Friday, March 30, 2007

One Week Challenge - commencing 1 April, concluding 8 April

You choose what I get to challenge myself with for the coming week.

Do I:

a) Give up blogging in any way shape and form
b) Do yoga every day
c) Play guitar for 15 minutes every day
d) Get up 15 minutes early each morning
e) Draw or Paint every day

Please select one of the above and leave your choice in the comment box

Random Friday Stuff
Stepping on my nerves...
One of my colleagues has invested in a pedometer. It's a little machine that you clip to your belt that counts how many steps you take a day. Because, somehow, this is supposed to help you to lose weight. I have no problem with people clipping stuff to their belts and as far as I am concerned, if it makes you feel better to count the steps you take in a day - go for it. Thing is, not only is the machine counting her steps, she is too. Out loud. She takes six big strides across the office, "1...2...3...4...5....6..." and then checks the podometer to see if it had recorded the six steps she has just counted. I am finding this annoying because this is what I have had to endure since this morning. She's a lovely lady and I don't want to hurt her feelings by telling her to count in her head. So much for calm Buddhist acceptance, eh?

Zak the Cat

I would like to take this random opportunity to point out that Zak (in a box, left) looks uncannily like a Grey (right, looking spooky). Zak, I think, is an alien.
I don't know why, but to me, he just looks like has come to us from outer space. Such a sweetie, though. He has taken over Noodle's job of waking me up in the morning by nuzzling my neck with his cold nose, or patting my face with his cold paws. But I must say, it is disconcerting feeling this cold thing touch you and then to wake up to see, what to blurry, un-spectacled eyes, looks like a Grey.
Other Random Stuff and One Week Challenge
Busy weekend. Off to view a conference centre in Hinckley tomorrow and Sunday is my tidying the house day and my writing day. And there's a lot of both to do. Tonight I plan on chilling out and eating a cheese sandwich.
What I have learned from my One Week Challenge:
1. My body seems to prefer soya products to dairy. I did miss my protein, though. I also learned that my usual diet doesn't contain that much fruit and veg... time to step that up.
2. My body loves it's little daily exertions. This one is definitely carrying over to next week.
3. No new lessons from no TV.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Amazing How Fast It's Gone...

Is it just me or has the start of the year vanished rather quickly? Only 3 days of March left. What's more, is that the past 8 weeks have disappeared so rapidly. This year has barely begun and I am writing an article for a magazine, taught a creative writing course, started a novel and have begun re-writes on several short stories to send out. I've been to South Africa and back, challenged myself to living without TV, animal products and have begun to exercise more regularly. I've also had to replace a washing machine and get the heating fixed because like sily noodles, Kate and I had let the oil run out. I am amazed that it's been so easy and it's moved so fast. And it feels like I have lived a year in the space of just about three months!

Well, the Nichiren Buddhists are calling 2007 the year for Advancement and Victory, aren't they? Bring it on - I am ready!

I have been successful in securing an advanced workshop, which is due to begin on 25 April 2007. After that, the creative writing course will be a 12 week course to incorporate the basic and advanced. Teaching this has been a remarkable journey for me. I've learned so much from my students and it has inspired me to write more. Their bravery and enthusiasm has been a catalyst for me. I am so grateful I have had this opportunity.

Health and Wellbeing

I don't weigh myself often these days. I reckon that once a month or once every six weeks should do it. I hate getting on the scale. This morning, out of curiosity, I climbed onto the scale. I weigh 98kgs. That means, ladies and gentlemen, that I have lost 2 kgs. I am chuffed, but not fussed. Why? Because it's more important to me to have health than it is to be thin. If being thin is a side effect of me being healthy, great. I am done with diets and trying to turn myself into something I am not. I suppose that losing weight is a guaranteed side effect of making healthier food choices and getting more exercise and I shouldn't simply dismiss it. Weight loss isn't my goal - getting fit and healthy and showing my body respect, is.

This Week's Challenge Update:

1. No TV - I've done fairly well, though I did watch CSI New York and CSI Vegas. Still, it is a major improvement on the time I used to spend in front of the telly.

2. Vegan - I have definitely eaten a great deal more fruit and veg and I feel better for not having had dairy products. Will I do this forever? Hell no. I fancy a nice cheese sandwich right now.

3. Walking/Yoga each day - Did no walking or yoga yesterday. Mostly been using 20 minutes of my lunch hour each day to go out for a walk, but not yesterday. This is something to keep up with, especially that now the days are getting longer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

.... and please take a look at Kate's blog. She too has has a pic up from when she was at school. Bless.

Diary of The Human Pretzel

(or, Adventures in Yoga and a Journey Towards Healthy Living. The Human Pretzel thing sounds more interesting, though...)

Ah. The joys of Yoga.

You know, I used to think that yoga was just for the skinny chicks who snacked on lettuce leaves and drank hot water with a slice of lemon in it instead of tea. Besides, I wasn't bendy, or even sporty, so what could yoga have to offer me? It had been several years since I had dismissed my mother's rants about yoga, namely: "Yoga is the work of the devil! You are inviting Satan into your body when you do yoga! You'll be possessed by a demon." My friend Dori had been doing yoga for ages and had recommended it several times, but I dismissed as "not for me". What I hadn't realised was that I was dismissing yoga using the same criteria my mother used to demonise it: I had never tried it myself.

