Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Sandra Piddock

I'm 62, and I'm a freelance writer dividing my time between Algorfa on the Costa Blanca in Spain and Bigbury Bay in Devon. I write about anything that interests and/ or challenges me, but I'm happiest when writing about all things Spanish.

Ah Sunflower: Proving that we are all part of one magical whole!

It’s the day of the Full Moon – July 5 – and what a glorious start I had to it!. I have a friend in Spain, Russ Pearce, who is an excellent writer and photographer. This morning, he published a photo essay, the subject being a sunflower he had grown from a seed in a pack of breakfast mix.

My first thought was, how wonderful Nature is. Something that could have so easily been discarded is nurtured and turned into something beautiful, then that beauty is shared in the photos, giving pleasure to so many.

My second thought came from a trip down memory lane to my school days, and a poem from Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. It’s called, Ah, Sunflower, and it was first published in 1794, more than 200 years ago.

Like everything Blake wrote, it’s a lot deeper than the words on the paper suggest, beautiful though they may be. It’s an allegory on life – and death, and a world where there is no more pain, and everything is light and love. Blake was one of the Romantic Poets, who celebrated the beauty of Nature, and understood what we understand today – that everything is connected, and we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.

The interesting thing is, although sunflowers have been around for at least 5,000 years, and maybe even longer, they only came into Europe, from their native America, in around 1500. They were brought from Arizona and Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors. In 1716, an English patent was granted for removing oil from sunflower seeds, around the time they began to be cultivated on a wider scale, and by the 1760s, they were mentioned in literature.

So there is an eternal connection between the human race, the Earth, and sunflowers, and today another layer of synchronicity was added, when Russ turned the poem into a beautiful meme for me, using one of his photos. It’s a small, random act of kindness from a friend, and it touched my soul.

We are all part of the Universe, in one way or another. Because the Conquistadors brought the sunflower to Europe, Blake, was inspired by its beauty. Along with the other Romantic Poets of the 18th and 19th centuries, Blake questioned organised religion and its motives, preferring to see Nature as the true power and inspiration from which we should all learn about life, and about ourselves.

This was the Age of Enlightenment, when beliefs that had been held for millenia were questioned, and people began to look for another way to live, and another way to grow in wisdom and consciousness. Now we are on the threshold of another Golden Age, as we shift from the Third to the Fifth Dimension, and once again connect more with Nature as we try to make sense of the world we live in. There is a constant connection, running through time and space, that links us all to each other, and to the Universe.

It was Blake who wrote the words to the powerful anthem, Jerusalem, just in case you think you haven’t heard of him. In his lifetime, and for quite a while after he passed, some people thought he was mad, and maybe he was, but he was also very perceptive. Maybe we all have a spark of madness in us – who can say?

What is clear is that if we can connect with Nature at a soul level, we reaffirm our connection with the Universe, and by doing that, we realise that we are not alone. We may have personal autonomy, but we also have the support of something much more powerful, and with that support, we can do anything we set our minds to. We are part of the miracle of life, and we are each of us living miracles. Remember that when you feel that life seems too much to cope with. Look for the beautiful, and beauty will find you, and remind you that you, too are beautiful.

Image credit: Russ Pearce

What’s the difference between a medium and a psychic?

Psychic or medium?

In one of the spiritual groups on Facebook I belong to, the question was posed for debate: ‘Are you a Psychic or Medium?’ I waited a while before I joined the discussion, to see what others were saying, and how it linked in with my own thinking.

If you look at discussions on the subject, they usually conclude with ‘Everyone is psychic, but not everyone is a medium.’ To some extent, I’d go along with that. We all have some extra sensory ability, but we don’t necessarily choose to acknowledge it or work with it. And a good medium needs to hone their psychic abilities and work with them in order to be able to effectively and reliably connect with Spirit.

A good friend of mine, who is both psychic and a medium self-deprecatingly describes herself like this:

I’m not a medium, I’m an extra large!

All joking aside, I am not too keen to attach labels, one way or another, because labels are limiting. Also, those of us who do work with Spirit and energy aren’s so neatly categorised, because our skills often cross more than one border. More of that later, but for me, one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic is this from James Van Praagh.

As I understand it, and as science tells us, everything is energy. Both psychics and mediums work with energies of different vibrations. The energy of the living vibrates at a lower frequency that the energy of those in the realm of Spirit. So the only way we can hope to communicate with them is to raise our own vibrations to a point where they will lower their energy to a level where we can communicate.

I see myself as a psychic and healer, but people who are more knowledgeable than me tell me I am also a medium. I have also been told this by Spirit, and the angels I work with. So what does that mean? To me, it means I am privileged, and I don’t care what people call me. I just do what I am guided to do by Spirit, and my own intuition, and I do it with love, for the highest good of all.

I have done demonstrations of mediumship, and spirits have obligingly come through. Until they show up, I have no idea who will join the party, but unfailingly, they help those who need it most with their messages. When I do private readings, it can be just about the energy of the person I’m reading for, or I may find I have an accompanying spirit anxious to impart a message to their loved one, or tell me something they need to know.

