Sunday, 25 July 2010

The most valuable life lesson of all

Yesterday was my second trip to see Juliana.

I met Juliana about a year ago at a Kabbalah connection. Instantly I fell in love with her energy - she has a serene, gentle loveliness that made me warm to her instantly. She is 51 and from Romania, a very sweet voice and a way of saying things that cannot help but make you smile.

At the time, I was still wrapped up in my head with the whole job situation - flip-flopping between new ideas and fear, confidence and crushing self-defeat. So, no change there then. She was easy to talk to and I opened up a little.

After sharing my woes, Juliana then said very peacefully "I have cancer at the moment. I am about to start a fast for six weeks." She had already had one round of chemo, but the cancer had started to spread from her breast, and under her own thorough investigation, she had found a holistic fast that she could follow.

A couple of months later, I met Juliana again. She told me that the fast had been a success and that the scan results were very good. And so still she continued to heal.

And for a while my thoughts were not on Juliana at all. Then three months ago, I noticed her name creeping to the top of the healing board, and I started to worry.

After a month of wishing to be able to see her again, she arrived for Saturday shabbat. Immediately I went to ask how she was and her eyes clouded up with tears.
"I am in pain." she said "The cancer has now spread to my liver and my lungs and my bones. It is everywhere. There is a lot of pain"

I didn't know what to say. What can you say? I said I was very sorry to hear that she was sick, and moved to sit next to her during the shabbat. Towards the end of the shabbat she leaned over and said "You have to understand, the only reason why I am crying is because of the energy here - it brings out my emotions. It is good to be here. I know that despite the pain, I am healing. I know that the doctor's do not believe I will survive, but I know I will get better"

Her courage and conviction was astonishing. The following week she was at shabbat, still in enormous pain, still smiling. "I went to the hospital the other day because I was so sick" she smiled "The nurses said to me 'You have to stop laughing so much, otherwise the doctors will not believe there is anything wrong with you'"

How she could continue to laugh was beyond me. How little my troubles seemed by comparison.

Two weeks ago, an email was sent from the centre to ask that Juliana be included in our prayers as she was facing "severe health challenges". It also said 'if anyone wants to go and visit or give her a call, contact us so that we can arrange'.

And I didn't. Not immediately. Why? I was afraid of what I might find. I was afraid that she was going to die. I was afraid of not knowing what to say. Of not being any use. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

And then my sister told me of the experience she'd had when she lost her first son, how many people kept their distance because they simply didn't know what to say and were afraid of saying something totally appalling (foot in mouth syndrome), and she said "Just be there. Nothing else matters. It doesn't matter what you say. Just go and visit her"

So I did. And none of my fears were realised.

Juliana had spent a week in bed, in so much pain the she was literally unable to move. So she looked forward to the day when she would be able to get out of bed. And after a week, she could. Two days before I arrived, she only had the strength to sit in her garden for one minute. And on the day I visited we sat in the garden for 6 hours.

Juliana's philosophy is very simple. Live every moment in Joy. Have peace within yourself at every moment and dismiss every negative thought. When you are having a really bad day or a really bad moment, change it as soon as you can to doing something that you love, to bring about that feeling of joy.

She advised me not to even bother applying for any jobs or contacting any agencies unless I was in a state of joy. And if I couldn't find that state of joy, then I should find something to do that helped me to find it, without any guilt. She told me to spend two or three hours taking action, and then to go out and connect with joy, and share - to generate the right vibration to attract what is already mine.

She explained her own view on the Law of Attraction.
"Imagine," she said "you have two children. One comes up to you in a temper tantrum, wailing and crying and tugging at your clothes - 'I WANT A SWEET!! GIVE ME A SWEET!! PLEASE I WANT A SWEET NOW! I NEED A SWEET!!'. And the second child comes up to you with a look of joy on their face "Please may I have a sweet? I would so love to have a sweet! I look forward to having a sweet! Thank you!" Which one are you going to give the sweet to? The first child you would probably want to beat with a stick (haven't we all 'wanted' to do that at some point? Please note: I am not condoning the beating of small children with sticks) but the second one you would take delight in giving them a sweet because they asked so nicely. This is the way that God sees our requests.
"The second thing is, that you have to know that God already has the sweet for you"

I went to visit Juliana for a second time yesterday, and once again left feeling that she had given me more that I could possibly have given her. She is still absolutely certain that she is healing. She is still talking about three years from now, five years from now, ten years from now. She is still astounding the doctors. When her son took her to visit last week, they were astonished that she was walking. The doctor said to her son "Your mother is very, very sick. But she seems to be doing some really weird things which are making her really well".

I know that I am going to be friends with her for a very long time to come.

Life is a game. It operates on two levels - the physical world that we can see, and the metaphysical world that we cannot. The physical world feels real, but it is illusion - everything depends on how you look at it, everything depends on choosing how you want to see it. Every choice is free will.

Or as Juliana reminds herself with every challenge "This is not the truth. This is just what I believe"

So, the agency wouldn't put me forward for the job that I would have to commit to for 3 months. A bad thing, right? I only want to work. I am prepared to do anything. Maybe the girls at the agency were intimidated by me. Or maybe they didn't like my £5 Primark patent plastic shoes. Or maybe all of the agencies are conspiring against me to find work. Or maybe "God" is punishing me for being so negative for so long.

Or maybe, just maybe, something better is coming.

And I look forward with Joy, to that. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Flip Flopping between Hope and Despair

It's a funny thing, life.

And then some days it's just not so funny.

My living situation seems to get worse and worse. My finances are almost at an end, and by that I mean that my only credit card is virtually chocka, and my overdraft is within a whisker of being exceeded. I receive £65 a week in job seekers allowance, and this has to pay for rent, food, my credit card bill, mobile phone, contact lenses.

You see how the sums are not quite adding up here?

And I do want to work - more than anything. But I think I missed out on the job-finding gene. I just don't know how to find work. Everyone seems to be recruiting online. You want a job on a supermarket checkout? Visit the website. And just how does one get a job sweeping the streets nowadays? Apply through the council website.

I'm not setting my sights too high or placing myself out of the market, but my CV is an IT CV. It doesn't say 'shop assistant' or 'administration clerk'.

I signed up with a temping agency for administration contracts - they were happy to help me out. I got two days work, and as for the rest? Well, things are a bit quiet over the summer months, apparently. They will pick up in September again. I've rung them twice today and they haven't called back.

So I tried to sign up with another couple of agencies. Both of them refused to take me on because I had an IT CV. One of them suggested a 3 month contract but then declined on putting my CV forwards to the company because the company wanted assurance that I would stay for the whole contract, and looking at my CV would no doubt decide that I was likely to be offered something else in the meantime.

Okay, so that hasn't happened in the last 3 years, but hey, nice to know I'm considered to be in demand.

So the panic has started to set in, and with the panic comes regular bouts of stress-induced illness and a complete inability to speak to anybody. Which isn't really conducive to a successful job hunt. Because what I want to say is "Please, I'm on my knees here - just give me a fucking job" which isn't really the best way to get an interview.

So I bottle it all up, and I 'cope'. Except that a close friend recently told me "You might be bottling things up, but you're not coping. And you're just not willing to show people that you're not coping". She's right. I'm not actually coping any more, and putting on a brave face is becoming harder every day.

There are a few sad things that I find about being in this situation.
First, nobody is just going to turn up and give me a job without me taking any action. And I am taking action, but just not enough. One negative conversation and I am back on the floor again.
Second, you only attract things to you by being on the right vibrational frequency. Feeling the joy of the job that is waiting to come towards me is getting harder by the day, as the pain of my current situation grows.
Lastly, that I am so unhappy with what I am not, that I am losing sight of who I am, what I have, and how lucky I am.
I am not dying of cancer.
I am not living on the streets.
I have clean water to drink.

My life could be a whole lot worse. And how wonderful it will feel when it just gets a little bit better.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The World Cup, Paul and the New Moon

So Spain won the World Cup.

I could have told you that. You mean you didn't believe the great Kabbalistic Paul the Octopus? Or perhaps you didn't care. Whatever.

Anyhow. The odd thing about the World Cup was that the first day coincided with the New Moon of Cancer - 11th June. And the World Cup final coincided with the New Moon of Leo.

The New Moons at the Kabbalah Centre always have a theme in line with the energy of the coming month, just to get us all in the mood. But because the New Moon of Cancer fell on the opening day of the World Cup, they held a football theme. And because the New Moon of Cancer also fell on a Friday night - shabbat - instead of having the usual buffet snacks, we had a full shabbat dinner.

