Sunday, 29 August 2010


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


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, "'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 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


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


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


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