This month I’m reading

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As a self-confessed book worm I often have two or more books on the go at once.  In fact, technically speaking, I am currently reading four books; one second-hand copy of How to Eat by Nigella Lawson, a Lonely Planet guide to France (started last year, or was it the year before?), The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, and I am about to start The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, one of my favourite authors.

I came across a somewhat battewp-1486922279324.jpgred copy of How to Eat in a charity shop a few weeks ago and looking for some foodie inspiration I bought it and have been slowly working my way through it, often when I’m eating dinner.  A lot of the recipes are not for me as they contain meat, which I don’t eat but what I do love is the way Nigella talks about food, with such passion but also a lack of pretentiousness or preachiness.  She just enjoys cooking and eating and believes in the importance of good, honest, unfussy food, something I can certainly go along with!

I’ve also been dipping in and out of the Lonely Planet guide to France for quite some time now.  I pick it up when I have the odd half an hour and a cuppa in hand and don’t want to spend it flicking through social media.  As a Francophile, I am using it as inspiration for future visits; it’s working rather well!

The Selfish Gene is the second book in my current popular science phase I’m going through.  I recently finished A Brief History of Time by Professor Stephen Hawking, which was a challenge for a non-scientist but then that’s why I bought it, I wanted to educate myself and step out of familiar reading territory.  I’m not at all ashamed to admit I didn’t understand all of it; he lost me when talking about quarks, but I was able to follow most of it.  Now I’ve moved on to The Selfish Gene and am finding that a much more accessible read and a thoroughly interesting one too.

I haven’t read any fiction in a while and am therefore really looking forward to starting The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak in the next two weeks.  I have read The Architect’s Apprentice and The Bastard of Istanbul by the same author and love the beautifully descriptive prose she uses and the complexity of her characters.

What is interesting is that I think my book reading habits reflect my mind quite well; constantly flitting from one thing to another, rarely able to stay focused and do one thing at a time.  That is something of a disadvantage when it comes to getting things done.  I’m writing this when I should be working on an assignment for my MA but I just couldn’t find the inspiration today.  I wrote a little for it earlier but I felt it was mostly drivel, so I stopped and started writing something else instead.  Maybe having done so I’ll be able to go back to my studies.  Or maybe I’ll read …

What are you reading at the moment?  Do you have several books on the go at once, or work through them one at a time?  Share your recommendations for a good read, fiction or non-fiction, in the comments section.  Thank you.

 

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Endings and Beginnings

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The time between Christmas and New Year has always felt a bit odd to me; the main event has passed and now I feel I’m in limbo-land, waiting for everything to get back to normal again after New Year. I sometimes feel a little low as I reflect on another year passed and what I have yet to achieve in life, whilst at the same time feeling eager for the following year to begin so I can hopefully bring some more dreams to fruition.  2016 is certainly a year which many will be glad to see the back of, and for a number of reasons, both personal and global.  As mentioned in my previous post, 2017 is the first of the next nine-year cycle, and therefore it is vital that you get off to a good start.

Over the last few months, as 2016 has come to close, many feelings and situations in my life have also changed or ended. Maybe the same has happened for you.  I’ve already made plans for goals I wish to achieve next year, and am really looking forward to putting them into action.  Have you taken the time to reflect on what dreams you would like to see realised in 2017?  Try to get out and about in nature, especially if it is sunny, and use that as inspiration for your reflections.  I went to a lovely National Trust property today; Mottisfont in Hampshire, for a very cold but enjoyable walk around its house and grounds.  Having felt a little tired and down-hearted when I woke up this morning, I left feeling 100% better after strolling around, camera in hand, marvelling at the trees and winter light casting long shadows across the frost covered grass.  Seeing gardens in winter often makes you appreciate them all the more when you see them again in full summer colours.

It clearly had the desired effect as I’ve come home inspired to write a blog post, something I haven’t done in a while. I’m sure many of you who are reading this may be looking back on this past year with a mixture of emotions, so I suggest a dose of Mother Nature to ease any sadness or melancholy.  It has certainly helped me.