Each of the tables in the dining room were allocated the nationality of a world cup team, indicated by the nation's flag.

Halfway through the meal, we played a game. Each table had to nominate a captain. Each round consisted of a single question, with the answer being either A or B - some related to football, some to Kabbalah, and some were more general knowledge. The captain would confer with their table and would either remain standing if the answer was A, or sit down if the answer was B.

Those who got the answer wrong and who were either standing up or sitting down when they shouldn't be, were eliminated at the end of each round. After a promising start when it appeared as though we would all win the world cup (hurrah! Unity!), gradually the numbers started to dwindle.

Our table were knocked out two questions before the end, after incorrectly guessing that there had been 5 versions of the iPod Nano (there had been 6).

In the final round it was down to two teams, and the round was a sudden-death question for the captains, with no conferring.

And the winner? Why, Spain, of course.

And my table? Germany. Oops. Sorry.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


Yes, yes, I know, I've been away from my blog for so long - part sorting my life out and part due to having nothing much that I actually wanted to say (for once).

I mean, how many times can you play the 'Woe is me, my life just gets worse and worse' card and expect to get away with it?

But now I have something to write about. Actually, I have two things to write about, but this one has to come first.

You may remember that I have the boredom threshold of a three year old child on a long car journey and as such, I find it a challenge to meditate. In fact, it is fair to say, that getting through ten seconds of meditation without thinking of something that I need to add to my shopping list, a conversation I had earlier in the day and an email that I really need to send (yes, all three) is nigh on impossible.

Monkey Mind In Extremis. Hey Ho.

So whenever I am browsing through my email and see a free download for a guided meditation, I sign up to whatever newsletter they wish to send me, and download the file.

On Wednesday I was promised complete relaxation in 3 minutes. For free. So I signed up, and downloaded.

The file was okay - it had some effect at least. I mean, I still had several conversations going on at once (whoever said that the sign of Gemini was twins was grossly underestimating) but I was chilled enough not to be bitter about it.

And along with the free download was a free chapter of a book. So, in my nicely 3-minute-chilled state, I decided to have a read.

The chapter of the book was about reading through the palm of your hand. No, really. It explained how you could 'see' pages of a book that you have never read before and gave a technique to try it. It gave a few examples of success stories, and also explained that if you don't see what you were expecting, to check the pages either side. It then told a little side story of a woman who was out walking and pondering what the definition of Serendipity was. She passed a bookstore, walked inside, picked the first book she came to, and opened it to find a definition of Serendipity.

Well, of course she did. These things happen all the time.

Anyhow, I was curious to see if it would work for me (wondering if the Universe could get past my Monkey Mind) and searched my bookshelf for a book that I hadn't read before.

I came across 'Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me' by Penny Power. No doubt this book would be all about networking, email marketing, business profiles, etc. But really I had no idea.

So I sat with the book on my lap and followed the steps:
  1. Hold your dominant hand 6 - 10 inches away from the book, and close your eyes. This bit is easy.
  2. Focus your energy on the point a couple of inches below your navel - the Dan Tien. Yep, got it.
  3. Allow that energy to travel up your spine, in to your throat, then down your arm and out through your hand in to the book. Hmm, okay... but I still don't see how...
  4. Feel the exchange of energy with the book. Is this really an 'exchange of energy'? Is this what I am meant to be feeling or did I just rush the last bit?
  5. Ask for a page number. SIXTY THREE. F**k me, where did that come from? No need to shout. Okay, 63 it is.
  6. Imagine the layout of the page - what does it look like? Oookaaaaayyyy.... so the only page I can imagine is a bold title across the top, then a top paragraph, and then the rest is text. Maybe I am rushing this. Does it have a picture? No, I don't see a picture. What do you mean, you don't see a picture? You're not seeing anything - you've got your eyes closed, you muppet. Look, just shut up and let me get on with this, okay? This is the only page I can see. Yeah, well, whatever. Just you wait until you open the page. It's bound to have a picture.
  7. Ask for the subject of the page - what is it about? What words can you see? Serendipity. Oh, of course it's not Serendipity. Gee, I wonder where you got that one from. Okay, pick something else. I can't think of anything else. Yes, but it won't be fucking Serendipity, will it? You've just read a story about Serendipity - that's the only reason you've thought about that word. Okay then, I can see the word 'chance' in the middle of the page. Oh yeah, because 'chance' is really different. Oh look, just leave me alone, okay? This is all that I'm getting and yes, I do know that in about 10 second's time I am going to be bitterly disappointed so just get off my case.
  8. Open the book to the page you thought of, and prepare to be astounded. Yeah, astounded at how wrong you can be...
So, where was I? Oh yes, page 63, a bold title, a floating paragraph, followed by a block of text, something about Serendipity, and the word 'chance'.

I opened the book. My jaw dropped. And then me and my Monkey Mind laughed for a good ten minutes.

Scroll down and judge for yourself.....


Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.
A brilliantly worded explanation on Wikipedia.

When you are not looking for the answer you will discover what you need to know. Get your head around that thought! One of the toughest ideas I have to teach when explaining the power of social networks and social media is the power of serendipity.
This phrase sounds spiritual and deep, and is hard for task-oriented people to get their head around. However, we are learning that the random nature of social media is what creates success for all those that take part.
Let's just explore this further but using the offline world. We know that the more people we meet, the more we 'get ourselves out there', and the more we create a brand tht others respect and know, the higher the chance of success. My most recent experience of this was when I decided I would like to write this book.........

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Errr.... Surprise?

What's the saying? The best laid plans of mice and men....

Last week I received a Top Secret email. Oo. Curious.

Unbeknownst to me, my teacher at the Kabbalah Centre was an avid cyclist, spending hours on Sundays out on his bike, notching up the kilometres. Until he had his bike stolen.

Let's just say that he was absolutely gutted, but being the guy that he is, didn't moan about it to a single person.

Of course, nothing stays secret for long in the One Percent, and one of his students heard of his plight and wanted to help out, hence the Top Secret email.

The plan was to ask around his students as quietly as possible, get the funds for a new bike and give it to him as an early birthday present.

Oo I just LOVE secrets! Not even the Chevre at the centre knew about it. It was secret, secret, double secret!!I In fact, it was so secret, that I started to panic about being struck with Secret Tourettes whenever I was around the centre, fearing that suddenly I would shout his name and "BICYCLE! SECRET EARLY BIRTHDAY SURPRISE!!!!!" at the top of my voice in the middle of shabbat. It was one of those secrets that I was so excited about that if I'd have grinned any more, the top of my head would have fallen off.

I was also sorely tempted to start talking about how much I liked cycling whilst he was within earshot ("Isn't it just the best way to get around? Wind in your hair, whipping through the traffic...."), or to tell him I had just bought a bike and wondered what was the best bike insurance...

Within the space of a week, the funds had been gathered, which gives you an idea of the admiration that his students have for him, and messages were written in a card.

The next part of the plan was to actually present the card to him, with minimal fuss. The guy who arranged the collection said that the best time would be 9:30 am Sunday (today) after morning minyan. And it would be great if we could be there.

So the trick was, how to show up at the centre at the end of a men's connection, and be there for the presentation, without arousing any suspicion. Hmm, tricky. I had never been to the centre on a Sunday and had no reason to just drop in. A thousand What If's raced through my overactive mind. What if I totally blow the surprise? being one of them. I cannot lie for toffee. Plus, I was still grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

I agreed to meet a friend outside of the centre at 9:30am, in the knowledge that in Kabbalah Time (where all events start at least half an hour later if not more), the presentation would take place no earlier than 9:45. And if I showed up with my friend, then I knew that she would find a reason to be hanging around in the bookstore for no apparent reason whatsoever.

She was late. Not only that, but by the time I arrived, I could already see the men leaving the centre. So now what do I do? I rang my friend. "Go in!" she urged "I'll be there in two minutes! They might be doing the presentation now! Go in!"

The door was locked, but another of my teacher's students - also hanging around in the bookstore for no apparent reason whatsoever - opened the door and let me in. It appeared that prayers were still going on. Or at least, something was still going on.

My friend arrived seconds later and we hovered excitedly in the bookstore, waiting to be called, not wanting to be seen.

So it was a slight surprise to us when our teacher walked through the bookstore on his way out, wheeling a bike.

I could literally feel all of us silently screaming "WTF?!!" whilst straining to look totally normal.

"Hello ladies" he said, looking slightly bemused "Why are you here? Are you flyering?"
"Err. Yes.. Yes.. No.. Zohar Project" we all gabbled, nodding frantically at each other for support. Well, that was natural. Not.
"Ah, okay. So do you need me for anything?" he asked.
"No, no! we're fine!" we all chimed together.

