Fiction: Pancake Day

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 9 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day

pancakes

That year of 1974, on the Sunday before Pancake Day, Ariel was skulking in her bedroom because she sensed that Mariel would be manifesting very soon. She’d crammed all her chores in to Saturday: laying the fire, scrubbing the kitchen and digging over the vegetable patch – all with such thoroughness and willingness that she would be left alone and unquestioned by her mother, and ready for when her Tutor came quietly to call.

With spring approaching and lighter nights lengthening, they spent much of their time together gazing at, and learning about the moon, and its mysterious influences. As a student in the craft of flying, moonlit nights were perfect for practise, for she could clearly see and learn the landmarks that she needed to navigate by.

When learning her lunar lore, Ariel, who rarely remembered numerical concepts, knew that Shrove Tuesday can fall anywhere between 3 February and 9 March, since it is exactly 47 days before the moveable feast of Easter Sunday, in turn determined by the timing of the current moon cycles.

More importantly to an impatient teenager, it was – for her – the day that started the slow tick down to Easter and her very next stay in Tregorwith Castle.

Now, with lunch out of the way, she dozed while she waited for Mariel to appear. She slept easily as all her chores had made her tired and especially too, since if they were to fly then she would need all her energy. She also did this because Mariel always liked to arrive by stealth and surprise. Ariel would always sense intuitively that Mariel was on her way, but could never expect her – instead Mariel would manifest suddenly at what she deemed to be the least expected moment. Her explanation was, that this unexpected element of surprise kept her movements secretive, safe and untraceable; yet Ariel suspected that her mentor did it more because she liked to keep her student on her toes, and not least because she always loved to make the most dramatic appearance possible.

Ariel could always see the smug satisfaction gained when she would turn around and find that Mariel had momentarily manifested and was smirking behind her, especially if she had made her jump with shock. Today though, she simply felt Mariel’s presence, sweetly through her slight sleep and she opened her eyes to see her feathered friend, fanning her awake, with the whisper of her wings.

“So, my sleepy sylph, wake up – it is time to Shrive” said Mariel. “To what..?” Ariel replied, sitting up and yawning. “To shrive, to absolve, then to resolve and release.” “Oh”, thought Ariel, “it’s going to be one of those lessons…”

“In order to fly” Mariel continued, “we have to think airily and eat lightly. You know already that in the hours before a long flight you must only eat the lightest of meals – in order that you are nourished enough to sustain yourself, but not weighed down by food and fat.”

Ariel’s mind wondered off to an advertisement she’d recently seen on Television, where a beautiful slim woman, ate airy, delicious, bread and was able to float easily away over a beautiful landscape in a sumptuous hot air balloon. She was slim and could float away because she was dieting, but for all that, she could still eat this special bread. Ariel’s mother, typically, would not buy the slimmer’s bread for her, since it was nearly twice the cost of their normal white sliced loaf… Of course Ariel couldn’t counter argue that she needed the slimmer’s bread so she could fly, so she just coveted it with a quiet pout, instead.

Mariel raised her voice to distract Ariel out of her floating thoughts: “So as we eat lightly, so also must we think lightly. For if we have heavy thoughts, then we are weighed down by woe and will not be able to navigate our flying journeys with the necessary elegance and ease. As we come to this point in the moon’s cycle then, starting our preparations for the approach of Easter, it is time to Shrive. To do this perfectly, you must let go of the dark words in your mind, of your fears, and of your cares. You can do this by confiding in me, my child. And you may confess your darkness’s to others too, but be careful as to who; for your confidences can be turned into curses if they are given into the wrong hands.

So tell me now what ails you; tell me what worries you; tell me what you are scared of; tell me of all that is wrong with your world.”

Ariel suddenly felt silently shy and dry of words. She was not used to revealing her thoughts to Mariel. She was used, instead to receiving Mariel’s lessons and her endless wisdoms, but not to share the cares of her mundane, earth bound world.

“I see this has silenced you, my sweet student, so let me ask you, gently and carefully – what was the last thing that you were afraid of?”

Ariel’s mind shot back to the bullies at school and soon she shared her secret tears and stories. More quiet questions from Mariel then came, and more answers Ariel returned. She spoke of the hardness of her mother, of their lack of money, how her mother would complain about her father and kept him firmly out of their lives. She cried and sniffed her way through her wandering woes.

Mariel next said, “So – now say to me of what is wonderful in your world. Tell me your blessings, and tell me all the things that you could ever be grateful for.”

Ariel hesitated and so Mariel said “how about your father – tell me about him.” And so Ariel spoke of Charles and she loved to be with him and all her Cornish family. And on, Mariel questioned through all the sweet areas of Ariel’s life in turn. They spoke of Tregorwith, of her favourite dress, of her dolls, her best friend and more besides.

“Now,” said Mariel “sense how you feel. Are you heavier or lighter in mind and heart?”

“I’m much lighter of course” Ariel smiled back, happily.

“Wonderful my little one, you are absolved. Your cares are let go and so today you will fly easy. But our conversation today cannot cure all these cares alone. To remember the importance of lightness, you must now lean into Lent. You know that in the Christian way, many give up sweets and treats for 40 days. For us this is critical in another way. You have to be lean and light to fly, so for Lent we will spare ourselves the sweets and the treats, so that we can fly light in every way too.

It’s not enough to do this jettisoning on one Lenten day when you have me near, so you must also leave out food treats, in the Emissarriat way, for the length of the 40 days of Lent. This will train you even more to be light of body. It will also remind you, every one of those 40 days, to remain light of heart. Keep this practice, in all the years that you are able to fly through life.

Know too, that your cares can return, so I have this gift for you.” She handed Ariel a small journal, covered in leather, embossed with golden entwining flowers. “This your journal. Keep it close. It is not created to record your cares – but to let them go and so to celebrate the wonders of your world. In it, write down your stories, and scribe out the things that you love. Tell too in these pages, waiting for you, of the things that you would love to be. Set down your dreams and all your airy plans.”

“Thank you. It’s so beautiful” said Ariel. “But my mother will find it, I know she will, she will find it and pry and poke fun at me. She’ll laugh at my dreams. She always does.”

“Look at your book” Mariel replied. “Look at the lock there. Here it’s tiny matching key”. I’ve set some magic over it. Keep it safe – out of sight, and these dreams and schemes, she shall not see.”

All’s well Ariel, so let’s fly, lightly, now.”

Ariel hid the journal under her bed and suddenly they were out in the skies. Mariel took her by the hand and raced her upwards through the flying, rushing world. They soon came to a village and hovered over a Pancake Race, taking place in a field below. Men dressed up as frowsy housewives, with floral aprons and scarves round their head, ran clumsily round a race track, tossing pancakes heavily, as they went. They looked so funny, with their male socks and shoes all at odds with their female garb. Ariel and Mariel laughed along with the crowd of friends and family.

Mariel whorled them round the world, swiftly, to stare at a series of Shrove spectacles. There were feasts and carnivals, fancy dress and bell tolling prayers. Ariel marveled at the speed that she was whisked around the globe, sometimes barely glancing at the happenings below. They spanned through Shrove days, through days of the week, through rushing wind and warm air. Round and through, up and along. Ariel was taken by the hand and swept along with the easy flight of Mariel’s magnificent wings. She beat her own wings barely for practice and to steady herself along the way.

Then suddenly they were back to Sunday. Back in her bland urban home. Landed in the bedroom above her mother’s suburban head.

