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Monday, July 27, 2009


I wrote this a few years ago and came across it this morning. An interesting coincidence as I have begun writing again after a very long silence as I dealt with amongst many other things, a progressive deterioration in my breathing. Breath, life, creativity - a potent mix and one I have never before been so aware of. I started on an inhaler on Friday and already I am breathing more easily. Breath is life and breath is power. I look forward to the continuing pleasure of the former and the joy of taking back the latter.

I breathe out upon this paper,
The beating of my heart,
Out into the wondering world,
A butterfly breath.

It shakes the forests of the Amazon,
Thunders on the mountain peak,
Stirs the distant oceanic deep,
One sacred breath, one heart beat.

I breathe out upon this paper,
In Black words etching
The whiteness of the universe,
Butterfly breath, breathing worlds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Sometimes life presents you with a series of experiences which conspire to weave darkness into your soul. The last year has been like that for me.

What has saved me and continues to save me from slipping into that darkness, is the simple observation of the practice of gratitude. In the midst of every living nightmare there is a way to anchor reality in beauty and not in the stagnant shadows.

Each day begins with a blessing, a prayer of appreciation for the greatest gifts in my life, the fact that I am still breathing, that I have another day on this earth, for my beloveds, for the roof over my head. It isn't always easy to practice such mindfulness but it is a very powerful transformative process.

It is always about the observation of the beauty in our lives. Even in the darkest of dark nights of the soul, there is light to be found.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Healing words

Once I scorched the earth with the yearning aching of my heart.
Once I breathed out my tortured soul upon these pages.
Once my pulse beat out my fearful anger into the world.

Word by word I dripped red blood against the pristine white,
And as I wrote my bloody words, my heart was healed.
My pulse slowed to the steady beat of a greater love.
My breath became the whisper of my peace filled soul.

My voice rang out in truth and love
My words became the living beauty
That transcends all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New beginnings.

Every day is a new beginning if we would just realise it.

In this sense I am always a beginner, always renewing my resolve, always that fragile flower unfurling.

Beginner, begin, be born.

Always open to the rebirth in each moment, the potential for all manner of things to renew themselves. Life is full of new beginnings. How am I any different from the new born lamb in the spring field, dazzled by that first clear strong light of day?

How are my eyes any more attuned to the beauty of the light after the long darkness of the incubating womb?

How are my legs more steady than that first struggle to find the delightful pleasure of balance and movement and joyful skipping through fresh green fields?

All life is a new beginning and I am as unsteady on my feet as that new born lamb.

Although I may stumble, I am filled with the same delight that blesses him as he leaps into the curious exploration of his new world.

What will you allow to be re-born today? What will you see, hear, sense differently?

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I touch the beauty deep within me
Standing in speechless wonder
Drinking in the light and life
With every sense quivering in tune

I see a richness of colour, shape, form
Breathtaking in its endless flow

I feel the beauty of my own intrinsic balance
And connection to all that is

I gaze upon the suspension of heaven and earth
The sky, the sea, the land
Tantalising glimpses of the magic of Source
From which all creation flows

I hear my own beauty in the falling of the rain
Giving life to the soil from which
All nurture springs.

Between this rock and this hard place

I wrote this two months before I was finally diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. It reflects the pain of the 18 months I endured to find what was making me so wretchedly and dangerously ill. It also reflects my own decision to make something positive out of the hideousness of that time. Even in the pit of near absolute darkness, there is some light. Flowers of incredible beauty flourish in the most barren of environments. However hard it may be, our journey can be illuminated by the choice to find the light. Beauty does not leave the earth when we are cast down by circumstance. It is our eyes that no longer focus on it.

This is not to say that we cannot allow the fear, anger, hurt of our situations to be expressed. I believe it is essential to vent, to let go, to express those feelings. I vividly recall falling to my knees and screaming long and loud, pain and frustration tearing me apart, when yet another test proved a dead end. The most important thing is to remember to get back up again. Look around you. See the beauty. It just might make the difference.

Between a rock and a hard place
There is a gap, a tiny crack,
In the myth of time where borne by chance winds
A tiny seed
Infinitesimal spark of life
Lies fallow

Until the seasons shift
The grey clouds shed their rain
And swollen by an accidental droplet
Warmed into life by fleeting sunlight
It grows to pregnant fullness.
Roots burrow down deep,
Life seeking to express its form
In the dark and hostile soil

And with the coming of the spring
The lengthening of my days
A miracle of beauty blossoms
Between this rock and this hard place

