Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Up and Down over the Hurdles of Food

It’s been awhile now since my last food blogging, but I have been busy reading and learning more about what you could and should be doing to help you feel better.

You see, this has become more than just loosing some kgs. Over the course of these last few weeks, it has been striking what patterns are emerging: the cravings, the set-backs, the disappointments in will power, the up and downs of this journey, as I try to kick the sugar habit once and for all.

One truth that has been demonstrated to me over the course of this time is: if you keep your blood sugars stable by eating regularly through out the day, your need to snack on chocolate and other processed sweet things, like biscuits, is so much more under control. Hence, this is now my typical diet for the day:

Lemon and honey, first hot drink of the morning.

One shredded wheat with semi – skimmed milk. At first it had a teaspoon of honey on it, now there is none at all.Take a look at the sugar content in cereals: Wheetabix, porridge oats and cornflakes are lower than most others. Incidently, I could never stand shredded Wheat, it was like chewing tasteless string. Now I love it and it’s a great low sugar breakfast. One biscuit fills me up until 10.00 am when it is break time for me at school.

Fruit mid-morning,low glycaemic index fruit ( low carbon value) such as plums, pears and apples. Banana is the highest one I will eat, scoring at 65. Take care with bananas. I don’t eat them every day, as too many and the weight is back on.

No sandwiches for lunch. Instead Ryvita, thins or a tinned mackerel salad as examples. Anything that is a whole food, carrots, nuts, eggs, it does not matter which. It is surprising how little you need to fill you up. I treat myself to bread no more than once a week. Preparing lunch is easy. I just throw anything into my lunchbox at random. It takes five minutes.

A fruit or nut snack on the way home from work. A crucial time for me when the need to snack is strong. Nuts and seeds are great for you. Protein is good.

My usual dinner at night. Again,trying avoiding anything that is processed. I have a treat sometimes or when I am busy and don’t feel like cooking, though you soon don’t want to go down this road.

No dessert, unless it is Greek yoghurt with small dash of honey or small portion of fruit. Banana, blueberries or strawberries are nice with this. Desserts are treats when going out to dinner- though again, I often decline, they are simply becoming too sweet.

Alcohol is consumed largely only at the weekend and usually then no more than one glass per night.

Small amounts of dark chocolate after dinner, though this is now occasional. The need to eat it is becoming less and less.

Variety and colour and different food groups. Colourful foods are healthy foods, rich in different vitamins and minerals. I don’t eat low fat products- to make them taste better they are loaded with sugar,  but I avoid trans fats. I eat bacon and eggs at the weekend.

Keep portion sizes down. I have seen a lot of people trying to eat really heathy, but the masses of pasta and salad on their plate is self defeating.Accept one thing. You can’t eat the amounts you could get away with it at 30 when you are 50. It’s a fact. Learn to eat variety but less of it. You will soon get used to it, as your stomach adjusts.

I have been studying that the effects of high sugar and insulin levels affect your ability to lose weight, reduce the rate of your metabolism which gives me a small but never-the-less apple- shaped tummy. My next step is to undertake a  small piece of research on myself to see how my blood sugars individually react to certain foods and how this affects my overall weight.

Results have been slow but the progress is in the right direction. The biggest barrier is social and family get-togethers and a husband who wants to tempt you. Seriously, I would have been at my target weight by now if it wasn’t for the eating desires of those around me. It is hard to eat low carbohydrate food when you have a buffet table in front of you and Dad wants to go out for breakfast. Typically, after a trip to Lowestoft to see him, a kg is back on and it can take sometimes a week to get it off, though interestingly the time it is taking to do that is becoming less and less.

Other measures are exercise as part of lifestyle incorporation, taking the five-minute longer way around in the park to work when walking, some cycling, brisk dog walking, yoga and weight lifting for five to ten minutes in the evening. More about exercise in another post. Avoiding fruit juice, a killer to low blood sugars and take water with you to work and drink it throughout the day.

Top tip: don’t become a slave to any of it. Do it when you want to, embrace the small changes and don’t beat yourself up if you cave in, just start again.

This is no longer a chore. It’s becoming a way of life that I don’t want to change. I feel great, have more energy, better memory and I have deliberately put this last, have lost five pounds. Ideally, another five would be the icing on the cake, or for me now, a bowl of fruit…..

More to come!

Posted in Change, Debate, goals, Government, Health, History, Human Rights, Ideas, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts

Government Policy And The NHS.

