Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A-Z meme


Tagged by Susanlavonne of Soozphotoz. With whom I seem to have got into a strange kind of synchronicity... but this time at least it shouldn't be a surprise as she tagged me...

accent: Red or blue or turquoise - Oh you didn't mean favourite accent colours? Did you mean voice? Well that'll be English without much to show whereabouts I come from, just the odd Gloucestershire word... but here in Bristol the locals put l's on the end of everything... so here any idea is ideal!

booze: generally none, I seem to have gone off it. Though I used to like champagne...

chore I hate: vacuuming the stairs, cleaning windows...

dogs/cats: none, instead we have frogs with lots of tadpoles in our pond

essential electronics: iMac computer, Canon 350D digital camera

favourite perfume/cologne: Channel No 5

gold/silver: either, both or none... mostly none.

hometown: Cirencester, Gloucestershire

insomnia: I meditate if I can't sleep

job title: label-free!

kids: none

living arrangements: I live with my husband

most admired trait: creative

number of sexual partners: just one at a time thank you

overnight hospital stays: none, but only because I refused to check-in the night before and left as soon as I could, mastering crutches up and down stairs faster than the occupational therapist could believe (removal of the scar tissue from the previous removal of a malignant melanoma)

phobia: none any more, I used to have a phobia of going downwards fast (was awful on escalators) but then I made myself learn to downhill ski - not for fun, just to get over the fear


Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

religion: No religion, but plenty of spirit!

siblings: two brothers and one sister, I'm the eldest

time I usually wake up: anytime between 6.30 and 8.30am

unusual talent: not sure if its a talent but I do attract a lot of synchronicities...

vegetable I refuse to eat: olives - I used to love them, then one day they just started to smell really horrible, and that's continued for 2 years now...

worst habit: considering all my habits adorable...

x-rays: loads.... the first ones I remember were those machines in shoe shops where they looked at your feet to see how well the shoes fit... is that true? Were there such machines?

yummy foods I make: great salads, baked potatoes, excellent vegetable stews

zodiac sign: One of the things that has annoyed me all my life is the assumption that I believe in horoscopes... I'm well aware that lots of people with my interests are also into astrology but I'm not. Since I also do not automatically disbelieve in things either, I have tried it... I got two different people to do charts for me and I was not impressed with the results. And a friend of a friend who earns his living as an astrologer failed to guess my sign at all. A bit of a shame really as I like the characteristics often said to be those for Libra...

You need to get beyond the Barnum/Forer effect... that's the one where you tell someone that they are for instance:

"You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic."

(For more see wikipedia on Barnum Effect)

And if you are still reading after that rant at the end, please consider yourself tagged! And if you wish I had tagged you by name, please do feel that I did.

Monday, May 29, 2006

MMM: My memorial...

Mixed Media Memoir: My Memorial...

See more Mixed Media Memoirs

Its sometime since I posted a Mixed Media Memoir. In fact I think its over 2 months... whoops, sorry Melba...

For this topic I imagined having to account for my time to an audience of my ancestors. I seem to have turned into a mermaid to do this presentation but that's what happens when you get a fish to do your paintings for you. (A recurring theme in some of my previous MMMs)
"She liked to play
She loved to create.
She explored with
her heart, her mind
and her soul.
She loved the essence
in everyone of us
and in all living things."
Well that's something to live up to isn't it!

This audience has featured in a Camel Exchange picture. If you visit you will be able to see the new map that Johnny Norms has created with thumbnails of all the pictures so far.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Illustration Friday - Cake

Layer Cake

This is a layer cake that is growing at the Camel Exchange - please feel free to add a layer. Layers so far from JohnnyNorms and Caroline (that's me!).
Rules such as they are can be found here.

Illustration Friday - Cake

Mixed Media - pineapple upside-down cake (see below for recipe), candles and photo then played with in Painter IX

(And just in case you don't get the joke this really is mixed media, as in mixing a cake... )

It was Jim's birthday during the week so he took today off to make an even longer weekend and of course we baked the cake today too. How convenient!

