Friday, September 29, 2006

Challenge to the universe!

The last few weeks have been somewhat hectic with the launch of my new book 100 Ways to Live with Horse Addict and working on the new website for nervous horse riders; and just when I thought it was all going well and finally I'd hit at least first base if not a home run, I get another kick in the teeth! Either I was really awful in a former life or I've got a lot to learn in this one because I don't seem to get a year without upheaval of some description.
The latest thing is that I have to move house again! I have been renting a lovely cottage on top of a hill with a fabulous view; I have the horses right outside my door, and George my little dog runs about happily visiting the neighbours who all love him.
The spanner in the works is that my landlord only had planning permission for this to be a holiday cottage, even though it has never been used for that purpose. Someone has sent an anonymous letter to the local council complaining that the cottage has a permanent tenant. As we are right out of the village and I get on really well with the neighbours, it has be to someone with a grudge - and we have a good idea who! All I can say is his life must be devoid of any joy if he has to pull this kind of stunt.
So here I am in the midst of writing another two books, relaunching websites and generally trying to some kind of success of my life and I'm imminently homeless, I have a month to find a new home. I can't even live in the horsebox because I've just sold it.
Recently I have been really trying to get to grips with the abundance thing and attracting more of it into my life, and trusting in myself and the universe. I've been reading books and listening to tapes about how to mainfest what you want, how to find and live your passion, how to attract money, how to feel abundance and live abundantly even if you are skint. Every book, tape etc has said: get very clear on what you want, because when you are clear it will come to you, but only to the extent that you are clear. Put it out into the universe and expect that or something even better to come to you.
So I am sticking a challenge out to the universe: I want to own the whole property on which my cottage is situated - or an even better property with french doors that open into the garden, a ready made orchard and superb riding facilities including off-road hacking, 20 x 60 riding arena with stereo facilities built in so I can ride to music, plus grazing stabling and outbuildings that are convertable or already converted for an office from which I can run my publishing company. I want to earn £millions from the inspiring and beautiful works that I publish. I want to live a life full of fun, creativity, abundance and wealth so I can do what I like and spend what I like on what I like with joy and passion ( I can see the sports car, the 4x4 and the silver horsebox sitting in the garages already). I can see it all very clearly and I am passionate about having it right now! So come on Universe - bring it on!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

If diets work why aren't we all our ideal weight?

Following on from my previous post, I was watching Esther Rantzen and Lynn Faulks on the tv in their new programme Old Dogs, New Tricks chasing up some bloke who was selling diet pills. He was claiming an absolute weight loss guarantee and of course they debunked his claims. He was making pots of money out of people desperate for a solution to their weight loss. I also recall a programme last year with Victoria Word investigating the diet industry and why dieting doesn't seem to work.
Well I guess its pretty obvious really. If dieting worked - first time and forever - then the industry would have run out of steam long ago. For the majority of people, dieting does not work because it isn't what they are eating that's the problem. It's how and why and when they are eating it. That is what the industry relies on. And what is worse is that for many, they end up heavier than they were to start with.
So is the diet industry preying on the desperate? Well that is debatable. They are catering for a demand and while we believe that dieting is the answer to shed our extra pounds, we will feed the industry's coffers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. In the US alone the diet industry is worth about $48 billion dollars.
What lies beneath that demand however is more important and is the real answer to pound or kilo shedding: our self esteem, our self worth and our relationship with food. I mentioned the fabulous Chocolate Fairies at in my last post. I plug them because they, like me, want to inspire women to get off this treadmill of poor self image, poor self esteem, and low self worth. They come at it from the angle of getting to grips with your relationship with food. I come at it from the angle of having a better relationship with yourself - being your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy and celebrating yourself as you are right now - with or without those extra few pounds.
So what do you think - divas out there? Are you dieting? Are you loving yourself as you are? Tell us about your relationships - with food and with yourself!

