Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red Trees For You x

I was stopped in my tracks by a row of three of these amazing red trees on my way to the dentist today. I have no idea what they are, but they're beautiful, a perfect splash of colour on a grey day.

I wanted to share them with you, so (after oohing and ahhing for a while in awe of their feelgood factor), I took some pictures with my phone.

Have spent ages figuring out how to upload this onto the computer and then how to add to my blog (yay! a big pat on the back for me, technology really isn't my strongpoint!)

So I'm not sure I have truly captured the impact. (But if you sit on the floor and look upwards at the screen, it looks better.)

Next mission: learning how to edit photos. I did try, I clicked a bit on this and a bit on that, but it just made it look worse.

Oh, I'm gonna have so much fun now! And a question in a recent meme about writing in response to a picture made me realise what a great idea that is to combat writer's block. No stopping me now...

Well, except for tea needing to be dished up ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Musing about Muses

I have spent a lovely evening meandering around blogland and have found some fab stuff to share with you, all writerly links this time, but with a focus on freelance/copywriting/blogging.

This is an article called '3 Writing Lessons I Learned in Dog Obedience School' by Jonathan Morrow. He uses dog obedience school as an analogy for writers and their muses ... very clever!

The article is posted on CopyBlogger (in my links) check it out for more articles on writing.

Leo Babauta, from Zen Habits (in my links) also writes an excellent blog about writing:

See an interview with the lovely Leo on the Balanced Life Centre website:

Another article about writers and muses is 'MADD: A Writing Disorder That Stifles Your Creativity' by Jonathan Morrow, MADD being Muse Attention Deficit Disorder! You can find this at CopyBlogger too:

I won't attempt to write a post about muses, as Jonathan has done such a great job, but I have thought about my own muse a bit.

Five things I have learnt about my Muse:

She likes chocolate.

She always comes to play when I'm pottering around the garden.

She doesn't care for limitations or boundaries when it comes to time. (In fact she doesn't care for words like 'limitations' or 'boundaries' at all.)

She is demanding and coquettish. And downright fickle when she doesn't think I believe in her.

She has an insatiable appetite for new things and never hangs around in one place for long.

Parcels of love: Cuddle Boxes

I clicked on a link somewhere yesterday: The Love Box. It took me to the MSN Lifestyle blog, which was about a gift-set from the ethical, organic, fairtrade beauty company, Raw Gaia, based in Brighton.

Check out their website:

What makes Raw Gaia stand out is that we use only 100% organic, living and vegan ingredients such as cold-pressed butters and oils as well as high-grade essential oils. Moreover, our products are made following a process that avoids temperatures beyond 40°C. In this way, the life force of the ingredients and all their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc., are retained. All these nutrients are then available to nourish your skin, without leaving any surface residues.

They do gorgeous gift-sets, beautifully packaged, at reasonable prices, and jewellry handcrafted by Tibetan refugees in India, who receive a fair price for their work.

So treating yourself, or someone you love, to a gift from Raw Gaia would be a feelgood thing to do in lots of ways!

It was thinking about the lovely warm fuzzies I get from giving or sending someone a Cuddle Box, that made me click on the link in the first place. I love love love doing these! I collect things and put them in a pretty box (or bag/basket). For example:

Grandad (Gardening): A sturdy basket, filled with bulbs, seeds, secateurs, twine, gloves, nourishing aromatherapy handcream, trowel and fork, some 'proper' tea and a big mug.

Mum (Tea/Coffee): A variety of special teas and coffees, an assortment of herbs and spices, some fresh organic lemons, some special biscuits, a gorgeous mug and coaster, some magazines.

Dad (Wine): A box with a bottle of wine in it, a special glass, a tiny grater, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, brown sugar, a lemon and an orange, and a book about wines around the world. You could add a recipe for mulled wine (no need with my Dad as it was him who taught me how to make it!) and decorate with slices of dried fruit (slice thinly and dry on a shelf in the middle of an oven at low temperature.)

Sister (Chocolate): Sachets of drinking chocolate, a mug, sugar, an assortment of Green and Blacks (thank you, Sally for introducing me to this!), a mini grater, some cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, a small bag of marshmallows and a book of chocolate recipes.

Various friends (Pampering): I spent one year collecting samples from magazines and trial-sized beauty products, stashing them in a big box. At Christmas, I had enough things to make 6 girlie baskets for friends, decorated with pretty ribbon.

Poorly people (TLC): A 'snuggly' of some sort (teddy, cushion, cosy cardi), a hot water bottle, a mug, some honey, lemons and a bunch of fresh herbs, a book, a magazine, some word-searches/crosswords, some gorgeous tissues, some chocolate (all depending on which sort of poorly they are!), and an aromatherapy oil. This also depends on why someone is unwell, but would probably be lavender, eucalytus, myrrh, tea tree or rosemary. Or perhaps a favourite of the person I'm giving it to.

Another lovely one to do is for a new mum. It's not easy being a new Mum. You are already exhausted, then people come round, usually at the worst times. They bring a lovely gift for the baby. They talk to the baby, sing to the baby, cuddle the baby, and bombard you with questions about the baby. Having woken the baby up, when you had been hoping to crawl under the duvet for an hour, they say 'Well, we know you're tired, we'll let you get some rest' and they leave! Luckily, not everyone's like this, my mum brought me some pampering goodies when she first came to see eldest daughter, and friends brought round casserole or took eldest daughter out for the day, when youngest daughter was born.

New mum: I would choose a pretty bag and fill it with a snuggly, some gorgeous bath/facial products, an aromatherapy oil (probably lavender, but perhaps something like rose or an uplifting citrus), a cooling eye mask, some magazines or the sort of book you can pick up and put down easily (not about babies or being a mum!), a relaxing, uplifting CD/DVD, some chocolate and fresh strawberries (or other luscious fruit), some pretty cards saying 'This Voucher entitles the bearer to ... ' whatever I think might be most helpful! (A cooked meal, an afternoon without the kids, a huge hug, a girlie day in town, a walk along the beach in total peace, a romantic evening with their partner ...)

I did one recently for a friend whose relationship had just broken up, a lovely hessian bag filled with: a hot water bottle with a fluffy pink cover, a book about friendship, a magazine with articles about inspirational women, some hot chocolate and a lovely mug, a gorgeous journal, a CD of yoga music, a candle and some lavender oil.

Cuddle boxes don't have to be expensive (it's probably even nicer if they're not), imagination is the most important thing, and the fact that you love someone and care enough to show them. I have included 'found' objects (shells, pressed flowers, pebbles, a fallen leaf I caught with a message to say 'I caught this falling leaf, but you can have the wish!') I burn playlists on the computer then handmake a cover, rather than buy CDs. I often include books or magazines I already had (a great way to re-home them!). You could write a poem or a decorate a plain picture frame, or bake some cookies, or make real lemonade (you could include a little card to say: When life serves lemons, make lemonade!) You could knit a scarf or make a cushion cover, or cover a simple notebook, or wrap pencils in lovely paper or material.

They are so much fun to do! And this has been so lovely to write ...

Been thinking about you all meeting up today (I'm not even there, and I feel all excited! Can't wait to hear about it!) and I've been imagining a Cuddle Box for a writer.

A beautiful notebook (check out Lane's scrumptious collection!)
Some hand-made writing paper and envelopes
A special pen with a selection of gorgeous coloured inks
A handful of pretty pencils
A fab dictionary (or thesaurus, book of quotations, collection of essays/poems ...)
A coaster with an inspirational or motivational quote
Some chocolate (that seems to get into all my cuddle boxes!) or vice/treat of your choice
A comfy cushion (to help alleviate flattened bottom syndrome)
Some aromatherapy oil (will do a separate post on aromatherapy for writers)
And maybe a snuggly or a hot water bottle, which are lovely for everyone
I might include vouchers for things like time, or peace and quiet!
(If I lived nearby, I might say I would do the weekly shopping or pick up the kids. If I lived with a writer, I would include a voucher for things like doing the housework or taking the kids out for the day. Even if you don't live with or near your lovely writer, you could maybe offer to type up notes, or help with research, or proofread something.)