So, it’s all about the energy. One of those in the discussion mentioned psychics reading auras. I don’t see auras, but I can pick up on energy, even if the person isn’t in the room with me. Just a few days ago, I was talking to a friend who was having problems with one of his arms. I was able to pinpoint the area of the pain and send healing, and it’s not the first time it’s happened.

Phsychic or medium?

So, I am unable to see the aura of someone in the same room, but I can pick up on pain 1,000 miles away. It doesn’t mean I am a good psychic, a bad psychic or not psychic at all. All it means is I pick up on energy in a different way. I’ve sent distant healing and people have been able to tell me the exact time I did it, and I’ve had others tell me there was no need to send it, as they felt better now! So we all identify and work with energy in different ways.

When it comes to mediumship, it works differently again. Some people will come for a reading in the hope of contacting a specific person in spirit, but no medium, however experienced, can guarantee bringing through Aunt Maud, or indeed anyone at all. It takes a lot of energy to come through to our world with messages, so it’s not going to happen to order.

It’s common for departed souls to come back and make sure their loved ones are okay, and you may well sense their presence. But for a spirit to come through to a stranger and communicate a message is a different thing altogether. And a good medium will have spirits queued up to connect, because they trust the medium to get their message through. It’s not simple, and it’s not guaranteed.

The thing to remember is, while we choose to work with Spirit, they also choose whether they will work with us or not – they are not ours to command. Working with Spirit is a privilege not to be taken for granted or exploited, and the truth is, if you need an urgent message from Aunt Maud, she’ll come through when you need her, not when someone tries to summon her. Yes, she could come through as part of a famous medium’s demonstration, but she could equally come through to your neighbour on the corner who doesn’t talk about her gift.

It’s a very grey area, and it was muddied even more for me a few weeks ago. My ex husband passed to Spirit on 23 April. A couple of days before, Glenys and I felt a cold energy in the house. I also felt my mother’s energy, and she told me she had brought my husband to apologise and ask for my forgiveness, and Glenys’s forgiveness, for what had happened in the past. My mother had brought him, because she knew I needed closure, and she also recognised that he couldn’t pass peacefully without making his peace with us.

I had forgiven him some time ago – you cannot work with the light while there is darkness in your heart. We both said we forgave him, and we felt the energy change as he left with my mother.

The next day, the energy was back, and my mother told me he couldn’t be sure we weren’t holding a grudge. So Glenys and I joined in sending him love and healing, and telling him it was okay to go home, he had nothing more to keep him earthbound. Less than 24 hours later, he passed to Spirit peacefully in his sleep, although he had been in a lot of pain and distress for some time.

So, what can we learn from that episode, about whether I am a psychic, a medium or both? Some people say that psychics work with the energy of the living, while mediums work with spirit energy. I worked with both that day – my mother has been in Spirit since 1988, while my husband was still on the Earth plane, held back by unfinished business.

Phsychic or medium?

The one thing that runs through all this – that runs through everything – is love. Because my mother loved me, she brought my husband to me, since I wasn’t able to go to him. If I had, I would have made sure he knew he was forgiven, and saved him a journey!

Despite our separation, he loved me enough to hold on to a life that was painful on all levels until he was sure of my forgiveness. And Glenys had enough love in her heart to give him permission to go home. As for me, I was able to remember the loving times and leave behind recent events so that I could remember him as he deserved to be remembered – a man who loved life and loved me, until illness turned him into something he wasn’t, and there was no alternative but to separate.

Whether you label yourself a psychic, a medium, or something else is up to you. It can be convenient for others, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important. What really matters is how you do your sacred work. If you have love in your heart and humility in your soul, you will shine your light wherever it’s needed. The things that matter most cannot be neatly labelled and compartmentalised. Read more on my blog here.

Book Review: Son of Secrets by N. J. Simmonds

Son of Secrets by N. J. Simmonds

Just over three years ago, I reviewed N. J. Simmonds’s debut novel, The Path Keeper. I ended the review by looking forward to the second novel in the trilogy and, finally, here it is. It’s the second of three parts of The indigo Chronicles trilogy, and it was already written. Just as in The Path Keeper, fate made a mockery of the plans, so it’s taken until now to publish Son of Secrets by N. J. Simmonds.

About the book

In this book, Zac and Ella are three years on from the cataclysmic climax of The Path Keeper, and they are still traumatised. Ella is back in her beloved Spain, running a converted monastery as a hotel. She calls the hotel Torre de los Angeles, (Tower of Angels). The hotel is in Tarifa, on the Costa de La Luz, and it’s the southernmost tip of Europe From there you can take a 35 minute ferry to Tangier, in north-west Morocco, Africa.

The setting is no coincidence – Tarifa is on the cusp of two continents – Europe and Africa – and the characters in Son of Secrets are on either side of the window between two worlds. The veil is lifted on the back story of Zac and Ella too, so we get to understand more of the powerful thread that connects them.

