Monday, 27 October 2008

Blogging for Peace


I found this on Graham's blog (One Man's Travels).

I'm joining in. Will you?

Here's the story...

The Peace Globe project began in the fall of 2006 with a simple post from one blog, Mimi Writes. The post ignited a flame in the blogosphere. The flame became a passion. The passion became a movement.

It amazingly traveled from blog to blog to blog across the globe. Bloggers wrote passionate articles on what peace means to them, along with the promise of three Latin words scribbled on a globe - Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace) - branded with the integrity of their names or blog names. It was positively inspiring to watch. And it began to happen all over the world - from Singapore to China to Afghanistan to Brooklyn.
It was simple. And powerful.
In less than three weeks bloggers from all across the globe will blog for peace.

We will speak with one voice. One subject. One day.

Won't you join us?

Please pass this meme through the blogosphere.

Creative Urges

Recently I've been feeling itchy to do something creative again. At this stage I'm not sure what... I used to enjoy working with coloured pen, pencils and watercolour, but I also love beadwork and embroidery.

Looking around at other people's blogs and websites I realised that I've never shown any of my stuff online. I figured it was time to change that. I'm posting two of my creative urges.
This one below was done with coloured pencils, just for fun. It's a flower arrangement with a "twist". ;-)

The next one is done with embroidery - embroidery cottons and a thicker black crochet thread I used for the rooster's feathers. It was a gift I made for my sister-in-law. She loves Roosters. :-) He's copied from a Japanese print. The chick's colours didn't come out right, but the rooster looks exactly like it does in this photo.


Friday, 24 October 2008

Seven Random Things I Love


I've taken up this tag from Daisy. Like her I won't be picking seven people to take part. If you like the idea - play then consider yourself tagged. Just remember to let me know in the comments so I can come read your seven random loves as well. Now for my seven random choices:

1. Spring flowers, especially bluebells and daffodils.

2. Home made soup. I'm tempted to say all home made soups, but there are a few I'm not keen on. I don't like fish soups, but I love vegetable broth, lentil and bacon, Chicken and vegetable, broccolli and Stilton... *drool*.

3. Wild birds.

4. Autumn - the cool sharp days, the wonderful colours, falling leaves...

6. Going for a drive in the country.

7. Trees.
7. My friends - internet/blog or real life, family or just those people who feel like family - they're all equally appreciated. :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

News for Samhain

I've had one of my short stories accepted for publication. It'll be out in the Samhain edition of the Witches Digest.

They're a new UK based magazine - small at this stage, but I'm betting they go far. That opinion is not because they published me (although that is an incentive to urging you to buy it *grin*), but because I really liked reading their magazine. They have recipes, interesting snippets, environmental news, events, art, poetry and stories as well as 'witchy' articles. I'm not a witch, but I still enjoyed the magazine. Even my dad read it and enjoyed it. :-)

I was also thrilled to see that this Samhain edition has an article about an artist friend of mine - Levanah. If you're into computer art Lev also does art packs for Poser.

Good luck to the Witches Digest and to my friend, Lev - I hope you both go far... and that someone reads my short story and offers me a movie contract. Hey, I can dream! :-D


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

My Big Fat News

Which should have been titled - Why my Head has been Spinning lately.

A while back Bassman posted about an offer a publishing company had on the go. They were offering publishing deals to new writers - a chance to get your foot in the door, so to speak. They wanted completed manuscripts to be sent in to them before Oct 31.

I looked at it their offer and thought about a manuscript I've had gathering dust for almost two decades. To be honest the "gathering dust" isn't literal anymore. I threw out the paper version ( printed on a dot matrix printer - doesn't that take you back? lol ) a few years ago in one of our house moves.

Like I said... I thought about it, but the thought was just too scary. The biggy scary questions in my head included: "What if it's a rubbish story?", "What if it bombs and proves that I'm a useless writer?", "What if no-one buys the book?"... plus a thousand other permutations on those lines, all negative!

I scared myself so much I felt quite ill - so I left the whole idea, but then about three weeks back I was somewhere on the internet (My brain's fried - I was reading something, but can't remember if it was here, a forum, an email or... ) and I had a lightbulb moment. I thought a new question - I thought "Why can't I just have more fun in my life?" and that led to Sol, my guide, pointing out that the easiest way to have more fun was to...


So thay's what I did - I decided to not take it so seriously - I popped off an email giving them my book title, word count, synopsis etc. A day later (two Saturdays back) they replied and said "Sure, here's the contract - send us your book."

I was excitement, followed by mad bouncing and yelling, followed by celebrating, but ultimately leading to extreme panic and slight nausea as the reality sunk in.

