When No One’s Looking

moon

You came to me

last night

as you promised

you would

Under cloak of night

a million blinking night sky eyes

like fire flies

bearing witness to

our secret

rendezvous

Where I poured out my heart and hopes

beneath your watchful gaze

so silent still,

and in the silence

in the space

between the breath

where life begins and ends

and ends and begins

I feel your love.

Love that never falters

Love that never lies

Nor judges

Nor expects

Nor apologises

Nor shames

Nor blames

A love that is a beacon

on the horizon at the edge of the world

Ever guiding me on

Ever guiding me home

and into your arms

just like Nick said.

Beneath my fingers

earth cool warm

Roots dig deep

I lie with you

Raw

Naked

Open

As you gaze upon me still

You shine

My heart quickens

I shine

a leap

a flame

Behold a life

Behold connection

and there,

you point,

An opening in the coal cloaked sky

like a bullet

shot clean through

and on the other side

I can see clear, clean to heaven.

But wait

Where are you going my friend

my  midnight love

in such a rush

you move so fast,

Freeze-frame this moment

Don’t go

Don’t leave

Dance Dance with me still

still and wild

to the rhythm of life

and earth heart beat

“I will be back”

You say

You say . . . . . you say . . . . as

you go . . . you go . . . you go . .

And now in grace and gratitude I lie

on feather bed

as feathered friends

Sing up the dawn

and welcome the birth

of a precious new day

one that I have never seen before

A warm caress

wanders across my skin

like fingers of gold

and in the blink of my eye-spy-I

beauty lies

and

time flies

and

The world turns around once more

inside out

and back to front

and upside down

Turn around again I say

for I am hungry to dance with you

under a midnight sun

with a wolf heart roar

a swoop owl hoot on a dark tree night

When faeries frolic and mischief make

that we can only see in dreams

‘neath the full moon sky

where Brigid lullabyes

as  belly swells

With fire and love and life

and stars sing to the universe the mystery and magic of who we are

and who we are meant to be.

So come to me again, my love

Impatient I am

Find me in the north under the old oak tree,

There I’ll be waiting

Drum in hand

Song on my lips

And Love beating loud in my heart .

 

Painting: Frank Frazetta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To prognosticate or not to prognosticate

prog“So what’s your prognosis?”

If I had a pound for every time someone asked that question, well, I could probably fund a feet-up, rub-down weekend at Champneys.

But I’m just going to say it – it royally p***** me off!

I made the choice not to ask for my oncologist’s prognosis as to my impending mortality. Why? Well, firstly I wasn’t hopeful that I would hear anything I really wanted to hear. Just a cursory google about lung cancer survival had shocked me enough to know that. On top of which there were other serious issues I was dealing with, so I wasn’t in a hurry to hear the news.

I was also conscious of how our own minds can lock, stock and barrel influence the well being of our physical selves. How our beliefs can impact our health both for the good and negatively. I was mindful of the possible consequences of self fulfilling prophecy. If I am told I only have until Christmas, I could potentially limit my opportunity to survive beyond that, because I have so completely surrendered my authority not just to the disease, but to the medical establishment? I read  a famous account about a man who was diagnosed with liver cancer, he hoped to make it to spend one last Christmas with his loved ones which, happily he achieved, but sadly passed away soon after. An autopsy later showed that tests had shown a false positive reading for the progression of his disease. In fact, very little cancer was present in his body at all. The question is, was it his expectation of his own death that in fact killed him?

Sky Mood Chess Board Tree Hourglass Princess

Making a prognosis is not easy. To my lay person’s mind it is at best an educated guess based on a cohort of statistics. In my case, the statistics for lung cancer are taken most recently from 2010, so they are out of date. They reflect an older population, as at that time this is where lung cancer was most commonly found. In lung cancer terms, I am considered quite young.( Yay, knew I’d find a positive if I persisted) So the median, may not be as applicable to my situation, as I am not someone who is 70 with a lifelong history of smoking. And statistics don’t factor in what else one is incorporating into one’s healing journey such as lifestyle changes addressing nutrition and exercise, addressing stress levels and depression, or taking supplements, alternative therapies and treatments, counselling  etc and nurturng not just the physical and mental, but one’s spiritual life. Which research tells us, feeds into a person’s well being enormously, and therefore could potentially influence healing outcomes.

