Thursday, 16 December 2010

Making memories


Last night I attended the Christmas concert at my son's primary school. It's always heart warming to watch the kids sing their songs and co-ordinate the "moves" they've been taught to go along with the festive music.

As I watched and listened to the enthusiastic singers pleasing the crowd I remembered the Christmas concerts I've been to over the years watching all three of my children.

Children are so precious. For each and every one of them on the stage last night I hope that their Christmas concert can be one of many happy memories they can stash away and remember fondly.

We all need to create a bank of memories so that when life flings us less favourable experiences we can remember better times, reminding ourselves that all things are transient and the good and the bad will pass.

When you're having a bad time don't let your headmind convince you that this is how it is, or that this is the way it will stay.

Be grounded and remind yourself of even the smallest lovely thing that happened to you recently.


"A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood." - Charlotte Davis Kasl



Thursday, 9 December 2010

Labels


We have to be so careful when we label people, or indeed when we take to heart the label we have been given by others.

We are all different things to different people. I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, a therapist, a supervisor, a daughter, a cousin, an ex-wife, a niece, a girlfriend, an aunt, a sister....and on and on!

In amongst all of those I will appear to be, happy, direct, grumpy, intolerant, unreasonable, spontaneous, loving, distant, gentle, annoyed, generous, worried, supportive, and more.

The truth is we can be a vast range of things to others; and yet we are none of them.

The label given to describe one person couldn't be further away from the label someone else may use. A label is a very personal perception.

When walking by a homeless girl I tried to imagine who she was. She was always so grateful when I gave her some money, or bought the magazine she was selling. Someones daughter, someones friend. Once she had shelter and yet now she stood with steam seeping from her nostrils, bent over in an attempt to maintain some body heat.

I never want to remember her as "just another homeless person" that label comes no where near to describe who she was, or how she came to be cold and alone.

If I label a homeless person upsetting to see, doesn't that just help to keep me a safe distance from their suffering? I could blame them for not making me feel good, seeing them as responsible for making me uncomfortable. They doesn't own that label - I do.

For this homeless girl to see me walking upright, wrapped up in clean warm clothing, carrying my shopping -might that not be upsetting for her? Isn't it likely that she feels uncomfortable being in this situation, heart sinking as she witnesses people averting their eyes as they try to ignore her plight?

She won't always have had the label of being a homeless person - she has a heart and a soul - and a history that only she knows. The girl I'm speaking of has since died of pneumonia.

Don't be too swift to live by the labels you've been given, nor be too swift to label others.

As you go to bed tonight notice who you are - how does that feel? What label might those people you interacted with today be giving you? Will their assessment be fair?

Would it feel different to expose more of who you really are? What does your headmind say to you that stops you? Practise showing the core essence of you, shed those protective layers and let the world appreciate the real you.


"Once you label me, you negate me." - Soren Kierkegaard





Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Stars in my eyes!


I'm not exactly sure what woke me up at 3am, maybe an icicle falling off the roof, no matter whatever it was it ensured I was wide awake.

I got up from my cosy bed and opened the curtains to look out on the silent night. On seeing the black night sky I actually said out loud, "Wow!" The stars were so, so bright it was if the noise that had woken me was my house moving closer for a better look , and maybe a twinkle just tapped my bedroom window as it passed by.

I kept my curtains open and crawled back to bed, just staring in awe at the mass of beauty that hides during daylight hours and only displays itself when we disappear in to a dream state. Ironic I thought, what could be more dream like than the view I was looking at wide awake from my bed?

The longer I stared at the more brazen, bright stars the more I began to notice the less bold, shy one's hiding behind the shadowy glare of the brighter ones. A few clusters here, a solitary one there. Bit by bit the night sky seemed to be more willing to show me all the stars one by one, maybe it knew I was in awe, respectful of what I could see, not trivialising it but feeling humbled in fact by its vastness. Sometimes the "quieter" stars would only catch my eye for a second, but if I looked straight at it it seemed to disappear again.

I lay there wondering if those stars were still in existence today. All those light years away and though it may have already died many, many years ago, at that moment I was still experiencing it's beauty.

The night sky has always intrigued and fascinated me and I remember as a very young girl my Dad trying to explain the idea that some of the stars I could see weren't really there anymore. For a nine year old, that was quite something to get a handle on! Dad said, "It's like this, if you could fly up to that star now and you had a great pair of binoculars to look back down to earth you might be able to watch the Battle of Hastings in 1066 happening right before your eyes!" Let me tell you, I might have nodded knowledgeably giving the impression it all made sense, but believe me, it took years for me to understand what he meant! Good old Dad!

The stars remind me that we can all shine. Long after we have left this world we can leave a lasting memory. Some people will leap into your head when perhaps you're reminded of famous activists fighting for the underdog, or someone like Mildred Norman Ryder who for 28 years walked across America on a personal pilgrimage for peace. But what about the neighbour who clears the snow from his elderly neighbours drive, checking that he has enough food and isn't in need as winter weather closes in? Certainly a shining star for the vulnerable person he has quietly helped.

Artists of all varieties can leave their creativity and material legacy for others to appreciate for evermore. However, the bright light you leave doesn't have to be tangible. Kindness shines and touches others for many lifetimes.

Be still and let yourself feel what it is you'd like to do, or let yourself remember what you've done already to leave that sparkle for others to appreciate.

"A life lived with integrity - even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come." - Denis Waitley

Monday, 6 December 2010

Listen to yourself - maybe there's a better way!


I remember as a teenager being out dancing, drinking and having a laugh with my friends and having fleeting moments during the evening where, looking around me, I believed there was nothing better than what was happening right there in that moment! Head spinning, laughing though not always completely sure what was so funny, surrounded by friends - what could possibly be better?

But - there was always an emptiness in my heart - a heavy emptiness and I never thought to ask if anyone else was feeling it. It was always there just a bit irritating, no matter how much I drank it just niggled away at me, I tried to suffocate it, drown it but heavier it got.

Sometimes I'd drink so much I'd be sick. At that most undignified point I'd sometimes catch myself thinking, "Okay, you win...that's enough with the heaviness...you're ruining a good night!"

