Monday, 29 September 2014

Monday Motivation

Just a single link today because it's super powerful.
Have a good week.

Monday Motivation

'We have to really not be afraid of feeling pain for our world. And where it comes from is love. Our love for this world.'
~ Joanna Macy 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Clean, but not always shiny

Some weeks just seem to happen in Technicolor, do you know what I mean? Events in the world around me and in my personal life have sharpened my senses to a point where I can smell, feel, taste All The Things. Maybe it was the new moon. Maybe not. It hasn't been easy. Thankfully I am grounded in the world I wrote about here and have never felt more secure.

There's no mistaking the fact that I can be fiery - Venus and Jupiter conjunct in Aries, Mars sextile to them in Leo - and when I feel the need to defend myself or loved ones I tend to launch into warrior mode. #wolf.

I came across a quote from Maya Angelou: 'Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.' Oh how that fire has burned, but I do feel clean. Perhaps these powerful and painful cleanses are necessary as we grow through our lives and our true faces are revealed. Even to ourselves.

I do my best to be honest here. I started blogging again because I wanted to record some life changes I was making and share any successes I've had or inspiration that I tap into. I value beauty - tangible and notional - as it eases tangles on all levels, so I really love blogs and sites that present things that way. I try to share the things that sooth my senses and make my heart feel strong, here and on Instagram. I hope it's understood and seen that there is the mundane, messy, held-together-with-tape-and-good-intentions side to it all too.

There's barely a day goes by that I don't have an argument with either Charlie and/or Evie. Dooley, in his enthusiasm to snog me, broke one of my front teeth the other day (now we match). Zoey lives entirely by her own whims and has never in nearly three years 'done as she's told'. Both the dogs eat large amounts of sheep poo on a daily basis (cross reference: the Staffie enthusiasm for snogging). My mother drives me insane. My father and I speak maybe three times a year. I adore them both. Evie is by no means unaffected by her early history. Our cottage is rented and falling apart. During the winter this glorious patch of land is 90% mud and shit and large parts of it end up in my living room rug (which I got as a freebie after photographing it for the Argos Pinterest pages a couple of years ago).

If you've followed my blogs for long you'll know that I write about this stuff too. Because I credit anyone out there reading it with understanding that a good life need not be Photoshopped and edited. I'll post a picture of me looking like crap after a night in a tent because you know I scrub up okay when I want to and who cares anyway? I'll post a picture of my dirty washing-up on a cheap worktop because there's one of a beautiful sunrise right next to it and again, who cares anyway? And now that dirty washing-up is done.

This is real. Real as fuck. And I love it. And that's my happy ending to this story.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

From the heart

The kitchen is quiet bar the sound of two snoring dogs. A soft rain is falling outside onto the brilliant red of the Virginia creeper that threads through the trees in the garden. Birds flit in and out of it to grab sunflower seeds from our feeder. Peace.

Last night's new moon had me thinking about what I'm carrying into Autumn and I am astounded, still, at how much I  love my life. How happy it makes me.

Charlie and I have been together 13 years now. We met 12 years before that, briefly. I knew the moment I looked into his eyes that he was for me except then, he wasn't. Couldn't. But I look in his eyes now and I still know he's for me. He is the activist in the family. The man who wears his big heart on his sleeve and follows it at any cost. Yeah...a Leo. We have navigated perilous waters over the years and sometimes come close to drowning but we are for each other and we always will be. He is one of my greatest teachers and I love him. Especially on the rare days when he drives me insane.

I first saw Evie's face in a tiny photo eight years ago this week. In that moment, in the unromantic surroundings of a decrepit council building in Chippenham, next to the photocopy machine, she went from complete stranger to my true soulmate. I speak only from my own experience but trust me when I say, your child is your child is your child however they come to you. I'm crying writing this because sometimes I just overflow with the love of her. She is the strongest, fiercest, most loving, most fascinating person I know and I get to be her real mother.