A few years ago I was introduced to Yoga Liz, and I relayed my fears about yoga to her, leaving out the devil stuff, because I didn't believe any of that. She let me come along to a lesson free of charge, just to give it a go. AND I LOVED IT! I could not believe how wonderful I felt afterwards, and I have been going back ever since.

The benefits have been:

- greater flexibility

- pain relief in my neck and shoulder

- emotional stability and calm

- a deeper spiritual understanding

- toned muscles (yes! even under the layers of fat on a 100 kg woman! I AM FIRM)

- more energy

- better sleep (I still struggle with insomnia, but yoga helps)

I recommend that everyone try it once before they die. It's worth putting on that list. I think it has had a dramatic effect on my general well being.

Speaking of General Well Being...
I saw the physiotherapist this morning regarding the pain in my neck and shoulder. She has sent me off with a few exercises and tips on how to look after myself. She reckons the yoga has been what has prevented my neck and shoulder from freezing up because there is a good range of movement. She has recommended that I have acupuncture. ACUPUNCTURE! on the NHS! Yippee! I get acupuncture for pain management on the NHS! And what did I say RIGHT HERE that I really felt that acupuncture or shiatsu would be of great benenfit, but I didn't have the money for it? The Universe works in mysterious ways indeed. JOY JOY JOY! I have the first session on 16 April. Never had acupuncture before. She did warn me that it's not as in-depth as the holistic acupuncturist. It's purely for pain management. Which is fine, but I do think it will be important for me to find out which meridians she is working on and to cross check that and find out what blockages she may be clearing and what effects with may have in the broader sense. Unless, of course, anyone has any other thoughts on that?

Monday, March 26, 2007

"A gateway to an alternate reality has just appeared at our window, dear..."

I woke up this morning wondering where the hell I was. I looked up out the window and I saw nothing but this wall of mist pressed up against the window. Not even the outline of a wall or another house. Just this strange white atmosphere. It was like waking up in a house in a cloud. Same thing happened yesterday, but at least I was able to just make out the shapes of the other houses. It was eerie. Not to mention disorientating (is that a real word?).

Because of the mist, I didn't take the sunrise photographs as I had promised. Those will have to wait for weather conditions to improve.

The One Week Challenge... So Far...

1. No TV - well. I caved in and watched the last half hour CSI New York on Saturday as well as The Shawshank Redeption, because I love that movie.

2. Vegan - Being vegan is a little bland at the minute. I did have chicken stir fry on Saturday night with Julie, though. But beyond cous-cous and veg, I have no brainy ideas on how to make it more interesting. I'm sure I'll make something up as I go along

3. I didn't walk anywhere on Saturday for 20 minutes. I did go for a walk up Viking Way yesterday, though. I picked up about half a dozen empty plastic plant pots someone had discarded along the hedge. All in good nick too! I took them home with me.


Just read The Travelling Hornplayer by Barbara Trapido. My book goal is looking much closer now! Go ME!

Other Stuff

I wrote some more of my novel over the weekend. I am really getting into the story that I am telling, which is a very good sign.

If you haven't read my short story, Aftermath on Tastes Like Fiction, today's your last day to do it. It's coming down in order to be subjected to an extensive re-write after which I plan to submit it somewhere. Not sure where yet. Email me if you are interested in reading the re-write.

And finally, my friend Dori, who I have known since High School sent me a photo of the two of us from that time. I have no idea how old we were. I must say, Dori, we have hardly aged at all!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


