Welcome to my author's passions

This blog, is what I am passionate about, where I can share with you. Reviews, tips, hints, real help if I can, where you can share what you are passionate about!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Cooking, pacing, networking with a passion for more energy!

Recently I have been learning a new skill, well new to me anyhow. Pacing! With any chronic illness will come the inevitable fatigue. That exhaustion that is so past tiredness, if feels like you have nothing left. The advice to reduce and hopefully avoid it is to pace yourself.

Like any new skill this has taken time to improve, no I will not say I have mastered it yet, however I feel I am improving all the time. So small positive steps! So what is Pacing and why should you care? Well if not a sufferer yourself, you will probably know someone who needs to pace. In the first instance I thought it meant do a job, tick it off the to do list, sit down, do some writing and answer those emails (I thought I was resting, well I was sat on rear!) then go back to the list and tackle another job. In the evening if I was very lucky I would have enough energy to cook the evening meal and eat it but then I was totally wasted, could not lift a finger. Whole body felt it was on strike and I had no control.

You got it! I was doing it wrong, what I thought was pacing was just another way of trying to cram in as much as possible into my day (well I wasn't working i.e. getting paid so it didn't count did it?).

I needed to have it explained further and this is what I learnt. Pacing is about breaking down the task, into smaller ones and completely resting in between! What? You mean no emails, surfing the web, writing my novel in-between, nothing at all? Exactly in actual fact, try to relax, meditate. Huh? Lesley totally relax, meditate, I thought I would never get anything done.

However, now that I have grasped the idea, broken down tasks, I actually achieve much more. How is that possible when doing less and resting more?

Well I have more energy now. I have found my trigger to relaxation which was one of my passions all along. The beach, now a few deep breaths and I am there, walking on the sandy beach, light sea breeze blowing my hair, smelling the salty air and I feel revitalized. So I break down the task of making a meal.

I have always been a planner, so now I play to my strengths and plan more. I plan my meals ahead, see what I can double up, freeze half or have a quick alternative if energy is starting to flag and no its not picking up the phone for the takeaway.

What is the benefit to you and to me? Well by pacing, eating better, cooking smarter, I have more time, more energy, so much so I was able to attend my first Fibromyalgia support groups today. My husband drove me there as not mastered enough energy saving to safely drive again yet but I feel I will try that one soon.

It was lovely spending a couple of hours with other people who are constantly learning just like me and we were able to share our ideas. Information to share in the group. So now I am networking face to face, not just through this blog.

Our main topic of conversation today was how do we describe how we are to others in order than they will understand. Well I would like to share just this one thing and if you have only picked this one thing out of this blog, then I am very happy and have succeeded.

Anyone who has a chronic condition even if it is not visible to you; they are not going to get better. The name kind of give it away, it is chronic, meaning long term in some cases no cure. So please do not wish someone a speedy recovery or get well soon, as that cannot happen. You can however wish them better days, if they are smiling, it is either to hide the pain or they are happy but they are not well.

To more good days for all of us.

Please share your thoughts, if you have someone you care for in pain, a chronic condition, if you have an idea that I have not mentioned or something that worked for you, please share, this blog is your opportunity to do just that, I will reply to all.

Monday, 27 June 2011

My passion for Good health for everyone!

From an early age, health and caring came natural to me and to follow a career into the health profession was a natural step.
Back in the late 70's everyone it seemed wanted to be a nurse and waiting lists were very long. I even tried for military service as a nurse but was told I would qualify quicker in civvy street. That's how I ended up in West Yorkshire which is also the setting for my novel I am currently writing.

All my life it seems I have had the passion to help, to ease suffering and most of all to ease pain. Hence why I chose my first book to be on the subject of pain control. I wanted to empower people with chronic pain to Take charge and control their pain.

 Pain as it is something most of us deal with every day in our day to day lives. It is not something we welcome with open arms but it is something that is very individual.

Nobody experiences pain just as you do! It is yours and your alone, hence health professionals do not always get it right in helping you manage your pain.

I first experienced acute pain that did not go away with some magic cream from my Mum and hug over 30 years ago. We have all been there as kids ourselves or as parents, where the child falls over and it is the shock more than the pain for the child to cry. A hug, some magic cream from Mum or Dad if it was really bad a magic plaster. I had endured the occasional tummy pain, growing pains, toothache as we all have.

Some say that birthing pain is the worst and you never forget it, well from personal experience, I found it pretty painful and I have not forgotten about it but apart from the joy my children give me there are no lasting pain that I need to learn to live with each day.

No that first injury to my back was a searing, ripping pain as I tried to save someone from falling to the floor (I was very young and naive). I learnt later I should gently lowered the person to the floor but the damage was done. This was treated as Acute pain, 2 weeks off work,  rest was the prescribed treatment then.

I will post from time to time  hints and tips I have learnt as a Nurse treating patients in acute, chronic, and emotional pain for over 20 years as well as my own personal journey.  Hopefully you will join me in discussions, follow on a feeder and please if you have any useful hints and tips and want to share, please feel free to use this blog to do so.