Dooley, the black dog who told me he was on the path to me two years before he arrived, my four-legged angel. Zoey, who has taught me the nature of healing in so many ways. (They are lying together on a cushion now, nose to nose, playing.)

My family. Parents, step-parents, my beloved sister-aunt, step-daughter (when she's home from uni), three brothers, sister, nieces, nephews...all within 30 minutes of this kitchen. We are not a family that spends all hours in each other's company - maybe because we're so geographically close - but we love each other hugely. We've all settled here. Near.

This crooked, shabby little cottage. A converted grain mill, hundreds of years old. Inhabited by us and (other) wildlife. So much a part of the landscape now that it's almost a tree. Full of light and air in the summer; dark, warm and cave-like in the winter. I watch the clouds of rooks and jackdaws fly around us in the late evening and the knowledge that generations among them were born in our house, in the chimney, makes my heart sing. Crow family, always.

The land we live on. A mix of National Trust property and privately-owned land. Woods, streams and fields that allow me to sit and listen, talk, learn with them. It covers about two square miles and in that space live 26 people, six of them children. Among them are farmers, artists, teachers, musicians, ecologists, photographers, activists.

My job. I work for a non-profit working internationally on behalf of marine mammals. Our passion is ethics, and achieving legal status, non-human personhood for cetaceans.

And in all this abundance I get to feel strong and alive. Loved and loving. Alight with all the what ifs of it all.

All of this empowers me when I move out in the world - physically or virtually. I channel all of this because I am all of this. When I stand in front of you I am human/dog/tree/stone/stream/crow/love. Some may choose to see my life as small but that is simply not possible. I am part of the vastness and in peace, no tangles, I feel it flow through me and on to whoever or whatever is next to me.

Choose carefully to what and to whom you stand close. Choose what you channel. The world is full of beauty when you see that the decision is yours.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Monday Motivation

Why shouting quietly gets you heard
Sarah Corbett of @Craftivists is an introvert activist who uses her crafting superpowers to support the causes she believes in. She's gone onto create a movement here in the UK that is inspiring, as is this presentation.

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 2
Just as Louise Hay is responsible for introducing me to healing, so Joe Cross is the guy who sold me on juicing with his 2010 documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Pity I didn't actually see it until 2012. Now FSAND2 is out and I won't be waiting that long this time. Joe's as real as they come and I enjoyed this recent talk he did for MindBodyGreen.

I'm thinking you either read Mel's blog or you are indeed...Mel, so you may already be aware of wonderful place she linked to recently: Terrallectualism. Great writing. My people. Thanks Mel and thanks Mary.

Deep In The Far Away
Sarah of knitting the wind has begun this project to support her daughter's sports fund and I just love the way she's doing it. That is all.

I have a constant debate in my head over having chickens in our garden. For the idea, I have the fact that they'd have a lovely home, Evie and Charlie might have eggs, I adore chickens and we all really loved our girls when they were with us. Chicken energy is good energy. But then, we lost them to a fox raid in broad daylight. It was traumatic for Evie and me and must have been horrific for our sweet girls. I don't think I could face bringing chooks home again to an almost certain death sentence. That said, our neighbours have had theirs for almost two years now with no losses. The third of our three cottages has a duck and a guinea fowl who have been around for years (the guinea fowl is the unofficial Chalfield mascot but deserves a blog post of his own). Maybe..? I got as far as buying the makings of a secure run last summer. And finding a nice coop that I repainted. It has sat empty ever since. Dilemma. Of course Justin's story has me spinning again because it's so far up my street it's actually sitting on my sofa.

Which reminds me to mention that the photograph above is of the geese at Norrington Common, on what I laughingly call my 'commute' (I to be me). It's an old-fashioned patch of common land and is home to geese, chickens, guinea fowl (many many guinea fowl; I suspect no one sleeps in Norrington) and three generations of  the 'Norrington cows', all three of whom we've seen from birth to adulthood. There's no hurrying past of a morning, these guys couldn't care less about cars.


"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish
humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only
by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of
each honest worker."
~ Helen Keller

Saturday, 20 September 2014

'I have my ways of praying, as you no doubt have yours.'

