Saturday, 26 December 2009


As we reach the end of the year, I am trying to look forward to my goals for the next one. And plan to reach them.

Specific....not get healthy, lose weight etc, but walk every day, lose on average a pound a week, untill I reach my goal weight
Also, do Sophrology every day, to help me reach these goals. problem here. I can measure my progress on Spark Points.

Action oriented....I think that this is the key for me, to really write down a plan, to find the missing link between thought and deed.

Realistic and Relevant....again, I think crash diets, and no plannning for a marathon

Time based......yes, specific mini goals should help


Friday, 4 December 2009

The great outdoors....a voyage into my past..the early years

Having joined a community devoted to the great outdoors, It made me think of my own past and possibly also some of my "regrets", not to dwell on them, but to see what I can do now, that I didn't do then.

My early life was certainly very outdoors. Until the age of five we lived almost on Thurso beach. Our back wall seperated the garden from the esplanade. I remember showing my early prediliction for the law, when having been forbidden from crossing directly over "our" wall, I went first into the neighbours garden, and over "their" wall. I recently saw why the prohibition had been put into place when visiting Thurso, and I was that the wall must be about 7 or 8 feet high. My playground was the beach, the rocks, and the cliffs.

Next stop was Scallaway. Again, near the sea, opposite the old harbour, and just round the corner from the play park, with swings, slides etc. The summer paddling pool was used for roller skating in the winter. We were in the swimming club, even though I couldn't swim.

When we moved to Lerwick, it seemed to be a long way from the sea, maybe five minutes? The rocks were our playground, and we used our imagination; the inner Hebridees were en route to the outer, which took quite a jump. Activities included horseriding, and whilst my elder sister actually won medals, I got the badge for the potato race. This involved getting off the animal, picking up a potato, riding across a field, and dropping it into a pail. I was the youngest in the club, and had to be helped on and off the shetland pony!
The was also Clikimin Broch

The year I left children under eight were not allowed on their own. This photo sees it beautifully restored. However we had so much fun there.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Imagining the future

I had a bit of an aha moment when doing my sophro this morning. In it I was having a word with Kelpie (my inner child), because I was trying to see why I still have a problem imagining the future. What came out was that I was scared. My previously imagined futures had not happened, from when I was little right up to my marriage. Yannick says that as it is only imagination , it's playing, and that we can imagine what we like. But, strange as this may sound, sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Only in very limited circumstances as far as I am concerned; I am sometimes not sure if I dreamt a conversation, for example, or if it really took place.

However, in a very convoluted way, am I scared of imagining myself slim, healthy etc, because so often in the past I got the opposite? I have no problems with the exercises in the past in Sophro, I enjoy them. But I know that they are real. At the moment, I am all tense, and it is taking a real effort to relax.

My thoughts are also at the funeral this morning. With the long decline they have had time to prepare themselves, but here again, it is not the previous imagined future. No one wants to imagine suffering, and loss.

So, I have to try and let go, and let myself play, and not let past hurts prevent or block imagined happy futures, and then real happy futures too.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Murphy's law

Yesterday the alarm clock woke me. Today is a public holiday, and I was really looking forward to a long lie. Guess what? I woke up around 6am, and impossible to get back to sleep! Grr

However, trying to put the above into operation, I can work on my Sophrology..

Oh, and I found an interesting blog on Murphy's law, here's the link

Monday, 9 November 2009

Healthy grieving?

This is the season when things die, and unfortunately it is people too. We talk about people being in the Autumn of their lives, but what if they have died long before that?

At the moment, one of my sister's best friends is planning her own funeral, down to the meal at the wake. The cancer has left her ragged. My bil is a medic in Afghanistan, and dealing with more pain and suffering than I can imagine. One of my students has just suddenly lost his mother in tragic circumstances. And another her best friend who died in a road accident. Over the last two days I have found myself trying to counsel the latter two as best I can

And of course my thoughts and words have turned to Kai.

