The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 2

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Monday 30th About eighteen months ago I stopped using shampoo completely and decided to wash my hair with water only, the benefits of this I am now realising are huge. I wash my hair far less, once a week, as opposed to the once every two days it needed previously, so save on water, I don’t need to be concerned about running out of shampoo or conditioner and more importantly, as it grew happily and healthily I just let it do its own thing. It is now someway down my back and while everyone else is worrying about the hairdressers being closed I am absolutely ok. I also decided years ago, when the first grey started to appear, never to bother to dye my hair, another unexpected bonus as it turns out now. My natural hair colour is my natural hair colour. Forward planning it now seems 🙂

I feel very tired today. I could be the hay fever or whatever it is or may be because I’ve unusually been a little stressed.  For the second time in the last few days I have discovered my mobile phone operators have taken money for mobile data that I haven’t used. Reduced staff mean it is harder to get hold of anyone and of course all their stores are closed, even if I was foolish enough to go out. I don’t usually get stressed by things like this but this time have been. Maybe it is the small things that usually would roll over me that are going to seem bigger than they really are. I must be mindful of this.

Tuesday 31st Neither of us felt like walking today  so we didn’t. One thing I am really learning now, is to go with how I am feeling at any given moment. No judgement, no pushing through anything, but just accepting it and allowing it.

Today we did an egg run to collect eggs from a nearby farm. It felt quite illicit as we took the car and we both went. It’s way easier to carry a tray of eggs when you can hold them and not have to mind them on the passenger seat while you drive, plus I only had to sanitise my hands when I got back in the car and not everything I’d touched in the car.

I am discovering loads about online food shopping now, such as the fact that, just like in physical shopping, the minute you get through the checkout you realise you have forgotten to buy something.

Wednesday 1st April A whole new month, it will be interesting to see what new things, what new insights this one brings.

More learning about online shopping – if you ask for spelt bread and they don’t have any they just don’t put anything in instead. Good job I make my own bread with oats and yoghurt. I am now hoping I have enough yoghurt to see us through another week as there is no nipping back to the shop just now.

Thursday 2nd For the whole of last week I did no art whatsoever, I just wasn’t in the right mood somehow. I was fine most days, just didn’t want to do art. Today something has changed and I spent a few hours working on the next Christmas’ Calendar painting for Bandon Art Group’s calendar.

Friday 3rd I’m wondering if anyone has, like me, opened their wardrobe and realised that a large percentage of the clothes in it will not get worn for the foreseeable future. I have winter jumpers that, if I was going out more would be worn, but I don’t need them indoors. I have ‘going out’ clothes that I wont be wearing as I am not ‘going out’ and I have travel clothes, quick dry ones I usually wear on the holiday I am no longer going on. First world problems here. I have way too many clothes I realise and so perhaps the thing to do is re-home a lot of them once this is over. I may though need to buy a new track suit for it is about the only thing on my body these days. I could I suppose always ‘dress up’ at home as I have seen others online doing but that really isn’t me somehow. Or it isn’t at the moment anyway.

Saturday 4th I was listening to someone on the radio talking about washing their hands mindfully and using those 20+ seconds to really be in the moment. I already sing ‘Baby Shark’ in my head while I am washing them but this does seem like it might be a big improvement so will try this the 100 or so times I wash my hands today.

I have also been realising just how important it is to laugh. My art group has a WhatsApp group and am discovering that we seldom talk about art, which may be true of us as a group now I stop to think about it,  but are sharing clips, gifs, jokes etc to make everyone laugh, to keep everyone’s spirits up. Social distancing at it’s most useful and I am grateful to be part of it.

Sunday 5th Gratitude is something that I frequently have to remind myself to be. I am grateful, but stopping and recognising it has never come naturally for some reason.

It is one of the five Reiki Principles:

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  • Don’t be angry
  • Don’t worry
  • Be grateful
  • Work hard
  • Be kind to other people

and it is the one I always struggle with. The others frequently act as a reminder to me, pull me up sometimes but ‘be grateful’ somehow gets overlooked.

