Sunday, March 30, 2008

W is for Wyrd, Weird, Wierd, Wired?

W is for Wyrd
Book: Wyrd Allies: harnessing the chaos in your relationships by Tom Graves.

Yesterday I was in the Amnesty Bookshop. On Saturdays its much busier than on weekdays but I had a strong feeling there was something in there to find... I looked in all the usual places... but I wasn't finding it... I did notice though that quite a few books were very much not where they ought to be... so I had to follow my nose... I found this book, Wyrd Allies by Tom Graves, on top of the history books! (It ought really to have been in one of: self-help, esoteric or psychology - all of which I had already looked in, along with natural history...)

When I picked it up I had an internal struggle part of me was keen and part very not... how interesting... early on in the book he describes this weird feeling, the one where we have a real choice. And yes this book tackles exactly what I've been fretting over here recently the interweaving of fate and choice.

Something I especially like about this book is its list of further reading. He has 4 sections the last of which is fiction with only three books in it:

Bryan Bates - The Way of Wyrd
Marion Campbell - The Dark Twin
Alan Garner - The Owl Service

These books map onto my life like this:

The Owl Service was read to us at primary school, on Friday afternoons, sitting out under the big walnut tree in the playing field.
The Dark Twin, was a book I borrowed from the public library several times in my teens.
The Way of Wyrd, was a book my ex-husband had, and that the next man in my life said was the reason he'd gone out with me (thinking it was mine of course)...

Good enough reason to pay attention to the book itself!

I'll let you know how it goes...

Last Monday Jim was in Wales going up Pen-y-Fan with friends. Now he is in Norway and is learning to snowshoe!

There are only a few wolves in Norway so he probably won't meet any. However in Bristol I keep on bumping into them:

Old American Style Public Telephone

Even the wine I bought yesterday was from Wolf Blass! Must be the little red riding hood effect...

Update: You can read some of Wyrd Allies by Tom Graves on the web.

Friday, March 28, 2008


One of the things about blogging is that when you read someone else's blog you have no idea how much of what they present as themselves is real... there are people who enjoy pretending to be different in all sorts of ways... and suddenly reading Oscar Wilde's quote I realise that my problem is that I've been attempting not to pretend. Does that make sense?

Dru commented on my Real Illusiions post --- "dodgy things, facts. I prefer truth, so usually only read fiction." which is another way of putting this.

In a past relationship I found the only way to get real emotions out into the open was if we both used glove puppets to speak through.

And so in the light of this here are the values I've finally come up with, though through a different process from the one Carla suggested:

Synchronicity - I just love synchronicities and though I don't necessarily ascribe "meaning" to them, some do feel quite meaningful... on Tuesday I was in a charity shop and wondered about buying this scarab paperweight. I didn't. I went in again yesterday and was glad to see it was still there what's more it was half price so I bought it:

This may not be a "golden scarab" but as a scarab its a good representation of synchronicity.

Today I saw this fridge magnet and I'd bought it as it's message is to "follow your bliss". Maybe a value in itself as well as the message that came through loud and clearly, via synchronicity, the day I first visited Carla's wings4you blog. (And doesn't it fit this metal pencil tin well!)

If you like it you might like to go to the website mentioned on its back: Where there are lots of other things apart from magnets.

Other values that come up for me:

Self-governing - as in the freedom to make my own choices, assuming freewill does exist, if it doesn't then this is moot. However the make-believe I had to play to do this exercise required me to use the model of freewill existing, otherwise there was no point to values (see Monday's post for where that tangled line took me!)

Non-belief - to be as free from beliefs as I can be. One of the difficulties of language is that describing an experience is almost impossible to do without using words that I and other people put down to beliefs. In general I attempt to work with different models and chuck them out when they aren't working for me. Provided I notice... and am not over-invested in them... so yes I value non-belief, I just don't always manage it.

Seeing one's self in the reflections of others
- and the complimentary aspect of that is realising that other people are mostly seeing their own stuff when they react to me! I mean here the tendency one might have to like or dislike certain people, or things about them, when really its one's own's stuff being projected outwards.

