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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Ideas


Delightful task! To rear the tender thought, to teach the young idea how to shoot.
James Thomson 1700-1748
 

People often ask me where I get my ideas from so I thought I'd give an example.

Hmm, interesting! Was what I thought when I saw this  half-sheared sheep.


So much so that I stopped the car to take a photo.

And then the questions started to flow:-

1.  Why is it only half sheared?

2.  Did the farmer get fed up?

3.  Was he taken ill half-way through?

4.  Is he going to come back and finish the job tomorrow?

5.  Did his harridan of a wife ring and say 'your tea's on the table'?

6.  Was the sheep so badly behaved that the farmer gave up?

7.  Or has the farmer just got a brilliant sense of humour?


Then I considered this from another angle:-

8.  What does the sheep think?

9.  Does it feel special?

10. Or does it feel stupid?

11. Does it feel jeaous of the other sheep?

12. If it misbehaved is it full of remorse?

13. What do the other sheep think? Are they sniggering into their nice short fleeces? (If sheep do indeed snigger and I'm sure they must have a sense of humour in their own unique way).

14. Is my sheep (and in my head I have claimed this sheep, it is definitely mine!) in danger of being bullied or ostracised? I feel quite upset at this thought.

14 IDEAS FROM ONE BRIEF, CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A SHEEP AND A MYRIAD OF POTENTIAL STORIES. HOW GOOD IS THAT?

I'm sure you could come up with other questions too. So that's a brief example of where I get my ideas from.To be honest ideas are everywhere as long as we keep our ears and eyes open and remain present to the moment.

Next week, as part of The Next Big Thing I am very excited to have a guest children's author on my blog :-

 
TA DA!
 
 It's the amazing Pippa Goodhart
 
Pippa has had over 80 children's books published including the phenomenally successful You Choose. Her books are loved by parents, teachers, librarians and, most importantly of all, by the children who read them. So please log on next week and see what Pippa has to say about her latest work.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Every Foot Tells A Story

'THE HUMAN FOOT IS A MASTERPIECE OF ENGINEERING AND A WORK OF ART'
                                                     Leonardo Da Vinci

Each foot has 26 bones, more than 100 ligaments, 3000 nerve endings and 19 muscles, so Leonardo was right the human foot truly is a masterpiece.

You can tell a lot by looking at someone's feet. From the size, lines, temperature and colour of the skin to the spacing and shape of the toes, every foot tells a story.

A lot of people don't like their feet but they are making a big mistake. Our feet should be treasured. After all we wouldn't get far without them, metaphorically and literally.

Foot reading (also known as podomancy, pedomancy or solistry) was a popular form of divination in China and Persia. The foot is reputed to represent the symbol of a person's soul and, like palmistry, can reveal aspects of their personality, their strengths and weaknesses as well as their past history and as a result of a reading from those who are skilled, their future prospects too. But you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like and you can certainly learn a lot from your own feet.

In foot reading each toe relates to a different aspect of ourselves. Apologies for the rough diagram!



The big toes, which represents the head area in reflexology, relate to our thoughts.

The second toe which contains the reflex points for the eye, relates to our feelings. This toe can be longer than the big toe and in such cases is called Morton's Toe after an orthopaedic surgeon called Dudley Joy Morton who believed it originated from our pre-human grasping toes. This longer second toe was idealised in Greek sculpture and became the aesthetic standard throughout the Renaissance and beyond. The Statue of Liberty has toes of this proportion.



The third toe relates to what we are doing (or have done) with our lives and also to our creativity so if you are struggling with a creative block this is the toe to give some attention to as well as massaging the area just beneath the ball of the foot. This area is the diaghragm reflex point in reflexology and by massaging this it helps you to relax, to breathe more deeply and to take in all that life has to offer.

The fourth toe relates to communication. If you are having problems speaking up or communicating with someone work on this toe which can often be 'crowded out' or hemmed in by the others.

And the little toe relates to family and security. This toe is also known as the 'confidence' toe so if you're feeling a bit wobbly in that area, just give this toe a bit of tlc and feel your confidence levels rise!

The foot can also be divided horizontally these sections. So the base of the foot, the heel area,
relates to family and security, the area just above the heel is communication, the area just below the ball of the foot is creativity/doing, the ball of the foot (where the heart reflex lies) is feelings and the toes fall into the thoughts section.

Massaging your feet, or even someone else's can have amazingly beneficial effects in all areas of our lives. So if you do one nice thing for yourself today, treat your feet either with some nice moisturiser or a few drops of essential oil in a couple of tablespoons of a carrier oil such as almond. I find geranium, peppermint or lavender work well or even a combination of all three.