For those of you who can't wait I have my 1st edition ebook you can download but also have an expanded 2nd edition on its way. This will  include recent developments and my own personal journey dealing with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia.
If you take one thing from this post, remember this, pain no mater its source can be controlled.

I look forward to discussions on this blog and future editions very soon. Thanks for reading.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Our shared passion of Wine!

If you read the blog of last week titled my top seven passions, among them in no particular order was wine!!

It is a passion shared with my husband. We love to relax over dinner with a glass or two and we like the glass to be crystal for no other reason other than we can.

We do try to be disciplined and a bottle will last two consecutive evenings, but occasionally we will push the boat out as they say and indulge in a whole bottle between us in a evening.

We often feel we need to justify to ourselves that red wine is good for you. It has been shown by numerous studies that wine is good for heart in moderate amounts. I have worked out that we probably have 175 mls each and not every night. Your probably thinking why do we feel we need to justify our consumption, we are adults! However in a world where we are strongly advised as to what is good and what is not so for us. You can almost feel a self-regulating pressure from all the health information out there.

So why would this interest you?

Well we decided if we were only going to have moderate amounts of wine then we would have good quality wine. We are not, nor would we ever profess to be wine connoisseurs but we know what we like. I did pick up a tip years ago which may or not be true. Good wines tend to have a deep divot in the bottom of the glass bottle. I was told the deeper the divot the better the wine.

I must admit in the essence of research of course, we did test this theory and on the whole it has proven to be right! Not very scientific testing mind you, just tasting as you would.

We are not strong believers in you can only drink white wine with fish and white meat and red wine with red meats. Although I probably would not drink a heavy Burgundy or Rioja with a light dish but we do tend to drink what we like not what is dictated to.

So instead of confusing ourselves week in week out at the supermarket as to what wine we enjoyed last week but can't remember its name or they no longer stock it or the classic or just sticking to a few favorites. These were the likes of Turning leaf, Wolf Blass or Penguin, we decided to take the plunge and join a wine club.

What I can hear you now, is that like the book clubs and toy clubs, sign here your with us and our mailing list forever! No it isn't thankfully. We joined one who dispatches a box of wine to us delivered to our door (no more lugging clanking bottles home anymore) about every 12 weeks. Well you might say that is not a lot of vino well sometimes, husband is away with work or courses and I do not like to drink alone and sometimes I might indulge in a perry cider to wash down a spicy curry. So the wine stocks seem to last just long enough.

Of course if we wanted to, they will always deliver more, but we don't want to be greedy now do we!!
It has in its terms and conditions, should any wine fail to please, call us up and return for a full refund but somehow that has never happened. Sure when we were experimenting in the supermarket or wine store, we bought some not to our taste, we have discovered we prefer Spanish to French but we will try most reds we come across. So my point is if you have thought of joining a wine club, our advice, make sure it is a reputable one who will give you refunds and have good customer service but when found take the plunge, dive right in.

We did and it is one decision we have not regretted! Love to hear about your passions and your thoughts on wine or my new blog. Love you to join me, see you again on Monday! Have a great weekend and enjoy a glass or two, its good for you!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

My passionate escape!

I was very fortunate to grow up in South west England, never too far the countryside or the beach. Now whilst I love to walk along a country lane, field or meadow or when fitter try to climb mountains with my husband.

I actually crave the sea, I did not realise how much, until for work and career purposes I moved away to Northern England to where my first novel is based. Often on my days off from training to be a nurse, I would miss the smell of the sea air, the sound of the ocean. It was pretty land locked where I trained. There was beautiful and very famous countryside as I was not far from Howarth and Bronte land. Many a time I would sit in a cafe, people watching, storing facts for my future stories.

If I had sufficient time off I could explore the wilds of Yorkshire and it too has spurned many a story. Barbara Taylor Bradford set her Harte series in Yorkshire and although through the books you moved to London, Australia and America her roots were from Yorkshire.

No although the Yorkshire wilds were truly lovely, they were not the sea. I later returned to the South West to raise a family and share my passions with them. My son loved the sea so much, he joined the Royal Navy.

Recently you would have read that I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and part of my treatment was relaxation therapy. Me relax Huh!! That had always been a problem, soothing whale song would drive me nuts, mediation was an art I could not master. How this lady was going to get me to relax I did not know.

Well we all learn something new everyday, we started with deep breathing which to be honest I do find relaxing but can't always switch off, the Occupational therapist summed up my problem, I needed to find my inner calm or my passion. There it was the beach, slowly she taught me how to deep breathe and within a few moments I was there at my beach. She told me to feel the sand between my toes, the warmth of the sun on my face that I was safe and calm. Really her work was done when she mentioned the beach, that is where my inner calm, my passionate soul craves for. Where we live now is a few hours away from the nearest beach but I can now be there in my mind's eye in an instant.

I can walk along the beach, feel the sand, see the seaweed, smell the ocean, hear the water lapping around my feet, the waves crashing on the shore. I feel at home, at peace. We are planning to move back close to the beach in approximately 18 months from now but I no longer need to pine for the sea because I carry it with me all the time.