When something is going wrong in a system of work,fingers naturally will often point to the management structure. Senior staff can be questioned, managers decisions criticized.in this case with the NHS, the biggest manager and where the buck totally stops, is with the Government of the day. They have the overall say in how our NHS is run.

I am no expert here on figures and am not a statistician . What I can say can only be based on what I have seen for myself and read in the media. So let’s take the Mid Staffordshire case. The horrific situation of systematic failings in care was largely created by a catalyst of cost cutting and the relentless drive towards becoming a Foundation Hospital. In order to become that,(foundation status means more self-governing) the hospital had to slash debt, have improved performance targets and be seen to be keeping on track, not only in budget but what it could show on paper to be improvements, efficiency and throughput.

In-fact, this objective is part of every hospital up and down this country. Along with this, the Private Finance Initative called PFI’s was introduced by the last labour government and its impact have made the present situation even worse. PFI’s are loans to hospitals to rebuild, improve and to makeover old hospitals into shiny, spanking new ones. However, many of us will know the outcomes of hospitals struggling to pay off these loans. They have been left with huge debts and deficits.

Then, on top of that, we have fines if certain targets are not met. If a patient goes over a four hour waiting time to be discharged from the Accident Emergency Department to a ward, transferred to another unit or sent home, the hospital is fined. If an ambulance does not deliver and dispatch a patient in a certain time span, it is fined. This is all supposed to be about improvements in performance, get the stick of financial punishment out, and somehow magically results will be produced forthwith. But what has happened? As wards shrink in size, as hospitals slash inpatients beds and staff to save money, there results in a chaotic rush of bed juggling, and the frantic efforts to free up beds against fewer manpower resources. If a patient is discharged and then that patient is what we would term a “bouncer”, that is to say they are re-admitted within a certain time frame,the hospital gets… you guessed it, a fine!

How are hospitals suppose to stay on track budget wise if all they are threatened with is fines? This is government policy now and it is doing nothing to help patients with their care.Infact, this only creates more pressure to treat a patient as a price tag, a unit, a juggling ball on a bed; and leads to what we have heard about bed moving in the middle of the night, against the tide of complaints of sleep deprived patients on wards. It’s like musical beds. Patients become little more than another stat to be got through the system as quick as possible. Now we have jobs purely for bed managers and early discharge assessors and the term, the “bed- blocker” comes to my mind. This is when someone is stuck in the system with no outlying community bed to go to ( because they have been either cut or closed) but they can’t go home either.

Never has the pressure for beds and timed targets been so great as it is now; with increased population, sicker older people, increased expectations of the population to be seen and treated and the changes in GP’s out of hours care. Literally hospitals are fit to bust…..

I leave you with a question. How can these government-led poliices be conducive to quality total patient care? And the nurses, as well as other NHS staff, are caught right in the middle of it. I tell you something: it makes for a hell of a lot of stress. It does nothing to help health-care professionals, with their own mental health, who are suppose to be angels or compassion, care and tranquillity, when really they are tearing their hair out, to give this essence of care that is talked about….

Tomorrow: An example of the crazy burden of data collection and why ultimately I left NHS Nursing.

Posted in Change, Debate, Government, Health, History, Ideas, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts

The Role of the Qualified Nurse. Past and present

When I qualified I remember what was then called ” task-orientation.” We started in bay one and went, in two teams, up and down the ward with our care and our trolleys. With aprons on, we washed and turned, fed and hydrated our patients. Every chart was filled in, everyone seen, mobilised, toileted. Dressings were done,medication was given and when that was finished we went off to separate breaks ( one team at a time) and then came back and started it all over again.The ward sisters -there were two of them had an eye on everything. Nothing was missed and woe betide you if it was missed. The ward sister was the heart and the nucleus of everything. Doctors went to her, everyone went to her. She often took the phone calls. She managed everything. I was lucky as I was on a strict but excellent ward in terms of care. There was no shortages of nurses wanting to work on this ward.

However, task orientation was criticised. It was not giving personalised, individual care. People were not a set of tasks but with unique and differing needs. The regular “Kardex”, as it was called then, of writing up the care was changed. Up to this point it had been short and concise. An idea from America came to our NHS,it was shaped on the Roper’s Model of Care:it was called the Nursing Process. This was the first of the mountain of paper that emerged.It meant that all patients had to have an individual care plans for every activity of living. These were first hand written and then when I left nursing they were typed photocopies and had become little more than tick-boxes, another task in my opinion.

