Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The rub of things - part 2

When I posted last night I never intended there to be a part 2.
I was sure.
I felt I had to do it.
I felt I had to do it to stop my anxiety.

I was wrong.
I was the anxiety that drove that post, not my true intent.
My anxiety was driven by my OCD.

It's happened before, and it may happen again.
The difference?
That now when it happens I can, within 23-48hrs, spot that it has happened and correct my mistakes.
I can tell, in retrospect, what it my OCD and what is my anxiety driven reactionism, where I've lurched from one extreme to another.
One day I WILL be able to to spot it as it happens and prevent nights like last night's events ever happening in the first place.

Until that day all I can do is ask for your understanding, dear reader.

Despite what I wrote last night I will not be turning my back on writing about what I care about and what I believe.

The thought occurred to me today - why would I stop doing something that I enjoy?

So please bear with me whilst I resume "normal" service.


Monday, 6 December 2010

The rub of things.

This blog post has been coming for a while.
I'm not really sure how to put this into words but I'll do my best.

Basically, due to on of the forms that my OCD can take (called Scrupulosity) I am going to have to take a step back from writing about religious things. I know that this blog has never been overly religious but I have discussed Pagan issues and topics on here because they are something I care about. Unfortunately I have found writing about them has caused me problems that I could not have predicted, and I am going to have to change the direction of my writing for my own benefit.

I want to make it clear that my personal spiritually-agnostic-pagan-mish-mash of beliefs have not and will not change.

I want to apologise to anyone who feels let down by this, it is not my intent to disappoint you and I hope you can  understand why I must take this open ended hiatus.

I will continue to post here - the topics will still be those that matter to me and spirituality will still feature when it feels right.


Sunday, 5 December 2010


So my weekend has featured dragons quite heavily and it has led to me thinking about the "reality" of the subject.

For a creature that is regarded as being very much a mythical creature by most accepted wisdom it is strange the dragons crop up in a wide number of disparate cultures who had no real links to each other and yet all cast a similar image of the creatures themselves. For a long time I have thought that this could point to the existence of dragons, in some form, during the early years of human kinds experiences.
Whether these creatures were all the size of the giant creatures described in certain northern European legends or the ones of the Far Eastern origin , or in fact if they existed in a variety of sizes (which to me would seem likely) it seems clear to me that such creatures existed at some point.

Now I know that at this point it is worth giving a nod to accepted thinking and say that if they had existed then we would have found archaeological proof that they did.
In a way I agree but then again that argument is slightly flawed. Most fossil evidence belongs to the prehistoric era of the earths existence and there is no reason to think that the "dragons" existed after that period  and that their remains (presuming they didn't have some strange instinctive behavior that drove them out to see to die) have been lost to archeology by simply being in places remote enough or inaccessible enough to be dug.
I could go into great detail on why we have not got a bone record of a dragon but that is for another time and place.

What I'd like to talk about is that the fact that there creatures exist in a lot of cultural histories, bearing very similar descriptions and yet entered into "mythology" during the modern age. There can be no doubt that the influence of the monotheistic religions on Western European cultures where the creatures and stories of the prior cultures were discredited and turned into metaphors for other things, after all a creature such as a dragon will have been symbolic to those who knew of them yet do not fit in with monotheistic thinking (although the book of Revelations does make mention of dragons) and would therefore become the thing of imagination and therefore easily discredited and demonized.
There is no doubt that the dragon had massive influence in the "old" world. The Chinese have a year in their calendar dedicated to the Dragon and images of the creature have survived the years and are used across the world. It is a creature of spiritual significance, even to this day, and holds a place in the heart of many a good story teller. It represents the strength of the natural world and a reminder that man is not as all conquering and invincible as he might feel.

Personally, I can see no reason to believe that dragons existed (in many shapes and sizes), we may never have "proof" other than the tales of old.

Here be dragons?
Why not?

Monday, 29 November 2010

My initial musing on Tarot

As those who follow me on Twitter may know, I invested in two tarot decks, and following many months of tinkering, thinking and mulling things over I thought that I'd share my feelings at this point in my dealings with the cards.