The moment I start to feel stressed, in pain, unhappy; I can sit back, take some deep breathes and I am there, can you imagine where your passionate place is? We all have a place where our souls feel at home. Mine is not my literal home but in my minds eye that beach probably in North Devon with miles of golden sand and very little else around. You walk far enough and you leave the families, surfers and sunbathers behind to peace and quiet, just the ocean and you.

If you take one thing from this post today, think where is your passionate place? Where does your soul feel at home at peace?

If your happy to share your happy place, I would love to hear from you. Until Friday take care and come back soon :-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fibromyalgia, Pacing, Cooking and baking!

Some of you that are regular readers of this blog will know I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia this year. Whilst this is not one of my passions, I cannot wave a magic wand for it to disappear!

For any who suffer a long term chronic condition, it is learning to live with it or rather it live with you!

There will be days when it will feel like it is winning and days when you feel a bit like your old self again but different for deep down we need to accept we are not going to be the same as our old selves completely again.

I read a recent article quoting a well known doctor, who stated with the limitations on our mobility, fatigue and pain, it is quite likely for a person to gain 25 to 30 lbs in weight in the 1st year of diagnosis.

Here I was HORRIFIED, no one, I repeat no one wants to gain that much weight and have no control over it. Anybody reading this who has a chronic condition needs to learn to pace themselves.

What does that mean? To you? Or to me?

Well it will mean different things for everyone but the key is we need to learn to do things differently.

These are some of the things I have learnt so far and I hope by sharing they can help you.

Initially I would rest during the day, maybe put on some washing, come back to writing and then cook a meal, eat it and then BANG! Energy gone, the plug had been pulled, it was as much as I could do was to leave the table, so that clearly was not working even though I thought that was pacing.

No pacing to a professional is breaking that task into smaller bite size chunks! I was told peel potatoes in the morning, rest, prep meat rest and totally rest even meditate!

Sorry! We don't eat meat and 2 veg everyday these days, that maybe belonged to our parent or grandparent generation. We eat rice, pasta, some dishes only take 20 to 30 minutes to prepare and cook and you can't leave a stir fry to rest can you?

So how does it work?

Well yesterday being Sunday, I could do just that, prep the potatoes, rest, prep the meat rest, prep the vegetables etc. Resting in-between but we can't do that every day so:

A key is on a good day, if your making something that can freeze, make double, freeze half so you have a ready prepared meal for those not so good days.

Yesterday we had a lovely roast Chicken, why is that of use to you?
Well I did twice the vegetables and today was able to put the extra veg into a slow cooker with some beef and make a casserole then you guessed it rest!
I then stripped the chicken carcass from yesterday, made myself a chicken sandwich, good lean protein is good for us apparently. With the meat left over, I prepared a sweet and sour sauce, combined with the meat to marinade, cover and placed in the fridge for a lovely stir fry tomorrow.

So by pacing myself yesterday with the preparation of vegetables, I had enough prepped and stored in fridge overnight to quickly assemble a slow cooked casserole today of which there should be enough to freeze a couple of portions for another day. The chicken spare not only gave a nice lunch but is now ready prepared for tomorrow's meal so I don't need to worry about it.

This gave me sufficient energy left to use my food processor to whizz up a crumble to cover my frozen rhubarb I had previously prepared, which is now sitting in the fridge waiting to go into the oven later.

So if you take one thing from this Post today. Use the kitchen gadgets to help, rest in-between and with a little planning pacing is possible with good healthy food with a home cooked meal in the freezer, waiting for those not so good days and we all have those. It beats picking up the phone for a takeout!

Later I will share with you some of my healthy meals, which you can double or half and freeze to make life a little easier.

If you have any pacing tips, cooking or baking, so we all don't gain the dreaded 25 to 30 lbs. Love to hear from you.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Top seven Passions

What is Lesley Galston Passionate about and why you should care? Really why would you?

Some of my passions will be yours and here is my top 7 and why!

1. HEALTH.   self explanatory really  health is something we cannot buy, we all want to remain in as good a health as possible. If not we need to learn to adapt/ change how we live so our health condition lives with us and not takes over. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyaglia but it lives with me, sometimes I will trip up, only human, so it will feel as if it rules my life. Any chronic condition like this, there is no magic cure, we learn to adapt. So occasionally I will blog about health. I have over 20 years experience as a health professional as well as living with a chronic condition.

2. READING. I once read a quote from Stephen King, if you do not read, how can you write. I have loved reading long before I became a writer. Here I hope to share my passion for reading, just as you can share yours. I remember buying the first Harry Potter books to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted to expand my son's reading from Fantastic Mr Fox by the childrens master Mr Dahl. Once I read the first book I was hooked. What series of books has hooked you from the beggining to the end?