He said goodbye and left, leaving us partway between hysterics and total confusion. What? So did he have the presentation or not? Had he received the card? What was with the bike? Was that his bike? What was going on? The guy who had invited us to the presentation was nowhere in sight.

One of the other teachers appeared. Did he know what had gone on? We tiptoed around the subject and found that he had overheard little bits of conversation and had an idea what was going on. And before we could stop him, he said "I'll call him, hang on" and then in horror heard him say "Hi. Yes, did you know you have your students here to give you an early birthday surprise? Yes, they are here now! Waiting for you". Noooo! Noo Noo Noo!!!! We waved our arms frantically, but it was too late.

Oh blimey, were we going to blow all of this and ruin this Top Top Secret Surprise?

Well, apparently not. The presentation had been given at 9:25 just before we had all arrived. And the surprise was so great that he was simply in shock. I don't even think he had registered the names on the card and put two and two together when he saw us. And the bike? An old one that he had borrowed.

So. Mission Accomplished. Secret maintained, teacher blown away by surprise gift, Kabbalah Time wins again.

I think it might take a while to recover from the sight of him walking through the bookstore pushing a bike.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Penny Power - Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me

Only 1 2 3 4 5 6!! more Big Sleeps until my Birthday. Hey Ho. It's strange that I have reached an age where I no longer want to celebrate.

Hey!! I will get a lot of presents!! woo hoo!! *sigh* Seems a little bit ridiculous when I have just sold most of my belongings. Although I did receive a very beautiful gift the other day but have nowhere to hang it in my current abode. Perhaps when I turn the big 4-0 I will magically become more patient, too. My Dad worried me the other day by asking me what I wanted for my birthday and then saying "Too Late! We've already bought it!" Oh fab. It's either going to be amazing or truly useless - I guess the excitement is in not knowing which!

Hey!! I will get some money to go out and buy something special to commemorate this turning of age!! Woo hoo!! *sigh* Except that also seems a little bit ridiculous (I was thinking a nice piece of jewellery) considering that I cannot afford to pay my rent. Maybe I'll just have to write an I.O.Me and come back to that one later when my finances are looking more rosy.

I guess I was hoping that by the time I reached 40, I would have something more to celebrate than just reaching a certain milestone.

Anyhow, I digress. Last night I decided to turn up to one of Nick Williams "Inspired Entrepreneurs" social gatherings, as Penny Power, the founder of ecademy, was a guest speaker.

I have been a free member of ecademy for the length of time that I have been unemployed, and as it is aimed at small business support I didn't feel that it was really my forum. I receive the newsletters every day, and retained my membership knowing that if ever I did get a business up and running then it would be an excellent place to dabble.

My impression of Penny Power was that she would be very business-like and serious. A real ambition freak. I don't know where I got that impression from. Perhaps her success in business simply intimidated me.

She started to talk. The first thing that she did was to thank Nick Williams for buying each of his attendees a copy of her book "Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me". Then she started to explain that her purpose in life was to serve.

I hadn't expected her to use that word.

As she continued to talk, sharing pieces of her own history (like when her husband Thomas, and herself, were fired from ecademy at the time of the dot com crash, and lost their dream home) I really began to like her.

Yes, the fact that she was earning 100,000 a year when she was 23 still puts her in a different league, but what a warm and caring woman. And funny. Very funny. In fact, after ten minutes of her sense of humour, I knew that she would be one person I could spend a lot of time with.

She also made a couple of great points.
  1. when you look at all of the roles you play in life - in her instance, mother, daughter, sister, wife, founder, author, speaker, etc, etc - remember that they can all be boiled down in to one: Friend.
  2. Social networking is no different online than in traditional business: People buy from the people they like. If they can get to know you, and like you, they will buy from you. So be open, and be authentic. Let people get to know you.
As usual, I wasn't part of the crowd dashing to have my book signed during the break and to have a quick chat. I figured that the people who actually owned businesses would benefit from her time more than I would. But as she was walking out of the door, I stopped her and expressed my surprise to her, that I didn't expect her to be this way at all. A compliment where compliments are due.

Her response was simple. She laughed and said "It is so much easier just to be yourself"

Well, Amen to that.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A day of Learning

Or should that be a lifetime.
  • You know that you need to pay more attention to the job-hunting process when you save a modified version of your CV after 45 minutes of editing, only to find that you applied for exactly the same job 6 days earlier.
  • You know that when trying to arrange payment for some work which the client was hoping to get for free, hearing "I'll speak to the customer and see what they say" isn't a good thing.
  • You realise that you ought to get a bit more familiar with the latest web application versions, when you don't realise immediately that WWE is not a web application, but instead stands for World Wrestling Entertainment.
  • You know that when you hear your Kabbalah teacher of 8 months say that he no longer knows how to help you, you're either very close to a breakthrough or totally screwed.
  • You know that on the last 30 seconds of "60 Minute Makeover" the screen will be filled with five people in every room plumping dozens of cushions and nudging colour coordinated vases two millimetres to the left, alongside one person still putting up wallpaper.
  • You know that half an hour after the film crew have left, taking all of the throw cushions and vases, the beneficiaries of "60 Minute Makeover" are going to have to work out where to put the seven boxes of kids toys, their entire collection of books and half of their clothes, now that two of the wardrobes have gone and storage space has been ripped out and replaced with something more 'aesthetically pleasing'.
  • You know that you really need to take more care of your bikini line when you say to the nurse during a smear test "Apologies for the state of my bikini line" and she doesn't reply "Believe me, I have seen much worse."
  • You know that you miss your sister when the nurse tells you to relax completely and think of somewhere sunny, and you immediately think of being on holiday with your sister on the same beach in Barbados, drinking nice little cocktails with umbrellas.
  • You know that it's not such a good thing when one experienced nurse cannot find your cervix and calls in a second nurse for assistance.
  • You know that it's even worse when the second nurse cannot find your cervix either and says "That's the best I can do" after ten minutes of twisting and rotating a speculum firmly against the walls of your bladder.
  • You know that it's a good thing when you don't wee even just a little bit throughout all of this poking and prodding.
  • You realise you will soon be turning 40 when you tell someone your date of birth and they say "Oh! Only 8 more Big Sleeps!"

Monday, 31 May 2010

The Big Personality Test Results

The rest of the British public had finished filling in their forms on the BBC Website for the Big Personality Test, so I decided to have a go. The outcome surprised me a little. Well, part of it.

I scored High in three areas, and Low in two.

Openness - High
Describes to what extent you are open to novel ideas, creative experiences and different values. I guess dancing around a washing up bowl of water at 3am and whacking 5 willow twigs in to the dirt at 5am might count as some of the above, both of which I encountered with a sense of fun. I like new things. My mother always said I was a bit different. All I need to do now is to translate that sense of openness to a working world, where new tasks and projects still (internally) catch me like a rabbit caught in headlights.

Extroversion - Low
Describes to what extent you are inclined to experience positive emotions and how attracted you are to social, stimulating experiences.
Hmm... define 'social stimulating experiences'. Sounds a bit dicey to me.
I guess I can agree with the first part of the statement - I have to work at being 'glass half full'.
Apparently introverted people aren't shy, and I'm not. I have always been the type of person who can amuse herself for hours. You name it - Lego, Playpeople, reading, colouring in. Who wants to take turns when there is only one bike? And share sweets? Forget it. My pocket money, my sweets. Buy your own. I have never needed a crowd of people to keep me occupied (which is what this is all about) and spend a lot of time on my own. Way too much time.

Wow - no wonder I have bob-all. If the laws of the Universe and 'what you give you get back' are anything to go by, then this simple test explains a lot...

Agreeableness - High
Describes to what extent you are concerned about the feelings of others and how easily you form bonds with people.
I thought that agreeableness was a good thing - getting along with others. Apparently not. High agreeableness = people pleaser = doormat.
No wonder I didn't want to play with other kids or share my sweets.

Okay, so list of things to do (so far):
  1. Spend more time with other people.
  2. If you can't afford to take a bottle of wine, take a nice pack of biscuits.
  3. Take biscuits out of handbag when you arrive rather than thinking that your friends look like they are putting on weight and would be better off without them.
  4. If someone offers you some work 'without pay but it would be good experience for you' tell them to stick it where the Light doesn't shine. Politely, of course.
Neuroticism - High
Describes to what extent you react to perceived threats and stressful situations.
See 'Rabbit caught in headlights' above.
Apparently being neurotic isn't such a bad thing - in fact, if it is combined with a Conscientiousness rating of High then it can make for a successful career.