Then something else happened which changed our role. Doctors were working sometimes 80 hrs a week, being on call etc and this was rightly considered too much, something had to be done. With this concern came an increase in technological advances in care. Patients who might have died now lived with advancing medicines, diagnosis and procedures. Slowly, the nurse practitioner would be born out of all of this. However, in the mean time sisters were becoming bleep holders, budget holders and bed managers. Staff nurses became clinical shift leaders and I was told to take my apron off and start running the ward instead. There were still qualified nurses and nursing auxilaries doing the care, but what was once undertaken in a higher dependency unit was now becoming mainstream on the wards. This was very marked for me when I returned to acute nursing after working for four years in elderly care rehabilitation. The work load even by then was becoming more stressful.

So registered nurses paper-work increased, more advanced skill became the norm, including venepuncture, cannulation, IVI drug administration to name a few. Hotel workers replaced nurses both qualified and unqualified in giving out meals and drinks. The nurse mentor was born and he/she was now responsible not only for patients but for students as well. This was all happening when I left acute hospital nursing in 1993. I left and went into community after a particular night when one visitor came up to me and said:

” Hello again, there are two things I observe about you. One is that you are always here and two you are always writing out bits of paper.”
It is now 2013 -20 years has passed since then.

Now multiply what I have said a few times more, as demand for services, changing clinical roles, paper, stats, sicker older people, European Economic Community patients needing care, cuts in resources, cuts in staff and you can begin to see why we are in the current crisis situation. Also, crucially from the very top of the decision-making tree, our government and senior NHS management, who increasingly see patients as a entity of profit-making and not focusing on them first as someone needing care. No wonder the Government is stating that it is costing just all too much and auctioning the whole care parcel out to who ever can give the best price…..

Tomorrow: Let’s start to look at leadership within the NHS.

Posted in Change, Debate, feminist, Health, Human Rights, Ideas, Men, Modern society, Psychology, Relationships, Role of women, sex, Thoughts, Women

Fifty Shades of Grey. A viewpoint

I have read Fifty Shades of Grey ( book one) because I was curious and wanted to know what all the fuss was about. My daughter was reading it and I wanted to engage with her over the book’s content given the known material within it. I skimmed through the book at first and became very concerned very quickly. Here was a book portraying a young women clearly with low self-esteem with emotional issues embarking upon her first sexual relationship. It wasn’t the graphic content that shocked me, it was two things. The lesser being 1) That it depicted experiencing multiple orgasms all in one session could be so easy, that everyone clearly will know how to do it and if you can’t then you might think you have a problem. ( About 9/10 women do not experience orgasms through penetrative sex alone, so I have read).( A side remark: no mention of the fact either that having sex that many times so frequently in one day would probably lead you to, at the very least, thrush and an urinary infection). But like one friend said to me when I mentioned that, she laughed:

” Well, they are still lucky buggers aren’t they .”

We both laughed, so we can see a funny side of it too. However, the other more serious connotation of this novel is, 2) it’s clearly about an abuse relationship, hyped up with a BDSM topic. People either love or hate Mr Grey. I loath him, seriously would you really want to see your own daughter go out with such a control-freak? The appalling writing style,- mention of the “Inner goddess” bit incessantly and all the other slang words, did- my- head- in, could be forgiven if the message of the book was clear: stay away from this type of relationship. It didn’t, it glamorize it and that I can’t forgive her for. Anyway, I won’t write further about my viewpoint as this blog is not really about that. It is written to show a letter concerning an answer I received from a women’s group committed to protecting women against domestic violence. They work with the victims and see plenty of real My Greys’, his personality type, how abuse starts and where it ends. The happy after story line of they get married, have a baby in the later part of the Trilogy ( Sorry, If I have spoilt it but this is important) and he is a changed man doesn’t happen in real life for the most part. You see the problem with Fifty Shades of Grey, as a story, is that some people will see this as for real. Remember the Mo story in Eastenders. The domestic violence run where the woman murdered her violent and abusive partner. The actor who was the perpetrator had women coming up to him in the street shouting:

“Leave Mo alone your bastard.”

Stories can become real for some. More people watched Des, Angie and the divorce papers on Christmas day being handed out in Eastenders, in some other story line, than the funeral of Princess Diana.