3. WRITING.      I am a writer, an author so occasionally I will share things I have learnt as a writer but I do not want to write just another writing blog, there are many good ones out there. My writing blog Nick Daws, my teacher and mentor, Bubblecow, helping writers to become published, Kristen Lamb, I recently discovered her and she is the reason for the revamp of this blog to Lesley's passions. I could just write a writing blog but the only readers I am going to attract are fellow writers and while I have made some great writer friends. I need to expand my readership. Share my writing, my books.

4. RELATIONSHIPS.   I am not an expert nor an cousellor however, relationships help define who we are. I am a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend. We have family relationships, work relationships and we have our networking. Having a blog is a form of networking, I am reaching out to readers of blogs, to many I have never met personally but will develop a relationship with if they decide to follow this passionate person.

5. COOKING.       We al have to eat, so what a better way to share but to share our passion for food. I love to cook but I know there are others who struggle and give up. Hopefully by sharing my passion for cooking, baking, some of it might rub off on to you. My mother did encourage me in the kitchen but we were limited to my families taste. Not everyone will share your passion for what you like, but you can try to experiment.
The first time I proudly made spagetti bolengese for my family, my father asked where was the chips/fries. He has misunderstood and thought it was spagetti out of a tin! Lesson learnt and never forgotten!

6. RED WINE      Well yours maybe be white or rose' I do drink them sometimes but mostly I share my passion for red wine with my husband. We love trying new wines, we joined a wine club, which stated they would replace any not to our liking, so far we have found none we have not liked. Growing up as young adult I loved the German whites that were all so vogue of the time, Black Tower, Blue Nun, Leibfraumilch, and Mateous Rose. I have seen them return in popularity recently as fashions hit the revival of the seventies.

7. BEACHES.     I have always considered myself fortunate that I grew up in South West England, I was never very far from the sea, a beach to walk along. To take in the sea air. The sounds of the ocean lapping against the shore. Huge waves crashing with such energy. The sealife that surrounded you, from the seagulls, to the crabs, to the cockles and whelks clinging to the rocks. I live in the country for now but know my heart yearns for the beach and the sea. To me it is instant relaxation. Not to sunbathe, but to walk, feel the sand between my toes, I can close my eyes and I am there.

Well I have shared my top seven passions as this blog develops I may share more. What are your passions?

What stirs your soul? Please I would love to hear from you, feel free to share your passions, I will always reply, don't be shy. Thanks for stopping by, I hope to blog on one of my passions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Come and join in.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Drum roll, trumpets and fanfare and the winner of my competition is:

The judges loved this story with a twist as most short stories of this calibre do! Congratulations!

Count to Fifty
In the years that followed what she always thought of as the day her childhood – her happy innocence - came to an end, Jessica often wished she had just done as she had been told and counted to one hundred. But she didn’t. She made excuses for it; it was cold, it was hot, it was dinnertime, she was tired… The excuses were only ever to herself. And anyway she knew that she had done it – cheated - because she wanted to win. She never won. So she let Martin run off to hide and she started to count out loud. By the time she’d got to twelve she knew what she was going to do. One hundred gave her brother too much time. He was too good at hiding. He spent so much more time out in the garden than she did. She preferred her dolls and her tea parties. So Jessica decided that the only thing to do was to cheat. She’d count to fifty instead. He’d never know, and she could finally be a winner.
            She made her voice quieter so that although she was still counting aloud, no one could actually hear. She reached fifty, paused, opened her eyes and looked around. She saw movement over to her left, a quick flurry in amongst the trees at the edge of the garden. Neither she nor Martin were supposed to go past the trees. It was forbidden. Jessica was surprised at Martin’s audacity, but she’d seen the branches moving, heard the rustling, so she followed.
She assumed that Martin had probably been through the trees many times before. He was just that sort of boy – three years older and thirty years wiser. A proper Just William if only their parents would allow him to be.
            Jessica tiptoed forwards, still counting in her head and glancing behind her every time she reached a zero because her mother was usually watching, making sure there were no grazed knees or banged elbows. This time Jessica couldn’t actually see her; she wasn’t in her sentry position by the kitchen door, ready to run towards whoever had fallen, first aid kit in hand. Jessica felt free. With no mother to worry about, she understood why Martin had taken the opportunity to escape to the field and she followed, her head popping out into the unshaded sunshine.
            Martin wasn’t there. She never did find out where he had hidden that day. She did find her mother though. No first aid kit in her hand now, but instead those reassuring hands were caressing their Uncle James. Daddy’s brother. Hands and lips and tongues, all meeting together in a frenzy, a quick snatched moment which probably felt romantic to the two of them but to Jessica it was disgusting. It was wrong, even she, as a tiny little girl, could see that.
            She wiped her silent tears from her face, saddened, disappointed, grown up now, and edged back into the garden.
            She never said a word.
            But her mother knew.  
            Nothing was ever the same again. 
Congratulations to the winner Lisamarie Lamb, email on its way to do re prizes. 

I hope you enjoyed this competition as much as I did, it has been such fun, watch this space I may run more in the future. Love to hear your comments and feedback on this, I do reply to all.

Drum roll in " 2nd " place of competition

As I am posting these I can feel the excitement mounting. I sincerely hope you are enjoying reading them as much as I did. This one gave me a giggle I must confess. Isn't that what we all want a reaction from our readers!