I realised I had to send in a manuscript that I hadn't looked at in about seven years. And back seven years ago I'd only had it out to do some editing as that was when I'd transferred it from a DOS file to a Word document. When I'd done that the punctuation had turned into Russian. Although I thought I'd cleaned it all up once I took a closer look (two Saturdays back) I realised a lot of my punctuation had completely vanished!

I didn't want to leave it till the end of the month (in case they changed their minds or it turned out to be a dream lol ), so for the past twelve or so days I have been working flat out checking grammar, spelling, punctuation etc. In doing so I've also rewritten portions - my writing style has changed since I wrote this in December 1992!

It's been hard at times to hold onto the "lighten up and don't take this seriously" command, but every time I did get anxious I'd freeze up and every time I start just doing it for fun the words flow again. I even felt relaxed enough to take the weekend off to design a cover. They said they would provide one, but were happy if authors provided their own. I checked some of their published book covers online and didn't like them much, so figured I'd try to do my own. Once again - the moment I tried too hard it was a disaster - the moment I relaxed it flowed.

Yesterday the manuscript and book cover were posted off (at the unintentional, but rather fun time of 12:34 pm). I've had my receipt saying thank you and if everything goes to plan my book will be out for Christmas (online sales).

I still feel fairly dazed. I am having moments of terror/doubt, but I am trying to squash every time they rise up - a bit like a mental version of that arcade game where you whack the mole/gopher with a hammer. *grin*

Now is the hardest part, I suspect - waiting. I will be back to tell more once I know more.

Monday, 20 October 2008



A friend of mine came down very suddenly with Rheumatoid Arthritis last year. Not surprisingly she's been finding it hard to go from being average healthy to living with chronic pain. She posed a question to myself and her other internet friends - How do you cope with ongoing pain?

I don't think there's any one right answer, but here's my own thoughts on the topic. ..

I think I've known, but fought, the answer for a long time. It's both simple and very difficult. I think you surrender.

Not give up - just surrender.

Years ago (decades actually) I read about this in a magazine, but I didn't understand then. It was an article written by a man who had been in a Russian prison/work camp. He explained that the inmates and himself found a way to manage pain (apparently the camp dealt in torture as well as hard labour and deprivation). They managed their pain by learning to love it, he said.

I thought that was just NUTS, but it was such a weird idea that it stuck in my head all this time.

My first real experience of pain was about eleven years ago after my op to have my left ovary removed. I started having terrible lower back and stomach pain if I lay down. I went for all sorts of tests = nothing = doctors sent me home with pain killers. I was so ANGRY. I wanted results and cures, not pain killers! So I did my own research, found a chiropractor who did acupuncture as well, and sorted it out.

That's what I've done my whole life, one way or another I fix things myself. I don't trust others to do it properly and I don't rely on anyone. I have a problem - I get angry - I fix it.

But in my thirties getting angry started to be too tiring. I'm a Leo, we do righteous anger beautifully. Injustice makes us ROAR and fills us with fire, but plain old garden variety anger is different. Long term anger at life just sucks the life out of you and that includes anger at pain. Plus there's another kicker that my mom knew, but I hadn't realised connected to all pain. It's the fact that tension makes pain worse.

My mom has often told the story how she never had pregnancy classes when she was pregnant with me. They were a new idea back then and expensive. My mom asked her friends and family who'd already had children for any advice and one of them told my mom, "Just relax." ...and that's exactly what my mom. In fact she relaxed so much that the nurses even commented on it to the doctor when I was being born. Instead of being a screwed up screaming ball of tension with every contraction my mom was a rag doll that let the pain wash over and through her... and away.
That''s the thing those people in that Russian camp had figured out as well - you tense up and the pain increases. Relaxing might not make it vanish, but it does ease it and it makes it more likely to wash through you and away. It's back to that word I got in my Mayan birth calculator - surrender.

The more you let go and surrender... the easier things become, even pain.

Of course the next step for the Russians was loving their pain. That idea - loving your pain - freaked me out. It still does to a degree. I "get" the logic of loving pain, I understand how surrendering to it cuts the tension that makes it worse, but when I'm in pain for long I just want it to STOP - to GO AWAY.

It's been a while, but from what I remember in that article on the Russians they worked on telling their pain how they loved it for warning their bodies that something was wrong, because pain really is nothing more than a warning system. Our body didn't invent it to make us suffer, it invented it to warn us that something was wrong so that we could fix it. Basically the brain relaying messages like, "You feel extreme pain in your hand? Maybe you should take it off the hotplate?" really fast. Chronic pain is just a smoke alarm that doesn't understand it's in a smoker's lounge. The trick is making your brain understand that the smoke is there to stay so you really don't need the alarm going off 24/7.

Getting angry at the smoke alarm doesn't help anymore than getting angry at chronic pain does. In fact it's not even fair. Pain really is our friend - it only wants to keep us safe. When we fight it we're going against the whole reason it's there in the first place... and I'm beginning to think that that's where the Russians had their breakthrough. They learnt ways to thank pain for warning them and through that they managed to find a way to turn the alarms off, even when the smoke-and-fire situation was real.

