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Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.channel4.com       The typical bonfire for guy Fawkes night

I’m a little late with this post as you can see, since Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night was November 5. I realise my American readers will still be on November 5, so hooray, but down-under it is already November 6. I had intended to do this but instead my husband and I spent the evening reminiscing on what bonfire night had been like in both our countries as we were growing up.

Here in Australia it was celebrated with the huge (or small) bonfire and fireworks. It was a night of relaxed merrymaking amongst close friends, at least for my husband and his family, as they lived in the country and neighbours were miles away. With an abundance of wood cleared for planting crops they had a head start on their UK counterparts!

Yet for all the nostalgia of its passing I got the feeling that it wasn’t quite the same as we had in England. However, they made the night their own with a few drinks and a party, and of course, the obligatory high jinks. I’m told that amongst the fireworks was an occasional marine flare and an even bigger flash with the odd stick of gelignite (used for clearing tree stumps as a rule)! It seems when mischief arrives fun will be had and imagination abounds amongst young and the young at heart.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk –         My type of bonfire complete with Guy Fawkes.

In the UK things were a little different. Throughout the months of September and October the households participating in their Guy Fawkes bash (and there were many of them), would scour the neighborhood collecting timber, of any kind, old doors, packing crates, furniture, in fact anything which would burn.  It was a competition to see who could gather, and keep their bonfire material. Scavenging was tolerated, if not accepted and raids on each others stockpile were legendary. (We used to keep ours under lock and key in the old coal cellar). Many is the night when I would join the local lads (yes I was a tom boy), creeping through the dark night to sneak under the fence or wire, climb a tree to get over a fence and raid the competition’s stockpile. Adrenaline flowed and it was all in the nature of fun…. there was little violence as a result of our raiding which showed how much things have changed over the years.

By the end of October the anticipation was growing apace. Guarding your stockpile was a rostered affair to ensure your hoard remained intact. It was serious business by now. Halloween was one of the last nights for fun and frivolity before the big event. Being a book-worm I would love telling the stories of how it was possible to see the spirits of those crossed over on this night and as we ran and hid to jump out and scare one another mercilessly, we looked over our shoulders to see if something was following us. Dropping from overhead branches as we crept past trees and suddenly knocking over dustbins to hear the clatter and clang were all part of the lighthearted fun.

My understanding of Halloween only grew in later years, but then, as a child it was simple light-hearted fun and a night when children could safely roam the streets for a few hours after dark and have some high jinks. Trick or treating didn’t exist and a few hours of running amok certainly tired us out, much to our parents delight.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk    The traditional style of Guy Fawkes, all ready for the fire.

I hasten to add that this photo even predates my Guy Fawkes but is the closest approximation to the ones I made each year. Dad graciously donated a pair of overalls and shirt. Granddad a cap and socks and usually a scarf and gloves. The stuffing was a mixture of rags and sticks, straw and anything I could jam in to fill him out nicely.

His face was a piece of hessian with eyes, nose and mouth painted on. Sometimes we had a jacket and sometimes boots….it all depended on what we could scrounge in the area. Stuffing it, sewing him up and painting a face really made him come alive. When it came time to tie him into his chair, we always used a donated kitchen chair to put at the top of the bonfire, he became a rather sad person to me.

He was of course, the person responsible for trying to blow up the houses of parliament. One has to wonder at times if he wasn’t on the right track, but that’s just my musing.

It was an unwritten but accepted rule that once the bonfire building began there were no more raids. The fire built during the day so that as the adults came home we were as wired as a high wire acrobat. One family made baked potatoes, another cooked pies and the obligatory mushy peas (yes mushy peas and I loved them) and I made ‘plot’ toffee and toffee apples. I have no idea why it was called plot toffee as the recipe was no different to usual, except I had to make lots more of it. Chewy or hard there was little left at the end of the night.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.mumsintheknow.co.uk                  Fireworks a spectacular display on Guy Fawkes night

A ring of chairs (for the fire later) or from inside the house, logs for the fire or other comfortable perches were arranged in a circle around the fire for the adults. I can’t say I saw any alcohol but then I was a wee innocent back then. Dad was in charge of the fireworks and he managed to let his inner child run free and he slipped the Chinese Tom Thumbs loose behind the adults to see them jump too. I loved the Catherine Wheels, but then I loved it all.