The recipe we used was a varaition of one featured in the April 2006 issue of BBC Good Food and comes from Gregg Wallace's "Veg, the greengrocer's cookbook".

For the base

1 pineapple (there are lots in the shops at the moment)
3 oz dark muscado sugar
3 oz butter
1.5 oz flaked almonds (as much as we had to hand - the recipe called for 3 oz)
some pecans (to augment the almonds - not used in the original recipe)
8 maraschino cherries (the recipe called for 4oz natural glace ones)

For the batter

9 oz butter
9 oz light muscavado sugar
4 eggs
8 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 oz ground almonds
2 tbsp rum (or pineapple juice)

Go out and buy 22cm / 8 in square tin. Wash it.

Oven: 190 C / 170 C (fan) / Gas 5 / 375 F

Peel pineapple. Slice. Discuss how thick the slices ought to be. The recipe says finger-thick... but what sort of specification is that? We found that 4 slices were enough but the picture showed 9... they must have used a much smaller pineapple. Remember to core the slices. It says reseve any juice... well if you used canned that's probably a good suggestion.

Cream butter and sugar. This starts off with you congratulating yourself for having left the butter out to get soft. But then you get sugar and butter over so many utensils that the congratulations stop and you have to clean up a bit before you go on and smooth this mix all over the inside of the 22cm square tin.

Scatter the almonds around getting some on the sides and the bottom of the tin. Place the slices of pineapple neatly in the base. Fill the centres of the pineapple with as many cherries as you can (that was Jim's variation). Add pecans in all the gaps. (Well worth doing as they really were a yummy addition).

Then the best bit of the recipe is where it says "Tip all the batter ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth". It forgot to tell me I really ought to have put an apron on first... and that Jim who always remembers his apron will therefore take over this thus leaving me to tidy up...

Pour the batter over the pineapple slices etc.

Bake. It said 50 mins - 1 hour but was cooked after 47 min. We could smell that it was ready. It says you can tell its ready when its puffed up and golden.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a bit. It says so that the cake can relax... (What do cakes do to relax?)

Find something on which you can turn it out. In our case that meant putting some foil over the bread board.

Loosen the cake all around the edges gently then put the board on top and turn.

Decorate the cake with candles.

If eating it hot its good with custard and is more like a pudding.

And you really shouldn't look at the estimate of the kcalories per serving...

Of course having read the New Scientist this week you'll know that to lose weight you need to sleep more. (Okay that's a gross over-generalisation)

Then blog it and struggle for a while with blogger to publish it... and get into trouble with IF's Penelope as she thought it was just a photo... but now I've added in the Camel Exchange picture so I should be back within the rules of Illustration Friday except for being in the wrong categories and showing the wrong thumbnail of course...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The next doll?

First design of back of doll

Digitally created pattern for the back of a possible doll. For the complete pattern see doll 3 in Creative Cloth Doll Making by Patti Medaris Cuela. (My first doll, that I posted about on Saturday, also came from this book)

I was working on this design for the next doll's back and had got to the point where I was experimenting with adding some fish when the doorbell went and when I opened it the chap there said he was "Steve the fish man"... As my ex-husband was called Steve I don't really want to make a doll called Steve! And I had already mentally been calling her Coral...

I'd also picked a couple of passages from Jane Austen's Persuasion to use as text on the body... one of them was:
"She stopt to blush and laugh at her own relapse, and then resumed a more serious, more dispiriting cogitation upon what had been, and might be, and must be."
And the other a much longer passage that starts:
"It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on shore, fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly tempted; actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the speed which a clear head and a quick taste could allow...."
I had it all ready to print out to see how well it worked as material when I discovered that I'd bought the wrong type of cotton sheet to go through the printer - I'd got one that was meant to be ironed onto something else. So my experiment will have to wait until I've got hold of the right sort. Maybe by the time that comes I'll have decided on a different design altogether... I do feel that Jane Austen was influencing my design a lot here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wardrobe - what wardrobe?