I always put a passion pebble in too. (I'll put a 'recipe' up for them in another post. With some pictures, when I can figure out how to do it! Valentine's Day is coming, and Mother's Day and Father's Day, and they're lovely to do with the kids at any time.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wow! Where did this come from ...

I turned the computer on earlier, meaning to start a post while tea cooked. I went to make a coffee, turned my back for just a moment and came back to this! Written by eldest daughter ... she would probably beat me hands down at the typing speed test! (But I think it might be cheating to miss out punctuation!)

I thought it might make you smile. It almost made me cry (such a woose!) and made Lucy laugh. I don't think she wrote it intending to post it (we all leave each other little love notes, all over the house!) but I asked her if she minded and she said not at all.

I did start to add punctuation, and correct the grammar, but decided I should leave it as it is. It reminds me a bit of Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker (fab book!)

yo yo yo it's eldest daughter here you prob heard lots about me but i am really ok though now .. i have settled down and that things are ok now and if it wernt for my mum i wouldnt be like i am now she's the best you could think of to have i love her to bits and she is always there for us and nothing would get in the way of our bril relationship ever not even lucy who loves my mum too but to me she is so annoying because she is like my big sister but she is ok really i do really love her too and my little sisiter they are all ace and have all helpd me through my problems i couldnt have done it with out them really i couldnt xxxxxxxx luv ya mum lots like jelly tots x

For an idea of how different our relationship was a couple of years ago, check out the 'Consultant or Manager' post on Student Mum. I always let the girls read a post if I have mentioned them, and having read that post yesterday, eldest daughter wrote the message above. And she loves a short story I am working on, inspired by our experiences!

Am going to write a post on here of my own now! But in case I don't finish it tonight, I just wanted to say:

I hope anyone who's going to the writerly gathering tomorrow has a totally fab time!

(I know you will!)

Wish I could be there! (Please can we do it again soon?)


Monday, January 28, 2008

Making Misogynists/Misandrists

The question raised by the wonderful Izzie earlier has had me thinking all day, even while writing about an entirely different topic on Student Mum!

I wish Izzie had time to write a blog, so I could share her with you properly, she's amazing. Very astute and insightful, and very knowledgeable about the history of feminism. Am looking forward to sharing the interesting comments on my earlier post with her, and hearing what she has to say about it too.

This post is partly a continuation of the last one, and partly inspired by a post about engendering, on (un)relaxeddad's excellent blog (there's a link to it on Student Mum), which has also made me think a lot.

Do we teach our children to follow the social expectations for a particular gender, even if we don't mean to? Should we encourage boys to wear pink and play with dolls? If we dress our young daughters in cute dresses are we reinforcing gender stereotypes? (Un)relaxeddad has done better justice to the question of engendering our children than I can, but it made me wonder ...

When adults say to children, 'You can't do/wear that because you're a girl (or a boy)' are they, besides reinforcing gender stereotypes, actually encouraging the child to grow up thinking that the opposite sex must be something to be feared, resented, or at the very least, viewed with disdain? By trying to raise a girl, even if we try to avoid stereotypes, are we inadvertently making a boy 'the Other'? And as we are all some sort of combination of both genders, will that not then foster such feelings with regard to themselves as well?

By expressing any negative view about the opposite sex, are we nurturing seeds of misogyny or misandry?

I wonder what effect my daughters hearing passionate outbursts from myself and other girlfriends, about how rotten 'all' men are, might have on their own opinions.

Thankfully, passionate outbursts in this vein (blush) are fairly rare, and balanced by lots of discussion with the girls about stereotypes and gender constructions. Eldest daughter says: 'Look Mum, I know already! I am girl. I can do/go/experience/be anything I want to. We are all unique. We are all special. We should always treat others as individuals ... blah! blah! blah!'

Oh well, perhaps I have overdone the gender thing a bit, but at least she is neither a misogynist nor a misandrist!


Thinking about it, I would say we're all humanists in this house.

(But I am definitely a feminist!)

A female equivalent for misogyny?

A friend from university rang me earlier and asked me if there was a female equivalent for 'misogynist'. The best we could come up with (with a combined 14 years of study at university, much of which was the study of gender-based issues!) was 'man-hater'.

So I looked it up online. First stop, Wikipedia:

Misogyny is hatred or strong prejudice against women; an antonym of philogyny. Those holding misogynistic beliefs can be of either sex.


I ended up on (which looks like it might be a useful new resource?):

The equivalent is misandrist (a person who hates persons of the male sex), a rare word but seemingly much sought-after. The corresponding noun for the attitude is misandry.


I wonder why it is 'much sought-after'? (I will have to ask Izzie why she wanted to know, she didn't have time to say when she rang me.) Sought after by men hoping to redress the balance of accusation, or women advocating the practice (hoping to redress the balance of power)? Or sought after because misandry is in fact increasing in society? Does expressing the belief that all men are, erm ... idiots (substitute your preferred word!), make a woman a misandrist? As men retain the greatest portion of power in our society, does it even matter? Surely misogyny goes beyond the emotion of hatred and is more about the desire for control, and the action of power. Can misandry ever really be the female equivalent of misogyny?

I like the word 'misandrist' because it redefines the widely-accepted notion of 'feminist' as a female equivalent of 'misogynist'. Feminists have so often been referred to as "man-hating" when in fact they are the supporters of feminism, which is simply 'the belief in the principle that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men'. (Oxford Dictionary) Yes, feminists often express this belief in terms of anger at the injustice of inequality (and are therefore "neurotic" or "unbalanced"!) but anger is very different to hatred.

A feminist is not necessarily a misandrist. And a misandrist is not necessarily a feminist.

It's very interesting to see that Wikipedia suggests misogynists 'can be of either sex'. I hadn't really thought about this. But I have met women who are misogynists. And men who are misandrists. Although I wouldn't say they expressed 'hatred' but rather 'scorn' or 'contempt'.

Is it really possible to hate your own sex?

It seems a bizarre notion, but than so is misanthropy!

Hmmmm. Interesting ... I think I'll have to think about this some more, but now am going to get back to my much neglected Student Mum blog!

So easily distracted ...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just a quick note ...

Today sprang clear and sunny from a very stormy night ... not that I'm complaining about last night's weather, I love being all snuggled up in bed and listening to a storm raging outside!

Spring is almost here, soon trees will unfurl new leaves, gassy banks will be smothered in daffodils, hare's will frolic ... and youngest daughter and I will spend a couple of weekends up to our knees and elbows in the lambing season (eldest daughter is 'allergic' to mud and too worried about her nails!)

The birds are starting to pair up. I watched a lady blackbird sitting in a tree for ages last week, all puffed up and pleased with the entourage gathering in the surrounding bushes.

I love Spring! I love all the seasons really, my favourite is whichever we are in at the moment ... we are so lucky. (I do worry a bit that the seasons seem to be merging though!)

Anyway, just a quick post to tell you about a meme I have posted on my Student Mum blog, from the lovely Casdok (thank you!) I posted it there because I wrote it from the perspective of a mum of teenage girls. But it would be interesting, as always to see things from writers' perspectives. It's 5 Household Maintenance Tips and if anyone wants to try it, consider yourself tagged!

Casdok's tips are fantastic, you can find her Mother of Shrek blog in my links if you want to check them out. And Chris's tips in Casdok's comments made me laugh out loud!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Things/Habits/Quirks About Meme

Another meme! I love these things (thank you Sally and Pacha) they make me think and then I have fun checking out everyone else's answers, which always make me think too. I tag Annieye, Aliqot, L-Plate Author, Leigh, Gonna Be a Writer (if you haven't been tagged already by the time I get to post this ... crazy here as usual at this time of day!)

The small print: Link to the person that tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on his/her website.

