woman of the Week. Oh how many times she fell over but she always got up. David's description of her skiing - "Completely out of control but always with a huge smile on her face."

Thursday, 14 March 2013

You don't need cloaks to become invisible

Not like Harry Potter.

All you need to do is go up to the top of Bruson when there is zero visibility. Seriously, you could hardly see your hands in front of your face. You couldn't even determine which was up and which was down.

You could, however, see the positive side, if you chose to...

So...although nothing was visible apart from murk, it wasn't icy, there weren't moguls and it wasn't life-threateningly steep. And even if all these things applied you couldn't see them anyway! The only thing you could do was trust yourself and go for it.

Bit like life, see,

Oh, we had such an exciting time during our coffee break, sitting at a table with a lone Swede, who showed us photos on his first, beautiful scenery, but then...model trains... Being British, we were terribly polite.

Not so polite when we discovered one of the ski runs was called in cow wee.

Our other thrill was the formation of what came to be known as snoticles. The drips from Geoffrey's nose actually froze. (It was bitterly cold) One was at least an inch long.

For some reason, he wouldn't allow us to photograph him...and anyway, he was almost invisible.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

"The grand bloody panjandrum of the painfully bleeding obvious"

A quote from Charlie Fletcher's book, Silvertongue.

And my little pet name for Peter today.

SO...another epic day. The run (RUN?) we went down was described as two things "the most beautiful itinerary in Verbier" and "a long and pleasant challenge through the trees."


Maybe, yes, if it hadn't been a) icy b) steep c) mostly moguls d) very poor visibility. Quadruple whammy.

It was another KILLER but one of those I was proud to get down. Rather like the slogan on my marathon shirt...there will be days when you think you could never run a marathon and a lifetime of knowing you have.

And as for the grand bloody panjandrum of the painfully bleeding obvious...after one of my more spectacular falls, when I ended up yet again with skis pointing horizontally in opposite directions, Peter helpfully shouted up to me, "You need to get both your skis pointing the same way."

REALLY, Peter? I hadn't thought of that.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Don't be the girl who fell. Be the girl who got up.

Thanks, Jenette Stanley...I was yesterday.

That's not to say I didn't have a sense of humour bypass for about twenty minutes.

High up in the mountains, on our way back down after a long day's skiing, the snow began to fall. Visibility zilch.

A speeding skiing lady (kind word to describe her...she was no lady!) carved over my skis from behind. Survived that but when I was looking to see who this mutter mutter mutter person was I fell over! That'll teach me...

Then, because I'd lost my nerve, I fell over four more times in very quick succession. Kerthump, kerthump. Including one fall where I couldn't see the edge of a track and went over the side, ending up in a crumpled heap about thirty metres below. Could have been so much worse...

I could have taken the bubble back down to the town. A lot of me wanted to. I think the rest of the group would have been quite relieved if I had.

I carried on skiing. I'm so glad I did.

I was the girl who got up.

Here is my idea for the next James Bond movie:

Ski Fall

Monday, 11 March 2013

Some people like my advice so much...

that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.

I expect this is what Peter thinks after he's tried to coach me to improve my skiing. (I ski like a moribund goblin...courageous though!)

It's just that a) He's my husband and what wife takes too kindly to an overdose of instructions from her man? b) I don't understand half of what he says!

Here are some examples of the sorts of things Peter shouts to me as I'm weaving and wobbling my way down the slope with varying degrees of control:

"Change your centre of gravity to the downhill ski, chest facing the fore line!" Oh yeah, of course...

"Plant your pole on that mogul then unweight your skis." Absolutely. Immediately.

But then, on another skiing holiday, my friend Lucy said "Imagine you've got a tube of chocolate sauce under your big toe and you need to squeeze some onto a profiterole." Now that made ABSOLUTE SENSE to me!

Anyway, today we had a very civilised and much less demanding day. And I can't think of anything silly I did at all. Boring.

I can think of silly things other people did though. One example. We were all climbing (slowly and painfully) down a long flight of steps from a ski lift to the slopes. Six abreast. Like cattle. Half way down, a teenage girl stopped and began to text.

I thought a taser might be useful for these situations.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Fear doesn't shut you down, it wakes you up

Veronica Roth. Hasn't been skiing down Mont Gele, Verbier, then.

Maybe, maybe, she is HALF right though...another person!

Seriously treacherous black run today, due to navigational error - and yes, I KNOW I'm prone to exaggerate but this time I'm not.

At the time, in survival mode, remarkably calm even when stuck on a terrifyingly steep slope with one ski pointing one way horizontally across the slope and the other in the opposite direction I was very much awake.

Further down, on desperate moguls, fear DID shut my brain down. It made my brain believe that I couldn't POSSIBLY turn, ever again. NEVER.

But I made it. Didn't cry. Kept smiling. Mostly.

Now, the silly things I did today.

First, when queuing for ski lifts, on a number of occasions I was convinced some impatient oik behind me had his skis on top of mine. Why else was I unable to move forward? I turned round to glare in my best withering way, only to discover my skis were crossed at the back.

Second, my mobile phone went when I was on the bus back from the slopes. I answered it. I couldn't hear what David was saying at all. I still had my ski helmet on.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

To travel hopefully is better than to arrive

Hmmm, I was going to say Robert Louis Stevenson was wrong as well as that fellow Richard Proenekke, but in fairness, he is HALF right...travelling hopefully is wonderful but arriving is good too.

With this unformattable blog - I think due to some grudge match between Apple and Blogger - I can only manage one picture, so the holiday images will be on my Facebook page. Just in case you are REMOTELY interested.

SO some anecdotes from today...

Me on the plane. Ordered tomato juice with ice and lemon and it came with a neat little straw. Which wasn't very effective. And then I realised it was a stirrer... In my defence, I had got up at 4.30 in the morning.

And when I was posting about still smiling and NOT through gritted teeth, even though our plane was delayed for two hours once we'd boarded - predictive text made it say grouted teeth. A whole new opportunity for an enterprising dentist?

Just now, our Skiworld rep proudly informed us that Verbier has a 25 centimetre swimming pool. Must go there then! Might manage a whole length.

And finally, at the airport, I was determined to buy a Jo Nesbo book because I heard she was such a great author. Attractive, isn't she?

“The secret of flight is this -- you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws.”

...Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World

Me, today:

Though rather hoping the plane may be a bit more adequate - but you never can tell with low cost charter flights.

Off to Switzerland.

Will ski.

Just like that (Not!)

Be prepared for wretched iPad blogging for the next week.WHY WHY WHY won't it format properly?

Or maybe there's a computer in the chalet?