Congratulations go to Rebecca Emin with her story!

The Passenger

“It simply will not do, I cannot sit anywhere but a window seat or I will get travel sick.”

This shrill noise is the last thing I need when I have a migraine.

“I insist that you do something,” the woman continues.

I roll my eyes behind my dark glasses, but even that movement hurts.

“Excuse me, I’ll swap with you, if it’s that important,” I say to the woman.
The flight attendant flashes me a grateful smile. The haughty-looking passenger swaps boarding cards with me, and looks at the attendant as if challenging her to mention the computer records. Finally, we are on our way.

I buy some overpriced water from a vending machine and take some painkillers. I sit in the departure lounge and close my eyes.

I am starting to feel the pain lessen when I hear that voice again. “How long will we have to wait?”
“Oh please shut up,” I whisper as I exhale.

I need a quiet room, darkness, and peace. The background conversations don’t bother me, and even the crackly flight announcements are okay in comparison to… Elizabeth Wilson, I read as I glace down at the boarding card in my hand. Seat 50 C.
A smile crosses my lips. Fifty has always been my lucky number, not that there had ever been any reason behind it; I simply like the sound of it.

I feel beads of sweat forming on the back of my neck. It’s a hot day and the air conditioning can’t cope with it.

By the time we are finally called onto the plane my head is pounding, nausea is swirling in the back of my throat and it takes all my effort to stand and walk to the doorway. I take my aisle seat, and as I spot Elizabeth Wilson fussing with her bag and making a drama of getting it into the overhead storage area, I quickly say “hello” to the attractive blonde to my left. If I was feeling healthy, I would have made more of an effort, but I shut my eyes and doze instead.

I sleep heavily. Miraculously, when I wake up, the painkillers and rest have cleared my head. The cool temperature of the cabin feels refreshing.

The blonde next to me smiles as I glance in her direction. “Hi, I’m Paula,” she says, offering me her hand. I take it and smile at her, hoping my just-woken look doesn’t put her off. But three hours later when the flight is coming in to land, she gives me her card, and I slip it into my jacket pocket as we continue to talk.

I say, “Goodbye,” to Paula, and walk off the plane. I spot Elizabeth Wilson ahead of me. I hear her piercing voice again. “I wish to lodge a complaint, that flight was dreadful,” she proclaims.

I glance at her. I spot a patch of something unidentifiable on her sleeve, and as I walk past, hear her ranting about the toddler she had been sitting next to on the flight.

I smile as I pat my jacket pocket and walk on by.

An email whizzing its was to you regarding your prize, congratulations!

Trumpet call in 3rd place of competition

Another great post it was very tight between the top 4 entries but this one made it as 3rd place. A member of MWC and a inspiration to many menbers.

Still Rocking
Half a century – 50, the actual number seemed to be more significant than its ten year younger sibling yet the celebrations for my fortieth birthday involved much intrigue and surprise, and for my brother’s the planning and organisation was horrendous.  There’s only two years between us and we’ve always been close so I get to see milestones a couple of years after the dust has settled and I’m distanced enough from it to appreciate the event.
When I turned fifty I was separated from my husband and had slipped out of different circles of shared friends. My parents hadn’t been alive for my fortieth, two other brothers and my sister live in Australia and I’d recently moved too, so a big party was never on the cards. The kids plagued me about what I might like as a gift and it struck me that they were really all I was worried about in my life now. I asked for a photograph of all four of them. There seem to be so few occasions when they’re together nowadays.
My favourite daughter – my only daughter – organised the boys for a snap when everyone was home and injury-free (they all play rugby) and presented me with two prints. One in a leather frame features a colour shot and another in a silver frame is a wonderful black and white. She made sure I had a huge bouquet of lilies too, I’ve trained her well. It was a very low key day and suited me fine. I was reluctant to party and go out to dinner, not because of the age, that didn’t bother me but I had alopecia and somehow dressing up in my glad rags and killer heels seemed a waste of effort when my crowning glory had to be styled in a comb-over.
The lack of fuss just proved life goes on regardless of what milestone you might have reached. I feel I am much wiser, though I may not act it. I am more accepting of different attitudes – I’ve discovered I don’t have all the answers and finally the arrogance of youth has stayed its side of the hill. I am relaxed, content and confident and the me I want to be. Admittedly I’m not as fit as I used to be but that doesn’t worry me, though I do resent the aging process and how it causes aches and pains. Hey, it’s a fifty year old body that’s survived plenty of abuse, a bit of wear and tear is expected. 
My brother’s fiftieth birthday was celebrated with my birthday gift to him – tickets for Deep Purple. It was a blast from the past and an excellent night out head banging, singing along to old favourites and being among a crowd of smokers with a sense of humour who knew nothing about being politically correct. The only thing about being fifty and seeing them now rather than when we were teens was being able to have a beer.

Congratulations Siobhan, email with details of prize on way to you.