“Happy Shrove Time” Mariel said. “Enjoy your pancakes on Tuesday, for that will be your final feast before you lighten for Lent. Remember to keep the writings in your journal light too. Show it to me again..?”

Ariel reached under the bed to pull the precious book out and of course when she turned back to reveal it, her tutor had flown and gone.

She looked down at the gorgeous book gift, then held it up to her nose to smell the fine leather. Next she fitted the tiny golden key into the lock and turned it with the sweetest, most satisfying click. She smoothed her fingers over the heavy, cool, cream coloured pages inside, turning them to gently flatten them against the stiff spine, to ready them for writing.

Ariel reached for a pen from her school bag and started to write. She wrote of the colourful sights she had seen that day and how they had taken flight seeing Shrove spectacles across Europe.

She wrote of the things that she had to look forward – to seeing her father and visiting Tregorwith.

She wrote that although her mother did not make cakes and soups and other such complicated things, she always made pancakes for them on Pancake Day.

And on Tuesday evening, there she was, sitting waiting at the table. He mother stood at the cooker and the pancakes come straight off the pan on to Ariel’s plate. Her mother handed her the plastic lemon, so she could squeeze the sharp juice from it and then she unrolled the sugar bag, dipped a clean teaspoon in to it and sprinkled her annual treat, daintily and thoroughly. Her mother then cooked her own pancake and embellished and gobbled it in the same way, until they had happily eaten 3 pancakes each.

So she had Shrove-feasted and now it was time to lighten for Lent. Much to her mother’s annoyance Ariel easily gave up puddings, despite being offered them nearly every evening for the next 40 days.

“You’re a strange one” her mother would say. “There’s no need to starve yourself. I went through the war and would have been glad of even half the food you turn your nose up at now.”

“But Mother,” Mariel thought “you can’t fly…”

~ Sandra Peachey

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Your Valentine – Sorted

Love is in the air! Cupid is hiding around the corner, arrow poised and ready for Valentine‘s Day, which is now fast approaching…
Have you got the perfect gift for your partner yet? I can help…
heart feb 15
And if you haven’t met the Mr or Ms Right in your life yet… Where do you find love?
Read my book Peachey Letters and find out…
Book Cover Tiny
I currently have a Valentine special offer… You can buy the paperback on Amazon for £11.99 or as a Valentine’s treat you can get it on my website – here for just £7.99 including P&P… Happy designated Day of Love!
Featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, it is also honoured as a Finalist in the International Book Awards 2015.

Here is just a small sample of the feedback that ‘Peachey Letters’ has received so far:

Wow! Beyond words, your writing is wonderful, your insights an inspiration, the gift of a Goddess & an honesty that is humbling … Your bravery is bold & simply brilliant. Thank you. ~ Lucie Bradbury

It’s fabulous the way you are able to express your feelings with sensitivity and humour, a real talent … your writing is so wonderfully poetic whilst at the same time being merrily mischievous, …  ~ Liz Ivory

What vivid pictures your words paint. It is never easy to put your feelings into words. Your deep feelings and gut reactions bubble up naturally seemingly beyond translation. Your words have become the sparkle in my eyes and the sun that shines through the window every morning beckoning me to wake, I love your writing. I always have, and I always will. ~ Vaibhav –India:

Rarely have I read such exquisite passion, such positivity, such zest for life has I have in your love letters. You express yourself so well, as you find just the right words for thoughts, feelings and experiences that so many of us find impossible to capture, or even know exist. You have THE GIFT … And you have imagination too. A mind able to fly and to dream. To truly know, to see in your mind’s eye, how beautiful things could be… if only… Yet, even in this imperfect world… a world fall of faults, pain, failings, evil and just plain indifference, you still see and appreciate the beauty. ~ David W

What a gift that is – coming through all your life and coming to this point of deep peace and love. And you’ve had the honesty to share it. I just feel so touched and humbled.  Thank you with all my heart. ~ Lyria Normington

Your letters are touching and inspirational – and so amazingly well written, they made my spine tingle …~ Lis Protherough

Making a perfect Valentine gift, the book takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content in and wraps it all together in a satisfying structure – that will make you feel the love, entertain and enlighten you.

It’s an easy yet satisfying read, which sees love in everything we do, crossing the boundries of the huge themes of life, and the tiny, trivial minutiae of it too.

Buy the paperback on my website – here for just £7.99 including P&P…

Or get it from Amazon for £11.99 and from all great book websites around the world.

You can also buy it in Kindle

Any which way, you and who ever you give it to, will LOVE it!

With love from
Sandra
Author of Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life
~ Finalist in the International Book Awards 2015
~ Featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady

 


A Letter to Self Pity & what to do about it

SP

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 8 of 29

A Letter to Self Pity and What to Do About It…

Dear Thing

I don’t feel I can write ‘Dear Victim’ – that is a distinctively un-coach-y thing to do and could (irony alert here) instil dangerous precedents into my neural path ways or invoke the dark side of the Law of Attraction … And as for writing ‘Dear Self Pity’, well that would just be oxymoronically weird… So I’ll just ‘thingy-ise’ this concept instead – firstly to dumb it down and lessen its impact, so that next I can move on to deconstructing and debunking it… Or maybe I’ll just stick some dynamite under it and blow it into smithereens – that would just be quicker and suit my sense of drama…

Well at least I’m laughing about it, now… I’ve had to watch a tight tendency to think that all is bleak, that I have nothing in the past; that I’m worth nothing, that I’m unloved and alone; that everything seems to go wrong or is unfeasibly difficult – and that I’d be doomed to end up destitute, in every possible sense.

Not so long ago, I was in my car, carefully taking a roundabout, when suddenly a horn started sounding. Next thing I knew a motor cyclist had pulled alongside me and was swearing and cursing. The short version of the ensuing exchange is this: ‘You are supposed to look before you pull out’ (is the sanitised version of what) he said. ‘But I did look and I saw nothing’ was what I (actually) replied. I’ve noticed that in the face of someone else’s bland logic, many people choose the path of insults and swearing. He was no exception to that observation… Having delivered his parting curses, he zoomed off on his motor bike. I was left behind, feeling angry that I, the innocent was accused of a wrong doing. Seconds later I wondered if I was really to blame and next I slipped into self-pity mode…

Self-pity has often permeated my psyche. For many years I’d slip into my self-pity pit and be unable to see through the ensuing darkness: Life didn’t go the way I’d planned – so yah boo sucks to all those who actually buy in to the Law of Attraction I thought… No – down in my treacly pit, I gained my significance from the fact that the ‘attract like for like’ theorising was clearly all a load of baloney – since all my life I’d trusted, taken action, had a good heart, and done all the right things… Then to be left with nothing, whilst everyone around me had… more than me.

In my own case there were parental behavioural pity patterns set. My mother in particular had a victim mentality, grown out of a difficult childhood where she felt unloved and unwanted. She felt ignored too, but had a strong determination that she should be heard – so she came out fighting – protecting herself with a loud bravura – by berating her parents and her circumstances and everyone around her. She rarely (as I recall), took personal responsibility, but why should she – it wasn’t something she was aware of – she simply was who she was and got on with life accordingly.

As someone in the circle of her blame, I got very used to constantly apologising for my actions and agreeing that I was at fault. That makes for a quiet life, but not a trouble free one. Blame attracts blame – both the giving and receiving of it – and so people tend to believe the worse of you and so you live down to their expectations, believing also, the worse of them.