The Wearside Women in Need  wrote an excellent article in The Daily Telegraph condemning 50 Shades. I wrote to defend them and this was their reply. Paragraph three is particularly interesting. I had not thought of that angle at all.

” Hello …..

Thank you for your message of support.

We have, as you can imagine, been snowed under with both positive and negative responses to the campaign but what has really struck us is (a) how many women have wanted to speak out against this trilogy and (b) how hard this has been for them to do on an individual basis.

Here at the campaign we believe that every recent generation of women has had to contend with the publication of at least one book, film or other ‘literary endeavour’ that seeks to both legitimate patriarchy and to undermine the social, political and economic gains of women.

The fact that this book has been written by a woman, and is largely being read by women, does not undermine this analysis – indeed, if anything it serves to highlight how contemporary women, faced with attacks on their employment, on the services that they have developed, used and run and on the goal of gender equality in all policy areas, are starting to seek refuge (both literally and in their reading material) in the fantasy of male control and male protection.

That this will lead to violence and abuse for some, and to the loss of autonomy for many more, is incredibly sad and something we must all fight against.  Hence our campaign.

So thank you, again, for writing to us. Your support is appreciated.

The 50 Shades of Abuse Campaign.”

Wearside Women in Need are calling for a burning of the books on bonfire night. A bit extreme you might say but the feelings are clearly running high for some. I wonder what E.L. James thinks to that idea. The money she has made with record-breaking sales, she no doubt doesn’t care much about anyone’s opinion. However, I am glad it is not me in that situation, even if a lot of money would come in very handy for my charity work.

I am no way criticising anyone for reading the book, nor for personally loving it and wanting to read the whole series. All I am saying is, that is going to be interesting to see in the future if 50 Shades could be measured as to whether an  increase in abusive relationships has occurred say over a three-five year time frame. It would be worth while to conduct a piece of mixed research( both quantitative and qualitative) so we could truly understand what effect this type of book does have on real people’s lives.Meanwhile, in the short-term we know that Anna Summers has a Fifty Shades of Grey section, that sex toys sales have gone up by 130%, that the nations bedrooms are being revolutionised- so we are told, and a lot of women just seems to love Fifty Shades of Grey. Let’s hope for most people they are just enjoying great sex. The baby boom will no doubt hit us in about six to nine Months time:):) Midwives will be at least be more busy and stretched than ever.

( PS: My daughter loved 50 Shades, could see my point and agreed, then went on to read the other two books, stating book two was slow but book three was the best with more of a plot to it).

Posted in achievement, Change, Debate, Development, goals, Human Rights, Ideas, Liberation, lonelyness, Modern society, Personal Growth, Skills, Sport, Thoughts

Gold or Tin: some thoughts on disability as the Paralympic Games commence.

Watched the opening of the Paralympic games last night. The theme was enlightenment and it was quite spectacular. I know this post isn’t exactly going to be original because what I am about to say, though with different words, is being said by others at present. Steve Birrell’s article in the London Evening Standard, two evenings ago, is one excellent example. We might be giving Gold to our Paralympic champions from today, but in reality many disabled people are receiving Tin. This not just in financial terms, as benefits are squeezed and assessments for Disability Living Allowances become a mile field of impossibility, but in the attitudes of people and what opportunities those with disability really do have in society.

Steve Birrell told many facts I didn’t know. However, one of them, having recently worked with a child with Special Educational Needs, stood out for me. That only one in 12 adults will learning difficulties are actually in employment. Most people know very little about the real issues of those facing disability and may have never worked with, nor had an honest conversation with them. Last night, we saw amazing and brave people flying on trip wires with limbs missing and gliding through the sky with effortless simplicity. In reality, if you are in a wheelchair you have to face the problem of sometimes to few disabled parking slots and negotiating a mind field of obstacles; of pushing crowds too busy to stop or help another disabled person. It’s amazing what you find out when you have to actually do it for yourself. You are on two legs pushing the wheelchair or trying to find the parking pace in a popular tourist attraction. You quickly come into difficulty with frustration.

The question I want to ask is, do we really care about disabled people? Ask yourself that question honestly. An elderly friend recently returned from the Philippines was negotiating heavy luggage on the Tube on his way home. In the country where we had come from, a different kind of respect and tolerance is shown to the infirm and to those who need assistance. My friend had been back in the UK for only a few minutes when he was nearly trampled down by people pushing past his suitcase as he was hurled some insults about “getting out-of-the-way granddad” and he isn’t even classed as disabled. Do our society really champion those who don’t quite fit the “norm” in society or who appear weaker and infirm?