Perhaps not an interesting thing about me as such, but an incredibly interesting thing to do: I home-schooled youngest daughter last year (mostly because she was being bullied at school) and learnt so much fascinating stuff. It was fun to go back to old-school 'project' work, taking a topic of her choice (Horses/Australia/The Farm) and using it to study as many different subjects as usual. We even looked at RE for the Horse project!

(Youngest daughter back to (a very lovely new) school. I miss it. I miss her.)

I worked as a labourer on the Canary Wharf building site (many many moons ago when I was very fit, in the old-fashioned sense!) As the only female labourer on site, I was spoilt rotten (even the tradesmen would down tools and rush to help me out with something or other!), something that drove the younger (very independent, staunchly 'feminist', and thoroughly stroppy) me completely nuts! (Would love to be spoilt now!)

I have a total weakness for books and music and it's a good thing I live a fair distance from town, or the girls would starve (reminds me of Jenny Joseph's 'brandy and summer gloves'!) and nobody would be able to get into the house. I am terrible at not getting rid of books 'way past their use-by date' too. I still have ladybird books from when I was at school, and the complete Beatrix Potter set, all falling apart now and some are mostly illegible.

I have to have windows open all over the house, even when the fire is on, and my bedroom window is never closed.

Youngest daughter and I raised a baby sparrow and a starling last year. Both of which we rescued from the horrid cat! (I know. It's natural. And she always looks so offended when I don't accept her lovely gift very graciously. I just can't help freaking out.)

I nearly always make the gifts I give people, ranging from textiles to clay. My favourite gift to make for anyone is a 'Passion Pebble' ... inspired by the collection my daughters and I have built of heart-shaped stones we have found over the years, they are made in clay, painted, then I write a word or saying on them, special to whoever they are destined for.

I began by making them in salt dough, when we went through a sudden period with NO money (thank you, Inland Revenue!) I threw myself on the flooor and howled for a while, then realised that wasn't really going to help, and that I had to actually do something to earn some money, very quickly. The solution kept us fed and warm for more than two weeks!

(Eerie story: One of the students I was working with at the time, had a dream about me picking up heart-shaped pebbles from the beach, at almost the very same time that I thought of it!)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Romance is not dead ...

... I'm just not entirely sure where it's hanging out at!

But Spring is almost in the air, and I am an eternal, incorrigible optimist. So ...

This post is for Helen. Well, it's for anyone wishing to encourage a little romance into their lives, but it was Helen who inspired it (thank you, Helen!)

To start on a positive note ...

A Romantic Tale:

Very handsome, very lovely Prince falls in love with totally gorgeous Princess (she really is, inside and out!) moves to the other side of the world with her, and they have Little Prince and Little Princess (equally lovely and gorgeous.) Married for some years, they have a wonderful connection, they ooze love and affection, compassion, respect and everything nice for each other, they are romance personified, and my personal inspiration ...

Very lovely prince is my brother, totally gorgeous princess is my sister-in-law. (Their photo is in my romance corner!) So while I have been romantically-challenged, at least I have had people in my life who remind me that it is indeed possible to have a healthy, balanced and beautifully romantic relationship.

Take heart ...

Something to consider: Why might romance be missing from our lives?

Are we really ready for romance? Sometimes we need to work on healing some things from the past first. Using feng shui to clear away negative energy can help, but do anything else you need to clean your romantic slate

Are we meeting the right people? A feng shui tip here would be to hang pictures or photos of social groups, or to place a bowl of fruit/nuts/sweets by the front door to encourage friends into your life. Get out there and meet more single people, try new activities, join groups, extend your social network.

Are our expectations too high? Meet each new person in your life with an open mind. We all have 'must haves' and 'must nots' in mind, but when love arrives, they are all irrelevant! Don't rigidly stick to a list of ideals, be flexible, accept dates with people you might not consider to be your 'type' because you just never know ...

Or too low? But don't let important expectations slip, insist on being treated with respect and consideration. Demand honesty.

Are we stuck in a rut? Change your image, treat yourself to a new outfit or hairstyle. Visit a new place. Try new things ... step out of your comfort zone.

Are we stressed or generally feeling run down and negative? Pamper yourself, treat yourself. Often. You deserve it!

Some important points about romantic quests:

Never forget ... you are a goddess (or a god, of course) and you deserve to be treated as nothing less!

I made this up one day, when I was feeling really fed up and unwanted. I tried repreating it for a few days in front of a mirror, and it really works! Sometimes it makes me feel gorgeous, sometimes it just makes me laugh (either way I feel much better.)

Always keep your eyes and your heart open!

You never know what's just around the corner. If you bump into a Mr or Mrs Right, you are likely to walk straight past them unless you are open to life's possibilities. We miss out on lots of lovely things when we spend too much time looking down. Or inwards.

Have Fun!

Try out the things below. Laugh at life. At love. At yourself. Flirt, with everyone!

Your Romance Corner

First things first ... you want to enhance the positive, rather than magnify the negative, so you must first clean and clear the space. It's a good idea to do the whole room. This encourages a good flow of healthy, positive chi energy.

Remove photographs or any other memories of past relationships (even if they were happy), if you are single and looking for romance. Obviously this doesn't apply if you are in a relationship, when a loving photo of you both would be an excellent idea, but take everything away first.

(More feng shui tips if you are hoping to rekindle romance: Remove any solitary figures from your romance corner and your bedroom. Add symbols of passion, use purple flowers and candles, place a crystal in your window, spilling light and energy into the room.)

Tidy ruthlessly. Put everything in a box, you can always put it back later, or find another home for it. Fix anything that needs fixing (a cupboard door perhaps, or peeling wallpaper) and clean thoroughly. You might like to add a favourite aromatherapy oil to some soapy water. Use neutral colours and efficient but gentle lighting.

Next, you should clear the area of any negative energy. Traditionally, smudge sticks are used for this. But you could burn some incense, or a candle. Tibetan bowl or bells are also good. If you're into meditating, this is a good time for it, supporting the "letting go" process.

And NOW you can start to add a romantic touch to your romance corner and boost the positive energy ... yay! Don't forget to have fun. Use your imagination, it's ok to take the general idea and run with it.

Compass point: Southwest

I have to admit to being a little confused about the whole direction thing. I have unfortunately inherited my Mum's directional genes. Much to my poor Dad's bemusement (he was a navigator in the RAF), we have difficulties sometimes finding our way back to a restaurant table after a visit to the Ladies. And if we're out without Dad, we often lose the car we parked 'somewhere ...'

Feng shui is a very complex thing, involving lots of numbers, and dates as well as directions. Even if I understood it, it would probably take a year of daily posts on here to explain. The simple way to find your romance corner is to stand at the door to your house or an individual room and then your romance corner is in the far right.

Even this confuses me a little, as my romance corner in the front room (I have one in my bedroom too!) is not in the same place as my romance sector if I look at the house as a whole. I don't worry too much though, I think a lot of the power of feng shui, of life in general, lies in intention.

Differences are due to buildings not having been built to feng shui principles in the first place. Ideally we should build our own house so that it all worked out (romance corners in each room would correspond to the romance sector of the house, which would be in the Sothwest). This is all taken into consideration when building homes in countries where feng shui is a natural part of life.

Element: Earth

Add some clay, brick, terracotta, cement, stone, any sort of earthenware, in the form of bowls, paperweights, doorstops or statues. Try making an arrangement of candles on a slab of beautiful slate. Hang clay windchimes. Arrange some beautiful crsytals.

Earth is also linked to square shapes and the colours yellow, orange and brown (although brown might also represent Wood, which harms Earth, so it might be best to avoid too much.)

Colour: Pink

Pink is widely associated with love and romance, being such a warm, nurturing and uplifting colour.

Other colours you might like to try are: reds (yang to balance yin, also red symbolises Fire, which supports Earth), yellow and orange (Earth colours), and maybe a little passionate purple.

Avoid greys and blues, which would symbolise Metal, as this weakens Earth.

Yin/Yang Balance: Yin

Add some yang energy. Adding statues or ornamental stones will help here too (yang solidity to balance yin emptiness).