Oneness - I was reading yesterday one of those things about how every breath you take is likely to have molecules in it that have been breathed by most of the famous, infamous, people in the past, as well as all the rest of course... that's one physical example, another is the sheer interdependence we all have on one another and the ecosystem that supports us. On a more spiritual level there is also the, occasional, experience of really being one with everything and everyone. I first had this when I was 8, but unlike many more mystical people it hasn't kept me all good and saintly... its very easy to let myself be pushed back into the shell that is me and to forget this.

Facts and Fiction - well that's how I've got to here so I suppose it must count as a working value for me today!

So there I am with 7 core values, or at least things that might be values.

Monday, March 24, 2008

100% Hits: The Best of 2007

My crop of "Reverence?" by seeks2dream

After getting nowhere fast this morning I happened on Imelda's posting about a woman who has been told she's only a year left to live. Imelda asks: If this past year had been your last year on earth, what in it would have left you glad at the end?

One thing - learning to smile even when in pain and finding that a true smile (not a grin and bear it grimace) really does ease the pain. Especially the half-smile of the Buddha.

Real Illusions

Rainbows in the eye of the beholder

This is a photo Jim took of the back of my camera after I'd taken a shot of some wet rooftops that were shining brightly yesterday. His new camera has a supermacro mode which worked well - we had to shade everything with a cloth, like the users of really old fashioned cameras, to keep out as much external light as possible. He managed to capture the rainbow moire patterns that I'd noticed had appeared on my screen - they make it much more interesting than the original!

This week Carla's challenge is about "Finding Your Core". Leah mentioned another site, Creative Therapy, and they are on week 2, their catalyst this week is "A place you go to find your center. It can be imaginary or real or anything in between." So centre or core? Real of imaginary? Hmm... tricky one!

What if there really isn't anything in the core? Its all just an illusion showing up in everyday life? Like an interference pattern... That's how I feel today... and its not as negative as you might think! I'm smiling and happy as I think it. Or perhaps I should say the body that writes this has a smile on its face and a twinkle in its eye...

Carla suggests looking at peak moments - but there is no peak beyond now. This moment. All the rest is simply memory and from what I've experienced and what I've read about memories they are rather unreliable!

There was an interesting experiment after 9/11. Some memory researchers got various eyewitnesses to write up their experiences immediately afterwards. Then some time later they went back to them and asked for their accounts again. When compared the two naturally showed inconsistencies but the strange part was, the part the researchers didn't expect, was that the participants said their current versions were the most accurate! (And sorry I don't have a reference, this was on the radio one morning and I'm relying on my memory of it...)

In my own past I used to do what was called "knowledge acquisition" this was where we found out specialist knowledge and then formulated it in a way that a computer could use to make "expert" suggestions, decisions, analysis etc. Many experts were entirely unaware of what their expertise was really based on.

When learning how to do this I was told about the classic case in the development of a system that was intended to tell when a cheese was mature. The expert did this by pressing it and could then tell if the cheese was ready. The system developers made things with which to press the cheese and measure its elasticity, etc. Later it turned out that the expert was unaware that what they were really doing was sniffing the cheese - it wasn't touch that was important at all, except to release the smell!

So this exercise isn't really working for me today...

I'd got to this rather unsatisfactory point when I took a break.

I turned on the radio and the programme was about pubs called "The Black Boy" and the history of it as a name. With lots of theories mostly connected to Charles the Second and not the slave trade as one might expect. The programme ended up in The Black Boy Inn on Whiteladies Road in Bristol so bringing it as close to me as it could!

It certainly illustrated how meanings can be other than they seem and in this case the most likely answer really is a conspiracy theory - that of the royalists drinking a secret toast "to the black boy over the sea". A constructed illusion to deflect suspicion from them.

Looks like I'm going to have to sleep on this one!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood

Yesterday after finishing Carla's Zen Luggage exercise I noticed she'd posted something more on Wings 4 You Coaching. Its a fascinating insight into the difference between self-esteem built on one's own self-perception and that built solely on other's approval. She says that she's often encountered self-esteem written as self-of-steam! This seems like a wonderful eggcorn (Jim introduced me to these last month and I've still to entirely disentangle them from malapropisms) but Carla called it an oronym - yet another word with probably yet another subtle difference in meaning. What's more she provided a great link on oronyms.