Conscientiousness - Low
Describes to what extent you are organised, strategic and forward-planning.
Oh. Surely this should be High. I am organised. Kind of. Or should that be a bit OCD?
I've always known where I am heading. Hmmm... then again, let's rethink that. No, I haven't. I've been wandering round in the flowery maze in my head since the day I was born. Avoiding all people and keeping my sweets to myself, thank you very much. The other thing about conscientious people is that they get things done. They finish what they

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Eyes Have It

So, like any other introspective and somewhat anal human being, I watched Child Of Our Time, the Big Personality Test tonight.

In advance of the series, the BBC were running a Personality Test on their website, and the results are already available for the UK. And given that the Big Personality Online Test is currently unavailable due to high demand now that the program has finished, I figure that there are a lot more people out there in the UK pondering where they fit in.

The tests measured 5 attributes of personality, namely Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Can you guess where I would score high? Go on, I bet you can't. Anyhow, all will be revealed when the fellow web-dwellers of the nation hurry up and finish their tests so that I can have a go.

Whilst I was waiting, I decided to search for a test they had mentioned. Buggered if I can remember what attribute it was testing for, but it was created by Ali G's dad, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen.

The test is to see whether you can accurately read a person's emotion just by looking at a picture of their eyes. And I was pleasantly surprised, because I scored 30 out of 36.

What perturbed me were the ones I got wrong....
Men's eyes being friendly.
Men's eyes being caring.
Men's eyes being interested.

There's a link there, somehow, to my single status, perhaps.

And further evidence to my personality being conscientious to the point of dangerous perfectionism (I so wanted to get every single question right).

It's fun. It takes ten minutes. Have a go and see how you get on. But don't send me a photo of the reaction to your results, because there's one chance in six I won't be able to guess...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Car Boot Take II - careful what you wish for

My last car boot sale, back in early December 2009, was a highly profitable affair. I had 15 boxes of crap (I mean, high quality goods) to sell, including my life's collection of CDs, two socket sets, a genuine 1977 Donald Duck marionette puppet, boxes of books, heaps of tatty handbags and backpacks, roller blades and a pair of blue snorkelling fins, size 6.

I came home with 10 boxes filled with half of the CDs, most of the books, most of the handbags, the roller blades, the fins... and £165 in my pocket. So something must have sold.

And I was sure that I would have sold more if it hadn't completely pissed down with rain all day. It rained heavily from start to finish, bar one hour around lunchtime where it decided to give us a break with some light drizzle.

Before I moved house I went through the car boot boxes again, and gave several boxes full of naff items away to charity. I also sold the rest of my CDs as a job lot for £80, which is not to be sniffed at. My friend then gave me a couple of boxes of DVDs, some silk scarves and pashminas, and a box of travel books.

All I needed was a nice sunny day and a second car boot sale, and I would be quids in. Sure as eggs are eggs. And this weekend, that ideal opportunity arrived.

When my Dad and I set off for a local (and rather huge and promising) car boot sale, I had six boxes of high quality goods. They were bound to sell. The weather forecast was looking good. I was on to a winner.

5 hours later found me packing 5 boxes back in to the car, having made a total profit of £35.

Why? It was too bloody hot.

All of the punters had gone to the seaside, or were sitting under trees in their back gardens, lighting barbecues and drinking Pimms. Or burning to a crisp in the sun and getting trolleyed on cheap lager. Or whatever it is that people wearing "I'm drunk but your still ugly" T-shirts do when they are not at a car boot sale (my still ugly what, precisely? I am perplexed that they didn't seem to finish printing this garment...)

There were rows and rows of traders, all baking in the sun or selling from the relative shade of their car seats, occasionally meandering up to the nearby ice-cream van across earth that was too parched to dig a jumbo umbrella in to without dying from dehydration. The few people who had turned up to have a browse seemed to be far too wilted to reach in to their pockets for a little bit of small change, and far too limp to carry a DVD 100 metres back to the car.

I've seen more life in a beige rug, to be honest.

Later that evening, 4 of the boxes were dropped off at a local charity, to see if they would have any better luck. One of the boxes contains items that for reasons unknown to me, I am loathe to give away without just one more try at getting some cash for them.

It wasn't all bad, though. For one thing, I now have heaps of small change. For another, the roller blades, the spider catcher and the dust buster have finally gone. And I did put a smile on the faces of the people I pushed to reluctantly haggle with me, when I accepted the first offer they made. Oh, and best of all, I timed my visit to the ice-cream van perfectly - 5 minutes before he left - thus preventing the day from being a total disaster.

In any event, even a job with minimum wage is going to make me feel like a millionaire in comparison to what I brought home.

Yes, okay, I get the hint. If I want to earn money, I need to go out and get a bloody job....

Friday, 21 May 2010

What's with the Conversations About God?

Perhaps this is a sign from the Universe for me to stop talking about the Light and miracles and spiritual holidays and energy, and start doing as a means of actually manifesting something for a change, but over the last couple of days people have wanted to talk to me about God.

I was walking to the station on Wednesday, and bumped in to a chap who I think lives in the flat opposite. I say I think because people's faces never stick. But I know I have said hello to him at some point not so long ago. At least, I think it was him.

Anyhow, he stopped me in the street and said "Hello again, I'd really like to have your phone number"
There's nothing like the direct approach, I guess, but I don't really like giving out my phone number to virtual strangers.
I hesitated, so he continued "I'd really like to spend some time with you and talk to you about God".
Oh, okay, not exactly the best chat up line. I made a hasty exit with the excuse that I had to dash and would probably see him around.

Or maybe hopefully not.

Then yesterday the door intercom beeped and I answered it. It was the Jehovah's Witness who had caught me on the doorstep a few weeks ago. Now, what was her name? Tania? Delia? Lobelia? Can't remember.

"Hello, is that Natasha?"
Errr... noooo... there is no Natasha here...
"I came to speak to you a little while ago. I would love to talk to you about all of your Kabbalistic things"

Hmm... I thought about letting her in, but decided that I didn't want to spend the next half hour having someone try to convert my beliefs under the pretence of being interested in them. I am under no illusion that it would be a tall order to convert a JW. She is a lovely lady, but if anything, all that we have in common may be a terrible memory for names.

I'm not in the mood for converting anyone, as it happens. Love Thy Neighbour. Whoever they may be. But when you have job applications to complete, perhaps long meanderings on Theology and Philosophy are really not a priority.

I wonder who will be next....?

Friday, 14 May 2010

A Hairy Challenge

Last night was the New Moon of Gemini.

I know, I know - this is all a little bit early, but in the Kabbalistic calendar we have already moved from lumbering, earth bound Taurus to flitty, flighty, up-in-the-air Gemini.

Now, I'm not saying that it is difficult for Gemini's to finish what they start, but since opening this blog post I've already changed my mind three times on what I want to write. And then I thought I might go and get something to eat, but I couldn't decide what, and then I listened to a bit of music and...

Where was I? Oh yes, beards.

It is beard season at the Kabbalah centre. Not a place that a pogonophobe would choose to be. Facial hair, by all accounts, (and maybe even other hair - I hadn't even thought about other hair) stores negativity. And so during the negative periods such as The Counting of the Omer, the men grow their beards as a form of protection. A kind of hairy shield, if you will.

Personally I would consider any beard as a shield that will keep them safe from women. Or at least, keep them safe from me. You never know what could be lurking in a beard. I like to keep a safe distance just in case.

Anyhow, I digress. Again.

What fascinates me are the variety of beards being grown at the centre and how they change the general appearance of the owner of said beard. We have full, thick, chunky beards, wispy beards, patchy beards, beards a totally different colour from head hair, beards that you could lose an arm in, and beards that you couldn't run barefoot through.

There are beard owners who have had beards before and seem at ease with their facial hair, deftly curling their moustaches out of the way of their top lip before they eat. And there are beard owners driven half crazy by their facial hair, scratching and rubbing away in discomfort.

The variety of beards is endless, and it reminded me of a conversation I overheard between two men when I worked at GSK. One of them was baby-faced and smooth skinned, the other had a defined five o'clock shadow by 10:30 every morning and was known to have grown a substantial beard during a single IT migration weekend.

"This is really amazing" said Babyface "I can't believe all of the stubble that you have at this time of day. I can leave my face for ages without shaving. You and I should get together some time and have a proper beard growing competition"

"Great idea" says the second guy "What are you doing Tuesday lunchtime?"

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Light is all around

I believe that we are surrounded at all times by the energy of the Universe. Call it what you will - some refer to it as the Law of Attraction, others manifest using NLP techniques, others will call it God.

