Friday, 30 October 2009

My cape has creases - BOO! Hoo..

Tomorrow I will be missing Shabbat again, but this time to join in a different celebration. My friend's twin boys are turning two and were born on Halloween.

A party is being held for them at their Grandma's house way out in the country, with 20 local children in attendance. And I have been invited to stay.

Last year I attended but didn't dress up (although if I remember rightly, I wasn't well and looked like death-warmed-up as default) but this year I decided to get in to the spirit of things.

It didn't take long to find a few accessories to enhance my appearance - I bought a cape, a witches nose, some green and mouldy teeth, a giant spider and a witches hat - all for £6.20 from Wilkinson's. Bargain.

When I arrived home I dashed upstairs to try on the nose and the teeth. The nose is attached by very tight elastic (probably designed for a child) which bent the nose out of shape and left monstrous marks on my face in minutes. Hmm. I guess it was only 50p. So I picked my brains and decided (perhaps not too cleverly) to remove the elastic and stick it to my face using lingerie tape (or 'tit tape', to put it not so delicately). I am wondering how long it will take for the skin to grow back on the top of my nose and hope to be remotely photogenic by Christmas.

The teeth are a disaster. Make no bones about it, I cannot get them in my mouth. I have come to the conclusion that they are designed for someone with a flat face and gums made of steel. I spent a good ten minutes trying to force them on to my teeth - gagging and drooling profusely in the process - but could not get them to stay. At least they only cost 75p.

I unwrapped the cape and rather than it being polyester fabric, it is polyester plastic, and neatly creased in to squares. In hindsight I could have bought a job lot of bin liners from Wilko's for the same price (£1) and fashioned my own. But it will do. Maybe if I run it under hot water and stretch it at the same time, the creases will come out. Or maybe it will melt.

But the hat - red velvet covered in black lace - is a winner. I'll be the best witch in town.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Reticular Activation System, or Past Life?

Life is full of messages - we draw things towards us every day. We can either believe that the things we take note of are 'signs' from God, or in the scientific workings of the brain. I believe in both, but I also believe that the two work together.

There is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activation System (RAS). As far as my limited knowledge understands, the RAS pays attention to what you focus your intention on (and this is where affirmations and visualisations come in).
The RAS is the reason why, when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you see dozens of them out on the road of the same make and colour, where before you thought they were quite rare.
Or if you regularly visualise seeing coins on the pavement, you start to notice them in the street.
Or, if you close your eyes and focus on the colour red, for example, when you open your eyes and look around the room every red object will appear to leap out at you.

It's quite clever.

But for me, there is still something that manifests these things for you to notice. All the same, it is so easy to read too much in to one thing and misunderstand the messages, or see a connection where there is not.

On the last day of Rosh Hashannah in New York, I had the best part of a day to kill before catching my flight. I was chatting to a couple I had never met before and they suggested the Titanic exhibition at the Discovery Museum, which was just up the road. So that is what I did.

I spent the best part of 3 hours looking at items dug up from the sea bed, reading histories of passengers and their tales of survival or loss, and wandering through reconstructions of the different classes of cabins, dining rooms and smoking rooms. It was a fascinating exhibit.

My Dad once mentioned that my great grandmother planned to emigrate to America, but when the Titanic sank, she changed her mind. And that, as far as I was concerned, was my only connection with the story.

A couple of weeks after this, an entire Kabbalah class was spent in a workshop about Greatness, which involved justifying to the class why you deserved to be in the last seat of the last lifeboat... of the sinking Titanic.

Then at the beginning of this week I wandered with a friend to buy a postcard from a tiny souvenir shop in Lancaster Gate and whilst she was queuing inside, I had a look at a variety of fridge magnets on a board outside. Most of them were retro but modern and the first one to catch my eye said "I can only please one person a day. Today isn't your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either" which made me giggle. But then I noticed that at least a tenth of these magnets were pictures of the Titanic. There it was again. But there were no other references to the Titanic in any other part of the shop - no postcards, posters, models or mugs - just these magnets on the one board I had stopped at.

Then when I got home, I started to have one last read through some old love letters before consigning to the recycle bin and in the last one I read, my ex spent an entire paragraph saying how much he had enjoyed watching Titanic with me for the second time...

And finally last night I randomly changed channels on the TV and landed on BBC Four... which was showing a documentary on Ocean Liners. And okay, I had missed any mention of the Titanic, but they were covering another vessel built by the White Star line.

So now I am curious. Do I have a past life connection with the Titanic? Was I on that ship? Was I a man throwing women and children behind me as I scrabbled for the last seat in the life boat? Or did I freeze in the waters when the ship went down?

Yes, I think there could be a connection... after all, I have a complete dislike for swimming or sailing across large expanses of water. It might explain why I totally freaked out when sailing a Topper across Poole Harbour aged 13. And I seriously do not like the cold. Oh it all makes so much's all starting to come together now....

But rather than create my own past lives from my own (rather over-active, it has to be said) imagination, next week I will have the opportunity to find out. I am booked in for a Kabbalistic Astrology reading. The woman giving the reading does not pull any punches - many students leave the room in a how could she possibly know that about me? daze. If you are lazy in this life, or a murderer in the last, she will deliver that information direct and without flinching.

And so I am going to ask. I can picture the conversation now:
Me: "Is there any connection between me and the Titanic?"
Reader: "I don't see it"
Me: "So what about large ocean liners?"
Reader: "No big boats"
Me: "What about little boats? Or large expanses of ocean?"
Reader: "I'm not getting that either"
Me: "Okay, so how about swimming or drowning?"
Reader: "No"
Me: "Paddling Pools?"
Reader: "No"
Me: "Cold baths?"
Reader: "Hasn't everybody?"
Me: "I guess so"
Reader: "So let's move on then. In your most recent past life you were murdered for asking too many stupid questions..."

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wasp goin' on?

As I was sorting through some of the memorabilia from years gone by the night before last, I heard a buzzing noise. My first thought was that it was some kind of fly larvae living in one of the boxes I had brought down from the loft, which was now resurrected by the warmth of my bedroom.

This would be a plausible conclusion, were my house in any way warm, but most of the time I need to take clothes off when I leave the house.

When I went to bed I heard the buzzing again and traced the sound to my lampshade. I bought the lampshade at a night market in Luang Prabang, Laos. It was made by winding coloured string round a balloon covered in glue (Gloy gum, by the looks of it - ah, I remember peeling this off the desks at school). Once the glue is dry the balloon is popped and removed and what remains is a balloon shaped net of string.

At the night market the shades lit up the stalls with bright bubbles of colour. In Bishop's Stortford they are somehow less spectacular and more transparent than I had hoped. I can see the bulb clearly and when I peered in the direction of the buzzing sound I could also see a wasp. I know! A wasp! At the end of October - what is that about?

So I know I said that I used to have a problem with wasps but now was completely calm about their presence, but when I made that statement I was not faced with the prospect of spending the night with one. Because although it appeared to have difficulty finding the top of the shade, I just knew that as soon as the light was out it would make a beeline (or should that be a wasp-line) for my ears and eat my brain. And I could really do without inhaling it and waking up with anaphylactic shock (even if it did save me money on lip plumpers).

So I set off downstairs to fetch a very large glass and a sturdy takeaway leaflet to place over the top. At first I thought the plan would be to open the window, shake the wasp in to the glass, cover with the leaflet and empty out in to the street. This proved to be logistically tricky and served to infuriate the wasp somewhat, which had been stoked back to full speed by the heat of the bulb. Not only that, but I couldn't open the window for love nor money. It simply wouldn't shift - the decorator had painted it shut.

To avoid giving myself a hernia, I decided to take down the lampshade, cover the top of the shade with the leaflet and empty the wasp out of the back door (which thankfully hadn't been painted shut).

But the wasp did not seem to want to leave his new little string home, so I hung the lampshade outside on the back door handle. I felt a little bit guilty leaving him out in the cold, consigning him to a slow death, but the only alternative would have been to stamp on my lampshade and I'm sorry, but I have better things to do with my time than picking sticky wasp pieces from a net of glued string.

Yesterday morning I stuck my head around the door to fetch the lampshade, expecting to find a dead wasp lying at the bottom. But no - he was still alive and now on the outside of the lampshade, completing his pre-flight checks so that he could join his friends.