The Wardrobe Refashion Pledge

I Caroline,

Pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months.

I Pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle pre-loved items for myself for the term of my contract.

I Pledge that I shall create and craft items of clothing for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract.

I Pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftiness brings!

I rarely buy new clothes so I doubt I'll have trouble with keeping that side of the pledge for the next couple of months - but what I'm interested in is revamping some of my old clothes or inventing new ones. As a child I used to create all sorts of clothes out of newspaper, some of which would get translated into fabric - I found this a lot more fun than the proper dressmaking that someone attempted to teach me in needlework classes at school - talk about how to kill an interest for me - you take all the creativity out and call all experiments errors!

As a student I used to haunt jumble sales and charity shops and though its ages since I've been to a jumble sale I still haunt the charity shops. There are lots near here:

Amnesty Bookshop, 103 Gloucester Rd - books from 20p
British Heart Foundation, 191 Gloucester Rd
Cancer Research, 9-10 Gloucester Rd
Marie Curie Cancer Care, 107 Gloucester Rd
Mind, 167 Gloucester Rd
St. Peter's Hospice, 95, Gloucester Rd
Sue Ryder Foundation, 145 Gloucester Rd
Tenovus, 181 & 285 Gloucester Rd

As far as previous experiences of altering clothes go I had one pair of trousers that I would doodle on in biro whilst I was wearing them and then take them off and embroider the doodle. I've added various embroideries to other things too but nothing at all recently. Like most people I've hacked the ends off a pair of jeans to make cut-off shorts. And once I went so far as to screen print some T-shirts... now much more easily done by printing out iron-on transfers... I did one of those last year... but nothing since I've been blogging...

If you want to join in you need to sign up soon - registrations will be closed once it gets started until the end of July when the first 2 month stint is up. Visit Wardrobe Refashion

Is there anything that you used to like to do that seems to have fallen by the wayside since you've been blogging?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Three Wishes

Wishing Fairy

Doll crafted from a peg and scraps of material.
Photo then manipulated in Painter IX

Sunday Scribblings prompt today is "Three Wishes"

Once upon a time not so very long ago, nor so very far away, but just long enough ago and far enough away to be beyond the reach of you today. Or maybe not. Once in this time there was a girl. She was the apple of her father's eye, the pearl in her mother's oyster, the darling of the whole family and yet...

And yet she had more curiosity than in that time and in that place was considered good for little girls. This being a time when the little girl who was considered good was the one who was also obedient and did not speak unless spoken to. To ask questions was to test the patience of all around her.

And to wander off exploring was a going-to-bed-without-any-supper act the first time, a being spanked on the bottom plus a week's worth of no suppers the second time. So you may be surprised to learn that there was a third time. Yet there was.

Peony, for that was the little girl's name had wandered off again, she did not mean to wander off. She was aware that wandering off might bring about the most terrible punishment if she did not return in time to have not been missed. Yet wander she had. She was a daydreamer and did not really notice that she was no longer in her own garden but had crossed the brook and was wandering in the wood beyond. A wood that all told her was full of fairies and everyone knew that if a fairy got hold of a little girl then that little girl would never be seen again.

As she dreamed herself along Peony imagined meeting the fairies and wondered what she would do if they met. And rather than seeing herself being carried away for a year and a day or even a hundred and one years she imagined instead that they offered her three wishes. And these were her wishes:

To always be able to appreciate the world in all its glory - to see it as she did now even when grown up - she knew that none of the adults in her life had this gift and this was to be her first wish.

To have the gift of being able to help whomever she met and that this help would be accepted gladly.

And the third wish was that the fairy itself could have whatever it wished - it seeming so mean to use them all up on herself.

And as she thought these wishes she heard a voice say "Granted".

She went home and she had not been missed. She became a story teller, she learnt to ask her questions in ways that people were happy to hear and to answer in their hearts and deeds. And of course she was always a friend of the fairies having given them what they most desired of all, which was of course to be able to stop offering everyone wishes and to be able to get on with their own lives.