Most of the time this is outside of our awareness. Unless we do something radical to open up our perceptions, the majority of the day we spend being limited by our five senses. By believing that only what we see or hear is all that is. Or at least, that's how it is most days for me. Even after studying Kabbalah for nearly two years and seeing so many minor miracles and 'coincidences', I still forget. I'm still wrapped up in my head, believing that I have to solve everything on my own.

This Saturday at shabbat, somebody I had never seen before stepped up to give the lecture and rather than focusing on events from the Torah, he told a personal story. A story that had such an effect on me that I would like to share. I'm not really sure that I can do the story justice.

The man is from the LA centre, and has been teaching Kabbalah for 20 years. He knows that the Light exists. He teaches his students that the Light exists. But still, like anybody else, his day is filled with seeing the One Percent Reality of day to day life.

Three weeks ago he was struck down with stomach flu and was in a lot of pain. He was unable to eat or drink, but expecting it to last no more than a couple of days, he decided to ride it out. On the fourth day, he was still in an awful lot of pain, but he was able to drink. And so he drank - copious amounts of water to flush the bug from his system. There was only one problem with this - he discovered that he couldn't pass water. And so his bladder began to fill. And still he couldn't pee.

By the fifth day, he was in excruciating pain. He still couldn't pee, still had pain in his stomach, felt as though his bladder was on the verge of exploding. The slightest movement was agony. His wife called an ambulance.

Throughout this time, he said, he had been praying. But as with most of us when in a difficult situation, we still have hope that there is something else that we can do. If you pray without total surrender, your prayers are heard but not answered. For as long as you think that you can possibly find a solution - that you are bigger than God - you prevent God from helping you.

Even in the ambulance, whilst he was praying through this extraordinary pain, he still thought 'it's going to be okay, because I only have to last another ten minutes, we will get to the hospital and they can free up my bladder and the pain will be over'. No need for any divine intervention.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he was expecting to be swept straight in to a cubicle, but instead they stopped him in the entrance and said "Can I take your name, please?"
'What?!' he cried 'Can you not see that I am about to explode? I need treatment! Please help me!!'
Not, apparently, until he had filled out a form.

And this is the point when he really started to pray.

With his bladder relieved, he was still in pain and it was discovered that his appendix was about to burst, so they took him in for surgery. A couple of days after this he was still in the hospital in a very weak state and unable to attend shabbat for the Torah reading.

He was humbled when the Torah reading was brought to his bedside by Yehuda Berg, and surprised that as Yehuda started to read from the Torah, something was different. Yes, he looked like Yehuda, and he sounded like Yehuda, but there was something about his voice which indicated that something else was present. Something else was coming through. Something he had never experienced before.

The portion of the Torah that week related to the Lepers being healed by the High Priests. And every time Yehuda read "and the Kohanim healed the Leper" he felt something shifting inside, as though something was being removed. Three quarters of the way through the reading, he started to vomit so violently that Yehuda had to leave the room.

By the time the reading was complete, he was in such a weakened state that he could barely speak. He tried to apologise for the state he was in, and Yehuda waved his hand as if to say 'don't worry about it, it's okay'

And at this point, he said that he saw a Light coming through Yehuda, and a look in his eyes of the most unconditional love that you could imagine - the purest form of love, with no judgement attached - something that he had never witnessed before. Something that he could only now access after going through so much pain. A connection with God. A connection to what he had been believing for so many years but had never seen for himself.

The most poignant part of the story is that as the pain subsided and he began to regain his strength, so the ability to feel this pure unconditional love started to fade. He said that he didn't want the pain back, but at the same time, he did, because he longed to hold on to the strength of the love he had felt.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Yesterday I was contacted by an agency with a job role for a high end fashion company with a dodgy beige tartan design coveted by 90% of chavs. I looked at the job spec and turned it down. 'Too technical', I said, too 'infrastructure'. And that was true, but in the back of my mind I was more cringing at the thought of turning up for an interview wearing a skirt from Warehouse and a jacket from Wallis, or bumping in to a Fashionista with perfect skin and five inch heels, whilst wearing a coat from T.K.Maxx.

Plus I was waiting for contact from another agent with a role that I wanted more, albeit temporary. Which was obviously bound to come up.

This morning I had heard nothing. It felt as though nothing was happening, that I was alone in my efforts, responsible for making things happen. And then I remembered the story from Saturday, and reminded myself that the Light was all around. Even though I can't see it, things are happening. I need to let go of my control of how I want things to happen and allow myself to be guided on where I am meant to be.

My phone beeped. Voicemail.
"Hi, just to let you know that I've talked with the program manager to get more details on the role you turned down. Apparently they are really not looking for technical at all - more workflow. Yours is the best CV I have seen. I would really love to put you forwards and if you have a chat with them and aren't keen, then you can let me know. No interest in the fashion industry remotely required"

Hmm. This is interesting.

But I'm still not wearing beige tartan.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Pennies from Heaven

I'm not sure what's different this time round on the job seeking circuit - perhaps the stars are in better alignment - but little opportunities and short-cuts keep popping up when I least expect them.

First of all - a lesson learned, I guess - but the company offering the role I applied for recently (you know, the one that I spent 4 days solid filling out the application form) have not been in touch. Given that the interviews were meant to be held today, I'm taking that as a No.

Having said that, after not receiving an email confirmation for my application (when later confirming directly that it had been received), and speaking to one of the vaguest receptionists on the planet before having a similarly flimsy conversation with HR, leaving me none the wiser as to what was going on, my enthusiasm for working for the company had somewhat waned.

So this morning I decided to apply for the other role which had appeared out of the blue after tactfully turning down the all consuming role in Cambridge. The first step was to submit my CV, which I needed to modify. Then if I was successful, they would send me an application form.

I read through the job description and decided to take a quick look at their website. Which had a current vacancies section. Which gave a more detailed job description. And an application form so that I could skip the first level of screening and apply direct. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle (or aunt - heaven knows, I'm hairy enough).

The application form is a bit of a doozy, however, with the employment history 'main duties' column being no more than two inches wide on paper. I might just have to modify their application form. Fortune favours the brave. But I'm still not entirely happy with my current employment being a voluntary position. It doesn't really give me the opportunity of showing them what I can do. Or is that just my pride? After all, if it's for me, it's meant to be. And if not, so what. (I know, I know, W.B. Yeats, eat your heart out).

So once again I was thrown in to the process of uhm-ing and ah-ing over how to approach this form. And then I checked my google mail account, and found an email from a different recruitment agent asking whether I was interested in a temporary Training Coordinator's contract, to start ASAP.

Yes, please. I can do that. I was back in to edit CV mode again. Perhaps if I get my application for the second role as ready as possible, I might be able to put something other than a voluntary role in the present employment section.

Before submitting my updated CV for the temporary role (just in case any moments of genius happened upon me when my brain hit the fresh air), I nipped out to Sainsbury's to pick up a few bits. And on the way home, I spotted another penny on the pavement.

And this one wasn't glued down.

A good sign, I hope. A sign that finally, things are starting to shift.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

No is an answer like Yes

My mobile rang yesterday morning. Anonymous Call. Half asleep (this was before my second coffee) I answered the call, expecting to hear the voice of my friend Hen Lady to make arrangements for Friday's Day Of Escape.

Hen Lady is the friend with two twin boys, one dog and 5 chickens (namely Rodney, Trigger, Big Bird, Ollie and Nugget - Del Boy, Gandalf and Frango (formerly 'Stupid') had been decapitated by foxes, and Bling had died of old age)

But it wasn't Hen Lady, it was a young woman working for a recruitment agency, who spotted the CV I had posted online. After gathering a bit more (muddle-headed) background on what experience I had and what type of role I wanted, where I wanted to work, would I be prepared to relocate, she told me that she had a role that she would love to put me forwards for as it perfectly matched my skills. She was very excited.

The position was as a technical trainer working for a software company, in Cambridge.

Not wanting to sound incapable or inflexible (and thoroughly flattered that my CV was transforming me in to some kind of IT Training Super Hero), I agreed for her to email the job role to me and to speak again in a couple of hours.

I read the job description and discounted each of my fears, one by one.

She had advised me not to be too concerned about the requirements for technical knowledge - I didn't need to be that technical. All the same, they stated they wanted in depth knowledge of servers, programming languages and web development. I was taught a few programming languages in University but that was over ten years ago. And I know what a server is, but I couldn't tell you the difference between an Apache server and an IIS server. I mean, I've heard of them, but I figure they would like a little more detail.