This week though, I have been realising how lucky I am and therefore how grateful I am for many things:

  • my home
  • the fact I have space
  • my garden
  • my stone circle (you can see this in the photo at the top of the page)
  • that I am not home alone but can be alone if I chose to be
  • that I am safe
  • that I live in a rural area and can easily go for a walk
  • that I am relatively fit and healthy
  • that I have broadband
  • WhatsApp and Facebook messenger
  • Friends who I now talk to online
  • my art
  • the gift of Reiki
  • Shamanic journeying which can take me anywhere

 

 

 

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 1

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 1

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This is not a diary since the start of the strangest of times but begins where my last blog left off. I have decided a general summing up each day is probably the best way to go….for now anyway. Maybe some of what I do can help others, who knows, for these days are all unknown.

Monday 23rd.  I am counting the days since I last had coffee with a friend. My friend was tested yesterday and is waiting for the results. I have read incubation is 2-14 days. Today is day 13. I have everything crossed. I get allergy asthma and have had a slight purr for a few days now so over the last days I have been watching every cough, wheeze, sneeze and washing my hands over and over again.

On the way to get our new rotary drier today we got diverted due to roadworks and ended up going a long way out of our way. During the detour we realised that a) we had no idea where we were b) we could easily have ignored the detour and gone a different way, a way we  knew and c) none of it actually mattered in any way as we had absolutely nothing else we needed to be doing at all.

Our holiday, as I said in my last blog was cancelled completely yesterday. Conversation has ranged from will we ever be able to go somewhere again, to if we had postponed it until next year we have no idea how our health will be (we are not getting any younger and are in the at risk age group after all) to, will we even be around when this is all over. We are allowed some doom and gloom sometimes although for some reason I really believe we will both be ok.

Tuesday 24th Today I wrote a catch up blog starting with when we first became impacted by the virus. This is something I had been thinking about doing and of course I do have the time now so no excuses.

Found myself coughing a lot this morning but then realised I had forgotten to use my inhaler. All good once I had. Had a good laugh to myself about it, panic over.

Gym: My real gym is still open having created timed slots, enough individual spaces for a small number of people to workout with small weights etc, time in between for disinfecting each workspace and any equipment used. They are doing their best but it is too much of a risk so I have set up a ‘gym’ in what was my treatment/teaching space, outside in my log cabin.

It is nothing special, simply foam roller, yoga mats, resistance bands and a pilates ball, all things I had at home anyway. I now think I should have picked up some light weights in Aldi a few weeks ago but I didn’t so I’ll manage. What this space gives me though, apart from chance to move, is some routine. I plan to go to it on days I would have gone to my real gym if I am not walking due to the weather plus maybe an extra day because at the moment there is no Zumba.  I have downloaded some Spotify gym playlists to my phone, and so I have music.

Today was my first real workout, just a warm up, resistance bands, squats, lunges and stretching cool down but I really enjoyed it. Could feel my body buzzing afterwards. We were so made to move.

Coming back into the house I saw a bee, yesterday when we went out we saw a butterfly and last evening there was the amazing sunset. It’s brilliant how nature can brighten up things for us isn’t it. Of course now we’ve slowed down maybe we will have more time to look and realise what is around us.

Wednesday 25th Today’s excitement has been getting our first online shop delivered. It arrived within the time slot booked, a couple of things substituted and a few things missing, mainly a few items of fruit and veg. I forget that so much of what we eat comes from elsewhere. Garlic from Spain, and Ginger from China I think, are nowhere to be seen. We were though missing blueberries, mange tout, and plums. I’ve no idea where these come from, perhaps I should know. Fish is also missing and is likely to be throughout as the fishing boats are no longer going to sea. This is a shame as fish is so good for us. I’m sure we’ll manage though as long as we can get other healthy forms of protein. It can’t be forever after all.

Thursday 26th Gym day again and new ways to use the resistance bands. So pleased I kept the insert in the box which has loads of instructions on. Great to have new things to try.

The sun was shining so we went for a walk on the beach. Lots of cars but not too many people, family groups all keeping to themselves, the odd picnic and some elderly friends who had travelled separately, brought chairs with them, set them up apart from each other by their cars and were having a good catch up. Everyone was being sensible and as the tide was way out we got a lovely long walk, lots of sea air and some sunshine. Simple things these days 🙂 The picture at the start is the beach. I can’t take you there but I can share this with you.