Peony did indeed live happily ever after.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A doll day

Cloth Doll

This morning in the post I got an article that my mother-in-law had sent me from one of her local magazines. It was about a group calling themselves The Dolly Birds. My mother-in-law remembered seeing the doll (above) I'd made in 2003 and thought I might be interested to know that there was a doll group somewhere in the UK even if not near me.

This evening there was someone at our door. It was a young woman who said, with a lovely accent, that she was a Russian student and to fund herself she was selling Russian goods. So I bought a matryoshka from her.

Russian Dolls

I chose this one as it had different faces on each doll and made me laugh!

Anyone following closely will recall that in February I posted a Mixed Media Memoir with a Russian Doll as part of it. At the time I'd gone looking for one and only found a keyring. She was selling ones like that too.

The other interesting thing today is that in the Guardian I noticed an article about hypnosis and NLP. His conclusion was that he didn't like the way it was being taught but when given a session with Paul McKenna on his own it worked really well. And three weeks later the thing that had been fixed - "[a] somewhat obsessive conviction that something bad has happened to my wife and son when I can't get hold of them on the phone" - is still fixed.

For those of you who read my posting on the one class in hypnosis I'd had three weeks ago today may be glad to know that I've been using self-hypnosis very successfully since then, so although I'm not likely to let anyone else actively use it on me again I am getting plenty of benefits from being able to access the hypnotic state.

Now I'm working on increasing my mindfulness with the help of this book:

Beginning Mindfulness: Learning the Way of Awareness by Andrew Weiss (uk)

Illustration Friday - Sorry

Illustration Friday - Sorry

For more versions of Sorry see Illustration Friday.

This week I drew using first pencil then felt pens whilst listening to "Sorry, Sorry" by Idha which Jim played for me to get inspiration. I then scanned it and played with it in Painter IX... which is how its become mixed media.

Earlier I'd asked him what the word sorry meant to him - he said it meant sorry he'd been caught! And that meant he could say it entirely without lying when it was demanded from him as a child.

What does sorry mean to you?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A red, red background


Inspired by Try It Tuesdays to finally get messy with my new acrylics.

I used a gecko stamp on it but that's hard to spot now. At least I know its there!

The instructions suggested using a heat gun to speed up the drying - unfortunately I'd used some old plastic bags to protect the table top... now all shrunk and winkled by the heat around the edges!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006



These three monsters are the consequence of a game three of us played last night. Parts were drawn by my husband Jim, our friend Willz and me. We folded the three pieces of paper so the next person would just see where to join on but not what had already been drawn.

I've also put this on the Camel Exchange as its clearly a collaborative doodle already and might be fun for someone to add something to.

Are there any drawing games you like to play?

Monday, May 15, 2006

IF - Angels and Devils

IF - Angels and Devils

This illustration is a collaboration done by some of the people at the Camel Exchange - go there to join in! Anyone can play whether they are a member of the blog or not.

This particular doodle was started by Zinkibaru here, added to by Johnnynorms here and now I've added to it.

For more illustrations see IF

This theme came with a great synchronicity. Jim had just finished reading a copy of Going Postal by Terry Pratchett and on Friday evening I opened it up to discover that the first chapter was called "Angel". Unfortunately I then got more involved in reading the book than doing an illustration... whoops!
Today I started trawling through the Camel Exchange archives to see if there was something to play with - all the images already there are free to be played with provided you let us know so we can put your contribution up too - and came across something that fit the theme already. Rather than just repost it as it was, in true Camel Exchange style I added a bit more to it. If you prefer one of the other stages you can take that and play with it instead.

Happy doodling!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The books I would write...

The books I would write...

The books I would write if I wrote would cover all manner of subjects and matter. I'd write some self help books:

The Shaman's Guide to Self-Divination - would be all about using cards and runes to read what is going on now within oneself. If I could figure out what is going on well enough to write it I'd write this one first... but it will have to wait a while...