"Ordinarily I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend,
for they are all smilers and talkers
and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my ways of praying,
as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone
I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune
as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much."
Mary Oliver, How I Go Into the Woods 

Friday, 19 September 2014

The run that wasn't but then was

After last night's epic storm the air over the fields is like soup. I'm supposed to run 2.7 miles today as part of the C25K training I'm doing. It's my penultimate run. But a sleepless night, some desk hours at the office and, I'll admit, one too many coffees this morning are making me feel less like running and more like having a nap.

Then on the drive home I notice something. I can feel energy in my body. Lots of it. It's banging on the doors to get out, and making me feel powerful! So I tell myself,'Okay, I'll get home and head out for maybe 20 minutes. Not do the training run, just let my muscles move. Pick it up tomorrow.'

By the time I'm changed I'm thinking,'Well I'll do to the end of the Chalfield track and back. 25 minutes or so. Won't time it. Not a proper run.'

Then,'I'll take the phone and see how long it takes me. Just out of interest. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

I warm-up on the mini-trampoline (top tip there, folks) and Dooley is giving me the Can We Just Get On With It Stare. Post-stretches I'm at,'Well let's start the app anyway. See how far we can go. I can reset it afterwards. We can take walk breaks. Walk breaks are fine. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

Only once I start I don't want to take a walk break. It's all, 'Let's see how long before I want a walk break. Cos I'm not doing a proper run.'

And then I'm at the end of the track telling myself I'm turning back now. I am. I'm turning back now. Only I can't. I keep running, putting Doo on his lead as we get out on the lane. I run past the halfway alert and turn a while later, thinking,'Cool... but I'll probably walk some of the way home. Cos I'm not...etc, etc...'

There's no walking. I just can't. There's Old Me, throwing in the get-outs and the good reasons for them but New Me simply isn't listening. She's not stopping 'til it's done. And she doesn't. I don't. I settle into my body and feel every twinge, every breath and every footfall. It is nothing short of wonderful.

We run through soup and I sweat like a lunatic. And we do a proper run.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thoughts from the hermit cave

I've been spending a lot of time in my internal hermit's cave this week. I've installed a big ol' blackboard to scribble on and, if you're remotely interested, here's where I'm at at the whole advocacy/activism/spiritual health thing. As ever, it's an ongoing process but writing it down here helps me clarify and remember.

I've been thinking about healing and how we get to the core of it. As I wrote in my last overly long post, I see negativity as tangles in the flow of universal energy. This week I've been reading (finally) and enjoying The Untethered Soul. In this, Michael Singer tells of the Hindu concept of samskaras which, to put it very simply, are balls of trapped energy created by our reactions to things. They stay with us in our energy field and affect how we see things from that point on. They are in effect, the 'buttons' that get pushed, the sore points and maybe, eventually, actual disease. To heal them we need to step back into our core consciousness, away from the on-board computer of our mind, witness their activity without judgment and let them go with love. That is how we - to use my terminology - 'untangle' them. Obviously this is a theory I can get behind because it's the same as mine! I know. Hinduism is darn lucky to have me.

I think most of us have been aware of this truth for a long time. Maybe we dabbled in Buddhism and non-attachment at some point or maybe we just intuitively knew that "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." No argument from me, that's for sure.

Still, I finished the book and found myself thinking that all the examples given within, and in so many other places, only apply to internal issues. I mean, of course this is the way to deal with our personal triggers. Of course we need to recognise our personal filters and work to clear them. But what about external matters?

I'm not talking about other people's issues. Again, that's a matter of individual choice. But I believe there comes a point when the actions of many individuals, over time, reach a tipping point and the result takes on its own form. It becomes an entity in itself. For example, let's take the issue of child trafficking. The individuals who perpetuate this particular evil have their own tangles and I could decide that I want to try to heal all of them but let's face it, they need to do it themselves or it won't work and I'm probably not going to be able to fit it in around my day job and the laundry. this point Child Trafficking has taken on its own form. It exists on a societal, cultural, historical level within the collective consciousness. It has moved from being an intention within the minds of individuals to an actual entity. A samskara in and of itself.  It is arguable that it is now a disease within the universal body and I'm not simply going to ignore that disease just because it's ugly and messy.