I confess I only read the beginning of the link she provided at first... but when my first attempt at commenting on her post was refused by typepad (and indeed the whole post had disappeared too) I went back to the link and read it properly. At the end is the story of Little Red Riding Hood written out in oronyms (or homophones). This is Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. (I've provided the wikipedia link to it there). And here you'll find a spoken version.

And so another string of synchroncities begins...

I was struck by Ladle Rat Rotten Hut because in 1986 (±1) I narrated this at a works do. The rest of the team I was in played the parts. I've not seen this strange variation on the story since.

I've mentioned fate and my struggle to understand how much or indeed whether its fixed and one of the books I've been idly reading is the one in the photo above - Chance, Luck and Destiny by Peter Dickinson. It was written in the mid-70s and came, as so many of my books do, from the Amnesty second-hand bookshop, a few days ago.

Last night I got to the third section - Destiny - and he gives this diagram of possible alternative happenings for Little Red Riding Hood:

I'm wondering what the moral of this is...

Don't trust a wolf dressed up in your grandmother's clothing?
Only interesting versions of stories are told, the rest are ignored or forgotten.
Don't wear a red hoodie.
Don't trust the wild things...
All the better to see you...

Any more suggestions?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

360 degrees of freedom

This is my collage for my affirmation board the final step in the exercise Carla set this week.

See my previous posting today for the affirmations themselves.

Carla called this exercise Your Zen Suitcase™ - I called it Zen Luggage saying I objected to the trademark - but then I realised the real reason why... on March 5th (the day before Carla started her "Wings 4 You Coaching" blog) Jim and I had been to the zoo. In the centre of the collage, carrying, not a suitcase but a rucksack, and acting as my sherpa, is Jim at the zoo. He is proving that his wingspan is wide though not quite as wide as the biggest birds - behind his head the sign says "Spread Your Wings" - his head is covering the Y....

I am glad I spotted this synchronicity!

Jim's support is one of the things I'd like to acknowledge and affirm, something that I value very much. I'm very glad that he is in my life.

I've also included: chocolate, a Zen zafu with art supplies on it and a magnet, someone else's lucky old shoe, a photo taken using a fisheye, a faceted bead that creates another effect, a completed crossword (mostly done by Jim!), a camera and a few other things that seemed appropriate.

P.S. This is my 360th post on this blog - hence the title of this post.

Looking for Answers

On Monday I didn't get all that far with Carla's exercise so I'm having another go now. Here's a magically bubbling mug of cocoa for you whilst I delve into my mind once more.

Metaphors to make more literal, the ones that I feel apply to my life right now:

Tornado, Dragon, Knight, Stranger, Fate

Tornado - air that spins with great force

Air is often said to be the element of the talker, the intellect, the analytical. And I can definitely see how a tornado that spins, but within which I can find a still centre is my mind. When it spins and I'm not in the centre I'm thrown all over the place! When I'm in the still centre I can stay calm no matter what.

Qualities: strong , still-centred, able to talk to anyone


I am very good at talking to strangers.
I have a calm centre.
I can listen well too.
My mind is one of my strengths.
Words have power.

Dragon - mythical, powerful, cold blooded, fire-breathing, gold-hoarding, flying, cave-dwelling riddler

Well that expansion of dragon covers all the elements and more... I remember reading that we all have a lizard brain... I see this as an instinctive aspect. Intuitive too. I used to draw pictures of a dragon called Boot. And I also have an old boot charm that I sometimes wear. Its meant to be lucky I think though I've no idea why. On the hoarding, I prefer to hoard artist supplies to gold.

I am intuitive.
I am one of the most complex animals on this planet; a human!
I am creative.
I have the great good fortune to own many artist supplies.
I have ancient roots.

Knight - crusader, armour-plated, defensive, aggressive fighter

I see this as my apparently rational self. Sometimes over-rational. And certainly at times over defensive... It has good sides though. The Knight in me is at its best when its applying its logic appropriately and solving the riddles set by the guardians of strange places!

I have a strong intellect.
I am able to do problem solving in an abstract way.
I can be logical.
I can do useful analysis.
My mind is a tool that has been trained, via mathematics, to work as a pattern-finder.

Stranger - seeing everything as new, through the eyes of a stranger

This is the ability to see things as though never seen before. I love it when I do this! Many of the values of things like drawing for me are to put me into this state where I love what I see everything has beauty. This is the part of me that revels in synchronicity!

