I’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..
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.
Karla Ingleton Darocas is based in Benitachell on Spain’s Costa Blanca. On her website, spainlifestyle.com, she describes herself as:
An educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn.
Karla has a BA Hons, and is also a photographer, author and Spanish Fine Arts Historian. She’s also a self-confessed dog lover, with two rescue dogs, Venus and Mars. Her latest book, Spanish Dogs: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture and the Arts, is a testament to Karla’s love of dogs, the arts, and all things connected to her adopted homeland, Spain.
From the first sentence, I was hooked, because I share Karla’s passion for dogs and Spanish culture. I also firmly believe that once you stop learning, you stop living, and there’s a lot of learning packed into the 70 pages of this book.
Don’t let that put you off though – Karla has a wonderful way with words that makes absorbing knowledge a pleasure, and she also has a great sense of humour.
Describing how court painters Velazquez and Goya painted their royal sponsors, she points out that Velazquez was very keen to underplay the facial deformities resulting from the interbreeding of the Habsburg monarchs. Spanish kings loved to be painted in full hunting dress, with their faithful – and generally subservient – hounds by their sides. It subtly emphasised the idea, first verbalised in the Bible, that Man has dominion over the beasts. (Genesis 1: 26, 27)
Goya, on the other hand, preferred to focus on the real beauty of his subjects, or as Karla puts it:
Velazquez used his admirable inventiveness to hide the protruding lower lip and pronounced chin … Goya didn’t modify the royals … On the contrary, we see the monarch, (Carlos III) with his strange small face, beady eyes, and a great big honker of a nose.
Goya was certainly an artist after Karla’s own heart, using his skills to represent the true narrative and true worth of the subjects of his portraits. In his art, there is no doubt where his allegiances lie. Discussing the hunting portrait of Carlos IV and his hound, Karla notes:
Looking up at his master with adoration and fidelity, this dog is the most regal thing in this painting.
This fabulous book gives some great insights into the origins of the dog breeds in Spain. The ubiquitous Podencos arrived in Spain as a result of conquests and explorations over the centuries. It’s most likely that the Podencos came across from Algeria, while the distinctive Water Dogs came over with the Berbers during the first Muslim conquest of Spain. Today, there are still 49 different Water Dogs in Spain.
Another typically Spanish dog, the Galgo, or Greyhound, is believed to have landed on the Iberian Peninsula with the Celts. There’s plenty of contemporary artwork, in the shape of cave paintings, engravings and pottery, to support these theories, and it’s uncanny to see the resemblance between these ancient canine ancestors and the Spanish dogs we are so familiar with today.
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and the Catholic Spanish found another use for dogs, but it’s not one of their proudest moments. The inventors of the Inquisition had a favourite torture method which involved chaining prisoners, then allowing them to be savaged by Mastiffs. Today, these gentle giants are more noted for their loving, faithful nature, which is typical of Man’s Best Friend.
Overall though, this is an upbeat book, and Karla soon lifts the mood by informing the reader of the term that was used for this barbaric practice. It was called – wait for it – dogging! That’s quite a juxtaposition for modern audiences to deal with, since ‘dogging’ has come to mean having sex with strangers in the open air. In fact, in the popular television sitcom Benidorm, the eponymous resort is said to have a designated ‘Dogging Beach!’
Karla wraps up the book with the tale – or should that be tail? – of Pablo Picasso’s beloved Dachsund, Lump. Lump arrived in 1957 with photographer David Douglas Duncan, who was doing a feature on Picasso, and never left the artist’s side until his death in March 1973. Picasso followed Lump across the Rainbow Bridge just 10 days later. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a suitably emotional ending for a book about the creatures that inspire so many emotions in their human guardians.
There are so many interesting anecdotes, culture connections and light moments that describing Spanish Dogs as just a book about dogs is a bit like saying Jose Carreras, one third of the Three Tenors, is ‘just a singer.’ If you love dogs, art and Spain, or any combination of these, you really need to read this. Get your copy here, and settle down for a rattling good read.
The Covid-19 outbreak has been a game changer for all of us. We’re more aware of what’s important in our lives, grateful for the good stuff, and looking for ways to make the most of our remaining time here on Earth. More and more people are turning to mindfulness and spirituality to answer their questions. The good news is, there’s now a fabulous new place in Quesada where you can go to be pampered and nourished, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Studio 11 is the brainchild of Lynn Preston, who has been involved in fitness and nutrition for 15 years. She’s also a Zumba instructor, and has a background in dance and theatre. On top of all that, Lynn is a very spiritual person, and she realises that there is more to self care than taking care of the physical body, important though that is.
Studio 11 is equipped with toning tables, a nail bar and a therapy room, where clients can enjoy various alternative therapies such as Reiki, hot stone massage, reflexology, Indian head massage and chakra balancing. Lynn has carefully selected some of the best therapists in the area to work alongside her, offering a range of treatments to help with anti-aging, stress and tension release and drug-free pain relief solutions.