It is worth mentioning at this point that my interest in divination began many, many years ago and developed as I discovered the runes of the Elder Futhark.
I approach divination in the following way. The past is woven and tied off, the present is being woven as we speak and the future has yet to fully take shape. Knowing that every single thing in the universe is tied to every other thing in the universe, knowing that cause and effect exists, and that it is impossible to predict with 100% certainty the events of the next hour nevermind the next year I still believe that it is possible to combine all the possible eventualities to come to a reasonably firm idea of what could be.
What could be.
That's the bit that is most important to be.

I believe that no process of divination can give you concrete results. What it can do is suggest possibilites, hint at the end that your current course of actions may lead you and help you realise what you already know but hadn't "twigged".
It's an inward glance.

So then back to my tarot experience.

At first I bought a Rider-Waite deck. Though the deck is beautiful I didn't connect with it (although I still have it and am allowing it to "absorb" my magic of my family before I  re-visit it in the future.
It is a very monthiestic deck and not really in keeping with my view of the world.

My next deck was the Sacred Circle deck.
This deck is themed around the polytheistic views of the ancient British celtic cultures.
I like this deck. I feel comfortable working with it (though I only read for myself) and can feel a connection with it (most probably because it doesn't clash with my world view).
The deck in itself is really nicely illustrated using a mix of both photographs, paintings and computer artwork.
The creators have spent time capturing the intended meanings of each card in the image and those looking to use the cards as an aid to meditation would find a lot of joy with these cards.

So I suppose the question is, would I reach for those or my stones?

I have to say that having had my rune stones for over 15years they are always going to be my go to's but I'm going to persevere with the cards.

After all it matters not what you use (books, stones, card or whatever) you're connecting to the same source, it's just a matter of finding what works for you.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Paganism as a recognised religion

There has been a lot of talk in the press in the last few months, particularly in one of Britain's more right wing mainstream publications, about the rights and wrongs of Paganism being recognized officially by a religion in the UK.
Now when taking on this topic it is very, very easy to get drawn into making rhetoric, biased and , in the case of the Daily Fail, down right hate filled statement making.
I'm going to avoid going down that route.

What I would like to say is that there is no reason for it not to be.
I will go as far as saying that there is no reason for anyone's religious beliefs not to be accepted and recognized.

If we accept that we live in a country that accepts an individuals right to believe what they want - which we do (and long may that continue) - then how can anyone say that anyone religious belief is any more valid than another. After all once you remove your own personal religious views out of the decision making progress then you have no choice but to accept the views of others as being valid.

Devout people, be they monothiest, polythiest, agnostic or athiest, will all hold opinions about what is valid and what is not, and some religions, and the individuals that belong to them, are more tolerant of beliefs that fall outside theirs than others, but the way to look at is it this:

If I were a Catholic then how would I like it were someone belonging to another faith were trying to belittle my religious beliefs by saying it wasn't really a religion and should not be recognized?
The answer is, of course, I would not like it.
Now then, this being the case, what would give me the right to do just that to others?

When people talk about a modern civilization being "formed" or "based" upon one particular religion and it's practices then they are wildly incorrect, especially when you consider the United Kingdom.
Whilst it is true to say that since 500ad, or so, that the country has been officially a Christian one, it is not true to say that the rules, laws and practices of this union of countries were based purely on biblical teachings.
The foundations of our laws, cultures and practices can be found to originate in Pagan Britian. The Church, be it the Catholic one or the Protestant one, never managed to fully Christianize this fair isle and remove the elements that preceded it.
You cannot claim that any one religion is responsible for the moral foundations of a group of people that existed prior to the creation of the religion.
A quick check of a decent history book will show how flawed that approach is.

Now getting back to my original point, to be fair to everyone, of all faiths, then we should scrap the list of "recognized" religions and adopt an approach of complete and total tolerance and acknowledgement.

If something rings true in your heart and soul to the point where you will stand tall and announce it to another then it should be recognized and respected by all.Simple as that.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

When my OCD attacks......

As some of you may know, I've been quite under the weather in the last few days. This has meant me being off work and having time on my hands but unable to do what I normally would because I've been leveled.

As someone with a history of OCD I know that time like this can be dangerous.
I've found, over time, that time such as this are when I am most likely to have any lapses in my mental health.
My idle mind does wander, not always to negative places but wander it does.
I always get big feelings of redundancy, insecurity and depression when I'm not physically well, and unfortunately this time was no different.
These feelings can lead me to fall back into my "old ways" and not always make decisions that are conducive to my good mental health. (Believe me, there's been a lot of lists written and checks made over the last few days).
This had lead to a few dark days.