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Road to Redemption

I have just come in from the garden where the birds were waiting for their morning seed treat. I love this time of year. The air is filled with the songs of birds and the world comes back to life.
It is a reminder to me that there is always a springtime. Even when I am no longer on this earth, there will be the return of the light, the spread of warmth in the rich deep soil. No matter how tough life is there is always the potential for recovery and no matter how far we stray from the path of light, there is always redemption.
I am not an adherent of any religion but as Easter approaches, I do think of the washing away of sins, not the easy option people think that it is. The road to redemption is a road of the cross. It requires the admission of wrong doing, the facing of the true self and the shedding of all the excuses we protect ourselves with.
It is not about seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged. That is not ours to ask for; it is their's to give. It is about making it right in any way we can, in some way making restitution.
Clients ask me how they can make restitution to those who are dead. Do it by living your life well. Do it by seeking out ways of helping others in similar situations to the person you can no longer reach.
Redemption is not a soft option. It takes courage and hard work. It takes the surrender of the ego and the opening of the heart. It is a frightening road but at the end of it there is a sense of freedom, a liberation from guilt and fear.
Those of you who read this who carry guilt in your hearts, a huge lead weight, constantly pulling you down, draining you of life, know exactly what I mean. Take one step down that road today and that burden will be lighter and the world will be a better place.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Life is a gift

My recent and unpleasant reminder of my own mortality was like a continuous stream of ice cold water fired at me with a high pressure hose. It made me shake; it hurt like hell and it woke me up!
Life is an incredibly precious gift. We can lock it away and treat it like some rare porcelain plate, hoping that it won't get broken. We can take it out of its locked cupboard, fill it with colourful, sinfully delicious sensory experiences and fill ourselves up on all that feeds the soul.
Stop waiting for life to happen, for dreams to be called into being. You are the caller; you are the creator. You are the one who lives this life, who lives their dreams into reality.
There is no tomorrow. There is only today. Make it a good one.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New evidence on third hand smoking toxicity

This is a fascinating and challenging article on new research which shows that the toxicity of cigarettes lingers on in the skin, hair and clothing of the smoker, creating hazards for all who come into contact.
Please do not wait any longer. Find the will and a way to stop now. The lives of those you love are at risk as long as you continue to smoke.
Hypnotherapy helps more people quit permanently than any other approach. There are many reputable therapists out there who specialise. Contact one.
Should you wish to try solo, contact me. I create individually crafted hypnotic recordings either as an mp3 download or cd with support material. Whatever you chose, do it now.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


In my January 1st post, I mentioned that I was waiting for the results of a biopsy. Well, I am still waiting, going about my daily life in my usual way, but with that frisson of something different, a ripple of disturbance in my usual calm, a background hum of dissonance.

My story is one common to many women and in other bodily areas to many men. Our bodies are running rogue programmes which we did not notice had slipped through our system's protective software. In my case, it started with an increase in the irregular menstrual bleeding which has continued all the way through peri-menopause and well into what should be menopause itself. The longest I have gone without any meaningful bleeding is 8 months. We have a history of late menopause in the family as my aunts were all in their mid to late fifties when they finally ceased bleeding, so I thought nothing of it.

Well that is not quite true. I smiled quietly to myself and thought that I was simply aging slowly. We are a youthful family with good skin that remains unwrinkled into our seventies, lots of energy and a good genetic track record. My mother is 80 and my father 86. With one exception my mother's siblings lived into their eighties and one who still teaches every day will be 90 next June. On Dad's side, his two aunts were in their 90s and working in the fields of their farm until near the end. We are generally a long lived and healthy breed. So I guess I was in a place of ignorant complacency about my health. Then there is the small matter of a life time of obesity; we all know the dangers in theory but right now they are very real.

When my mother had a stroke in June, the bleeding became heavier and very frequent, nothing alarming, just more in quantity and more often. I was also waking up in pain, feeling as though someone was boring a hole in my lower spine. Then there were the aches and pains in all my joints and a general weariness that alarmed me. Then again, Mum's stroke had been a terrible shock to all of us and I was living at the hospital during the day and spending every night with my father at home, listening for him falling over when he lost his balance. Stress plays havoc with all the body systems so I tried to ignore the symptoms and told myself that it would all settle down when Mum was out of hospital. It didn't. It got worse.

I am not the type to panic but I thought it was time to visit my doctor. First I arrange for a smear test just to rule out problems with my cervix. I thought it might have been a recurrence of a polyp which I had been treated for many years ago. Everything looked good during the examination and the results showed healthy cells. Polyp ruled out - cervical cancer ruled out. Breathe deeply and sigh with relief.

However, my blood test taken at the same time showed high levels of inflammation somewhere in my body, It's not a result doctors like to see as it can be anything from an infected tooth to arthritis, a sinus infection to cancer. I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot which I chose to believe accounted for this but my doctor very sensibly decided it needed further investigation and referred me for a scan of my ovaries and womb. The wheels of the NHS ground exceeding slow but eventually my appointment arrived just after my doctor gave me the results of my latest blood tests. Bad news: inflammatory levels even higher. Good news: the test for ovarian cancer markers were negative. Huge sigh of relief because it had crossed my mind that my symptoms might indicate this.