I took a look at their website to get a better idea of their products. And I hate to admit this, but it was so technical, I didn't understand a single word. They have created some kind of marvellous platform, but I couldn't even tell you why, or how it could be used.

They also wanted someone with at least a year's experience of IT classroom training, including setting up the room. Okay, so I could make myself sound more impressive, but had a feeling that this might backfire on me at interview, if grilled. Because this is another area where I don't have solid experience.

And the role was in Cambridge, which would mean a long commute. Well, maybe not a long commute - the train from Kings Cross takes 50 minutes. Let's see how close to the station they are in Cambridge. Oh. They're at least 4km from the station in the middle of a business park. Sooo.... 25 minutes from the front door to Kings Cross, 50 minutes on a train to Cambridge, 20 minutes bus ride at the other end. Add on waiting time and the commute would easily be over 2 hours, each way. If I hired a car and drove there, then the 1 hr and 15 minutes up the A10, round the M25 and up the M11 would easily be two hours in rush hour. And with training sessions running from 9 to 5 (plus at least 45 minutes before and after to set up and pack up) it would be a long day.

This isn't what I want. I don't want an enormous commute combined with a steep learning curve both on the training and technical side. I also don't want to be commuting outside of London, when I have only just moved in, for the specific reason of being close to my sister and being closer to the Kabbalah Centre. And I don't want to relocate either for the same reasons. But I don't want to appear unwilling either. Yes, I am sure I am capable, but this isn't what I want.

I emailed my teacher and expressed my feelings. What I really want is to find a decent job that uses my skills, enables me to attend the centre and be near to my sister, and not take up so much of my energy and time that I cannot focus on what I really want: to find a nice man and settle down. But if I turn down this opportunity, how is that perceived by the Light?

My teacher answered in one line.
Go with your feelings with certainty. No is an answer like Yes.

I rang the recruiter and told her that her offer had given me an opportunity to focus on what I really want - and that I didn't want to relocate. She was fine - very nice, in fact - and we will continue to be in touch for similar roles in London.

So last night I set up my automatic job email feeds and had a quick scan through the first email for suitable roles. And there, a short way down the listing, was a really positive and friendly job advert, for a nice little role with a good salary, in a charitable company. And the location? Just around the corner from the centre.

As my Mum would say: "Well, I'll be blowed" Although I've no idea what that actually means.

So I'm going to apply for this role, too, with the certainty that if it's for me, it's for me. And if not, I am certain that something else is lined up and waiting.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Pride and The Penny

So here I am, 7 weeks after moving to Tottenham, innit, and I haven't even given you the low down on my living situation. And you know as soon as you read that sentence, that it is not likely that I found somewhere normal to live. Well, where would be the fun in that? I suspect you know me better.

I don't wish to bitch, so I will state the facts:
  1. I am renting the bedroom of a one (yes, one) bedroom flat, from an Eastern European woman who is 13 years older than me.
  2. We are very different.
  3. She sleeps on the sofa bed in the living room.
  4. Because this is a one bedroom flat with a combined living room and kitchen, this makes things a tad difficult when I fancy a nice cup of tea and find the door to the living room is shut. Or want to cook at any time.
  5. She doesn't like me in her space in the morning.
  6. She doesn't like me in her space in the evenings.
  7. She doesn't really like it when I lock myself away in my room either.
  8. There aren't really many other places that I can go.
I think that's enough to go by, logistically. With no money coming in and no cheaper options, I am lucky to have a roof over my head. Plus, I have to respect that I am the one with the bedroom - I'm not sure I would fancy sleeping on the sofa bed.

This morning - before I had finished drinking my coffee (and therefore was not quite yet awake) - I received a little bit of, shall we say, 'helpful advice' (a.k.a. her opinion) as to where I was going wrong.
  1. I needed to restrict on my spending because I didn't have much money (okay, so this is the reason why for the past 3 weeks I have only spent money on train fare and food?)
  2. That I needed to do my best on finding a job (uh-huh); and
  3. That I was too closed - I needed to open up my thoughts a little bit more (actually, if she knew some of my thoughts, she would probably be grateful that I kept them to myself)
Wincing slightly from biting my tongue, I logged on to Facebook to check the energy of the day. Today was the day of Nobility in Humility - appreciation that the Light gives us messages all the time, and so to open ourselves up to listen to what other people were saying.

Oh, crap. I take it all back.

I had a meeting with my teacher today for the first time in 5 weeks. I told him of my living situation. I told him that it was not easy to stay positive. I wondered whether he would simply agree with what she said and hence deliver a double-whammy. He didn't.

"You see," he said "what the Light is telling you here is that you just need to get any job so that you can get out from where you are living. And yes, you are taking action to get a job, but even though you can get the good job in a week, sometime it take one month before you start and maybe two month for the money to come through. So before then, just go out and work on the checkout, or something. Then at least you don't have the anxiety from having no money. And the job that you are looking for will appear for you"

And this is what I had already been thinking for the past week (thanks, Sis) and was planning to do. But still, I admitted to him, I had to fight hard with my pride. Kabbalah Rookie, 1st class honours degree in Computing, working on a checkout? Or as an Office Assistant? It cannot be!, says my Pride. My teacher and I discussed the merits of being humble.

So that is what I plan to do - swallow my pride, walk in to an Agency and say "I don't care what it is, I need a job asap". So this will be interesting. And yes, maybe my landlady has a point, but I think my teacher's message was pretty clear.

Anyways, I head home and make my way to Sainsbury's to spend more money on food (have you seen the latest bargains on chocolate? My word...). As I was walking past a rather busy bus stop, I spotted a penny on the pavement. Aha! Abundance! The Universe has given me a penny! So I stopped to pick it up, curled my fingernails round the edge, and it wouldn't shift. Wtf? I tried again. Nothing happening, except for a broken nail. Great.

At this point I noticed a few eyes burning holes in the back of my head and realised that everyone at the bus stop was watching me try to pick up a penny that had been super-glued to the pavement. And you would think that a penny glued to uneven concrete would come away quite easily, but no, it seemed to be virtually welded to the spot. The penny was going nowhere. I swiftly stood up and scurried on, avoiding eye contact to the disappointment of my audience, pride turning my cheeks a nice rosy pink.


So it looks as though the only way that the Universe is going to give me any money, is if I overcome my pride and get Any Old Job. But what a creative way to deliver a message.

Not only that, but I was sent an email from one of my personal development/positive thinking/laws of the Universe subscriptions at the same time that I was wrestling the penny, with the subject of Mixed Messages. And the case in point?

Telling the Universe that you want more money and then ignoring a penny lying on the pavement.

Okay, I think I have the message now. Can the next penny not be stuck down, please?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Virgin on the ridiculous...

I moved out of my rented house in such a rush and now seem to be paying the consequences. Either that, or am a victim of complete incompetence. Hmm.... you decide.

This was the only time I have ever moved without notifying all of the utility companies in advance, and I contacted Virgin Media the day after I had moved out to cancel my Broadband, TV and Phone package. They advised me that normally they require 30 days notice, but that I could opt for immediate disconnection if I was sure that I no longer needed to use the phone. I'm not quite sure which part of 'I have handed in the keys and no longer have access to the property' they didn't understand, but there we go.

After confirming that I wanted immediate disconnection, I asked for an estimation of the final account, given that I paid for the service one month in advance as part of my contract. The woman advised that I owed roughly £8, plus any call charges.


Oh that it were true.

Two weeks later I was browsing my bank account, cancelling any remaining direct debits. And there it is: a debit from Virgin Media for £39.82. £39.82? That's not what I had written down on my notepad. That's not £8.

I rang them up to query the charge, slightly curious as to what they were feeding their bills to make them grow by nearly £32. The man I spoke to couldn't answer my query, except that the early disconnection fee was apparently £15 and I owed £18 for the days remaining on my contract, although he couldn't give me the exact dates this covered. He said that according to the system, I had been advised of the early disconnection charges, although the woman hadn't recorded the actual value. More than a little disgruntled, I was advised to write a letter to the Customer Care team, and he gave me the address.

I wrote the letter, but due to a) my envelopes being stored in my Dad's workshop and b) the black ink on my printer being extremely low, it didn't make it past the hard drive of my laptop.

I did, however, get round to printing out the cancellation of my TV Licence, with a request for refund.

Today my redirected post started to arrive. In the first bundle were 3 letters from the TV Licensing authority - the first two confirming the cancellation of my licence, with refunds of £70 and £12.12 respectively. Thank you very much. The third was a letter explaining that they had noticed I had recently cancelled my direct debit, and therefore it was not possible to take further instalments, and could I contact them to provide my bank account details?