Fortunately for me, I have the tools to deal with this. Thanks to the help of my therapists in the past and the skills I learned in group therapy I can handle my dark days, perhaps more retrospectively than I would choose, and get myself back on track.

Along with those things, the love and support of my family and friends has once again been invaluable and I cannot thank you all enough.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The are of chilling out

My good friend Matt Charlton's blog post has got me thinking, how many different ways do people have to relax?

The answer is - many. There are probably as many different ways that people use to relax as there are different people.
Some people meditate in isolation, others use candles and incense to aid the technique. I have friends that relax by playing games ( both computer and tabletop), by playing sport or by talking with others. I know those who relax with a pint or two or even a "herbal" cigarette. In fact having thought about it for a few minutes I struck me that there rarely do two people relax using exactly the same methods.

So how do I relax?
Well it depends on what kind of "stress" I feel I'm trying to release. Sometimes it's a walk somewhere quiet where the noise and hassle of life can be aloud to be taken by the wind as I make my way along my route. When I feel that I have had no time, I find just being able to sit in the company of my wife and kids soon aid me releasing that tension. Also a quiet pint and a chat with a good friend (or a few good friends) is an excellent way to achieve the same goal.
Other times it's by listening to some music, an activity that I have always found very life affirming.
I can also de-stress by playing with tech and games, for that is also part of who I am and you can't beat a bit of time indulging your inner-geek (ok, with me it's more a case of all-over-geek) and reminding yourself just how cool tech can be.
And that's not mentioning my more spiritual activities, my love of reading and, of course, my writing, all of which can bring that chilled out feeling we all sometimes need.

When I was asked by my oldest son, a few years ago, what he should do if he wanted to relax my reply was "whatever you want to do". I believe that stress is often caused by the fact we often have to do things we don't want to do, therefore spending even the smallest amount of time doing what you want to do is the perfect antidote.

I hope you all have a chance, every day of your lives, to do something that you want to do. I'm lucky I have a job that I love doing and also have a life that allows me to do many of the things I want to.
If you want to be in the same situation, then make it so, we are the masters of our own souls and can shape our lives (with a little hard work) to reflect what we want rather than what we don't.

Be well and remember to chill a little.

Friday, 10 September 2010

My thoughts on the 9th Anniversary of 9/11.

On the 9th anniversary my thoughts are with all the following groups of people:

1) Those people (tourists, business people&workers) who were in the Word Trade Center and lost their lives that day because of th acts of deranged men.

2) Every single person, whether law enforcement, fire crew, paramedic or citizen, who lost their life that day trying to help someone else whilst chaos ensued around them.

3) All the people who, though they survived that day, had their lives changed forever. Those people who lost someone or were hurt (physically or mentally) that day, those people who have carried their first hand experience of what happened that day with them since and who will continue to do so for the rest of their life.

4) Everyone who's life has been changed directly because of that day. Amongst these people is every soldier that has lost their life fighting in the conflicts that have come about as a result of that day.
This final group contains every single one of us. The ripple effect of that day has been felt by everyone across the world in one way or another. The governmental policies that play on the fear inspired by that day have effected us all and will continue to do so.

I have no political axe to grind here nor religious dogma to preach.
I simple want to pay my respects to all effected that day.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Why the EDL should worry you.......

I don't care where you are from, to which religious group you belong to or what the colour of your skin is - the EDL should worry you.

Before you read on, you might want to watch this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2010/may/28/english-defence-league-uncovered

The Nationalist Socialist Party started in very much the same way back in Germany in the 1920's, you may know them better as the Nazi party.

They were a group of violent, bigoted, racist bullies just like the EDL are.
They were involved in street violence with opposing fractions from the centre and the left wing, just like the EDL are.
They blamed one particular branch of society for their country's ills, just like the EDL do.

The EDL exploit our precious freedom of speech to spread the same sort of hateful rhetoric that the Nazi's spread at their rallys back then.

If we let them grow unopposed then we could end up suffering the same fate as Germany did.
If we let ourselves be convinced that they are different and that they have the answers then we are dooming our great country to a fate worse than death.
If we let our remain unaware of the the threat that extremeist groups like the EDL pose then we are dooming the future to the same fate.