Food glorious food

I seem to have put on a few pounds recently. I haven't weighed myself but my jeans are tighter and some trousers just won't do up at all. How did this happen? I haven't changed my diet and apart from a bit of a pig out for my birthday, I haven't been consuming much booze. But I haven't been burning up as much energy either. The horses are out 24/7 through the summer so my usual exercise routine of mucking out and hoicking around haynets and buckets of water isn't happening. I'm also spending more time at the computer, sitting on my bum so I guess while I'm eating no more than usual, I'm not burning it all up either.
I also find I eat more when I am working at the computer. Everytime I get stuck on a thought, I go make a cuppa, which invariably means a biscuit or two as well. And if I'm not in my flow, that can mean a lot of tea and biscuits! It has got me thinking about my relationship with food, not just what I eat but when I eat it and why.
Living on my own, I don't have a routine pattern to meal times - I eat when I'm hungry (which is good) but I also pick when I feel mentally challenged (which is not good as that can be quite often). I often can't be bothered to eat a proper meal so end up feeling hungry more often through the day and snacking on foods like biscuits and cake which are full of empty calories, but also full of comfort. I don't tend to cook or bake these days so most of my food intake is processed and shop bought - ranging from nutritionally deficient to just tasteless.
So I have decided to have a go at self discipline. And this what I going to do.
Firstly I am not going to deny myself anything, but I am going to make cake rather than buy it. This means that if I can't be bothered to bake, then I have no cake to eat. It also means I can control the ingredients. I made a superb carrot cake for my birthday last weekend which I will try again with half the sugar and only organic ingredients. Is it a faff? Probably but I actually really enjoy baking and being creative in the kitchen so giving myself time to play at baking once a week will be good for me in all sorts of ways and not just nutrition.
Secondly I am going to discipline myself to take a walk or to groom my horses for 5 minutes when I feel mentally challenged rather than constantly make tea. This will give me some exercise and time with the horses that isn't just about riding, so they will benefit too.
Thirdly I am going to give myself 5 balanced meals a day at regular intervals, breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with smaller portions which fill me up but don't overfill, and I'll give thought to my meals in advance rather than in the moment of 'what's in the fridge that I fancy'.
I'll let you know how it works. It's interesting that our self esteem and self worth so often can be precariously balanced on our weight and self image around body shape. My mission is always to inspire women to love themselves as they are right now, to celebrate being gorgeous and unique (because we all are) regardless of shape, size or weight. Some of the most gorgeous women in the world are curvy and rounded. Sticks are only attractive to the media and that distorted image of beauty has become all too prevalent and leaves us feeling inadequate if we don't 'fit' the cardboard cut out image.
I'm a curvy 16 with a 34FF chest, and apart from the fact that big boobs bounce a bit when I'm riding, which can be somewhat uncomfortable, I am proud of my body. It's generally fit, healthy and it's mine. My resolve to change my eating habits is about feeling comfortable in the clothes I already possess and in making sure that I give my body the energy it needs to enable me to stay energetic and healthy too, so my poor horses don't have a stiff, unfit rider to contend with.
I like being curvy - down with sticks!!! Marilyn Monroe and Nigella Lawson are my icons. Bring back Rubens!

If you are struggling with your relationship with food and are fed up with diets that don't work, go visit my friends Audrey and Sophie Boss on their website: They have a new book coming out on 21st September which will blow the diet industry out of the water and revolutionise the life of every woman. They are fab!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Of all the things granted to us by wisdom, none is greater or better than friendship

'Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love'. How true is that? I am blessed to have some truly fabulous friends, all a little eccentric in their way; all divas in the true sense of the word - Divine, Intuitive, Vital women with Attitude!

This weekend I celebrated my 41st birthday. I celebrated with a bunch of friends, who have spanned my life, some I have known for over 30 years, some for less than 30 weeks. All valued, loved and hugely important in my life. We share many stories and experiences - good, bad and ugly - and we have supported each other through the crafting of our lives. Thank god for friends - how would we exist without them?

I love this snippet from The Prophet (Kahil Gibran) - a gift from my best friend:
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and the sharing of pleasures.

Well, thank you my beloved friends, for this weekend we shared many lovely pleasures (including vodka jellies and chocolate cake), much laughter, rather a lot of pink bubbly and the joy of being alive, fabulous and 41.

41 and utterly fabulous! I think the old saying that life begins at 40 is absolutely true for me. I had a life full of great adventures before 40, but now after years of soul searching experiences, I finally feel like I have become the person I was always meant to be. The person that I was at age six - a wild, creative, smart, sassy, wise, bodacious, succulent, maverick child. Somehow that all got dumbed down when I tried to be the perfect daughter (which I never have been - how could I?). Now I have given up trying to be the perfect daughter. Now I am just the perfect ME.

It has been a truly wonderful weekend. I am one very tired and very happy Diva!

May diary

These diary entries have been removed from my website and put here so you can post your own thoughts and experiences.

May 2006
What a strange month May was! And another month of lessons - do we ever stop learning? At the beginning of the month I enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Morocco. Certainly after the rollercoaster of the last few months I needed that time away to regenerate the batteries. It was so lovely to lie in the sun and feel its warmth. I find something very healing in the warmth of the sun. While there I bought the most beautiful pink leather jacket - a real Diva jacket! It is so soft and I feel utterly gorgeous in it.

When we feel utterly gorgeous, we tend to exude gorgeousness too and we become like the sun, radiating warmth that other people want to bask in. My friend Claire and I decided to have our favourite day out at Borders bookshop and I wore my pink Diva jacket. I joked that it was my 'pulling' jacket and Claire said 'Well, if you pull in Borders, at least we'll know he can read!' (A man who reads is one of my important criteria - more on that in a mo). Well, divas, I pulled in Borders. I smiled at this guy and after skulking around the shelves plucking up courage to speak to me, he gave me his phone number. We have met a couple of times and I am not sure he is the 'right' man for me. I need to encourage him out of his shyness to know him better, but he does at least read!