I grew up deciding that pessimism was the safest and least disappointing path to follow. Self-pity and pessimism often go hand in hand and so that’s how I lived. I even remember how a university flat mate wrote to me, after we’d moved on to our separate ways into the big wide world and said how they missed my “warm, cheery depressions”…

And this permeated not just my own upbringing – you can see this blame culture in action all around us. There is a definite cultural bias towards ‘it’s your fault, therefore I have the right to be aggressive towards you’.

So – when you are badgered by a road rager – blaming and cursing you because of some real or perceived infraction of their space – the sub text could very well actually be: ‘I’m having a bad day. You have come into my consciousness and now I am going to take all my crappy feelings out on you and put you at fault. And because I deem you to be in the wrong – that now gives me complete freedom to be rude and aggressive towards you.’ You remonstrate and are countered with the following logic – ‘how dare you answer me back or protest your innocence – my righteous anger knows the truth and it’s my truth that is the truth here (whether of course, factually, it’s the truth or not).’

Think about this scenario in any skirmishes you may have had in your life – most of us have been on both sides of that blame fence at different points in our lives…

It’s odd isn’t that that all that aggressive behaviour comes from the ‘victim’ – since such a stance is not what we associate with the territory. That’s because there is a perception that being a victim is weak, when actually, for so many people – it is where they gain their significance and strength.

So as I grew up and experienced blame all around me, it seemed to feed upon itself. I have, for example, spent much of my corporate career in Human Resources (HR) and have smirked sardonically on more than one occasion, that HR is employed mainly to be the point of blame for all the wrong doings of many an organisation – whereas we poor beleaguered people professionals, go into the job to actually do good – misguided and misunderstood souls that we are…

So feeling constant self-pity got to be second nature for me. It was like a default trip switch that flicked on, plunging me into the darkness; just the same way the circuit breaker on my electrical supply at home does, when it detects a blown fuse.

Since this type of victimhood is a stance that we (often) unconsciously take, it can come as a real shock when someone points out to us that being a victim (in such circumstances) is usually a choice rather than a fact. Also that by choosing to be a victim, you decide to give your responsibility away to someone else. That makes blame easy, but means that it becomes really difficult to take any positive action and resolve a situation (what ever the merits of it may be). However, a lot of people are blind to this and will deny it, especially if they are in an emotional state.

I hated this concept of self responsibility when I first came across it. My victim mentality had defined me, so when it was suddenly wiped away with words, I now had the weight of doing something about my life in order to change it, and not to just to sit still and complain about it. It fundamentally boiled down to the truism that ‘with responsibility comes power’. It wasn’t power that I wanted though – it was always far easier to wallow in the self-pity pit.

As I exercised the responsibility though, I grew to love the power it gave me and the freedom over my thoughts. And when I started to choose the direction of my thoughts – that’s when I really started to feel powerful and actually in control – the complete opposite of being a victim.

So now I prefer facts and understanding to blame and criticism. I look for the patterns of thought and action that shape any given situation and choose to learn the lessons.

In the case of my skirmish with the motor cyclist, I mulled over the facts to see if there was anything I could have done better and differently. In this particular instance I really didn’t know. Next I thought about what lessons I could learn from this incident. I then I decided to focus on the positives – neither of us were hurt; there wasn’t a collision; I chose to take more care on roundabouts in future; I’m glad I didn’t get aggressive; and so on…

It’s a principle I like to employ for all of life’s happenings – big and small – accept what has happened (rather than rail against it), take responsibility for whatever my part in it was, and understand what I could do differently and better.  Then I can decide and act accordingly, in positive power.

When it comes to where I am in life right now, I’ve learnt that I thrive most when I choose to count my blessings, rather than cuddle my curses close.

And that’s when self-pity crumbles in the face of positive power.

Yours consciously,
         Sandra
Sandra Peachey
Coach, Author and Thinker

PS: As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into a beautiful non fiction book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

Love Letter to My Warring Egos

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 7 of 29

ego

Dear Ego

Did I just write Dear ego?! What a strange convention that in the world of letter writing we say ‘Dear Sir’, ‘Dear Miss Peachey’ ‘Dear Friend’. Yet over in the world of emails we seem to have gone to the opposite extreme: ‘Hi Sandra’, total strangers will write… ‘please… buy from me, pay me attention…’, etc., etc.

It’s one of life’s contradictions. And life is full of them. So I wander off into these tangential musings as I try to make sense of life’s twinning duplicities.

Even though I know these internal thought trajectories are my ego’s distraction from facing the external world – still they tramp through my brain; because if my mind is busy, then it’s distracted from allowing me to step into the spotlight… Oh I know all about spotlights, since I’ve spent a lot of time lurking back stage in theatre productions, conferences and class rooms. I’ve spent time on stage too, in many different capacities…

Yes – the spotlight! It’s a weird thing, that circle of super illumination. It has a warmth and brightness that beckons you to bask in it. It will follow you around the stage showing you the way, highlighting everything that you concurrently wish to reveal and maybe more; but sometimes it can blind you and often you cannot see your audience – since you are stranded in a peculiar, circular prison of concentrated, artificial light. Most people stand outside the spotlight – some ignore, some happy to watch, and some more standing in the dark contemplating how they can step in and be seen.

So with all these inherent contradictions, my ego both loves and loathes standing in the spotlight. What it loves is applause, agreement and praise. What it hates is indifference, disapprobation and looking like any shade of a fool. Meaning that, in the ebb and flow of my theatrical mind – the spotlight both is both seductive and destructive.

My ego wants many things… It wants to be loved; to have an easy life and an easy climb up onto the stage; it wants to be recognised and when it is – halleluiah – how wonderful, how edifying – the applause, attention and compliments make it glow and grow.

But then this ego starts to turn in to my alter ego and one compliment is never enough. This ego needs to be fed. It’s voracious – it can never have enough druggy adoration. And so it will always want its’ next fix…

And if it doesn’t get that fix, it soon forgets the warmth of the spotlight. When the audience leaves, what is the point of remaining on the stage? My ego then slinks off into the wings, shirks out of the theatre via the back door and leaves stealthily by cover of darkness.

It has such a short memory for praise, my ego. As far as it’s concerned, each piece of praise is a thing of the past almost as soon as it is uttered. Criticism though, lingers longer. It stabs like a dagger and its wounds often get infected as they fester away, ignored or untreated, in the dark.

So then my ego shuns the spotlight. It lives like a hermit in a dark deep cave and deliberately does not expose itself to further pain or ignominy. Or at least it tells me not to do that… And it’s a form of rampant protectionism. Essentially – it is telling me that I need to stay in the safety of the cave. It may be dark in there, but it is familiar and I know where everything is. ‘Leave the cave’ my alter ego says and I will be attacked by a savage pack of strange wolves, as well as being rejected by my tribe; and that will be death.

Maybe it’s fortunate that I have a low boredom threshold. Much as I love my cave, I do need to stretch my legs, and my ego beyond it.

One thing that gets me out there is my writing – just one of the many things that challenges my ego. I write and it feels as if my words somehow peel away all my surfaces, exposing all my vulnerabilities. It is something that I am impelled to anyway, not least because it completely confuses my duplicitous ego; which means that my writing begs both to be shared and to be hidden.

It’s a duality that fortunately I recognise. I post and publish (and be damned) anyway, because I don’t thrive in the dark and I don’t grow on my own. If I stay in my cave, I get demotivated and disconnected. My ego becomes the cave and wants to shut me in, so I don’t get hurt.