I am not a left-wing activist.
I believe that the right wing and the left wing of the political spectrum can be, and often are, as bad as each other.
I do not claim to have a more valid religious view than anyone else.
I am a centralist (if that is what you would call me) I believe a fair, all encompassing society is possible and is desireable, and that it is our right as human beings to live in such a society.

When I say that the EDL, and their like, should be opposed I do not mean with violence, because that panders to their whims. We should oppose them with the truth, with our distaste, with our destain and with the facts.
The facts that show that all human beings are equal and we all have the right to live where ever in the world we choose.

And, as a closing note, if you think that they're threat is not to you and yours then I'd advise you to read the following by Pastor Martin Niemöller :

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Think about it, please.

Friday, 30 July 2010

New beginnings

On Monday the 2nd of August I start a new chapter of my professional life. If you would like to know more about my new employer follow this link, the feeling I have had since the first time I walked in there is so positive and I can't wait to start. :)

This post is not so much about who I will be working for, or even about my personal situation. What it is about is how positive things can be born out of negative situations.

I bet if you think back into your past you can find an example of what I'm on about. A time when things just seemed to be going wrong, not making sense and seemingly heading nowhere but down. But then, something can happen to change everything around. This something can be large or small, ranging from a life changing gesture of a friend, getting a new job or opportunity to do something you really want to do or a smile from a friendly stranger.
The one thing that is common throughout is that the something can only be what it is because of the negative situation you were in before. Whether the something seems like a direct result of the negative or a coincidence, it can only be the positive thing it is because of what went before.

I have experienced this many times in my life, in the past I didn't see the pattern but these days I do (though when I'm down I might not always acknowledge the cycle at work) and I'm grateful for my insight.

So next time life is getting you down and bad things are the only things that keep happening remember that they will result in something better, it may take hindsight to reveal it but it will be there.

Take care & rock on!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Being cast aside....................

There are times in life when we are, to use a phrase, cast aside.
This can be from a relationship, from a project, from a job or from a team of any kind. In a way it's natural, as all things change, but that doesn't stop it hurting.

We all, in our own ways, like to feel needed and productive. To find yourself in a position when those for whom you were being productive, and who were in return fulfilling the feeling of need, decide you are no longer needed can be quite a shock - even when it's been on the cards for a while.
Those words, that email or conversation, that makes it final can come like a silver bullet to the heart. You may have watched them load the gun, take aim and studied them pull the trigger but it hits you the same as if you'd never seen it coming.

That impact stirs up feelings of depression, anger, frustration and apathy amongst many others, it can leave one feeling aimless and adrift. A horrible situation for anyone.

I find myself in this situation today, following some news yesterday.
I won't go into details here because it would not be appropriate, but what I am going to do is tell you how I'm coping and what I intend to do about it.

Now I'm not saying that I am handling this perfectly but it's working for me and it might work for you too should, gods forbid, you end up in a similar situation.

I'm giving the feelings stirred up by the news their air. I'm allowing myself to feel them to their full whilst remembering that it's normal to feel angry, frustrated, sad and apathetic at a time like this.
But most importantly I am allowing myself to be happy.
When things take a turn for the worst it is all too easy to allow the negative event to stain all things in your life and to blot out the joy in things.
I'm allowing myself to smile and laugh when something amuses me, I'm still enjoying listening to music & watching my favourite TV programs despite the fact I could easily curl up into a ball of self pity and do none of these things.
To put it simply I am trying to maintain a realistic, philosophical view of things.

So that's how I'm coping, now what am I going to do about it?

Well the first step is to remember that just because "Group A" no longer deems you "good" enough doesn't mean that "Group B", " Group 1" or "Group Yellow" don't think you're good enough. It's group A's loss not yours, and in time a group that does think you're good enough will come along and you will thrive within the new circumstances. :)

The next step is remember that change is constant and the flux it creates is not always easy to handle. This does not make you weak, just a human being. :)

The final step is, once you feel ready (which I do as my situation was not unforeseen), to get out there and take action.
Now in a professional capacity this can mean getting your CV back out there on the job sites, in a emotional capacity it can be the act of beginning to interact with other people in an open way again and in a team or group capacity it is starting to look for other groups/teams to join.

Change favours the prepared mind. Even when taken by surprise we can prepare, adapt and overcome with greater ease than we think we're capable of.

