Changing the tune

Saturday, August 06, 2016

There’s such an art to writing film scores – using music to guide us emotionally through the drama on screen.

How much poorer would a film like the English Patient be without its soaring, expansive soundtrack? Or The Omen without its sinister one? 

This morning I spent a few moments tuning into my own most-played soundtrack: what three thoughts do I think most often?

Oh dear.

There’s the thought about all the things I need to get done – the to do list; its close relative, how can I possibly fit it all in – the not enough time thought. And there’s also the what-should-happen-when thought: given the list and lack of time, how do I organise myself – the timetabling thought.

If my life was a film I can see that the usual soundtrack would be something like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene in Disney’s Fantasia.

And just like sitting in the cinema watching a film, the more I tune into it, the more wound-up I feel. Feelings are thoughts in motion.

The gift of such moments of clarity is the opportunity to change my tune: to Louis Armstrong’s We have all the time in the world perhaps. Or Don’t worry be happy.

As I think those thoughts I can actually feel my shoulders drop and the smile start on my face.

I wonder what soundtrack you’ll choose to live today to? And tomorrow…

Thoughts that make you feel like you’re in a Hammer Horror film, where you can’t even see what it is you’re supposed to be scared of but your insides are jelly anyway.

Or thoughts that, in the words of other songwriters, Raise you up, remind you that you’re amazing just the way you are. And that All is Well:

 

Posted by Jane Matthews on 08/06 at 07:10 AM
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Taste test

The arrival of the first Chinese restaurant in Bletchley in 1970 was a source of huge excitement in our family. Up until then, birthday celebrations involved lamb, mash and gravy at the restaurant in Luton Airport (I kid you not - it was Dad’s favourite eatery and as he was paying he got to choose).

But now there was a new taste in town, and it was nothing like the rehydrated chow mein dinners that Vesta first served us in the 60s.

Still, dad was worried. One birthday, as we tucked into Proper(ish) Chinese, he paused mid-fork. “I’m worried that with all this foreign food coming in by the time you’re my age you’ll have tasted everything there is to taste”.

I laughed at him then. After all, there was a whole world of flavours to try.

But now I’m considerably older than he was then I realise he may have had a point. I’ve eaten croc in Fremantle and witchetygrubs in Kisangani; and without going anywhere I’ve eaten my way around most of the US, Europe and the Far East thanks to Marks & Spencer.

So for today’s best year activity I’m on a mission to taste something I’ve never eaten before: whether I find it in the supermarket, the Polish cash and carry, or at the bottom of the garden.

Join me?

Posted by Jane Matthews on 08/06 at 07:05 AM
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My miracle mattress

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Recently I asked friends to share their miracles: the synchronicities, serendipities - or, as the inspiring Patricia Crane puts it, the moments when the Cosmic Kitchen delivers what you ordered!

Which set me thinking about the many times that ‘miracles’ have happened in my life, some as magnificent as the ‘random’ phone calls asking me to write a book or deliver workshops on a Greek island; others more apparently mundane, and yet equally powerful evidence of the mind’s power to move mountains.

And since I was doing this musing in bed - the world’s most comfortable bed, I’ll have you know - the story that came first to mind was how I came to be lying in it at all.

Dreamtime
I’ve known and loved Heather and Wayne for more than 30 years, since we travelled overland together in Africa; they’re the kind of friends I see only once or twice a year, and often less, but when we do meet slip straight back into comfortable familiarity and trust.

On one of these occasions they’d invited the group of overlanding friends along to a reunion-come-housewarming, and naturally the evening included a tour of their cosy and characterful new home.

“You gotta try out the bed,” Wayne enthused like a kid with a new toy. “She (he always calls Heather ‘she’) had to have it.Best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.”

How right he was. The moment I lay on it and felt the bed’s embrace, like a great big mattressy hug, I’d have happily skipped the party and spent the evening on this new love affair. I decided there and then that one day I’d have a bed like this too, undeterred by the eye-watering price tag Heather mentioned. When enough of my books sold, when I won the lottery, when I felt wealthy enough, THEN I would splash out on bedded bliss.

the gift
It was another year before Heather and I decided we must Do Lunch and why didn’t I come to her first so we could also fit in a visit to our favourite mind, body, spirit bookstore, a few streets from her?