* TV

* Spending time with people who won't be crying at your funeral

* Bullshit

* Sticking with friendships/jobs/relationships that only make you feel bad

* Wasting energy worrying about the trivial crap

* Allowing fear to win

* Not taking those risks: the rewards are far greater than the fear

* For taking people in your life for grant

* To be wasting all your talents

* Worrying that you don't look like the people in fashion magazines

* Worrying about what other people may think

* Wasting your true potential

* Hiding from the world

* Trying to "fix" people in your life

* Crying over people who never deserved you in the first place


Friday, March 23, 2007

I am tired of being alone.
I feel as though I have lost more than just my father. It feels like I have lost everything. And I know how silly that sounds because i have done so well with the workshop and getting my articles out there. I have grown so much spiritually and there's this wonderful shift occurring in the very core of my life, which is so very exciting.
Still, my sense of loss extends beyond the loss of my father. I feel that not only have I lost him, I have lost everything that I love in South Africa. That I have lost my sister, my friends, my nephew. In a sense, I feel too, that I am even losing myself.
This change that is running through my life is deep and profound and I have begun to get a glimpse of what it's doing. It's a slow motion version of The Tower, with my entire life being reshaped to fit this new person who is just below the surface, waiting to be born.
And one of the things that this change has stirred up in me is my sense of loss. And I realise that some of these feelings pre-date my father's death. Even my mother's. And I suppose it is natural to mourn the loss of a self I knew while still preparing for the new to emerge.
Old ideas and beliefs are collapsing, crumbling. I am questioning everything in my life. I ask whether this or that is worth the investment of energy that I am making. I used to go around thinking am I worthy of this or that? Am I worthy of this love? This job? This friendship? This opportunity? Now I ask is this worthy of me?
It's only now that I have begun to find the words that would fit they way I have been feeling these past two months. By no means does it stop here. It's not fast moving either. It's a slow, plodding shift. It's a pair of oxes tethered to a wheel going slowly in a circle as opposed to a bright catherine wheel that sparks and fizzes and then is gone so quickly.
And this shift does feel as though it's occurring in some strange kind of circular motion.
One thing is certain, though, I am happy to embrace these changes. I am happy to be active in them. And now, I am tired of being alone.
The Votes Are IN!

Votes were gleaned from emails and comments on the blog.

5 votes for No TV for a week
3 votes for a daily 20 minute walk
2 votes each for going vegan and doing yoga
1 vote each for writing and playing the guitar every day
Not surprising that giving up blogging got no votes at all - aw, you guys!

Most people voted for a combination of 3 things, so that's what I am going to do.

SO, for the next week:

1. I will not watch television. The only thing I will watch is a DVD sent through by LoveFilm from my list. But this will have to be on my own because Kate is not home until 1 April.

2. I will walk 20 minutes at least each day. If it's rainy or snowy, I will put on an exercise DVD or do yoga

3. I had a choice of going vegan or doing yoga. I am putting yoga down as a thing to do if it's rainy or snowy, so I am going to go vegan. Which should make making dinner for my friend Julie on Saturday night interesting. The vegan thing will have to begin at suppertime tonight, though, because I have a cheese sandwich for lunch at work.

I am off to Morrison's after work then to get some soya milk, soya yoghurt and a lot of fruit and fresh veg for the coming vegan week. I'll take pic of my vegan groceries (minus the very non-vegan catfood I'll be buying for the children) and post it to show you that I am indeed committed to the vegan experiment.

This one week challenge is made easier with Kate not being home. Kate is a carnivore and enjoys watching a bit of telly, so there's the upside to not seeing her for a while.

And thanks for enjoying my blog enough to not vote for me to stop blogging for a week!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Challenge and Sinfest

OK: The suggestions have come in for a week of challenge. Now you, devoted reader of Start Wearing Purple get to decide what I challenge myself with for the next week, starting tomorrow, Friday 23 March:

Do I:

a) Give up another week of TV
b) Go Vegan
c) Give up blogging in any way shape and form
d) Go for a walk every day
e) Do yoga every day
f) Write for half an hour every day
g) Play guitar for 15 minutes every day
h) Do 3 of these from the list all in one week - you choose the combo!

Leave your vote in the comments.


I love Sinfest. This one is particularly funny, especially for those of you who like Jesus.
Gotta Dance!

I feel like someone in one of those cheesy musicals. You know how when things go really well, and the orchestra strikes up with a jaunty and rousing melody, and the main characters suddenly burst into song? They dance in the rain or on tables or in the streets and it's just the most boundless expression of joy. That's what I feel like doing. Only thing is I have no orchestra stashed away in my pocket and while I can sing, I can't really dance.
BUT! I have excellent news! I have been given the go ahead to run a six week advanced creative writing course starting after Easter. MAGIC! I am so happy I feel like a character in a musical.
As I left the class last night, I was struck by how challenging myself and taking one big risk has not only transformed my life, but those of the students who attend my class. If I hadn't bravely approached the Focus centre in Stamford, there may not have been a creative writing course, and these students may still have struggled along with their doubts about writing.
I am no longer afraid of taking the risks I need to take in my life on the basis of this realisation. Why? Because now, two years down the line, the rewards outweigh the fear I initially felt.
I really CAN change something in my life. I can transform my fear. I have purpose!
I have felt the wheels of change start to move within my life and now I am not one bit afraid of what may come. I am ready to jump right in there and help it all along! Who's coming along for the ride?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Great Cosmic Baseball Bat
(and a bit of an update)