Up to the hospital for the scan - dozens of women waiting, bladders bursting from the litres of water we had to consume to ensure a good scan. One poor woman was absolutely frantic. We waited for almost an hour before someone told us that they were down a radiographer and they were waiting for a consultant to finish rounds to come down to help.I offered up a silent prayer that I would get the consultant because that would mean he would give me the results straight away. As they sent other women down to various radiographers, they called my name and two others to another part of the department. Then the consultant arrived and my prayer was answered. He was amazing. He described everything he saw. Ovaries - all normal, no cause for concern. Womb looked good. Endometrium showing some thickening. Where was I in my cycle? "Havn't a clue." So apart from that he said that everything looked good and we had a short conversation about our sons who had both started university this year.

So here I am, six months down the line, one cervical smear, one pelvic scan and two endometrial biopsies later (the first one was clear but with insufficient tissue) still waiting. The likelihood is that it is a hormonal imbalance brought on by a combination of stress and too much oestrogen in my system produced by all these happy little fat cells. A course of progesterone should restore the balance and stop the carcinogenic influence of the excess oestrogen. Fingers and toes are crossed. Hopefully my results will be in early next week and I can start on the progesterone.

So that is the saga so far with much of the emotional roller coaster omitted. Ladies, do not ignore the symptoms I blithely took to be perfectly normal. If a shadow of a doubt crosses your mind about pains or bleeding, see your physician. Life is precious. Don't throw it away. The same is true of any other physical symptom which is out of the ordinary. Let your doctor judge if it is significant. Gentlemen, if any of you are reading, don't let embarassment kill you if you have prostate or bowel problems.

I am not afraid of death. I am just not yet prepared for the dying bit. Come back and see me when I am in my 90s and then I will reconsider.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Quiet Day

After all the busy preparations and excitement of the Festive Season, it feels so good to sit quietly and just be still for a while.
A simple bowl of cereal for breakfast provided a welcome antidote to the excesses of consumption of the last few day. Home made vegetable soup with wholemeal bread for lunch and a simple organic chicken roasted with onions, parsnips and carrots seved with a fresh salad for dinner will go a long way to settling a system unused to such richness. We had been invited out to dinner tonight but the thought of eating another bite which was anything other than home cooked and utterly plain was just too much for us, so we rearranged for next Saturday. Thanks be for understanding friends.
Speaking of friends, a true friend is someone who allows you to be exactly who you are, without feeling the need to "fix" or "improve" you. As a therapist and a coach, I see the destructive downside of that need to alter others. Too many people wander into relationships of all kinds with the primary thought of "what a lovely person, if only..." They then make it their mission to bring about that "if only" whether the object of their affection wishes it or not. At least in my profession, I wait here politely until I am asked to interfere or was that intervene?
The way I look at it is that either you love them as they are, accept them for all their foibles and deficits, or just leave them the hell alone! That does not mean that you have to stand by and allow self-destructive or even plain aggravating behaviour without clearly expressing your concerns, or be completely supportive of their own desire to change. (NB. THEIR desire, not YOUR desire) However if that was the way it was from the beginning, then tough luck; you bought it having read the big print warnings that rose up to bite your nose, so why should you feel aggrieved when those character flaws devoured you whole, burped politely and wondered why you were giving them chronic indigestion with your complaining?
So in the interests of peace amongst all beings, take the enormous beam out of your own eye before you try to extract the tiny mote from your significant other's. (For those not familiar with archaic biblical language, it translates as remove that huge tree trunk from your eye before you even think of helping another with their tiny little speck of dust) Clarity of vision requires taking a good look at our own little and no so little personal quirks and behavioural deficits before we have a go at sorting those of others we profess to care about.. Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.
What, not takers?
Thought not.
So there.
Quirkily and inperfectly yours,

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

In the year now leaving the cosmic train station, my own mortality reached out and brushed its cold breath upon my soul.

Like so many others I am waiting. Will my biopsy take me from this limbo back into the world of the living or will it bring that cold breath closer and deeper? I am one of many waiting in that place of unknowing. I have no answer, no prescient glimpse of what the outcome will be. I wait, sometimes with quiet stoicism and sometimes I am swept up in storms of intense emotion.

Death is theoretical until it comes whispering at your door. We all know that it is the one great certainty in life and yet do we truly live our lives in the real knowing of its imminent ending? How would we live it differently if we were truly aware of its transient nature, immersed in the reality and not the theory?

This is our big chance, our day in the sun, our place centre stage. This day. This hour. This moment. Wrap it around you lovingly. Live it fully. Feel the truth of the gift that is life flowing in every cell. Embrace it as a lover. Give it all of you and suck the marrow from the bones of being.

This day, this hour, this moment. This is truth. This is life. Live it.