What if this might be something we can heal? Maybe. I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give it a punt.

So how do we do it? Can we employ the same methods of non-judgmental witnessing and releasing with love? Darned if I know, but it sounds like a good start given that any actual change may take anything from 30 seconds to 30,000 years.

Here's what else I'm thinking: if these tangles of stagnant, twisted energy - child trafficking, animal abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, slavery, mass deforestation ... - are in the collective consciousness then maybe the most effective 'untangler' is a healing collective.

And who makes up that collective? Well that's where it gets exciting...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday Motivation

This weekend I was mostly motivated by wanting to spend time with Evie. We book-shopped, we checked out historical buildings, we planned her birthday party, we boot sale-d, we had a row (we do that quite a bit) and made up, we watched Doctor Who (okay, so that was for me) and we spent two nights in the tent in the garden with hot chocolate, popcorn and a good book. That's pretty much going to keep me powered up for the week.

There's also this stuff:

Jonathan Fields on the RRP
I was already aware of Jonathan Fields through the Good Life Project and his other work but this interview really told me much more about him. What a cool guy.

Choosing Raw
I'm finding  that I really love to eat raw these days and hope to keep it up over the winter even if it's as a smaller part of the whole. I really like Gena's blog.

Breathe Sync
Checking out the DO Lectures again I came across this fascinating app, Breathe Sync. Totally buying it. Also, it turns out that just as I'm looking for a good local yoga class, the guy who developed the app - Michael Townsend Williams - lives just down the road from us and teaches yoga in our local town.

Approaching the Natural
I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Sid Garza-Hillman's podcast and I've finally bought his book, Approaching the Natural. It's a great read: full of information and thought-provoking ideas, all presented in Sid's trademark mix of dry humour and professional expertise (he's a qualified nutritionist and wellness coach amongst other things). It's all the better for being able to 'hear' it in Sid's voice so I recommend the podcasts as well as the book - it's just a good recipe. Also, you can sign up for Sid's occasional updates at his website and get the first chapter of his book for free before you decide whether or not to buy.

Friday, 12 September 2014


I think she's here, Autumn. The harvest moon held the door open. For us that means jackets in the early mornings, plans to stock up fire wood (a bit belatedly) and the promise of the end of the tourist season at the manor next door. This returns the lanes and the silence to us, with only the 25 residents and the handful more who work here passing through regularly.

I'm yearning for some thinking time in the dark. With a candle and a notebook, a cup of tea and a dog or two, some good podcasts and one of the pile of books I have waiting, a fire, and a sweater I can hug my knees into.

Seasonal living is wonderful. I have spent Summer tending ideas and feeding my body well. Enjoying the sun and time outdoors. Now I've harvested a whole bunch of thoughts and inspiring ideas (thank you Lisa for that little gem you dropped last night!) and I'm ready to sit down with the basket and work my way through them. See what I can weave to take with me into Winter's dreamtime.

I've discovered that in the Summer, when I imagined I'd be all awake and bouncy at 3.30, I wasn't. I've been getting up at about 6.30-7.00. But now the mornings are getting a little darker, I'm wanting to wake really early. So I'm setting my alarm a little earlier each day, hitting the snooze less and aiming for a 5 o'clock start.

I have some ideas I'm toying with for Autumn/Winter:

  • keeping this blog regularly updated
  • reacquainting myself with my camera (I have apparently forgotten how to use anything but an iPhone)
  • journalling every day
  • adding yoga back into my exercise regime (any streamed class recommendations gratefully received)
  • doing clicker training with Dooley
  • meditation
  • doing some parkruns.