It took me a longer time that I'd have liked to come to the realisation that, whatever I needed to do to be free from that empty, but sorrowful heaviness in my heart, would only become clear when I got a clear head.

Giving up drinking was hard to begin with, but 6 years on I can't really imagine a time in the future where I'd include alcohol in a list of things to do to give me a better life!

I know sometimes people use alcohol to ease the stress they feel at work, or to help them relax and unwind - and for most people that's fine. However, you'll know yourself if you're simply enjoying one or two drinks for social reasons, or if your drinking has become a crutch to help you "get through" life's ups and downs. Either way, in an aligned state you already know what you need to do differently, if anything.

Nowadays I only get that heaviness when I'm feeling sad, and I'm holding it in. I should add, as soon as I feel it starting to get "weighty" I will find a way to express it. Sometimes, I don't want to - but I know the consequences of not practising emotional honesty - and I am not up for my body getting so annoyed that it starts increasing the volume of symptoms until I start speaking up!

Keep yourself open to the possibility that it might be in your best interest to make some changes in your life - and embrace this chance!
"If you know someone who tries to drown their sorrows, you might tell them sorrow knows how to swim." - H. Jackson Brown Jr.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Incompatibility


The first definition of incompatible in my dictionary reads, " incapable of living or existing together in peace or harmony; conflicting or antagonistic."

Incompatibility can infringe on many aspects of our lives, not just personal relationships. Once we recognise this fact and how it relates to our lives, it's then up to us what we do with that knowledge. Whatever action we take, either allowing our headmind to take the lead or preferably, keeping an alignment between our bodymind and headmind, our actions will consequently determine our physical and mental health.

If we can stay grounded with body & head aligned we may be able to see the areas of incompatibility in our lives and make decisions on how much we are willing to compromise with those areas. When doing this you must not lose sight of the core essence of you. By ensuring you are true to that aspect of who you are, and your actions reflect this honesty, the reward is health.

The alternative is to ignore the incompatibilities in your life, stay in your headsmind, justifying why it's okay to allow this relationship to continue. If you choose this route you may have to take the physical and mental consequences of this dis-connected relationship with your truth telling bodymind.

If you discover after signing a lease agreement that your flat mate is a strict vegetarian, and you get on well with them, though your dietary preferences are incompatible it doesn't mean the relationship has to be over!

If you are faced with a situation involving a person, people or organisation that feels like a compromise too think - STOP!

Be grounded and look at all the aspects of your relationship within that setting. How does it FEEL to imagine removing yourself from that position? Really paying attention to those feelings will enable you to make the right decision for you!


"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility." - Leo Tolstoy

"The principles we live by, in business and in social life, are the most important part of happiness." - Harry Harrison


Friday, 26 November 2010

Measuring happiness


So the UK government are going to put some questions together to gauge the well being of the nation, and yesterday on the radio I heard a BBC "expert" putting forward what she thought could be four of the questions.

* How much love do you have in your life?
* What's the first thought you have in the morning?
* If you could change one thing in your life what would it be?
* If you lost all your material possessions what would you be left with?

The first thought I have in the morning can vary from day to day - sometimes I think, "I must go for a wee!" or I can think, "Where am I? Forres? Shetland? London? Home?" the variations are limitless, but joking aside, I know what she's getting at - do I want to jump out of bed with glee diving head first into the day ahead? Or do I want to pull the duvet over my head and hide away from the world? Well thankfully for me these days I'm more of "jump up and get on with it" kind of person, though there have been times in my life when I have pulled the duvet up over my head and hidden away.

Measuring happiness is never going to be an exact science, and surely for each individual it's about noticing what you feel on a day to day basis. If you find yourself looking back and reminiscing about a time when you felt happier, ask yourself what was happening then? What was happening in your life that isn't happening now? Are you able to re-kindle any of those activities, friendships, hobbies? Are your emotional, physical & spiritual needs being met?

Remember that if we've had the experience of feeling happiness in our lives, we have the ability to feel that again. Life can of course throw us some devastating experiences, but human beings are amazing beings - and it is possible to recover, and be happy again.

Notice what you're feeling today, if you could feel happier what could you do now to take a step in that direction?

"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness." - George Santayana








Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Butterfly


The butterfly is so bright and beautiful. It flits around darting, seemingly without care or purpose, here to there, hither and thither.
I watch them in my garden - the first sighting in spring is always a great surprise to me and I watch with childlike intrigue following it's every move, wondering where it's going, what lies in store for this delicate creature?
Sometimes when I'm driving here and there catching up with friends, flying down to England to catch up with my daughters and the friends I made in Wiltshire, friends from a time in my life that appears to belong to someone else, I feel like that spring butterfly.
One year I stayed in a holiday house on one of the western isles of Scotland, in the living room displayed on the wall was a selection of butterflies with their wings pinned down, framed and sealed in one place forevermore.
I didn't like seeing them like this, it unnerved me, upsetting to see them so stationary, no flickering wings, no journeying with a destination unknown - just there - encased.
For now I embrace the opportunities I have from being able to travel and move freely from here to there, but at some point I want to be stationary, no pinning down of my wings, but me choosing to stop.
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne








Sunday, 21 November 2010

One day at a time.....


In 1979 when I was just eleven years old I remember singing along to Lena Martell's "One day at a time" on Top of The Pops...I didn't think much of it actually, it didn't really compare with the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart or the Sex Pistols!
Thirty one years later and I heard that track today and the words just seemed so pertinent.
"I'm only human, I'm just a woman
Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am
Show me the stairway
I have to climb
Lord for my sake
Teach me to take
One day at a time."

Sometimes what lies ahead of us, (or what we think lies ahead of us) seems daunting - too much to handle. So just accept that the stairway ahead, whatever that may be for you, is not insurmountable, it may challenge us, it may be hard work but simply taking one step at a time will enable us to get to the top.

Finally if you are aware that changes need to be made in order for you to live your life authentically and in health, and perhaps you are nervous about what your life will look like in the future. Try not to over think what might or might not happen when you reach the top of those stairs - simply remember that making the decision to change is like putting your foot on the first step of that staircase.