But if my ego will not commit compliments to memory, then I have to remind it of them in other ways. A year or so ago I started writing fiction and by doing so I’ve found a passion for it, so fierce, that I simultaneously want to shout about it and hide it. So I started, shared samples of it and then was scared of it. My ego told me it would be too much hard work to write a long loved novel, only to then face the ultimate rejection… But I know this pattern and so I store up the feedback too and here are the comments about my first public piece of fiction writing:

  • “Fiction is your thing. That is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing”.
  • “Your writing is beautiful, it drew me in and made me want to read more … and I feel the story you have to share is a soul message … your heart is ready to write this fictional masterpiece”.
  • “There needs to be a LOVE button. That was so beautiful, flowing, poetic … Had me wanting to know her life before and after this …”
  • “It’s beautiful … you do indeed have the wonderful gift of being able to write fictional prose. So pleased you are sharing this with the world… and you can’t keep this gift to yourself.” *

So after sitting in the dark with my book and doing nothing about it for so long, it is a shock to see those words of encouragement again…

But then sitting in the dark is painfully easy. I’m now choosing to put myself out there into the spotlight any way. I may be ignored, I could be criticised; but you see, the spotlight is not my final destination. It’s just a place where I have decided I will dance for a while. To me, recognition can be the applause of millions or even more satisfyingly, it is that one voice that tells you that you made a difference. And I have to tell you that both my ego and my alter ego can find no better contentment in this world than that.

So, my dear twin egos – I see you for what are: friend and foe; light and dark; stupid and smart.

And that could just describe me, on any given day, couldn’t it?

Well, I’ve always said that I’m a creature of contradictions – so I’ll still feel fear and step out there, regardless. I’ll start with the act of creation and work towards the contentment of completion. Then my twins, we can deal with the feedback later.

That’s my decision made then. It’s time to bow out of this letter.

Yours egotistically
Sandra
Sandra Peachey
Coach, Author and Apologist

PS: As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, into a beautiful non fiction book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

PPS: * If you would like to know what my readers were commenting about, check it out here…

Letter to a Loved One in Pain

Letter and Pen

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 6 of 29

What can you do, when someone you are close to is having an intensely hard and painful time in life…? For me, it’s a case of working it all out in one of my ‘Love Letters to Life’.

My darling girl

I always love to see you, but I how hate seeing you like this. So different, in such dragged out psychological pain and so drugged up to the eyeballs.

Throughout your life, you were always so strong, weren’t you, with your staccato words and your externalised certainties.   And I’ve seen you go through many different things in life, from childhood and teenage soapy dramas, to so many of life’s vapid and vast transitions. And you have done the same for me too, darling – I don’t forget.

Over time I’ve done my best to support you and lift some of the load. And you’ve listened to my many adventures as well, as if I’m your very own serialised drama, mixed in with comedic breaks and cliff hanger endings. It’s nice to know that I’m a balm to you. I know that you will listen to my gentle wisdom and that I can make you laugh. Whereas when it’s your turn – you will listen, then turn up the vocal volume and shoot your sharp opinions from the hip.

We’d both always had a cosy view about how much easier middle age would be. Now we’ve reached this zenith time – you keep saying, that at this stage of our lives, you thought we’d have it all sorted and that life would settled and at its’ cosiest.

But then here we are, both very much ‘all at sea’. I’m alright with the shifting tides and rippling waves right now; but you always had a problem with sea sickness and it feels as if you’ve been on such a long, heaving voyage, where all the weather in the world has come together to create your very own perfect storm of imperfect happenings. And now it all feels like it is just too much. You’ve run away from life, in nearly every sense – physically and psychologically withdrawing because you are quite literally, bent over with pain.

But you were always a worrier. We laugh about this frequently and I say fondly, that you’re an Olympic Gold Medal Winning Worrier, because you practice it so much. And I love it when you say you worry about me sometimes, since that kind of worry to me, is love. But now a natural propensity, combined with so many calamitous happenings has blown worry up into a labelled miasma of ‘anxiety’ instead. Worry multiplied and magnified to the degree of painful infinity. You just feel that you’ve been through too much and your ability to cope and to transact has been overtaken by the ‘A’ word instead.

So I watch you go through all this. I have to watch, because I know that I can’t change things for you, for no one but ourselves can ever do that. Oh yes, I will have my opinions, my ways of dealing with it and as a close friend, I feel I have the right to express that. But I don’t harp on about my views, I just state them occasionally (largely for my own release and) because they are at odds with your continued options.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know you so well and understand so much, because that means in some sense that I go along with what you continue to do, and so I continue to quietly support you in an on-going mess. A mess which continues because you chose it, thinking that you have no other choice. I don’t always think that this is right, but I know what’s at stake and I understand life’s complications and the consequences of decisions which ripple out from us. I also chose not to judge, even when sometimes that seems feeble – when actually it is really tough. And not agreeing with someone, in my book, (of course as long as this is not harmful in the conventional, transactional sense) is not a good enough reason not to be there for them; neither is the fact that they are going through a hard time…

So I wonder how I can really help… The easiest thing is to simply carrying on being your friend. You know that old adage that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Well, if you let it, times like this can bring out the best in you.

I give gentle support. I hug. I talk. I take you out. I deliberately try to distract you from your painful thoughts and emotions. It doesn’t really help in an obvious way, but it helps in that I do it and I’m there.

You are relying on other forms of support. You do have a good circle around you, so I am one small link in that chain. But you have also become unwillingly institutionalised by the medical profession who only seem to have 2 solutions – to remove you from the source of anxiety and to medicate you.

But how about suggesting and teaching strategies to help you deal with the situation better? To be fair they have provided her with a counsellor. She tells me that he says a lot of the things that I do… About practising mindfulness and self-care and the like.

But still all this support and still all this pain…

One time when she’d had a particular hard piece of news to bear, I apologised to my darling friend. I was sorry I said, because I could not take away the pain. Only time and working through it all would do that, eventually. I couldn’t change the circumstances sadly. But I reiterated that I would be there for her and I have been. I have made sure too that I take care of myself and that I continue to run with the rest of my life, so this doesn’t take over.

But there are some more things I want to say you my friend and the first is this: Never say that you cannot take any more… I say that because I’ve been known to utter those words and guess what… More calamities came along… Call it Law of Attraction or whatever you will, but life will throw at you what it throws at you. When it does, deal with it then. Right now, deal with what is right now; and if you have to create story for your future, then choose for yourself that it is going to be a good one.

Now that last sentence sounds like one of those annoyingly glib Facebook nemes that exhort us to just decide, do, be, etc., etc., and then all we ever wanted out of life will happen as a result… Well bla, bla, bla I say! We can decide away and say ‘om’ and breathe deeply (and you know, we should continue to do all these things), but still life can continue to be an almighty fuck up and we will continue to have negative thoughts and feelings. I cannot bullshit those away for you. But how about, when we are really in the emotional mire, that we take it just one little fuck up at a time, staying firmly fixed in the present? Let’s keep it straight and simple and just take one step at a time. You are even allowed to pause between steps. You have the right, no matter what your thoughts or anyone else may tell you.

Next, it’s been said before and it bears repeating, so let me underline this for you. Look after yourself. Take care of you. You know the things, the people, the scenarios that make you feel happier, and more relaxed. The ones that leave you feeling lighter and happier and healthier. And I’m not talking chocolate and wine here (well they’re allowed – but only in small quantities, they are after all another mild drug). Give yourself this. It is not a gift – it is an absolute necessity. If you can’t take care of yourself, you certainly cannot take care of anything or anyone else.