But back to prognoses – and just as everyone’s experience of cancer is unique to them , so is the decision to ask the doctor to prognosticate. I know that people want to understand what lies ahead for many reasons: practical matters have to be put in place, affairs put in order, maybe take that dream trip you’ve always put off, or what about those who want a prognosis in order to defy it, to exceed expectations, and to continue running right through the tape and beyond the finish line and into numerous triumphant laps of honour – gold medal hanging proud. For the doctors, having an idea of prognosis should enable them to establish the right options, and best care that is needed at every stage. Yes, they can get it wrong – they are human trying to do their best against a disease that has the skill to transform, hide, return, and persist and has outwitted the best brains for too many years.

So back to why I am royally p***** orf.

I think the question lacks sensitivity, compassion and understanding.

“What is your prognosis?” is akin to asking someone the question “how long do you have left to live? How long before you might die?”

It isn’t a casual question. It is profoundly personal, intimate and private.

Yeah, right. Not pleasant is it. At least, that’s what it feels like over here. I am quite convinced that you don’t mean offense. But it is deeply painful to hear. Please, please could you maybe be a bit more mindful if ever that question forms in your brain, and not let it escape your mouth. It might just be a passing question, or even a genuinely concerned question, but please think, engage your brain, and remember that there is someone who, despite looking absolutely bloody gorgeous on the outside is actually doing their damndest to keep on keepin on.

OK rant over. Keep well.

Oh, and I sincerely apologise if the cartoon offends. I find that sometimes black humour keeps the gremlins at bay.

Love always xx

Below is an article from the Guardian 2015 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/02/doctors-predict-patient-die-prognosis-wrong

And for a less ranty evening do join me in London on Thursday January 18th.

https://www.cecilsharphouse.org/component/content/article/21-shared/shared-events/5090-cancer-and-the-art-of-living-an-evening-with-leah-bracknell

 

Talk Update – Cancer and The Art of Living – with Leah Bracknell January 18th 2018

DSCN3549

Hello Everyone,
I just wanted to check in and say thank you SO much for such a positive response and support for the talk –
 
Cancer And the Art of Living on January 18th 2018 in London.
 
Just to clarify I shall be giving a talk inspired by my blogs somethingbeginningwithc.com and my own experience of learning to form a relationship with my disease based on my background in yoga, acting and shamanism.
Though those of you that know me will be unsurprised to learn that there will of course be an opportunity to experience a few practices that I have personally found incredibly useful on this journey, vital even, such as meditation, visualisations, perhaps even shamanic journeying. Suitable for everyone, as there will be no standing on your head or winding legs behind ears – those days have long gone!!
Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer, know someone who has cancer or if you are dealing with another illness or life challenge, we can all afford to reconsider what it really means to be alive, to forge a meaningful and fulfilling existence, to mend what is broken, transform what no longer serves and to find ways of being of service to others, no less than when life is at its most challenging.
This will NOT be an evening of doom and gloom, rather it is an exploration of how we may be able to discover the light even in the darkest of times. How we can might even discover resources of strength and possibility if we dare to allow ourselves. About being the best of ourselves. Of facing fear, honouring our experience, transforming and decluttering our lives of what no longer serves. Being honest with ourselves and others. Allowing a devastating diagnosis or life challenge become our teacher NOT our gaoler.
Cancer is healing my life. Am I cured? Well, I still have stage 4 cancer. They tell me there is no “cure”, but everyday I seek and find healing in the little things. I enjoy my life. I wake up each day ready to embrace ( sometimes with deep trepidation I’m not going to lie) whatever presents itself, and, despite what “they” thought, I am STILL here. I am alive, and I intend to share that joy and celebrate this wonderous gift with my family, my friends, students and with you.
It’s time to change the narrative. I hope you’ll come and change it with me.
For details of Cancer and The Art of Living January 18th in London please visit

Cancer and The Art of Living – an Evening with Leah Bracknell

DSCN3631What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal disease?

In September 2016, after surviving a sudden life-threatening illness, actress Leah Bracknell heard the shocking words we all dread.

“Sorry. You have stage 4 cancer”

With no option of surgery, ‘palliative’ chemotherapy was all that was offered to her.

Based on her blog somethingbeginningwithc.com – Leah shares her remarkable and inspiring story of learning to live with a terminal illness. Drawing upon her experience as an actor, yoga teacher and shamanic healer, she shines a light on the human spirit’s power and capacity to be extraordinary, even in the darkest of circumstances. Discovering transformation, wonder, hope, joy, possibility, positivity, and beauty along the way.