"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are." - John Pierpont Morgan


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Success

What constitutes success?
A client once told me that if I wanted to be busy and successful at one of my clinics I mustn't do too well as others were likely not to like it, and in her words they might try to, "bring me down a peg or two!" How extraordinary!
Her warning, albeit said with the best of intentions, didn't swerve me away from doing my job to the absolute best of my ability.
Success has to be personal - how we gauge it and how we perceive it. Our culture, the society we live in, our parents, the significant adults in our life - none should be able to dictate what success means to us as unique individuals.
Shifting your awareness to your feet on the ground, using all your senses to engage in this moment, start to recall all the things (big and small) that you have done successfully.

Paying your bills on time.
Making a meal for friends.
Passing the Diploma.
Bringing up your children.
Fixing the shelf.
Being a good neighbour.

In some way, all of us have been successful - and are continuing to be so.
If your headmind has been "given" less than favourable input from the significant adults in your life, who may have told you you were a disappointment to them, a born loser, unsuccessful, whatever it was - let it go!
If you have not "succeeded" in their eyes - why does that matter? Their perception of success belongs to them. Be happy with your successes for you!
"If you want to be successful it's this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe it what you are doing"- Will Rogers


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Yes but...


When I'm teaching a client how to constructively express themselves I often hear the expression, "Yes, but....".
What usually follows is something like, "Yes, but.. there's no point in me saying that to that person as it won't change them.." or, "Yes, but..if I say that I might ruin my friendship with them or upset that person!"
STOP!!
Constructive expression is the opposite of destructive expression.
When we keep grounded, noticing what we feel and saying it while staying connected to our body, we are going to be in a calmer place. Our words will be clear, concise and the way we deliver it will be unpretentious, the result is that the person you're speaking to is more likely to actually hear you.
When we are "wound up" and stuck in our heads..hell bent on letting that person hear what WE FEEL we are wrapped up in our ego and can blurt out any number of emotive, hurtful words.
This is destructive expression and is not what the peace loving, all knowing bodymind wants for you.
"Yes, but ... what if"...is a sign that you are not staying grounded in this moment. You have moved away from your body and are predicting the future, analysing and over thinking what might or might not happen.
Remember your body does not differentiate between you holding in your grief, or holding in your joy. It wants all emotions to be expressed....while keeping an alignment between your body and your head!
Do not worry either if by saying what you really feel now your, "Yes but.." is concerned with it not being what others expect you to say - others who thought they knew you! This can be a liberating journey for you, a time to notice what you feel and a time for others to hear it - constructively!
Enjoy practising staying in the NOW!
"Be yourself and speak your mind today, though it contradict all you have said before." - Elbert Hubbard


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Turning towards the sun


The other night I was at a Dougie MacLean gig - he's a Scottish singer/songwriter probably best known for writing the song "Caledonia" - which somehow manages to make you feel homesick even when you're home is in Caledonia!

Before performing one of his songs he explained it had been written following a visit to see his father in a hospice. He spoke very lovingly of his father, and explained that he had found conversation with him as he was dying very difficult. On this occasion he decided to ask his fathers advice on caring for a gladioli plant he'd been given, his fathers response, Dougie felt was very poignant and related not only to the plant but to life.

"The plant's not thriving Dad!" he said, "What should I be doing?"

"Turn the plant to the sun, just keep turning it - keep it in the sun!"

As Dougie got ready to sing the song he said, "Nothing thrives in darkness."

So true.

We can withdraw like wounded animals when we feel emotionally beaten, crawling into our caves and hiding away. Shutting the curtains on the outside world we can convince ourselves, that the pain will go away if we just don't see or interact with anyone or anything.

To me turning towards my "sun" has meant leaning on friends, sharing my deepest fears and sadness with them. By doing this they have helped illuminate the darkest corners of my heart - letting me see that despite the awfulness of what has happened in the past there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by staying with the darkness.
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." - Maori proverb


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

PMS = Honesty?


A deep sadness crept up on me today. My heavy heart felt cumbersome as I tried trundling on with my daily tasks - the intensity of my headminds interaction with me was such that there was no ignoring it! Bit by bit sad thoughts and memories crept into my mind and I felt heavy and tired.

I did think STOP! Then I shifted my awareness to my feet on the ground and tried to use all my senses to engage in the reality of NOW! It was then that I worked out (call me a genius if you like!) that I'm pre-menstrual, and it got me wondering....when folk have too much to drink they often expose a side of themselves seldom seen by others. Some might say, "the truth comes out" at those times.

Well, I don't drink any more - but I wonder if my PMS enables me to expose part of my true self I prefer, or choose, to keep hidden?

Of course I have sadness in my life, just as we all do, and I'd like to believe that I constructively express that sadness to my nearest and dearest friends as and when it arises. However I'm also willing to believe that sometimes I ignore it, believing that it will go away in time. But I know that holding in how we really feel will contribute to us developing physical symptoms, as that is the only tool the bodymind has to get our attention and encourage us to authentically express ourselves.

So, just as alcohol enables more freedom of expression to take place, with tongues loosening up and emotions tipping out, I wonder if my fluctuating hormones have the same effect?

Maybe, on the occasions I've not been as emotionally honest as I could be, my bodymind uses my hormonal changes like the release valve on a pressure cooker in order to avoid excessive build up and a return to symptoms.

Whatever it is - I feel better already having written this down!

All emotions are equally important and have a purpose, that purpose is to be constructively expressed. I mustn't see it as a sign of weakness that sometimes I get sad - I know my default setting is to have humour and laughter in my life - and sadness is okay too :)
"Women complain about pre-menstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself." - Roseanne Barr

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Enjoying now


Elisabeth Kubler Ross, author of many books on death and dying wrote, "It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."

Why do we wait until we have some bad news, or a life changing experience before we fully engage with life? Why does our own mortality come as a surprise to us? We all know our lives are a tiny, transient chapter - we may come back to this earth in a different body, or we may not. Whatever our beliefs THIS is where we are NOW!