The smell of the fire, the toasty feel of the heat on your face, the excitement as the fire burned brightly and the whiz, bang and whirr of the fire works, plus the parade of ‘goodies’ throughout the evening, on a cold chilly night was almost indescribable.  There was always a “hurrah” from almost everyone as poor old Fawkes succumbed to the flames but I still felt sorry for him.

Parents finally chivvied children in to bathe and bed, still excited and wide-eyed and seeing the fire glow from your window it was hard to fall asleep. Truthfully I was caught on more than one occasion hanging from my bedroom window watching the flames still burning brightly.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.theguardian.com     Standing around the bonfire on Guy Fawkes night

This then was the bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night of my childhood. After the long reminiscing last night I really wanted to share with you a highlight from my childhood days when fun and frivolity were just that, simple and light-hearted with no one getting hurt or playing cruel pranks. That came later, but not when we enjoyed it. I hope you can get an idea of what it was like for us.

Blessings and light-hearted reminiscing.

Ciao, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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image from http://www.toutlecine.com –  From humble beginnings.

One of my favourite films has always been “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. It appealed to me on many levels. Most of all because my mother had told me from when I was small that “I could be anything I wanted to be”. Of course that meant I had to want it enough to work hard to attain it, just as Eliza did in “My Fair Lady”.  There was something so deeply satisfying when she had managed to shed her  “common London accent” and not only speak like a lady but truly act like one, to the extent that she really was a lady. That, for me at least,  epitomised not just the possibility of attaining your dream, but the reality that anything could be achieved.

From such small beginnings did my dreams and desires become formed. I used the tools of the “Law of Attraction” before I had even heard of it and built up my picture of how I desired my life to be. The inspiration from books and films gave me the scope to build dreams to reach any heights I wished. “Mary Poppins” was another favourite, for a mere Governess she had impeccable diction, far better than her employers. Then, we all knew that she was special in more ways than one.

image from rottentomatoes.com

One of the defining factors in my life was the divisions I saw around me as I was growing up. It was based on how one spoke, dressed and acted, but also on ones perceived place in the community. In England the class system was still in full swing. In a country where a few miles could show a change in dialect, a difference in the way people behaved and the ‘allegiances’ one had, it was  important to learn, if not how to be ‘a lady’, at least how to blend in as much as possible. Things may be different today, I doubt it, but back then it was how the lines were drawn. The Yorkshire dialect is one of the most interesting as you can hear, here.

That may sound like a simple thing to do but in a country where those idiosyncrasies in speech were cast iron identifiers, it was no simple feat. I was a voracious reader and was encouraged by my mother to read anything which interested me. The only codicil, to discuss anything I didn’t understand with her first!  I started copying the speech patterns of the characters in the books. The more I practiced however, the wider the divide became between myself and the children in my neighborhood. It was difficult. Then I won a grant to attend an all girls college on the other side of town. Still safe to travel in those days, it simply meant long days, the travel added to the school day and hours and additional homework to be fitted in. I was one of those unusual people  who enjoyed school luckily. My mother said my first word was ” why” and it never changed.

image from mysteriesandmanners.wordpress.com   Crushed by language and station.

The college I attended had girls from many of the surrounding districts, each with their own unique way of speaking. There was definite group segregation established. This made co-operation in class very difficult to say the least. My English teacher,  one of my favorites decided the “class divisions” would not be tolerated in her class. I need to point out that English was divided into two subjects, English Language and Literature. It all went to feed my love of English, poetry, prose and novels.  Her solution was simple. During her classes all the material being studied would be read aloud. From snide comments and snickers over the peculiar way each group spoke we were all taught to speak with no emphasis on the consonants and vowels, if not perfectly, then with as little emphasis as possible.

It made for quite a unique group within the school since we no longer fitted into any ‘group’ now. For me it was one step closer to throwing off the markers which locked me into a class system and gave me an advantage for the future. The only downside at this time was that it completely ostracised me from the children in my neighborhood. It was a lonely time and my sole consolation was my mother’s admonition that “I could be anything I wanted to be”.

I owe a great deal, both to my mother and Mrs Keighthly since they did make my life much easier several years later.

image from imdb.com   Beautiful, serene, mysterious and an exquisite lady.

After  my grandmother had passed away the family emigrated to Australia, the land of opportunity. It was an enormous culture shock, but I had one huge advantage. When we, my brothers and I, went to school, no-one realised that I was “a Pom”.  You wouldn’t think such a simple label could cause so much angst. With my ‘non accent’ I escaped totally unscathed, but not so my brothers. The ridicule for speaking “funny” was unbelievable. Perhaps most horrifying was the singular mockery from a Kiwi teacher my brother had to endure. Everything from the way he spoke, wrote his essays to his refusal to be cowed by this bullying was a target for this man.