Give your feet some tender loving care and I guarantee they will reward you in ways you never imagined.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Beauty of Batsford

Lasat week The Dearly Beloved needed cheering up and he's very keen on trees so we went to Batsford Arboretum. We love Batsford and to get there we drive along the lovely Fosse Way. The Fosse Way is the 230 mile long Roman road which links Exeter (Dumnoniorum) to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia) and Fosse comes from the Latin word Fossa which means ditch. The road may have run alongside the ditch or ultimately been built over the ditch. No-one is sure but for the first few decades after the Roman invasion in AD43 this marked the Western frontier of Roman rule in Iron Age Britain.

Batsford is situated one and a half miles outside Moreton in the Marsh. Moreton is a pretty Cotswold town awash with honey-coloured buildings, antique shops and tea rooms. On Tuesdays there is a traditional market. But we were there to see the trees. And they didn't disappoint. I wish that I was a better photographer but this is a taste of what we saw.







 
 

 
 


It was all so peaceful and beautiful.

We walked and we talked and we sat on this bench and drank coffee laced with Frangelico and ate chocolate. (If you've never tried Frangelico I highly recommend it. It's a hazelnut liqueur produced in Italy and comes in a great bottle too - modelled in the form of a Franciscan friar).



Sometimes all you need is a day out, doing something different, maybe on your own or with people you love. Sometimes that's all it takes to cheer you up, to get back on track.





We came home feeling re-invigorated and happy, just from one short day. How brilliant is that?

So I'll finish with this song which was first written and recorded in 1944. Johhny Mercer's lyrics may go back a long way but to 'Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate the Positive' is still a pretty good thing to try and do.

 
Next week I plan to write about what you can learn from looking at your feet!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Candle Magic

So last weekend in the U.K. we put the clocks back one hour and now it is dark by 5 o'clock. The nights are long but one of the things that cheers me is candlelight.



There's something magical about candlelight. It reminds you of days when people used to sit around telling stories. I remember the Miners' Strike of 1972 when we were without light and heat for hours on end. I was at boarding school at the time and we used to huddle around a very small coal fire, in the candlelight, trying to keep warm. But there was a sense of camaraderie.

Candles represent the triumph of light over dark and historically were also used to keep time.

Probably our first memory of candles is blowing them out on top of a birthday cake and as soon as we are old enough, making a wish. This custom is all to do with the principles of concentration, willpower and visualisation. All three of these are needed if you are a writer, plus a bit of luck too!



I often light this candle when I am writing, just a small tea-light in a little glass container which was hand-painted by a very dear friend. As I strike the match and light the wick I try to focus on my intention for the piece of work I am about to tackle. It is both the briefest of meditations and a prayer. I hope that today will be a good writing day, the words will flow with ease and my plot and characters will behave.

I light a candle too when I am giving a reflexology treatment, fixing my focus on the person in the chair and asking for the treatment to be for their highest good.

Candles remind me of childhood. When I was small and living in a village we often had power cuts so it was essential for my mother to keep a couple of torches and a stock of candles under the kitchen sink. It always seemed so exciting when all the lights went out and a little scary too.

But there is something about that flickering flame which makes you feel that you are not alone. I have lit many candles in many churches for those I love and have loved.

 
 
This is a photograph of one of the stained glass windows in the cathedral of Santa Maria in Palma, Mallorca. I lit a candle there too.

Meditate whilst staring into the flickering flame and you can see past, present and future merge.

The centuries old custom of placing a candle in the window at Halloween was not to ward off evil spirits but to honour those who had died during the previous year. A candle in the window to guide a traveller home is a bit of a cliche but there is no escaping that candles are symbols of hope.

So in winter I often light a candle at supper time. It seems to turn every meal into a small celebration, a giving of thanks for being together as a family, however simple the food.

Relaxing in a scented bath, surrounded by candles is another treat.

Different coloured candles represent different things.
Green is reputed to bring balance, harmony, hope, healing and to increase abundance.
Blue is soothing and calming, especially good for meditation and when you are feeling stressed.
Pink is for love and conception.
Yellow is for joy and friendship. It is also for good luck and can increase concentration.
Red is for extra energy and passion.
And if you don't have any of those colours it doesn't matter because white works for everything!


But much as I love my candles I am so grateful to live in a place and a time when electricity is available at the flick of a switch, especially on these dark, wintery nights.

So I'll finish with my school motto:-

                                                       May she grow in heavenly light

Candlelight may not be quite the same as heavenly light but, for me, it seems to be pretty close.