If one of those sticks, I'm happy.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday Motivation

Yesterday evening Evie and I took the dogs for their evening walk and went out into the wheat fields where now there is stubble, and huge straw bales waiting for collection. By chance we'd headed out as the sun went down and the (very nearly) full moon rose. The sun turned the straw bales a glorious orange and we hopped up onto one, standing at a point that felt to be in the middle between the two great luminaries. 'Let's make a wish,' I said. So we did, and danced on the bale for a while. Alignment with the core, simple values was part of mine. To be truly awake, whatever awareness that brings, good or bad. I hope you get to make wishes this week and know that they can come true.

Here's what made me think this past week:

Maggie Doyne at The DO Lectures
Maggie Doyne is an extraordinary woman by anyone's standards and she was only 23 when this short talk was recorded in 2010. I already knew of her work and her story but hearing it from her own mouth and witnessing her strength...amazing.

Leonie Wise
It was my dear friend Leonie who got me into the DO Lectures. She and her husband, Nic have attended the talks more than once. But that's not why I'm listing her here. I've been really moved by Leonie's photography for years but since she moved away from us and back home to NZ, something has come alight in her. Her images reflect exactly who she is. Leonie and Nic are, I always joke, 'my friends with good taste.' Not that my other friends do not have taste, I should add, but these two...their whole life aesthetic - physical and philosophical - is pure, simple beauty. Nothing is overstated, everything is thought through. Life is considered and the resultant beauty is breathtaking to me. I aspire to this way of living even though my chaotic ways are very far from it right now! I sat and looked through Leonie's photographs the other day and tried to define why I love them so much (beyond the sheer beauty of them) and one of the things I realised was that she is not afraid of the shadows. The dark areas enrich and balance the light. And that's pure Leonie.

Canine Curriculum for children in Detroit
This is just plain wonderful. Wouldn't it be great if all school had Good Pet Guardian programmes?

I actually screamed out loud. The whole story is a good one but for the wheelbarrow, cut to 1 min 22. This is not suitable for work because noises of joy will escape you and that's probably not appropriate.


"We are born into bodies that are fluid and free. Rhythm, breath, music and movement become tools of seeing and then freeing the habits that hold us back. When we move our bodies then our hearts begin to open, when the body and the heart taste freedom the mind won't be far behind"  
~Gabrielle Roth

"It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized."  
~ The I Ching 

Sunday, 7 September 2014


'Be careful what you wish for'. It's true. I've been living with this in my head for a week now and it's a hard lesson to learn. There I was wishing to learn how to approach engaging with people on the subject of animal welfare; how to do it effectively and eloquently; how to be a positive influence. I've spent most of my adult life using the lead by example method and while it hasn't been entirely ineffective, I always felt I should be doing more.

Let's say that leading by example is Method A, and being more outspoken and confrontational about animal suffering is Method B. A wasn't working and B was questionable according to my old way of thinking but was perhaps The Next Step, one I had to take to play my part in affecting change. Of course I was and am a complete novice at B and, like a child walking in her mother's shoes, clumsy and prone to landing on my face. See also: big gob, short fuse.

So I wrote this post. Then the next day, after a good night's sleep, I wrote this one and that should really have been where I left it for now. Except I'd wished for some learning and it was about to land on my head from a great height.

A conversation of sorts started on the first post and it pushed all my buttons. Instead of saying,'Please refer to my follow-up post' I reacted in the worst way I could have done. Damage was done. Here and privately. Hurt was inflicted. It was horrible. I was horrible. There was a thread of well-intentioned honesty through my reaction but it became twisted in my own frustration at not being as eloquent as I wished. I am ashamed.

My heart ached (aches) as if it would break and there was my lesson: Method B is fucked up. There is a way of raising awareness and emotion that can lead to long term, personal change. Method B is not it.

Here's where I am - not just on animal welfare, on everything: I still believe that awareness needs to be raised. I still believe that the voiceless need us to speak for them. I still think we need to care and contribute.