His error? He learned I was at the school also, in a higher grade, and had the unmitigated gall to ask me, in front of my classmates in a loud voice,”How come a girl like you ended up with a brother like him?”  He was referring, of course, to my lack of a Yorkshire accent.

Unfortunately for both the teacher and the school principal they had to deal with my mother the following day. Sometimes justice does prevail. Apologies to my brother, mother and myself were followed by his transfer from the school. I only hope he never taught anywhere else after that.

I was told the other day I sounded like an Australian, which made my husband laugh. I’ve managed to ‘fit in’ so that my background is not immediately apparent, but the idiosyncrasies are plain for all to hear. There is always my love of unusual words, a difference in diction which sets me apart. It’s not that I desire to be different, it’s simply who  I am. I love the richness of the tapestry English language gives me and I unconsciously use it all the time. My brothers have “acclimatised” but retain some of their “Yorkshire ‘isms.’

image from http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com  Accents one al all.

The truth is not so strange really.  I’m neither typically Aussie nor typically English. I have, perversely, retained an unyielding dislike for putting ‘tags’ on people, so being a Pom or an Aussie is not welcomed. This is my home, the country I would defend should the need arise, but I don’t require a label to do so. I firmly believe that my choice to live here means embracing all that Australia is, and leaving my past behind. The divisions which exist here, or in any country, due to race, colour or creed are brought about because people fail to understand one simple truth. If you wish to move to another country, for a better life, then you must be willing to accept all that country is.

It does not mean losing your identity, nor your religion, but you must assimilate into your new society and community. Such refusal to become part of your new country is a rejection of the reason you came here. If you cannot accommodate the ways of your new country, in this case Australia, then you shouldn’t be here, you should be back where your way of life fits in.

Perhaps that is harsh, but then life can be harsh. If you want to be saved from the tyranny of your own land then, by default, you should not bring those very elements of your old life to this country and try to foist them on your new country, thereby causing divisiveness here also.  Australia is an English-speaking country and at the least it should be mandatory that all people be able to speak and understand the language of the country. I wouldn’t emigrate to or seek refuge in a foreign speaking country and expect them to change for my sake.

Then, this is simply my opinion, and fortunately we still retain the semblance of freedom of speech. Just to finish my opinions, I reject the implication that we, or any Australians, should be forced to change or subjugate our religious beliefs because new Australians feel they can and will impose their beliefs on the country which accepted them.

image from izquotes.com     The Secret to Freedom Everywhere.

These are my ideas and my experiences. What holds true for me may not for you, but I hope they give you something to think about.

What would you say?

Ciao, Susan

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Time marches on image from http://www.writebalance.com

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”     Anne Bradstreet 

We are just beginning to feel the nip in the air at night which is letting us know that Autumn is here. There  are so many reports of the cold still in the UK as they approach their Spring. It seems as though we are out of step with ‘the rest’ of the world.

Many of the great poets and writers I grew up with hail from the northern hemisphere so it is natural to find this imbalance.  For all those who come to live here it means not merely a cultural change but a climatic change also. In some ways I’m unsure which is the harder to adapt to.  I still think fondly of snow at Christmas, holly and mistletoe, bare trees and snowflakes softly falling from the skies. Of course, that is the romantic side of winter, it forgets the chill of frigid winds and wet sludge as the snow is churned to mush underfoot.  The huddle around the fire and the wishing for Spring to arrive.

I’m reminded of these things since we moved to Byron, such a short distance from the Gold Coast and Queensland, but it has made a difference in the weather and air temperature, the pace of life and the feel of the earth moving through its rhythmic seasons. I feel that I am reconnecting with nature and Mother Earth once more and there is an excitement pouring through my veins I find soothing and exhilarating.

Rejuvenating for the soul and body image from justthespot.com.au

“Waves are the voices of tides. Tides are life,” murmured Niko. “They bring new food for shore creatures, and take ships out to sea. They are the ocean’s pulse, and our own heartbeat.”    ― Tamora Pierce, Sandry’s Book

I sit here watching the ocean rolling in. I can hear its sound day and night. The breeze blows soft or strong and in a storm it batters the windows wildly.