This seems like a form of shameless selfishness, but when you really think about it and commit to the notion of it, it really is the most unselfish act you could ever perform. And sometimes, this means removing ourselves out of the orbit or territory of those who don’t go along with this notion – for whatever conscious or unconscious reasons.

And being in pain can alter the appetite. Do NOT stop eating. You need to seriously understand that (especially now) you need to eat healthily – if your appetite is tiny, then take tiny and frequent nourishment. And move yourself: ‘gentle exercise’ is the clichéd phrase isn’t it? Well get your arse gently off the sofa and take one step, dance or whatever at time, in the right direction.

So on to my next soap box. It’s time to choose. Don’t just keep blowing in the breeze… Ah! That’s so easy for me to say, isn’t it in my VIP box, watching the action from above? But I am passionate about choice. It’s so powerful and I’ve lost count of the times that I thought I was without it. That I was a victim. That I could do nothing. I can’t feel your pain my friend, but I’ve felt my own – deep and dark and seemingly endless. But on those days when I felt I had no choice, I made a decision to choose what I would choose to choose! I removed myself from the grey abyss of being choice-less and chose anyway; and that simple step gave me my power back – first by small degrees, but then again and again, until I had gathered more strength and had exercised that choice muscle more and more and it became easier and easier to do.

I’m going to step off my soap box for now. It’s time to wind down this latest missive. I had to share this and that is another important step – not to keep all this crap to yourself. Let it out and let it go. I have wanted to write you an open letter – to help you and to help me and may be it will reach beyond us. I trust it will.

And I choose that trust.  And I choose that it will all be alright my dearest friend, no matter what.

Always…

With love, from me to you.

S xxx

PS: One of many testimonials for the book of the blog:
“I can’t begin to tell you how amazed I am with your book. Just a few pages in and I love it. A paragraph about your mum was so familiar to me, I had tears in my eyes… I thought nobody else felt that way!! I’m inspired by the way you have made such a success of your life.” Hayley S

As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together – along with new material, into a beautiful book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

 

Love Letter to Acceptance

accept

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 5 of 29

Love Letter to Acceptance

My Dear Friend

The concept of Acceptance, if you think about it, could easily be a contradiction wrapped up in a word.

As an action, it could be wimpy, waspish or even lazy, but then again, it could be the sweetest and smartest thing you could ever do for yourself.

So often when I work with my clients I find that they are fighting and resisting a situation. This can get painful as it clogs the head and heart with fighting thoughts and warring emotions. It also uses up precious time and negative energy.

I’ve been through it all too, of course… I remember one particular time when I had been going through a protracted period where an issue – simply unmanaged and ignored because of its difficulty, had subsequently spiralled out of silly control. It had been gnawing away at my consciousness and going round and round my beleaguered brain in ever decreasing circles, filling my thoughts, playing with my emotions and sapping my strength…

I had taken all the right pragmatic steps. But sometimes people and fate do not coerce with your good intentions. Even the fact that I established some controls and attempted to move it all to a resolution, did not prevent me from being angry and dispirited.

The same evil thoughts kept circling and spiralling in my head, again and again. My inner victim surfaced and it asked how it could be that I could be misunderstood and treated this way… by other individuals, by my own doing, by fate and by the Universe? It felt… so painful and so unfair…

I consciously chose not to wallow in my mental mire, nor to let it lead and define me, but it was stuck subconsciously, not letting me go… So I had to seek solutions and alternatives. And at times like these, I love to replace the busy complex twistings of gut and thought, with sweet simplicity instead…

I love to walk, to blow the cobwebs away – to literally move myself through whatever it is that I am working on or through. So, at that time I took me a walk. A walk of change, of calm and balm. And whilst I walked, an alternative to all this mental mayhem floated into my mind… And that was – ‘acceptance’… And my walk turned into a prayer, an incantation of softly whispered words to fill my mind with a gorgeous and easy alternative – that of acceptance.

So as I walked and thought, – I sought and prayed for acceptance instead… Instead of the circles and cycles of whiplash thought, instead of the bitterness and bile of argument and incrimination, I chose the iced silence of sweet acceptance instead…

At any time, such acceptance is a hymn, an invocation, a whispered alternative to anger. It fills my head with positive movement and upward momentum instead of the roundels of recrimination. It is the opposite of negativity, it is synchronous and quiet; such acceptance moves me forward – instead of stalling and circling and sticking in my brain. It breaks the negative repetitiveness and consternation, and best of all, it is a simplistic swop.

And as I walked along that day, my prayer went something like this:
“I accept this day; I accept the trees and the bluebells; I accept my life and what has led me to this point; I accept that I am here and now; I accept my situation; I accept my parents; I accept my decisions; I accept other’s reactions; I accept that things will change; I accept that soon this will all be unimportant; I accept the best; I accept the sunshine; I accept the opportunities to grow and to learn; I accept that I am skilled and amazing at many things; I accept that I am also a work in progress in others; I accept my work; I accept my companions; I accept the journey; I accept the blue sky; I accept myself; I accept the others.
I accept

These words were like blessings to me, they lifted the weight of this strange issue off my shoulders and let the thoughts fly out of head, instead of running raggèd around it.

And as a technique it is so simple to replicate. If you are finding something difficult or unfair or just not going your way – really commit to the concept of the sweet simple acceptance of everything.

Then walk, appreciate, think; accept. It is something you can do alone, or with a trusted companion. The walking somehow gives it a fantastic forward momentum. But if taking a walk isn’t possible, then get a pen and paper and get all out on there. Decide that you are simply going to accept and find every aspect that could have led to or have influenced the situation you want to turn, until all the words have run out…

The walk of acceptance is a simple and elegant solution to being stuck in a negative spiral.

So it’s time to share it. What do you say? Walk from A to B and try it out…

And… Accept it!

Yours acquiescently…

Sandra

Sandra Peachey Coach, Author and Walking Work in Progress

PS: “Just to let you know that your book has arrived… As a take on Tom Cruise in Jerry Mcquire – ‘you had me at page 1’.  Well done. You are an amazing writer, this book should be a film and I have only read 2 letters” ~ Beverley Jones

As Valentines Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together – along with new material, into a beautiful book.  It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…

Love Letter to Time Travelers

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 4 of 29

This latest blog is one of my more traditional Peachey Letters posts, where I analyse aspects of my life and muse them through to a decision, resolution, celebration, or all of the above.  Some are funny / trivial and some are quite dark and personal. 

As a coach that supports others to remove blockages and reach their goals (in all senses, from emotional to transactional), I have to start with supporting myself; so my Peachey Letters are a therapy that helps me to work through the ‘knots’ of my life and unravel the emotions and thought processes underneath them and then to weave them back into a satisfactory cloth of conclusion. 

The writing of them is both an exercise in ego and self- love, and the sharing of them lets others know they’re not alone, gives them something to think about, along with a whole host of other positive spin- offs beyond my ego that I never anticipated when I started writing them four years ago, including the publication of my first book – Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life.

The real point of my Peachey Letters, though, is to see how Love permeates every aspect of my life. This is Love in every sense of the word (an incredibly all-encompassing phenomenon that reaches far beyond simple romantic connotations) as a force of light, as positive energy, and in its many manifestations and methods; motivating me and those around me, somehow, in every way, shape and form. 

time

Love Letter to Time Travelers

Dearest Friends

I’ve been musing on the concept of The Present for a while, as various aspects of my life in these last few months have been sliding and shifting, as perspectives and people around me are changing.

This has turned me into a time traveller as I’ve been reflecting on the past, whilst simultaneously imagining various, and synthesised futures.