In 4th place competition entry

Another fabulous entry, brought back memories for me, Thank you so much for entering.

Meus Michael  Meus Culpa

I stroke Michael's face as he wanders to sleep. I am entranced by his perfect face, now so peaceful. It seems unimaginable that the screaming fifty minutes ago could have belonged to either of us. 

I smile at how quickly my loathing; boarding on hatred; towards him changed. How fifty mins ago, I’d have done anything to walk out on him. Now I could think of nothing more incredible than staying in bed with him. My fingers tingle as I long to stroke his face, but know if I do, he may wake and our previous disagreements surface again.

I stare up at the ceiling. Beside me, he is sated and I feel his body soften as he slumbers.

I bask in a warm glow as my body sings. I allow a small smile to rest on my face. 

Its only then that I begin to feel a sapping energy with its daggers sinking deeply inside me, ripping me apart and exposing me to the world.

I see cobwebs needing to be brushed down from the ceiling and a wall that needs repainting.

My fecklessness in my life’s role darkens my soul. Guilt swallows me.

He is still sleeping, but I wonder if its just for show.

I try to even my breathing as I inch out of bed. He stirs and moans in his sleep. His hand reaches onto the empty pillow.

I freeze. The hand goes limp and he drifts again.

Perhaps, I reason,  I could lay here a little longer, soak up the ecstasy of the moment, the feeling of oneness and completion.

Dark guilt, fed by the piles of washing on the floor raises it ugly head and taunts me. My home screams attention while I laze in bed. 

I inch further out of bed, taking every movement slowly before I am upright.  My feet seek slippers for a quiet getaway. 

I turn for a last look at that perfect form laying in my bed. The sheet casually draped over his chest and an arm flung above his head. I reach out to gently caress his face, but  I know it was a mistake the moment it’s over.

Eyes spring open as his tiny mouth twists in retribution of being roused and abandoned.  With Michael's shrieks, tears of exhaustion and frustration spring into my eyes.

I wrap him tightly, pop him over my shoulder and I begin my endless walk. Fifty steps up and back measure the hallway. I make soothing noises and promise never to leave him.

The blunt knife of guilt twists deeper as I contemplate following advice to bottle feed rather than to feed on demand as I’ve been doing.  To trade the certain feelings of ecstasy of connection with the possibility of more sleep tantalizes me. I continue to stumble up the hall as the tendrils of guilt wind their way around my heart and resolve.

Meus Michael  Meus Culpa.

Congratulations Annie, it was a close call

In 5th position of competition entry

I loved this story, it so took me back to the film in question.

The Last Snows of Spring

Although it was almost the end of March there was yet no hint of Spring. Roger leaned forward and tried to catch a glimpse of the passing scenery from the car window, but in the pre-dawn dark there was nothing to see but his own eerie reflection. The man on his right pushed him roughly in the chest.
  “Sit back,” the man shouted.
It was not his native tongue, but Roger understood the man well enough. After all, he'd had a long time to learn. He sat back.
    “I wonder where we'll end up this time.” He turned to his left and spoke quietly to his friend  Bernard.
  “Who knows?” The other man gave a shrug that indicated he wasn't really interested in such matters.

Slowly, lazily the first hint of dawn tapped the sky with frost-dazzled fingernails. The snow outside  became visible, and the road ahead was deserted. In another time this journey could almost have been pleasant. He wondered where he would be when the first green shoots of Spring deigned to make an appearance. What flowers would he watch bloom, bud and ultimately die? How long would it be before he could observe nature's annual miracle at work in his own garden? Not too much longer now, surely?

Roger felt the full throated roar of the car slow to a gentle purr and realised they were stopping. He turned again to Bernard. The Frenchman indicated with the merest lift of one eyebrow that he didn't know why. All became clear when the other two passengers alighted and fumbled with cold hands for cigarette packets. Moving a few feet away from the car, their chatter drifted idly towards the two men left in the back seat.
  “Damn, I could do with one of those.” Roger muttered.
Bernard just laughed. “Soon enough my friend, soon enough.”

There was a shout from one of the men outside and the driver climbed out and joined them. After a brief conversation he returned to the car.
  “Out.” He said, as he pulled the back door open. “You can relieve yourselves over there, ” he jerked his head towards a clump of snow-kissed bushes, “but don't go too far.”
As the two men hesitated  he continued. “I suggest you do so. We have a long way to go.”
Roger felt it prudent to do as he was told and headed toward the bushes, Bernard following.

For a fraction of a second Roger didn't recognise the sound, so familiar yet so alien in this tranquil landscape. Then, as he felt the pain and saw Bernard collapse next to him, he understood.

Roger Bushell had no way of knowing that he was one of fifty men who were to become famous for being illegally executed for what they had done. He would also never know that he would live on  in history as the mastermind behind what would forever be known simply as  'the great escape'.

Congratulations go to Sarah Pearson.

In 6th postion Competition entry

Here is the story judged 6th in my competition, I did think maybe the author of this piece was talking about me! I think we have all been there and done that, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Fifty Things that make me an Idiot.