But what about the kind of pain that's more subtle and not based on literal things like illness, accidents or being tortured like the Russians.

I'm also beginning to suspect that there's a connection between people who don't like their bodies, or themselves, and auto-immune diseases and/or chronic pain conditions. People who think of their bodies/self as their enemy rather than their friend. How can your body repair itself if you're the type who "beats yourself up" about things? Look at that phrase and really think about it - it implies self-harm at the most fundamental level - our subconscious. Would it be any surprise if a brain constantly told it was the enemy might short it's wiring and set off pain alarms constantly?

I'm still not sure what the "magic key" is that opens the door to setting pain free, but I do know that the first step is to stop fighting it and stop seeing it as the enemy.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Small Magic

A while back I was visiting Rima's blog when I saw some lovely artwork there by an artist named Victoria Usova. I went to take a look at her shop on Etsy... and fell in love. There were so many beautiful paintings, but it was a pendant that stole my heart. Hubby said, "You love it - get it." So... I did! :-)

It arrived today and I've worn it all day. The side that caught my attention first was this one - the summer sunshine side. How could I resist that adorable bug? It looks just how I see my chakras.

The oppopsite side is a nightime theme of flying horses and balloon travellers.

Thank you Victoria, I love it! And thank you for the extra surprise of the two postcards. They are wonderful. :-)


Friday, 10 October 2008

Waiting Games


Is it just me or does it feel like the whole world is waiting? Waiting for elections, waiting for news on the global financial crisis... waiting.

My dad got tired of waiting and asked right out yesterday. He's been told what he was waiting to find out - he'll be one of those laid off next month. So he starts looking for a new job from today. Hubby is still waiting to hear if he'll have a job by the end of the year. He was told they'd bring him in for a meeting on "Thursday", but three Thursdays have come and gone since then.

Last month I was waiting to hear back about a small job I tried out for. Like my dad I got sick of waiting and demanded an answer. Like my dad the answer was a negative. I never got the job.

On the family front my cousin who left for Australia had to return back to South Africa as his ex doesn't want to let go. So now he is waiting too ... waiting to live.

That's how I feel lately, like I'm always waiting to live instead of living and athough those well-meaing email things talk of siezing the moment and enjoying today it can be hard to hold onto that when your life is floating in maybe land. Maybe you'll get the job... maybe you'll keep the job... maybe you'll find a home... maybe your landlord will want you to move on again...

I'm tired of waiting, but every time I try to force life to open a door I end up flat on my face. I know my Mayan destiny is to surrender, but I'm finding it hard to let go of taking action and learning to enjoy waiting.

Patience is NOT my virtue and to be fair... we've been waiting for a long time. Counting some long-term family dreams you could say we've all been waiting since about 1980. That is a long wait!

...and last week a card fell out a book I got as a gift last year. I have no idea where it came from or who put it in there. It didn't come from the gift-giver as the book was sent straight from Amazon. The card says...


I don't know whether to laugh, cry or... keep waiting!


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Completely Nuts!

This Sunday my dad decided to check on the bird feeders. We have three bird feeders up in the trees in the back garden. We used to keep seed feeders, but the wild birds eat it too fast, so now we just give them peanuts. Here's an example photo of a feeder from the RSPB online shop.

In the house before this one we had voles and mice sneak up onto them to grab peanuts through the mesh, but here the only unusual visitor we've had is a large woodpecker who comes for nuts at least twice a day.

My dad always throws out any leftover old nuts before refilling it. He throws them on the ground and the robin usually makes off with them... but not this Sunday!He went and got down the feeders, threw out the old nuts, then walked a few paces over to his bucket of peanuts to refill them. When he turned round to go back - what does he see?


Bunnyboy - scoffing peanuts! My dad says he was busy stuffing his fuzzy face full of peanuts. Munching away. He wasn't at all bothered by how close my dad was, but he did hop back under a bush when my dad walked towards him. All the scattered old peanuts were gone.

Is this normal for rabbits? I can't remember my pet rabbit ever eating anything as weird as nuts...

maybe this rabbit has gone completely nuts? :-D

Friday, 3 October 2008

Last Holiday pics - Gretna

I completely forgot these last holiday snaps from our trip in June/July. These were taken on our way home back through Gretna.

The Blacksmith's shop from the side...

From the front...
The shops behind. There were some nice shops and an even nicer restaurant. The shops seemed a bit pricey, but the food was fairly priced and they really loaded our plates.
Where the weddings are held...
A nice sculpture of birds...
...and finally - a black and white fuzzy cow. It doesn't show up in this photo, but the cow actually had long fuzzy fur. :-)