I see the sunrise peeking over the horizon, warming the earth and waking life. I watch the moonrise, pink and mysterious, lighting the ocean with its mystical light. As the moon rises I see the stars appear, brightly sparkling as we are away from the hubbub and rush of life. Mars is shinning red in the sky at present gifting us with a special show.

Pink Moon Magic

Pink Moon Magic

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.   Hal Borland

Pausing often to think as the day rolls by I’m reminded how much simpler things were when I looked at the world through a child’s eyes. My memories are of the love which surrounded me from my family, especially my parents who are no longer with me. The fun and excitement of birthdays and Christmas. Building snowmen and snowball fights even if the cold nipped at fingers and toes.

I remember walking along under the Autumn suns failing warmth, leaves of a myriad colour crunching crisply underfoot. I recall the excitement as the first buds were seen on the trees and the bluebells pushed their way through the cold earth and began nodding their delicate heads in the sun. I smile with delight at the images of summer, of heath and heather, trees and flowers, daffodils, jonquils, carnations and roses, hyacinth and myrtle, all spreading their delightful scents along the soft breezes.

colourful autumn foliage image from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk

Snowball fights, cold fun, tingling fingers and toes image from http://www.guardian.co.uk

A carpet of fragile bluebells, Spring has arrived. image from http://www.forestpictures.co.uk

How does your garden grow? image from http://www.horniman.ac.uk

All things change, as all things must. Children see with children’s eyes the magic adults often walk by. Our inner child works hard reminding us of things we may have forgotten and in remembering we are made rich beyond imagining once more. Who indeed would refuse to wander through the happy memories of our childhood once more?

Blue skies, ocean breeze, peace and tranquility - Byron Bay

Blue skies, ocean breeze, peace and tranquility – Byron Bay

Childhood brings diamonds to life in our memories.  Going back and revisiting places may never be the same yet they are still diamonds. It all depends on how you look at them

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”      Ashley Smith

May your life be a collage of the beautiful memories of childhood.

Bless  Susan x

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bureau with drawers open

image courtesy of dollshousespastandpresent.com

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“When they talk of ghosts of the dead who wander in the night with things still undone in life, they approximate my subjective experience of this life.
Jack Henry Abbott

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As strange as it may sound, the first physical evidence of my other worldly visitor came one sunny day when I was at home alone.  I was studying for exams and it was very quiet – without my brothers around! I was sitting in the lounge, surrounded by my books when I thought I heard a noise upstairs. At first I put it down to the neighbour moving things around, but a check revealed the neighbours were out.  Ten minutes later there was another sound, louder and longer, the sound of furniture being pushed across the floor, coming from my parent bedroom.  You simply cannot mistake the sound of a heavy bureau being pushed across the floor.

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I stopped, listened intently and was about to begin studying again when I heard one of the drawers being opened. This particular bureau was quite old and the drawers had swollen,whch meant they squealed loudly when they were opened and closed. This had now become something I was feeling decidedly ‘not amused’ about. Not only were strange and unexplainable noises coming from directly overhead but there was no-one within cooee who was at home or expected home any time soon.  Then there was a flurry of drawers opening and closing in rapid succession!

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Books closed and held tightly I sat there staring towards the ceiling. I have no idea what I was expecting to see, thankfully nothing.  Quiet ensued. I was just beginning to persuade myself that I had imagined the entire episode when the cutlery in the kitchen bureau, directly behind me suddenly rattled as though someone was rifling through them. OH NO!   I was not impressed. I couldn’t decide if I was outflanked or trapped.  The only way out was through the kitchen, right where the kitchen bureau was. This was developing into a Laurel and Hardy comedy, only I wasn’t laughing.  Over heated imagination? No-one would ever convince me of that.

someone getting a fright

image courtesy of jigsawslair.blogspot.com

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Heartbeat returning to near normal and determined to remain inside to continue studying, I had just laid out my books again when I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps, footsteps laboriously coming down the stairs from our bedrooms. My eyes glued to the door into the lounge as I grabbed my books as quietly as I could. Why? I have no idea, my visitor knew I was there so who was I kidding?  The footsteps continued slowly as I counted the steps down.  At the bottom there was a pause. As the door suddenly creaked open I was rushing madly for the kitchen door. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden studying, alternately watching the upstairs windows and the kitchen door.  Whilst I saw him in my brothers window looking out I thankfully didn’t hear any further noises downstairs or near the door.

