Dad introduced me to the wonderful world of cycling
The day I finally shed my bike stabilisers in the nursery playground he was there cheering me on. Later that same day, we celebrated my graduation with a glass of Irn Bru (which is a carbonated drink that originated from Scotland), and a wagon wheel (which is a round biscuit representing the wheel of a wagon. It has a marshmallow centre and is covered in a chocolate flavoured coating.)
A few years later Dad gave me a hefty bright red road bike as a gift, which he had built for me from bits of old bikes. It was beautiful !
I never had to worry about fixing my bike because Dad took care of it for me.
Unfortunately, I lacked Dad's confidence when it came to fixing things, and spent most of my childhood comparing myself to him, eventually arriving at the conclusion that I was a hopeless failure. ( Please note the punctuation mark at the end of the last sentence which is commonly known as a full stop or period and is an abbreviation for the word DONE)
So, with only 91 days left to live I have decided to remove the full stop from my life and become a budding bike mechanic. Not the kind of bike mechanic who mends outrageously expensive bikes in the Tour De France. I just want to learn the basics.
I purchased Chris Sidwells Bike Repair Manual. It's a jargon-free book with step by step photographs demonstrating how to repair a bike.
' Modern bikes may seem complicated and the technology that manufacurers use may be moe sophisticated than ever. However, cycle components work, as they have always done, according to logical priniciples, so there is no reason for you to be daunted.'
Mr Sidwells sounds like a very nice man.
I visited the local DIY store and purchased some Long Nosed Pliers - which are supposedly very good for holding things firmly. (See below for a picture of Long Nosed Pliers - parental discretion advised.).
My first bicycle repair occured shortly afterwards when I decided to treat Harrry Heritage to a new tyre fitting.
Shwalbe Marathon Plus -"Virtually impregnable street tyres that roll reasonably well".
Removing the wheel was pretty straighforward. I could feel myself growing in confidence. Unfortunately, things rapidly deteriorated when I started fitting the new tyres - they just kept popping off the rim. So, there I sat, with my head in my hands, reduced to tears.. by a tyre.
I prayed to Dad for guidance...
'The virtuallly impregnable street tyres are virtually impossible to fit . They keep popping off the rim. Please help! 'Have another go son.'
So I took a deep breath, picked up the wheel, dusted myself off and started again
'You can do it lad.'
I picked up the wheel again and again until finally, after two hours of hard sweat and tears, the tyre finally popped onto the rim. I danced around the room waving my arms in the air, free as a bird.
" One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind" - Neil Armstrong
Since then, the virtual puncture fairy has visited me twice. Thats okay; I am choosing to roll with the Holy Spirit. One day, I might even build my own bike and call it 'Spirit of Jim.'
In my experience; a little willingness goes a long way.
'Imagine every person in the world is enlightened but you . They are all your teachers . each doing just the right things to help you learn patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion.' - Buddah
Recently, I chose to step back from the gym because I grew tired of listening to bodybuilders talking endlessly about ‘my body’ and ‘my training’, showing little or no respect for fellow gym members in their quest to be bigger and better than the next man.
I believe that a true bodybuilder is like a sculptor whose job is to remove anything that doesn’t look like the statue.
‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’—Michelangelo
This requires trust, open-mindedness and unswerving faith in a certain outcome. Mindfulness is the key.
‘Mindfulness is the art of seeing that every moment has a value of its own. To spotlessly clean a window, or sweep leaves from the backyard, is an physical experience that has its own significance and nobility.’- Mike George
During time spent away from the gym I have taken steps to simplify my life. One of the ways I have done this is to weight train in the back garden, using battered dumbbells, an old stone bench and the ground beneath my feet.
In stepping back, I have found myself again.
Weight training offers lots of opportunities to mediate. Each repetition within a set is a chance to coordinate the breathing with the rep and to breathe deeply through the muscle, stopping the set at exactly the right time.
Focusing my mind on the centre of gravity during training instead of the working muscles allows the mind to become calm like a quiet lake. That stillpoint in the belly may not be moving at all, even though the arms and legs might be busy. This place in the belly is the centre of gravity.
Intuitive training involves feeling a straight line from the centre of gravity to the working muscles and into the weight. This straight line leads past illusions and points towards the truth.