In a time of little creative inspiration, I wrote a blog about the 50 things that I do to make me happy. Reading the list back I realised something astounding, something so monumentally ground-breaking and earth moving that I had to have a cup of tea with 2 and a half sugars:

I am a complete idiot.

The list consisted of things that, at the time at least, I thought sounded exceedingly quirky and intellectual. I had visions of my readers sitting at their computers saying things like 'Oooh! Wow, she's a social maverick! Look at her take convention by it's wily horns and shake it about a bit'. I think one of the 50 things went along the lines of: 'On my country walks, I breathe in the air and thank Mother Nature for her awesome awesomness and I take a leaf from a passing tree and present it to someone as a gift laaa dee loo laa laaay.'

I shuddered to read it back, shuddered I say. What a pretentious goon.

Pretty sure it was Aristotle that said wisdom goes hand in hand with knowing yourself; one of the hardest parts of gaining a tiny bit of the wise-stuff is realising that all of your life to date has probably consisted of you behaving like a bit of a twat.

I wonder if Katy Perry or some other teen-boppy person will ever look back, chuckle to themselves over a cup of chamomile tea and say, 'Oop, that hair style was a mistake and lord knows why I thought eating sushi through a straw was cool.  And no, 'Boom' doesn't rhyme with 'Moon', gawfaw.'

I resolved, after this quarter-life realisation, that I will no longer behave thus. However, even this steadfast resolve brings with it a sense of arrogance; who the heck am I to resolve anything? I have a fair few years to go before my clogs pop (I hope) and making a vow-in-stone leaves me far too much scope for making a prize idiot of myself all over again.

If being wise constitutes knowing yourself through the acceptance of your past idiocies, then I can't think of harsher life lessons than a box fringe, leather trousers and teenage poetry.

Next time I think I should write a list of 50 things that make me a Spaceman. It would provide me with just as much entertainment and I'm pretty sure my answers would be more insightful and grounded in something real than the ones I provided for my 'serious' list of 50 something-or-others. 

Congratulations to Sarah Bradley.

In 7th Position of competion entry

In 7th position but they were all great entries but as I said yesterday with any competition you can't award prizes for all. I hope you enjoy reading them all!

How P.G. Wodehouse Saved My Life

“I wish I’d strangled your neck the moment you were born,” Mom yelled at me, and threw the class-report in my face. I picked up the report, ran to my room, and went straight to the mirror.

“This time, she’s gone too far.” I said, glaring at my reflection.

“C’mon, you know she doesn’t mean it. She said this, like, 50 times already,” my reflection replied.

“Well, this time, she’s going to be sorry. I’m going to do what she always wanted to do. I’m going to kill myself.”

I went to my desk and wrote a note to my father:

“Dear papa, I am killing myself because I can’t bear mom’s cruelty any longer.”

I returned to the mirror, feeling much more cheerful.

“Before I kill myself, I’m going to read Leave It to Psmith and have lunch at Blue Nile.”

My reflection gave me a beatific smile. I took the hundred-rupee note hidden deep in the maw of my desk and Leave It to Psmith from my school bag and slipped out from the backdoor.

At Blue Nile, I sat a corner table, ordered a mutton biriyani and tandoori chicken and opened Leave It to Psmith. I love every book written by P.G. Wodehouse but this was my absolute favorite.

As I read, I became enthralled by Psmith’s resourcefulness and how he never lost his cool in spite of all the problems he faced. Though I was reading it again, I enjoyed it even more the second time.

I continued reading even after the waiter ceremoniously placed the biriyani and grilled chicken before me. I read it while I enjoyed the banquet of fragrant aromatic rice with the spicy pieces of meat. I accompanied Psmith as he impersonated a Canadian poet to enter Blanding Castle, outwitted the other imposters in the castle, prevented a necklace from being stolen, and successfully wooed the beautiful Eve Halliday.

In Leave It to Psmith, to illustrate the quality of equanimity, Wodehouse narrates the tale of an Arabian traveler who slept on a patch of grass containing an acorn and discovered when he woke that the warmth of his body had caused the acorn to germinate and he was now sixty feet above the ground in the upper branches of a massive oak. Unable to descend, he said, “I cannot adapt circumstances to my will; therefore I shall adapt my will to circumstances, I choose to stay here.” And he did.

By the time I finished the book, it was four o’clock. I was the only customer in the restaurant and felt contented and pleasantly stuffed. The bill included caramel pudding, mango ice cream and ginger tea. I left the rest of the money to the waiter, who had not disturbed me at all while I read the book.

I returned home, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun on my back. Mom was asleep but she had left my lunch on the table. I went to the mirror and smiled at my reflection.

“Okay, so I flunked Marathi and Hindi. Papa will probably blow his top tonight.”

I held up Leave It to Psmith.

“P.G. Wodehouse says happiness in this world depends chiefly on the ability to take things as they come. And Wodehouse can never be wrong.”

I went to my desk and tore up the suicide note.

Enjoyed this I hope you do!, would love to hear your thoughts on the entries published.