“I chose to cultivate a relationship with my disease.  To ask it: why are you here? And what have you to teach me? I discovered that when I ceased regarding cancer as my enemy and looked beyond the fear, it gave me the opportunity to embark on a profound personal healing journey, emotionally and spiritually that has transformed my whole outlook on life.

Having cancer has restored a deep appreciation and gratitude for my life. It has been an awakening. Cancer has been my greatest challenge, but also my greatest teacher, one that has rekindled my passion for life. It has taught me that a life well lived is the best medicine, that we can all be the alchemists of our own “healing”, whatever the outcome, and that life is not merely about existing or surviving, but thriving with a capitol T.

Cancer has given me back my life.”

This is an experiential event and you will be able participate in some of the healing practices: meditations, visualisations etc that Leah uses on her journey to assist you with your own.

“Having cancer or any serious illness can be a dark, frightening and lonely road. So, let’s walk it together, standing tall, side by side, hand in hand.”

WHEN: January 18th 2018 7.30pm

TICKETS: £19 and £14.50

WHERE: Venue and Booking : Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London NW1 7AY

https://uk.patronbase.com/_CecilSharpHouse/Productions/8F/Performances

Leah Bracknell, mother of two, actress, yoga instructor, shamanic healer was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in September 2016, after suffering a near fatal pericardial effusion. She has worked in TV and theatre for forty years, from Shakespeare to panto and is best remembered for her role as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale. A yoga instructor for over a decade, she has taught workshops around the country and at the Yoga Show, MBS, Wilderness Festival, and Mind Body Soul Exhibitions and written for Om Yoga Magazine, Yoga Magazine, Spectrum, her teaching has been widely featured in the press, including This Morning, Lorraine, BBC Radio. She has released 2 DVDs Yoga & You and Yoga for Life. In 2010 she underwent an intensive Shamanic practitioner training.

You can read more of Leah’s work on her blog Somethingbeginningwithc.com

The Song of KooKuri

shaman art 4

Yesterday, I began to write a story.

I didn’t know until it started that it would feature a girl, an egg,  a yew tree and a feather. But it did.

Then I went for a walk amongst the corn rows, as the sun set and a hush fell,  just as the giant stalks were coming to life, chattering , peering and pointing at the strangers in their midst. A vast sea of green faces, curious, animated, laughing, mischievous. Clap clap clapping and a-rattling their spikey green limbs, rattling. A festival of foliage. A tribe of triffids. A clan, a gathering, a chorus, a congregation. Waving.

And I waved back.

corn ali2

 

As we strolled home. I found an newly hatched egg on the path. My second such find of the day as it happened.

After ten more paces, we looked up. And a yew tree looked down. I knew there would be something else: then, ten more paces, I saw it. The pub, patriotically named for the Prince of Wales, and there painted on the signage, were 3 white feathers. 

Sometimes, the universe leaves you in no doubt that it is trying to communicate, and it is the job of us mere mortals to decode and decipher the information. In this case, I am still scratching my chin. 

But here is how the story begins:

One day, KooKuri fell from the stars.

Stars that shone in an ebony sky a million years away.

She fell, not like you or I might: that is, in the wink of our father’s eye and the blush of our mama’s cheek, but rather like a feather would.

Like the feather from the breast of a snow white dove.

Lighter than a passing thought. Softer an angel’s caress.

A feather to make a wish upon.

She tumbled, and cascaded and floated until the world found form and she a safe place to land.

When that day finally arrived, and it was a Thursday, I remember clearly, she alighted on the branches of an ancient Yew, and there she made her nest, cultivated from twigs and leaves and a warm lining of hope.

It was nearly time.

Nearly time is the same as almost time, but nothing like in time, on time, or for the unlucky ones, out of time.

As KooKuri didn’t own a watch,  for they hadn’t yet been invented, she understood the concept of time only by the journey of the sun in the sky, and the rumble in her belly. Never the less, Kookuri knew that it was almost time. And she was ready.

To behold her, is to be transported to a dream of the realms of heaven. Her skin is luminous, and shimmers with all the promise of a desert mirage, she wears the distinctive and intoxicating aroma of morning jasmine and woodsmoke, and her hair is like melted charcoal and as lustrous as a raven’s wing. She is adorned only by the blessings of the Mother Maker.

She is neither small nor large, young nor old, sharp nor blunt. Were you to meet her, you would not see her. You would not know her but you would not forget her. She is everywhere, she is nowhere. She will see you whether you would like it or not. But you would like it. And she would know the answer to the question that had not yet formed on your lips.