So today I'm at Andrew's house in Perthshire. I'm sitting outside on a bench in his garden, bundled up in warm clothes writing with my favourite pen in "my blog" book.

It's a bright, sunny day and I can hear some dried leaves moving across the tarmac drive in the cool, gentle breeze.

There are blue tits and blackbirds in the trees and bushes. Occasionally venturing down onto the ground for seeds, and in the case of the blackbird, a rummage through the fallen sycamore leaves in the search for grubs and worms.

My son Charlie is with his Dad a few miles away. My girls are in England living their own lives.

The only thing I know, the only thing I can be completely sure of is that I am here - writing, and using all my senses to be here. Observing and absorbing all that is around me now, and with that comes a sense of serenity and peacefulness which is attainable at any time.

All it takes is for us to notice the moment we lose that connectedness with the moment we're in. Think STOP! Breathe consciously then engage all our senses in NOW!

It is exhausting staying in a split, separated state.

Why waste energy wondering and speculating what MIGHT happen tomorrow, or what other people MIGHT be doing right now.

The sun is warm on my face, there is a cool breeze. A rook is cawing perched high up in the sycamore tree - this is all I know to be true.
"Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won't)." - James Baraz.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Believe in yourself


Don't underestimate yourself! Boredom is a huge contributor to physical symptoms. Imagine that loving, all knowing part of you seeing you being unfulfilled - your bodymind is duty bound to communicate when it wants you to change direction, move on and free yourself from that "making do" situation you have complacently fallen into.

Those symptoms put into words might be screaming, "I want more! I want to be the person I know I can be!"

You come into this world alone, and you'll leave it on your own. Is there really any point in conforming, compromising your own beliefs in order to satisfy others expectations?

Practise groundedness, prayer or meditation. It's at those quiet times of alignment that your personal truth can surface. What really makes your heart sing?

I remember working with a lovely, talented lady who went to work in a shop as part of her return to health. For a short while she felt a bit better, but then symptoms came back with a vengeance. There is nothing wrong with working in a shop, however this lady had been a talented city lawyer with a tremendous ability. I explained to her that if Picasso had been ill and on his return to health I gave him a "painting by numbers" set, initially he may have liked holding the brush, and seeing the colours, but very quickly symptoms would have rushed back as his creativity was being quashed. The same was true of this lady. It wasn't the case that she needed to go back to her high pressure job as a city lawyer, but certainly using the gifts she had as a problem solver was one part of her previous life that made her heart sing - she found a job that fulfilled that part of who she was, and as a result returned to health.

Life is too short to believe you can't be who you really are.

Be honest with yourself, about yourself, for yourself!
"Somehow I can't believe that there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C's. They are curiosity, confidence, courage and constancy." - Walt Disney.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Homesick here, homesick there!


It's just 24 hours since I landed back in Scotland from a 2 week visit to family and friends in Canada.

I always leave with a heavy heart as the people there mean so much to me, though email and phones are a great way to keep in touch, being with them is much more fulfilling.

This morning as I sit waiting on my train to Aberdeen I am reminded how much I love being here too.

The ruins of Arbroath Abbey look dramatically dark silhouetted against the morning sun. Seagulls and pigeons are doing their thing..hobbling along the station platform, cooing and cawing as they do in train stations up and down the country. It's a cold, crisp morning and I have that familiar realisation that, despite my 42 years of Scottish autumns I'm not wearing enough layers.

As I sit on the train now I'm looking out on the north sea, vast and beautiful feeling glad to be back home.

I feel homesick for my friends in Canada, and grateful for my family, friends and life in Scotland.

I wonder if things were simpler, hearts less heavy, before world wide travel become so easy? We couldn't yearn for family and friends we'd never met, or a land we'd never seen.

Right now my heart feels full of happiness and gratitude for all that I have in my life. I have great memories of my trip which will tide me over until my next visit - gratitude too for my life in Scotland.


"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." - Maya Angelou

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Celebrate the challenges of life


Rather than bemoaning our life experiences look at each one as fertiliser contributing to your growth.

Without the challenges, the heartbreaks, the loss, your development may well be stunted.

Shift your perspective and realise that sunshine alone is like feasting on bread; the initial outcome to fill our bellies is certainly achieved - but we will not thrive on bread alone.

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." - Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Flow



Someone reminded me recently how easy it is to lose the connection that keeps us in the flow.

Life speeds up, and we quickly move away from doing the things that make our heart sing. As we separate from our body and feed into the headmind loop that life IS stressful, we remove ourselves from the very things, the activities our passions, that would keep us grounded, fulfilled and would maintain health.

Unlike rivers we have some control over the way our lives flow. Of course obstacles will appear and we will have to change our direction. Those rapids (white water) can soon be returned to a calm reflective pace as we quickly adapt to the "obstacle" and navigate our way round in the most effortless way we can returning as quickly as possible to our flow.

"Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath" - Natalie Goldberg.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Holidays


In 5 sleeps I'm going on holiday with my 10 year old son and my middle daughter who will turn 21 years old while we're away.

My daughter will be sorting herself out, and we'll be meeting at Glasgow airport on Friday.

Today...a full 5 days before the event I started freaking out about all the stuff I have to do! All the stuff?

Make sure I have the tickets, passports, money, some clothes, toiletries. Then there's the bit before I go...water the plants, turn off the heating, give the neighbours any perishable foods I have left.

STOP! Wait a minute! Other than the tickets, passports & money there really is nothing else I actually need to remember to take. Also, as far as the things I need to do before I leave, of course it would be good if I could remember to switch off the heating before I go, both for environmental and cost reasons, but ultimately it wouldn't be the end of the world if I forgot to do everything on that "before I leave" list.

I need to go and write a list, that will quieten down my headmind and help me stay grounded and realise there is nothing to worry about!

When we let headmind take hold it really can run riot and have us going into panic mode as we lose our connection to being grounded in this moment NOW!



"Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries." - Astrid Alauda

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The mum excuse

I have been listening to Wayne Dyers, "The Shift" on CD.

He made me laugh when he spoke about how many times we blame our mothers for the problems in our lives.