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That was my one and only scary episode. I still saw him in my parents room and the cold became even more intense from there. So much so that my mother remarked on it. They never mentioned the bureau being moved so I cannot explain it, except to say that’s exactly what it sounded like and the picture in my head bore that out.  I felt his cold ethereal presence in my room on occasion when I couldn’t sleep, or if I suddenly woke, and at those times I feigned sleep.  He didn’t make me feel comfortable enough to let him know I was awake.  It was the same feeling I got when I was walking around Port Arthur many years later, where I know unimaginable horrors occurred.

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The epitaph to the story. I learned that the previous owner had been left by his family and he had become terminally ill. He had committed suicide in my parents bedroom.  Apparently the house had remained empty for a long time, several people had bought it but hadn’t stayed long before reselling it.  The rest of my family didn’t feel or sense the unhappy fellow, although Mum made some unusual comments many years later about feeling uncomfortable in her room at night, on occasions, and how cold the room became.   If I had known then what I know now it may have been a different story.  As trite as it sounds I know I was fortunate not to ‘come face to face’ with my spirit at that time. He was upset and angry and I was ill prepared to handle that.

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Perhaps I made a small difference though. I heard from the new owners several years later that they were extremely happy in the house and there were no unusual happenings any longer.  ( A small town and everyone knows the history of  what had happened there). That being so I’m grateful I may have been of some small help to him. I know I prayed for him many times.  Perhaps that was why he was drawn to me.  I’ll never really know. It was an interesting time, exciting, a little frightening and  very enlightening.  If it happened again I would know how to handle the situation instead I made it into a comedy of errors which amused my family for a long time.

Patrick Swazye Ghost
image courtesy of  justpressplay.net

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One of my favourite films which shows Patrick Swayze about to go into the light after he had finished protecting his wife. Beautiful!

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ghost lady

image courtesy of vileyonderboy.deviantart.com

“There are an infinite number of universes existing side by side and through which our consciousnesses constantly pass. In these universes, all possibilities exist. You are alive in some, long dead in others, and never existed in still others. Many of our “ghosts” could indeed be visions of people going about their business in a parallel universe or another time — or both.”                          PAUL F. ENO, Faces at the Window

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Ghosts, spirits, they conjure up so many images and thoughts that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, and of course that all depends on which side of the fence you are on.  There are statements ranging from complete and utter faith in spirits visiting us to the polar opposite, that they are nothing but a figment of an overheated imagination, and any and all variations in between.

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I know spirits exist. I believe that death is simply a transition to another state of being which, one day I will also belong to. I also know that spirits communicate with us and if we are ‘in tune’ with the signs of their communication we understand that they are here if not seen. It can be frustrating feeling their energy present, seeing the physical demonstration of their attempts to communicate and not being able to see them.  Some of the more common signs are flickering lights for no apparent reason, lights and other electrical equipment suddenly turning on or off, especially music, things moved around the house or familiar scents which are closely associated with someone who has passed away.

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All of these signs I take as evidence of their existence would be hotly debated and debunked, if possible, by sceptics. That is their right and they are entitled to their opinion, even if I feel they are misguided. Free will gives us that choice.  However, I received proof, which I believe is incontrovertible, that spirits do exist.

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As a teenager in the UK I was fascinated by different religious beliefs, and in particular if there was anything after this life. I found it implausible that this life was all there was, and after the lights went out in this lifetime that would be it…. darkness forever. It seemed a fruitless waste of time. Reincarnation, in some form became realistic and if that was the case then why could there not be something else, those ghost sightings and stories, might they also have some truth in them? Parallel universe or dimensions, inhabiting the same time and space but out of sync with us. Anything could be possible.

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I was walking along the street leading to my home when I chanced to look up towards the house, to the bedroom window where my parents room was.  As clearly as I see ‘you’ I saw a man looking steadily out of the window. The curtains were in place and the lace was unmoved yet I could see him quite clearly. He was not anyone I knew or recognised.  My family was home, in the lounge and no-one was upstairs. So who was this mystery man?  At the time I felt uncomfortable about saying anything, knowing my three brothers would ridicule my over active imagination. Yet the thought wouldn’t go away and as I passed the door each night I could ‘feel’ a presence inside.

male ghost

image courtesy of beyond-known.com.