So I am guessing that the wasp was living in my loft and came down when the hatch was open. I am also guessing that he does not live on his own. There are more of them nestled in amongst the boxes and the insulation, aren't there. Thousands, perhaps.

Oh good. So... when do they go in to hibernation, exactly? Not that I am afraid, or anything...

Monday, 26 October 2009

Memories and Reminders

I'm posting this now because I won't get a chance tomorrow. Busy girl, you see.

This morning my plan was to grab a few boxes from the loft and re-arrange all of the items in to smaller boxes for a car boot sale. And in doing so, reclaim my living room. And whilst I was wobbling about on an unstable ladder, I thought, I may as well go through the two boxes in storage so that I know exactly what I will be taking with me when I move.

The first box contained items that I can sell, with a few surprising additions.

When I tried to lift the second box I bizarrely lost all of my energy. My arms went limp and my legs started to shake. It was like an attack of Vertigo. What was in this box?

My past. My past was in this box.

Letters and diaries from years gone by - and not so very happy years at that. Transfixed, I lifted out the contents and flicked through them, reading through my thoughts from all of those years ago, and seeing the truth that lay underneath them, unexpressed.

I plummeted in to a head-space I wasn't expecting, and rang a friend for support. The energy of the week, she told me, was to make a connection with the person we are meant to be. Unearthing the diaries, she said, was designed for this week so that I could see the challenges I have faced in the past and handle them differently today, thus transforming my nature.

Later in the evening - having rather pathetically only managed to sort my CDs in to alphabetical order - I decided to go through the box, read the diaries and sort the contents.

And so I did. The similarities between then and now were fairly profound. There were three diaries. In the first one I spent most of the time alternating between the lie of "quite a good day today" and the truth of "rang in sick". I was off sick an awful lot. In the second diary I was splitting up with my fiancé, complaining of having no money and not knowing where I was going to live, and in the third I was trying to organise my first trip round the world, which involved selling a house-full of possessions.

I drew comfort from the knowledge that every time I had written "I just don't know what I am going to do" or "I just don't see how this is going to work out" or "I can't imagine anything good ever happening", two months later my situation had changed for the better and it had sorted itself out.

Feeling much better, I decided to go through a couple of carrier bags of old letters with the aim of tidying them up. The first bag I opened actually belonged to the ex I went travelling with and contained every single piece of paper he had collected for the 11 month duration of our trip. I started to rifle through receipts, stamps, information sheets, flyers of events we never attended, adverts for guest houses we never stayed at, hand drawn maps of places we never visited - all of them folded up in to the tiniest possible size, all of them covered in the dust of the ages. Why did he keep this crap? I unfolded every piece and rolling my eyebrows, made three piles - recycle, shred, throw away.

Then I opened the next bag and found every single piece of paper that I had collected for the 11 month duration of our trip - again, places we never stayed, receipts, information sheets. But at least it was not folded quite so small.

I was very well behaved and kept very little. I think my plan had been to use all of the receipts and maps and names of guest houses and restaurants in a novel I planned to write, just to add that little bit of reality. The book had a great storyline, but if I ever actually get down to writing it then I can manage without the tat.

For some reason we had kept an awful lot of international phone cards - no idea why - and 3 business cards for the Piercing World studio on Venice Beach in L.A. where noses and eyebrows were made sore for the flight home.

I counted 33 handwritten letters, and 9 Birthday and Christmas cards, sent halfway round the world by my closest friends and family, and a postcard I had written to my Granny but never sent, upon receiving the news that she had died just after Christmas.

One of the items which took me most by surprise was a folded piece of A4with a child's felt-tip drawing inside and it took me a while to register. And then I remembered. On my 26th birthday we were staying in a tent pitched in a hostel garden in the fruit growing region of Keri Keri. Keri Keri is somewhere along the toe of the North Island of New Zealand and well out of reach of Auckland's Poste Restante. So I was weeks away from collecting my cards from home.

I spent the day in a freezing cold field pruning mandarin trees with a blunt pair of loppers, instructed by a rather terse and hardy farmer's wife. Only two of us were in the field - she started at one end and I at the other. At the end of the day, I revealed that it was my birthday, and that it had probably been the most unusual birthday I'd ever had.

The next morning she handed me the piece of paper and said "I told my five year old daughter that it was your birthday and she thought it was sad that you didn't have a birthday cake. So she drew you one" It made my day.

Out of all of the random pieces of paper in my box, I am keeping hold of this one.

Maths in the morning

I need more sleep. Or I need to be able to survive on less sleep. Or I just need to be able to fall asleep.

I'm suffering from the insomnia of an overactive mind and not enough exercise during the day. Note to Self: Exercise every day until you are too tired to think, and then go to bed. The only issue with that statement is that my overactive Gemini brain takes a lot to wear down. Oh, the thinking that fires up when my head hits the pillow - all of it worthless.

My head was so active on Friday night that I was awake until 3am. I forced myself to get up for Shabbat, and spent Saturday evening yawning and slobbed out in front of the TV. I dragged myself up the stairs at 11pm, and remembered that the clocks were due to go back, so effectively it was only 10pm. I switched off the alarm and planned a long lie-in.

Sunday morning I opened my eyes feeling fairly awake and looked at the clock. I felt fairly refreshed and expected it to be at least half past eight. It was 5:30 am. Great.

I am usually one of those irritating people who like to be on time for everything, if not early - and so I am in the habit of setting all of my clocks and watches five minutes fast. I'm not sure how this works, but there seems to be some comfort in looking at the time and then realising I have an extra five minutes. It feels like a psychological reprieve from having to do anything.

The alarm clock in my bedroom was set five minutes ahead, but runs fast. Five minutes turned in to six, six in to eight... and now the time is eighteen minutes fast. I know that I need to change it, but cannot remember the combination of buttons to press. So last night I adjusted the alarm to go off at 7:16 which equates to the real time of 5:58am.

And then I went to bed and my mind kicked off again, juggling a thousand random thoughts and leaping from one subject to another.

The alarm went off this morning and I turned it off and went back to sleep. When I woke up the clock said 8:35am. Aaaargh! Overslept again!

Oh no, hang on a minute, take off an hour... 7:35...... take off another 18 minutes.... no, wait, take away ten... 7:25... take off eight..... errrrmmm..... no, go back to 7:35 and take off 20... 7:15.... and add two.... 7:17am. Oh, that's not so bad.

This is all too much first thing in the morning. I think I'll invest a little time today working out how to reset the time on my alarm clock....

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Two Paths

I have reached a state of blogging confusion, but confusion is always a good thing. When you are in a state of confusion it means that you are starting to question - that you no longer accept everything as it was and that you are no longer the same as you once were. It also means that something new is potentially trying to come in.

Being one of the most mentally over-active people on the planet, it is not easy for me to let go and allow the answers to come to me. I have to not only know the answer, but understand every possible path to every possible solution with all of the potential pros and cons along the way. In this sense I am my own worst enemy.

Almost a year ago I started two blogs. One was "Connecting to the Ninety Nine Percent" which was intended to track my experiences with Kabbalah and its associated tools and connections. The second was this blog - Life in the One Percent - which was to provide space for me to just be me, warts and all (p.s. I've never had warts - just the occasional verruca. Thanks, local swimming pool). It was intended to be amusing, not inspiring. The two blogs were meant to complement each other showing different sides of my life.

For whatever reason, the two blogs have merged in to this one and perhaps this means that more of my life revolves around spirituality than it did before which is a good thing.

But every now and again I want to write something distinctly un-spiritual. Something totally shallow, or amusing but bitchy. And it just doesn't seem to fit on this blog. Or perhaps this is a sign that I still worry too much what other people think.

On a completely different subject, I watched Episode One of Star Wars last night: The Phantom Menace. I have been a lover of Star Wars since being taken to see the original Star Wars film at the Franklin D.Roosevelt theatre somewhere in New York state when I was seven years old. What I didn't realise at the time was that there was such a close correlation between The Force and the Laws of the Universe.

My connection with Yoda was nothing more than the ability to do an impressive impersonation of him at the mere mention of The Force. In fact, there were periods of my life where this provided such a source of amusement that entire conversations backwards spoken, they were.