He explained that in a session with a client he got so tired hearing her go on about how she couldn't do this or that, as result of how her mother had been when she was growing up, that exasperated he said, "Okay, get up and go home!"

"Why? What do you mean?!" questioned the confused client.

"Go home and get your mother! I'll work with her and once she's fixed you'll be fixed!"

By passing the buck and continually using, "the mum excuse" we avoid taking responsibility for our own happiness, which in turn means we are only depriving ourselves from achieving the life we want.

I too have been guilty of buying into that theory. I listen to a story from a client and think, "No wonder they lack confidence with a mother who criticised so effectively!" At some point, for our own benefit, we have to throw that belief away; shed it like a beautiful butterfly leaving the cocoon.

Mothers parent to the best of their ability. Sometimes it will have felt wrong, and often they were right, but what use does it serve us now to trawl through the memories of how they parented?

You are an adult now and can make choices for yourself. There is no time like the present to make a conscious decision to get on with achieving what you want from this life. Your time here is precious. Enjoy it!

"One of the blessings of becoming an adult is finally seeing Mom and Dad as people, not just parents." - Sara Shandler

" I think being an adult is learning not to be ashamed of what you want. And I think for a lot of us, it's hard to admit even to ourselves what it is we want. Much less to have other people see it." - Ira Glass, in a conversation with poetry editor Zoe Francesca.







Monday, 13 September 2010

Knowing what you like


My son Charlie (10years old) has just come home from school in quite a sad (not bad) mood. I asked him what was wrong, "My teacher says I'm low-level, and I don't want to be with someone who tells me that!" I asked him what was going on when she said that. He looked at me glumly and explained, " We had some sums to do. I got 2 of them wrong and she was checking them with me and that's when she said that. "


I gave him a hug and told him that me and his Dad love him. His sisters and brother love him. Lots of people love him - and none of them would ever think or say, "Charlie! You're at a low-level!" It doesn't really MEAN anything. I explained that school is something that we go to, and sometimes we love what we learn, and we love the person teaching us - and other times we can't be bothered - nor do we particularly like the person teaching us...but the good news is that every night he gets to come home to a person, or people that love him very much.

He smiled and said, "I know Mum."


I also explained that we're all good at something and I know he loves to play football, and make little movies with lego figures. I explained about the importance of following what you feel passionate about and he agreed saying, "When I'm taking photos of my lego figures for a movie I don't even notice if I'm hungry or what the time is!" He does make me laugh! Children are so aligned - they have far less trouble connecting to what "feels" right than we do as adults. He knows it doesn't feel right to have someone pick fault with your ability, especially when it's really about him achieving something that she needs him to achieve.


The photo above is one from a sequence of 83 shots Charlie took as part of an animation he's putting together, and right now, having only been in from school for 20 minutes, he's setting up his lego figures for movie sequence number 2!


I do wish teachers would appreciate children for the individuals that they are and not dampen their belief in themselves. I know they have plans to stick to and targets to meet - but if a child isn't good at some thing is it right to label them and chip away at their self-esteem? I don't think so.


"Nine tenths of education is encouragement." - Anatole France

" If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others." - Haim Ginott

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Meaning


We are unlikely to ever find our true calling if we spend days endlessly searching and looking, hunting high and low as if we've misplaced something. If we practise mindfulness and staying grounded in the moment, we can then really tap in to our intuition, that peaceful knowledgeable part of us that can gently guide us in the right direction, if we'd only allow it to!


I've been thinking about doing some volunteering recently, and as I sat at the traffic lights today pondering what options there are a car in front of me stopped, and the notice on the back windscreen said, "volunteer hospital driver."

I'm going to find out more about that and see if it's something I could do. Having a few points on my license might mean I don't fill their criteria, but I'll look into it, and if it's not the right thing perhaps I'll find something else in the process.


Whatever we do, be it in our job or volunteering by being mindful we can genuinely tap in to the feelings we have in relation to what we're doing and notice if it "fits" with who we really are. When we feel enthusiastic we can work passionately - no matter what the job is.


We've all had experience of meeting the check out person who clearly hates what they're doing. Their disgruntlement is oozing from every pore. The opposite is also true, the passionate , bubbly, chatty check out person who seems energised by their interaction with the shoppers.


Whatever you are doing in this life, sit with it, do you feel you are on the right path? Do you do it enthusiastically? Does it feel effortless? If you are thinking it's too much to be looking at changing your career path right now, economics being what they are....remember this...THIS is the life you are living. Can you really afford to be spending most of your day doing something you don't enjoy?



"When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it." - W. Clement Stone.





Friday, 10 September 2010

Bedtime



Night-time is a precious time. A time to drift into blissful sleep, a time to dream and float off to another place, and of course a time to let our body rest and heal.
I realise now than in order to make the best of those hours I need to prepare myself. Nothing too dramatic, more what I need to avoid really!
If I watch the late news at 10pm I can become quite upset by the media coverage of bad news, harrowing stories and the latest statistics on UK crime.
I can't do anything about the information they're bombarding me with, and it won't benefit anyone if I'm lying awake with the dramatic news footage going round and round in my head, so I allow myself the early news (if I really feel the need) but no news after that!
A cosy bath, a gentle book - bliss! Your night-time regime might not fit mine of course, so do whatever helps you make the most of those special few hours.
On that note...I must go to bed :)
"And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new - opened flower then I have dipped again in God, and new created." - D. H. Lawrence

Monday, 6 September 2010

Loneliness


Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, "the most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved," I hear of loneliness so often from a cross section of my clients. It is not an older persons problem - it doesn't seem to discriminate, and can affect anyone.

It can be really daunting for the lonely to imagine taking steps towards meeting new people and building friendships. They often find it hard to believe that with great regularity I meet clients who are desperately sad as a result of feeling completely alone.

They can have busy work lives, surrounded by colleagues, and when the day is over those colleagues might drive home to a house full of family members - while they dread clocking off time as they know it will be many hours until the morning, and a time when they can feel "normal" again, back to the hustle and bustle of their working day.
Holiday time can see an increase in the depth of despair the lonely person feels. So sad when it should be a time to recoup and recharge their batteries.