There are a number of interesting new characters, and we become more familiar with those from the first book too. The most impactful one is Luci, a combination of Devil Woman and Earth Mother. She’s beautiful, she’s powerful, she’s brutal, she’s vengeful – and she’s suffering intolerably as she single-mindedly pursues a quest which seems to be in vain, as time and again, she’s just that bit too late.

What ties the trilogy together?

The cruelty of timing is a theme that runs through Son of Secrets, for Zac, for Ella, for Luci, and for Josh – the spoiled rich boy who incurs Zac’s wrath in The Path Keeper. Josh has his own secrets, and as we learn of them, he becomes a much more sympathetic character. Simmonds’s natural wit and her capacity for cutting right to the chase as quickly as possible are illustrated admirably in this short but telling thought sequence from Ella:

All she kept thinking was that Josh da Silva was upstairs, in her hotel. And that he was an idiot. An arrogant, handsome, and really sexy idiot – the worst kind. Was her destiny on the top floor of her hotel, acting like an arrogant dick?

We all have to learn lessons in this life, and Josh certainly learns his. So does the other spoiled rich boy, Sebastian, Ella’s step-brother. Even Luci’s edges are softened, but I am sure – indeed I insist – that we haven’t heard the last of her. It’s a testament to Simmonds’s clever characterisation that she knows just how far to take Luci to both astound the readers and also to draw their empathy for Luci’s situation. Who’s to say what anyone would do in her situation, with her resources?

By the end of Son of Secrets, all the main characters are in different places, physically and spiritually. There is no judgement on Simmonds’s part, just clever observation and uncanny understanding of what makes people tick – whatever and whoever they are!

Whereas in The Path Keeper, the main action centred around London and Spain, Son of Secrets takes us on a journey through time and space. We experience Italy and the Netherlands, where Simmonds is now based, although her soul is forever in Spain. She’s also very spiritual, and you’ll see from the Author’s Note at the end that some of the fiction is informed and enhanced by her own metaphysical experiences. Of her latest creation, Simmonds says:

Why should you read it?

Son of Secrets is more than a story, it’s a tribute to women; the hunted and hurt, the misunderstood and misrepresented. And the ones who love so fiercely they lose themselves along the way. Don’t wait for rescue, because none of us are princesses, we are queens. Act like one.

Son of Secrets is a worthy successor to The Path Keeper. Here, Simmonds has flexed her creative muscles and weaved a multi-layer story. It is fast-paced, original, and satisfying on all levels, whatever your personal beliefs or opinions. I shall end this review in the same way I ended the previous one. I can’t wait to read Book 3, Children of Shadows, which is due for release in 2021.

Image credit: N. J. Simmonds

Nightmares about falling, paralysis and death can be a good sign!

Nightmares about falling, paralysis and death can be a good sign!

This morning, a good friend of mine put a post on Facebook saying she was being plagued by nightmares. In each one, she was either being chased, was falling, or paralysed – not in the same dream or as a result of the fall – or she was perpetually late. The most distressing dreams concerned the deaths of friends or family members. And all of them put her in a state where she was not in control of what was happening. Someone or something else was calling the shots.

The first thing to note is that this sort of nightmare is not necessarily a warning or a premonition. In fact, it can even be a sign of the opposite scenario – this sort of dream can be an indication that things are about to get better, and that you are entering a new, happier phase of your life.

Think of it like this – falling, paralysis, death are all signs of endings. They are also signs of beginnings. Life has to change before we can move forward. If we take these things literally, these things force you to stop and re-think your life. It happened to me in July 2019.

I was involved in a car accident, which wasn’t my fault, and I broke two ribs. I had to rest, because anything else was too painful. The thing was, after a particularly traumatic event in March, I’d been keeping busy to keep my thoughts away from what had happened, and how my life was going. Yet what I really needed to do was to deal with the issues and move on with my life.

The broken ribs forced me to do that, and from the end of that month, things started to get better. Or, more accurately, I began to heal from my mental traumas as well as the physical ones, so my life began to heal with me.

What is really interesting is that most of the people who commented on that post had also been having similar nightmares. They were wondering whether it was anything to do with the Covid-19 lock-down. Of course, they are right about that. These are strange times we are living through – life as we know it has been turned on its head. For the first time in most of our lives, we have had time to stop and think what it all means. And our whole thought processes are changing. The world is very different, and we are changing with it.

We are all being dealt a powerful lesson, and we cannot ignore it because we are, to continue the school analogy, in enforced detention. For a while, life stopped altogether. We couldn’t go out when we wanted to, we couldn’t go to work, we couldn’t meet up with friends and family. We had to stay at home, and there are only so many times you can clean the bathroom without heading down the slippery slope of OCD.

When there’s nothing else to do, you begin to think, and when you think, all sorts of magical things can happen. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the frightening thing about these dreams is that we’re not in control – we’re not directing our own destinies.

At the moment, life is mirroring our dreams. We are not in control – the virus is. The truth is, we have never, ever been in control. That was just an illusion perpetrated by egos, ours and other people’s. The Universe does not depend on us to function, it just gets on with everything, despite us, not because of us.