Training outdoors is simple; an extra-ordinary way of communing with nature and keeping fit at the same time.
Whilst training in the back garden I have been made aware of the passing year. I have felt the sun and rain against my face, listened to the wind talking in the trees, and watched the decaying leaves falling all around me. Supposedly, autumn is the season to take stock and harvest the fruits of personal experience; to acknowledge the silent rhythms of the heart; this endless wave of life and death, in which we all share.
‘Could any way be holier, or more deserving of your effort, of your love and of your full intent?’ ACIM
lifting with my arms flapping,
through the sky in ecstasy, such a power for my body
in simply floating
as anti-gravity,up in the air,
ascending three feet,
a hundred feet,
a thousand feet,descending to a hundred feet,
returning to a hundred feet,
to a thousand feet
above the ground, effortlessly,is this a dream,
or a view of future reality,
such a feeling of freeing
spirit-indwelt carnality,I dare not betray this possibility
for the travel of my soul
to this glorious destiny,the birds have nothing on me,
as I sail with the wind
and a highly-evolved mind
conscious of the Christ within me.
'And The Beat Goes On'- 70's & 80's night which me and Ell organized in Shoreham went off due to people refusing to wear leg warmers
Winston's car radiator crossed over to the other side - due to old age. (Winston is my car not my boyfriend)
Comedian Norman Wisdom. ( best known for comedy films produced between 1953 and 1966 featuring his hapless onscreen character Norman Pitkin. These films supposedly made more money than the James Bond Film series ) My Dad did a top impression of Norman Wisdom.
Claire's Coffee Shop - taken over and transformed into a cafe. ( The difference between a coffee shop and a cafe is as follows: A coffee shop sells coffee and is more comfy, and a cafe on the other hand also sells coffee but is uncomfortable. )
The upper left molar tooth in my mouth had to be extracted leaving a gap the size of a crater.
My underpants - fell apart due to strain and constant usage. It might be worth mentioning to always avoid buying underpants from pound shops because they are rubbish.
The multi tool used for fixing my bike fell apart which made it difficult to fix the rear geranium.
I nearly mentioned the Chilean Miners because 33 days is a really long time to survive underground. Some animals like moles and earthworms spend their entire lives underground, but miners are a bit like prairie dogs because they spend some time below ground and some time above ground. The good news is they all got out safely and were given free sunglasses to protect their eyes from the desert sun. However, all have severe dental infections and some have eye problems, so there is a possiblity that they may lose a tooth or have to wear glasses in the near future. Below is a picture of the Chilean miners ...
This morning, I met friend/teacher/ mentor, Paul Goudsmit for a cuppa and a catchy up. This may sound a bit melodramatic, but this man helped saved my life. Let me explain. I first met Paul in 1996 in Downtown Toronto at a lecture by Duane Okane. Paul encouraged me to attend a 3 day workshop called The Awakeningwhich I did - and it transformed my life. Years of guilt and shame, pain and suffering were brought to the light and for the first time in 27 years, I was able to see beyond the darkness.
Paul is a shining example of what it means to be a teacher of God. He reminds me of the importance of living freely in the here and now. He has unwavering faith in the power of Love.
When Paul says hello, he means it; he is genuinely happy to see me - his eyes fill up with tears, he grins cheekily, laughs wholeheartedly and gives me the biggest hug. He is passionate and full of joy.
The next couple of hours were packed with laughter and tears. Paul attended a doctors appointment with me ( I wanted to inform the doctor that I only had 97 imaginary days left to live ) but after sitting for 30 minutes in the waiting room, discussing the importance of forgiveness, we were informed that the doctor was on holiday in Blackpool.
So, we had lunch at the deli instead. Flirty was there, and sold Paul a jar of cheap fine cut lime marmalade- which he intended to take back to Canada as a gift for his beloved Jane. It was only when we left the deli that we both realized, the marmalade would probably not make it through customs. (You may find this hard to believe, but some individuals enjoy making deadly explosives and disguising them as fine cut lime marmalade. It's a bit daft really, because fine cut lime marmalade was originally intended to spread on toast. )
Paul didn't seem thrilled at the the thought of having his backside searched by a butch woman wearing latex gloves, and decided to leave the marmalade behind on the station platform.