I encourage all my clients to have some time on their own every day, as I do believe it to be health inducing, but when solitary time is all a person has, it becomes quite destructive to them emotionally and physically.

If you think you might know someone who is alone, speak to them - sometimes that's all it takes to get them to let go of the belief that no-one cares.
"The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration." - Pearl S. Buck


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Material goods


When my girls were little and I was a single Mum I was constantly struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes I would run out of electricity for the meter and pretend we were playing "living in the olden days." With candles burning and the open fire keeping us warm I managed to play a game, which enabled them to be completely oblivious to the reality of the situation.
Fast forward to 2010. My girls have left home now and are doing really well as grown-ups, I am immensely proud of both of them.
My 10 year old son Charlie has never wanted for anything, and his childhood experiences are quite different to theirs. I drive a nice car, I live in a lovely renovated cottage in a beautiful village - and I never forget how heavy hearted and inadequate I felt when I couldn't provide for my children. In the late 1980's I bought my first book on Buddhism and since then, as my work life has ensured a better (financially more secure) quality of life, I can remind myself of the irrelevance of material goods.
I meditate, practise yoga and enjoy sitting in peace.
I tell Charlie (more often than I should maybe) that he doesn't NEED every single bionicle figure, he doesn't NEED to play x-box live. Maybe I should play "living in the olden days" with Charlie too? Sitting in candle light with no electricity is no bad thing. Children become creative again, tapping in to who they really are rather than filling the void with mind numbing media.
Of course being financially stable is preferable, but we don't have to lose sight of what really matters just because we can effortlessly pay the bills and drive a nice car.
Ultimately all of our material possessions can disappear - and then what are we left with? If we forget to work on ourselves, and avoid practising finding inner peace, no amount of material wealth or belongings will ever satisfy us. Take time every day to be quiet, focus on your breathing and realise the transience of this life. Accumulating belongings is no substitute for inner peace.

"Possession of material riches, without inner peace, is like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake." - Paramahansa Yogananda

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Making plans


Most of us have dreams about what we'd like to do in the future - a future often far removed from where we are right now.

I'm all for staying grounded, living our lives as fully as we can whilst staying mindful of the moment we are in right now. However, this doesn't mean we shouldn't make exciting plans for our future.

Our headminds often try to sabotage our dreams by saying things like, "Yes but when you tried that before it fell flat!" or, "If you do that, what will your Dad think?!" and on, and on it goes.

If we really do practise the art of staying grounded in the moment, we can take effective steps towards realising our dreams.

We need to practise mindfulness in order to let go of the old belief that because we've failed in the past, we're therefore bound to fail again. Failing is part of succeeding! Only through making mistakes can we really learn.

I never shy away from trying something new. If I did how would I ever know what I like, what I want and what I definitely want to avoid?

Make a plan of what you want to achieve in this lifetime and start making plans. Write things down so you can see, step by step what needs to happen for you to get there.



" The things you want are always possible; it is just that the way you get them is not always apparent. The only real obstacle in your path to a fulfilling life is you, and that can be a considerable obstacle because you carry the baggage of insecurities and past experience." - Les Brown.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Spontaneity


As we trundle along in our daily lives we often forget that actually it is health inducing not to have every moment of every day planned.

I'm sure we all remember being on a night out and being invited along to a party after the pubs and clubs have closed down....usually a great night ensued. Then we have the other experience of a party we've known about for weeks and weeks. The night arrives, we get ready and head off. The party is good, we enjoy ourselves but it's nowhere near as enthralling as the night we knew nothing about until it was happening.

Knowing how headmind works I wonder if as the invitation sits on the mantelpiece we over think how the night will pan out..predicting who will be there, imagining what we'll be wearing and on and on it goes.

Whereas, when someone says, "party back at mine if anyone is interested!" in that moment we are swept along with headmind and bodymind in alignment enjoying the opportunity to be spontaneous and engage in living in the moment.

We don't have to wait for someone to be having a party to be spontaneous of course! Even on a work day there will be time in the morning, or at the end of your day to be random and spontaneous - remind yourself how uplifting it feels to break with the routine - you deserve it!


"Spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise and snatching from the clutches of your well organized routine a bit of unscheduled pleasure." - Richard Iannelli

Friday, 27 August 2010

What age gap?


My friend Margaret and I first met me when I was 6 weeks old and she was 40years ahead of me. I don't remember much about that! She was the primary 1-3 teacher in a 3 teacher rural school where my Dad had gained the position of headteacher. My parents arrived from Dad's last post on Islay to a schoolhouse on mainland Scotland with 3 kids under 5 years old. Margaret was a regular visitor - nipping in at the end of the day to chat with Mum & Dad.
Many years past before I regularly saw Margaret again as I moved away and our lives were very separate. But in 1995 we re-kindled our friendship when my eldest daughter started weekly piano lessons with Margaret. At first I still felt like "the little girl" , but bit by bit as conversations extended beyond Emily's next lesson I started to learn that Margaret and I had quite a lot in common!
Over the last 15 years a lot has happened for both of us. We've listened to each other, and laughed so much we've cried - and we've cried with heavy hearts at the sadder times.
On Wednesday of this week I collected Margaret and we went out for the day up to Braemar. She named all the hills through Bridge of Cally and up into Glenshee - her old "stomping" ground as she called it. It was a beautiful, sunny day.
She strided up the main street in Braemar, sometimes ahead of me! We had coffee and a snack and headed home, stopping off at Glenshee pottery for more retail therapy and a cup of tea.
I loved listening to Margaret reminisce about her time up in Blairgowrie, cycling the roads and climbing the hills of Perthshire. How much richer my life is for having this friendship!
I think we all tend to make assumptions about people older than ourselves, but sometimes if we just take time to listen we might be surprised by what we hear....for me it's the realisation that, with Margaret at least, I have a dear friend who does understand me, while also sharing my sense of humour and enthusiasm for life.

"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." - Samuel Ullman

Monday, 23 August 2010

Dead Wood


As we grow we change. All living things are blessed (or cursed - depending on your viewpoint) with this characteristic.