“It’s been ages. When was the last time we saw each other?”, a beaming Heather hugged me at the door.

There were many things I could have said at that moment: ‘at your housewarming’, ‘the reunion party’. But to my surprise what actually came out of my mouth was ‘just after you got your new bed’.

Heather drew back from our hug with a deep sigh. “Oh God. The bed.” Then her eyes widened: “You don’t want it do you?”

The Cosmic Kitchen in the bedroom

Over coffee Heather told me how uncomfortable the bed had become for her back. After months of bad nights she’d admitted there was nothing for it but to divorce the bed, despite the thousands it had cost. No-one she’d mentioned it to wanted it so the previous week she’d asked Wayne to put a small ad in the Oxford Mail, offering the bed free to anyone happy to take it away.

The newspaper messed up and instead of appearing in the free-to-a-good-home furniture section the advert somehow became buried in Gardening - between patios and petunias. Naturally, they hadn’t had a single call and later that day Heather intended to phone the paper and get them to put things right.

Reader, you hardly need ask my reaction to her question. Did I want it? Yes; unequivocally yes.

Wayne had a job over our way the following week. Would I like him to drop the bed off for me? Well yes please…

bedtime story
I love the bed. I love going to bed and I love waking in it.

But what I also love is that this story reminds me miracles comes in all shapes and sizes. That many of them are happening all around us every day - breathing without having to think about, gifts of love and friendship, the five fluffy cygnets I watched on the canal this morning - and just because we don’t always notice them or call them miracles doesn’t mean they’re not still happening.

Most of all, it reminds me that it never was about winning the lottery, selling enough books, or any other of those ways in which I believed it was down to me to make this happen.

The Universe is infinitely more creative than me….smile

Posted by Jane Matthews on 07/31 at 08:33 AM
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Some like it cool

Friday, July 29, 2016

As if spending visiting a hospital A&E department isn’t ordeal enough, finding there are no seats, the coffee machine is dead, the cold drinks cabinet only contains bottles of something purple and sticky,  plus there’s a minimum four hour wait, is enough to make anyone sick.

It happened to me recently as I’ve already blogged.

So this afternoon, as I finished my Sainsbury shop, I suddenly decided to throw a few boxes of ice lollies into the trolley.

Then I sped down to Milton Keynes A&E with my loot to offer it to the waiting hordes.

I think this qualifies as a best year activity on two counts: firstly, it was great to bring a smile to the faces of a few frazzled parents, grateful for anything that might distract them and their bored children (I have been there so many times myself).

And secondly, if I’m honest, it took me outside my comfort zone . Quite apart from worrying that I would look foolish, that some people might suspect me of selling something, trying to poison them, or just being a bit eccentric, there was the dithering in front of the freezer cabinet wondering how many ice creams I’d actually need. I didn’t mind having too many - ice cream doesn’t last long in our house - but I didn’t want to run out while there were still frustrated, hot, tired people rammed together on the rows of plastic seats.

I can report that some people did indeed seem to think me strange (or at least guilty of un-British behaviour) but that there were many more smiles and thank yous - including from those who didn’t take an ice cream but appreciated the gesture.

I can also report that I caught myself just in time to avoid offering one to a woman clutching one of those paper sick bowls to her chin.

And that the most grateful recipients of all were the two elderly men who were there in A&E by themselves. I suspect that for all the pleasure they showed at being offered ice cream, a few minutes’ conversation might have tasted even sweeter.

But that will have to be another story…

Posted by Jane Matthews on 07/29 at 05:34 PM
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It’s called waking up

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bad news: my car is sick.
Good news: the garage is within jogging distance. So after dropping it off at half seven this morning I got the chance to jog back home along the Railway Walk - a leafy corridor chugging along behind housing estates, factories, and under the stuttering stop-go lanes of the M1.

What a treat it was to be reminded how the world looks and smells early in the morning, before traffic smells dull its sharpness and our own busy-ness descends like a veil to cut us off from what is all around.