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I saw him many times after that, almost as if he was waiting for me to be walking up that street, the most direct route from the bus stop to home. It didn’t matter what time of the day or night it was. Even when winter fell we had a street light outside the house so the front of the house was well-lit and there he would be, clearly visible to me at least. He never moved whilst I walked along the street, and those lace curtains never moved either. As time passed his piercing stare seemed to be an invitation to step into that room – alone – and see him.  Yet the feeling of cold emanating from my parents room grew more intense as tie went by, a cold which had nothing to do with the time of day or season.   It took over a year before I ventured in there alone and then the strange occurrences came even faster. To me they were proof that I was not imagining what was happening and also that there were spirits with good and bad intentions just the same as the living.

usual image of ghosts

image courtesy of hauntedamericatours.com

This is what most people see of spirits, on my visit to Port Arthur I was able to see in my photos many such inexplicable images. My ghost on the other hand was much more solid-looking, looked very real in fact and had the ability to move things around.

“A ghost is someone who hasn’t made it – in other words, who died, and they don’t know they’re dead. So they keep walking around and thinking that you’re inhabiting their – let’s say, their domain. So they’re aggravated with you. ”    Sylvia Browne

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“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Rose Kennedy

angry and alone

image courtesy of diabroticd.wordpress.com

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There are times when, for no apparent reason, we feel depressed and alone. Grief wells up and carries us away for a time. Then there are the times when we know why we feel as though our insides have been ripped apart.  There are also times when the knowledge of why isn’t enough to pull you through the barrier to the next level and we can begin to move forward again.

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As this full moon draws closer it seems it has been a time of  reflection on those we have lost and the memories they evoke. At times they can be bittersweet memories and as I type this I’m listening to the mournful call of my Mopoke owl.  Normally I’m thrilled to hear him and on one level I still am. Yet I cannot help but associate that sound with the mournful calls I heard on the long nights I used to babysit in England when  the wind blew and whistled around the house causing chills to run up and down my spine. There were plenty of owls calling throughout the nights there on the edge of the Yorkshire moors.

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yorkdhire dales
image courtesy of lovetoescape.com

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It’s a strange feeling since most of my memories of the moors are the idyllic days spent in the heather, listening to the birdsong, my dog by my side, watching cotton puff clouds lazily float across the sky. We would picnic under the blue sky and visit Haworth Manor, home of the Bronte’s.  Perhaps they are so closely linked to my family it’s the reason I’m thinking about them so much now.

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north yorkshire moors heather

image courtesy of north-york-moors.co.uk

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So for the past week I’ve been remembering all those I’ve loved and lost, here and back in “the old country” and remembering the times we spent together walking the sheep trails through the heather. As the weather warms up so quickly I’m reminded of the fresh breezes on the moors and how we could walk for miles without turning into a puddle of perspiration.

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My grandparents were all left behind in England. My parents I lost here, my mother only a short time ago.  They try to say “time heals all wounds” but I think it’s more we become better at handling the painful memories of loss. When those losses coincide with Christmas – well, it’s as though a knife is jabbed into an open wound and it’s as raw and fresh as the day it happened.

So,  this full moon I’m releasing the hurts of lost loved ones.  I will endeavor to pull memories of happier times from the memory vault and try not to let the sadness of not sharing a special day with them make me feel too sad, at least for my children’s sake. I will share stories of the madcap things we all did together – in the heather and around the Christmas tree, and of course in the snow!

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sorrowful lady
image courtesy of gsp-shadow.blogspot.com

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Yes, the memories are bittersweet, especially at this time, but there are many more happy memories and those are the ones I’ll share. The sadness I’ll carry for a while longer, although I have a shoulder to lean on now. In time everything changes, yet everything stays the same.

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hope

image courtesy of lilliesloves.wordpress.com

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“Sometimes, however much you plan, however many precautions you take, something happens, and in a minute the world is changed. After that, you’re the person on the other side of that minute.”
Frederick Weisel, Teller

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The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.” Edgar Watson Howe

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can't sleep

image courtesy of smallbiztrends.com

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There is something incredibly wonderful about being able to fall asleep at the end of a long day.  It is a well-known fact that to operate at ones best we need between six and eight hours sleep every night. That is each and every night.  So now I have a confession to make, my sleep  deficit schedule is so far overdrawn it would take me years to bring it back into the black! I seriously envy those people who can lay their head on the pillow and be asleep in moments. (My husband being one of them).  How does this happen and why, oh why can I not do the same?  I don’t resent them being able to do this, I simply wish I could emulate them.