I have spoken to both of the youngsters of the stages of grief, but I have a sense of "Do as I say, not as I do".

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Early morning

A very autumnal morning, and I went for a walk. The other photos can be found on

I am pleased with myself, because I did what I said I would do. Jonothan Roche was doing his last ironman, and to support him I undertook to do a fact the route that I took was nearer 7. This being sunday, I had the time, and I enjoyed it. Aswell as the cows, two deer ran in front of me, but as they were fast, a fairly long way away, and in the trees, I didn't manage any photos of them. The hunters were out, I could hear the shots, but I don't know if it was at the deer.

Whilst walking I thought about lowering the bar, and actually aiming for something achievable; that way I might manage to do it. So my plan is that I shall do the long walk one of the days in the weekend, (or somthing similar if I am at Jacques) Callenetics the other weekend day, and now to try the NEWO cds again, and see if I can't get them to work.

I also was conscious; of the mist, the frost, the light, my posture, the sounds. And I was conscious that I was not conscious 100% of the time! My thoughts would wander, and fly away altogether on some occasions.......

I'll take the camera on my walks, and try to track the seasons. Calum does that so well. I have a very different type of scenery, however I am sure that I can try to use the camera to show how varied it can be throughout the year. We'll see.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

They shall grow not old........

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget

This photo is of the Reichswald Forest War cemetery near Kleve in Germany. It is also called the rose cemetery. I visited it in 1975, with my family. I was overwhelmed by the mass graves of young men my age, the age of my friends, the age of my boyfriend, not much older than my brothers who were with me. When I teach European Law, that memory is one that I share when explaining why I am for a united Europe; I don't want to lose my loved ones to war.

I am happy that generations have passed, where whole generations have not been touched.

Having said that, my first serious boyfriend was in the Falklands. Another close friend was in the 1st Gulf war. One nephew was the first medic on Iraqi soil in the second, and his brother was also involved. Their father is currently in Afghanistan where he is not only a medic, but also a stand in padre.

We remember at this time those who have fallen. We should also think of those who have survived. There are those who are whole in body, but their spirits are affected by what they have seen and experienced; there are those who would not have survived before, and who, having lost up to 3 limbs have to go along a new path. Their spirits are also affected. And there are those who have tended to the fallen, and their spirits have definitely been affected.

Here in France we shall be remembering on the 11th itself. The 11th minute of the 11the hour of the 11the day of the 11the month. Take a moment to remember, and to think about what it means to you. And to those you love.

And think of the courage of those who are facing death, wherever they may be.

War or cancer, both are hellish things.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Being conscious

Driving down to Lyon, I was thinking about my attempt to really do something and find the link between thought and action, and implement it. I have drawn up a Sophro for myself for midday, which basically draws my attention to me being conscious of my actions; what I eat, drink, exercise etc. And I asked myself if that was the real core of Sophrology, being conscious. I have to be conscious if I want to change my state of consciousness. I thought of other ways to express this idea; being aware, being mindful, being there; hence the picture above. I saw the film when it came out, a long time ago, and my memories are more of the idea of being there but not being aware or conscious of what was really going on.

I am currently sitting in the University Café, eating a sandwich. It is tuna, egg, salad, and quite tasty. However, by doing two things at once, I am less mindful of at least one of them; in this case, eating. Even us multitasking women can’t devote 100% x2!

My goal is to be more conscious, more aware...

Saturday, 31 October 2009

I'm not incompetent when it comes to (fill in the blank) it's just a skill that I have to learn

I found this quote, and it really meant something to me, so in true SHE fashion, I went off looking for a picture to put with my ideas.

This quote has so much hope......skills can be learned. They are not something that we are born with. Look at a baby, how they learn motor skills, can move their heads, then sit up, walk, etc... Language skills are also learned, slowly, which comes as a great frustration to many of my students.

I am sometimes like my students, frustrated because the new skills come too slowly. I have to practice what I preach, and take the time to learn those skills that are not so easy for me.....and maybe I should think about the skills that I have more or less succesfully learned; there are actually quite a lot of them, when I think about it!