Yang is also about light and movement, so try floaty material for curtains or bed hangings, or hang windchimes (avoid Wood which is very yin.)

Yang is also heat, and fieryness, so use candles. Perhaps this is why open fires are considered so romantic?

Chinese name: Kun

Symbol: Chinese Trigram

That's all you need to know really, although there are some miscellaneous points:

Obviously, a bedroom is an ideal place for a romance corner. Make your bedroom a special place, warm and sensual, and pleasant to be in. Indulge all your senses.

Screen off your office/study if you need to have it in your bedroom. Avoid any electrical equipment, or put it in cupboards and close the doors when possible.

To disperse negative energy from poison arrows, use crystals (more about this in another post, or this will be even longer than the last one!), plants, material drapes or screens, or my own favourite ... fairy lights.

Feng shui has been called the 'Art of Placing Objects' and there are lots of things you can place in your romance corner.

Some random ideas:

Energise your romance corner by lighting a pair of red candles. Anything in pairs (flowers, crystals, candles) will send the right energetic messages.

Add two rose quartz stones (I always think of this lovely gem as 'the cuddle quartz') perhaps carved into hearts.

Add lots of hearts, in any form you like, especially of there are natural: stones, shells, or leaves
for example.

Photos of loving couples are great, as are statues (think pairs or a single romantic sculpture, something like Rodin's Kiss!)

Doves or swans represent love and romance, so statues or pictures of these are good too.

Use traditional symbols: cupid, the chinese love knot, a welsh love spoon ...

Use rose, as a flower, or picture, or a scent. It's good to make this an exercise that uses all your senses. (More about aromatherapy for romance in the other post, I think.)

Experiment with red and pink lighting.

Hang a picture of a love goddess for inspiration. I'll write more about these another time, but you can choose from Aphrodite, Venus, Isis, Yemaya, Freya, Hera ...

Love poems. Frame your favourite or write your own.

Fish! Fish bring energy to any area. Keep the tank clean and well-maintained.

(Oh! a further point to add to the last post: money is represented by the element Water, so we should fix any leaky taps, as they suggest money draining away, and put the toilet seat down when it's flushing!)

Flowers (the flower itself, or a picture, or the aromatherapy oil where applicable):


Well, another monster post, but I still want to tell you about crystals and aromatherapy for romance, and I've found some lovely love spells and rituals which are fun, so I'll put it all in another post.

But for now ...

I wish you all much love and laughter.

If a romantic partner is not present in your life at the moment, harness your romantic energy and direct it somewhere else. Lavish loving feelings on friends and family: leave 'love notes' for the kids, send cards to friends telling them how special they are, write someone a love poem or romantic story. Or write a poem for yourself. Direct it into your creative activities. Write it down in a journal. Make Passion Pebbles! (More about this in another post too!)

I read somewhere recently that single parents are less likely to be affectionate with their children because their own needs for human affection and love are not being met. Sometimes we withdraw from affection, it's easy to do. I'm a very tactile person, but sometimes I feel all hugged out!

So, I know you've heard it all before ('love yourself first' kind of thing) but I know from experience that it's good to be reminded now and then.

Be gentle with yourselves!

(And don't forget to include a wish for romance on your new moon wishlist!)

Just to prove I do take my own advice (occasionally!), here's a silly little poem I wrote along a sort of romance theme:

I don't know how tall you are
But I know you have a big heart
And I know the feeling of your arms encircling me
I don't know the colour of your eyes
But I know they are deep and souful
And crinkle at the edges when you smile
I don't know your name
But I know I will recognise your spirit
I know not when or where I will find you ...
But I know you are the man of my dreams!

And here is a fab quote from my wonderful friend, Izzie:

"I still believe there's a perfect man out there for you. he's just not good with directions so he may be having trouble finding your house!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In need of a little Feng Shui!

Oh dear, the daily posting has slipped a little! Mitigating circumstances: youngest daughter poorly, two friends with man trouble, a weekend house guest, something called housework, tons of paperwork (moving stuff from one place to another, mostly!), my student mum blog, and the first draft of my first short story (almost ever!) ...

But I caught up with lovely comments on here (thank you), responded to a very interesting comment (about characters and identity/identities) by aliqot on her meme post, and checked out the huge variety of comments on Lane's fab post about nits (still scratching!)

Then I decided to do a little research for a post about Feng Shui (as promised ages ago!) I'm an expert at Romance Corner Feng Shui (or maybe not, thinking about the results so far!) and have a fair understanding of the general principles, but have never really thought about Feng Shui for the office or study, so decided to snuggle up yesterday evening (in my Education/Knowledge and Intuition corner) with three Feng Shui books, all of which mostly say the same things ... and I am mostly doing it all wrong!

But here are some things I found interesting from the perspective of a writer:

(I will list the books used at the bottom, most of the following information comes from all three, so I'll only reference an individual book occasionally.)

Desks: It is important to try and 'protect' your back, while sitting at your desk, by positioning yourself to face a room, or as Stephen Skinner puts it: You should try to place your desk in a 'commanding position'. (86)

I am already in trouble, I write at the kitchen table, with my back to lots of to-ing and fro-ing. (And I very rarely feel in any kind of commanding position in this house!) But I like sitting here, and it seems to be a good place with regard to the light, as I have light coming from the right (best if you are right-handed, and vice versa) and although it's natural light through a window, I don't suffer glare as it faces (vaguely) North and is also diffused by the jungle outside!

Belinda Henwood has further interesting points to make about desks:

Square or rectangular desks are more suitable for making money, while oval, round or curved are more conducive to creative work. (Perhaps that's one reason why it's often hard to make money from creative work!)

A desk in too strong a colour, like black, will make working difficult.

Have task lighting if you can.

Tidy distracting clutter. (More about the dreaded C word, later!)

(Henwood, 53)

Light: Natural light is best but avoid discomfort from heat and glare. Light from the East is preferable, so you don't have the setting sun distracting you late in the afternoon when you're tired. Avoid sharp angular lamps.

Angles: Feng Shui, being all about natural energies, would suggest any sharp angles are undesirable, particularly if they point at you (a corner or cupboard, for example). They create 'poisonous arrows' of chi, which should be dispersed by something ... plants are usually suggested, but our coat stand has happily ended up in front of the worst of my own poison arrows.

Clutter: (Oh dear!) Skinner suggests that bookshelves 'if tidy are not too much of a problem' (tidy?!) and continues to explain that if the shelves 'create cutting sha, then fixing doors to enclose them will improve the situation'. (86)

Ok, the shelves in the front room are usually tidy, but those next to the kitchen table are so not, and I couldn't imagine locking my lovely books away in a cupboard. Will just have to live with this one, I think. Although perhaps I could put a gorgeous trailing plant on the top. Speaking of which ...

Plants: Green leafy pot plants encourage positive energy.

Hale has helpfully included a list of plants known to help clean the air:

Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
Rubber plant (Ficus robusta)
Dwarf banana (Musa cavendishii)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
Heart leaf philodendron
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum)
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia 'Exotica compacta')
Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')
Syngonium (Syngonium podophyllum)

(Hale, 217)

Belinda Henwood also has some interesting points about plants:

The imapala lily (Adenium obesum) is the flower of wealth and prosperity and is well placed in your living room.

The money plant (Dracaena), an evergreen, will bring wealth and long life and is effective in offices and studies.

Cactus wards off evil spirits.

The chilli plant symbolizes growth and wealth.

At Chinese New Year the Chinese bring plum blossom into their homes because it represents growth and renewal.

Indoor plants with red, yellow or orange flowers will add yang colours to a yin room.

(Henwood, 58)

Ok, back to the office, and the dreaded clutter!

Clutter continued: The doorway/entrance should not be cluttered.