In my head I often browse the time space continuum – somehow I can never completely disconnect myself from the past that has shaped me and led me to where (and who) I am now.  When it comes to where I find myself today, I’ve decided to be good with my choices, and to practice forgiveness – always with others and especially for myself.

Sometimes these thoughts of what was and what will be, just keep running round and round my head.  It was most definitely time to stop the Time Machine and get out.  In other words, to get it all out of my head.

As a coach, I bring many things to the table, but one of them is not being a got together guru… I started my self-development for myself, to heal and be happier.  Very quickly into my learning I had the epiphany that the skills and strategies I was learning and the insights I gained, would also be an amazing gift to give to others.  As a woman – I’m ordinary, brilliant, empathetic, insightful and silly (and many more things besides), in turn.  I’ve been there, done that and worn many tee shirts, of many different sizes and colours. So when I coach others, I’m truly in my gift, understanding the patterns and complexities of life. This in turn means that I am present for and focussed on those I support, in guiding them to healing, reconciliation, achievement and greater emotional health.

As the LifeWork Coach – as well as giving coaching, I believe it is healthy and necessary to receive it too. So on my most recent visit to my own Life coach, I had a very specific request – I wanted to air and then jettison all the heavy reflections on my recent past.  I likened it a rocket – being propelled by the large and heavy fuel pack, but jettisoning all that heavy machinery for the ascent to its final destination to the stars.

So my coach held the space for me and listened. We laughed and cried together.  We ruminated and reflected.  And this was just what I needed so I could return to The Present – fully present; and not just walking, running or crawling to the next transaction, destination or distraction…

Then of course, as a seasoned time traveller – woven in between the past and the present, I inevitably contemplate the future. Depending on mood and circumstance – my many futures can be either dark or rosy tinted.

It’s natural to plan and to look forward, but when I do this with the negative weight of the past, the future inevitably seems black.  To bring this back into balance I then remind my recalcitrant mind what I have to be grateful for along with the positive past – i.e. what has worked well for me, and then I can constructively contemplate what new things I now choose to explore.

So as a time traveller I can easily find myself concentrating on my past and concurrently future pacing, meaning that somehow I then find myself stuck between these two time zones.

It’s a contradiction of coaching that although I will spend time assessing the past and planning for the future, I frequently have to remind both my clients and myself, that neither of these actually exists.

The past is a memory. The future is a projection.  The past and the future are not real, because they are not now.  The present – this precise moment in consciousness – is our only true reality. This is all completely logical, but still we find ourselves focussed on our divergent past and future lives.  How could we not?  We have memories and we have the capacity to make plans.

When it comes to describing and labelling such temporal phenomena, a definition often used is that a negative focus on the past is Depression, and an unhealthy interpretation of the future is Anxiety. In the context of the support that I provide, I believe that these offer a really valuable explanation of the definitions, but I prefer to use them concepts to elucidate, rather to label.  I am absolutely not decrying all the people in the world who live with these as conditions (not as labels) and are treated for them in variety of ways, including through the conventional health system.

This isn’t my area of expertise or the types of people I tend to work with, but it appears, to a greater or lesser degree to be a universal experience. During my time as a coach it seems that either of these labels could have been applied to most people at some point in their lives.  Often therefore, part of my role as a coach is to guide people to reinterpret their past, deal with what comes up and then learn from or simply accept it.

Often in coaching sessions I will be told ‘stories’ about the future along the lines of ‘this will happen, that could happen, what if, then, etc, etc’.  Indeed, when it comes to such future projections, I often have to remind clients that the future doesn’t actually exist.  What they are telling me are in fact, stories.  This is of course, an issue of degree – frequently we do have a notion of how things could pan out, but we often we have the power to change this or to disregard the story telling / negative connotations so that we then have more power to manage any resulting fears .

But I digress, and this is the power that time travelling through the past and the future can exert – they distract us from where we really are, right now, in the present. But if we are aware of this, we realise it is a power that we have (unconsciously) allowed and so with that realisation, we can take the power back and focus it on the here and now.

The trouble is that the here and now is often – troublesome, ordinary, boring or painful, just as the past could have been and the future may be.  We live through a whole range of positive and negative experiences, so would we really want to actually live in the now, when the now we are experiencing is not what we actually want?

To live fully and freely in the present, starts with a decision to do so. A decision that we are prepared to let go of whatever the past or the future held / hold for us.  This is also a decision to concentrate of making the most of what we have now, right in front of us.  My favourite practise to get me into this ‘present’ state of mind, is to think of all the things that I am grateful in my life – be it from getting out of bed that day, to the other trivial and momentous things that have gone well, along with the people I’m grateful for, the opportunities, the lessons and so on.

The next decision is to choose to let go of the past and the future. The past has passed, and the future will take care of itself.  Naturally there are times when we should plan ahead, but we can’t do this all of the time.  I therefore teach my clients various techniques around ‘letting go’ and these are some of the most simple yet powerful tools we can employ to live fully in the now.

The next step is a concept which is, I’m glad to say, becoming more common currency and less hippy and that is the practise of mindfulness. This is essentially being in ‘the now’ by focusing your awareness on the present moment, whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations – usually centred on your breathing.

All of us are different and so I work with my clients to create bespoke solutions for their individual requirements. There is a wealth of resources about mindfulness, so you can research what will work best for you, but the fundamental starting practice is just to be still for just a minute and breathe

Give yourself the gift of 60 seconds to just focus on your breath. Breathe in slowing and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs as far as you can.  Hold that air there for a few seconds and then slowly release it through your mouth, deliberately pushing as much air out of your lungs as you comfortably can.  Do this at least 3 times, concentrating all of your focus on your breath.

And despite following all these practices, you will still often find that there’s that voice in your head which still wants to linger on the long lessons of the past, or else point out the pitfalls of the future. But know this – it is just that – a voice.  Just that recognition in itself, is so powerful. It allows you to start distancing yourself from the time travel and to ground yourself instead in the here and now.

All these practises and thought patterns take some practice and effort, so you should always do your best to ensure that you are in the best energy you can be, by nourishing yourself. See a coach, talk to a trusted friend, read a good book, go for a walk – deliberately make time to do whatever it is that works best for you, to get you into a clearer and more constructive head space.

So to summarise these steps:

  • Tell, speak or write down your memories and stories. Get them out of your head and off your chest.
  • Let go of the need to remain attached to them. Accept what is.
  • Decide to live in the now.
  • Practise gratitude – give thanks for all you have and all you have learnt, generously.
  • Focus on the now. Take time out to breathe deeply and practise Mindfulness.
  • Recognise when you are ‘time travelling’ and get out of the tardis.
  • Nourish yourself.
  • Then decide what to do next.

Take and repeat these simple steps to bring you back into the now. Then you will be in a stronger position to accept the past and know when you are really ready to plan for the future – not worry about it.  This gets easier when it is complimented with the right kind of support, so explore hiring your own coach.

The thing is with time travel that it takes up so much unnecessary time and energy. However, what is really important is that your time is most definitely now.

Yours, mindfully…

     Sandie

Sandra Peachey
Coach, Student and Optimist

PS: To explore how coaching with me could make a difference to your life, drop your details in here and I’ll get in touch.