I may have mentioned my friend Jose and his Cosmic Baseball Bat theory.
One late night, talking over Skype with me in Rutland and Joe in Cape Town, Joe laid out the theory. It went something like this: the universe will tap you on the shoulder once, twice, maybe three times. If you don't listen or get the lesson, it will come after you with a baseball bat.
Wise words, indeed. Because I didn't get the coffeeshop job at Barnsdale Gardens. And the other jobs I applied for didn't come back to me at all. All this has led me to conclude (once again) that the Universe is instructing me to use my talents to generate extra income.
The Great Cosmic Baseball Bat has been rather busy in my life recently. Nothing like having Karma bash you over the head to make you take notice of your life.
I dig Gandhi. Very wise man. He said once, to paraphrase, that people become the people they expect themselves to be. Imagine the potential we all have to change our lives.
And change is exactly what I feel is happening to me. Not on a superficial level, but deep down, right in the mechanics of my life - the cogs and wheels. I feel that the fundamental essence of my life has begun to evolve and move. It feels a bit like an old machine that has been lying unused in the corner of a dark room and someone has come along and cranked the handle. Very slowly, the machinery has just begun to grind into life.
This began about three weeks ago at the start of a yoga class. We chanted OM and I felt like I wasn't my body. I wasn't my personality either. I was just part of this vast and deep ocean. I was the ocean. I connected with something that wasn't just Tanya O. I believe I connected with the Buddha Nature and what we call the Ninth or Amala Consciousness. Perhaps what Eckhart Tolle talks about too.
This shift, I feel, is both deep and profound. I have no idea what it means or where it will take me, but I am prepared to fully experience this journey.
As you can see by the book list on the right hand side, I am already half way through my goal of reading 10 books this year. Fantastico! I'll be doing a mid-goal review of these books at some point. Thanks for the suggestions some of you made.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Stand Naked Before You

Blog widgets reveal the true nature of Tanya... or do they?
OK, friends... how true do you think this really is? He he.

The Part of You That No One Sees
You are aloof, mysterious, and distant.People feel like they really don't know the true you...Yet they're still drawn to you, almost by magnetic force.
Underneath it all, you don't even really feel like you know yourself.It's easier to put on a front than really think about your life's purpose.You tend to seem pretentious, but it's just a mechanism you use to push people away.

One Week Challenges...

It's time to challenge myself again. My one week (sort of) without TV was very good for me and I have begun to wonder what else would be good for me if I only just gave it a try for a week. So, I have decided to do regular one week challenges.

I have already spent a week wearing a sodalite crystal to see if it would enhance my creativity (but that was more of an experiment than a challenge and will be blogged separately).

I've come up with a list of challenges. If you think you would like to make a suggestion, please feel free to add it in the comments section. No matter how bizarre, it will be considered, although I most likely will not be able to follow through with all of them. One thing I won't do is take on a challenge that is negative or that would risk my health.

Here's the list (so far):

* Do yoga every morning for a week
* Go vegan for a week
* Go for a 20 minute walk every day for a week
* Write every day for half an hour for a week

Monday, March 19, 2007

Adventures in Religion

An interesting discussion is happening over on A Blog About Nowt. *(asterisk) encourages the question whether religion is worth it, or if it is simply a large boogeyman used to excuse and justify human rights abuse.

As an ex-Catholic I have witnessed how religion is used to control and manipulate people. It's the easiest way to do it en masse. And if you are able to make people feel really bad about themselves just so that you can use it against them and get them to do what you want them to, then that is pure evil. Many religions claim to promote love and tolerance, yet many of the adherents do not live this way at all. In fact, wars are waged in the name of religion.

What organised religion does is not that much different from an abusive partner:

1. Self esteem is broken down and dependency on the abuser is enforced
2. The victim is isolated from other people and told that certain individuals are bad influences or wrong for them
3. A set of rules needs to be followed. If they are not, consequences are dire
4. Complete unquestioning devotion is the only behaviour tolerated. Anything else will result in dire consequences
5. Any behaviour that deviates from the rules and views of the abuser will not be tolerated and will result in severe punishment

Does that mean that all religion needs to be outlawed? No. I believe our freedom to choose to practice whatever Faith we want is a fundamental human right. Enforcing that faith on someone else, however, amounts to abuse.

I practice Nichiren Buddhism. Yes, I see it as a religion. Yes, I devote myself to chanting twice a day and living my practice as best I can. It is a Faith based on respect, tolerance and compassion. Is it the only Faith that works? Do I need to enforce it on anyone else? No. I have no right to do that. For me, freedom is something that is very important. What I do not respect is people blowing themselves up or waging war or committing violent and depraved acts in the name of religion. Because I don't like hypocrites.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Things To Do Before I Die

Just started a blog for all my list-y type things. I have realised that I have just completed one of my things to do before I die: Give up TV for a week!

Have a look at the list. There's not a lot on there, but please feel free to add as many suggestions as you like.
My Spider Senses Be Tingling, (and a few other things...)

I took an instant dislike to the Cowboy who came to assess our heating situation. My spider senses definitely were activated. He spent 5 minutes with me, tapped on our oil tank and came inside with me and took a cursory look at our boiler. All the while, he mentioned (and I counted it) that I would have to pay his call out fee for this no more than ten minute visit 7 times. He then proceeded to try to engage me in conversation about South Africa. I was not interested in paying for the privelege of his lacklustre conversation and told him I had to head off to work. The Cowboy's call out fees, it transpires, is £60. His fees for the next visit would be £60 call out plus £60 to do the work. Can anyone out there say RIP OFF? I knew you could. So my boss recommended a nice little old man who did a good job for him last year. And the old man lives in my village. His charge? £30 for the work and if it takes him longer than an hour, then, "I am sorry, dear, but I would have to charge a little extra." Cowboy or Old Boy? As if I have to decide. The Old Boy is coming on Tuesday morning. I am looking forward to telling the Cowboy that I think he's a rip off. And that's bullshit.