This is clear if we look around us. Nature is not in lock-down, because it just gets on with it. Flowers grow, grass grows, seeds fall, the sun, the moon, the wind and the rain just get on with it. Without the need for any sort of change – no stringent hygiene, no social distancing, no restricted capacity. It’s business as usual, and without our intervention, it’s even more magnificent than ever before.

We see this, and we also see another form of blossoming, as kindness spreads. Neighbours look after other neighbours, people from young children up to centenarians push themselves past their perceived boundaries, all to raise money to help in the cause of controlling Covid-19. Our heroes have changed – we are inspired by, and look up to, ordinary people.

This is all as it should be, because we are all children of the Universe, and we are all equal. We all have our own contribution to make, and we are no better, no more powerful, no more privileged than anyone else on this Earth, whether President or pauper. And finally, we are beginning to realise that. And it’s strange – even stranger than living in lock-down!

So, we are changing our perspectives, and realising what matters most. Money doesn’t matter – it can’t buy you immunity. Power doesn’t matter – princes have been struck down. Position doesn’t matter – the Prime Minister was struck down. Fitness doesn’t matter – our sporting heroes have either been struck down themselves, or prevented from working, just like the rest of us. Talent doesn’t matter – concerts are cancelled, theatres are closed, nobody is filming new episodes of our favourite shows.

Nothing can protect you from Covid-19, or it’s effects on life as we know it. But how you deal with it can make a big difference to your life, now and in the future. My friend who is troubled by nightmares posted yesterday about how grateful she was, despite lock-down. She’s an entertainer, so she’s had no work and no income. She’s been isolated from her daughter and her friends, yet she is grateful for her situation.

This lovely lady could have felt trapped in her home, fearful about her future, and mourned for her normal, hectic life and the appreciation of her many fans. Instead, she chose to cultivate the Attitude of Gratitude I wrote about recently. And that’s why she’s having nightmares, but it’s a good thing, because it’s helping her to clear the blocks to her future happiness.

When we’re asleep, our conscious mind is resting too, so long-buried memories and feelings surface as nightmares and demand to be dealt with. Only by clearing the things that no longer serve us can we move on with our lives. For good things to come into your life, bad things have to leave to make room for them. It’s called clearing negative energy, and the onset of nightmares is the first stage of this. It means your subconscious mind, or Higher Self, is acknowledging that it’s time to move forward.

Now it’s your turn. You need to consciously clear the negative energy blocks that are holding you back from moving into your best life. The good news is, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Meditation, visualisation and positive affirmations can all help with clearing.

Clearing means cutting the energetic cords that bind you to a person or situation, and for this, you can call on Archangel Michael, who is always ready to help. You just have to ask. I was given this visualisation by Archangel Michael a couple of months ago, as I worked with a lady who was dealing with the anxiety of having a daughter who was a front line nurse. It really helped her, and it will help you too. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.

To summarise, nightmares do not mean something bad is going to happen. Dreams are not usually literal, they are more likely to be allegorical. They use familiar scenarios to draw our attention to issues that need to be dealt with. Usually these are problems within ourselves, and we have everything we need to resolve them, once we listen to our Higher Self.

An Attitude of Gratitude is a must in times of trouble

Attitude of Gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude has never been more important. As the lock-down due to the Covid-19 outbreak continues, our mental health is taking a bit of a hit. No matter how positive we are normally, all this isolation and bad news is sure to take its toll. Strangely enough, when things seem at their worst is the very time when we should be looking for the good in every situation.

If you think that’s a really big ask, well, yes it is. But it’s well worth the effort, because cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a very powerful self care tool. Let’s look at the practicalities – it’s impossible to feel grateful and negative at the same time. If you don’t believe it, just try saying ‘thank you’ out loud and see what happens, physically and emotionally.

For a start, you can’t say ‘thank you’ without smiling, even slightly. And just the sound of the words is enough to lift your spirits. As you say ‘thank you,’ you feel yourself standing straight and tall, lifting your head, and at the same time, you feel a positive shift in energy. That’s the beginning of gratitude.

So, how do you build gratitude into your life? It’s simple really. Whenever you feel down, upset, depressed – any sort of negative feeling – think of three things that make you happy right now. It can be as basic as a nice cup of tea, just when you need it. Maybe your child or your partner brought you tea and biscuits in bed. Look at all the things you have to be grateful for. You have a comfortable home, a family who care, and the time to enjoy your tea and biscuits before you need to do anything else.

Now we’ve covered the practical side, what are the spiritual benefits of an attitude of gratitude? Under the Law of Attraction, the thoughts and feelings you put out into the Universe attract more of the same into your life. So if you count your blessings, you will attract more reasons to be cheerful into your life. So it makes sense to send out good thoughts, and nip the negatives in the bud.