So should you find yourself cast aside then stay positive (believe me, I know it's easier said then done) and help yourself.........and most importantly remember to allow yourself to be happy no matter how bad things get, you don't have to be a Cheshire Cat 24hrs a day but a little bit of happy time (calm you minds readers, there's no euphemism here.lol) can make a massive difference.

Take care out there, be nice to yourself and other people.

Rok On.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Hope Ocean & my literary debut

I am very proud to let you all now that the amazing Lily Oak has been at it again and, with the help of many wonderful writers and a fantastic artist, has produced a fantastic book to help raise money to support those working to deal with the damage caused by the Gulf Of Mexico oil disaster.

The book is called Hope Ocean, and was put together and published in just 7 days (once she gets an idea there's no stopping Lily Oak.lol) and it features contributions from Jo Lynne Valerie, Lidia Tremblay, Melody Dempsey, Mary Muhammad, Kiki Howell, Lily Oak, Theresa C. Newbill, Helen Minto, Ami Blackwelder, Rob Bond, Samantha Lee and Chazz Upton and has beautiful Cover Art by Rob Bond.
(if your name is above and you would like me to add a hyperlink to your site just let me know :D )

This book is not only a fantastic project for an excellent cause but it also marks my print debut as it contains a poem I penned specially for the project!

I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have something I have written published along side work by such wonderfully creative souls.

It has helped dismiss so much of my self doubt in relation to my creativity and has vindicated my self belief.

So now that I've gushed about it get yourselves to Hedge-Witchery Books and order yourself a copy of Hope Ocean.

There is also a selection of other wonderful titles available from Hedge-Witchery Books that you may also be interested in - have a look, it's well worth it. :)


Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Importance of You

Have you ever considered how important you are?

To some this may seem like a daft question, they know how important they are, what they achieve and the difference they make.
To others this may seem like a daft question, but for different reasons.
Those people are thinking "me? important? Hardly. I don't feel important. I don't seem to make a difference and I rarely achieve anything".
I know what it feels like to be the second kind of person, I was one of them for a long time, and I know they are wrong.

Think for a moment about all the things that had to happen for you to be here.
I'm not just talking about the physical act of conception, I'm talking about the magic that needed to happen over a huge period of time (from the beginning of everything to that moment), the events that had to happen, the chance meetings, the acts of fate and destiny that had to conspire to bring that moment of conception to pass.
That alone makes YOU important.#
Now you need to consider that from the moment of conception how many opportunities has life had to end your existence? How many close shaves have their been? How many times have you stepped back onto the curb and narrowly avoided being knocked down? How many seemingly meaningless decisions have resulted in you avoiding potentially fatal events?
I bet that some of you reading this may not even be able to recall the numerous times that you've come close, if you are not inclined to look back on your life in an analytical way (and lets be honest we're all pretty busy and it's not in everyones nature to do so) then why you be able to. Being able to recall them is not the point.
What is important is that you realise that you have been close to being taken through the Veil to the other-side permanently but for reasons of fate have not been. This makes YOU important.

Everyone, and I mean everyone (whether they want to acknowledge it or not) is here because they are important. Not everyone can be a Hero, or Heroine, of great renown but we are all Heroes and Heroines (delete as appropriate) in our own ways.

This means that we are all important.
We might not always feel it, but it is always true none the less.

To someone (or probably to many) or somethings you are important.
You are also important to the magic of the universe to which you belong, as you are part of it, an essential part of it and therefore you are important.

So next time you feel insignificant remember that you are important, very important. It may not always be enough to make you smile but it will always be enough to raise your spirits and ease you fears.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

An abject lesson in cycles

It's easy to talk about life going in cycles when you're "up", when things are going right and the sun seems to always be shining.
Recently my life has been more down than up. But it has taught me a hard, yet needed lesson about the cycle of things.........

Sometimes life get's hard. Sometimes you can see it coming and brace yourself for it, other times it seems to come out of nowhere, either which way it happens and there is nothing you can do to avoid it.
And why would you want to?
Ok, fair enough, you'd want to avoid it because no-one really wants to go through pain and suffering (physical or mental) and certainly no-one wants to see their loved ones going through the same.
What I mean is, when you consider that life actually teaches us more about ourselves and the cycle of life during these times, after each of these times you know things will get better. And before they do you will find new reserves of strength and stamina ( both physical and mental) that will serve you well for the future.
Now when you in the mire and you're so far down you don't seem to be able to see the sun it can be hard to believe it (and I know, at times I can be such a sceptic about these things I'm almost ashamed of myself.lol) but it is true.