But last night I found myself writing down quotes that could potentially be used in future workshops - Yoda's messages are far deeper than they first appear. He touches on subjects such as Fear, Certainty, Belief and the limitations of the mind. It's a whole new way to watch the films - the force of the Jedi against the Dark Side compares easily with the Light vs. The Ego.

Take for instance his conversation with Anakin Skywalker at the Jedi Council:
"Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to Suffering" How true.

Even more profound is the connection between belief and success, as shown in this wonderful clip. See if you can spot the wisdom...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Wrappers and Refunds

After some heavy Internet research yesterday, I had a few surprises.

The first was that the World Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft wasn't listed at £268. It was £168.
The second was that there were a couple of other first editions for sale for around £40.
The third was that when I double checked, mine was not a first edition (1981) but a 1985 edition reprinted in 1987. My love of fast aircraft (check out the F4 Phantom! Oo I do love a nice Harrier!) went on for much longer than I thought.

So the book is heading to the car boot sale and maybe an enthusiastic war veteran will shell out (shell out - geddit?) a tenner.

If I did sell my soul to the Devil for this, I'm sorry, but I want a refund.

I then started to research the value of my collection of Queen (the band, not the Monarch) books and received another surprise. One of them is fairly rare and worth at least £38.

I lost sleep last night whilst my monkey mind tried to work through the logistics of moving in such a short space of time, what possessions I would be left with and the possibility of finding a large unfurnished room available for the price that I wanted.

After Shabbat today, I went to lunch with a girl from Mexico, smoke streaming out of my ears from the worn out logistical cogs in my head. "It's just feels too hard" I lamented "I just don't see how it can happen"

This girl is in her early twenties but she is just so wise. I feel very old and stupid by comparison. Oh, and did I mention that she is beautiful but totally sweet and adorable too? Don't you just hate it when that happens?

She passed on a message that her teacher in Mexico used to repeat. Every good thing that comes to us is concealed in a challenge. Think of it as a gift in a wrapper. We cannot see the gift until we work through the wrappers. The bigger the fulfilment, the more wrappers there are to remove - the more challenges there are to face.

So if ever you feel as though there are too many challenges and that you will never achieve your goal... keep working at it, because the gift is going to be huge.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Making a deal with the Devil

Actually, not one Devil, but possibly two. Perhaps this post should be entitled "Making a deal with the Devil about making a deal with the Devil"

Although we all know that the Devil doesn't actually exist, don't we? The Devil "himself" is a creation of man. Our own worst enemy is not a red beast with horns and a pointy tail, but the little voice inside that we fight with every day, which knows all of our fears and intricately presses all of our buttons from the moment we awake to the moment we fall asleep.

If there were a real Devil then I would be in deep sh*t. When I was twelve, my best friend and I created a contract which read "In return for wealth and power, I give my soul to thee". After cutting our thumbs with a pencil sharpener blade, we used a dirty fountain pen to sign it in our own blood. We signed our souls to the Devil. And then walked around for the next few weeks pretending to be witches.

If I ever get wealthy or powerful, I'll let you know. Apart from a dream that there was a man with a goat's head standing in my bedroom, nothing happened and the riches have taken a little too long to arrive, in my humble opinion.

Yesterday's Devil was my Business Advisor. Whilst trying to explain away my current situation and lack of focus, I bemoaned that what I really needed was for someone to keep me accountable and focused every few days - an Accountability Buddy. It's all very well having a coach to discuss Goals every fortnight, but in the interim it is easy to lose momentum.

Instead of saying "Good Luck with that", he held his pen to my Action sheet and said "Okay, so what do you want to get done before our next meeting?"

Oh Crap. You mean you actually want me to commit to doing something productive?

The first item on the list was contacting the MD and sorting out this contract one way or another. It's holding me back. I need to know either way whether this is going to go ahead. The next three items were all related to moving house and selling items and I actually committed to telling the Lettings Agency that I was moving out in the next two weeks as I had originally planned. I felt ever-so-slightly sick when he wrote this one down.

And my forfeit? My Business Advisor has a penchant for kitchen gadgets. During our meeting I mentioned that I have a set of Japanese ice-hardened steel kitchen knives, apparently worth $400 which I bought on eBay for £25 and want to keep. If I don't complete all of the items on the list, he wants the knives.

Double Crap. Why did I open my big mouth?

Yesterday morning I decided to see if I could find an ISBN number for the World Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft book and ran a search in Google. There is one for sale on Amazon in the same condition (actually without the dust jacket - although the dust jacket on mine has seen better days) and it is listed for £268.... Who would have thought that when I was 12 I would have bought a book which which would bring me so much wealth nearly 30 years later.

Anyone would think I signed my soul to the Devil, or something....

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Leaving my house of treasures

I spent yesterday evening opening boxes in the back room. Boxes marked 'Car Boot' which have not been opened for two and half years. There were things tucked away that I forgot I ever had and some I thought I had thrown out years ago. With the exception of a decorative beaded candle holder which I momentarily visualised sitting next to the fireplace, I felt no attachment or emotion to any of the items in the boxes. In fact, I was mentally adding items to the boxes as I went along.

Still the question remains as to how to get rid of all of this stuff without hiring a dumper truck.

I have listed a few books on - where you can sell books for £3 and buy them for £3.75. The £3 payment includes the cost of postage and packing, but with larger paperbacks they allow you to add on a little extra to cover the costs. And this would be fine, except for there being 5 other people on the site all trying to sell the same book and deciding to add no extra costs at all.

I also un-turfed my Military Encyclopedia - an enormous volume bought from RAF Alconbury 28 years ago. I'm not particularly keen to sell this for £3 plus postage, but even if I was, there is not an ISBN number to be found anywhere. I wonder what it's worth?

I have to leave the house twice today. And not only does this mean interrupting the process of sorting all of my possessions, it also means that my Tea Drinking Habit is severely disrupted.

Oh I do like a nice cup of tea.

Disclaimer: I look and sound nothing like Sam Brown. And I don't drink my tea standing in a swimming pool either.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Sticky When Wet

Hi, Kabbalah Rookie here, typing with full appreciation on my psychic laptop.

I still haven't found my photo CD, although truth be told I haven't yet looked in all of the places it could be. It is funny how the mind plays tricks. The moment I run out of ideas, my brain concocts a crystal image of exactly where I saw it last.
"It's in the orange box in the trunk with the printed photos. I can see it."
"It's on the bottom shelf of the TV cabinet in amongst the DVDs"
"It's in the box on the bookshelf with all of your travel memorabilia"
"It's in the back room in an old laptop bag in a pocket that you haven't already checked."
"It's slipped behind the couch"
"It's under your bed"
"It's in the slow cooker"

Each time I am absolutely certain that this is where it could be, and each time I draw a blank and my brain says "Don't be pissed with me. I'm only trying to help. Oo! I know where it is!"

I suspect that I threw the disc out by accident - it was unmarked (which wasn't an issue when I was carrying a single rucksack around South East Asia) and in a plastic wallet.
The thing is that I can remember viewing the whole disc on a computer screen and I am pretty sure that I was sitting in this house when I did. Perhaps the photos are misfiled on my old laptop and I need to search for every .jpg on the hard drive to find them. When I get ten days free to run the search, I'll let you know.

Today there is less absence of heat, mainly due to there being less absence of rain. So this wouldn't be a good day for painting a front door. As it turns out, neither was yesterday.

When the decorator left yesterday at around 4pm, he lightly touched the paintwork and advised me to give it another hour so that it was touch dry. I propped the door so that it was virtually closed but not touching the frame. My cunning plan was to minimise the number of fingers lost through hypothermia during this time.

At 5pm, I touched the edge of the door. Still sticky.
At 6pm, I touched the edge of the door a second time. Still as sticky as before.
At 7:30 pm I returned a third time. There was a slight improvement but not enough to close the door against the frame.

At 9pm I returned a fourth time, and lightly dabbed the edge of the door with one of my remaining fingers. The damn thing was still just as tacky as before. And then it dawned on me - the weather was too cold for the paint to dry.

Wishing that I had realised this when I had more fingers, I closed the door as lightly as I could, put the heating on and took up my usual position on top of the radiators for an hour or so. I wonder if they make radiator hammocks for people? I'm sure there's a market for that.

This morning I tried to open the front door and it was well and truly stuck. The only way that I could get any purchase was by sticking my hand through the letter box and giving it some welly, at which point the door opened with a large slurping sound, taking half of the insulating strip with it. Oh good.