Hmmm, as I look at our kitchen doorway and into the hall, I can see a little clutter:

Said coat stand, actually undetectable beneath assorted coats, hats and scarves
One pair of huge green wellies from youngest daughter helping out on a friend's farm (oh, lambing time soon!)
One large heap of muddy trainers
Four pairs of Ug boots belonging to eldest daughter (bit of a fetish!)
One small white cupboard full of newspaper and magazine articles (and with separate door as it fell off when I kicked it last week)
Seven odd gloves on the radiator in the hallway
Numerous post-it notes on the kitchen door
One towel hanging on the door, waiting to go in the tumble dryer for youngest daughter's bathtime
One pile of 17 books on the cupboard
One rather battered gardening fork and large plantpot filled with bulbs
One wrinkled mat, where the cat has been spending her mad half hour

And that's before you even get fully into the kitchen and the two large tables piled with further books (etc.!) ...

Gill Hale says 'There is no excuse for clutter'. (226) She suggests tidying up while asking the question, 'Do I really need this?' I do ask myself this question when decluttering, and the answer is, invariably, 'I do! I do!' (I will almost certainly need it another day if not right now ...)

Journals: Hale also suggests cancelling subscriptions to journals, and using online journals in preference to printed versions. Ok I get where she is coming from, and I know it makes sense, but I can't shake the word 'sacrilege' ... perhaps there's room for compromise here.

In-tray and bills: Other things I know make sense but find hard to put into practice are having a single in-tray (I have a stack of six) and dealing with bills promptly (no comment!)

Filing: Some more good advice from Hale is to use a revolving card file. I know organised people have these. I did buy one once, and tried to use it, but seem to manage better with my own chaotic system of various diaries, notebooks, scraps of paper ...

Books: 'Many people find books difficult to discard, yet the speed of technological change renders information out of date rapidly and some books ... should be regarded as disposable items.'
(Hale, 227)


Enough about clutter! Am sure you get the idea ...

The 8 sectors of the Pa Kua:

(Stand at the doorway of a room, imagine the eight points on a compass laid out on the floor, North being the wall the door is in, and South being the far wall. East is the wall on the left, West on the right, and the final four points are the corners in between.)

North: Career prospects
Northeast: Education
East: Family Relationships and health
Southeast: Wealth and prosperity
South: Recognition and fame
Southwest: Romance
West: Children
Northwest: Mentors

(Skinner, 62)

Skinner suggests you work in either your Career sector or your Wealth sector, but I think the Education sector or the Mentors sector would probably be great for writers too.

Wealth sector: If you hope to make money from writing, get some fish! Skinner suggests you enhance your Wealth sector with fish as Water produces Wood, which is the fundamental element of the Wealth sector. (86)

The Five Elements:

(Hale 203)

WOOD: Often known as "The Arousing" in its yang form, Wood signifies growth and movement. In its yang form it is more dynamic, suggesting brainstorming, new ideas and snap decisions. In its yin form, often referred to as "The Penetrating", it is more intuitive. Plans are carried forward and executed, ideas turned into designs.
YANG (+) EAST: Development/Ideas

METAL: Yin form "The Joyous" suggests pleasure and reflection, both inward and outward manifestations, mirrors and shiny objects and contemplation. Yang form "The Creative" suggests strength and immobility.
YIN (-) WEST: Small metal objects (knives, ornaments), finance, meditation
YANG (+) NORTHWEST: Heavy engineering, machinery

EARTH: Yin "The Mountain" indicating stillness. Here we sew the seeds, prepare and provide comfort. Yang "The Receptive" is productive - its output is turned into goods.
YIN (-) NORTHEAST: Plant nurseries, printing and reprographic services
YANG (+) SOUTHWEST: Quarrying, pottery, food production

FIRE: Fire is yang and does not have a yin form. Known as "The Clinging" it suggests activities concerned with bringing ideas and products to fruition and promoting them.
YANG (+) SOUTH:Publishing, public relations, laboratories

WATER: Water is yin and does not have a yang form. Known as "The Abysmal" it suggests an area where the energy is not active, but where there is a regular flow.
YIN (-) NORTH: Storage and warehousing, secret negotiations, production lines

Colours and Qualities of the Five Elements:

Green (Wood): new business, growth and development
Red (Fire): dynamic, outgoing, forward-looking
Yellow (Earth): intellectual, rational
White (Metal): fresh start
Black (Water): secret research

The Relationships of the Five Elements: (Hale 223)

Element/Helped By/Harmed By/Weakened By/Weakens

Career sector: Water is the fundamental element of your Career sector, so a fish tank is a good idea here too.

'As the colour of water in the North is either dark blue or black, another symbolic addition to this area is blue light. A fish tank directly symbolizing Water is good, but you should choose black or dark blue fish, rather than too many red or gold fish.' (Skinner, 84)

Other tips for your Career sector are:

Metal produces Water, so try a horseshoe or a windchime.
Earth destroys Water so don't overemphasise this element with crystals, for example.
Wood exhausts Water in its production, so avoid plants as they will sap the Water element.

Buildings and the Five Elements: Hale explains that the Five Elements are also useful in considering the buildings we work in: Buildings and environments associated with each of the Five Elements support different types of business activity.

In her list (page 199), the closest 'business' to Writer, is probably Artist I think, with the element Wood:

Wood buildings are tall and narrow in shape or are made of wood. Wood environments are ones in which there are trees and vegetation. The energy suggests new ideas and new beginnings. (I want a shed!)

Communications might be another useful area to consider, linked to Water:

(I love the idea of writing in a place made of water!)

Water buildings are those which have irregular shapes. Water environments are ones suggesting flow and making links. The energy is that of communication.

Balance: I think the point of Feng Shui is to try and achieve balance in all things (it is referred to as the study of the balance between heaven, earth and man) and encourage the flow of energy in our selves and in our environments.

That is probably why Yin and Yang are important considerations.

Office Yin/Yang: (Hale 214)

In an office, a balance of yin and yang is necessary for the smooth running of business. Too yang may mean jobs don't get done and can result in stressful situations. Too yin and productivity may be low with a resulting failure to move forwards.

Yang offices contain:/Yin offices contain:
Telephones and faxes/Carpets
Rectangular desks/Curtains
Blinds/Art works
Metal cabinets/Dark furniture
People traffic/One person
Conversation/Wooden cabinets
Light decor/Wallpaper
Reflective surfaces/Textured surfaces

Yang activities include:/Yin activities include:

Yang people are:/Yin people are:

Some further interesting points about Feng Shui in general, from Belinda Henwood:

The importance of views: A good view is good feng shui. the beneficial sheng qi it brings encourages good luck and prosperity. If the view is a little gloomy, sheng qi can be increased by window boxes and paying special attention to your window dressing. (39)

Movement: Things that move in the wind like coloured ribbons or wind chimes also stimulate positive qi. (61) (I think there is more than enough movement already in this house!)

Calm, quiet: The qi in your home office or study needs the balance of calm and quiet along with mental stimulation. You will want yin or cold hues to aid concentration (yes, we have a pale green kitchen) and gentle lighting (yes, that's ok too). For practical reasons it is preferable if you are away from the activity and noise of the kitchen or family room (yes, well, every room in this house is active and noisy.) (37)

Missing corners: Square or rectangular offices will bring the most success; you may find it difficult to complete projects in an L-shaped office. (I have an L-shaped kitchen, but have always thought of it as having an 'extra' bit, rather than a 'missing' bit!) (51)

The Collaborative Office: (This made me laugh, thinking of it in terms of my own 'office' aka the kitchen table mostly!)

The characteristics of this approach are:

No personal space. (Nope!)

Communal desks and equipment. (All equipment is communal, though one of us uses things like washing machines and hoovers much more often than anyone else! Desks are MINE! Or at least the kitchen table ... I have too much stuff on it for anyone else to find any space anyway.)

A variety of workspaces. (I work mostly in the kitchen but have been known to work anywhere I can find a little peace.)

No internal telephone calls or memos. (No telephone calls, lots of yelling from one room to another. Memos everywhere!)

Stand-up meetings which reduces length. (Unless they disintegrate into stand-up rows!)

No departments. (There is one department here, of which I am the boss. Not.)

No clutter - anything lying around is thrown out. (Erm ...)

No receptionists or secretaries. (I wish! Someone has to do the paperwork.)