I am able to see with the eyes of love, the eyes of an artist, the eyes of a child.
I can draw and when I draw I see things differently.
I love to create splashy paintings and then see what is there to be seen.
I adore synchronicities and revel in them.
I am curious and love to explore.

Fate - the fixed path, lack of choice

This is the one I'm most ambivalent about finding the positives in. And yes ambivalence seems exactly the right word here. Like most people I act as though I can decide and that my decisions make a difference. And like most people I expect others to do the same.

But... but given our inability to know the consequences of our choices how much choice do we really have? Its only in hindsight that we can truly say we'd rather have done something else and yet even then we cannot know that the outcome would have been better, we cannot wind the clock back and try the other road.

I've gone into deep metaphysics, philosophy and science searching for the answer to this one and worryingly, from that rational choice-making Knight's point of view, there isn't much to support the concept of "freedom of choice" except for our own earnest belief and desire that we have it!

So the challenge here is to see what the positives are that might be drawn out of the view that indeed we are fated to be and do whatever it is we are and do... I'll word this one differently, because of my ambivalence:

Fate brings me humility, all my achievements just are.
Fate brings me compassion, others are swept up and helpless.
Fate brings me forgiveness, others have no choice.
Fate brings me self-forgiveness, I need not blame myself just as I no longer blame others.
Fate brings me surrender, there is no need to fight so why not enjoy life as it is!

Whew - tough exercise, Carla!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Windows on Reality

Sunset through the window

Yesterday I posted about doing affirmations the HK way. The HK ones tend to be goals which we are aiming towards though worded as though already present.

Today I'll do the affirmations Carla's way. The ones she's suggesting we pack into our Zen Luggage (she calls it something with a trademark attached so I'm sidestepping that name!) are about affirming where we are now. A very good idea. I've found in the past that one of the things that's sometimes caused me problems is a sort of feeling of having rejected myself in my attempts to make changes. Now I know that everything changes all the time so the point of aiming isn't to reject where we are starting from now but to get where we want to go and to enjoy the journey.

Last week I said I wasn't going to go public on my inner thoughts but having had a a few days to think about it I've decided I will. So first here are the lines I came up with in answer to last week's prompts:
In my dreams I am a superman or woman
Any sex or shape or power
In my dreams I am a stranger in a strange land
In my dreams the loos have hidden meaning
The privacy of the privy is paramount
In my dreams I can't always do anything
Doing spoils the dream and I'm left in the blank part between, behind the scenes

In the mirror I am a tornado swirling ready to sweep everything away
unless I sit within the still centre

In my stories I am swept along by fate, unable to find my voice, regain consciousness and lose weight

In my fears I am a dragon coming to get me.

In my past I was a knight fighting the dragon
But it was me I fought!
The first task this week is to make these images more literal. First I thought maybe I ought to confess to an aspect of literalness that won't be apparent to most of you. My previous husband's name was Knight, so I used to be Mrs Knight... and one of my favourite images to draw, paint etc. used to be dragons. Here is one I made when my name was Knight:

It was stenciled onto tiles and then fired which means I can date it to 1992 as that's when I was painting tiles. Just around the time I got ill with M.E. for the first time.

One of my key images with M.E. was that I was fighting my own body in someway... I had no idea when I wrote the poem that I'd make that connection here.

I'd got this far when I took a break and happened to pick up this book:

Its one I got ages ago from the Amnesty bookshop and have kept on meaning to return as I've struggled to read it. My bookmark is still only on page 18 despite another attempt spurred on by the recent dreadful happenings in Tibet.

I felt both a reluctance and curiosity to see if I could get a message from it now. I opened it at random to this page:

And my eyes were immediately drawn to the sentence:
As for Younghusband, he was knighted....
Well the husband of my youth, my "young husband", was indeed as I've just mentioned called Knight... but really I was the one who was "knighted" since I married him and became a knight. Then I looked at the opposite page and discovered that Younghusband had been some sort of British military type in Tibet but on his last day in Lhasa he had a mystic revelation in the mountains when he realised the divinity that is within everyone and following which he said he now considered no man an enemy. The wikipedia page on him fails to mention this revelation... sticking to a rather Christian line that is at odds with this page in Virtual Tibet, though it does mention that he killed many Tibetans in his campaign.