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Searching for a particular book I got caught up in a real SHE moment...let's organise the books! The photos are of downstairs, in the family room, which had been friendly and tidy; maybe it's still friendly?

Books are a my "peché mignon" a real indulgence, a not too secret vice, a guilty pleasure. When I was a child my mother complained to a friend about the number of books I had. The friend suggested that my mum give the books to a jumble sale. "But Karen would simply buy them back again" was my mother's anguished response. It was true too.

Books and plants make a home, for me. Oh, and photos too. I have photos all over the house, old, not so new since the advent of digital cameras, but with DD1 we decided I should print out some more.

Books are alive to me. In the photo, not deliberately, or at least not consciously, you can find "women and self esteem" hmmm..... Just out of the frame is "Long walk to freedom" by Nelson Mandela. You know, you find kids called Nelson in France, a long way from Trafalgar. This copy was bought in South Africa, as my marriage was crumbling, although I was unaware of that. Not so ironic perhaps

A bit better organised, again a photo taken without regard to the books themselves. They do say something of me. My heritage (Buchan, Stevenson and Austin), my youth (the chalet girls) my aspirations, (Rousseau) my search for spirituality (prieres des chretians, living inspirations) some more offbeat,(tarot) some basic, (lavender pots pouris) and some French (various)

I cannot imagine a life without books, without words, without all the doors that they open.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Feeling a far cry from Thursa

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My elder sister's bithday, last week, and her husband went off to Afghanistan as a medic. We've spoken a few times, and it is good to be back in proper touch with her. I perused my brother's flikr album, and found this formal shot of the three of us when we were little. There is another one with our parents and our baby brother.....
I don't know if it is the cold I've had for a week, or my age, or SAD, or just maudlin, but I'm not feeling 100%....not sure if I'm even feeling 50% lol
Yesterday I was on my own, all the kids away doing other things, and it came to me that is how it will be next year. Rattling around like a pea in a pod, in this big house all by myself.
And having been sick, I've been rereading some books that have helped in the past, and some more on sophrology. There is only one conclusion to be drawn. In order to try to reach that serenity that I am aiming for, I have to get some serious sophrology practice in my life, to start walking the walk, figuratively as well as literally.
But just at the moment, I feel a long way from my roots.......

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Expect the Unexpected

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley." to quote our national bard.

No, not my diet this time, but I loved the cartoon.

I had planned to spend the day working on my papers for Andorra, having spent yesterday on the house. Things did not go according to plan yesterday. Well, first I slept in (formerly very rare, not so rare now) I wonder if it is less stress that means that I am not living on my nerves, and my body is taking advantage of that, and catching up with my sleep debt. Next, collecting the Clio, but the bill, the length of a short novel, wasn't written up, so that took a lot longer. At 12 we were due to meet friends and now daughter and boyfriend are going to be house-sitting there. A bottle of champagne later, we decided against doing the shopping, but headed home for lunch, so that when she went to work, daughter had some food in her tummy, and not just champagne. A very quick lunch, some sophro, then taking other daughter to get the ingredients for a millionaire's shortbread, then to buy an all in one swimsuit, then to the opera, (written and directed by her drama teacher, with a good friend in the acting role). By the time I got home, made phone calls etc. it was time for bed. DD2's bf's father offered to take her home (the following day), so I thought that I would be able to spend all day working.

At midnight DD1 came in to tell me that DS2 had given up on hitch hiking, having travelled 5kms in one day, and they were coming by train the next day, so I'll have to go and pick them up. Then at 6.45am or so she woke me again to ask for a lift to work, her bf is choked with the cold. No, not swine flu, just the cold. During the night I had felt my sinuses filling up, but I'm not as bad as him. So taxi day for me today.

With some writing inbetween, and tidying, and maybe I shouldn't be blogging, but I'm up early!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


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My thoughts have continued along the lines started in the previous post. And how I/we treat my/ourselves with tough love. In fact, I make an allusion to that in part 1 when I said we have to ensure that the long term gain outweighs the current pain.