All staff can do all jobs. (They can? Of course, but do they?)

(Hale, 238)

One last thought to leave you with (I love this!) from Belinda Henwood:

The Three Gifts

Feng shui is referred to as the study of the way of heaven and earth in relation to humans. It can help us choose a way of life and a place to live that is in harmony with our ren tao or the way of being human. The Chinese call this relationship san cai or the three gifts. (6)

Well, I certainly need to work on the Feng Shui here! I wish you well with any Feng Shuiing of your own, hope some of this helps. I would write more, there are still scrawled notes all over the table, but if I spend any longer writing my "stupid blog" right now, positive energy and harmonious family relationships will be under serious threat!

Hale, Gill The Practical Encyclopedia of Feng Shui (London: Anness Publishing Limited, 1999)

Henwood, Belinda Feng Shui (Sydney: Lansdowne Publishing Limited, 1997)

Skinner, Stephen Feng Shui (Bath: Parragon, 1999)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Meme Virgin No Longer!

Thank you for this, Sally, I enjoyed doing it, it will count as a post on my blog, and I have learnt something else to put on Learning Curve!

I'm not sure I know anyone to tag, who won't already have been tagged, or if that matters?

(Blogging etiquette again!)

Oh dear! Really am in trouble now, one daughter home and hungry, the other texting to ask what we're having for tea (wots 4 t x luv u tb) and cupboards like Mrs. Hupboard's. Got engrossed in this while waiting for a friend who missed her train, I had no idea what time it was ...

Oh well, the best meals are often those concocted from whatever lies in an almost empty cupboard!

What's the last thing you wrote?

A post on my blog.

Was it any good?

As usual, it could do with some serious editing (it's too long), but I always manage to add more than I delete when i edit!

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

I'm not sure, I have notebooks and scraps of paper all over and often come across some random words from years ago. Nothing from as far as childhood though. I did write, but didn't cherish any of it, something I regret sometimes.

Write poetry?

You might disagree about the term 'poetry' but yes, sometimes. Usually when very happy or totally miserable (I find it cathartic), but I prefer prose, to read and to write.

Angsty poetry?

Always! When miserable. I don't do things by halves ... see for yourself on Student Mum! Although am probably most angsty when in romantic (unrequited love) mode.

Favourite genre of writing?

Non-fiction. I get ideas for a character or a plot that I cannot round out ... I don't seem to have the imagination to finish even a short story, never mind a novel.

So I can't answer the next four questions! But will leave them here for everyone else ...

Most fun character you ever wrote?

Most annoying character you ever wrote?

Best plot you ever wrote?

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?

How often do you get Writers block?

Every time I sit down to write!

Doing something else usually helps. I got into gardening while writing my bachelors dissertation on Alice Walker and Gloria Naylor. Walker often writes about gardening, and the ??? of Naylor's Mama Day had a close relationship with her garden. I see it as a form of meditation, of living in the moment, and find my mind will work on something subconsciously, if I forget about it for a while.

Write fan fiction?

I don't know what this is!

Which not only shows I know very little about the writing world, but is probably a shameful admission for a Literature student. But it does show that I'm very honest.

Am now going to look it up ...

Do you type or write by hand?


But if I use the computer, I have to print drafts out and read them on paper every so often.

Do you save everything you write?

I do now, having lost hours of work on more than one occasion. I save it everywhere!

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

Yes. I start things on paper, then lose them in the surrounding chaos, or use them as a bookmark in a book I set aside because I am reading too many. Or i write things on the computer and file them somewhere I rarely go.

When I find them again, I'm sometimes inspired to add something to them before they disappear on the cycle again!

What's your favourite thing that you've written?

My BA dissertation, because I loved doing it so much.

And an essay about Titus Andronicus that almost made me change my mind about my Masters thesis subject.

What's everyone else's favourite thing that you've written?

My Mum loves a poem I wrote for my daughters.

A friend raved about the first draft of the best attempt I ever made at completing a short story ... which I have since lost. I have tried to rewrite it, but somehow can't revisit the space i was in at the time. Perhaps i should try again.

Do you even show people your work?

Sometimes. I'm not precious about my writing, but neither would I want to impose it on someone! I enjoyed getting feedback for work at university and am always as happy with constructive criticism as I am with praise. I don't think I would submit something to a publisher (if I ever get that far!) without showing it to someone first.

Did you ever write a novel?

I wish!

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?

No but my eldest daughter and I have talked about writing a book together about our own experiences of teenage angst.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Too many! I really must focus, I tend to scatter my energies after lots of interests. My priorities are: Write Here! / Student Mum / The Learning Curve (blogs), research into the family in the 21st century, articles for a student parent website (and hopefully magazines aimed at students/parents.) I wrote the first paragraph of a short story yesterday but this might not count as 'writing' but rather 'written' as I may never return to it!

Do you want to write for a living?

Do I want to get paid for doing one of the things I love best in the whole world ... are you kidding?!

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Sadly, no. Unless you count a first class honours degree?

Ever written something in script or play format?

No. Please ... no more ideas for new things to try!

Do you ever write based on yourself?

I write about things, people, places I see. Most of my writing comes from a personal perspective.

What character that you've written most resembles yourself?

I can't answer this (yet!)

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?

I found a great website while researching Jung's archetypes and think might try and use it to build a character.

I guess if I wrote fiction, I would get characters from people I know or meet ... but this is why I don't write fiction, I don't know how to translate real life into fiction.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I rarely remember dreams.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?

As a reader, I prefer happy endings to sad (although they make me cry more!) but I most like an ending that leaves me thinking, or makes me want to read the book again.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?

No. What a great idea, I'm going to try that.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes, very. Although I'm not sure it's possible to make sure everything is perfect, I do try my best, and can agonise for ages about whether something is right, in a grammatical sense, both before and after I write it (erm, this is a really bad sentence!), if I'm submitting it academically, or if I were to submit anything for publication.

(Take a breath!)

I use my dictionary every day, but as much when am reading as when am writing. Tend to use a lazy style of writing when writing informally. Use far too many exclamation marks!

I noticed an increasing tendency to use exclamation marks while writing anything personal, during my time at university, and put it down to exuberance at being free of academic restraints. But it seems I am growing increasingly phobic about full stops, using elipses, commas, colons, dashes, in fact almost any other punctuation mark instead. (Am itching to change that to an exclamation mark!)

Write something entirely in chatspeak? (How r u?)

I can't!

Honestly, I just can't bring myself to do it (though it makes me laugh out loud to get a text from my mum, who uses it!) I rarely text, as i always have too much to say, but when I do, I use full spellings (apart from the occasional u or 2 ... oh and I like b4!) I can't even miss out apsotrophes.

Very Orwellian ... fascinating subject, though, the effect of textspeak on our language.

Apparently it commonly appears in GCSE exams!

And I often struggle to decode texts from my daughters!

Entirely in L337?

Erm ...

Was that question completely appalling and un-writer like?

I have no idea! (Glad I'm not the only one Sally.)

Another one to look up. I like having things to look up, all possible posts for the Learning Curve!

Does music help you write?

Sometimes. Sometimes it irritates me. It all depends what mood I'm in and what the music is. There's rarely no music on in this house and often more than one kind at the same time.

Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind.

We should never tolerate difference. We should celebrate it.

Blogging Etiquette?

The title is a question, because I really don't know!

So this is likely to be a post full of questions ...

I think good manners are essential in any interaction with others, so I know being generally polite is important. I try and answer every comment, knowing how lovely it is when I get an answer to mine, I continue to be amazed (may I never take it for granted) that the community of writers on here are just so ... well, amazing!

At the risk of repeating myself ...

So I know that friendly comments and supportive gestures are welcome, that sharing tips and information is appreciated (and that my tiggerish exuberance and total naivety is kindly tolerated!)

What I'm not so sure about yet, is whether it's cool to mention other people, or add them as links, or at least whether I should ask permission first?