Just as sure as day follows night, the good will follow the bad.

Of course this also means that night follows day and that nothing ever lasts forever.

The trick is to enjoy every moment despite the knowledge that it is finite. Sounds hard doesn't it? Well, to be honest, I found it hard but it is possible. :)

Now I could end this article hoping that you'd believe the above without an example of the cycle of which I speak, but that wouldn't be fair would it?

So the example........

After three months of family troubles, with my job hanging in the balance and things being generally smeggy, thanks to a twist of fate and twitter I have been handed an opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do but never thought I'd get chance to do.
Thanks to Lily Oak I am on the list of writers at Hedge-Witchery Books and will be contributing to Incantation e-zine.
The list of writers at Hedge-Witchery Books is truly fantastic and to be amongst them is an honour.

Good times are ahead.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Common sense breaks out in the US?!?!?!?!

Having read this I think that common sense might actually be breaking out in parts of the US.
Rather than just issue a statement condemning the new immigration laws passed in Arizona, Los Angeles City Council has officially boycotted Arizona.
This is great news.
The rules that Arizona have passed are a really hark back to fascist Europe. For crying out loud how on earth can any civilised group of people pass a law that encourages people to discriminate against others purely on how they look?!?!?!?!?!

I have to admit to have been holding back about writing about this but it is doing my tree in and it needs to be said.
The human race should be encouraging each other to see past our physical differences, regardless of what they may be - skin colour, inherited genetic features, disabilities, hair colour or any of the others that you can name - and to find the things that we have in common.
Our history shows that when people are encouraged by authority to view one particular group as negative it doesn't take long for incidents of hate and discrimination to rise and, if 'nurtured' by the powers that be, escalate to genocide.
There's a percentage of the human race that, when given the opportunity to legitimise there lust for violence, will take our their inner hate on those of which ever group they are allowed to target. The Jews found this out during World War 2 , the people of the Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia found it out and so have countless of groups of people throughout history.
The law that has been passed in Arizona and the people who passed it are one of two things (or maybe both):
i) ignorant of the history of the human race and the consequences of their actions.
ii) fueled by hate and distrust and guilty of racism.

I know that there are people all over the world that believe that group A are better human beings that group B but it is appalling that a country that carries out acts of war in the name of fairness and freedom would allow one of it's member states to pass a law that goes against those things so blatantly.

We, as intelligent, reasonably fair human beings (for after all we all have our likes and dislikes, our loves and our hates) should challenge this kind of covert fascist law making wherever it raises it's head.
And if you doubt you should then read this by Pastor Martin Niemoller (I first read it on the sleeve of Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist" single) and tell me that it pays to turn a blind eye because it's easy.


Monday, 26 April 2010

A walk with my Grandad...

....or should that be one of my Grandads?

Firstly a bit of background. One of my Grandad's I knew, he was fantastic and I knew him well despite the few hundred miles that separated us until his death. My other Grandad I never knew (or at least never met) as he died years before my birth. Even though I never knew him I have always felt a connection with him. To say that they were and are both important influences on my life would be an understatement.

Anyway back to the walk.

Last night I went to bed and fell asleep in the much the way I do every night (or day when I'm on nights.lol) . Whilst asleep I dreamed. Nothing unusual there, I seem to be a "dreamer" but this one had a lot of residual echo when I woke.

Last night I took a walk with my Grandad, the one I mentioned second above. I know it was him. The man I walked with was like my Dad (who is alive and well btw) but not him. His aura was different but familiar, his voice different yet familiar. We walked on a street I didn't recognize but seemed to know. It was dark and misty but where we walked was lit, dimly yet clearly. We talked as we walked. Talked in the relaxed way old friends and close family do. Talked a lot. But I can only remember the bit where we talked about my current worries and troubles. The bit, in effect, I needed to.

When I woke I felt more than remembered the dream.

It's been a long time since I dreamed like that about anything and I've never been visited by an ancestor before.
Normally the residual echos are fuzzy, fast fading and hard to revisit, this time it wasn't.