PPS: A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: The Politics of Visibility

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 3 of 29

Today’s blog is another piece of fiction, based on an imagined incident, expanded and patterned for my book trilogy. I’ve jumped from yesterday’s excerpt, which was written for book 1 and followed it through with a section for my 3rd book. They stand side by side here, as I’m working through a theme, which I will then weave throughout the whole series of books, once I sew all the words together, just like a giant patch work quilt… 

spotlight

The Politics of Visibility

Suddenly Ariel looked up at the clock and realised that she was late, again. It was time to leave for the Book Club. She had to get there, in good time and unflustered; for finally, after months of not coming to any meetings, Laurence had signed up again.

After over half a century on this planet, she felt she really should have mastered time management by now. But, as usual, it was a rush to get there on time. She had of course, meant to glam up and look gorgeous, but time, as always had failed her. She dashed out of the house, still with her glasses and scruffy old black jeans on, and pushed her car through the relentlessly heavy tea time traffic.

In the car, to mask her frustration with the slow traffic, she mused about “time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near” – a line from John Donne’s poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’ which had just floated into her head. The lines were written many dusty centuries ago and designed to entice a woman in to the young poet’s bed. At times like these, Ariel would so have loved to use her own wings or indeed a wingèd chariot – just to get to where she wanted to go, and that included getting from A to B (which always seemed so hard these days), or even indeed in to someone else’s bed. This transient train of thought lifted her mood and she smiled through the rest of journey.

Laurence was already there when she arrived barely on time, though she didn’t recognise him at first. He was wearing glasses and scruffy old black jeans, just as she was… Then he saw her and said her name in greeting. “Well, he remembers me then…” she mused.

They crowded into the noisy pub, bought their drinks and then she selected the only free table in the place large enough to encompass them all. She sat down first and noted how first he went to the opposite end of the long table and then changed his mind and sat 2 seats away from her. With all the noise and laughter and kerfuffle, she couldn’t hear the conversation he was engaging in with 2 of their earnest companions, both mature married ladies, new to the group and full of questions. She noted though that he was engaging with them and gently answering them, even though she could not hear his uttered words.

Sitting at that table, with this crowd of people, she suddenly withdrew into her head and started to analyse her seeming separateness from them all. Still taking part in conversation, still seen, but seeing all too. Now eschewing an obvious timidity – after a life time of cloaking herself, there was, at this time in her life, no more teenage awkwardness or shy guile. Or rather, she pretended that there wasn’t…

She glanced at him, subtly and sideways… And she was reminded of a line from a song – “and when you talk, I just watch your mouth…”

She observed his body language, and the quiet quick glances he shot back at her. “It’s all in your imagination” she thought, but still, she decided that she would enjoy this deceptive sensation. She watched greedily and stealthily as he brushed his lips with his fingers. In all the body language books she had studied, this was a sign that he wanted to kiss / was feeling attraction… There were alternative interpretations of this simple movement of course, but she decided that she would just enjoy the premise, that she could live in this space of imagination, for this fleeting moment in time.

Now, after so many years of voluntary invisibility, may be it was time to step back into the spotlight and really be seen

As a frequent flier, she had had to learn and encompass how to be out of sight and out of mind nearly all her life. Although this secret skill seemed to keep her safe and made the ‘dim folk’ blind to her, still she always knew that she was solidly and squarely there – whether they saw her or not…

And moving beyond her sallies into the sky; invisibility had long been employed to keep her shielded and safe in all sorts of situations. At school she hid from the bullies, and as she moved through life in so many situations, she had stood back and observed the life going on around her – desperate to be in the happy thick of it, but instead not feeling part of it. So she stood on the edge and covered herself in a protective bleak blankness instead.

There were times in life when she had decided to stand out and stand in the spot light, but somehow she always seemed to fall off the stage, falling ignominiously and painfully to the dirty floor, only to pick herself up and slope back into the darkness, every single time.

So then she had hid, off and on again, throughout all her life. Sometimes putting her head above the parapet and sometimes burying herself underneath it. But in the close dark, still she smiled sometimes and she still hurt. Yet the long fury she had just flown through, was now nearly all spent.

It felt, in some senses like she’d kept her head down for so long, flown through the darkness and then landed in the middle of nowhere.

But still there was the voice which said that riding in the black had had its inherent, evil, power tripping thrills… They were short lived though. She had relished the revenge, briefly. But it was a bitter, transient sweetness and could not sustain or contain her any more.

But now, back to this table, this man, this feeling…

The conversations around the table ebbed and flowed. She took part, she shared; agreed, discussed and disagreed. She waived her hands along to the tempo of her words and made a pantomime of joining in and being funny and engaging, as she knew that he was watching her.

By stealth, every now and again, she took in his face, altered like hers, by his glasses, and underneath the dark heavy frames, was the gently handsome, shy face she remembered. Suddenly he looked directly at her then smiled and quickly turned back to his eager, erstwhile companions, continuing to engage with them. She lingered on that smile… It was lob sided, and self-conscious, so of course, secretly and incredibly sexy… Did he know that about himself?

She knew so little about him. He’d been divorced. Surely he was now attached / in a relationship. How could she find out? Couldn’t she just ask him, or find a reason to meet, one to one?

No.

She was still, after all these years, shy and stymied when it came to all of this…

Later, the two ladies Laurence was talking to left and he slid round the table, opposite to her. They started a new conversation, now in a threesome, with an older man of the group, who had to have nearly all responses explained to him several times over. Laurence turned to Ariel and recalled what she did for a living. Yes, he really did remember her… She didn’t know what most of the members of that group did outside of that group, but she knew what he did. She knew why he lived where he lived. She knew where he was from. But despite all her long honed observational skills, her uncertainty masked her conclusions and she still didn’t know if her sudden teenage style crush, was just that, or else based on some kind of mutual reality.

So they talked more and found out that they more things in common with each other. But the old man, the third wheel, did not notice the by play, and kept peppering their exchange with his own repeating questions. Patiently they both pampered to him, included him. And then, the conversation just ran dry. The words simply stopped as the old man steeped in his continued puzzlement. Wordless silences suddenly became self-conscious ones. Ariel and Laurence glanced at each other, then smiled awkwardly. “Oh my God” she thought, “it’s just like you’re a hopeless, tongue tied teenager all over again. Just say something!”

Suddenly he made his excuses and stood up to go. “Next time” he said, waving to everyone at the table and then he exited, out of his own spot light, stage left.

So now she could walk to the car park with him or she could remain anchored by feigned coolness to her chair. Being in this particular moment an over grown / old teenager, she let the fear of projected rejection and humiliation weigh her down in her seat and covered them instead with the guise of happy detachment.

She let him go. She knew how to contact him, but she just wouldn’t / couldn’t. She prayed instead that he would contact her. In fact, through the meddle of social media he ‘waved’ at her the following day, but that was it – he had disappeared back in to his own dark ether again.

As she reflected on this middle aged ‘teenage’ crisis over the next few days, she realised that she was slowly coming into the light again. That the darkness she had long flown through had been a form of death. What she was experiencing now, was not rebirth exactly, but it was a new start in her life.

By becoming visible, she could also see again. She couldn’t be sure that Laurence was part of this new start, but if he was the catalyst, then surely – her fear reasoned, that was enough.

And then another John Donne poem – ‘The Good Morrow’, came into Ariel’s mind:
“And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear”.
This poem was written when the poet was older, more circumspect and had met the love of his life.

Clearly, whatever the outcome – with Laurence, with another man, on her own – still; it really wasn’t time to be either scared, or invisible, any more.