I waved my friend farewell, and left the station, clutching the jar of fine cut lime marmalade. Due to the marma dilemification, I forgot to take a snapshot of us, hanging out together, So, here is a portrait of the fine cut lime marmalade instead...
I would like to take a moment and acknowledge Paul Goudsmit for having the courage to live his spiritual purpose; for always being forgiving, and ready to help me forgive, and above all else for being a true friend. The world is a brighter place with Paul in it.
'Friendship should not be taken lightly. it is as sacred a commitment as any other; our friends are sent by God, for us to help them and for them to help us.' - Marianne Williamson
Ever since I was little I have been experiencing acute panic attacks. They occur in bed at night, when I am led on my back. These attacks force me to sit straight upright, and leave me fighting for breath. I have spent most of this lifetime feeling embarrassed and ashamed about this .. but there is something else .. I think these attacks may not be from this life.
I booked a past life regression with Sarah, in an attempt to help me face the fear head-on, release, heal and move forward.
This is what happened in the session …
100, 99, 98, 97, 96... Walking down stairs
I am in a corridor filled with doors.
I open the first door..
The walls are made of stone. I am a dressed in a black cassock. My feet are bare, cut and bleeding. I am running scared, being pursued someone or something. I can feel pain in my lower back and sense that I have been stabbed.
Sarah encouraged me to call on the angels to help protect and strengthen me. She also reminded me that I have the power to change this situation.
I am back in the corridor filled with doors
I open the second door..
The room is pitch black except for a tiny slither of light. I am lying on my back, unable to breathe. The ground beneath me is cool and smells of damp earth. Something is coming down on me like a ceiling. I am imprisoned in a wooden box.
Sarah guided me to rise above the box like an eagle. She encouraged me to walk down a stairway, picking up gifts of strength and courage. Finally, I re-enter the box and use these gifts to push through to the other side.
I am back in the corridor
I open the third door…
I am standing in a room with a wooden table and chair. I am here to see a person - a female. She is wearing a hooded cloak. She has pale skin and green eyes. I am here to say goodbye. It’s too dangerous for me to stay. Tree roots bind me to this person. I cut them away with a small knife.
I am back in the corridor with the doors.
Dad appears in front of me, he places his hand on my chest. I can feel a warm golden light spreading through my body. He leaves through a door at the end of the corridor. I follow him into the golden light. Family and friends greet me, and remind me that it is safe to let go.
I am back in the corridor. There are no doors left.
1,2,3,4,5,6... Walking up stairs
When the regression was over Sarah sensed that there may be a connection between the girl in the room and the wooden box. She described it as a jealous situation. I was becoming successful, building and creating something, and this girl couldn’t handle it, and made a hardened decision to to put a stop to it. Sarah could see a pouch of money, and as the girl leaves the room she nods at another man - I was tortured and buried alive!
This may sound strange, but I get a strong feeling that I know the people who did this to me - they are in this life.
Elloa gave me the gift of Lillies - a symbol of purity.
He sees no strangers; only dearly loved and loving friends. He sees no thorns but only lilies, gleaming in the gentle glow of peace that shines on everything He looks upon and loves. ACIM
This morning during meditation my breathing became free and easy, and there was a quiet melting in. I opened my eyes to the sight of a pretty rose swaying in the garden and decided to make a picture; a flower portrait. Life in macro is stunningly beautiful; a world within a world, within a world. The slightest breeze can seem like a hurricane. I continued to meditate on the rose, letting go completely on the out breath and when I paused, the rose held the pause with me, and the image was captured ...
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today - Dale Carnegie
Ell and me ate a simple lunch of tuna and rye bread, with marmite and steamed cabbage. Then, we drove down to the beach and had some fun. I felt compelled to take off my shoes and socks and go paddling in the water. It was amazing. Ell did the same, and we laughed,and played like children. We also collected tiny pebbles and shells.
Later we drank decaf lattes in Marks and Sparks. Mine had a love heart image in the foam. Check out the photo below for proof...
This made me curious . What if this loveheart was a miracle, like The Shroud of Turin (This is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner that is consistent with the crucifixion. Some say that the face is the Holy Face of Jesus.) See below for a picture of The Shroud ... I have to admit it does have a slight Christi feel to it
Holy S**t! What if this was The Shroud of Cafe Latte - the image of Christ reappearing in the steamed foam in the shape of a loveheart?