I also believe this (still): the core of everything everywhere is energy. In a healthy state that energy flows freely, with a purpose of creation and perpetuation. All the things we believe to be positive - creativity, love, kindness, social cohesion, art, science, compassion, happiness, health etc etc - contribute to that free flow, adding momentum and power. In an unhealthy state that energy tangles and stops flowing, leading to stagnation, toxicity and all the things we call negative - war, disease, hate, ignorance, cruelty etc. It's not black and white; some things contribute to both. It's a long game.

For some of us, the path we choose is to work on the positive; adding to that momentum; staying in the flow. For others, maybe especially ones like me with a family history of OCD, ha, the path leads us to work on undoing those tangles. Straightening the Universal cushions, if you will. A little metaphysical Feng Shui perhaps. They are equally powerful.

I believe that the highest vibrational level for us humans is Healer. We are able, with our developed spirituality and creativity, capable of walking either of those paths and healing the flow as co-creators. I also see that there are so many more methods than A and B. For now I'm looking at Method C, which involves a whole lot of A and a sprinkling of a more gentle, kinder Method B.

Drawn as I am to activism I can see that in my own life I have examples of walking the walk, not least of which is my day-job, raising funds for an organisation whose mission is to help create 'a world where all whales and dolphins are safe and free'. Even in my little role I am making a difference there. I support charities I believe in, and work that I know to be world-changing. I have brought two dogs who had lost everything into my family where they live in a big circle of mutual love, benefiting us all.

These are things I do with the emotional, physical part of being human and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to do so. I love being a human. And now I'm going - as the seasons change - to look again to the spiritual side of the experience and try to integrate them all; mind, body and spirit.

My father and I are not close, and when I was younger I thought we had nothing in common. Now it makes me smile to think that he was and is - by qualification, profession and calling - an electrical engineer who worked at the highest levels. He spends his days imagining, creating and testing systems that ensure the free flow of energy. That seems like a good ambition to me and one I'll attempt to emulate in my own way.

I am grateful for my lessons, and my teachers, even when they arrive sooner and more abruptly than I'd imagined. Even when, I suppose, they involve loss because of my subsequent actions. I didn't sign up for the easy class.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


And just like that, overnight, the well-trodden paths that led us on our early morning/late evening walks, are gone. The earth beneath remains the same and the view opens up as the nights close in. I read that it will be very warm until November but I can feel that Summer is gone. I'm not sure Autumn is ready to take over yet; this feels a bit like seasonal limbo. There's a sense of waiting to fall into the comfy armchair of the third quarter - it's both unsettling and thrilling. That's life. I love it.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday Motivation

This week really was the last days of summer eh? September and the turn of the season is here - always gets me fired-up. Monday motivation is not hard for me to find this week but most of it is internal. I did my longest run yet yesterday and went from starting the C25K programme on 2 August, struggling to shuffle along in 60 second intervals, to running a straight two miles yesterday. That it's possible for a person to have done that in four weeks just astounds me. You may not be remotely interested in running but if you are and feel you can't, trust me, if I can then anyone with two working legs can.

The whole 'start with what you can do' concept, with my capabilities expanding by the day, is an enjoyable experience. And a transferable one, I'm certain. Life is interesting. So let's start this off with a quick repeat link to my fave app:

The name is a little misleading but there is a free version that carries unobtrusive ads. I upgraded to the paid version but that's just my preference. Great app, good features, nice and simple, and the training intervals are totally doable.

Jo Pavey
European Gold Medal winner in the 10,000 metres at almost 41, and only months after having her second child.

I'm a big fan of the work that Naturewatch Foundation does and have supported them for many years. Their Compassionate Shopping Guide is only £4 and very helpful if you want to shop as cruelty-free as possible.

Vanessa Almeida
Vanessa is the woman behind the excellent Essential Vegan website - there's all sorts of interesting stuff on there. This link is to the Essential Vegan Cookbook. I'm definitely buying a copy.

My beautiful boy is four today, the day we chose to be his birthday as we have no idea when it actually was. We're 90% certain that he'd be four this year, in the latter half, so September 1st and its New Start Magic seemed perfect for him. Happy birthday, Doo - you inspire me every day. xx