Thank heavens for cold weather. If the paint had actually dried at all during the night then I would never have been able to peel off the insulating strip. It is still as sticky as fly-paper, and lies in wait to collect more fingerprints until spring arrives.

The unsuspecting postman is next.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Yesterday I sat in the house getting colder and colder. As Victorian Terraces go, this one is not warm. Single glazed sash windows and a lack of insulation mean that at times I actually need to sit on the radiators in order to feel any heat. I might as well have the bloody door open.

This morning I was reminded by Braja that there is no such thing as 'cold'. Cold is just an absence of heat. This afternoon I am learning that yesterday's absence of heat is nothing compared to today's absence of heat. In addition to a bright, bitter and breezy day, (absent of rain) the decorator has turned up to finish painting the exterior woodwork, which means that the front door is going to be open for the next 3 hours lest I close it before the paint dries and accidentally weld myself in to the house. I guess that's one way to stop the draft.

Since the painter finished painting the bedroom window, one more roof tile appears to be absent from my roof. Unless a random passer-by casually donated a roof tile to my front garden when my back was turned, which seems unlikely.

Whilst looking through my travel photos yesterday, I noticed that there were quite a few missing from Luang Prabang in Laos and I assumed that these were either on my external drive and I hadn't yet transferred them across, or that they were on my old laptop. I can kind of remember what was on the CD - it contained my trip up Mount Phu Si with some atmospheric views and a Buddha for every day of the week. Not that I need any more pictures of Buddha in my photo collection, but all the same - what else am I missing?

I hooked up my external drive and they were nowhere to be found. So I dug out my old and dusty Compaq Pro and pressed the On button. When I bought my new laptop I was blown away by the speed of response. A friend of mine said "You'll soon get used to it and start taking it for granted" which I fervently denied. How could I possibly get used to something that operates at such a speed that I could almost suspect it was psychic?

He was right, of course. Lately my laptop speed seems to be more mundane and takes a great deal of time to boot up, and it is so easy to take this for granted. Humans are very good at adapting, it has to be said. We are also very good at surviving. And how on earth I didn't take my own life whilst waiting for my old laptop to open a simple file, I will never know. I wouldn't say it was slow, but if my new laptop is a mind-reader, this one is lying on its back attached to lots of wires and machines that go 'beep'.

The fact that it won't recognise my external drive irritated me at first, until after much searching I realised that the photos I was looking for weren't on my old laptop either. And this realisation makes me feel a bit sick, because I cannot find the CDs anywhere in the house. 700Mb of my memory has been transferred to the recycle bin.

I'm not going to mark them as absent just yet. Just that my knowledge of their presence is still waiting to be revealed...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Just Monkeying Around

I've had a couple of stupidly late nights over the weekend and my clock is all out of sorts. Without jet-lag, I am back on American time.

I'm still waiting for the subliminal messages to kick in, although when I was in the shower I did start to feel unusually enthusiastic about my day ahead, so that's good. Now all I have to do is transfer that enthusiasm to my life outside of the shower and we would be getting somewhere.

I also had a bit of strange experience in the Supermarket yesterday. Every week I plan what I want to buy and make a list, excluding chocolate and desserts which I consider a foregone conclusion and which are added to my basket on automatic pilot before I hit the checkouts. But yesterday I reached the 'treat-buying' phase and couldn't think of anything I fancied. Maltesers? hmmm..No. Minstrels? ... Noooo... Strawberry Trifle?.... Tiramisu? None of them appealed. I felt like a new person, walking home with two bags of healthy food. Perhaps this is the New Me, I thought. And then I made a cup of tea and crammed 4 chocolate digestives in to my mouth, sideways.

Oh well, little steps and all that, I said, spitting crumbs.

I keep finding things to do which highlight my need to hang on to things. I have a pile of Good Food magazines which can go to a local waiting room... but perhaps I ought to read through them first and scan in any recipes that I may wish to cook at any point in my adult life, because they are bound to be the only recipes that are not listed in any form on the Internet.

I have a pile of cookery books in the kitchen that I haven't opened for years, but I still want to hang on to them too. Just in case.

Surely if I am not using these things, I should just get rid of them? Or am I keeping hold of them knowing that I am bound to need them the second I no longer have them...? There is a balance between being dragged down by too many possessions, and not wanting to relinquish things that I could possibly need which would cost me to replace. Oh where is that fine line?

At least I have my memories. Last night I trawled through folder upon folder of photos on my laptop, merrily reflecting on my experiences travelling through South East Asia in 2007. There are a disappointing lack of sunsets, lots of pictures of rice fields in the rain, temples of every size and form, and more Buddhas than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and this:

Captions, anyone?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

New Toys

Let's get something straight - when my friend moved office last week, I was more than rewarded for my efforts. She was determined to only pack what she really needed and let a lot of possessions go, and I was there like a vulture, picking things up and saying "Are you seriously not taking this?!" At which point she would say "I don't need it. But you can have it if you want".

Whilst we were waiting for the van, I spotted a toy that I'd had my eye on for years. 32 years to be precise. When I was seven, we lived in America for six months, and the boy next door had one. I don't even know what it is called - some kind of gyro toy - but I am sure that he used to hide it from me because once I got hold of the damned thing and started whirring the wheel up and down, back and forth, playtime was strictly over.

So I sat in my friends office and started to whirl the little wheel up and down, back and forth, whilst dropping some very subtle hints like "Oh I have wanted one of these since I was a small child. I love these things. I could play with this all day" until she said "Well, please take it" (to which I replied rather unconvincingly "Oh no I couldn't possibly...I'll never do anything else with my life" whilst keeping a very firm grip on the handle). Her response was "You're a Gemini. You'll get bored". She knows me so well.

I was barely aware of anything else going on around me as I watched the wheel go up and down, over and under, back and forth. Totally hypnotised, I made it go fast... then I slowed it right down then fast again. Faster. And back the other way. And then sl-o-o-o-w...... One of the girls in the office said "Michael was playing with that the other day for the entire time he was here. It drove me crazy" so I put it away in the bag of pilfered items. After about another ten minutes.

It makes a sound all of its own. Somewhere between a knife being sharpened on steel and the electricity running through an overhead cable. Or a couple of magnets running back and forth on a wire frame. The motion of the thing is addictive. Now that I have got it home, I have realised that it is just as much fun to play with whilst watching the TV. I can control the speed and the direction out of the corner of my eye. I cannot see myself getting bored of this thing.

I hope that there is space for my TV in my room when I move in to a shared house, otherwise one of my new housemates is surely going to punch me in the face.

The other new toy that I have is less obtrusive to others. After reading some fabulous testimonials, I bought a program that plays subliminal messages on your computer. It comes with a bunch of scripts containing positive phrases which flash up on your screen. You can select which scripts you want to use, edit them or create your own. Then you leave it running whilst you are working on your PC and your subconscious picks up the messages as you work.

I need to be mindful when sharing my screen with men, although this could be fun. Especially if I am running the "Man Magnet" program...

I spoke to my sister in the early hours of the morning. I told her about my new toys.
"Subliminal messaging?" she hooted " how do you know if the program is running...?"

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Order from Chaos

This morning I am sitting at my laptop instead of attending Shabbat. I overslept.

I can make all of the excuses in the world, but at the end of the day it was my choice not to rush in to London and hear the lecture and the Torah reading. What I do know is that once the decision is made, the best plan is to let go any feelings of guilt, because guilt is not a positive energy. Guilt will only serve to block the Light. So I decided to put my day in to action instead of wasting it, and I have a long list of things to do - all of which I will enjoy. Dammit.

Whilst sitting on my bed with my umpteenth cup of tea, my eyes fell on my deck of cards for the 72 Names of God, and I was reminded of Thursday night's Kabbalah 2 class. It was a question and answer session and in the last ten minutes, one of my students asked the question "Where did the 72 Names of God come from and who discovered what each name meant?"

The 72 Names of God are 72 different combinations of three Hebrew letters, and each of them has a specific (and powerful) meditative quality. Either the entire chart of Names can be scanned, or an individual Name can be picked depending on the issue in your life. So, for example, if you have issues with finance, you can meditate on Name number 45: The Power of Prosperity - either with the intention of connecting to abundance, or by asking for assistance on where your abundance may be blocked (i.e 'what do I need to change to receive abundance in my life?').