I liked it.
To me my family has always extended beyond those I am directly related to by blood and also those I am separated from by death. It would appear they feel the same way. :)

For me this has been one of those moments where my personal outlook and beliefs have been vindicated.
It's a nice feeling.

Live well friends, be safe.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Update on the thing in my head.

So as part of the ongoing management of my OCD, my Therapist has encouraged me to conduct regular reviews of "life" to see how I'm doing and help me get a clear picture of the flow of things.
Now as something of list maker this has never been a problem for me and whilst doing my regular monthly checks today it occurred to me that I've not blogged about how I'm doing with my condition.
Those who know me know that the last 5 years, since being formally diagnosed, have been a trial for me, and those around me.
There have been times where I've been going backwards rather than forward, where the darkness just wouldn't give way to even a shimmer of light and when the hill seemed too steep to climb.
Conversely there have also been times of unbridled triumph , where I basked in the light that sent to shadows scattering and when I've done nothing but gained momentum on my way down the other side of the hill.
Anyway today proved something of a milestone.
I had to attend quite a serious meeting at work today which involved me, several members of senior management and quite a large does of anxiety.
Now anxiety is something that I suffer with really bad. In the past it has been one of the main triggers for some of my worst episodes and up-turns in compulsive behavior(repetitive list writing, agonising over choices to name just two symptoms).
Anyway, over the last few days my daily anxiety levels have risen as the meeting approached but I've managed to keep it at bay. Yay! Even in the final hours leading up to the meeting I managed to keep my marbles in their bag, as it where.

  • by monitoring my behaviour and not allowing the beginnings of "faulty thinking" to bloom into full blown all encompassing internal crisis's.
  • by remembering to breath......slowly. Simple but easy to forget when flapping.
  • practicing mindfulness.
I want to talk a little bit about mindfulness, as it's been something of a revelation for me. At first I didn't get it. When I was first introduced to it a few years ago at group therapy I couldn't get a working mental image to allow me to remove me from my thoughts and view the process from a position of calm detachment. Then,about 18 months ago, I was having a series of sessions with a student therapist called Madelaine. The subject of mindfulness, and my struggle with it, came up and she suggested a simple mental image to use that, for one reason or another, has worked for me. The image is this:

Before you is a series of boxes. In to each box goes a thought as it occurs to you, without you analysing it - just recognising it was a thought and putting it in the box. Once a box has a thought in it, it goes on to a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt winds its way to a hatch at the far end of the space before you. Once the box containing the thought goes through the hatch it is gone, it cannot come back. Other thoughts upon the same subject or emotion may occur, they may be identical but they are new thoughts.

Using this scenario/mechanism/ritual/strategy (call it what you will) it is amazing how quickly I can "get a grip" and calm down, effectively clearing my head and then "starting again" from a mindset I choose rather than the one created by reaction to my faulty thoughts.

It's worth mentioning at this point that there are as many of these scenario's as there are people, anything that works for the individual is fine - but the one above works for me. :)

Anyway back to today. The meeting went well and resulted in a positive outcome which I didn't fully believe it would but it did. Thank the Gods. :)
Not so long ago a meeting like this would have caused panic attacks and days (and sleepless nights) of obsessively compulsive acts.

I would like to think that this may help another who, reading this at a dark time, may see that there is hope of getting on top of things.

So in terms of review, things are going well. Not every day is easy and not every day do I succeed. But the difference between a lapse and a relapse are huge and a lapse can be coped with. Using the above methods I have found a way of living my life the way I want to, not the way that my OCD drives me to live.

There is hope.
You can win.

Science and Magic.

Why does the existence of Science have to invalidate magic?
Just because some things that, in the past, have been explain by magical thinking have now been explained by science does not mean that it cancels it out. The way I look at it science and magic are part of the same thinking, and just because science cannot explain or measure some of the things possible by magic does not mean it does not exist. After all not so long ago (in terms of the existence of human kind) science said that the world was flat and that the Sun orbited the Earth not the other way round.
I'm not point scoring for either side here.
I believe in the qualities of both schools of thinking and have a world view that happily sits science and magic alongside each other. At times they compliment each other, other times they are at odds.

So just because you can't measure something with scientific equipment don't just dismiss it.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

UK General Election 2010 - Interesting information.