It’s a bit negative!

I thought about it.
1. We deprive ourselves of food
2. We force ourselves to exercise
3. We want to lose weight
4. We fight a battle against weight gain
5. .......

You get the picture? We are putting ourselves into a negative mindset, where we are literally treating ourselves as our own worst enemy.

And I thought some more....what could I do that was *positive*, where instead of *depriving* myself, I could *indulge* myself. Not in a food way, of course, but still in a way that nourished me, Kelpie especially.
My answer was body lotion.
It was one of the things I had thought about on holiday, putting on after sun.....I realised that I only give myself that particular attention “in extremis” as it were; to prevent damage.
And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It is a way of showing myself that I love myself (thanks Flylady) for the following reasons;
1. I spend some time on me
2. It’s a sort of luxury
3. I auto massage
4. Massage is a great thing, look at babies who want cuddles, and kittens who want stroked
5. I have to own my body (not hide behind clothes)
6. It isn’t a cure.

I also tied to find out what the opposite of Tough Love was...guess what, there isn’t an opposite. I tried googling gentle love, and one of the things that came up was an adaptation of 1st Corinthians chapter 13. Even for the non religious it is a lovely piece.

So now I have to try and think how I can be gentle and patient and kind with myself....and enjoy my indulgences!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Because I'm worth it Part 2

This is a tad more difficult. Criticism is easy, even (especially?) when it is of me. I know the negative points; the $64,000 dollar question is how to get over them.
My idea is to use two sets of 3
• The serenity prayer
• Transactional analysis.
So I’m looking for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
OK, long legs out of the question, but tanned toned ones a possibility.

As for the second, start with Pam’s Brat/Princess concept (my name is Kelpie), but go further; find a reason for each goal for each or the Parent/Adult/Child in me, to try and reinforce my efforts, and have all three working together; or at least trying to avoid the wilful child scuppering the ship before it even sets sail! (How’s that for mixed metaphors)

So back to the list I made in part one. (And some progress since I wrote on the beach) I
1. am overweight........(however the scale is going in the right direction)
2. have the stamina of a mayfly.....(however I spent 2 hours mushrooming on Sunday, scrambling up and down the mountains)
3. need to colour my hair .......(done!)
4. am sometimes unfulfilled at work....(however the students are starting up again, and I love the teaching part)
5. am still grieving old hurts.....(however, awareness helps, and it is a long process)
6. sometimes act in self destructive ways......(who doesn’t?)
7. am sometimes unhappy with the state of my home......(look forward, not back)
8. am still disorganised....(however getting better)
When I first wrote, I was a bit surprised that so much came so quickly. And felt that it was quite enough to start with. And was so scared seeing it in print, that I set down my notebook.
When I picked it up again, I had to accept that I was scared to confront some of my own devils. That means calling on courage first of all. I looked at each one on the list, and found reasons why I should do something about each of them....the why could come later.

1. Why lose weight?
a. Parent: being overweight shows lack of self control. I need to show more self control (sigh, says Kelpie, I don’t like being told off, especially when it is true!)
b. Adult: I want to be healthy and grow old with J with a minimum of health issues.
c. Kelpie: I want to be pretty and sexy and desirable and be able to wear my red dress and not be ashamed of my tummy (and lots of other wobbly bits) on the beach (and that’s just for starters!)

2. Why have more stamina?
a. Parent: ditto for weight
b. Adult: ditto for weight
c. Kelpie: I want to be able to swim and cycle and swim and jump and do daredevil things and show off!

3. Hair colour
a. Parent: why bother?
b. General agreement, I look better without the white streak. So where’s the hiccough? OWE (own worst enemy makes her first entrance) Maybe lack of observation/organisation. I need to schedule a time? (Hey, Kelpie here. There wasn’t supposed to be a How till Later! OK, point taken)

4. Fulfilment at work?
a. Parent: no real reason, work is work, but I would like my efforts to be recognised and appreciated (that’s a reason!)
b. Adult: when I am happy and fulfilled I waste less energy.
c. Kelpie: I want to have fun, be recognised, people to like me, make lots of money, use my brain and my intellect, be famous....