Prior to the creation of the commercialised package of the 72 Names of God book and the card deck, the energy behind each Name was already in existence but unknown by the author, Yehuda Berg. And so he started the long process of his own research so that this information could be shared. After a period of time, he had all but two of the Names defined and could not find their meaning no matter how hard he looked or how hard he tried. His father, Rav Berg, knew their meaning but advised that Yehuda had to find this information for himself - it was part of his process.

Eventually after striving so hard to discover this information, Yehuda put the project to one side. He had done as much as he could and came to realise that this information could not be forced, so with much reluctance, he let go.

Almost a year later he was in a bookshop and out of the corner of his eye he spotted a book which was unlike any other - it seemed to stand out from the rest. When he opened the book he found the answers to the two remaining Names - one of which was Name number 58: 'Letting Go'.

We asked what the other Name was, but our teacher didn't know. One of the students said "So if we meditate on what the other Name was, and you ask Yehuda, perhaps we can compare next week"

Perhaps. Or perhaps we can just let go of our need to know.

So anyway, this morning I decided to shuffle the deck, ask for a message and meditate on a randomly selected card. I had a moment of silence and after shuffling the deck I laid the cards out on the bed, then messed them around a bit more. They were well and truly shuffled. The card I selected was 26. Order from Chaos. The meditation for this Name reads "I know that harmony always underlies chaos and with this Name, balance and serenity are restored in the seven days of the week. Order emerges from chaos. Not only will my toast not fall on the buttered side, it won't fall at all!"

The card feels appropriate. There are so many changes in progress that sometimes it is hard to see the wood for the trees. Where will I live? Who will I live with? How will I sell all of this stuff? Where do I focus my effort with my business? How is any of this going to sort itself out?
Added to this, there is the unexpected challenge of a new teacher. Out of all of the teachers at the centre, I felt blessed for having mine. I felt an instant connection with his energy that I cannot imagine with any of the other teachers. I don't want to start again with someone else. Yes, yes, theoretically I know that everything happens for a reason, but in reality my arms are folded and my bottom lip is out. I don't want a new teacher. I want my teacher.

With everything else going on in my life, it felt like one more change that I really don't need. But despite this, I still know that everything is going to sort itself out. I have a new soul, and my new soul needs a new teacher to take me to the next level. I need a new and different energy to prod my brain for new questions that need to be answered. My reluctance to change is a natural reaction - it is based on fear. And, oh, how many times do I need to repeat this? Fear is an Illusion.

After meditating on this Name, I gathered up the cards from the bed, randomly placing the Order from Chaos in amongst the others, and squeezed the deck back in to the box. And then a thought occurred to me - I wonder if I could pick the 'missing' Name that Yehuda was unable to find?

I removed the cards from the box a second time and silently shuffled the deck several times over, repeating the phrase Yehuda's card in my head. Then I spread the cards out in a long line and picked another card at random. The card I picked?

Name No. 26.... Order from Chaos...

I think that someone is trying to make a point...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Change and Tears

Yesterday was a long day.

At 4:45am my alarm clock filled the room with Radio 2 and without any hesitation I leaped out of bed and headed down to London for the Business Gym. It's strange how on most mornings I require 2 hours of radio, 2 cups of tea and a crow-bar to get me in to the shower, but give me an opportunity to receive some Light and I'm awake.

Following the Business Gym seminar, I spoke to a friend and asked whether there was any space for me in her office for the day. Possibly, she replied, If we're still in it. I knew that her business had suffered a downturn in trade, but things were worse than I had realised. She made a phone call and confirmed that they had at least until the end of the week, so I was welcome to turn up whenever I wanted.

When I arrived at her office early afternoon, things had drastically changed. They changed their minds, she said, we have to be out of here by 5pm. So I spent two hours packing boxes with files, folders, books, printers, headsets and stationery, and waiting for the van to arrive.

This is what I admire about my friend, despite the embarrassment of being turfed out at a moment's notice for non-payment of rent, she was remarkably calm. She understands that although this looks and feels pretty bad on the surface, that there is an underlying reason for everything - that everything in the Universe is unfolding as it should. Where others might be losing their heads, she understands that something new is coming in.

She can see beyond the immediate 'chaos' and know that there is a very good reason for it. I have absolute certainty that in 3 - 6 months time (and maybe sooner), she will look back from her fabulous new life and be able to join all of the dots. I care about her feelings at this moment and at the same time am very excited for her - I just know that something great is coming.

I am so lucky to have so many friends who see life in this way. If you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, I am blessed by the company I keep.

Then this afternoon I received a message from my teacher to say that he and his wife have decided to stay in Israel for the foreseeable future. They were only meant to be away for 4 weeks.

Heartbroken is not the word, but it's close. I felt as though we had a rapport right from the start, but in addition to liking his personality, he was someone who has helped me grow so much over the past 9 months, and someone I was learning to open up with and most importantly listen to. I was only just starting to get the message. I wasn't planning on starting from scratch with a new teacher. I feel as though I am losing a dear friend and on top of everything else, he has a way of expressing his humour that has everyone in fits of laughter. He's just a really nice guy to have around and I will miss him dearly. His wife also worked at the centre and I love her to bits too. Why do the people who mean the most to me have to leave? Why now?

This is a New Year. All change. Despite my sadness I trust that this is all for a reason. The Light wants to bring me new things - a new teacher. And it is only in a few month's time that I will be able to look back, and join the dots....

Through my tears, I just know that something great is coming.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Fear IS Illusion - Told You So

The only reason I repeat that fear is an illusion is to remind myself.

I have been an anxious person for as long as I can remember. It is in my nature to chew over every future possibility of any action and get stuck on being so totally prepared for all the logical outcomes that I end up doing nothing except wringing my hands or pacing the room. Or blogging as an excuse for being 'busy', of course.

I'm sure that logically if I really started taking action on selling everything in my house that I needed to clear, that six weeks would be more than enough time. But instead I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of different items that I need to shift, worried that I won't find the best opportunity to get the most money for them and too hung up on the Big What Ifs: What if it comes to moving day and I still have too much stuff? What if I give my month's notice and I cannot find the 'right' place to stay?

Too many questions: Will I have enough space to take my TV? If so, do I keep the cabinet? If I don't keep the cabinet then when do I sell the cabinet? When do I stop cooking meals in bulk so that I can defrost the fridge-freezer in the back room? How long will that take to sell? When do I sell my saucepans?

Of course, added to this is the total and utter inconvenience of the process of moving - packing everything in to boxes, eating out of packets, arranging the forwarding of mail, booking the van. Oh, and finding a place to live too. Minor detail.

You can see how much I get stuck in the present or the past, rather than remembering the benefits that will come from all of this effort in the future...

Underlying this hand-wringing exercise is the deafening silence from the MD, who had yet to respond to my email. Logically I feel quite calm about the whole situation. Physically I am a mess, jumping involuntarily every time a new email notification comes through or every time the phone rings. I have been feeling for the past couple of days as though I am about to walk in to an important interview and I am sure that is not healthy. Of course it's not healthy. Or necessary.

Here's the thing - I stated at the start of the post that it was in my nature to be anxious. What I turn in to a Nervous Nelly over, others would find a breeze and handle the situation without batting an eyelid. Others would look at my current situation with excitement - I have a friend who loves to move house, is not at all bothered by the chaos and who would sell her house contents and more without any sign of smoke emerging from her ears.

Put her in the driver's seat, though, as she suffers from terrible road rage. She gets angry at things which do not bother me at all. We are all here to change our nature - whatever that might be. Everybody has a reaction (or more than one) that is tough to overcome. And mine is anxiety. Somehow in this lifetime I need to transform from Worrier to Warrior. And I will get there - Awareness is key.

So how did the Universe deliver that awareness today?
At 1pm, another email appeared from the Postmaster - 48 hours after I emailed the MD - to say that my message had not, and could not, be delivered.
After all of that self-induced stress, I'd entered his email address incorrectly.
So for the past 48 hours I have been feeling the tension grow, worrying about what he will say about the contract, and in reality there was absolutely no possibility that he could have even read it. What wasted time and energy!