There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not 'harder' or 'bigger' than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal. ACIM
I awoke with a huge black rainy Ego cloud hanging over my head.
You DON'T have what it takes to act truthfully. You’re a FAKE and a PHONEY. Might be better to pull out of the show before you make a complete IDIOT of yourself. Elloa could step in for you and play Bowe for the rest of the run afterall she knows all the lines...
I was paralysed with fear.
Fortunately, Guards(wo)man Elloa- mighty companion and ex doppleganger agreed to witness my process.
Words of anger, attack and blame tumbled from my mouth quickly falling away to reveal an overwhelming sadness. Growing up, I often compared myself to Dad. He was my first experience of God, and I wanted to emulate him. But no matter how much I tried, I always fell just short of the mark. I started to cry for the wounded boy. Ell encouraged me to lift my head and make eye contact. There is something remarkably humbling about letting another human being witness our grief and sorrow. It enables us to experience something exquisite; the recognition of the truth in ourselves and others as we truly are.
An ancient hate is passing from this world. And with it goes all hatred and fear. Look back no longer, for what lies ahead is all you ever wanted in your heart. ACIM
In preparation for tonights performance I warmed up slowly to gentle music; this helped draw my attention to any tension areas in the body. Then I sat quietly and spent a few minutes breathing deeply and relaxing the muscles . Relaxation is an important prelude to concentration and when combined with affective sense memory points to a truthful, realistic performance.
Slowly but surely, Nige disappeared and the wounded soldier emerged.; a fragile flower. I held him close to me and reassured him that everything was going to be okay.
What followed was a heartfelt performance filled with deep emotion, light and shade.The audience became Bowes witness, as he muddled his way through what occured at Chalk Pit Wood on the day he went 'Over the top'. There was an awkward silence in the theatre, as the audience hung onto to Bowes every word. Men and women started to weep, as they came to understand and know his despair as there own, and for a brief moment, separate interests fell away, and they became one. Maybe, this quiet moment of remembrance from the audience, may just have done enough to help set Bowe free.
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, its never too late
Today, my old friend Steve visited to come and see his old pal perform in My Boy Jack. We first met in the early 90’s whilst working part time in a Cash and Carry ‘ Up North‘. Me and Steve spent many a lunch break attempting to unravel the mystery of it all.
Nowadays Mr Yates has no interest in stocking shelves. He's a hubbie, a top Dad and recently started his own company. He reads lots of complicated books on how to build websites, and drives a shiny black car that is capable of breaking the speed limit in 0.1 second. It's modern vehicle (unlike my beloved Winston) complete with all mod cons. I was like a kid with a new toy; opening and closing the electric window. I also had bit of a fumble with a secret button on side of the passenger seat. This reminded me of the secret ejector seat button on the Aston Martin in the movie Goldfinger when 007 sends an armed guard catapulting out of the car.
We had lunch at the local deli The manageress of the cafe was extremely flirtatious...‘Somebody smells gorgeous’ she said. ‘ A bit like lemon zest with a hint of grass ‘. I looked across at Steve who was taking a sip from a mug of Lemon Grass tea, and we grinned at each other.
In my opinion, grass isn’t always greener on the other side even if the ego tries to convince me otherwise. I honestly believe that the only thing missing in any situation is what I am not bringing to it.
Stevies mother died from cancer on the same day as Pops exactly one year before. Supposedly, on the drive home from the funeral parlor, his son accidentally knocked over his Mothers ashes and ended up looking like a ghost. Steve was so distaught that he scooped up the remaining ashes in his hands, and after pleading for forgiveness , sprinted down to the bottom of the garden and scattered them next to the silver birch tree.
Later that same evening I stepped into Michael Bowes shoes for the first performance of My Boy Jack. I struggled to control my breathing in the second act due to having recieved a blighty after a mix up during a fight in the trench scene. (This is a wound serious enough to require recuperation away from the trenches but not serious enough to kill or maim the victim) During the scene I got punched in the ribs and fell so hard on my backside that I ended up feeling like I had been kicked by a horse. I walked off stage feeling bitterly disappointed. I confided in friend and mentor Di Norman who encouraged me to find more of a balance between light and shade. However, my old pal Steve said my performance was the equivalent of High-definition television. (See left for a picture of a HDTV complete with real clouds.)