Now more curious about this book I looked at another random page and discovered that China has been bringing pressure to bear on American companies. In particular Hollywood over "Seven Years in Tibet" and Apple over the use of the image of the Dalai Lama in an advertising campaign, Think Different, which also featured Einstein and other luminaries.

I felt I needed a walk at this point so I went to the local shops. There in the Amnesty bookshop I got this great selection of books:

Today's Haul From the Amnesty Charity Bookshop

And look I actually found a copy of Seven Years in Tibet! Its old (1953) and falling to bits but quite readable. The other three books are much newer. Indeed the Nick Bantock books are like new. Those two are books I've long wanted having come across them on a trip to the US but costing more than I wanted to pay at the time... Today I got all four of these books for £7.30 and the joy of knowing that I'm reusing them and contributing to Amnesty all at once.

So I haven't quite finished Carla's exercise for this week but I'm enjoying the journey!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Freeing ourselves from negative thought patterns

These monkeys looked to me to be quite unhappy in their cage... with the only real trees those reflected in the glass. But I couldn't see into their minds... maybe they were actually looking out at the flamingos and thinking how lucky they themselves were to be in such a secure place.

This morning I wrote a long email to someone about affirmations and in particular about how one can test for them using kinesiology self-test questioning. I then went to Carla's wings4you site and found that she too was focusing on affirmations. So I decided this synchronicity was encouraging me to go a little more public on the self-test method of checking and using them.

If you are interested in learning how to to self-test the best reference on the web, that I know of, is on the Perelandra site. You need to have mastered this before learning how to use it to self-test affirmations. Incidentally I use a different method so I'm not saying this is the only, or even the best method, just one that is relatively easy to learn without the commitment I made to train as a Health Kinesiologist.

Self-testing opens up a great communication channel with your body. Some cautions though, there are some things you cannot expect to be able to self-test accurately - for instance no-one I know has yet managed to correctly test the lottery numbers in advance - it is in general dodgy to self-test future events, but random ones are the most dodgy. It is best to use self test for accessing your own body's information and responses. Again you still need to be cautious. For instance if I tested that it was appropriate for me to eat arsenic I still wouldn't! So keep your common sense intact.

Testing for appropriate affirmations is a really good use of self-test.

First what is an affirmation?

An affirmation is always worded positively and in the present tense. It is usually also short and succinct. Most affirmations contain the word "I" or "me" or similar, e.g. "I am happy" or "Happiness flows up from the earth through my whole body" though some are much less personal, for instance "Life is good". Once you have the wording you then test a schedule for its use. For instance a common pattern is to say the affirmation out loud 10 times on waking and before sleep every day for a fortnight. Another is to look into the mirror to say it every morning.

Using self-test one first checks that it is appropriate to test for an affirmation now. There are plenty of reasons that it may not be appropriate - it may be that a different method would suit you better right now, maybe a visualisation or a vision statement or something which changes everyday and is not a fixed repeated affirmation. However if you do get that it is appropriate the next thing is to find the exact words.

You may have a specific example in mind. For instance you may have a list of affirmations such as those in Louise Hay's book "You can Heal Your Life". If you are drawn to using one or more of those, use these questions to check it / them.

Using self-test to check with your body:
  • Is this an appropriate affirmation for me to use?

  • Is there a more appropriate one from this list?

  • Should I look on another page?
There are times when what seems like an obviously good affirmation is not appropriate. For instance the example of "I am happy" may in fact cause too much stress and repeating it may not be the best thing to do right now. It may be that a statement such as "I allow myself to feel and release the grief within me" would be far more beneficial. Feeling grief whilst grieving is not being negative!

Sometimes the affirmation could be improved by a minor change in the wording. For instance here are some example affirmations from Louis Proto's Self-Healing:
  1. I feel stronger with every moment that passes.
  2. With every breath I feel more alive.
  3. I feel well, I look well, I am well.
  4. I deserve to be radiantly healthy.
Say you are drawn to the 2nd affirmation in the list - With every breath I feel more alive - you've tested its a good starting point but your testing shows the need to change it, ask which word to focus on changing. Point to each in turn until you get a yes to "Change this one?" Let's say the word to focus on changing is "I".