The ripe scent of honeysuckle tangled amongst the trees and shrubs. A pair of bright blackbirds hopping away from me, as light as their own feathers. Splatters of pigeon poo decorating the leaves of nettle beds. Miniature scaredolls watching me from the top of their bamboo sticks in the allotments.

Even a passing cyclist left behind a delicate scent of shower gel, shampoo and clean skin.

For some distance I followed a dog walker. His head was bent over a phone the whole time. He noticed none of it I assume, since my puffing appearance seemed to shock him.

How many mornings is that me? Making to do lists in my head the moment I wake up. Running through the conversations I need to have. Snapping on the chattering radio which drowns out the birdsong in my garden. Working out what I’ll do when.  Firing up the laptop to check emails and see on Facebook and Twitter what everyone I know is saying, doing and thinking about.

How many mornings is it you?

This morning on Facebook, before I headed out to the garage, I saw one friend had posted a picture of a journal she’s bought. The front cover reads ‘Let’s Go On An Adventure’.
Beneath it another friend wrote: “It’s called waking up every morning.”

I just have.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 07/26 at 07:13 AM
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A story about stories

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This morning I was thinking about stories.


I’ve just got back from assisting at a teacher training for people from all over the globe who want to live and share the Heal Your Life messages of loving ourselves and changing our thinking.


Which is where the stories come in. We all arrived with our stories of hurt, disappointment, fear, lack of self belief, and worse. And during the course of a week replaced them with new stories of peace and fulfilment, hope, abundance, love and connection.


All it took was a decision: a choice to let the old story go with forgiveness and compassion and replace it with new thoughts and beliefs.


I’ve been through this powerful process so many times and yet my soundtrack STILL catches me out often.

Drunk in charge
Today I recalled last Monday night when I accompanied a friend to hospital and as we waited (and waited and waited) she pointed out a man who seemed to be slowly collapsing in his chair. dangerously lower and lower.


He’d arrived alone and for a moment we both visualised the mess that would follow when he lost consciousness completely and crashed headfirst onto the tiled floor.


So I jumped up and knelt in front of him. “Are you ok?”
He shook his head very slightly “No”, then began to cry.


I looked up. No sign of any hospital staff. I put my arm around him and felt him slump. He smelt of alcohol and staleness and he was drifting into unconsciousness.
I wedged my body in a way that I was supporting him. He could not fall. But neither could I move to summon help.
Yet the waiting room was full to bursting. There were patients and their loved ones propping up the walls. Why did no-one else offer to help him - or me?


It was probably ten minutes before a couple of other women attracted the attention of staff and help arrived in the form of a male nurse who manhandled the man into a wheelchair. He opened his eyes briefly but could no longer speak and one side of him lolled heavily. Possibly he’d had a stroke.


And I returned to my friend to wonder why no-one had stepped in to help me hold him up. My story was that people don’t want to get involved.


Millions of Good Samaritans
But I know it’s not true. Every day there are stories of people stepping up and stepping in. The millions of silent good Samaritans who appear during every new episode of the violence that we are hearing about right now, to comfort the injured and dying, the trained staff who pick up the pieces, the strangers who open their homes.


I see there were so many reasons why no-one came to help:


The staff – who had already been on duty for long, exhausting hours – were flat out caring for other equally sick people.


Those in the waiting room had not noticed the man come in alone and assumed I was his wife or girlfriend.


Some of them had noticed he was drunk and were scared.


I didn’t ask for help. (A whole nother story in itself.) So people assumed I had everything in hand.


Which is true?


I know it is whichever I choose to believe, and that how I choose matters more than anything.


If I choose to believe ‘people don’t want to get involved’ I feel lonely, resentful, despairing.
If I choose to think they are confused or afraid or lost in their own struggles, I feel only compassion for all of us who were there that night. We’re all doing our best.


It’s either a dog eat dog world in which everyone is out for themselves, or it’s a world in which it is up to every one of us to see the humanity in each other and reach out to share what we have in common.


We get to choose.

Posted by Jane Matthews on 07/24 at 08:11 AM
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