Friday 27th I have had an itchy, dry,  uncomfortable throat for a few days now and don’t feel 100%. I know it is most likely hay fever or allergy asthma so I am taking antihistamine and using my inhalers carefully. Easy to fear the worst. I looked up hay fever symptoms and early virus symptoms and guess what – they are the same! Oh well.  I’m fine 🙂 Best not to look things up, I really should know better.

There is so much being offered freely online, art lessons, dance, gym workouts, music, maths, languages that it’s beginning to be a little overwhelming. People are very kind sharing everything online, in WhatsApp groups etc etc but I think it’s time to start filtering things out and ignoring everything that doesn’t seem important or useful.

Beautiful weather again so we went for a walk from the house. I think this is something we will do every day it’s dry, along with opening all the windows, as fresh air suddenly seems vital.

4pm tonight was a live briefing and we now have more restrictions. A lockdown in all but name. Life is closing down even more but what we are being asked to do is pretty much what I have been doing anyway, so for me nothing much will change at this point, unless I have missed something.  For others though this brings yet more change.

Actually we have just found out all golf courses are closed now which means the 15 hrs or so a week I had to my self have just vanished. Luckily we have space in our home and we have the garden, it does seem important that we both make sure we have time to ourselves over the coming weeks so I guess there is change after all.

Tonight we stood in our back garden and watched the ISS fly over us followed by the starlinks. The sky was clear and we watched the stars slowly appear above us. Best of all was the bats that were flying around the garden. This is the first time we have seen them for ages. Have they been here all the time and we have just not noticed? What else have we missed through being too busy to stand still and look?

My husband just happened to look out of the window around 9.30pm and saw this,

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a red crescent moon. Someone said to me, when they saw the photo on Facebook, that our ancestors would have seen this as an bad omen, today though it feels like nature is showing us how amazing the world is despite everything that is going on.

Saturday 28th I feel really out of sorts today for some reason. Not sure what it is but recognise there are bound to be days like this. For now it’s best to sit with it, acknowledge it and try not to get caught up in it all. Eat well, exercise, sleep well and let it pass.

Sunday 29th My Zumba teacher has managed to work out Zoom and to test it out we had an impromptu dance around complete with all the laughter that goes with Zumba this morning which was just what I needed. Dancing bare foot on carpet, dressed in warm clothes is not the usual way I do Zumba but really who cares.

Looking back on this blog earlier this morning I found it hard to believe that it was only Friday that the deeper restrictions came in. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we adapt to new situations when we have no real choice and when instead of resisting them we allow ourselves to go with the flow and make the best of them.

The Strangest of Times

The Strangest of Times

 

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This is certainly the strangest of times for many, if not all of us. Over the last weeks we have had change almost on a daily basis which can be very destabalising for the best of us. I haven’t been here, writing for a very long time but have a sense that I need to record this time, not for prosperity but so that when it’s all over I can look back and remember what it’s like. I don’t ever want to forget this for it will leave me and probably so many others changed in some way.

For me it all started back in January, the week after we had made the final payment on our trip to Indonesia and Singapore. We had spent time planning this trip as it was to be for my husband’s big birthday (one with a 0 at the end), no party with friends but chance to see Borobudur in Java, a place he had been wanting to visit for years.

We knew Coronavirus was in China but then came the international conference in Singapore where the virus began to spread. I watched daily as the numbers crept up in Singapore and gradually we began to discuss whether it was sensible to be putting our health at risk by travelling. Realising we would lose our money if we pulled out I began to read about how to protect ourselves whilst travelling. Hand washing, not touching surfaces, wiping cutlery with napkins before using them and so on. I stocked up on hand sanitiser to take with us knowing that if I left it too late and the virus arrived on these shores I would have problems getting any.

I became quite stressed mainly by the amount I was reading online, the daily reports from Singapore and fears and anxiety surfaced rapidly. Drawing on everything I have in my ‘toolkit’ as a therapist I managed to shift these and slowly, slowly began to relax and let go if it all.

Then on March 12th 2020 our lives changed completely when, sitting having coffee while the car was getting its roadworthy check, we watched the Taoiseach on television speaking from Washington, tell us schools, colleges and public institutions were to close that evening. Driving home we stopped to do our weekly food shop expecting there to be long queues and nothing on the shelves but were pleasantly surprised to find there was plenty of everything and it was all completely civilised.