While I worked in the NHS there was a huge emphasis, within my mandatory training, on respecting diversity, equality and disability. In fact, on applications forms you are encouraged to declare your disability, even when it comes to mental health. Depression can now be on such a tick list, if you feel it has or does severely impact upon your life. Indeed, much has been done to potentially give equal opportunities to all disabled people with employment legislation. The promotion of an attitude, “you can come out of the closet and say how this disability has affected you and we will care and understand.” (However,whether you actually get the job or promotion is another matter)! There are aids for the disabled person that are imaginative and extremely useful like never before. My own father who is now registered partially sighted has discovered this and the support and practical help he has received has been excellent.

However, for myself, even with nearly 30 years of caring for others in the Health Service, it wasn’t until the last six months that I realised, even more the harsh realities, the struggle and for carers the loneliness of what living with disability can actually mean. I have said to most friends that the child I worked with in education taught me far more than I could ever teach him. The complexity of character, the uniqueness of the human being. The challenge of  my own mind set of  thinking of what I thought was “normal.” What is normal anyway? And how the blueprint of living is not the same, and to be happy can take on many facets. I learnt further patience, humility, compassion, new-found fun and laughter more than I had ever done before. It was an honour and a great experience to be part of that young person’s life and one, even though that period has now ended, of whom I shall still keep in touch with I hope for a very long time.

What has this got to do with the Paralympics? My message is simple. Examine your real attitudes towards those with disability as you watch those games. Really look closer at what the government is really doing to the lives of genuine disabled people and speak out against it. Go out and meet, connect with a disabled person if you have little or no experience of them. Look at the wider picture of how we treat people who may need help, or who appear frailer or weaker than ourselves. Acknowledge  the incredible strength, character and fortitude of a disabled person but also the power of our minds to help us adapt when disability strikes. How we can overcome the most appalling circumstances and injuries to still survive and to live with purpose. How disability could open doors and new ways of living and thinking, not close them?

Most disabled people do not expect to get a Gold medal or are a Paralympic champion. They have no need to prove they are worth Gold as they are that already. But let’s not give them the medal of Tin, of being let down, ignored, marginalised and really on the edges of society. As we clap and applaud them over the next 11 days, let’s make sure that once all the hype has died down and all games packed away, that we continue to really give the disabled person the respect and the attention they deserve. For them not to go back into the shadows and be forgotten as we, the  so-called “able-bodied”, get on with our lives.

I hope this blog will inspire you to think more about the lives of disabled people and how we can help them to achieve their full potential. Thank you for reading.

( The above image I know does not represent the Paralympic flag or movement but was the closest image I had, with an Olympic theme, to be appropriate for this blog’s content)

Posted in Art, Atheism, Christianinty, Debate, God, History, Ideas, Men, Philosophy, Psychology, Relationships, Religion, sex, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized, Writing

The Angel’s Game: Part 2

I wasn’t sure how I would find The Angel’s Game after the excellent, if not involved and sometimes confusing plot, of  The Shadow of the Winds. However, after reading the first two pages I knew this book was going to surpass and excel beyond “Shadows” and it did not disappoint, I could barely put it down.

What I love most about this book is the rich, poetic, elegant flow of words that help to create this magnificent tale of a writer who sells his soul, perhaps for fame, for money or both by being given a commission to write a book. This work is like no other, from a mysterious publisher for a vast sum of money. From the start Carlos Ruiz Zafon makes it clear what he is trying to say. For a man’s ego, sometimes he is prepared to do anything, even with his own near destruction at stake.

The depth of how the author created the characters and how each one was woven and intertwined with the story is something that Zafon does superbly. You could feel the desperate obsessive love that David Martin, the central character, feels for Cristina and how this relationship unfolds. You are not sure at first how the added relationship of Isabella is going to go, this held me the most, and I wanted to cry when reading her last letter to him. This was truly moving and haunting words so tragic and so authentic feeling real to me.

David Martin was intellectually a sharp and essentially good man, yet numbed by years of being let down and abused, he was turned into a character of coldness and unfeeling at times, seen especially in his interactions with his doting young assistant Isabella.  Yet, his drive to survive and to find the truth concerning the darkness of where he lived, that was linked with his own work, gave this novel a sometimes creepy, supernatural air about it. Turing into a detective tale set in a Gothic theme, this enriched the whole fabric of the novel and gave the plot a nail-biting feel. Just when you thought there was nothing new to add, a twist emerged and you were once again thrown head long into the pages of a tale intense and demanding to its audience. You had to concentrate, otherwise you would lose the thread of the plot.