One of the best ways to do this is to use positive affirmations. This can be a simple phrase you repeat to yourself, or it can be a sort of positive prayer, where you don’t ask for help, you say thank you for the good things. You don’t need to say this out loud for the Universe to hear you – your thoughts have enough energy to carry them where they need to go. And you don’t need fancy words and phrases, or to use religious terminology. All you have to do is feel the gratitude in your heart.

I was talking with a friend a few days ago. He’s a successful businessman, but he feels for his clients, who are all worried about how their own businesses will manage to ride out the lock-down. When you’re an empath, you can worry about others as well as yourself, and it’s very draining energetically.

As I was talking him through some coping strategies and exercises to raise his vibrational energy, I was given an affirmation, channelled through Archangel Michael. I was told to share it with him, and also with others who might need to be reminded that an attitude of gratitude can strengthen your soul and help you through the dark times and bring in more success. I suggest you print this off or write it out, and read through it when you need to.

You may wish to carry it with you. Words are like crystals – they carry healing energy, and if you keep them close to you, you may feel extra benefits. When you want to read your affirmation prayer, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, and take a few deep, calming breaths, as if you were preparing for meditation. I like to hold a hand over my heart, and visualise the words coming from my heart, into the air around me.

Love and blessings, and I hope this beautiful affirmation prayer, channelled from Archangel Michael, brings you comfort.

Affirmation for gratitude and success

(Channelled from Archangel Michael, 19 May 2020)

Thank you, Universe, for all the blessings in my life.

I am grateful for my happy family

I am blessed with my beautiful home

I am fortunate in my friends

I am surrounded by love

I love my work, which keeps me busy serving others

I have everything I need for happiness within me

I am truly blessed

I am truly grateful

I am truly content

Thank you, Universe for the abundance in my life right now

And so it is

Home made guacamole – so easy!

Home made guacamole
Home-made guacamole – so quick and easy!

I love guacamole, and a few days ago, I came across some reduced avocados in Tesco. So I decided to have a go at making my own. I mean, how hard can guacamole be? Pretty easy, as it happens. There are lots of recipes around – some straightforward, some with a list of ingredients as long as your arm. Since I’ve been in Spain, I’ve embraced the ethos of just using a few quality ingredients so the flavours come through loud and clear, so I chose this recipe from BBC Good Food, and put a Sandra in Spain spin on it.

This is what you need:

  • 2- 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • I  fresh red or green chilli,  finely chopped
  • Juice of a lime

Halve the avocados and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, Then grate the tomato into the bowl, with the spring onions, chilli and lime juice.

If you want a chunky guacamole, mash all the ingredients together with a fork or a potato masher. Or give it a whizz with a hand blender. Personally, I like a bit of texture in dips and salsas, and if the avocados are nice and ripe, it’s easy enough to get a smooth yet chunky mix.

Now season with a little pepper, and a dash of tabasco sauce, but take that one drop at a time! It’s not very Spanish, but I also added a dash of Worcestershire Sauce.

Leave it for a while for the flavours to blend together, if you can resist the lovely fresh aromas! Then serve with tortillas or crackers for a tasty, anytime snack or as part of a tapas meal.

Oh, by the way, if you’ve made guacamole before and it’s gone a funny colour before you could eat it all, here’s a tip. Place the avocado stone in the container with the guacamole to preserve the colour. Enjoy!

While you’re here why not take a look at my delicious Lemon Curd recipe too.

Goodnight Sweetheart, sleep will banish sorrow

Goodnight Sweetheart
At Algorfa fiesta, July 2015

If you’re wondering about the title, it’s a line from a lyric from a song written in 1931, and also the name of a time-travelling sitcom. Goodnight Sweetheart, the show starred Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Rodney in Only Fools and Horses, as Gary Sparrow, a music shop owner. He accidentally found a time portal which took him back to London in wartime, and ended up with two relationships, one in the 1940s and one in the 1990s.

Goodnight Sweetheart was one of Tony’s favourite TV programmes – and mine. It’s an appropriate title for this post about my personal goodbye to my estranged husband. Although we had been separated for a year, it wasn’t a case of me airbrushing him out of my life. We were together for 30 years, married for 20, and for at least 25 of those years, we were very happy together, until age and illness took my husband from me, leaving an uncaring, somewhat frightening stranger in his place.

Since Tony’s passing, I feel like I have the old Tony back – caring, happy, and sorry for the circumstances that caused our split. His energy came to me before he passed, asking for forgiveness, and since he passed, he’s been back several times as the warm, loving, husband and partner I fell in love with all those years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, he had his faults – don’t we all? – and I’m not canonising him just because he’s on the other side of life. My point here is that what those of us who are privileged to ‘talk to dead people’ already know is true has been demonstrated to me at first hand. You do leave all your pain and troubles behind when you step through the veil. We often say ‘his cares are gone now,’ when someone close dies, and it’s lovely to be reminded of that on a personal level.

The poem given to me by Spirit before the commital service

Losing someone in lock-down is surreal, as many people have sadly found out. The usual type of funeral is out of the window. You can’t have limousines, because of the risk of cross infection through close contact. Also, you’re limited with the number of people who can attend, and they must be socially distanced if they are from other households.