Ell stayed the night. Our relationship is is a sacred marriage of hearts. I feel truly blessed to have this wonderful person in my life. I have only been consciously dying for two days and feel sad at the thought of having to leave her behind.
'If every man and woman alive could feel the crazy, delirious rush of the soul when it touches the soul of another, the world would be a happier place.' - Marianne Willilamson
Today, I awoke at 5am, my mind , a hustling, bustling shopping precinct of thoughts. I lay in bed fighting for breath, shaking like a leaf, attempting to recite lines for the part of Irish guard Michael Bowe in My Boy Jack, in which I am suffering from a debilitating condition called shellshock. Shellshock, was not recognized at the start of the war, but incapacitated men as their mental faculties became muddled like one of those little glass balls that you shake up until they are filled with flakes that look like snow.
I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat cross-legged in the space between the bed and the door, took a few deep breaths and quietened the mind attempting to explore the hardness in my belly. Fear of dying. Fear of living. Fear of letting go.
‘In our fear of death, what calls out first for examination is not death but fear itself. We need to explore this hardness in the belly that is so much a part of the armouring over the heart.’
I sat quietly listening to the rise and fall of the breath and gradually the hard edges began to soften and fall away.
I met Elloa for a cuppa at the local garden centre with the intention of chilling out before dress rehearsal. Unfortunately, she was having a bit of a wobbly day and threw a tantrum. My ego was immediately offended at this untimely outburst, especially since I had just discovered that I had only 104 days to live! I had arrived expecting an empathic response, the gentle sound of harps playing on the café radio, and angels hovering lovingly near the rose section in the garden centre. Instead, I was faced with a girlfriend whose head was spinning furiously at 365 degrees, and wanted to murder me! For a while my brain became muddled due to the sound of heavy enemy shelling in my ear. I had just discovered that Elloa is a doppelganger posing as a girlfriend and mighty companion, sent from another theatre company to sabotage the show and wreck the dress rehearsal!( A doppelganger is a is a tangible double of a living person that typically represents evil)
Shit! I could really have done without this inconvenience. How can I play the man whose brain has become scrambled eggs without the support of my beloved Elloa? Its only been half a day and I am well and truly fed up of dying. Maybe it would be kinder for everybody concerned if I just call the experiment off, at least until Ells head stops spinning and the snow settles in the glass ball.
Then, a small voice inside my head reassured me that everything was unfolding perfectly. Regardless of the size of the tantrum the little girl was crying out for help. I decided to lay down my arms and respond with kindness This created a safe space for both of us to explore our mistaken beliefs and with spirits help release them back to the nothingness from where they came, and in their place plant new thoughts, that are positive and loving.
‘ Only Love is strong because it is undivided' ACIM
That night at dress rehearsal I was able to embrace the vulnerable child within me and fuse the words of the character with real emotions. The strength of my performance centred around my willingness to hold the space for this broken man, reassuring him that regardless of the size of the problem only the love is real.
Dad sat staring into space; he had been diagnosed with 'that lung cancer'- The one with the long name that begins with the letter 'M' that’s awkward to pronounce - the incurable, unforgiving kind that rips through the body like a black tornado.
I rushed over and knelt beside him, resting my head against his, and cried. I seemed to be under the false impression that cancer was something that only happens to other people.
From the time Dad was diagnosed with 'that lung cancer' to the moment he took his last breath, his ramble here on earth lasted 104 days. Then I blinked, and he was gone.
The second we are born the journey to death begins. How much time we have and more importantly how much living we do in the time we have will vary from person to person.
I often wonder how Dad lived with dying.
So today I ask myself a question.
What if I had 104 days left to live on Planet Earth? How different would my life look?
The purpose of writing this blog is to spend the next 104 days of my life. consciously exploring the space between the bed and the door. ( The space between the bed and the door is the spot where I sit each morning in stillness.) That’s 2496 hours or 149760 minutes or 8985600 seconds left to live each moment like it's my last, rediscover what makes my heart sing, and shine my light.
I won't be the first to attempt this experiment, and neither will I be the last.