Then the end: how strange. I read it twice and could not take it in. Had I missed something? For me, it left unanswered questions and a feeling that suddenly where it had been convincing it became a non-reality. Why has Zafon done this other reviewers have asked? It was a clever turn and the author’s notes for discussion could say why. Who was the publisher? I have my thoughts which would make the end plausible. Never-the-less I am hooked. I can forgive him for the ending though as I want to read much more from this man. It is hinted in reviews that with the completion of the four novels Zafon prepares to write, the end of The Angel’s Game slots into place. Is this up Zafon’s sleeve? Knowing his writing a little then nothing would surprise me.

If you want a book where you can enjoy some history, feel the city of Barcelona on your finger tips, with skilled and crafted writing around a great plot then read Zafon. It’s poetry from a pen and characters that come alive.  It is the only novel on finishing that I felt I want to read again and along with it The Shadow of the Winds. I  was not aware that The Angel’s Game was joined to “Shadows” until the final twists at the end. It was an Ahh moment. They can be read alone or as a complete story, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books being the cement that link and binds them together. A great find for me in fiction, like no other for a long time. For a thinking mind it is a great read.

(The images are photographs taken at the Monastry of Pedralbes visited at the time of reading and one area featured in the author’s work. The angels are a perfect choice of picture for this blog I felt.)

Posted in Art, Ideas, Learning, Men, Personal Growth, Relationships, Religion, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

The Angel’s Game. Part 1.

Introduction prior to a personal book review.

There is a saying that dogs choose their owners, not the other way around. Once I had started reading The Angel’s Game, I wondered if this book had found me, had sought me out and had choosen me to read it. There are some strange coincidences to this novel in terms of its content. How the main characters names are the same as two very central and important men in my life. How one of the key characters had staged their own death on a date mentioned by the author, that being  the same date also as the birth of my daughter.Things die in the same place as where new life arrives perhaps? That was the message that came across to me when reading this same reference of date. Also, to read a page in a hotel room in Barcelona where the main character recalls walking along the hill road of Pedralbes where I had stumbled across the very same place that afternoon; being many miles away from home and having never set foot in Spain until that week. Well, it feels nostalgic if nothing else.

This year has seen old ways of living being replaced with new ones. This magnificent novel left me feeling three things that are new. The first being an desire to write a creative story, something that I have never felt an urge to do. Until now, all my writing and blogging have been concerned about the giving of facts, discussion or dissemination of information. I am not saying that I will do this but a touch- paper of wanting to do so was certainly lit.  Secondly, that life can not be placed neatly into packages of right and wrong. How good people, who behave out of character or even very badly, can still be inherently good inside. It is the only the outside world and their experiences from it that can drive them to almost anything if the circumstances are set in a certain way.  Thirdly, a re-enforcement of wanting to stay within my new world of work in education. To help and inspire other minds to want to know, and to have a desire to read all the magical stuff, thoughts, charaters and facts that can be found within the wonderful world of books.

Read on, I hope to the next blog, a book review as to why I thought this book was something quite special to read. It certainly should have a place in The Cementry of Forgotten Books in the author’s tale!

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, goals, Health, Ideas, Learning, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Thoughts, Time, Women

So what’s new to the thinking?

Following on from my thoughts on the last post, I have had time to discuss and make some progress, at least in the ideas stake. This is what I have come up with so far.

1) Photography has  been a real plus and some images have been spotted by others for good works and greater promotion. This has not been sought after at all. It has just come my way. Call it luck or call it good exposure, probably both. www.flickr.com has done a lot of good for many image takers and the internet is a good way at getting your shots on a greater public viewing gallery. I should explore this further. There are many out there who would wish to make an income, many competitors but not to be overlooked. Photography is an art form that needs to be worked on as a skill. I could perhaps have this as one small income source. It could compliment other aspects of work.