It was clear that there weren’t going to be many guests at Tony’s funeral – I refuse to use negative terms like ‘mourners’ for the attendees. When you’re 86 and have been ill for a couple of years, and have spend most of the last decade in Spain, there aren’t that many friends left, and those who might have come are shielding at home. Also, the thought of not being able to have a comforting hug when you need it most is just unacceptable to someone like me. I would be a strong contender for the gold medal if hugging was an Olympic sport, and they weren’t cancelled because of Covid-19. But I digress.

Someone suggested it may be better to just have a cremation with no service, and that felt better to me, but I wanted to say a personal goodbye to Tony, as I hadn’t been with him when he passed. I would have been, given the opportunity, even though we had lived apart for over a year, but it wasn’t possible. And even though I know that what’s left behind is only Tony’s shell and his soul is free, I felt his circle of life was incomplete without an earthly farewell.

Graeme at West Country Funeral Services in Saltash said he would conduct a commital service in the Chapel of Rest, for up to 10 people, but again, it would have to be a socially distanced affair. I decided Graeme would be, to quote another song lyric, Playing to an Audience of One. I invited nobody to the service on 12 May – not even Glenys, who has been such a support over the last few difficult years.

In preparation , I printed off one of my favourite photos of the two of us, taken in 2015 at Algorfa’s patronal festival. On the evening before the service, I was given a poem by Spirit which Graeme read out, as well as another poem that I feel was suggested to him, as it addressed a concern with bothered Tony quite a bit.

The poem Graeme of West Country Funeral Services

When he was well, Tony liked to be busy, pottering in his shed or the garden, making things, problem solving, you name it. He’s not the type to sit on a cloud with a harp all day, and I felt him around me at the weekend, rather agitated. He asked me what he was supposed to do now, and I explained that time was for us on Earth, it didn’t apply to him now, and he would never be bored, only happy and healthy.

One of the lines in the other poem – His Journey’s Just Begun – speaks of the other side of life as a place ‘Where there are no days or years.’ There is no such thing as coincidence in the Universe – Graeme chose that poem because Tony needed to hear that message.

The energy in the chapel was amazing, full of warmth and love. And when I told Graeme I wanted Tony’s favourite song played, there was some laughter too. The song doesn’t appear on any list of Most Popular Funeral Songs, and it’s not surprising really, given the back story.

Back in the late 1960’s, Tony went on a lads’ night out with his local social club. The highlight of the show was a stripper, dressed in full Welsh national costume. At the end of her spot, all she was wearing was the iconic tall hat and a smile! Every time Tony heard the song she performed to, he smiled, thinking of where he first heard it. It was the 1968 hit by O. C. Smith, The Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp, and although it was a solemn occasion, we both had to smile.

So, it was nothing like a funeral service, but it was everything I needed for my personal farewell to someone who was part of my life for almost half of it. We made some wonderful memories together which will always be with me, and we had a memorable ‘hasta luego.’ too. I am at peace, Tony is at peace, we have both learned valuable Earthly lessons, and we can both move on, on both sides of life.

I am content, and so is Tony. Goodnight sweetheart, and I am so pleased that sleep has banished sorrow for both of us.

A tale of two Easters …

Easter
My fabulous family – I miss them so much, but we’ve made some great memories, and we will again.

So, once more Easter is here. And just like last year the Gods – or rather the sun – has smiled on us. That’s about the only similarity though. Like many people, all over the world, it’s a very solitary Easter for most of us. The message from religious leaders, and the Queen (God bless her) is that Easter is a time of hope. After darkness comes light, after death comes rebirth, after the barrenness of winter comes the fertility of spring.

Never before has this message been one we can connect with on so many levels, across all faiths, and belief systems. Ironically, at a time all the churches and other religious meeting places are closed due to the lock-down, there are probably more people fixing on the spiritual meaning of Easter this year than ever before.

Personally, the commercial aspects of Easter have never really appealed to me. It was always a time for the family to get together, and when I was a child, that was usually at my paternal grandmother’s caravan in Blackpool. Once I had my own family, we always made sure there was time spent with other family members, and that trend has pretty much continued through my life.

Easter
With Harrison at his Christening – Easter Sunday 2015

Five years ago, my middle grandson was christened on Easter Sunday, because he was fast outgrowing the family christening gown. Again, it was a lovely family weekend. So many precious Easter memories of good times with the family!

In Spain, although I was a long way from the family, we always spent time with friends and supported one of the local fund raising events. Last year, I was in England for Easter, due to family circumstances, and it coincided with one of the best Easters ever, weather wise.

On Good Friday, my daughter and I took my two granddaughters for a girly day out to Saltram House, where we did a tour of the house, dressed up in period costume and picnicked and took part in an Easter egg hunt in the grounds. I introduced my elder granddaughter, Chloe, to the fabulous energy of trees, and we enjoyed being in Nature.