Should we reword it without an I in it?

For instance:

With every breath my body feels more alive,


With every breath life flows into me.

Should we keep the I and change the order?

For instance:

I feel more alive with each breath.


I breathe and feel life flowing through me.

As you can see the possibilities are endless and it really does help to use self-test to get the best possible version for your own use.

If you are struggling with this stage, ask if any of the affirmations you've come up with are "good enough". It may be that after a few days of using a good enough affirmation you find a variation that you test is better. This is the advantage of self-testing and not relying on someone else to find the words for you.

A Health Kinesiologist will normally test affirmations from scratch but they have other tools to help them, not least useful lists of words to test from.

I sometimes "see" affirmations for other people in a sort of semi-legible writing in the air... you may find you too can get them that way too.

Once you have the wording that is most suited to you right now also check what the best way to use it is.

Does it matter how I say it?

If yes, then check whether out loud / silently, eyes open / closed, standing in front of a mirror, reading it etc.

How many times?

Check how many times to repeat it each time. Some bodies are very particular and like this to be an exact number. So if you come up with say, 14, then say it exactly 14 times when you say it.

Should I use it in a fixed schedule?

If so, then test how often a day and at what times to say it. These may be fixed times like 10.20 am or event times like on waking, before lunch, after dinner, on turning the light out to go to sleep. Write it out and put it in the best places to remind you to say it at these times.

If not, is this more like a mantra, something to think/say whenever possible? If so, test whether it would help to write it out and put it up in various places where you'll see it.

How long do you need to keep this up?

It could be, that to be effective, this affirmation will need repeating to this schedule for days, weeks even months! Test this now.

Should I measure how long to use this affirmation in days? Weeks? Months?

More than 1 day/week/month? More than 2?

When you think you've got the wording right, the timing and method and length of use right, etc. ask

Is there anything else I need to know?

If there is then start asking questions like, does it matter where I am? Does it matter how I say it? E.g. Loudly? Whispered? Sing it? Write it? Do I need to keep it private? Would it be best if I kept my notes visible only to me? Do I need to retest my schedule after a certain time? Etc. Generally none of these extra conditions do matter but if they do, then you need to know.

I am glad I learnt to use self-test.
I find self-test very beneficial.
Self-test is a great tool.

Affirmations increase the positive self-talk in my head.
I feel happy. I am happy. I radiate happiness.
Every cell in my body is happy.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Knight of the Woods
Thanks to Kittykatfish for the ttv layer

The most valuable gesture I know isn't an internal one, its one that's clearly visible on a face - a smile. Smiling can be tough when you feel the need to don your armour and fight the world but it really does change one's inner reality to smile at the world instead.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Internal Gestures

Band: Back Street from the 1932 film.
Title: Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.
(And yes I know in the original game it was just the last 4 words... I've changed the rules okay?)
Photo: "six more, already spoken for though..." by Don Solo.

This is my latest version of what began as the album meme. And yes I am still obsessed with it. But don't worry you only get to see a very few of the ones I make... though I treasure them all!

In the photo's description the photographer says "OK, so about month and a half later I have a couple more...." (his italics) so it seems like punctuality or lack of it is pertinent here. And this is all to do with some game called Portal which, because I've never heard of it, he seems to think I ought to "get off the internet. Seriously." What a sense of humour! It is apparently a "benevolent Weighted Companion Cube". In a photo of his original version of this object he says "I'm just a geek being a geek for other geeks.".

Well I seem to have been surrounded by geeks all my life, most of them haven't accepted me as a fellow geek though... for instance I was asked why I hung around the Maths Institute... the asker thought I was an arts student not a fellow mathematician... but of course being a geek companion has meant that non-geeks assume I am one.

Identity and especially identity via the groups one belongs too... ah... that always has been a tricky one for me. Anyway it inspired me to actually put something into my blog's "about me". I'd temporally deleted it some time ago... thinking I'd soon put something up and so months later I now have. ;-)

But I'm still struggling with group identity... I'm too influenced by other people when I'm in a group and as I value my own identity I'm having to refrain from joining in with lots of things... does that make sense to anyone else?