So, time to at least start listing out my stuff. I started on the vinyl, which may be useful to a D.J. friend, and came across a white E.P by a band called "Susan And God". And I have no idea how it got there. Life is full of little surprises....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Letting Go

Overcoming the illusion of fear is something that I evidently need to practice.

I logged on this morning to find an email from the 'postmaster' telling me that the email I sent to the MD at 1pm had yet to be delivered. It took Hotmail 12 hours to tell me that my email had been delayed. Couldn't they have told me straight away?

So this led me in to a whole new dilemma: Do I leave him to find the email? Do I send again? If he gets a lot of email will it appear on page 2 in his inbox? Will he see it when it arrives? Should I call him?

Oh give over.

I realised whilst taking a shower that actually there is something that I fear more - something else that I am avoiding. I have made a decision to move in to a shared house and in order to do so I need to get rid of a couple of possessions. Okay, so make that 75% of my possessions, including some furniture to which I am rather attached.

A week or so ago I spent the whole night mentally sifting through everything I own, trying to separate sentimental value from 'it is taking up space in a cupboard and I will never use it'. Like for instance a silk shoulder bag I bought in Vietnam. It's very nice material. It's a memory of my trip away. But I never choose to use it, so it spends the vast majority of its time in a bag filled with... other bags that I never use. Oh but I never know when I might need it....

There is a big part of me that doesn't want to let go of my material possessions. As though they somehow define who I am and what I have achieved. As though letting them go would take away my very essence of Being.

Behind this fear of loss is the understanding of how energy works. If you want new things, you have to clear some space for them to fill. Whilst I am clutching hard to my independence and my past, I am resisting my future and pushing away the new things that want to come in to my life.

And part of me has to laugh, because some of the things that I own are bloody awful. Talk about a lack of taste. I'm not sure why I am clinging to the embarrassment of being associated to some of this stuff.

So a decision has been made - today will be spent listing and categorising, and picturing the sheer sense of lightness I will feel when I no longer have to drag this stuff around with me. If I haven't heard from the MD today, I will get in touch tomorrow. Whatever. My business bank account is still 'in progress' anyway.

A text came through on my phone which gave me a giggle and lightened my mood. Everything is going to be just fine.

A man sat down for a meal in a restaurant and a prawn cocktail was thrown at the back of his head. As he turned round, the man sitting behind him said "And that's just for starters..."

Monday, 12 October 2009

Practice what you preach

My business "went live" today. It was remarkably uneventful. Am I in an office taking calls? No. Am I busy networking? No. From little acorns, and all that.

My plan of action is to start by securing a contract to create a couple of trainers' manuals for a motivational personal development company, after which I will qualify as a trainer to teach their courses whilst developing my own material.

This morning, after a lot of deliberation and procrastination (cut short by the disappointing lack of blog fodder on this morning's list), I emailed the service agreement for the trainers' manuals to the MD.

This was not the way it was meant to be. The MD has asked me when I could come in, and I said "Monday". "Great, well come in and let's get this thing moving" Yeah, right. Because turning up at his office even with an appointment has never guaranteed that he would actually be there or that I would receive his undivided attention. And I wasn't about to spend a couple of hours hanging around like a vagrant waiting. Time is money, you know - I have a business to run! So I emailed the contract instead, containing all of the ins and outs of the project, price and payment, terms and conditions. Read this, and let's discuss from there. With my stomach lurching, I clicked send.

The silence is deafening and now my Opponent is hard at work. What if he calls? What if he doesn't? What if he says no? What if he says yes? What if he won't pay me up front? What if I can't create these manuals? Has he read it yet? Do I chase him up or do I let him come to me?

The irony of all of this is that I have decided that first subject to be developed in to workshops and newsletters for my own material is.... Overcoming Fear. Well, let's face it, by the time I get to writing anything, I will have had plenty of experience.

To take my mind off the waiting, I decided to pretend to be all business-like (I am very hard at work, you know) and start researching some material. First stop: YouTube. Oh, isn't this just the best job in the world?

It was a very productive couple of hours, with lots of note taking on different aspects of fear. And what is more, there is nothing better when you are in a nervous state than watching over two hours of video clips which remind you that fear is illusion - nothing but a product of the mind.

And.... re-lax......

Even so, I think I may need to watch a few more if I don't want to be like this tomorrow....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A New Me

I'm trying to decide whether my participation in the High Holidays has made a difference to Me. And I think that it has, because I feel different.

This weekend was the shabbat of Simchat Torah - the day to download our Surrounding Light for the whole year. The wisdom of Kabbalah is based on the principle of sharing which is promoted through many religions - Christianity promotes this as Do Unto Others As You Would Wish Done Unto You. Rather than this being a nicey-nice way of being, it reaps rewards and is a principle that you don't have to believe to put in to action and see the results.

Simchat Torah is the one day when you don't have to think about anyone but yourself - the one day where the Light assumes without any evidence that everything you desire for the self alone is matched with the intention of sharing. It was a very fun, and very long, shabbat.

Like many other Kabbalistic practices, it may seem a little strange 'to the outside world'. The chairs in the War Room were stacked against the walls, and two tables set up. Whilst blessings were read and songs sung, the women circled one table and the men circled another. We didn't just circle, we ran. We formed trains and pulled each other round by the hands. We congaed in and out of doorways at breakneck speed. We banged the table hard with our hands. We laughed and squealed and clapped and whooped and hollered. We connected to Joy. It was a hoot.

Every now and again we hung out of the windows to cool off, drawing comments from the women having a fag on the balcony above, who wanted to know if we were enjoying our surrounding Light. (If you think you are unlucky with your neighbours, spare a thought for those who live in earshot of the Kabbalah centre).

The tables were then put away and the chairs restored to their original places for the Torah reading and again, it was not the norm. This was the one day of the year when the women approach the Torah and read the blessings out loud. There was a slight logistical issue of getting 60+ women close to the scrolls and under cover, but we all pitched in by holding sheets up in the air and shuffling as close as commuters on the Central Line. And we were very aware of the irony that the only time in the year that we had to be this close to each other's armpits was immediately following an hour and a half of belting around a table at top speed in a very hot room. But what can you do. We are a forgiving bunch.

Before any of this occurred, one of the women who runs the Business Gym approached me and said "P was going to do the announcement for the Business Gym today. If he isn't here, I think you should do it". The last time this happened I baulked with fear and virtually missed the entire lecture and Torah readings by worrying about what I was going to say and how I was going to say it, but this time my reaction was entirely different. "Okay, what's the topic for this month and where is it taking place"

Here was an opportunity for my Opponent to stop me connecting to my surrounding Light - to fill my mind with anxious thoughts over what I would say and how I would say it, instead of racing round the table laughing, jumping and clapping like a total loon. But instead I pushed it to the back of my mind and somehow just knew - everything was going to be just fine. The Opponent didn't get a look in edgewise.

P didn't turn up. And at one point I thought that the announcement would be taken care of for me, but at the last minute I was called to the front. And I delivered. I even coped with a bit of a gaff and turned it in to humour.

I felt nervous, but only 10% of what I felt before. It was strange to feel so completely different in such a short space of time. Perhaps the experience of making the first announcement really broke the back of my fear and I am sure that there may be many more new situations to come which will make me want to run and hide.

But I simply can't picture those situations at the moment... because I just feel different. But more than that - there were times throughout the High Holidays where I was filled with such doubt that I had not done enough and even felt as though I had failed. I still had massive fear and I still didn't feel as though anything had changed at all.

But then I started to hear messages from those around me more clearly and in some cases differently. But I heard them and I started to take note.

And then all of a sudden there has been this subtle shift - so subtle that I can't even put my finger on what has changed. It's almost like part of my memory has been wiped. It's slightly freaky, to be honest.

So is the New Me here to stay? I guess there is only one person who can make that decision. And at the moment she is nodding her head.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Meee and my Sha-dow... and a bit of synchronicity

On Wednesday night I dialled in to a Jack Canfield teleconference for a bit of inspiration. There were 1,000 people on the line, some of whom dialled in last month, and others like me who were new to the call.

They recapped last month's homework: Spend 5 minutes every morning visualising finding a quarter. At the end of the month, report back how many quarters you found. I have played this game before and am frequently thanking the Universe for the small change that I pick up from the pavement, but I hadn't thought about it for a long time. So I decided to give it another go just for fun.