Easter
Chloe and Lauren – Young ladies of quality at Saltram House, Good Friday 2019

On the next day, again we took to the Great Outdoors, with a picnic in Central Park, Plymouth followed by a trip around the fair. On Easter Sunday, I spent the day with Glenys and her daughter and grandson at Lanhydrock House. Guess who had treated herself to membership of the National Trust for Easter!

I also purchased membership for my granddaughters, rather than getting them Easter eggs. It would have cost £8 each to take them into Saltram House, but for just an extra £2, they could have a year of entry into National Trust properties. As their aunt and uncle in Cornwall are also members, the girls have certainly had their money’s worth, as have I, and I’m extending it for all of us, although obviously at the moment, we can’t use it.

So, how has this Easter been so far? Well, we’ve spent some time outdoors, as it’s been so nice, and we’ve watched a few films, although there’s not much else of any interest on TV to be honest. We’ve caught up on some reading, I’ve tidied up the website a bit, and caught up with friends via the phone and video calls.

Easter
Easter Saturday 2019 in Central Park, Plymouth with my daughter and granddaughters.

My elder son is lucky to be locked down with his new fiance – they got engaged on Mothering Sunday – in Shropshire. Their rural setting means they can enjoy walks close to home without breaching government instructions. Thankfully, his fiance managed to leave London before lock-down – I feel happier that they are in the countryside, rather than in the nation’s hotspot of Covid-19.

My daughter is an ambulance care assistant, and she is happy. Finally there are enough masks, gloves and goggles for the team, and Derriford Hospital is as prepared as they can be for the expected influx of patients as the outbreak heads to its peak. Luckily, here in the South West, the NHS are not so challenged as in other parts of the country. We have so much to be thankful for.

My younger son is a single parent to four children, and they all went into lockdown almost a week before the rest of the country, as the youngest showed symptoms of Covid-19. Thankfully, it was a false alarm, and the family are happy and healthy, and he hasn’t lost his sense of humour – or maybe he’s descended into insanity?

Earlier today, he posted on Facebook that the Easter Bunny had been awarded Key Worker status, as long as he abided by government instructions and practiced social distancing. Adam proudly displayed an ‘official letter’ from 10, Downing Street. It was clearly authentic, as it was signed by Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson as he recovers from his own brush with Covid-19! I admired Adam’s attention to detail, even as I questioned his sanity.

Easter treats made from marzipan, Easter Monday in Portugal, 2016.

There’s a serious point here though – yes, we’re in a serious situation, and we can’t see an end to it right now. However, as I have pointed out all through this rambling, we have so much to be thankful for, and we are blessed with hope and humour. It’s what the British do best. It’s seen us through so much, personally and as a nation, and it will continue to do so.

So, on this rather surreal Easter Sunday, I am concentrating on what I have, not on what I am missing at the moment. I am looking back at happy Easter memories from years gone by, and looking forward to big hugs from my loved ones when all this is finally over. And I am grateful – truly grateful – to be right here, right now, experiencing life and learning lessons, so that I can be the best version of myself possible.

Stay safe and well, and remember, we will be okay. It will be okay. Have the happiest Easter you can under the circumstances, and I look forward to a few fiestas in the not too distant future.

Cutting energetic cords with Archangel Michael: A visualisation for Covid-19

Archangel Michael
Cutting the energetic cord to Covid-19, as visualised in the meditation.

There is no doubt we are living through an unprecedented situation unknown in peace time. And no matter how positive you try to be, there are always going to be times when you are anxious – for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the general situation as a whole. This is where cutting energetic cords, with Archangel Michael, can come in useful.

I was given this visualisation by Spirit for Covid-19, but it works for any situation where someone or something is draining your energy and making you feel anxious. And today, with lockdown having lasted for three months now, it’s still as effective as ever.

Basically, cutting energetic cords can help if there is something playing on your mind, whether it’s in the present, like the Covid-19 outbreak, or in the past, but still affecting your life now. Focusing on past or present worries robs you of the joy of now, and if there’s nothing you can do to alter the situation, it’s pointless wasting energy on it. Negative energy, in thought, word or deed, has a habit of reproducing and attracting even more negativity into your life, so it’s something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Why Archangel Michael?

Archangel Michael is the go-to angel for cord cutting, and this visualisation will help you to do just that. When you cut the energetic cords to a person or situation, it doesn’t mean you no longer care, and it doesn’t airbrush anything out of your life. What it does do is allow you to detach from the energy around the situation, and see it for what it really is – something you couldn’t change or control, which doesn’t have an important place in your life right now.

When you cut energetic cords, you feel a lightness and clarity of thought that wasn’t there before. That’s because you set the intention to detach from it. You can’t control or change what’s happens, but you can control and adapt your response. Once you realise that you can’t do anything, no matter how much you want to, whatever you are detaching from loses its power to impact on your life in a negative way.

As someone classed as vulnerable because of an auto-immune system condition, I can’t do what I want to do, and get out and volunteer my services to those who need them. However, I can use my psychic and healing skills to help people cope emotionally and spiritually with isolation and worry.