Now Here's An Idea...

Remember how we all got up nice and early in October to take sunrise photos for when the clocks went back? How about we all take a sunset picture on Sunday 25 March for the clocks going forward? To round the whole winter thing off? No? Well, I plan to do that because it makes sense to my strange little brain. All those wanting to join me, leave a comment so I know who to watch out for on the 25th. Even if you guys in SA don't do the clock thing, why not join in and put a sunset pic up on the 25th anyway to mark the passage of the seasons? Let me know if you're in!

I Teach.

Feels like I have bitten off more than I can comfortably chew, but not so much that I can't just chomp down for a few bites and be ok. My students are really pushing for an advanced course. So. I have to force myself out of my comfort zone and make this happen. Abracadabra. I. Am. Scared. Shitless. This is what I really want to do, and I am so excited, so why the hell am I so afraid? Ah yes. The fucking Devil King of the 6th Heaven trying to sell me his bullshit. Right. I have to work quickly on this and develop my proposal and send it off and if nothing happens, source a venue and decide on a reasonable fee. I have to fight back these negative self doubting feelings. And there's a little voice going, "You're just a big fat fake" that needs to be silenced. So the goal is to have something in place by 30 March. If not, then at least a lead onto something. I would probably insist on taking a 2 week break before starting in on the course stuff again. I should have something up and running by mid April.

I Write

Did I mention that the local magazine has accepted my idea of the article? Well, they want photos as well and I would need to get all of this organised before and on their desks by Mid April as well. There are a couple of short stories I am sending out as well and this year, I am going to be brave and enter a couple of competitions. Go me! I have also, as some may already know, started writing my novel. Hoorah! Take that Devil bloody King of the 6th Heaven.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I am a Cat Mattress

The cats have found a new way to keep warm. Since they can't sit on windowsills and catch the updrafts from the radiators, they have had to get a little inventive. They have very quickly located the next best source of heat in the house: Me.

I have woken up, these past two mornings, with cats nesting somewhere on top of or around me. Yesterday morning, I woke on my back and had Lucifer AND Zak perched on my chest, with Tinkie on my feet. This morning, I woke on my side, with Noodle lying on top of me on my arm and shoulder, Zak curled up against my chest and Luce at my feet. I did close the door, but Noodle has learned how to open it. She has taught Zak this interesting little trick.

I am, indeed, Servant of Cat. My five children have definitely shown me where my rightful place in this world is. Surrounded by cats. Even my partner is a Leo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

LOOOK!!!!! I have a Flickr thing! Check it out on the right.

Or, go HERE to see my pics.
Arse. Bollocking Arse.

I have just come back from seeing the boiler man. Turns out it's not our boiler that's the problem. We have run out of oil. Neither of us spotted that the level had gone right down. WHY? Because the level was still above the 200 litre mark whenever we checked. So Andy, the boiler man, showed me this afternoon that if you let out a little valve, it gives you a true reading of the oil level. Which is nice that he did that because no one has shown us that in the 4 years we have lived there.

So, now, I have to fill the tank with oil. Then Andy has to come back and bleed the radiators. Once he has done that, he says, "Hopefully the boiler will fire up first time." And, there will be 2 call out charges to pay - today's and the next visit.

What idiots we are. I feel so stupid. And angry at myself for not knowing about the valve. And angry at the landlord for not telling us about the valve.

Fuck knows how much this is going to cost us. Landlord definitely won't pay because it is, after all, our fault. SO... no heating for at least a week. Oil people are coming Thursday or Friday so we'll have to get the boiler man in after that.

3,000 realms in a single moment. I can change my state. Breathe in, breathe out. Stay positive.

This has to end at some point, surely....

EDIT: Almost forgot. I am meant to get new lenses for my glasses this month. Stronger ones. Um. Between washing machine and this... I have no fucking clue how I am supposed to get this sorted. Maybe if I have £30 left at the end of this month, I can try to budget the other £40 from next month and there you go: glasses! The nasty lady at SpecSavers won't be very happy about it, but fuck her, the unsmiling automaton cow. Hoorah!

ANOTHER EDIT: AND!! The fact that this is happening means I am practicing Buddhism correctly. How fabulous is that!? Magnificent. Bring it on you bastard Sansho Shima. I'm ready for you.

T'ien-t'ai (538-597) states in Great Concentration and Insight: "As practice progresses and understanding grows, the three obstacles and four devils emerge in confusing form, vying with one another to interfere... . One should be neither influenced nor fright-ened by them. If one falls under their influence, one will be led into the paths of evil. If one is frightened by them, one will be prevented from practicing the correct teaching."