We continued discussing the holiday but it had now shifted to ‘We could get   Coronavirus here so we may as well travel, it makes no difference.’

From that point though there have been a whole list of cancellations, closures, no going for coffee with friends, no lunches out, no gym, no Zumba, no art group, no historical society in fact  no anything really. The pubs are all shut down and restaurants are closing everywhere.

For the last weeks we have been practicing social distancing, staying at first one, then two meters apart when out, crossing the road when we meet anyone, really avoiding any chance contact. We are encouraged to go out, get fresh air and exercise and as I live in a rural area this is easy to do. I am lucky in that we have a garden plus I have set up yoga mats, resistance bands and my pilates ball in what was previously my therapy/teaching  room so have a very small gym.

We have also been exploring shopping online as we are in the ‘at risk’ age group. The earliest we could shop was a week ahead so in the meantime we have been venturing out for the odd shop to get wine and chocolate and  some food of course. Our first home delivery is due tomorrow which feels like an adventure as we are not sure how much of the order will actually arrive.

At the weekend a local restaurant was doing take away via phoned orders and strict collection times so we availed. So nice to have something I hadn’t cooked for a change. We were though surprised at the number of cars on the roads all driving to the coast, it was as busy as some bank holidays. Later in the day I saw many photos online showing crowds of people at the coast, at scenic spots around the country all of which make social distancing difficult and life harder for those of us who live in these areas.

We are mindful that everything may soon be shut down completely except for essential services so yesterday we had to make a trip to the recycling centre as we no longer have a bin collection. Shortly before we went I was hanging up washing and noticed the line on our rotary drier was almost broken in several places so after the recycling we made a quick dash to buy a new one. I almost panicked at the thought of going into the next weeks without being able to hang out the washing on a good day.

Yesterday we officially cancelled our holiday. There is no non-essential travel anywhere, visas are cancelled, planes grounded, even if we could go then we would be straight in quarantine on arrival in Singapore. We had talked of postponing but who knows when this will all be over or even what will be possible when it is, or even if we will still be here. Nothing like a sneaky virus to make living in the moment the only possible way to exist is there. Even tomorrow seems too far away to plan for.

The radio is on as I write this and the talk is that we are likely to see more measures put in place later in the day so maybe the washing line has been replaced just in time.

My plan now is to keep a diary on here and post weekly but for now I leave you with the beautiful sunset that was right outside my window. We will get through this and it is enjoying moments like this that will help us do so.

Deathwalking

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‘Deathwalking: helping them cross the bridge’ edited by Laura Perry and recently published by Moon Books is an anthology consisting of ten perspectives on the shamanic practice of deathwalking, or psychopomp as it is widely known, which is the guiding of souls to the next realm.

I have blogged about this important book before and I would normally be writing a review for this but as one of the contributors to Deathwalking this doesn’t really feel appropriate. Instead, now that you can actually pre order it ahead of its publication on 26th October 2018,  I will leave you with links to the book for UK  and USA so that you can read other people’s reviews and this tiny snippet from one endorsement:

‘…a rare opportunity to learn more about guiding souls and also about the compassionate people who perform this essential service.’ Evelyn C. Rysdyk, author of The Norse Shaman

Forest Bathing

 

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I haven’t written a blog here for a while but you can head over to my Moon Books Blog and read all about Forest Bathing if you’d like to.

There are loads of lovely blogs there by all kinds of pagan authors so why not go exploring and see what else you can find while you’re there.

Stirring up energy

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I have spent the summer procrastinating, hovering between what to do, what not and not really making any firm decisions about anything really. I could blame this on the amazing summer we have had, the energy sapping heat, the fact that being in the garden has been much nicer than being anywhere else but really I can’t. Sometimes when things are like this it’s good to shift things around and stir up the energy a bit, or even a lot which is exactly what I have found myself doing over the last few days.