A friend who was weighed down with anxiety because she was caring for an elderly relative, and her daughter was facing danger every day as a key worker, asked me to help. I wasn’t sure where our session was going, but I did feel that a cord cutting exercise was needed. As we talked, I was given this visualisation by Spirit. It is specifically to cut the energetic cords of the Covid-19 situation, but it can be adapted to anything that is causing you concern.

So, let’s work through this together. You may want to record this, so you can play it back and focus all your attention on the visualisation. Or you could copy it out, read through it a couple of times, and then try it for yourself. However you do it, it’s a very powerful visualisation. Are you sitting comofrtably? Then we’ll begin!

Cutting the energetic cords of Covid-19

Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths in through the nose to the count of three, hold for three, then exhale through the mouth to another count of three. Imagine breathing in love and healing, and breathing out tension.

Now invite Archangel Michael to come into your presence and wrap his protective wings around you. You may feel a different sensation to alert you to his presence, like warmth, or the pressure of a hug, or even a sense of peace and calm. Don’t worry if you feel nothing – you can be sure he is with you, because when you ask the Angels to come forward to help, they are obliged to do so.

See before you a small black dot in the distance, something like a full stop, which as it comes closer quickly develops into a large black ball, about the size of a football. You notice that there is a thick string attached to the ball, and although you can’t touch it, you know it is really strong. You also notice flecks of red in the ball, and you feel a threat from it.

As the ball stops, a few feet away from you, level with your heart, you recognise it as Covid-19, waiting to overwhelm you with worry and fear.

Now ask Archangel Michael to cut the literal cord attached to this situation of fear and isolation with his Sword of Light. Look steadily at the black ball, and inwardly tell it you will not allow it into your mind or your life. Watch as Archangel Michael severs the connection with one blow of the Sword of Light.

Feel your spirits lift and your soul strengthen as the black ball floats slowly and harmlessly into the distance. It may have rushed towards you, but know that as it floats away, it has lost its power to rob you of your peace of mind.

Thank Archangel Michael for his help, and bid him farewell for now. Enjoy the new feeling of lightness and happiness as you bring your awareness back to the here and now.

If you are feeling really overwhelmed, you may need to do this more than once to clear your mind and heart. And of course, it’s still vital to practice caution by following expert advice on minimising the risks to yourself and others.

If you see something other than a ball, that’s okay. It’s your visualisation, and it’s the cord cutting itself that matters. And the lighter feeling you get as a result.

What else you can do

Another step you can take to distance yourself from the energy of Covid-19 is to draw it, as I have, in a way that makes it less threatening. I’m the first to admit I am no artist, but I deliberately set out to do a child-like representation of the visualisation. That again robs it of its power to cause anxiety, by making it look ridiculous while treating it with respect.

Let me know in the comments how you get on with the visualisation, and remember, the Angels are always there, waiting to help. Love and blessings to everyone at this challenging time. Stay safe and well, and be kind to yourself and others. This will pass, and we will all be stronger for it.

Happiness is a job, and here’s how to upgrade your career status

There’s a song called Happiness, made famous by Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd way back in 1964. The first line describes happiness as ‘The greatest gift that I possess.’ While I love the song, I take issue with the sentiment. Happiness is within us, whenever we want it, so it’s not a gift, it’s as essential to a healthy life as your heart or your kidneys.

However, while the organs work automatically for our benefit, happiness isn’t something that can run in the background. You need training to use it, so I see happiness as a job for life, with a pension that you are able to draw on from the minute you tap into your own happiness.

In his comedy routines, Ken Dodd talked about ‘exercising your chuckle muscles,’ but happiness isn’t a physical state, it’s a state of mind. so you don’t need to head off to pump iron at the gym in order to be happy. You do have to recognise that you, and only you, are responsible for your happiness though.

You won’t be happy when the Neighbour from Hell moves 100 miles away, or when your child graduates from university with a First, or even when you meet the love of your life. You see happiness does not depend on the presence or absence of people or things – it depends on your state of mind, and your ability or otherwise to live in the now. If you are constantly looking back to perceived better times, or forward to a future of happiness and hope, you are missing out on the things that would make you happy right now, in this moment, if only you brought your attention to them.

See happiness as a vocation – something you will be doing for the rest of your life, because it’s something you love to do, and something you would do, even if you weren’t paid for it. Of course, if your performance doesn’t come up to scratch, you are either sidelined for promotion, or you are sacked. So work at being happy – not by forcing it, but including it in your routine until it becomes as natural as breathing.

Employees at the top of their game are an inspiration to others, and this brings job satisfaction in its wake. So there’s a feelgood factor about being the reason that someone else is happy. Look on it as a productivity bonus – although there is no salary for the job of being happy. Other than a lifetime of positivity, of course – which is beyond price.

So, look on being happy as an astute career move, when all the work you put in is acknowledged rewarded, and the working conditions get better and better as you move up the ladder. When you find yourself having a problem maintaining happiness, examine your options. Check in on your inner Human Resources, and find help and inspiration. You are entitled to happiness – it’s your job to be happy. Remember that.

happiness
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