5. Why grieve old hurts? (again I set the notebook down, another tricky one)
a. The reasons are maybe the same for all three; the brakes are what are different. It is such a tricky area that all three agree to put it to one side for the moment...not enough courage.....yet!

6. Why should I stop pressing the self destruct button?
a. Ditto for the old hurts.

7. Why have an organised house?
a. Parent: because it is absolutely normal to have one, and not normal not to!
b. Adult: to be able to have people over more often, to stop wasting energy and time, and to be a grown up (hmm, is that adult or parent, not sure)
c. Kelpie: to be a princess and have fun in my fairy castle!

8. And organisation?
a. Parent: back to the weight issue
b. Adult: because it will make me feel better, and see organised house
c. Kelpie: to have the time to play and do the things I want to; write, take photographs....

Now, a thought about the brakes; what things are stopping me?
I asked J for his opinion (very adult) and even listened to him (even more so). He thinks that my mind moves too fast, that it jumps around too much. There is also (my words) a missing link between intention and action.

Task: To find the missing link

Why? Because I’m worth it!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Because I'm worth it....Part 1

The holidays are almost over.....and here are some of my musings, written when I was sitting on an Atlantic beach, near Le Porge.

For many years the advert featuring Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson et al really annoyed me; it was demeaning, encouraged little girls to be overly concerned about their appearance, objectivised women etc.

And then, over the last few days I've had a rethink about the message being sent out, what I, as woman really think, believe and subconsciously act upon. My conclusion is that I (and I don't believe that I am the only one) put the question of what I am really worth way down the line.

Because if I really acted on "because I'm worth it" would I
• Be overweight
• Have the stamina of a mayfly
• Be unfulfilled at work
• Need to colour my hair
• Still be grieving old hurts
• Be acting in self destructive ways
• Be unhappy with the state of my home
• Still be disorganised
• ...........

If I really believed that I am worth it, would I not try to channel some more useful energy into dealing with the above issues? Not so simple: I realise than I am my OWE (own worst enemy); shooting myself in my foot is a speciality.
So what brought on this epiphany? Like all the best (sic) discoveries, it was not a lone effort, nor a single action. It had been built on reading (especially the Slob sisters), observation, sophrology and all sorts of things. The final eureka moment came when I saw a woman jogging. As I passed her on my bike (on the way to the beach, easier to cycle the 2 km than walk), she stopped, checked her watch, turned and beamed! I happened to be in the line of her smile, and it was beautiful. She was too. The sort of toned, slim (but not skinny) bronzed lady I would love to be – right down to her tanned legs. Oh, and not much younger than me either. And I thought to myself “She thinks she’s worth it. She thinks she’s worth the effort of taking the time to be fit and healthy”.

At the moment of writing I was on holiday with J. We were on a camping holiday near the ocean, and we used the bikes a bit (J more than me) including cycling from the car park to a quieter part of the beach. On our first day we cycled the 4kms or so to the village (and back) and did some shopping in the morning. After a light lunch we headed to play in the waves, leaving the car and cycling along the path to the beach. By the time we arrived I was in a sorry state, with the beginnings of a real migraine; one eye pulsing, a throbbing headache and an intolerance to light (tricky on a sunny day on the beach). I suspect it was due to a fall in blood pressure after too much effort. My gut reaction was to get into the sea and lower my body temperature, as opposed to lying in the heat in our little beach tent. In the water I began to feel better and lay floating so as to cool my head. When I was overturned by a wave, a younger lady, also playing in the waves with her partner, laughed with unrestrained joy. She didn’t see a middle aged overweight lady needing her hair dyed, with the beginnings of a migraine. She saw someone having and enjoying the same sort of innocent and exhilarating fun as her. We were both being tumbled by the waves; we were both worth the childlike joy of playing in the waves.
After that, on the same route to the beach, I passed all sorts of well groomed, coiffed, muscled, fit men and women. Each of them obviously considers that they are worth the effort of taking time for themselves. And using after sun as well as sun cream!