2) I can’t sit around and expect the lucky break, someone to take notice or give me a leg up. I have to make my own luck and give myself a leg up. Have one big idea as to how I wish to do that. It is ambitious and sadly at this point requires a good bit of investment which I don’t have. Call it my long-term aim for the next five years. I have had it sitting on the back-burner of my brain for about 3-4 years and have turned away from it, afraid of the time and investment it would take. The risk of it coming to nothing. It pulls me back though as there is a need and I think a market for it. You shall just have to wait and see what it is, as I don’t want people stealing my ideas or plans:). It’s totally a health based issue where my knowledge on certain things could be utilised. This would be very meaningful to me.

3) Must not be side tracked. I have been up more than one wrong wall. Women’s health and education are at the centre of who I am. I can be nothing else now. It would be to deny myself. I can not do this.

4) Being organised and tidy in my life is very important, especially to my own mental well-being. Need to still get a grip on work-life balance. I need some order not chaos as sometimes this can happen. Less so but potential to be there. My evernote account is one good thing I have now to control and organise information. Still need to work on others.

5) My charity involvements should stop at the weekends unless it is very urgent. A friend would call it, a much-needed boundary. Weekends should be time out from it. The constant access to e-mails can be a disadvantage, especially if a partner engages in work which involves you. Tell them and him that weekend are now off the agenda for “good works.” It can wait until Monday.

6) Ideas are still coming in from the work front and an appraisal today was enormously helpful. At least someone has spotted that I could do so much more. That was uplifting. I am pursuing some avenues and another job application for a job that would start in September.

Finally one point from today. My daughter is studying psychology and wants to focus on depression for her specialist module next year. I asked her a frank question and got a frank response which I feel happy to share.

Question: Why do you think I may have been depressed in the past. The root cause of it?

Answer: Because you feel you haven’t got anywhere with your job, your money or your house? The frustration of it.

She’s not far off the mark. There are other reason of course. I think being in control and not having that taken away is important. Like you have no say in anything. You need a say in all things.

My daughter is one smart girl. She’ll do well. I am sure of it.

Next time, I may be ready to talk more about depression, though it is a little scary and exposes the vulnerable side.

We will see.

Posted in achievement, Change, Children, Debate, Development, goals, God, Human Rights, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Women

Revelation

Went to bed last night and gave my posting of yesterday evening some thought.

Revelation: I actually feel guilty if I am successful, richer or more powerful. Keeping humble and meek is after all a more virtuous option?

Today, I read all about Michael Gove and the King James Bible he has given to every school. I have recently been in an assembly where I was shown this large and beautiful book and how it arrived there as a present from HM Government. You see, I do have Christian roots. In my twenty’s I was part of a small evangelical church. While my faith has very much changed, ( I admitted to myself recently that I don’t attend church regularly because I find it too dull, ritualistic and boring) the essence of Christian thinking is still with me. Essentially, there is a faith there inside me. I don’t go to church preferring to do God’s work in the real world of charity, contribution and looking after God’s animals. Currently, a sick hen. This is where I fit in the Christian world. This is my work to God, not singing hymns.

Deeply ingrained in my mind-set is simply this. God teaches us that being humble, poor and mild, we will inherit the Earth. God likes” little people” like me, never boastful, never proud,( I think that came from St Paul). The idea that I should aspire to a four bedroomed house, double my salary, go for promotion or exactly say I am good at something that does not quite fit the script. After all Jesus hung out with the poor fisherman not the tax-collectors. He never sought fame of fortune. If we are to look at these texts we are told that money is the root of all evil and being ruthless for that job promotion is not at all cool In the eyes of God. We should not have avarice or greed and instead give our money away to those less fortunate- which I have.

Coming away from the Christian perspective, my own interest in equality, human rights, poverty and empowerment gives this view a double stamp of approval. How can I be seen to want to earn or have more when so many are starving? Each night, I thank God for my hot meal and my glass of fresh drink knowing I am the lucky one; even if I have to use the calculator to scrape some shopping together on dwindling reserves, seriously, I do this. I still say I am lucky to have. It’s a bit of a mind-set I have got into.

So to sum it all up in one sentence. My block to progress is my supposed guilt at wanting more. That I should not seek it, that I should never try to make money out of pictures or works. To legitimately sell goods on Amazon and e-bay is one thing, that is recycling and I can live with that. Someone else benefits and most are going at bargain prices. I will have to think how I can shape this attitude a little differently if I am to get further on in life.

And by-the-way Gove recommends Children should read St James as a good moral compass. I wonder what their little minds would think of it all if they did? Would they end up like me or reject it?

Hoping this picture would be at the start:) Try again next time. A posh house. The Petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette’s. You know what happened to her and why!