A word on Mottisfont; it became busy quite quickly, so I recommend getting there for when it opens. There are two cafes but they too filled up fast, so you may want to take your own lunch, although I can highly recommend the scones!  The grounds are lovely, even at this time of year.  However, the person who recommended Mottisfont to me said June is the best time to visit because the roses are in full bloom and smell wonderful; so a return trip is a must!  At this time of year, the house is only open on the ground floor but it had been beautifully decorated.  I look forward to seeing more of it on my next visit.

For more details, follow the link below. I visited Mottisfont at my own expense.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont

Photographs©VCUzzell2016

Time to Reflect

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In the Celtic year, the time between Samhain and Winter Solstice is one of reflection and inner work before the Sun begins its return and the earth’s energy becomes more active again. In numerology, 2016 is a nine year; a year of completion of events which began back in 2008.  My life number is nine, so this year has been quite challenging in many respects and I am greatly looking forward to 2017, and the beginning of the next nine-year-cycle.

I am aim to start afresh and have been doing a lot of self-reflection on the events which have caused upset in my life this year, and the lessons they have for me. As the year comes to a close, it is time to let go of anything which holds you back; especially any negative behavioural patterns which prevent you from moving on in life.  I have been examining my own and others’ behaviour and have learnt a great deal about the subconscious thoughts which prompt us to react in certain ways again and again.  It is this type of inner work and development that the final months of the year are meant for, and when Winter Solstice arrives, we can begin to act on our greater understanding of ourselves.

What do you need to release? What has challenged you this year?  What old patterns do you need to let go of so you can move forward in life? 

The dark nights of winter are an ideal time to reflect and make plans for the coming year. Yet this is even more important as 2016 comes to a close and we enter the next nine-year cycle.  I don’t usually place much importance on New Year being the time to change your life, as I believe you can do so on any day, but it seems that this year it really is a new beginning, and a conscious clearing away of the old to welcome in the new is more powerful than ever.

So make the most if these dark nights and be ready for when the Sun returns on 21st December and we will begin again.

 

A Lesson in Compassion

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I hate conflict and try to avoid it wherever possible; so it was quite a shock to my system last week when I did something I have rarely done in life, I lost my temper. Looking back from a more detached perspective, I can see how I had been sucked into someone else’s whirlwind of negativity and how their energy had brought down my own.  On top of that, ideological and personality clashes had led to a toxic air which was finally cleared, but not after a good deal of unpleasantness.  As I sat in the middle of it all, and despite being upset by their words, I suddenly felt compassion and sadness for my foe.

In the ensuing days, I have been able to return to that feeling and realise with the help of a wise friend that I had been opposite an individual in pain, who was unable to reflect on the effect they were having on those around them. I had tried to act as a mirror but have to acknowledge that my actions had been misjudged.

I am a very sensitive person; is that a good or bad thing? When I was younger it felt like an insult; ‘you’re too sensitive’; ‘you shouldn’t take it to heart’.  I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to that.  Growing up I felt my sensitivity was a flaw; a disadvantage.  I’m open-hearted and honest; that’s a risky combination too, as I have learnt over the years.  Yet being sensitive can also make you empathetic, with the ability to feel things deeply, and that is a gift.

However, as I have reflected in these last few days, I have decided I would rather refer to myself as intuitive. I knew a year ago when I came into contact with this individual that I didn’t want to be around them, but I ignored my doubts; I had to work with them, and so tried to make the best of things.  Yet as so often happens in life, that quiet voice knew there was a negative aura around this person and it tried to tell me to guard against being pulled into it, but I didn’t listen and tried to handle the situation as best as I could.  My best was not quite the right way though, and I can see that now.  I can also see how I beat myself up over the resulting situation, which also revealed I need to be more compassionate towards myself as well as others, even those who cause me pain.

This has been a lesson in compassion for me; and one from which I intend to learn and grow. It has also prompted a return to spiritual practices which I had long neglected and so I hope I will become a better person for what I have been through.  I sincerely hope my foe, my teacher in this lesson, can do the same.