I know that there are many people in the UK who , on election day - 06/05/10, will not vote. They will justify their inaction by saying such things as "it makes no difference", "they're all the same" or "I'm not interesting in politics, it doesn't effect me" or something similar in that vien.

To these people I would like to make something known.

If, on election day, you attend your polling station and collect your ballot paper and, rather than making a deliberate mark in one of the boxes, do a nice scribble all over it, fold it up and post it into the ballot box - you're paper will be counted.


They are a PROTEST VOTE - a way of telling ALL the parties from the big 3 right down to the extremists that they do NOT speak for you, that they are not offering you the solutions you want and that things need to change!
Not voting tells them nothing and lets them do what they want.

If this years election is won by spoiled papers then it will really shake things up and will help start the ball rolling and get real change in this country.

I'm not going to try and tell you who to vote for but PLEASE vote or spoil you paper.


Friday, 9 April 2010

When life gives you lemons.....

Life's given me a lot to muse over since the start of the year. I won't go into too much detail but between the drastic changes in my family's domestic life and the emotional upheaval that came with it and the changes I have seen in the lives of my friends has made me realize a few things.

There is no plan.
This whole idea of there being some great big master plan to all "this" is a myth. Things happen because they do - cause and effect. The universe began and the ball keeps rolling from there on.

We are not defined by what happens to us.
We are not defined by what happens to us. We are defined by how we deal with what happens to us. How we react and deal with an event in our lives, even the smallest of things, is the important thing. By looking at life from this point of view you can make the best of even the worst situation (although this can take some time - distance and perspective also have a big part to play).

Things do sometimes work out for the best.
On occasion, when the things you "wanted" to happen don't and you have to "settle" for something else, things can work out better than you expected. The trick appears to me to let fate take you were it will.

Family is not defined by blood.
Whilst it is true that blood is thicker than water, the last few months have taught me that blood ties can often mean less than those that are formed through friendship. From my point of view, there are people that I consider to be in my "family" that are not blood relations to me and there are also those who are blood relations of me that I do not consider part of my "family". I suppose really in place of family I should use Clan but as we are geographically separated Clan doesn't always feel like it fits to me.

Growing old sucks.
Now I don't write this from the point of view of someone who is old (I'm only in my 30's) but from the point of view of someone who has watched people who I care about, and who cared about me, grow old (I'm talking 70's, 80's old here) and be ravaged by life, have their spirit drained and left without any of the things that they cherished and work damn hard to hold dear. I'm all for living a long time and experiencing life for all it is but there comes a point where life turns around and well and truly bites you.

So then there's a few of my conclusions from one of the most eventful 3 months of my life.....

Rock on people.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Scopolamine - SCARY STUFF

Scopolamine could possibly be one of the scariest drugs I have ever read about (and hope to never experience)........

VBS news have an article on it here.

Another informative article from www.biopsychiatry.com.

Basically Scopolamine suppresses the victims freewill and leaves then completely compliant with no memory of what they did/what happened once the stuff wears off.

Nasty, especially in the hands of the more sinister people of this world.

Be careful outhere people.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Why don't my glasses do this?

Saw this and thought....why don't my glasses do this? After all I went to Specsavers.lol.

The idea of augmented reality is really cool but the way I see it is there are two possible flaws with it:
a) there is still a hit and miss nature to mobile internet coverage - which they would definitely need to utilize to get augmented reality into mobile devices (well duh! G talk about stating the obvious)
b) the cost. Advances in technology are rarely driven by anything other than someones desire for profit (after all neither Apple, Microsoft or Intel [ other technology companies are available] are exactly charitable non-profit organisations are they) and that means that there will always be a hefty price tag on new tech. The more companies involved in getting the service to the user the more expense to the user. It's going to be a while before the bundle becomes enough for people start to look upon it as a convenience rather than a luxury.

All that said.....I WANT ONE!


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

It's been a while.....

Hello out there!

I know it's been a while since my last post 31/12/09 (seems like a lifetime ago) but I'm back and this is the beginning of a new surge in catherdingforbeginners activity.....(honest...no really...what do you mean I've said this before?!?!)

So then what shall I start with?
Well today the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the date for the next General Election.
On May 6th this year the nation will go to polls.
I'm not going to hammer on about it too much but I am going to say this.....

Please exercise your democratic right and vote
please vote responsibly (not for extremist, facist or communist parties).

Take care people.