My light reading included “Get your act together” (by the aforementioned Slob sisters). (Even there I found reference to my main serious area of research for this summer; for my dissertation for the next sophrology weekend, including awareness, consciousness, mind etc. My more serious books were on phenomenology.) Amongst the issues of organisation, weight loss etc. a very strong message came through. Change will only happen if you want it enough, when the gain outweighs the pain, when the future pleasure is more important than the current and so on.

For me than means that I have to believe in the person that I can become, that I shall become, tanned legs and all. I can only believe, truly believe, in that future once I can accept, that yes, I am worth it.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The trip and Arrival in Andorra

We thought at first that there had been an accident, as we could see the flashing lights as we drove down the valley before the police stopped us. As there were no side roads we were a bit concerned. We were already running, if not actually late, without any more margin for error.

The day had been long for me, I had got up at 4am, to prepare my bags. I am not much of an evening person, and that was easier for me. I left, I had thought, a tad late, but got to the rendevous point in Lyon at 7:30 am. Isabelle joined me a short time later, and we headed off to pick up Sylvie at Valence. I knew the road, having done it with Jacques a short time before, and the first part went very quickly. A coffee stop and later lunch en route broke the journey up a bit. For the latter there were two coaches, that I guessed were on there way to or from Lourdes. That meant queues for the loos!

We chatted throughout the trip, about sophrology, wondered what it would be like in Andorra, our course to date, our teachers.....and also about families, ourselves, our hopes, our past.

Once we headed towards Andorra, off the motorway, things began to change; the road conditions, obviously, particularly as one of the tunnels was closed, so we went round Foix, but also the climate. As we were heading into the mountains, the heavens opened, and we went up the steep mountain roads under the rain. However, at the moment I took the above photo it wasn't actually raining. I've been stopped for cows, for sheep (in Scotland) even goats, but it was the first time that I've been stopped, by the police no less, to let horses go by. And as we went down the road, and could see their passage, we saw that they had come quite some way. The line of traffic stretching the other way was quite considerable.

The horses and what they represented, that until about the middle of the twentieth century, the Andorran economy was based on shepherding and the breeding of cattle and horses, was in stark contrast to my first impressions when we reached the built up areas. A lot of buildings, rather dark, an almost Ghormenghast feel, although of course the buildings here were new. However I felt them at times to be rather overpowering, often in dark granite, clinging onto the steep steep hills. These mountains are new, sharp, unlike the old hills of my native Scotland. These have not known as many glacial drifts, have not been scraped and reduced the way that those I knew in my youth had.

I was also struck by a feeling of wealth; Andorra is after all a tax haven. The city of Andorra oozed money, the shops, the banks, the cleanliness. But not always well sign posted. We missed our turn off, and drove round the city, interesting, but it did make us even later; we weren't able to do the shopping we had planned. Next time, all's well.

As we drove into the valley, towards our destination, the feeling of excitement mounted, at the same time as the hills became even steeper. At that point we were more concered with arriving than our surroundings, Our late arrival at the hotel meant that we started straight onto the course.....more of that at another time......

Back home......

Here you can see Prof Caycedo, and his daughter, also a psychiatrist. (Pity about the computers, but that's modern presentations for you). It was Natalia who gave most of the classes, Prof Caycedo came in on the last morning. It was still very interesting to hear his description of the birth of Sophrology, and the whole thing has confirmed me in my desire to go right up to the end, and get my specialised masters. I also realised that there is rather a dearth of native English speakers, when I asked for contacts, the only one they could give was was the lady in London, with whom I have already been in contact, and she is not a native English speaker.