~ Sandra Peachey

PS: Sign up for February’s daily blog posts and a free chapter of my book Peachey Letters, by dropping your details in here…

PPS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about fact.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Fiction: The Politics of Invisibility

invisible

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 2 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

The Politics of Invisibility

On one particularly long, quiet Saturday afternoon in May, Ariel was both simultaneously bored and excited. She had told her mother that she had home work to do, which was true in a sense, though she always suspected that her mother could see right through her half truths.  Instead though Ariel was impatiently waiting alone in her bedroom, for her mentor to arrive; which during this particular period, Mariel had a habit of doing with uncharacteristic regularity, since her lessons were now stepping up in pace.

Ariel had – gracefully if not easily- mastered the basics of her flying craft, so was keen now to experience ever more extraordinary aerial adventures.

Yet when Mariel manifested this time, her manifesto veered from flight craft, to the simultaneous and critical skill of invisibility.  With talk instead of chalk she imbibed the principles of the skill of being out of sight.  Settling herself supinely onto the single bed opposite to Ariel’s, she started to expound: “The practice of invisibility is the complex companion to your flight craft” she explained, intently.  “It has many layers and interweaving aspects that you must consider, every time you decide to take flight.

As flying is, by its’ very virtue, an unearthly practice, it carries some invisibility magic along with it, but this can only disguise you to a certain degree.  As with all magic, invisibility strengthens with clarity, intent and practice, combined with various other more conspicuous, practicalities.

Let’s start with the concept of your centred energy.  Now as you know, in order to fly, this needs to be positive and focussed.  To be simultaneously invisible, your energy also needs to be neutral.”

“Oh…” said Ariel, secretly frustrated that she was now being taught yet more difficult concepts, rather than escaping into the skies. “How can I be both positive and neutral – I don’t understand – doesn’t one cancel the other out?”

“Well no, my dear, that is not so.  Think of it not as taking away, but of adding to what you are doing – it is another layering to the silk of invisibility. It is simply a further complexity, which adds both to your skill and your protection.”

As Ariel started to protest again, Mariel cut across her breathless disbelief. “You need to be still and listen, my child. Practise what I tell you, as I tell you.  Start with your positive energy and add to that the dimension of neutrality.  The two will feel distinct as you first try them out, but give it time and practice and you will master this new art.”

Ariel acquiesced and paid closer attention.  “Let me tell you why such neutrality is so important”, Mariel continued.  “Our energy ‘signature’ radiates out from us and is its’ own subtle and subconscious form of signal to those around us.  Many, as you know, will not sense it, but there are those who will react to it, in many ways.  The darker folk – the gremlins, devils and evil doers, will use your energy to seek you out and then to bring you down, in every sense.  It makes sense then that your energy is outwardly even, rather than enervated.

Now from the dark to the dim folk.  Most earth bound creatures will not expect to see a sweet sylph like yourself in flight above their urban or bumpkin heads.  We therefore pander to this lack of expectation, and so the next layer to your invisibility is the element of ordinariness.  This is not neutrality, but rather its’ ally of the plain old fashioned boring, every day bland inevitability of most folk’s lives.  Add this into your energy signature and the ‘dim’ folk will go about their leaden lives, completely unaware of you whistling over their hair and passing through their skies.

The most important ingredient to invisibility though, is your decision to choose it and employ it, effortlessly.  As you prepare for flight, clothe yourself consciously with your invisibility.  Know beyond all doubt that you are not seen as you fly.  Decide that you are safe from dark and dim eyes, then practice this layered skill until it becomes a practice no more and simply part and parcel of your flying ritual, just a simple silken cloak, thrown on and flown away.

Now I have to tell you too, that magic and invisible practice do not make us completely disappear from the sight and sense of all of this planet’s creatures; so as well as being blasé about their blindness, you must also know, that there are always those that can see you, what ever you do to protect yourself, but that, my little pupil is probably enough energy talk for now.  We will practise what to do about the seers at a later juncture.

You must now practice this see through skill, in all that you do.  Switch in and out of it.  At school, choose times when you are invisible, employing the recipe that I have told you.  In the class room, choose to hide your self from living eyes.  Hide yourself from the haters and the hardened teachers, then choose to reveal yourself in safety, and in good company.

Never use this secret skill with your family and The Emissarriat – they cannot guard you if they cannot see you, and they are always harder to hide from, at any rate.

You see now that outside the day is darkening slowly towards evening.  Your mother will call you to dinner soon.  Let us relive the skill recipe that I have taught you today and then fly for just a short time, gliding over and round your local dark park, in deliberate invisibility.

Remember all I have told you, regurgitate, layer, then blend all the elements. Breath them in and let them inhabit, and then habit you.”

Ariel closed her eyes and let Mariel’s words wash over her and through her.  Suddenly she was in to the outside air and beating her winds gently and invisibly as she flew over the urban landscape beneath her feet.  She concentrated hard as she swooped and circuited, pulling all the invisibility elements into her flying being.  It was a hard effort of will and she could feel it quickly wearing off into plain sight as she grew increasingly tired.  All too quickly Mariel signalled for them to return, softly and blindly to her bedroom, to be left, all alone, once again.

~ Sandra Peachey

A collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

Blog Challenge 2016: A Poem to Martha’s Dancing Heart

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 1 of 29

It’s the 1st of February 2016 and the first day of my latest blog challenge.  I like to exercise my writing muscle, so will be posting one blog, every day, for the Valentine Month of February.

There will be an eclectic mix of my coach-ly observations on life, some lifestyle posts (under my new guise as the Peachey Goddess)  and maybe even some fiction.

My first post is a poem to a little lady called Martha.  She is the daughter of a friend and business associate of mine – Michelle Graham and was born with a heart condition that means her heart beats twice as fast as normal.  The condition has been dubbed ‘Martha’s Dancing Heart’. A year on and she is a gorgeous, wriggly treasure.  A few days ago we were playing on the floor together and she was fascinated by my camera, so I took the picture of her you see below.  And the very next day she was the star of the Martha’s Dancing Heart Charity Ball – raising funds for the hospital ward that cared for her and mother so marvellously. 

I wrote the poem to celebrate Martha on the eve of the Ball and the gift of joy that she gives, to her family and so many people beyond…

SAM_1224
Martha and Me having fun on the floor

MARTHA’S DANCING HEART

In the serene stillness of a warm woman’s womb; – beat… beat, beat, a dancing, happy heart.

A dancing heart: softly drumming its’ extraordinary rhythm; From the beginning and within, this was a true Bossa Nova baby.

She danced a new melodic tread, weaving her own musical magic; In her way, of her way, always her way. A seismic Cha Cha girl.

She took her dance from womb to air. She breathed, she laughed; And she seized on life – to Tango, to wriggle and to love, much. Her naming, her noun-ing, her marque, is Martha, meaning Lady; Our own little lady, whirling and waltzing with, partnering our hearts.

Martha is the gift of a girl, the treasure of a lifetime of love; And with her, it’s time to Charleston, with syncopated divine delight.

Martha’s presence is precious and so it is time to Salsa and celebrate; To dance the way with her and to pave the way for other sweet hearts too.

It is time to thank, to Samba and to give, for all that we have received; Feeling Martha’s distinct and timely tempo – all her own heart – beating.

With Martha’s heart, it was, is and always will be – time to Boogie. To trust, to thrive and to thank. Time now to Quick Step along:
With Martha’s dancing heart.

~ Sandra Peachey (Auntie Sandie xx)

IMG_1891
Martha & her marvellous Mum – Michelle, at their Charity bash

PS: Martha’s mother pledged a year of fund raising and you can continue her wonderful work by donating on their Just Giving page here…

PPS: Sign up for daily blog posts and a free chapter of my book Peachey Letters, by dropping your details in here…