Er, in a word, No.

Also included in this bundle was a pre-court notification from a Debt Collection agency, stating that I owed Virgin Media the sum of £39.82, and that failure to pay would result in further proceedings.

Interesting. How do they manage to type these letters, given that the left hand clearly doesn't know what the right hand is doing....

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

It's the way I tell 'em

Two quick jokes...

Joke #1

Two cats were swimming the channel: a British cat called One Two Three, and a French cat called Un Deux Trois.

Which cat won?

The English cat, One Two Three.


Because Un Deux Trois quatre cinque..........

Joke #2 - a Hebrew joke...

Miriam was in court, having been caught shoplifting.

"You stole a can of peaches" the Judge said "How do you plead?"
"Guilty" says Miriam
"Why did you steal the peaches?" the Judge asks
"Because I was hungry" Miriam replies.
"How many peaches were in the can?" the Judge asks
"Five, your Honour"
The Judge thinks for a moment and then said "Okay, so for this crime you will serve 5 days in prison - one for each peach"
At this point, Miriam's husband stands up and says "Excuse me, your Honour, I would like to give some more information"
"Go ahead" says the Judge
"She also stole a can of peas...."

Hey, I didn't say they were good jokes...

Monday, 26 April 2010

Procrastination, continued...

Okay, okay, so nobody's perfect. But I'm doing my best. Well, maybe I'm not quite doing my best, but I'm planning to later on. I promise.

I've found a job that I am really interested in applying for. I have just about all of the skills in some areas, and more than the skills in others. It's for a really good charitable organisation. I am fired up. I can see myself in this role.

And here is my downfall. I can so much see myself in this role that the thought of not getting an interview is giving me the shakes. So I really need to get the application right. And as the application doesn't have to be in until next week, I am spending more time than would be required by any normal person. (Then again, who said I was 'normal'...)

So I haven't actually completed any of the fields on the application form. Not yet. But when I do, man, it's going to be impressive - they won't be able to turn me down, surely? But I promise you that everything I have done during the day is working towards creating a blinding application and preparing me for interview.

First of all, I printed out the application form, job description and equal opportunities form, at which point I noticed that the black ink on my printer was Extremely Low. I already ordered the ink when it was 'low' and the packet was waiting to be collected at the local Royal Mail collections office, one train stop away. So before they decided to return it to sender, I thought I ought not procrastinate any more and go and pick it up.

And as the collection office was one train stop away, I pondered the chances of being caught not paying for my fare. I mean, it's one stop, right? On a national rail line, during the middle of the day... So I didn't pay my fare. I wonder if this could count on my CV as an example of Risk Taking? (or whether it would be considered pure theft?)

Anyhow, the train arrived and, lost in my thoughts, I casually boarded in the third carriage. The doors beeped and closed, at which point I surfaced from my dream state for five seconds, looked to the right, and saw halfway down the carriage three men wearing yellow jackets with writing on which read "RAIL ENFORCEMENT OFFICER". Oh. Bugger.

Luckily for me, all three of them were already 'enforcing penalties' on some other risk taker. I'm not sure why it took all three of them, but I'm glad that it did. Muttering a profuse number of prayers in my head, I tried to look as casual as possible whilst willing the next station to appear, considering that shifting from one leg to another with my finger on the 'Door Open' button and muttering 'Come o-o-o-o-on, come o-o-o-o-on' would attract more than a small amount of suspicion. And there were three of them. I'm not sure if it was relief or the thrill of getting away scot free, but I leapt off the train giggling like a schoolgirl.

After wandering halfway round the streets of Bruce Grove (walking past a pub called The Titanic, would you believe) I eventually asked for directions to the parcel office and discovered that it was located just behind the station itself. Next time I will look at Google Maps the right way up. Thankfully a good sense of direction is not required as part of my job role, with the exception of actually getting to the interview.

There were no enforcement officers on the way home, and no, I didn't pay. Evidence that I am proficient in Probability.

When I got home I had the bright idea of contacting a friend to see if I could use his online training account to brush up on some of the technology required for the role. More theft. I shall be punished. I also emailed another friend to ask if she would pull some Help Desk data so that I can see what type of calls I may have to handle. And then I started working through the online training itself.

Everything I've done today (except for the blatant stealing) is all a good foundation for future job roles. Kind of. In any event, it's still one step further than yesterday.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Building my castle on the rock

What's going on? The majority of blog posts I have caught up with today have been on either washing, or condoms, or washing and condoms.

I cannot add to the condom side of things, having no need for them in my life at this particular moment in time (chance would be a fine thing), but I was planning to do a couple of loads of washing this afternoon.

Wow - the interconnectedness of all things. The Universe Speaks. And not just in Blog Land.

The energy for last week (and being carried in to this week) was to Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself. Not having attended the Zohar class (where the energy of the week was explained), I was a little bit surprised to hear this given that this was the conclusion I had come to the day before.

The concept of Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself, to me, means two things - first, that you cease to judge anybody, and secondly (and most appropriate for this week) if you want to love thy neighbour as thyself, first of all you have to love thyself.

When the concept of this was mentioned during the shabbat lecture, my friend turned to me and said "Just yesterday I was saying to my friend, if the river is to feed all of the streams, something needs to feed the river"

It's so true, and something I have come to realise over the past week or so. It seems as though I am not the only one - you see: The Interconnectedness of All Things....

I bought a guided meditation package just over a week ago, feeling the need for a little help on visualising my future. It is a 21 day course, which guides you to achieving a goal. So first of all, you have to set the goal. And the instructions somewhat disappointed me.

"Think of a big goal that you feel really excited about...."

Okay, so I need to get a job. Level of excitement? Zero. Too much fear, too much guilt, too much lack, not enough appreciation of what I can do. Oh. So that's not very helpful. I sat and looked at the sheet of paper, and turned the instructions around in my head. So, let's look at this another way, what kind of job could I be really excited about getting? Something that makes me come alive?

The job came to me, my imagination started to work, and my excitement started to grow. And as I began to visualise being in this job, time and time again, I started to be able to see my abilities for myself.

This has fired off a whole chain of events - an internal shift which I've not had in a very long time. I have started to love what I have to offer, without the need to hear it from anyone else. I have started to understand that my future which I have been seeing in shades of Depression Grey for so very long, is starting to burst in to colour. Without the ability to really connect to a positive future, I had no desire. Now my desire is growing.

And once that connection has been made of taking care of my own happiness, of understanding what I am capable of, of truly appreciating myself and hence loving myself, then the rest appears to be just commentary. I don't need to look at other, more accomplished people and feel as though I am less - because, well, good for them, I have something to offer too. The guilt that has kept me secluded for so many years is starting to fall away, and I've discovered that once I have removed my own fear of judgement from other people, it has ceased to exist. It was only me who was putting it in to the picture in the first place, whereas when I am focusing on the positive - on what I can do - what I haven't done just doesn't get discussed. How sublime.

Thank heavens for guided meditation. I feel as though I am finally building my castle upon the rock. But until I am living in that castle, I guess I will still have to do my own washing...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Yes, I am just doing this for fun

Okay, so I finally finished two CVs. And saved them. And then my head fell off through the sheer effort of concentration (and probably way too much caffeine), so I went to watch a little bit of TV (something that I never do during the day, although to be fair, it was 4pm by the time my head fell off).

And then I went back and re-opened my CVs and decided that I wasn't happy with them.

How can I be? How can you capture the magnificence of my Being on two sides of A4? Impossible.

Bereft of anything else to add, I decided to make them look a little prettier instead. Blind the agencies with outstanding layout. That'll do the trick.

As it was 4pm and my head had fallen off, there was no chance of having to actually speak to anyone, so I cooked dinner and then went back to my free Hebrew course. And I love it. I cannot write the letters for toffee and am reliant on seeing the vowel sounds for pronunciation, but I love it. I am now at the end of lesson 3, and only have one free lesson to go before I discover that I cannot afford to pay to learn any more.

So there's my incentive to get a job. That and a home laser hair removal kit.

Later in the evening I had a call from my Dad, who told me that I needed to get a job.
Half an hour after that, my 'landlady' gave me a lecture on getting a job, actually stating that at times she wanted to put me over her knee and smack me for hiding away instead of working.

It's as if people think that I am doing this to somehow piss them off - like I am enjoying watching my bank account run further in to the red. What a hoot!

I can understand their frustration because I know what I am capable of. If I could start work tomorrow without having to be screened, interviewed, tested, judged, questioned and doubted, then I would.