My aha for this month seemed to be about men and choices. Claire and I were discussing how we select the criteria against which we decide if a man is right for us or not. When Claire married her husband she chose him because she knew she wanted a family and she wanted a man who she could trust to be a good parent. And she got just that - her husband is the best father you could ever wish for. But now the kids are 10 and 8, Claire is discovering that she needs to find a new man in her husband - a man who is a good companion for her, because up to now her focus has been on family rather than herself. Its an interesting and exciting journey for her. And having spent some time with a friend who is divorcing, a friend who is dating again after her husband died and me who never has quite found the 'right' man, Claire very definitely wants to find this man for her inside her marriage not out of it.

All of which got me thinking about criteria - just what am I looking for in a partner? How will I know when those things are present? I am pondering this still and will write this up in my diary when I have some answers, just in case you are pondering these questions too.

April diary

April 2006

Our celebrations of Easter are both a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion and a celebration of rebirth and new beginnings as symbolised by Easter eggs, spring lambs and baby bunnies. We often talk of spring cleaning when the clocks change, the weather (in theory) gets better and we feel more able to throw open our windows and let the fresh air blow our winter cobwebs away. April has been a month of inner spring cleaning renewal and resurrection for me. It has been a month of clearing away and letting go of hurt, pain, beliefs, values, thoughts and feelings that are no longer serving me well and some of which I didn't even realise were there.

It was also a month of aha moments, realisations and awakenings. Still processing what went so wrong in my relationship I was reading Something More, Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I read this and the penny dropped. 'Finally she realised that she had betrayed herself by "loving someone for what [she] needed instead of for what he was" and the curse was broken.' Sister Divas, my curse was broken too. In that moment I realised that my man and I had both fallen in love with what we thought the other person would fulfil, not with who we actually were. On my part I desperately needed to feel loved and he loved me fiercely, so fiercely that I was overwhelmed and a little unnerved by it, but nevertheless he filled that aching gap that I thought being loved by another would fill. For him, he was widowed and lonely and hated being alone, he needed someone who would just slot into his life and I did that. I got on with his family, his friends and slotted very nicely into his community. But I couldn't actually slot into him the way his dead wife did and that was what he really needed. And of course that was our downfall. I wasn't her, would never be, could never be and he knew that but struggled with reconciling it. His fierce love turned into fierce withdrawal and the aching gap I thought he was going fill became an gaping chasm between us.

Hideously painful though the experience was, the lesson was invaluable and I am grateful that I learnt the lesson before I thoroughly buried my authentic self. The aching gap of feeling loved cannot be filled by another person. We need to fill it by loving ourselves first and loving ourselves fiercely. How can you love another truly, if you do not love yourself? How can you expect another to love you if you do not feel you are lovable?

Confidence and self esteem/self love go hand in hand but they are not the same thing. I have managed to hide, even from myself, a lack of self love and a lack of belief in aspects of myself by being confident. And the downfall of this relationship took my confidence away and exposed me those aspects of myself that I did not love. I have a choice then - throw in the towel and hide under the duvet, perhaps for ever. Or to get up once again and fight for the most important person in my life - myself. I choose to fight once more, to pick up every aspect of myself one by one, examine it and decide if that is to be part of the lovable authentic me.

March diary

March 2006
Sometimes things happen in life which knock all the stuffing out of you and leave you wondering what you did to deserve it. If you have read my musings you may well know that Divadom was created after I had had a really rough year, when my inner diva must have been away on holiday.

Towards the end of 2005, I was feeling I had got back on my feet, life was looking up and I was enjoying a new relationship. Then in February this new relationship suddenly plummeted into free fall and I landed with a very heavy bump. To say the stuffing was knocked out of me is actually putting it very mildly, but fortunately this time my inner diva was only taking a nap. She picked me up, dusted me off and said, 'well perhaps we need a life review here'.

And so over the last few weeks I have been reviewing, clearing, renewing and transforming me. It is an ongoing process and there is still work to do. One of the major transformations though is a slight change of direction. I have always thought of myself as a business woman first and a writer second. Writing was almost a hobby that I was lucky enough to make some money out of. All change. I am now a writer and speaker first and a businesswoman second.

Why is this shift in thinking significant? Because I was driven to succeed as a business woman to fulfil what I thought I should be, not what I really was; and I was not particularly motivated to do it beyond the first flush of creativity. I am hugely motivated to be writer because that's what I really want to be, and every book, article or collection of words is a creative flush for me, which I love. Therefore I am more likely to be a successful writer than a business woman. I am still running a business, but the energy and enthusiasm are flowing into the business of writing. I am marketing myself differently too - I am marketing ME and my talents not just the fruits of my creative labours.

Sometimes I wonder if we actually listened to our intuitions, our inner voices, our authentic self on a more regular basis, perhaps we would not need such huge upheavals in our lives to make us stop and do that listening. So often the change we need to make in our 'self' only comes when we are forced to stop in our tracks. The last few months have been a truly distressing, horrible time but I am finally listening to 'me', and for that I am very grateful.