Then there would be "Techniques for talking to yourself when you aren't mad". I'd write this one mostly to reassure myself.

Then there is my autobiography called "My life before now" I'd have to keep on updating it as now is always current. Maybe a blog would be a better format for the updates once the bulk was written.

There would be 3 books on spirituality called: Walking the path, Working the path and Weeding the path. Very Zen.

There would be a book of poetry called "Going Metric" which would be an interactive poetry book. The reader would be encouraged to write replies to each poem as they read them. Much more fun!

But I'd start with some fiction. When I was little I used to love the Arabian Nights. I recall one summer when the tent was up on our lawn and I sat inside writing my own version. I'd write versions of many classic fairy tales but start them beyond their normal ends. This would be "Happy Ever After?"

Here is the first paragraph of the short story about Cinderella's daughter

Cinderella gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Like all babies the girl was red and wrinkly and only her mother loved her, though King Charming was very kind about it and happy to see his wife so happy too. By the age of two it was clear that the ugly sisters were beauties compared to little Nobella. Poor Cinderella what was she to do? She'd imagined proudly showing off her daughter as she grew; instead she began secretly consulting Good Fairies, White Witches and when they all failed to make even the slightest improvement she realised she would have to try the Worst Witch. The Worst Witch was quick to diagnose the problem; Cinders' daughter was cursed from before birth. The Worst Witch knew this because of course it had been she who had been paid to cast it, though she did not mention that part of it.

For more book fantasies see Sunday Scribblings.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The ABC of Dieting


Created entirely digitally in Painter IX

Jim, my husband, is vegetarian (no meat or fish). He thought he might spend most of a month where on each day he only ate things that began with the letter for that day. (He was wondering about doing this in December so he can cheat on X and have Xmas Cake, Xmas pudding and maybe even Xmas Dinner all on Christmas Eve.)

The diet starts well.

On the first day he gets: apples, apricots, artichokes, asparagus, ackee, almonds, aubergine (unless he decides to call it egg-plant and eat it on E-day).

On the second day he gets: bananas, beans, beets, broccoli, Brie, bread, butter (but no bacon, remember he is vegetarian).

On the third day he gets: carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, cress, corn chips, cheddar cheese (but not cabbage or celery because he doesn't care for them).

And then comes D-day and all he can find are: dates and damsons

Can anyone help?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: My shoes


This drawing is available to be played with at the Camel Exchange where anyone can join in with the collaborative doodles.

Sunday Scribblings : My Shoes

My shoes, my shoes I don't know what to do... I try to draw a boot and out of the paper pops a bird...

I was recently asked if I'd worn Doc Marten's when Jim and I got married in 2000... and all because I had, perhaps somewhat unusually, decided to take the photos myself... who needs a photographer to order you about at your own wedding!

My shoes, my shoes I know what I'll do... I'll write about my favourite ever pair of shoes.

But I don't have a favourite pair.

Why is that, do you have lots?

No, I don't particularly like shoes at all.

Isn't that unusual?

What do you mean, am I somehow not a real woman because I don't actually have a million, zillion pairs of beautiful shoes?

No, no of course I didn't mean that, at least I didn't mean you to mean that...

Okay, when I was little my mother always bought me sensible shoes. I had broad feet and it was hard to find any let alone pretty ones. I got teased in the playground for wearing decent shoes that were so unlike everyone elses. And as my feet grew to be longer than her's my mother called me "L-shaped", ignoring that I was already taller than her too. I don't have good associations with shoes.

Are you sure you didn't wear Doc Marten's to your wedding?

Yes of course I am. I've had one pair, a flowery pair, and I couldn't get comfortable in them no matter what I wore between me and them. I gave them to a charity shop.

Ah so is comfort the issue?

Yes of course. Who would want to wear shoes that felt unpleasant?

Aha... I see your mother was successful then.

What do you mean?

Well you are more interested now in how they feel than how they look? And you think that is normal.