In 8th Postion competition entry

I had many entries and this one I could well related to, so in 8th place!

Fifty Steps

I’ve been ill for over a decade including several months in hospital and a few weeks in Intensive Care.  Since coming out I haven’t been very steady on my feet... everywhere I go I have to have a wall, a person or, more recently, my cane or rollator/walker with me to lean on.  I’m determined to walk on my own and get my independence back but it’s starting to feel like it will never happen.

The fifty steps has to start with the first one though, I’ve just got to find the courage to try and do it.  It’s taken about 7 or 8 years to be able to walk down the stairs while holding onto the rail on one side and the wall on the other side, but at least I’m walking down them instead of bouncing down on my bum like I did when I first came out of hospital!

It’s almost like I’m a young child taking their first steps again, I’m just too big and heavy to lift onto mummy’s hip when I fall now!    I’ve got a wonderful partner and real life friend who don’t seem to mind pulling me to my feet when I fall over and that isn’t happening as much now (cue me falling over and not being able to get up now ).

So, tomorrow I start walking around the bottom part of the house without holding on to walls.  The way I see it is that if I do fall over I can crawl to the bottom of the stairs and use them to get back on my feet.  Wish me luck!  Maybe I should just aim for fifty un-aided steps without restricting myself to being in the house?  Next time I meet up with my friend I’m going to try walking around in the pub not leaning so heavily on my walker?  We’ll have to wait and see!

Maybe taking my dog for her daily walks would be a better start?  There is a wall at the side that I can wobble in to if I need to and my concentration will be on my dog more than staying upright so I won’t feel as pressured to stay on my feet either.

Am I getting ahead of myself?  Should I concentrate on being able to get around the house without holding on before I even think of walking fifty steps outside, just in case I fall over and can’t get up as well as my pup’s lead maybe coming off my wrist and her getting loose!

I’ve never been any good at making up my mind but maybe walking around the house without holding on to walls is the safest and best way forward... not exactly courageous but I’ve got to start somewhere so why not in the house where I feel safest then slowly work up to my fifty steps outside?  Safety first and all that sort of thing?  I’ll do it, I’ve just got to slow down!
Thanks Amanda for a great entry, I hope you all enjoy reading the stories as they are posted!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Now the fun begins, discover your why?

Hello again,
Well the competition is now closed and thanks and best wishes go to all who entered. Thank you also for all the birthday good wishes. I maybe only 50 and a couple of days but it feels good, so maybe 50 is a new beginning.

Your entries are now with the Judges and as soon as I receive the results they will be posted on here, so watch this space.

Some great entries, wish I could give a prize to all but then that would not be much of a competition if everyone received a prize. Do you remember when schooling became all PC and no one could lose. I don't know about you but it felt like we had become cheated somehow, not me personally, schooling in my day was not politically correct. We were taught that healthy competition was good for you but we were also taught it was equalling as important to take part.

It seems these days in some schools of thought there can be no winners or losers, well I am not getting poetical here as I do not think my blog is a place to share my political views. If there was no winners or losers, everyone was to be equal, how would that effect the Olympics for example?

What are your thoughts?

Do you think competition is healthy? or unfair?

As writers we are in an extremely competitive market, millions of new books every year, new authors discovered. Does that discourage you or encourage you?

What gives you your passion to write when there is so much competition?

What drives you to add more words to your work in progress, to build your author's platform?

In short what motivates you to do what we do everyday?

I can only answer for myself on this point, and no its not money, if it was I may have given up as many writers do, the unfinished work stuck in a drawer somewhere, forgotten. No money is a nice to have, for many writers if they were to rely solely on there writing to pay the bills, many would have given up long ago. For most, will need that  day job! I don't but it still not my driving force, maybe if it was I would write more, blog more, get more done!

My motivation is the stories in my head, I want to make sense of them, I want to share them, with my non-fiction I want to help my readers. If it is from the pain they suffer each day, a health tip, cholesterol whatever it is my motivation in my non fiction is to engage change by empowering my readers with information. In my fiction is where I sometimes struggle, because what is a great story to me maybe not so great for others, so I need to find another motivation for my fiction. My driver at the moment is that I never leave something incomplete, it may take me longer to get to the end goal but I will finish what I start.

So if you take one thing away from my blog today, what is your motivation to keep writing?

If you can honestly answer that for yourself, what your driver is, what keeps you going when all you really want is to hit the delete button!! Write it out if necessary, put it somewhere where you can see it easily, remind yourself daily to keep your why alive.

For some people they may need a visual aid to remind them of their why? Their motivation? Their drive?

If that is you, find a picture of it and keep it close. If your sole motivation is money and for many it will be, we all need to pay bills and eat but apart from letters from the bank manager it is not very exciting. So if your driver is money, or success, how do you measure you have achieved it? What do you want to do with it, once you have it?

Once you are earning enough from your writing it maybe to give up the day job, it maybe to buy a better house, lifestyle? What is your dream, discover what your why is and you will have a stronger motivation to continue writing.

Happy writing everyone. Watch this space for the short stories to be posted in next few days.