Yesterday morning whilst drinking my second cup of tea, I remembered my new task, but couldn't decide what denomination of coin to pick. 25 cents is roughly 15 pence - so maybe I should visualise finding 20p pieces. I closed my eyes, but my brain was still leaping about: how about 50p? why not £1 coins? It wouldn't settle on a value. As I was leaving the house, I realised that I hadn't really settled on a particular coin - so I decided just to look for coins in general.

When I reached the train station I found a 5 pence piece and swiftly picked it up and put it in my pocket. On my return journey I spotted a 1 pence piece on the platform and swiped that too. No single denomination, but two coins in one day - very good.

Last night in the Kabbalah Two class, the subject was money. The energy of money is my favourite subject. The teacher started the class with the question: "How many of you in class would stop to pick up a 5 pence piece from the pavement? Raise your hands. Okay, so how many of you would stop to pick up a 1 pence piece from the pavement? ....."

I do love little sychronicities - they make me smile.

After the class, there was an all night connection - the Hoshanah Raba. Last night was the last opportunity in the year to make any final corrections before the energy is sealed. Or in other words: if there was any negativity that you didn't want to be a part of your story in the New Year that you hadn't removed through all of the hard work during Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, now was the time to put it right.

The connection started with a reading the entire book of Deuteronomy before midnight (12:47 am) and was followed by a shadow reading.

I was not particularly bothered about the shadow reading. The teachers have the ability to look at your shadow and see your year ahead. They used to tell you what the year ahead held, but after a few disgruntled customers did not like what they heard, they then restricted providing details of the prediction unless the student was likely to suffer ill health or death (at which point advice could be given which could turn the situation around). I didn't like the idea of someone looking at my shadow, being able to see my future and keep that information to themselves. What would be the point of that?

Plus for the past three years, the moon had been solidly hidden behind the clouds and therefore shadow readings had not been possible.

I take it all back - the shadow reading turned out to be the highlight of the night. It was a clear, star filled night, so after 'midnight' scouts were sent out to find the best spot to catch the moonlight. People started to migrate to Regents Park in groups, where we scrambled down a steep bank to the side of the river and waited in line for our turn on the white sheet laid out to assist with the readings. When I arrived it was 2:45am and a thin blanket of cloud covered the moon. A small group of us recited the Ana Bekoach over and over .. breaks in the cloud appeared and soon enough it was my turn.

I stepped on to the sheet. The moon waned for a second or two and I thought for a moment or two that I would be standing there until I heard the words 'no, sorry, that's it - too much cloud', but then suddenly the clouds parted and my shadow burst in to view. After a second or two, the teacher smiled and said "Shana Tova! Very, very good!!" in a very excited voice.

Whaaa? Very, very good? Not just good, okay next! but Very, very good? His enthusiasm had taken me by surprise. I stepped off the sheet and felt an enormous surge of energy. Very, very good!!!!!

It's amazing what takes place in the wee small hours whilst most people are sleeping. Like the four ladies who made their way to Hanover Square at 6am to a small park, climbed over the locked gates, scanned some Hebrew, then proceeded to each whack 5 willow branches against the earth to remove the last traces of negativity from their year before catching their tube trains homeward.

The CCTV spies were probably rolling their eyes... Oh not this mad bunch again...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

So, what, I'm Jewish now? Part III

At last, Kabbalah Rookie gets to the point.... Get a cup of tea, this is a rather long post...

Ah, Conversations with God... the beginning of the beginning. For some reason this was the book that reached me - that supported my feelings that there was some kind of order to how things worked.

The only thing that put me off was the title. I mean, Conversations with Who? I wasn't comfortable with the word 'God'. God for me meant the man with the white beard sitting on a cloud - the man I had prayed to when in need. The man who had turned a deaf ear to my pleadings. I didn't believe He existed.

But I could relate to Neale Donald Walsch. Here was a man at the end of his tether, wondering what he had done to deserve a life of continual struggle. He was in the habit of venting on paper as a method of releasing his frustration - addressing the letter to whomever was vexing him at the time and then putting the letter in the bin. This hadn't worked - nothing had changed. So instead he thought he would go to the greatest victimizer of them all, and he wrote his letter to God. Why not go straight to the top for a change?

It was a good move, because God answered him back.

And no matter what my opinions or beliefs on automatic writing, I liked the answers that "God" gave. "He" talked about being source energy, about making us in His own image so that we might create our own lives. More importantly, he explained that we can only appreciate what 'Is' by experiencing the 'Not Is'. Or in other words, how can you appreciate something until you have experienced the opposite? And how can you know who you are until you have come across who you are not? "God" also talks about there being no right or wrong - a fascinating concept.

But one thing that the book still didn't answer was "Why me?" I read the trilogy. Still no answer.

I persuaded my sister to read the book. My sister had been interested in Personal Development for years - the practical, scientific stuff - and I assumed that this might just be a bit too far-fetched for her to enjoy. I was wrong - she loved the first book. She devoured the trilogy.

I started to read Esther and Jerry Hicks (who channel a collective consciousness called Abraham and talk about the Law of Attraction). My sister started to read Wayne Dyer. I re-read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which now made total sense. My sister read that and ordered the follow-up: A New Earth. Together we read and learned and passed information to and fro: Have you read this? Have you heard of this author? We gave each other advice, calling up different stories and analogies from the materials we had read. Reminding each other of what we believed.

We each had our own preferences. We each connected with different material, different authors and different methods. And then one day in passing, my sister mentioned that one of her clients had started going to the Kabbalah centre and that she might go along.

Oh. At the time I had no idea about Kabbalah and in truth I suspected that my sister wanted to become best friends with Madonna. I had no interest in joining the bandwagon and so Kabbalah was just something that my sister did - I decided that could be her thing.

But over the next few months I watched my sister transform. We began to have more open conversations and our relationship started to change from older/younger sister in to a really deep friendship. She recommended a couple of books: The Power of Kabbalah and The Spiritual Rules of Engagement, and I enjoyed them both. Maybe I should learn some of this stuff after all.

At the end of June 2008, my sister planned a visit to the UK. She rang me beforehand to discuss her schedule.
"Oh and by the way" she said "I really want to go to the London centre for Shabbat. Will you come with me?"
"I don't know the first thing about Shabbat" I said "I won't know what to do"
"Me neither" she replied "Let's go anyway"

The moment that I stepped in to the London centre, I felt somehow.. what.. like I was meant to be there? How does that make sense? Well, it does. A couple of weeks later I joined a class and started to learn the basics. What surprised me was that there are so many things in Kabbalah which related to all of the other spiritual books I had read - the way that energy works, the concept of sharing - but the difference with Kabbalah was that although the concepts are so simple, all of them can be backed up with a deep knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that excites Quantum Physicists - it is way ahead of its time. And it is timeless.

At the start of 2009, I had my sixth meeting with my teacher. Rather than talk about my usual present day issues, I described the events of my teenage years and a feeling of anger that I had towards my step-father that I couldn't shift.

The following words changed my life forever: "Why did you invite him in to your life?"

I hadn't really thought about it this way. The theory is that before you come in to physical form, you make a contract with God - you agree what you need to overcome and in doing so you choose when you are born, you choose the parents and significant people who will give you the challenges that you need to transform. It's the ultimate in responsibility. And even if you don't believe in reincarnation and signing a contract with God, it is a fantastic way to consider your life. What if I had? If I did invite him in to my life, then why did I do that? Why him?

So the answer to 'Why Me?' is 'Because I chose it' which immediately changes the question to 'Why did I choose it?'

Despite finally finding the answer to my question, there were still several sticking points with Kabbalah. One was the constant use of the 'G' word which made it sound like a religion (it's not), and the other was the Judaism which makes it feel like a religion (again, it's not).

Time after time I have been wrapped up in a connection, singing Hebrew songs, the Brich Shmei, the Ana Bekoach, listening to the Torah reading, performing the Amidah, the Kidush and all of a sudden I have almost stepped out of myself and looked at the absurdity of what I am doing. And it is odd. At one connection I was amongst a group of women circling a washing-up bowl filled with water and singing in Hebrew at 3 in the morning. It doesn't get more bizarre than that.