That’s only half the story though, because this spacious studio on Calle Santiago Compostela, Dona Pepa is also offering salsa and Zumba classes, and there are plans for further activities. Follow Studio 11 on their Facebook Page for latest news on workshops, classes and other activities aimed at improving physical and spiritual health and fitness.
Lynn is keen to utilise the available space, and also the talents of various therapists and practitioners in the area. She wants to help her clients become healthier and happier than ever, and make the most of their life in Spain.
Lynn also makes Orgonite jewellery, pyramids and charging plates, as well as crystal jewellery, all of which are available at the studio. Orgonite is excellent for clearing and cleansing energy, lifting your mood and generally improving the atmosphere in your home so everyone feels happier and healthier. It’s pretty too, so it makes great presents for others, or beautiful decorations for your own home.
At the moment, with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, numbers are limited, so if you are interested in any of the services on offer at Studio 11, it’s advisable to book your place. Drop into Studio 11 for a friendly chat about how you can improve your physical and spiritual health with the assistance of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic team of therapists. You’ll be glad you did!
The last few months have been challenging to say the least, so it’s no wonder we sometimes find our minds racing like the proverbial hamster in a wheel on steroids! A few days ago, I was talking to a friend, who wasn’t sleeping well because he had so much spinning around in his head.
As we were chatting, I was given this visualisation. It helped him a lot, and I also found it very effective, so now I’m sharing it with you. When we are overwhelmed, the best favour we can do ourselves is to take everything out of our head for a while and just ‘Be.’ That’s easier said than done, though. If only there was a way to reset, and start again with a clean slate.
This visualisation will help you do just that, because you really have to concentrate. There’s no room for rogue thoughts to steal your joy, and at the end of this, you’ll feel fresh, focused, and ready to carry on. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin …
Visualisation for calming a racing mind
Sit comfortably and quietly with no distractions. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take three or four slow, deep breaths, breathing in pure, clean air, and hold for a count of three.
On the exhale, breathe out any worries you may have, Give it a dark colour – brown, grey, red, whatever colour your stress ‘feels’ like. With each out breath, see the colour lighten, until your exhale is almost clear. Now you are ready to start.
Imagine a big clock face, inside your head. The dial is a bright silvery colour, the minute and hour hands are blue, and all the figures on the clock are purple. Both hands are at 12. The second hand is green, and that’s at 12 too.
You really need to concentrate now! Start counting, in your head, from 1 to 60. Count slowly, like seconds ticking away on a clock. At the same time, see the second hand going backwards, that is, anti-clockwise. When you get to 15, 30 and 45, visualise the second hand resting at numbers 9, 6 and 3. As you get to 60, it’s at 12. If it helps, see one of the other hands going with it. It’s tricky at first, because your brain is counting one way, but you are visualising something going in the other direction.
Now pause for a few moments, keeping your eyes closed and your head still, as it takes a moment or two to settle down after this powerful visualisation. Now you’re ready for the second part.
This time, count to 60 again, but see the second hand going clockwise, or forwards, as you count. This part is easier, but it’s important to do it to reset your energy properly. Again, see the second hand pause at 3, 6, 9 and 12. As you become more used to the visualisation, you can even imagine a ‘ticking’ sound as the second hand moves around the clock face.
Take a couple of deep, relaxing breaths, and thank the Universe for turning back time and resetting your energies. Now open your eyes and take a drink of water.
A note about the colours:
The colours on the clock face are not just random selections – they each have a spiritual and psychological connection to ensure the meditation is effective.
Silver: Silver is a colour of balance and reflection. It helps cleanse negative energies, and is an ideal background colour for our clock face. It’s a calming, soothing colour, and it reflects energy back, good and bad, so as you visualise the clock face, you signal to the Universe your intention of clearing negative energies, thereby attracting more positive energy into your life.
Green: Spiritually, green is the colour of the ray of Archangel Raphael, the Healing Angel. It’s also a colour associated with harmony and balance, in Nature and in spirit. It’s calming and restorative, with a gentle energy. If you are feeling stressed, wear something green, and/or carry a green crystal with you. Green is growth, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Purple: Purple is the colour associated with richness, but it doesn’t always mean wealth; it’s also equated to spiritual enrichment. It’s the colour of the imagination, so having an element of purple in any visualisation will assist the process. Purple is very calming – the crystal amethyst is the one most recommended for dealing with anxiety. If you are wondering why the clock face isn’t in purple, it’s because too much can have the opposite effect, making you feel more anxious and out of balance.
Blue: Is linked to security, confidence and inner peace and tranquility. It’s also the colour of communication and protection.Wear blue to bring about a relaxed, secure state of being – especially when you are in unfamiliar situations.
Practice this visualisation whenever you feel your thoughts racing away from you. It’s also very effective at night, just before you go to sleep, if worry is causing disturbed nights. Please let me know how you get on with this in the comments. Love and blessings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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 atWest 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.
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.