I'm guessing that everyone is pleased to be mentioned somewhere else, as it might increase visitors to their own blogs/websites, but I wonder if that is, in fact, a huge assumption. Perhaps someone would rather not be linked to someone they don't know, or whose general philosophy they might disagree with, or whose writing falls short of their own standards, or (as in my case) who knows very little and has a blog that is little more than an indulgence!

I also wonder whether there may be someone in a list of links who would rather not be in the same list as another blog or website?

Plus, because I am so new at this, I am wary of offending people, or at least making them say: 'Ha! What does she know!'

The truth is I know very little about writing fiction, not much about writing anything, and nothing at all about being published! This blog was started, with a post in early December, because a friend told me to get on with it, when I mentioned yet again that I should start a blog. Then I forgot all about it until for some reason I arrived here again, met SallyQ and then through her blog I found lots of others, all interesting and lovely to read and with lots of links to lots of others ... I could be here for ages, just reading. (How will I ever find time for writing?)

Having been so inspired and warmly welcomed and generously encouraged, I have stayed (you will probably never get rid of me now, I am totally hooked!)

I called this blog, when I first set it up, Write Here! Because I knew I needed to write, but I also need to be told to! I had no plans for it, I had plans elsewhere, I just wanted a place to write. I decided last year that I would write articles, as my writing past consists of non-fiction writing (mostly academic essays and research papers), and I wrote a few for a website I am planning to set up, for student parents.

Well, they say we should write about what we know, and I figured if I couldn't write about studying while being a Mum (after 7 years), I should probably give up!

I have started another blog devoted to this cause and am loving that too. I now have three, in fact ... oh! so addictive! (Blogging is sort of oxymoronic, it's incredibly addictive therapy.) So I have one I hope will be helpful to others, one I hope will eventually become a book (well, we'll see, it's fun, anyway!), and one that is just sheer blissful indulgence, guess which one you're reading?

But because very busy people who know lots more than I do about writing kindly take the time to read my blog, and even comment on it (that so makes me smile, when I get an email to say I have a comment, I always open them first!), I have tried to add some helpful stuff to the rambling (ahem! rambling sentences as well as subject). I have started to sort out the links into separate categories and will add some more. I'm really not sure how useful they'll be to anyone, but perhaps the fact that I have a total novice's outlook, will be a positive thing, in some way.

I hope to continue writing this with writerly themes (please humour me, please forgive me!) although I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep it up.

Any comments on blogging etiquette really would be much appreciated! :o)

Oh! And maybe someone could help with this, please?

I am having problems getting my head round the difference between 'learned' and 'learnt' ... I haven't had chance to get to the library and look at a better dictionary than mine (apparently an Advanced Learner's edition and it's useless, I have often looked not-particularly-obscure words up that aren't in there), which has both as past participle of 'learn' and only one as an example, so I am none the wiser. Again. I hate that.

But when I know the answer, I can add a post to my Learning Curve blog ... yay! it's funny how that happens!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The 15th Post on the 15th Day (Yay!)

I've been fretting for the past couple of days (having stated in writing on here that I intend to put a post up every day), that I haven't written a thing since Saturday. But I have been writing, and have been working on my Student Mum blog (does that count?)

I have posted something on there this eve, that might also be useful for writers/researchers, though it was aimed at students ... we are all students I guess!

My angel calendar page for today says:

Hope is that thing
with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune
without words,
And never stops at all.

It's by Emily Dickinson. One of my most favourite quotes is from her:

The sould should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

Well, I had hoped to add a longer post, but my poor laptop is huffing and puffing and I really think I should log off and close down for a while (me as well as the computer!) And I've just realised that although I've missed a couple of days, I am posting the fifteenth post and it's still the 15th of January (just!)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Truly Blessed!

Just a quick post, as I've managed to miss the past two days (though have put a couple of brief notes on my other blogs) and don't want to get out of the daily habit I had promised myself.

Not sure what happened on Thursday ... so long ago! But I spent most of yesterday in the very beautiful city of York, with my very beautiful Mum. It was her birthday, a day we spent together last year too ... just the two of us. I hope it becomes a new tradition!

We have lots of family traditions, like spending Father's Day at Clumber Park ... the whole family, aunts, uncles, cousins and assorted friends, with picnics and various balls and bats. Or Boxing Day when everyone heads for Mum and Dad's for cold turkey, hash browns and mushy peas! Or Saturday girlie nights: me and the girls curled up on the sofa with popcorn and ice cream, watching telly in pjs and home-made face masks.

I am blessed with a phenomenal family and love huge family get togethers, but it's so nice to have Mum all to myself sometimes. She is my greatest fan and my inspiration, as a mother and as a woman. She is warm and wise and always gives excellent advice, without ever interfering, I think she understands me where others love me but find me incomprehensible!

Oh! Now I remember what I was doing for most of Thursday ... researching Jung's archetypes, most of which goes right over my head, but is fascinating stuff! It occurred to me that they might be useful in building characters when writing fiction? I'll try and come back to this later, but this is a website with lots of (not too technical) stuff on Personality Types:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Haiku For Blogging Angels

Well, I'm not entirely sure it qualifies as a haiku poem, because it's so long since I wrote any poetry at all, and I never could remember whether it was 17 or 19 syllables! But it's for all the lovely angels on here ...

A small word from you
Can clear clouds and tame tempests
You make the day smile :o)

I suspect that the more a writer is published the more pressure they feel, and I can only imagine what writing at that level is like, but I can tell from reading the blogs on here that you are an incredibly warm and supportive community and although I have only been here for a few days, I have felt so welcome.

I wish us all the very best of everything in 2008 ... which, besides world peace, is my one and only wish for this new moon.

Or at least, my only written wish, the others are floating around somewhere ...

Angels in Disguise

I got a gorgeous page-a-day calendar in my Christmas stocking this year, with everyday thoughts about angels.

January the 9th:

A surgeon's hand, a friend's note, and a mentor's pat on the back are all angels in the guise of the ordinary - carrying us like a thousand lifting wings.

I think added to this list should be a fellow blogger's comment!

Thinking back to the page for January the 6th:

Earth angels exist, but they don't wear tunics or wings. earth angels are real, but they don't sing in choirs or fly. Earth angels are here - look! One just passed by!

Thank you to all the lovely angels out there, lending each other your wings when you stumble, singing each other's praises, passing by with a smile, a hug or a cheer! :o)

This could be a whole other blog ... hmmm, I have already discovered how very addictive blogging is, have set up another two blogs today, really must get a grip and FOCUS!!! But still ...

Angels in the guise of the ordinary:

The ladies in my local library who give me complimetary cups of coffee.

The lecturers at uni who were willing to share precious time and hard-earned experience.

The neighbour who offers you a lift home with too many bags of shopping.

The boss who goes out of their way to tell you what a good job you're doing.

The young lad who offers his seat on the bus to a heavily pregnant woman.

Etc.! :o)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Well Done, Sally :o)

Back from town to a house full of teenagers ... didn't someone just spend a week clearing this place up?! Well, no time to worry about the fact that it looks like a herd of elephants have been having a party for a week, my tummy is complaining louder than the teenagers. Lots of food but no gas to cook it with so am going to have to trek out again, but that's ok as the twenty minute walk to the shop and back in total peace and quiet will do me the world of good ... and I treated myself to a pair of bright pink, soft and fluffy gloves today which make me smile.

I have added some more writers' blogs to the list, answered some lovely comments (thank you!) and read SallyQ's excellent prize-winning piece ... check it out from her blog.

Happy New Moon!

Just a quick hello, as I need to head into town.

Make New Moon Wishes!

If you need some help with this, see Yasmin Boland's wonderful Moonology website. I always include World Peace on mine ... well, it can't hurt! Write them down if you can, and either keep them to refer back to at the next new moon, or burn them and watch them disappear into the Universe ...

Thank you all for your lovely comments, will get back to you later ... you have all made me feel so welcome! :o)

Good Night (No, really this time!)

Goodness, I could get so carried away on here, adding people and places and random things ...

But not tonight, am definitely going to bed.