It's Enough to Make Me Want to Stick My Face In Cake
Did someone break a mirror or something?
This started about seven years ago, this shitty financial luck. The up-side is that perhaps if a mirror was broken then this should be the last year of bad luck, eh?
We make our own luck, anyway, so it really doesn't matter about the mirror. It's just been a sucky few months. In order of appearance:
1. Car battery needed replacing (£40)
2. I got a stupid speeding fine (£60 and 3 points on my license)
3. I had to pay for a hotel room I forgot to cancel (£65)
4. Lost my wedding ring (£44 - not yet replaced)
5. Destroyed the new fancy computer monitor (£200 - not yet replaced)
6. Dad died (no price you can put on the best dad in the world)
7. I borrowed £2,000 from my Dad's estate for the plane tickets, which I must pay back
8. The washing machine broke (£260)
9. Last night, our heating packed up (Hopefully landlord will fork out for this and not put our rent up)
But am I getting down about this? No. I am comfort eating instead.(Which is where the reference to sticking my face into a slab of cake comes from) And chanting. I feel remarkably calm. Maybe also because this year has also begun with a few really good things thrown into the mix. It helps, as well, that I feel more positive and determined than I did towards the end of last year.
These are the positives:
1. My creative writing classes are going so well that my students have asked if we could extend the course or if I could create an advanced course (!!!). I am working on this. All proceeds will be sent to my sister to pay for plane tickets.
2. I have been brave and approached a lady who does shiatsu massage on horses for an interview. A bit arse about face because I hadn't contacted the magazine and pitched the article first. BUT! I pitched the article, the mag wants the story (just 600 words with photos). Deadline: 30 April. Again, all proceeds to my sister.
3. I interviewed for a part time job at Barnsdale Gardens in their coffee shop. If I get it, I will work 7 days a week (day job and weekend job), but if I manage to do this, it means I can pay my sister all I owe within 4 months. I find out in a week.
4. I am now an official member of the Tarot Association of the British Isles.
5. Kate and I are really happy and strong. We had some beautiful, positive discussions while we were in South Africa and if anything, all that's happened has brought us closer together.
6. I am living each day with gratitude
7. Buddhism and Yoga are making me really strong
8. I have amazing friends - blog friends, real friends, furry friends. THANK YOU.
9. I have my face in a slab of cake.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jesus has been answering questions again. Remember, if you want Jesus to give you the answer to life's big questions, write to: askthejman at gmail dot com!
Stuff We Discovered About My Dad After He Died

I couldn't sleep last night. I found some letters and cards that my Dad sent me while trying to locate my National Insurance Card. And I read them. Then I couldn't sleep because I just kept thinking about Dad and what great father he was and I missed him a lot.

My father was a quiet sort of man. He didn't talk about his feelings much, if at all. He exuded a peaceful aura and he was remarkably wise. He was a spiritual Christian, sometimes taking the bible quite literally. There is a story we delight telling because it is funny and it demonstrates the kind of man he was: Somewhere in the Old Testament, it states that if a fig tree hasn't borne fruit in 7 years, you must cut off its branches and burn it. My Dad was an avid gardener and had planted two fig trees. One of them didn't bear any fruit for 6 years. He went outside and told the tree what the bible said, reminding it that the next year would be its 7th year and if there was no fruit, it knew what its fate would be. The following year, and every subsequent year, the fig tree bore fruit. This year, my sister told me, that fig tree was at its most fruitful. As if it knew.

So, that is a little background. This is what we found in the days that followed my Dad's death:

1. In a letter he wrote to my Mom in 1972, it was clear that they had separated several times. Sherine, my sister, remembers "going for holidays to Ouma" (my grandmother). Evidently they got back together and I was born in May, 1973. I have a feeling I am the "make up" baby.

2. Back in 1980 my father was sent off to fight a stupid war in what used to be known as South West Africa (but is now Namibia). A medal was found in the back of his cupboard, one which he never wore on his uniform. It was South Africa's highest award for bravery. My father hads x-rays of his chest (when he started developing "asthma" about 15 years ago) and very clearly you can see a bullet lodged in his chest. There is no scarring to indicate an entrance wound and my father didn't "remember" how it got there. The bullet had been in there for so long that tissue had grown around it. It narrowly missed anything vital and removing it would have meant he could die. So he left it. We wonder if the medal and the bullet are linked.

3. My father always appeared to be rather conservative in his ways, so it came as a shock to my sister when it was discovered that tucked away at the back of his cupboard were several sex guides in both English and Afrikaans. One of them was The Lovers Guide, which, apparently, had come with a video. The video wasn't found.

There is more, but that's all I am up to sharing at the moment.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I stole this from Red. Somehow the code didn't want to paste into blogger, so CLICK HERE to view my visual DNA.

Friday, March 09, 2007

No TV Thoughts

I noticed how weird my thoughts are during my week of no (sort of) TV. I didn't really pay that much attention before, but without the noise of the telly, I found my brain waking up and sharing some of its wisdom (or not) with me. I noted some of the more bizarre stuff (which is in and of itself bizarre that I am recording bizarre thoughts):

1. Batman isn't really a superhero. Superheroes have super powers and Batman is an ordinary bloke with lots of money and a fetish for rubber.

2. This year, instead of using the pendulum to dowse where I should plant stuff, perhaps I should ask the seeds directly where they think they should go.