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I suppose, if I am honest, that I have never been what might be called a ‘good sleeper’. Even as a child I can remember laying awake for hours, making stories up in my head to while away the time until I finally would fall asleep.  As I grew older I can vividly remember hanging out of my bedroom window so that I ould look up at the night sky and picking out the constellations, depending on what time of year it was.  Of course being in the UK meant  that it was light for much longer, but the evenings and nights were beautiful all the same.   There was a peacefulness which was apparent as I gazed around and listened to the slumbering sounds of the ‘city’.   I didn’t really live ‘in’ the city but on its outskirts. We often spent the weekends strolling through Bronte country at the edge of Haworth Moor.

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The difficulty of course, is that back then I didn’t feel tired – ever! I lived on a ‘diet’ of a few hours sleep and was on the go non stop through the day, which is somewhat of a misnomer since I would be on the go day or night. Even as an adult, with a family of my own, I was never one to spend long hours sleeping.  I could bound out of bed and be working at warp speed all day without ill effect. My children often tell me now, that going ‘shopping’ with me was torture because they would need to run to keep up with me as I charged through the day.  At the time I had no idea.  Strange how these things are brought home to roost later on.

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people rushing around

image courtesy of colourbox.com

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Truthfully, it was never a problem for me because I could get everything done I needed to and have time to spare for myself, to do those things which I wouldn’t be able to if I didn’t rush around. I was  almost obsessive about filling up every moment of the day. I was a keen craft person,  constantly handling several projects at once, depending on how I felt at the time. I did tapestries, crochet projects and cross stitch to name a few. I never did get the hang of tatting though. My home is filled with framed tapestries and cross stitch works and I have a cupboard filled with crochet mats and covers of all kinds, shapes and sizes.

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Perhaps therein lies the secret. I was relaxed whilst I was doing these hobbies.  Not only was I relaxed whilst I did them, I could watch TV if I chose, have conversations with anyone  and even help the kids with their homework.  It occupied my hands but left my mind free to concentrate elsewhere.  Multi tasking became second nature, in fact I rarely thought about it being odd to juggle so many things at once. It’s only been in recent  times that ‘being present’ has brought home to me how far from that I was in those days.

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So what caused the change?  A simple car accident! I suffered no more than a simple whiplash. Let no one ever tell you a whiplash is simple. Thirteen years later and I’ve just undergone treatments which brought tears to my eyes to relieve the pain. I went from sleeping soundly, when I did go to sleep, to being unable to lay in bed comfortably at all. I lay awake by the hour, uncomfortable and unable to distract myself. My time-honoured practises to wind down, my hobbies, had been taken from me also, since my neck injury prevented me from bending my neck for any length of time at all.  It took all my energy to force myself through each working day, get the essentials done at home and try to steel myself towards that moment when I had to go to bed.  I counted sheep. I listened to meditation ‘music’ as well as the guided meditations. I bought the CD’s with the binaural beat, guaranteed to give you a good nights rest, all without any success at all. Not even the smallest degree of success. I still couldn’t relax because it was uncomfortable in bed or out, and I haven’t to this day been able to lay on my side again.

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car crash

image courtesy of annarbor.com

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My daughter jokes that I’m the only person she knows who can get out of bed and have the bed look as though no – one has been in it. I simply do not move during the night!  Is it any wonder I don’t sleep well, if I sleep at all?  It’s frustrating to say the least. I have to wait until I’m so exhausted sleep finally comes for me, broken though it will be because there are too many things the day needs to see me accomplish. “Time and Tide waits for no man” said Shakespeare.  How true. In due time I know I’ll be able to get back into a regular sleep pattern, but at present I am still struggling, and feeling frustrated with myself. It does help with the writing though!

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It’s now well and truly daylight. I’ve watched the sun come up, which in itself is a treat. I’ve watched my bush pheasant scuttle across my garden, the doves playing at the pool’s edge and the heron take a few drinks from the pool since the dam had finally dried up.  I’m very lucky there are some benefits to my sleeplessness, although I will gladly come to an accommodation so that I can see my early morning treats and still get sufficient sleep to prevent me from turning into  sleep deprived zombie each day!  So off I go to snooze a little, and then hit the day at a run – hopefully. Journal time first thugh!  Have a glorious day – it certainly looks like it will be from this vantage point.

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at peace with oneself

image courtesy of personaldevelopment123.net

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“Time is the reef upon which all our frail mystic ships are wrecked”
Sir Noel Coward Blithe Spirit

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