I look on in awe as the rose bush I so lovingly planted gets new buds and grows bit by bit into a beautifully scented centre piece. As time passes it's important that I prune the rose otherwise the growth and well being of the plant could be compromised.

Are we any different from that rose?

There are times in our lives when it becomes apparent, that by pruning back on some of our relationships it would benefit our personal growth. Some relationships over time definitely become detrimental to our health. Spiritually, emotionally or physically - however it is affecting our growth - should we not learn to nurture ourselves and cut off the dead wood that may be restricting our growth?

The difference between plants and humans is that we have an emotional heart and a headmind that trawls us through the history of our relationships with others. So, though we know it would be in our interest to move on our heads say things like, " But they were with me when x,y & z happened, I've known them for years....!"

STOP! Look at the relationship now and treat yourself as you would that beautiful rose. Are you being weighed down by an old, once healthy, now toxic relationship? Well cut it off! Remember the good times fondly, and move on and become the person you can be without the old attachments.

"Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than to hurt yourself putting it back together." - Anonymous

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Empathy


A friend of mine gave me the book, "Man's search for meaning" written by Viktor E. Frankl a psychiatrist who writes of his struggle for survival in Aushwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

My friend Carrie explained that I would enjoy the message in the book. The thing is I'm reading it, but each page leaves me feeling physically sick. I try saying to myself, "those people he's writing about are no longer suffering. It's over for them now, and isn't it good that he wrote this amazing testimony to human nature?"

As I read Frankl's words I think of the once strong men being weakened bit by bit with every lash of the whip, every morsel of food removed from them their bodies wasting away. An unimaginable environment created to inflict pain and suffering on humans - by humans.

I am going to persevere with the book, but it may take me a while as I can only manage 2 0r 3 pages at one sitting.

I've often wondered if the reason I can't read harrowing stories or watch "real life" movies that show extreme suffering, is because I over empathise with the people involved.

Interestingly, in my daily work I often hear incredibly sad stories from my clients and I am able to stay grounded and give them the support and guidance they need to help them deal with the issues facing them. I don't sit in floods of tears nor am I struggling to keep it together when they open up to me - far from it. I can certainly feel sadness for what they've been through, but somehow I feel really able to listen and give the support they need to re-gain their health and vitality.

Perhaps then my inability to read or watch human suffering is because I feel powerless, unable to help or save any of those people in desperate need, whereas in my professional capacity I can DO something to help stop a clients' suffering.

On a lighter note I remember watching TV a few years ago and as the tears flowed freely down my face Tina came in and said, " Oh Mum! What are you watching?!" Through my sniffles I said, "Oh..it's Groundforce."
"Groundforce?? GROUNDFORCE the gardening programme you mean?" Tina questioned.

"Yes! That woman is a nurse and she's just come home from her shift and found that they've completely transformed her garden into a beautiful place for her to sit and relax!"

"Okay," said Tina tentatively. "EMILY! come through and see this..Mum is crying at Groundforce!"

My girls weren't laughing at me (I don't think! ) but they were intrigued at the fact that a gardening programme provoked such an emotional response.
"Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion and empathy." - Dean Koontz

Monday, 16 August 2010

Having a laugh!


On Thursday night I had my friend Gillian staying. We had heard the news of the meteor shower and at 11pm we went outside and perched ourselves on the garden chairs to watch the night sky. Our neck pain soon became too much so we dragged out some blankets to lie on, a couple of cushions for our heads, and a big duvet to keep us cosy.

Lying there it was fantastic! Pain free, we lay there for 2 hours and the time just flew by. We saw numerous flashes and shooting stairs with bright tails trailing behind - wonderful! The laughter started during one of our "oohs" and "aaahs" when through the darkness of the night Gillian noticed we were doing synchronised pointing as we spotted yet another shooting star.

Giggling and laughing the night away it reminded me of how important it is to have a really good belly laugh with friends, and not just now and then but on a regular basis! Apart from the chemical aspect of it releasing lots of the feel good endorphins it also reminds us we're alive. A life without laughter is no life at all. So, even when...in fact, especially when you've had a rough day, find some way of bringing humour into your day.


"Good humour is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." - Greenville Kleisser.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The joy of health!


When a client has been unwell for a while even the most apparently easy activities can be impossible because of the extent of their symptoms. Once they've started applying reverse therapy, and their symptoms have started to reduce, it's great to hear them describe their excitement as they are able to do activities and tasks that were previously unattainable.

What I love is the delight when they describe going for a walk again on their favourite beach, or going out for a meal with a group of friends, having a swim...or even managing to iron the kids school clothes!

This is where we must not forget the uniqueness of what makes us feel a warm sense of achievement, for one it could be the ironing while for another it may be baking a cake.

Whatever it is that makes you remember you're fit and well - do it!
"A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier." - Tom Stoppard

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Strength for Battle


Over the years, I like so many, have had to muster strength to stand up for something I feel strongly about. Often, these occurrences happen at moments in my life where I have felt at my lowest ebb.

In the main, issues affecting my children bring up the strongest need to respond, though I've also felt compelled to respond to injustices against myself when perhaps ignoring it would have been a far easier option.

In that moment of being consumed by the conflict or battle the all consuming nature of it can have me losing all track of time, forgetting myself as I'm swamped by the urgency I feel. I am aware of a determination I didn't know was in me as I stand my ground, and remain strong even as I face a seemingly insurmountable force.

Being passionate about the issue certainly seems to heighten my focus though often with adverse effects to my physical body. So now, if I'm embroiled in supporting someone close to me and helping them unravel a problem or fight for their rights, I know the importance of not ignoring my body's needs for nutrition, rest and nurturing. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk & author Thich Nhat Hanh teaches a simple method to help ground oneself which I use a lot. Saying to oneself as you breathe in and out,

"Breathing in, I am peace. Breathing out, I am calm."