Try this:

A wealth of writing blogs!

Have just spent a happy couple of hours meandering through blogs by writers ... wonderful, interesting and inspiring blogs. Have left comments on them all to say so! And added them to my links ... or not, it seems.

I merrily added each address and name, but must have forgotten to save them and they haven't appeared on here ... oh well, such is the learning curve that is a new thing!

I hope I can remember them tomorrow, am too tired to go through them all again now, had an exceptionally late night last night, even for me (3.45am) so am aiming for a relatively early one tonight.

Sorry for the squashed text in the previous blog, am not sure what i did to make it do that!

Well, yet again, I have written more today than I meant to, on less than I meant to. I really must learn the art of focus ...

More tomorrow! :o)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Libraries are dangerous places!

What have I learnt today?

That going to the library when you are trying to declutter the house is a very bad idea!

I took 5 books back, 2 of which I had finished with, and 3 of which I hadn't had time to read and had finally admitted defeat, having already renewed them numerous times ... then came home with another 11! Mostly books about spirituality, that section is always my downfall in libraries, and in bookshops. (Although the truth is I can get carried away in most sections!)

One of the eleven is The Barefoot Doctor's Manifesto, having reminded myself of how much I love it in last night's post (or rather, this morning's!) I really must get my own copy. I have read it twice all the way through, straight through! And it's lovely for just dipping into as well, full of warmth, wonderful affirmations and offbeat humour. It always makes me smile to think of dancing with the Universal Dinner Lady!

When I first picked it up today, this is the page it fell open at:

To manifest what you want
you have to first have a clear picture of what it is
and you can't have that if your mind is full of interference.
That is perfect for my recent inclination for letting go and fresh starts! I totally agree with the philosophy that an untidy environment creates an untidy mind, hence all the decluttering. I know what it is I want to achieve, and I know intention must be focussed and determined to manifest reality.
I have almost finished the whole house now (yay! just in time for tomorrow's new moon!)
I just have the last of my writing "stuff" composed mostly of ring binder files and cardboard wallets (affectionately know as the "Inspiration Files") stuffed full of scraps of paper of all kinds, far too many of which I haven't even read properly yet. That is my plan for this evening, to curl up in front of the fire and look through it all, sorting it into useful categories. Am really looking forward to it (but equally excited about the pile of library books, I must be careful not to get distracted!) ... to the process itself and to the results.
Tomorrow, I will be all set for my writerly fresh start! The first task will be to write down my New Moon wishes ... another form of intention. It's always good to write goals down as it makes them more concrete.
It's a good idea to try and make goals SMART too ... more about that when I have time!
If I have time later, I'll post another blog about decluttering and feng shui specifically for writing, but meanwhile I have added some links to favourite websites for writers, I hope they prove useful.

Note to Self ...


(Repeat as often as necessary!)

Thank you, again, Sally ... and a loud 'See! That's what I've been telling you!' from Lucy!

The decluttering continues (well, not at this very minute, am writing this then heading for bed!) I have got as far as sorting the very large piles into much smaller ones, neatly stacked on the two kitchen tables ... now i just have to do something with them before they reintegrate and redistribute themselves all over the house!

Clearing and cleaning is always a prelude for a little feng shui in this house, so now I know what I can write about on tomorrow's post ... or todays!

I really am a writer! :o)

And am not bad at DIY either (after a fashion!) having fixed Kat's bed, using some old wardrobe doors, this evening. A story for another post, perhaps ... how to mend a bed with no tools whatsoever!

Happy Dreams x

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Juicy Lucy!

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings
Muriel Rukeyser Poft

Huge thank yous, always, to friends and family (and the lovely Sally Quilford!) for their support and encouragement in my attempt to 'become a writer' ... but this post is dedicated to my friend Lucy, who physically sat me down at my computer, more than once recently, and who calls round or phones me every day, demanding to know what I've written!

At least I will now always be able to say: I wrote a post for my blog!

Things have been very busy here this week, as I am completing my traditional New Year's Decluttering Mission. I like to start the new year with a fresh, clean slate (metaphorically!) because I know having a messy house is not condusive to writing ... there is always something to distract me. I didn't manage to finish it before New Year's Eve so am aiming for the first new moon of the year.

New Moons are excellent times for fresh starts! Check out the wonderful Yasmin Boland's site for lots of interesting ways of making the most of a New Moon, including making New Moon wishes. Yasmin provides the dates and times of New Moons, and lots of other interesting information:

In Native American Earth Medicine, this is the Renewal Time, a time of 'refreshment and renewal' and is associated with the North Winds of 'purity and renewal.'

'... that which appeared to have departed is reborn and will begin to wax again and the turn of the Wheel of Life will soon indicate the new life which is now promised.' (Kenneth Meadows, Earth Medicine)

The problem with decluttering is that it looks worse before it looks better ... I now have boxes and bags of stuff everywhere, but lovely clear drawers and cupboards to put it back into! Well, some of it. Some is destined for various other places, and some of it I have no idea what to do with at all, mostly towering piles of magazine and newspaper articles, scraps of fabric and ribbon and random things I just know will come in useful one day. But this year, I have been particularly ruthless and have a large pile of things for the charity shop and another for a car boot sale ... one day!

But come Tuesday, I will be able to welcome the New Moon as my first fresh start of 2008!

Some tips I have found useful when decluttering:

Tackle one room (or one area of a room) at a time. Don't move on to the next one until you have completely finished or you will find yourself endlessly moving things from one place to another.

Ask yourself if something is useful (has been used or worn within the last year, to account for seasons), or is something you totally love.

Clear the decks! Empty a drawer or cupboard, clean it and then put back only what is definitely useful or loved. Use boxes or bags to sort everything else into categories you find useful: To Throw Away / To Give Away / To Mend / To Sell / To Store Elsewhere.

It's a good idea to invest in a variety of storage items, but I find sturdy cardboard boxes stored neatly under a bed, and old biscuit tins, hat or shoe boxes in cupboards (or even out on display if they are pretty) are just as good.

Find a new home (a new building, not a relocation to another room!) for everything that is worth handing on.

Throw everything else away ... be ruthless!

And on that note, I am now going to tackle my writing zone. I may be some time!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Resolutions ...

Well, the first blog of 2008 ... can't believe we are already five days into the new year!

And here it is in writing: My Resolution!

My one and only resolution. Not that there aren't any other changes I need to work on, but this is the most important. I have decided to focus on writing this year, to hopefully earn a reliable income from one of my most favourite things (I have a lot!), and to offer some useful information to others at the same time.

So, my resolution for 2008, here in writing, for the entire world to read:

I am going to write something on my blog ... EVERY DAY!

This will probably mean that it will sometimes be total rambling nonsense, written in the very early hours, after an already far too long day. Or while there is a houseful of rampant teenagers, with doors and phones and music and arguments as a constant background ambience. Or that it will be very short when I have a lot of other things to do.

I treated myself to a copy of Psychologies before Christmas (which I still haven't had chance to read!) and it came with a lovely red journal, and some suggestions about journalling, including a list of questions to ask yourself.

One of these questions is: What have I learnt today?

Excellent question! I am going to learn one thing every day and write about it here. Am still unsure of the direction i should take this blog (I struggle with focus and am very easily distracted, finding almost anything interesting!) but for now, I will focus on writing. If I post something about writing every day, perhaps something will prove useful to others too, which would be great ... I have come across so much genuine, generous advice for writers, from writers, and it would be lovely to share it with other people.

Other ongoing interests including the family (in general, and mine in particular!), wellbeing, and studying as a mature student, will no doubt creep in from time to time. That's the wonderful thing about writing as a passion ... it's a way of exploring and expressing all other passions!

I am starting a website for mature students, and would welcome any comments, by the way!

So, i hope all who read this have had a lovely Christmas and a fab start to the new year! I wish you all well with your own resolutions. If they have anything to do with writing, I hope this helps for a start:

I found a wonderful website yesterday, with so much useful info that I haven't had chance to read it all properly, but have a look for yourself and see what you think.