For the last few weeks I have been finding that I have been very drawn to water; rivers, the sea, any water with movement. Water is of course very cleansing and purifying, a good energy to use to release and is a great reminder about going with the flow rather than fighting against it.
Water is not a normal energy for me to work with as I am much more likely to be found using fire to transform and shift rather than water, but writing this now I am aware for the first time that having spent summer surrounded by fire in the form of the sun, which no doubt has been working away on me, that maybe now the opposing energy of water is exactly what I need.

In line with going with the flow and not questioning what I was drawn to do, armed with the hoover, a bowl of water and a sponge I set about cleaning my workspace, something I was feeling very strongly needed to be done. In order to work with water to clean though I also had to do some sorting out and throwing away, in itself a great form of releasing. Who knew I had so much stuff that I didn’t even know I had, and in some cases where it had come from. I found course notes from 10 years ago, print outs of information that had long since stopped being of any use to me not to mention training materials for therapies I have long stopped working with to any great extent. Of course once I started on one area there was another that caught my attention. Deciding to move a bookcase meant that it needed clearing off first. In order to move it to a new place I needed to sort out my CD rack and so it went on until the whole room had been cleared, cleaned and rearranged.

I should have felt tired after doing this and the next day I did ache more than a little, but above everything I felt energised and this feeling has continued to hold. Going into my workspace now feels different, fresher, new in some way. The energy in there has changed as has mine. I’m not sure that I am any nearer making those decisions but for now that doesn’t matter. I am ready to enjoy the new energy, and to see where it takes me; as with water just going with the flow of it all, being, observant, being mindful and feeling excited about where I might end up.

Deathwalking

Deathwalking

 

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One of the things I love about being a Moon Books author is that sometimes we get to contribute to community books. The latest of these is the new Shaman Pathways book ‘Deathwalking: Helping them cross the bridge’ which due out in October 2018 is available to preorder now at a great price from Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Deathwalking, also known as psychopomp, is where someone helps a soul that has passed cross over, sometimes at the time of death and at others some time afterwards. It is one of those fascinating subjects that is often ignored as it can be difficult for people to talk about.

In the ‘Deathwalking’ anthology ten authors, myself included, have written about their experience or understanding of deathwalking.  All of us have different experiences, some very personal, some with souls outside of our immediate families, but together the ten essays give insight into and perspective on this area of shamanic practice.

I could wax lyrically about the content of the anthology but then I am biased. Instead I will leave you with an endorsement of ‘Deathwalking’ from Sandra Ingerman who has no connection with the book whatsoever.

Deathwalking is a brilliant and much-needed anthology on the topic of death. The collection of authors who work with different spiritual traditions provide multiple views on assisting deceased spirits return to Source. The collection of perspectives and ways of working to help the deceased are fascinating and educational. —Sandra Ingerman, author of Soul Retrieval

What are you doing for Summer Solstice?

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I often have great ideas about how I will spend Summer Solstice but they rarely come to fruition. Some years it’s because everyone is busy, other years it rains, and last year I had been unwell and hadn’t the energy to do anything much. I rarely hold a ritual as even though I am studying as an Ovate with the OBOD I have never been fond of set ritual and so tend to avoid them. I probably should just do as I do at other times of the year, wait until the day, spend time connecting with my guides, the energy around the time of year and the spirits of the space I am spending it in and take it from there. Summer Solstice for me though always feels different for some reason.

This year at Bealtain I spent time in my stone circle, tidying, removing anything that had found its way there over the winter, knowing as I did that I was thinking that I would like to spend Summer Solstice amongst the stones. Then a few weeks ago I took delivery of a load of wood chip and so this was moved to refill the wood chip that had mulched down over the last twelve months. As I was refilling the circle I knew that I was preparing it for Summer Solstice and that the day would find me there.

Lunch with a friend I often work with, found that she too was free on 21st June. We had both been talking about the need to be still, to reconnect, to drum and to hold a fire ceremony and so plans were set.

Tomorrow we will meet, we will sit amongst the stones, tune in and connect with our guides and the spirits of the place, we will drum, we will probably make a Despacho to offer to the spirits, and we will have a fire ceremony. The weather this year is on our side with the forecast of a dry sunny day so we will be able to fully connect with the sun at midday. Fingers crossed that all of this will actually come to pass.

This all got me wondering what other people were doing for Summer Solstice so how are you spending it?