But as soon as I start to have my doubts, I am reminded in a lecture or conversation in passing that this is not about worshipping a judgemental God or begging for forgiveness for my sins - it is about understanding the source energy of the Universe - the Light. It is Judaic wisdom, not Jewish Religion. It is about choosing the right consciousness, understanding how the energy works, finding my purpose, drawing abundance in to my life, dropping the victim consciousness, connecting to my highest self and pushing until all of my questions are answered and chaos removed from my life.

There are many people who attend the centre who are Jewish. And there are Christians, and Muslims. Nobody is persuaded to go kosher - in fact, we are strongly dissuaded from doing anything for the sake of jumping on a bandwagon. It's not about being part of a clique or a trend. It is not about idol worship or blindly following rituals to feel as though you have 'done your bit' in the way that some people do when they turn up for church once a week. It's not about being better than anyone else.

Coo, in fact, it's bloody hard work, this spiritual lark. But it while it continues to come up with the answers, it works for me.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

So, what, I'm Jewish now? Part II

So, the question remains to be answered: how did Kabbalah Rookie go from a light Christianity upbringing to being agnostic to singing Hebrew prayers at Shabbat every weekend? Is a Jewish conversion course on the cards? Will we reach the conclusion in this episode? Will she ever get to the point? Is there such a word as brevity in her vocabulary? Probably not, so just sit back and enjoy the ride....

I'll keep it as short as my garrulous tongue will allow. Or garrulous fingers, in this instance.

When I first left home I was filled with a sense of freedom: no more trying to sleep wearing headphones, no more looking over my shoulder - I could finally start to live. But soon I found that it wasn't that simple. I had little or no belief in my own abilities. I hid in relationships, looking for someone else to just take over my life and make my decisions for me.

What I learned out of this is that when you have no belief in yourself, there are so many people who will agree with you to keep you in your place. And that suited me fine.

It was a new relationship that really started the ball rolling, if I come to think of it. We went travelling for a year, after which I went to University and emerged 4 years later with a first class honours degree and a computing job based in Harlow. But rather than the planned role of computer programmer where I had imagined myself tucked away in a dark corner in the small hours drinking Jolt cola and being logical, it was in a Computing Support role, where I actually had to work with other people. Like, speak to them, and stuff. I felt way out of my depth, but slowly I started to grow.

Two years in, and my sister persuaded me to attend a MindStore for Life workshop. Here I was introduced to the concept that Thoughts Become Things and Kineseology. I started writing affirmations, programming my day, visualising my future, using positive words. And it was great.....for all of two weeks.

Using only positive words is not the easiest task in the world. Think about it. Give it a go. Notice how limited your vocabulary becomes as a result! The brain ignores the word 'not', so the following translations apply:
"Not bad" (in response to "Hi, how are you?") Brain computes: Bad. New response: "Marvellous, thanks!"
"It's not hard" Brain computes: It's hard. New response: "It's simple"
"It's not funny" Brain computes: It's funny. (Ever wondered why giggles turn in to hoots at your expense?) New response: Punch unsympathetic person in the face and see if they find that funny.

I was very surprised that after two weeks of reframing every single sentence before I opened my mouth, and using the other techniques, my energy was through the roof. But my brain was totally frazzled - it was like taking myself off AA batteries and plugging myself in to the mains. So I slowed down with the practice... and by that I mean that I stopped.

I still kept my interest and bought a few books - The Power of Now, The Celestine Prophecy, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, The Work We Were Born To Do - to name a few. But even if I finished them, I still didn't take action.

I listened to a bit of Tony Robbins, but he sounded too aggressive. I read a couple of books by Dr. Phil and he too wanted me to take action, said that if I wasn't happy then instead of sitting around moaning about it, I ought to do something about it.

During this time I also learned about the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is a method of tapping on meridian points on the face and body which removes the connection between bad memories or situations and emotional stress reactions. I shared the method with a colleague at work and he successfully used it to remove the anxiety he felt during high-pressured tele-conferences.

But still there seemed to be so much to address. I was still so angry at my past. If there was any particular quote that I could identify with, it was one of Jack Nicholson's lines in As Good As It Gets, where his character Melvyn Udall says "What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good". And I was really pissed. I imagined that life was so much easier for other people because they'd had it good. I felt that everything I had been through was unappreciated and had been forgotten. I still wanted to know "Why me?"

Fast forward to the start of 2007 when I knew that I needed to leave my job, and wanted to finally move on. As luck would have it, I found a counsellor living nearby who practised EFT and booked him for a few sessions.

I didn't find the relief that I hoped for, but it was a start. In retrospect it was the beginning of the beginning. During the course of therapy he recommended several books, and the final one he mentioned was Conversations with God by Neall Donald Walsch... Ah, now we're getting there...

Nope, still not singing in Hebrew... perhaps you will have to wait until the next update.
Oh, sorry, did I wake you?

Monday, 5 October 2009

So, what, I'm Jewish now? Part I

Well, not quite.

I guess you could say that I have been lucky where religion is concerned, in the sense that I have never been trapped in the mire of Fire and Brimstone.

I was raised a Methodist. Every Sunday my Mum would encourage my sister and I to put on nice clothes and walk a mile to church. Every week I would complain "but do I have to go? Can't I stay here with Dad?" "No" my Mum insisted "Come on, put your shoes on. We don't want to be late"

At the time I was a little confused. God wouldn't mind if we were a little late - He is All Forgiving, isn't he? "Yes, but your Dad wants to start practising his bagpipes"

Oh, best make a move then. Bagpipes were all very well in an open field, but not in a 3 bed detached in Essex. I knew that Dad had started playing the bagpipes when he was in the army. What I didn't learn until later was that when he joined the army he was given a choice for Sundays - go to church or join the band. He joined the band.

Every week I would try to get out of Sunday School and most weeks I failed. I'm not sure why I didn't want to be with the other kids but I suspect it was because it was too much hard work. In Sunday school I actually had to learn stuff, whereas in church I would sit and listen and fidget and sing the psalms in a reedy, high pitched voice. Old before my time, I always wanted to listen to what the Reverend had to say.

Our Reverend was sensible and kind and apart from learning a little about Jesus and the Apostles, the main message I took away was one of Love. Be kind, be helpful, speak your truth, support others and don't judge. Every week we would get home from church and Mum would shout "We're home! You can stop with that bloody awful racket now!" and I wondered whether she had been listening at all.

When I was 11, the family broke apart and my Mum, sister and I moved to Peterborough. We stopped going to church, which I thought was probably sensible because my Mum had just left my Dad for another man and I didn't think God would be very happy with that.

I started Secondary school, which again was very religion-lite. The Headmaster gave one "religious" assembly a week but his teachings were very much in line with my previous experience, based on common sense and how kindness can help people pull together. I remember him suggesting that perhaps Jesus didn't feed people magically with 2 fishes and 5 loaves of bread, but instead the crowd were inspired to share what they had.

I liked listening to the stories. It was a comfort to hear that people could be nice to each other, to consider that miracles could possibly happen without the waving of a magic wand. But at the same time I found a separation within myself - God could not possibly exist - or at least if he did, he had forgotten about me altogether.

My teenage years were nothing short of a living nightmare, with every day bringing a new fear, a new reality, more pain, more confusion. Where was God now? If he was sitting on a cloud, he certainly wasn't keeping an eye on me.

When I was 12 I had been given a copy of the Desiderata. Through all of the hard times, two sentences continued to resonate with me: You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.

I clung to those words. I needed to know the reason for all of my pain - why my life was unfolding the way it was. In fact, I think that these words have kept me away from the edge so many times, in desperation that one day, everything would make sense and I would be able to answer the question "Why Me?" The existence of those words gave me hope.

Just before I left home, when things were just about as bad as they could be, I read "Schindler's Ark" by Thomas Keneally and was further inspired by the words "If you die today, you will never know what happened to you." So many times I just wanted to take myself off the face of the planet. I'd had enough, no, more than I could take. But what if next week everything changed? What if life was going to get better from now on? It would be foolish to miss it.

I left home at the age of 18, keeping religion at arms length, taking each day as it came, waiting for the happy ending. Apart from the occasional prayer in my darkest hours, I had forgotten all about God, as I was certain that he had forgotten all about me. I didn't even pursue anything spiritual. Everything was as it was.

All I remember is that whenever someone asked me "Do you believe in God?" I would answer "well, I believe that there is something out there"

And there is.

I haven't addressed the Jewish theme at all, have I? Never mind. No doubt this story is unfolding as it should....