3. Lucifer is looking at me right now as though he were a real person

4. Then, are superheroes who use magic superheroes? Is magic a super power?

5. I am my own purpose. I am my own meaning.

6. I can't find Tinkie. I should check the washing machine and tumble dryer. What if one of them gets in there and I don't see it and switch it on? (this was a recurring thought. A lot. And I was all OCD and checking each machine 3 times)
Random Stuff

This is a bit of a harsh mistake. Jeanette Winterson's manuscript for a new novel she is writing was left in a train station. Oops. I don't feel too bad for her because I really don't like her much. (Sorry, Dori and Tracy, but she is an arrogant up her own arse pretentious cow.) I liked some of her writing, but...

I have tried some poems in the style of Richard Brautigan. Now showing on Tastes Like Fiction.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Digging for Gold

Once upon a time, a girl named Heather was homeless. Today she needs £10,000 A DAY "just to get by".

I feel your pain, Heather.

NO TV UPDATE - And Something About Books

Shep makes no bones about the fact that In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan, is his favourite book. Yesterday a little package arrived for me containing that same book - THANK YOU, SHEP! I started it last night while I was waiting for my students to arrive and I was immediately drawn in by his writing style. It's not what most people expect to find when they pick up a book, but thankfully, I'd been prepared for Brautigan by the fact that Shep introduced me to Brautigan's poetry as well, which is really rather good too.


Kate's doing an extra shift or two so she won't be home until Thursday. I am very tempted to extend my no-tv thing until she comes home, but I know I will probably switch on for CSI. Let's see how it goes. I have found that in leaving the TV off, I have got more done. More dishes, more washing, more writing, more preparation for my creative writing workshop. I've chatted to my sister and Dori for ages on the phone at the weekend. My friend Simon from Nottingham (I know two Simons. The purple one and the one from Nottingham) rang up and we also chatted for ages. I've chanted, written out workshop ideas, done yoga. And above all I feel energised, inspired, creative, joyful. And food tastes better.

Here's a breakdown of the major stuff:

Monday: Yoga. Came home and chilled out with a book, which I finished reading that night

Tuesday: Caught up with the washing and the dishes, modified some of the stuff I was doing for the creative writing workshop, did some writing

Wednesday: Taught my class, read some of In Watermelon Sugar, enjoyed some time with the kitties.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Death makes angels of us all
And gives us wings where we had shoulders
Smooth as ravens' claws" - Jim Morrison

I've noticed that a lot of people have been dying.

Not a profound or astute statement, really, but I was chatting to my friend, Annelize, who has told me that we're barely 2 months into 2007 and she's been to 5 funerals already - starting with my dad's. My boss has had to put the pet rabbit to sleep and his daughter's friend's dad died yesterday. And of course all those deaths in Celebrityville.

Maybe it's just me because I am still a bit raw after my dad's death. In any case, I am finding it a little freaky.
Death, in Tarot, signifies the end of one thing and the beginning of another.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On the Subject of Books

I have, as you may remember, set myself a goal to read 10 books this year. I have finished two so far. (You'll see which they are on the little Library Thing panel on the right). They've both been quite deep and philosophical, so I am looking forward to a light and easy read that's not going to make me think too much. I have also promised myself that at least 4 of those 10 books would be from my existing collection. Thing is I have no novels. No light reads.

Thank goodness for libraries! I will be able to head out there on Friday evening and have a nose around for anything interesting.

I have the following books on my reading list for this year:

The Secret

Watermelon Sugar

Speed Tribes

The Lotus Sutra

That's 6 books out of the ten accounted for then. Anyone out there want to recommend some really good novels? Easy read to balance the not so easy read?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Update on the No TV Thing and a Strange Tale

A Strange Tale

Our cats love people with cat allergies. They swarm around them like they are made out of catnip. They especially like people who don't like cats at all. Especially Lucifer, with his friendly and affectionate attitude. (Wouldn't expect that from a cat named Lucifer, would you?)

Yesterday, the Buddhists (6 of them) arrived for Kosen Rufu gongyo in the morning. One of the members had made it clear to me that not only was she allergic to cats, she was cat phobic. (Also known as Ailurophobia, Elurophobia, Felinophobia, Galeophobia, Gatophobia, and, well, Fear of Cats). As a result, my poor furry little children were kicked our of their home. (Which was fine until it began pelting down with rain.)

The point of this whole elaborate back story is this: a rather curious thing happened when I went to meet this lady and her husband. The cats trailed along with me, as is their habit, but the moment this woman was within 5 feet of them, they all scattered in as many different directions as there were cats. Each had a look of horror on their faces. After the Buddhists left, the cats were really skittish about coming back into the house. Noodle and Mischa were especially affected, with Mischa choosing to remain outside in the pouring rain until 9pm. (The Buddhists had left at 12:30pm). Noodle went from chair to chair, wide eyed and cautious, sniffing everything. Even though the spot where this woman sat was a favourite cat spot, they each avoided it. Around 10pm or so, Zakky finally caved in and made himself comfy on the cat spot.

Cats are really good at reading energies. And mine are particularly sensitive. I wonder what it was that spooked them so much about this lady?