If you are looking for some ideas of what to do then this link will take you to some Ancient Celtic Traditions which might provide some inspiration.

Whatever you do, even if it is nothing, I wish you all Solstice Blessings.

 

Osho Zen Tarot and Insight

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I don’t use cards very much and this is in fact the only tarot set that I own but it is a set that I am often drawn to when I really need insight into what is happening in my life.

I first came across the Osho Zen Tarot by Deva Padma, when I was receiving the Munay Ki rites. The tarot is nothing to do with Munay Ki but was used so each of us could gain insight into where we started and the shift that took place during the rites. I found the cards so powerful and insightful that I immediately set about getting hold of a set for myself.

At the moment I am going through a period of being still, of relaxing and enjoying what I have and where I am. When I say being still, what I really mean is helping spread many, many tons of gravel around our drive, house and patio, moving a load of wood chip from the front of the garden to the back so that I can top up the centre of my stone circle for the coming year and getting into a new work out regime after changing from Curves when it closed to an actual gym, somewhere I haven’t been for many years. Stillness and relaxation for me it seems simply means not seeing clients or teaching courses. It is so good to have the space to explore the physicality of my body through the gym and gardening, while the garden is also giving me chance to connect fully with nature in a way I haven’t for a while. Plus of course the amazing weather has made it a pleasure to be outside topping up my Vitamin D 🙂

This ‘time out’ is something I am really making the most of and which I am in no hurry to change in any way but nevertheless less it is still useful to know what this time is for so that I can consciously make the most of it and this is where the Osho Zen Tarot comes in.

For me one of the best ways of gaining insight is just to draw a single card and then reflect on it’s meaning. The other way is to use a Paradox spread and this is where I find the Osho Zen can be really insightful, giving as it does, the here and now, past life influences and of course the paradox.

Today I have done both and so have a clearer understanding of why I have been given this space, what is happening whilst I am ‘busy’ doing my own thing, and where it is leading me.

Rather than try and explain how the Osho Zen Tarot works and how it differs from normal tarot I have copied this extract from the write up on Amazon:

Osho Zen Tarot focuses ….on gaining an understanding of the here and now. It is a system based on the wisdom of Zen, a wisdom that says events in the outer world simply reflect in the outer world simply reflect our own thoughts and feelings, even though we ourselves might be unclear about what those thoughts and feelings are. So it helps us to turn our attention away from outside events so we can find a new clarity of understanding in our innermost hearts. The conditions and states of mind portrayed by the contemporary images on the cards are all shown as being essentially transitional and transformative.

Is it really Spring Equinox?

 

Yesterday it was snowing, today, a bank holiday, we have icicles outside the conservatory, the water in the water feature is frozen and we were going to go and have a walk on the beach but it’s sooooo cold brrrr. It really doesn’t feel like tomorrow is Spring Equinox.

As at Autumn Equinox tomorrow the light and dark will be in equal balance. Unlike at Autumn Equinox when the dark begins to take over, tomorrow it is the light that begins to return. I am hoping that along with the the light comes some much needed warmth.

It is not just me that is feeling the cold, the birds are eating us out of house and home having devoured a large drum of bird food in three days instead of the week to ten days it usually lasts. They have two bird feeders, a bird table and a feeder full of fat balls yet it still seems barely enough. Our daffodils are struggling, the furry shoots on the pussy willow seem to have gone into suspended animation and spring bulbs that would normally be showing signs of life are nowhere to be seen.

It is though much lighter than even a couple of weeks ago. There is a definite stretch in the day and on days when the sun appears there is beginning to be some warmth in it.

One of the things that it can be nice to do at Spring Equinox is to plant some seeds, often having spent time breathing plans and ideas for the months ahead into them with the idea that as they germinate and grow they will act as a reminder and a focus for your own plans. This year though if I am to do that I will need to plant them in a pot to be kept inside or in the greenhouse, as the ground is too hard and lacking in the warmth needed to germinate them.

For me, what is more important than doing anything specific, holding a ritual or ceremony, is to be aware of the turn of the wheel, the passing of time and the shift into a new part of the year. It may not feel like spring, nature may not be showing me it is, but the balance of light and dark will still be there tomorrow and this also gives me chance to stop and find the balance within myself if I give myself the time to do so.