Well yes.

But is it?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Illustration Friday - Fat

Illustration Friday - Fat

Illustration Friday's theme today is fat and, as I'd already been inspired by Andrea to explore my inner pear, I went out and bought the fattest pear I could find. I had originally thought I'd do this in "real media" but digital got me and I drew it from scratch in Painter IX and then played with various colours and brushes for a while. Finally I used a canvas and lighting effect. At that point in the image I was working on a face seemed to appear so I stopped. Not sure if its so visible here...

Inspire Me Thursday: Let's Go Digital & Getting in Touch With Yourself


Inspire Me Thursday
's theme is "Let's Go Digital" which is, of course, where I often am... This is a pineapple played around with in Painter IX.

I'm eating a lot of pineapples at the moment. Yum!

Getting in Touch With Yourself

Thank you all for the good vibes and hugs that you sent me. Maybe they are why when I woke up this morning I had what seems to be a good idea in my head.

Logically the problems that I have had, have not been helped by being logical and so therefore its illogical to carry on using logic to solve them.

In particular re-reading my post from yesterday I was struck by my emphasis on how much goes on in one's body without one having to understand it at all. And I understood then that too much of the time I've been trying to understand things which do not need understanding to work properly, they just need to be allowed to happen.

I have also been reading enough about hypnosis to understand that there are plenty of people out there who think they can hypnotise you whether you want to be hypnotised or not and without any sort of permission. Whether they do this ethically or not is up to them.

However this is where the word hypnosis gets confusing as they seem to mean micro-hypnotisms not full-scale slumped over trance.

In other words there are ways to implant suggestions that use hypnotic techniques without you being aware of having gone into trance. And of course therapists also use these quite ethically as part of a treatment whilst others use them for their own gain (e.g. in sales).

There are also lots of people saying that one only accepts suggestions that are congruent with your core values. What this seems to mean to me is "don't blame me, you agreed". This is not surprising given the litigious culture we live in. It also quiets any moral misgivings the successful salesman or seducer might have. And it also lets the therapist who fails to help you off the hook too... since clearly your core values were such that you could not be helped in this instance... they have it all ways.

But I'm getting off the point... this morning I woke with this suggestion to myself in my head.

It was:

Imagine each vertebra is communicating its long-suppressed, long-ignored or long-overridden messages to whichever parts of me it needs to be in touch with.

I found myself stretching and yawning (not something I've done on waking in a long time).

When I got up I started using this formula on various different parts of myself by naming them, e.g. tongue, jaw, pelvis... and then I altered it a bit and tried putting my hands on parts that hold tension and saying the same thing but like this:

Imagine this area is communicating its long-suppressed, long-ignored or long-overridden messages to whichever parts of me it needs to be in touch with.

After a few of these I felt the urge to smooth myself all over - as though I was in a shower and soaping myself with this idea. And it does indeed seem to have cleaned me up a lot ;-)

So I was doing this entirely consciously but I wasn't asking myself to make the messages conscious. Just with the intention that whatever messages had got stuck could now be passed on safely. And I intend to try the same thing next time I have some part of me hurting or stiff or in some other way asking for attention.

So once again, thank you all for your good intentions!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

200th post & IF: Under the Sea


For over 700 other illustrations of "Under the sea" see: Illustration Friday.

On Saturday I attended the first day of a class in clinical hypnosis. One of the images they used was that of an iceberg. Equating our conscious selves to the small portion that is above the water but the larger unseen bulk of the iceberg is of course "under the sea".

I did this picture on Saturday after the course but I did not post straight away because I was extremely unhappy. And I don't like to post when I am unhappy. What's more this is my 200th posting and I wanted it to be fun! You might notice that in fact what I've depicted are people entirely submerged... maybe that's a clue. The people were first drawn in my journal and I couldn't stop drawing them like that, all swirly eyes and entirely under the sea.

What is hypnosis?