On the surface, to the people who know me, nothing appears to have changed. I am lazy and avoiding work. I am wasting my talents. I am irresponsible. They don't see what is stopping me and for the life of me I cannot explain this invisible wall which has blocked me for so long.

What they cannot see are the changes taking place within. Over the past week I have started to develop an inner strength that I haven't felt before. Something is definitely going on and the bricks are being knocked away, one by one.

And now that I have finally finished my CVs, the world may just be my lobster...

The Fine Art of Procrastination

I am pulling my CV together. Honest. I am closer than I have ever been. In fact, I have created one CV and am now in the process of creating a second one for the type of role that I actually want.

I am way too modest for CV creation to come naturally to me. No, seriously, I am the most modest person going. Out of all of the modest people out there, I am the best. (Hmmm... wonder if I could make that in to a bullet point in my Personal Profile?)

The pain of creating this amazing CV (which will only have to be chopped and changed and buggered about with anyway, so I am not sure exactly why I am giving myself such a hernia over this) has grown so huge that it is remarkable how many other "important" things I am finding to do with my time.

Even on the best day, I am a mental butterfly, lightly landing on a task for, oh, about five minutes before being distracted by the next brightly coloured or shiny thing. My boredom threshold even for the things I love to do is very low. I feel pity for my past boyfriends, who had to deal with 'oh, you're still horny? I am ready for a nice cup of tea' only five minutes after removing our clothes. Or maybe I exaggerate. Perhaps it was ten minutes.

With the absence of a boyfriend, sex is off the list as a distraction, and I find myself taking the art of procrastination to its most mundane level.
  • Get up, make cup of coffee.
  • Make another cup of coffee.
  • Morning meditation.
  • Third cup of coffee.
  • Get dressed.
  • Read email - pick out the emails to respond to later, after creating CV.
  • Open CV document.
  • Decide to respond to emails now, rather than later. I mean, who knows how long this is going to take?
  • Remember to put washing on. Return to laptop.
  • Remember to take chicken out of the freezer. Return to laptop.
  • Check email again. Oh look, I can respond to this one really quickly. Oh, and this one has a really interesting article.
  • Look at CV. Hear stomach rumble. Eat banana and make a cup of tea.
  • Decide to quickly check blogs whilst finishing cup of tea.
  • Empty washing machine and take time to remove as many creases as possible when placing clothes on dryer.
  • Remember that I want to order some books on Amazon, have a very quick search.
  • Follow links from recommended titles and end up taking 2 full lessons on how to speak Hebrew. Feel proud that I stopped at 2 lessons, when 4 were free.
  • Return to CV, write a couple of lines. Get stuck.
  • Check email, just in case. Find another couple of interesting articles.
  • Decide to have a break from the computer, back is getting stiff and hand turning in to claw.
  • Make another cup of tea. Have brainwave on how to deal with CV format. Promise to instantly return after cup of tea and put changes in place after lunch.
  • And after checking email..
  • And after checking for updated blogs...

This too, will pass. Just one more check of email...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

No Pain, No Gain

Without wanting to bore you with a load of spiritual clap trap, we are in the period of the Counting of the Omer. The Counting of the Omer comes directly after Pesach and lasts seven weeks. It's a time where you shouldn't start anything new. It's a time where life feels like wading through treacle and no progress seems to be made.

Shabbat yesterday was filled with strained faces - lots of grinning through gritted teeth. Ask the question "How are you?" and the reply is never "Great!" but more along the lines of "Ye-e-e-e-e-a-a-ah - ask me another" accompanied by an expression that says 'we're in the Counting of the Omer and I feel like I am wading through treacle'

Fortunately, when you wade through treacle (can't say that I have personally had the experience, but I have a very good imagination and can see it as being at least twice as challenging as Aqua Aerobics) it might be tough, but the rewards are greater. Push through anything during the Counting of the Omer and you have the chance to earn yourself a great deal of Light on the night of Shavuot - the day where it is possible to tap in to the energy of Immortality. Okay, so now we're talking - surely it has to be worth the effort.

One of the things I decided to push through was this whole business of exercise, because thin though I may be, I am not remotely fit. I have received many compliments on my new figure, having dropped a dress size over the past few months, and have also been questioned on how I achieved my weight loss. To this end I am honest. "Unhealthily" I reply. Add stress to not eating from one day to the next and the love handles just melt away, as does half of your muscle. The tops of my arms are now sleek and skinny, and if I tense my stomach muscles I have a totally unearned six pack going on. Kind of. If I squint a little. Even my usually rather sticky out bum has started to look flat. The thighs, it has to be said, are still in existence.

The only problem with not eating is that there is little energy to do anything else and to this extent skinny people with eating disorders are not the most fun people to be around, because after ten minutes of window shopping (if you haven't lost them down a grate by this point) they want to sit down and take a rest. And the number of times I have almost slipped imperceptibly between train and platform where there are no 'Mind The Gap' signs just beggars belief. If it weren't for my long, flappy feet it would be a different story altogether.

Anyhow, being a lover of healthy food, junk food AND chocolate, I decided that if I want to stop drifting around like an outpatient, I ought to start eating AND start exercising. And then maybe I'll get to keep my new size (because I can't afford to buy more clothes) and I will have more energy.

I know, just call me Einstein.

So on Friday I finally took my Bar Method DVD out of it's box and ran through the workout. And I love the Bar Method. Lots of little, tiny movements, no leaping around, and short term pain. There are lots of little repetitions, but not enough to make me cry. Just when I get to the point where I am thinking 'it's no good, I'm going to have to put my leg down', the instructor on the DVD (who has the body that I am aiming for, dammit) says 'Okay, and we're done. You can lower your leg. Good Job!'

After the workout, I get the feeling that, actually, I haven't done anything at all. I feel fine. Did any of those teeny movements actually do anything? I feel doubtful. The same doubt that I feel when I take any action in other areas and am impatient to see the change.

Luckily, workout-wise, I don't have to wait too long to feel the difference. Because I woke up yesterday feeling as though I had run the London Marathon a day early. And this is supposed to make me fit? I thought, as I clawed my way in to the bathroom, my calf muscles so tight that I could barely get my heels on the ground.

So I spent most of yesterday in various stretch postures to prevent my body from seizing up in to a shape resembling The Hooded Claw. Halfway through the afternoon, after an inadvisable nap which had turned most of my muscles to wood, there was a knock at the door. It was the local Jehovah's Witnesses.

After a brief and polite discussion where I explained that I studied Kabbalah (which they had never heard of), she glanced curiously at my rigid posture and asked a crucial question:

"Is Immortality something that you believe in?"

In theory, yes I do. In practice, I'd feel blessed if I made it to next week....

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Life's Simple Pleasures

Life in Tottenham is bringing many challenges.

No, it's not the neighbourhood, with the group of local itinerant teenagers sometimes breaking in to the block to smoke cannabis and intimidate the residents.

It's not even the slightly infrequent overground train service which only runs every half hour on a Sunday which is getting me down.

No, no, it's more of a fundamental requirement which is bugging me - Water.

I should be grateful really, that I live in a country which provides 24 hour access to the most important element in drinkable form. And I am. I am eternally thankful for this sustaining source of life being piped in to the house. No, truly. It's a blessing. Thank You God that I shall never go thirsty.

But hey, God, now that you are on the line, could I ask just a teensy favour? Could you warm it up a bit and bring it through the taps a tiny bit faster, so that I can have a hot bath at some point today, preferably before I have to leave the house at 5?

The flat I live in is on the 4th floor. The day after I moved in, the water pressure coming through the bath taps and the shower dropped significantly enough to trick the boiler in to thinking that nothing was coming through.

Now, call me spoiled if you wish, but I do love a hot shower. Standing under a dribble of tepid water is not enough to set me up for the day. My landlady is practical and philosophical - a tepid shower is not so bad - it's tolerable.

No, no, no. It's not tolerable - it's insufferable! I don't wake up in the morning until my skin is a bright shade of pink all over!

Being of swift mind, I soon discovered a neat little trick: if I turn on the hot tap at the sink and turn it down to a trickle once the hot water starts coming through, the boiler stays on and the dribble of water trying to pass itself off as a shower comes through passably warm. Sometimes it even steams up the mirrors.

Today, being delightfully filled with snot and feeling groggy, I decided that it would be a real tonic to have a good soak instead. After 'running' the bath for half an hour and writing most of this blog post in the meantime, I returned to the bathroom to find 2 inches of water which still didn't really fit my description of 'hot'.

Oh well. As a good friend once said: "Persistence narrows the odds"

As would a good plumber.