All this and more is the magic and mystery that is Kookuri. Kookuri who fell from the stars in the ebony sky a million years away before the earth found form. And she has been sent in answer to our prayers.

High up in her Yew tree eerie, Kookuri, gave a little burb, spun around three times anti-clockwise, clicked her fingers three times, and lo and behold, blow me down,  if it didn’t just go and happen, right there in the embrace of the tree, just like the oracle said it would.

Kookuri laid an egg.

tbc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Guided Meditation through the Senses for Deep Relaxation.

relaxation

A gift for you.

A moment of serenity and peace and escape from the world and all its cares.

Give yourself permission to stop what you are doing, switch of your phone and computer, and simply relax.

Lose yourself in a gentle, guided relaxation through the senses.

Surrender to the healing and restorative power of deep relaxation.

Feel your worries melt away,

one

breath

at

a

time.

Please accept and share this, as my gift to you for all your love and support over the last few months.

In peace and love. x

Click here for: Guided Meditation through the Senses for Deep Relaxation

The Journey

buzzard art

Above

Two buzzards circling,

Sky-spiralling.

Spread-winged, eagle-eyed, in freedom flight,

spring soaring. Roaring by

Gone now in a flash, the bat of an eye, the beat of my heart,

the train speeds on and life flashes by.

This journey wears a groove in my life, deeper it cuts each time I say

“Return to London, please”

No Madame Tussauds, No Big Ben, No all singin’ all dancin’ West End Musical.

No all-seeing London eye. No, not for me.

What would it spy if it gazed my way,

something beginning with c?

Or a scan here, a blood test there, just a scratch, biopsies galore, are you seeing the pharmacist today? Well, I won’t beat around the bush, Disappointing, not what we’d hoped.

Well, it’s not what I hoped to be pumped full of drugs, or radiation, or chemicals.

Not what I’d hoped at all. Just saying.

Passing by familiar landmarks, at speed.

The station where you used to meet me, and leave me. Hello, goodbye. hello. goodbye.

Happy, sad, happy, sad.

Pat and Jim’s. But no one’s home. No one’s waving, not today.

Field after field. Tree after tree. House after house. Allotments. Gardens. Trampolines. Toys. Washing. A thousand lives passed by in a flash.

And are gone.

A thousand stories, a thousand tears and a thousand reasons to be joyful.

Lambs, birds, rabbits,  sometimes if I’m lucky,  a deer.

This green and pleasant land is testament to the mastery of the mystery.

And onwards we rush, destination –  cancer,

Do NOT pass Go.

Do NOT collect £200.

And, I’m terribly sorry , but your get-out-of-jail-free card has, regrettably, expired*. 

(*Which, conversely, is something I am doing my utmost NOT to do.)

monopoly

Past the airport. A plane landing overhead touching down just yards from the train tracks.

Last year, that was me.

That was then.

Before,

And Before, is a very different country from Now.

Now, is a land post-apocalypse, post-invasion, where anarchy and chaos preside. Where fear and grief and anger are on the daily menu.

Three courses for £12.95. Bargain.

Now, does not always feel like a safe place to live.

I declare myself a refugee from Now. I want a holiday from my life. Time out. A sabbatical. At least let me get off the ****ing train.

For here, in Now, the ground shifts beneath your feet. The waves close in over your head. You are falling from a high cliff, and a hand reaches down to help you,  yet you – just- can’t- quite -reach. You shout and shout until your throat is raw, but no one can hear.  You try to dial 999 but your fingers are jelly and your phone just won’t work.

That’s what Now feels like.

And then, there it was.

Large as life, and incongruous as hell.

In the doorway of a warehouse

On the crinkled, edges of Croydon

a fish out of water, metaphorically speaking,

seven and a half feet

of

polar bear.

(And, please look away now if you are vegan – )

deceased and stuffed.

Now, I’m not suggesting the sight of a stuffed polar bear on the streets of Croydon, or in fact any suburban town gives me any pleasure at all. But, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t, just for a sliver of time, make me smile at the unexpected absurdity of this urban arctic vision.

Whatever journey we are on, if we remember to look out of the windows with an open mind, and an open heart we may see the unexpected, we may experience the unimagined, we may taste the impossible, and we might live in the wisdom that life has a way of showing us a little breath of magic, a glimmer, a chuckle.

Don’t close your eyes, for the beauty is all around, in nature, in friends, loved ones, strangers, and in polar bears.

Above

Two buzzards circling

I spread my wings,

And now we are three.

Free.

3 buzzards

buzzard4