Anyway, this posting was meant to be about the "Internal Gestures" from "A Life of One's Own" by Marion Milner. She does mention that she finds them harder to do when other people are with her, so this solo, I mean solitude stuff is relevant. And she is also not assuming anyone else would find these specific gestures useful, but she is sharing the concept and giving her own examples as a way of writing about something she otherwise had no words to share.
  1. Pushing her centre of awareness into different parts of her body.
  2. Pushing her centre of awareness outside of herself entirely.
  3. Listening just happened when on one occasion she put her attention into the soles of her feet. It also happens when she "sends herself" out into the hall or "sends herself" to stand near the orchestra.
  4. Bored looking turning into delightful, blissful looking and feeling as she widened her seeing. This happened without a specific intention and is mentioned as a specfic state she got into.
  5. Feeling what a chair was like by actively putting her awareness, but not her physical body, into the empty chair.
  6. Discovering that ping-pong was much easier when she loosened her arm, instead of trying so hard.
  7. Taking her head out of darning changed it from a chore to a blissful activity that she looked forward to. It also made her darning more efficient.
  8. The difficulty of remembering to make these shifts.
  9. Contracted versus open.
  10. Pressing awareness out against the limits of her whole body til there was vitality in all her limbs and she felt smooth and rounded. She calls this "that fat feeling" - meaning it in a nice way.
  11. Letting go of the need to have thoughts.
  12. Putting her observation of where she was and what she saw into descriptive words whilst she was there could also open a door between her and the world.
  13. Concentrating for 15 minutes on a mundane object in front of her could open her to it and make it anything but mundane! (I keep typing mundance...)
  14. To give up, surrender, any goal or sign of success. In other words success through not striving for it.
If you already do one or more of these internal gestures you probably know what's meant, but if you don't its much harder to explain because these are really sensations, felt things. I'm a very gestural person so these are relevant to me.

In fact I've been surprised to realise that some people don't know how to shift their awareness to different parts of themselves. Actively putting my awareness into my feet is a very good, grounding thing. However unlike Marion Milner I'm not adept at putting my awareness outside of my body onto bits of furniture or to "stand" next to the orchestra... she mentions scaring herself sometimes whilst doing this... I've never found it scary to put my awareness into my feet but I can imagine it being scary to separate from one's body, especially in a crowd.

The nearest I've come to this sort of putting myself elsewhere is when doing journeys... either guided or free... but then I always attempt to do that in a really safe space, not at a concert!

Carla has just posted about "Creative Daydreaming" which is another way of journeying... some people have incredibly visual daydreams others have stories that unravel, or songs that sing themselves. I've had all sorts but what I would really like is a key, an "internal gesture", that guaranteed me this sort of experience.

Do you have anything you might describe as an internal gesture? If so, can you describe it?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Making Changes

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge with altered colour balance

I have now thrown out the sticky cards I mentioned in my previous post. The mixture seemed to be permanently unsettable.... Now in some ways being unsettable seems rather good to me. I'd rather not be so set in my ways. So I'm taking this as a good omen.

However one habit I'm not about to ditch is that of being interested in synchronicities.

A little over a fortnight ago I mentioned my passion for playing the album meme. I've carried on playing it in various forms. At one point rather than making up album covers from the three "randomly" selected pages I started to make a little book of them. Keeping the whole quotation rather than just the last four words, and as much of the wikipedia article as looked interesting. Then my software had an odd moment. It lost a page. By then I was on my 44th. The one that had been lost was 42. And of course 42, according to Douglas Adams, is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

Using my browser's history it was easy to find the image and the wikipedia page again. The picture is this one of an otter, titled "Will do tricks for fish...:O)" by law_keven. And now going back to it I see even that is another little synchronicity as it reminds me of "So long and thanks for all the fish" another Douglas Adams book. The fourth part of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe series. (If your only experience of the Hitchhiker's Guide is the film, put that thought aside... the radio series was excellent and the BBC TV series was too. The film however wasn't.)

But the quote was lost... or was it. The page of random quotations just figures as a single page in my browsers history. But all it took was recalling a little bit of it to be able to search for it and fish it out of their archives. I remembered that it contained the phrase "follow your bliss". And the only quotation that comes up when searching for that is:
When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.

Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987)
This was last Wednesday. That day we happened go to the zoo too. We were in the seals area whilst they were being fed and saw their exuberance afterwards. This was from the underwater viewing tunnel:

Playful Seal

A very playful seal definitely following its bliss and in sharp contrast to many of the other animals at the zoo that looked caged in and fed up. Animals all hoping that a door would open for them but not knowing the key.

Something about all this triggered a need to reread a book I'd read 20 years ago. At the time it was enormously influential for me. It's "A Life of One's Own" by Marion Milner, originally published under the name of Joanna Field.

In it she documents her attempts to find out what does indeed make her happy. Over many years she goes through a variety of different methods the most important being the keeping of a journal. And in particular a journal of what had really made her happy that day.

She notices that there is a big difference between what she thinks will make her happy and reality. For instance listening to music sometimes made her happy and other times did not. And its not the music itself that makes the difference but how she listens to it. She discovers what she calls an "internal gesture" that shifts her from a state of mind chatter, that gets in the way and separates her from the music, to a state of full listening. Last night I went through a couple of chapters of this book writing down the internal gestures she mentions. I've got to 14 so far. (I'll blog them later.) All of these internal gestures tended to shift her from a self-critical, self-conscious state into a more open, sensory awareness.

But often she simply forgot to use them. And other times on using them she got frightened and withdrew. So no matter that these were ways to her bliss she didn't always allow herself to use them.

So fast forward to today.

Today Leah mentioned that Carla had started a new blog - wings 4 you. What's more the current posting has the same quote from Joseph Campbell about following one's bliss!

And Carla is suggesting the keeping of a "Journey-Journal". I definitely prefer to keep such things private knowing that I'll censor them if I'm in anyway planning to blog them later. I already keep a journal but feel that something different is called for. Maybe my Incomplete Atlas is about to become something else... If it is I won't be showing my progress here. Sorry. Its just that its hard enough to allow myself to look inside, let alone open up to all the unknown lurkers out there!

And lastly here is one of the most fun things we saw at the zoo:

The Tortoise and Her Iguana

Update: Jim has just told me that last Friday it was exactly 30 years since the first Hitchhiker's Guide went out on the radio.

"What on earth is 42?" is an article on BBC news about it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Altered Atlas

Whoops no post for over a week.... well one reason is that I've been making things and they haven't all worked.

I'd hoped to be showing you some cards I've been making using plaincards specially prepared blanks. I bought these blanks last year when I was considering making a more portable version of my soul collage cards but eventually found the format so different from the 5x7 proportions that it was requiring major redesigns of too many cards to be practical. I'd bought the type of blanks that can be sprayed with clear sealent to produce glossy finished cards.

Last week I printed up all the remaining coatable blanks I had (with photos not collages) and after a little experimenting set up the shed for a big varnishing binge. Unfortunately, and I've really no idea how, instead of taking the clear varnish with me into the shed I took a can of 3M repositionable spray mount. I'd given all the cards a nice even coating when I realised that it wasn't smelling right...

Now I don't know what I ought to've done at this stage but what I did do was got hold of the clear acrylic spray and covered over the cards again. I waited an hour and did another coat and then another hour and another coat...

None of the cards has dried with a smooth finish. Some are still sticky!

None of them are useable as cards. None of them look in the least like decently printed photos.

For some reason this disaster has spurred me on to have another go at an altered book. Last year I vaguely joined in with ArtsyMama's weekly lessons on altering a book.

Last year I'd worked with a spiral bound plain book rather than a real book. This time I've got an atlas. (Only 50p from the charity shop and wonderfully big - much cheaper than the equivalent size drawing book.)

I remembered that one was meant to prep books and went looking for the instructions. Being the internet ArtsyMama's direct link to the tutorial no longer worked but it is currently to be found on Go Make Something - you need to register to read this site but its got enough on it to be worth that small investment of time and effort. The article on preparing a book for altering says its a good idea to take out every other page. And to ensure that the tabs left in are of different sizes. So that's approximately what I've done. Occasionally I ended up deciding to keep certain pages because I liked them - or cutting out pages because I liked them and wanted to use them elsewhere - but mostly I went through taking out every other page. So now I've an Incomplete Atlas of Great Britain to work on.

What's altered in your life?