I will not stop fighting for what I believe in, nor will my passion for justice ever dwindle. However, I also recognise that to maintain my mental stamina I must also respect my body.
"A warrior of light is never indifferent to injustice. He knows that all is one and that each individual action affects everyone on the planet. That is why, when confronted by the suffering of others, he uses his sword to restore order." - Paulo Coelho.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Home

Recently I was speaking with a friend about our homes. She has lived in her's a long time and though it's not in the location of her dreams her heart is satisfied there as she is close to her family.
In my life I have moved house 27 times. 4 of the moves happened when I was a child so the remaining 23 happened from when I left home at 15years old til now, aged 42. The thing is...the house I'm in now I moved into 3 years ago. I bought it 4 years ago, and the renovations took 9 months to complete. I made it exactly as I wanted , from bathroom suites, to kitchen units, the spindles on the staircase to the colour on the walls - perfect. Charlie (my son) chose the colour of his bedroom too - a beautiful, bright purple, with light fittings and curtains to match. I have now officially been living in my house longer than I've lived anywhere, and I can feel an agitation creeping back into my psyche.

I do love the material home I have made, but I miss my friends so deeply it makes me ache at times.

I did my "growing up" 3 hours north of here on the beautiful Moray coast and I'm still in touch with many of my friends up there. I was 17years when I moved there to do my nurse training, and I stayed in that area off and on for over 1o years.

I want to give my son the stability of finishing school where we live now so he can be with his friends and see his Dad throughout these important years. I meditate to keep hold of that peaceful place in my heart, as I know that having peace within me will stop me from doing anything rash!

Over the years friends and family have got used to writing my "new" address in pencil in their address books. I must have kept the "New Home" card industry in business over the years!

I am in awe of those dear friends of mine who have bought their houses at the start of their lives together and have that air of contentment which has, so far eluded me.

I have been blessed with having many, many friends and good people in my life, and for that I am extremely grateful. I will keep in touch with you all and, for now, stay put in a home that I am incredibly fortunate to have. A home for Charlie to grow up in, a place filled with his laughter and a warm place for my friends and family from every corner of the world to visit and be welcomed with open arms!


"The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith." - Bertrand Russell



Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Gratitude


My parents always taught me to say please and thank you - especially when we were visiting friends or family.

Sometimes a glare from one of them or a, "What do you say?!" through gritted teeth was enough of a prompt to have me oozing gratitude as instructed.

But at times I really didn't feel pleased nor thankful. I resented being cornered into it - but I did it nonetheless.

Fast forward 35 years and I smile to myself as I think about me, the grumpy 7 year old, trying to be a rebel, but conforming every time!

Today I feel gratitude for everything. When I go to the cash machine and it gives me the money I've requested instead of showing me that heart sinking message, "Sorry, you have insufficient funds. You can withdraw £0.00 today". When my daughters call me up and they sound happy and well. Being warm in my bed and hearing my son's deep restful breathing as he sleeps soundly next door. For all of it I am grateful.

The natural beauty of my homeland never ceases to render my heart bursting with gratitude. I have many bird feeders in my garden and a vast array of regular winged visitors. Mr & Mrs Blackbird are particularly good at expressing their thanks for the food I leave them. Hanging around after they've eaten their fill, tilting their heads, looking at me keenly as if nodding in appreciation.

One morning as I worked my way through filling all the feeders, I took a break and sat on my doorstep to watch them while I rang my daughter Emily. She didn't answer so I left a short message. Thinking I'd hung up I carried on with what I was doing. Later that day Emily rang me laughing and saying that she had a 5 minute message from me saying, " Hello Mr Blackbird, you're a handsome boy. Oh hello Mrs Blackbird, what are you up to today? Did you enjoy your snack Mr & Mrs Blackbird?" and on and on...!

I do get excited by the animals, plants & scenery around me, and when other aspects of my life are difficult and challenging nature is a constant pleasure to me - and for that I am truly grateful.

A man who wrote beautifully on his love of nature was Roger Deakin. I recently read his book, "Wildwood: A journey through trees" and I would highly recommend it.



"Gratitude: You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. You always take the time to express your thanks. Gratitude is an appreciation of someone else's excellence in moral character. As an emotion, it is a sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life itself. We are grateful when people do well by us, but we can also be more generally grateful for good acts and good people ("How wonderful life is while you're in the world"). Gratitude can also be directed toward impersonal and nonhuman sources - God, nature, animals - but it cannot be directed toward the self. When in doubt, remember that the word comes from the Latin, gratia, which means grace." - Martin E.P Seligman, Ph.D

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sisters

I was thinking a lot about siblings yesterday as a friend of mine had been upset by someone and as you'd expect, her friends rallied, as did her sister. You could tell that the comforting words from her sister were coming from that place that only sisters know. Genuine care for someone who is part of you, but separate.
Brought up in the same household, though the memories can be quite different. Sharing the same fertilizer and growbag - same nutrients, same environment. My sister, Ellie lives in Melbourne with her partner and children and we talk on the phone regularly to catch up on each others news. I miss being the kind of Auntie that can step in at the last minute to babysit, or just pop round to hang out at their house. Ellie and I shared a bedroom when we were growing up. In that room were two single beds and a double, we always shared the double - much cosier! She's three years older than me and she looked after me well :) After a long day picking potatoes on cold October days I'd be crying with back pain and she'd let me get in the bath first to help ease the pain! I wouldn't want you to think that Ellie and I have never had our "moments" of course we have! But even when we disagree we can sort it out and be close again. Ellie also had a devilish side when we were younger (I should add that I'm not implying I didn't!). If I couldn't get to sleep at night I'd ask her to play me a tune on her guitar, something beautiful. She would start playing very gently, and I would feel myself drifting into that heavy, restful place just about to drop over to blissful sleep when she'd suddenly start doing a bad imitation of a Spanish guitarist, slapping the wood of the guitar with the palm of her hand and strumming loudly - BRAT! :)
It always makes me sad when I hear that siblings have had such major disagreements that they no longer have contact with each other, but at the same time I know it's unrealistic to maintain a relationship with anyone, sibling or not, if it's destructive and damaging. I'm grateful that I don't have that issue and hope that you have the best possible relationship with the siblings in your life :)

"If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child." - Linda Sunshine