Its easier to describe what isn't hypnosis... When you are asleep you are not hypnotised. So all the different states of sleep - REM (dreaming) etc. are not hypnosis.

However when one is awake how much of what goes on is actually conscious? You know that your breathing doesn't need you to be "doing" it - it just does itself. You know that's true for all the things looked after by our autonomic nervous system (e.g. blood flow, heart beat, digestion, hormone levels etc.). And you are probably also aware that there are things that come in and out of awareness - like the name of that actor... you know the one who was in all those chocolate movies... that's it Deep, I mean Depp... ;-)

Hypnosis seems to me to be a state where the not-conscious part of you is in control. You have some conscious awareness at the time though you may or may not actually recall what happened later.

A hypnotist actively engages with your not-conscious self. A clinical hypnotherapist does this to help you overcome some sort of block or problem. So for instance many people successfully stop smoking after seeing such a therapist. One reason I had for wishing to train was that I would like to help those who wish to stop smoking because my father died from lung cancer and it wasn't pretty.

Of course its not just hypnotists who are interested in influencing our not-conscious selves. All the advertising that we are bombarded with is hoping to influence us, all the groups to which we belong want us to have a certain mindset to act the way they want us to and we are all products of concerted efforts to educate us... we have all learnt a lot and the action of learning engages our not conscious selves far more than the conscious - how much of what you know is conscious?

Much of what we do is not actually rational, though we may give good reasons when we get there... okay that's what I do you may well have a different method. I studied Maths and the only way I could solve many things was by letting my not-conscious self come up with the answer (or a step along the way) and then working out how to get there logically... and sometimes it turned out to be the wrong answer... my not-conscious self wasn't always right but it was better at maths than my conscious self on its own. Together I had a pretty powerful combination.

Some of us have been labelled as having "irrational" fears or "psychosomatic" symptoms. I have. What is frustrating is that all too often you are given that label but then no help in undoing the problem. If it had been something you could sort out for yourself consciously you wouldn't have it as a problem would you? I've even been told after an unsuccessful course of psychotherapy that my problems were psychosomatic... as though that absolved them from helping! So where does one turn?

Well you go to the people who are actively working with the not-conscious.

Which brings me back to the course. I have already trained in several alternative therapies which work in ways that may or may not be magical but certainly are not just focused on the conscious self. I have done a lot of trance work too, I've already used self-hypnosis and shamanic trance to great effect. I thought that training in clinical hypnosis would give me more techniques for helping others and possibly more ways to help myself too.

Unfortunately I was too keen and I volunteered for the first demonstration, billed just as a demonstration to show "the power of the mind". I gave permission for him to touch my hand. I did not give permission for him to inflict pain on me. However what he was demonstrating was what he later called the "analgesic glove". This involves making one hand cold and for the time that one is in hypnosis much less able to feel pain.

The demonstration worked very well, he did a deep bruising pinch on my left hand that I only felt as a touch and then pinched sharply on the right hand (slightly tearing the skin) which I wasn't expecting and caused me to yelp. He finished off with some general positive suggestions and brought me out of trance.

Throughout the rest of the day I was more subdued than usual, though as no-one there knew me they would not have noticed this. When he mentioned that people could resist suggestions that they were not prepared to accept I piped up with instances where I had done so. In fact almost everything I said to him after that, I now realise, were expressions of resistance. It wasn't until I got home that I started to cry. And cry I did (as well as draw the heads with funny eyes in my illustration). I was actually not too worried about the first evenings crying - after all sometimes it helps to have a good cry and let it all out but the next day was much worse and I noticed my internal negative self-talk was extraordinary. And the pain in my hands was awful - even today, 5 days after the demonstration, I still have visible bruising.

By Monday afternoon I knew I needed help and I eventually rang one of the teachers I had trained with in the past. She helped a lot. But it has still taken until today for me to feel like blogging about it.

I have withdrawn from that course though I am still very interested in hypnosis. I am however now extremely wary of allowing anyone to actively put me into trance.

Does anyone have any positive experiences of hypnosis to share?