My Four Days (so far) of No TV (sort of)

Thursday Night: (EDIT: Also went to an aerobics class after work. Was... ok.)Kate didn't want to just sit on the couch all evening doing nothing. She's not an avid reader like me, so that was not an option. And neither of us were in the mood for option 2. So, the TV was switched on and we managed to catch one episode of the L-Word on FTN. We hadn't seen the L-Word before. Well. It was rubbish. I have now removed the L-Word from our LoveFilm list. What utter crap.

Friday Night: Kate was still at home and we found ourselves in a similar situation to the night before. We watched NCIS and Law & Order. (EDIT: Also watched a film called Persona by Ingmar Bermann. I will review it later. We have no fucking clue what it was about.)

Saturday: No TV. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't watch it. One of the Buddhists brought over a video machine and plugged the whole caboodle in and I have no idea how to do this stuff. The plus was that I was finally able to watch a video, a movie called Fire, which I had bought 4 years ago. I didn't watch it alone - Noodle was with me. It wasn't so rubbish. Blogged a bit, tidied the house and read. Chanted.

Sunday: I have noticed a change. I have no desire to turn on the TV (I couldn't even if I wanted to because I have now no idea how to reconnect the freeview box and DVD player). In fact, I am feeling seriously creative. And energised. And I didn't realise how little attention I was giving my food before because I used to just sit in front of the TV and eat my supper. In the morning I had the Kosen Rufu gongyo session, then a planning meeting with some of the other Buddhists. After they left I did some tidying and pottering about the house, sat down and read until I finished my book. Chanted. What joy! I even feel happier now that I am not watching TV. Three more days to go.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A box of goodies arrived from Canada today, courtesy of Karen:

There were all sorts of things like toys for the kitties, kitty treats, hamster treats, a hand knitted beanie and two pairs of hand knitted mittens.

As you can see I am very excited to have a new pair of mittens and a nice warm beanie.

This is the moment when Kate decides to take the beanie for herself. She took it back to London with her.

And here's a random picture of Kate's leg, clad in her new Gothic boot, showing off her hamster tattoo.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Weird Thing to Think About, But...

Today is my parents' 45th (Ed: I miscalculated earlier and said 35th) wedding anniversary. It's the first time in 5 years they have been able to share it together.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

So. I got chatting on the Google Mail chat with Shep from Cliff-A-Go-Go. The conversation turned to reading and I told Shep about my goal to read 10 books this year. He challenged me to read 52 (which is not going to happen, Shep.) I said that perhaps if I cut down my TV time I would get more reading done. Then Shep offered me a challenge:
No TV for a week (whittled down from no TV for a year)
Kate, if you're reading this, take deep steady breaths. I know this is a big shock to you since you are aware of how much time I spend in front of the box.
Here are the rules I must follow for the next week:
1. NO TV shows - not even on DVD - for a whole week
2. I am allowed to watch films at the Cinema or on DVD, but not alone
3. The films can be any films at all - including Porn, if I so desired
4. I am to try to spend time reading during this week
At the end of the week I will tell you how I got on. I may even take pictures of the stuff I did instead of watching telly. I hope to last the whole week.
A More Detailed Update on Recent Events in the Life of Tanya

General Health
Been to the doctor this morning. My shoulder, apparently, is not what is causing me the excrutiating agony that I have been living with. The doctor seems to think that the problem stems from my neck and has ordered a course of physio and an x-ray, just to check that no vertebrae are squishing things and that things are generally in order. I get zapped by radiation tomorrow morning. Which is very quick for the NHS, really. She thinks I may have a trapped nerve or something. As long as they can fix it with a minimal amount of drugs, I am fine with it. Having said that, though, I did ask her for a refill of the mega-supa-dupa painkilling medicine she prescribed for me in October.

I avoid allopathic medicine as much as possible, preferring herbal remedies and alternative treatments. Sometimes, when I need it, it's nice to know that I can take the magic bullet, even though I know it's just treating a symptom and not the cause. I can't afford to see my Medicine Man, nor can I afford the treatments such as shiatsu or acupuncture, which I feel would be the most helpful for this. So I am at the mercy of the NHS and I am grateful for their physio and chemicals.

Creative Writing Workshop
I am having so much fun teaching people! I love seeing people grasping the ideas, seeing the light go on in their eyes as they start to make sense of it all. Most of all, I love that they feel inspired to be more creative. The more I do this, the more I feel I was born to do this. That this is my perfect job. The job that isn't WORK. The job that I would happily do for free because I love it that much. Can I really make a living doing nothing but teaching creative writing? Really? How?

Last night, none of the men in the class showed up and it was just the ladies. Completely different vibe. I noticed that the women seemed a lot freer and expressive without the men around. Interesting.

Driving home, I had several ideas pop into my head. One day workshops. Weekend workshops. Retreats. And the ideas began to scare me because the more I thought about them, the BIGGER they got. And the self doubt crept in. And you know what I decided? I decided that the self doubt can be consigned to the category of bullshit. And we all know how I feel about bullshit. So.

Here are all these ideas. And I have no qualifications other than my experience and my instincts. Sounds like a recipe for adventure!