I had asked to be seated at the front, because of my hearing problem, and they very kindly saved a seat from me (and two other ladies in the same position). We arrived slightly late, and when my friends got a seat at the back, I was escorted, dark glasses and all, to the front. At the end of the first session a very handsome young man came to talk to me. However, once he discovered that I wasn't even someone important, he didn't even say hello after that! Not very sophro.

We worked on sounds, which I found very helpful. The vibrations really seemed to help me, especially my third system. It was tiring though! We were all exhausted at the end of the day. And we have to write a report and a dissertation before September. I am lucky, they will accept it in English. In fact, I think that they are quite happy to have it in English, as the translation does not yet exist. It makes it more difficult for me to do research, but there are lots of mind/body books available. In fact I am currently reading one by Herbert Benson, Timeless Healing, which talks about Remembered Wellness. I've only just started, but I am sure that there are things in common.

I also shall be working on protocols on accepting bodies/loving oneself for the NEWO group. I need to sit down and write on my plan, when I shall get things done etc.

So time for me to get off the blog, for the moment. however, one of the things we had to write about was our trip to, and our impressions of Andorra. That could be my next blog, and a way of killing two birds with the same stone!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Off to Andorra

When I get back I'll have some of my own photos to put onlne, maybe even of Dr. Caycedo himself! Although it is now mostly his daughter who teaches, he was born in 1932, which makes him the same age as my mum.

Sooo, how do I feel? Well, excited and also a bit apprehensive. Will I be able to hear? Will I be able to follow? I've sent a mail explaining my hearing problems, and asking for a reserved seat, so I hope that that will be okay. Also, as it is in French with a Spanish accent, by all accounts, that might just complicate things for me.

Excited, hey chaps, this is something that I really enjoy, that is helping me in my everyday life, and that is the most important thing

As they say in France...affaire à suivre....

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

awareness or consciousness

I as I was walking yesterday, I had various little mantras going through my brain. The first was "I am going to get fit"...4/4 time works quite well. Then I started (over)intellectualising.....something I am prone to do and having been teaching the future tenses, thought again that "going to" could mean an intention rather than real plan. So my next attempt was "I am working on getting fit". Much better in the idea as it is something I am doing now, not in future. But not so good on the 4/4 time. I had also been working on a translation where the work "maitriser" came up... it means to Master. Sophrology and early science fiction ideas came to mind, the next phrase was "I am Master of my fate". I can chose, if I am aware/conscious. Sometimes I don't really want to be, as that is all about taking responsability. My last one made me smile, and that is good.

I am Master of my Weight!

home part 2

My spiritual home. The only place that has been there for all my life. The thread that links my children to Scotland. My French LO adores the place. It is where my parents are at the moment. And my father is, to put it mildly, a tad concerned about my mother's health, as are her friends. Freaking out might be a better description. I am worried, but that is not helpful in the least.

This is when I wonder where my home really is, I am a long way away, by European standards. Mind you, Coldabackie is a long way from anywhere by those standards! My every day is not attuned to my roots.

Language is more important than you can imagine, particularly if you are native English speaking. . For the refugees in Scotland refugee week, I cannot imagine; the language, the weather (Scottish weather is not like anywhere that a refugee might come from!) the many things.

And linked to that I have another problem, my hearing. I am recognised as a handicapped worker here in France. My ENT specialist's are surprised that I can cope so well in my first, never mind my second language. Think then of the handicapped person, who does not have the family background that I have: the example of a sister who despite being considered deaf in most people's points of view, has lived her life to the full; I admire her so much, even if sometimes she is a bit of a pain! lol Ask her and she will say that I am the bossiest person out. In a wonderful Scottish vernacular my response is "Aye, Right!"

I am working on a translation at work about migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers. That makes me think even more about where I really answer for the moment!

Monday, 15 June 2009


My brother has just blogged on what is home, and I have my bit to add. He was asked to write with regards to refugee week in Scotland. Now, I am not a refugee, far from it. I don't even think of myself as an expat. That's far too exotic. I chose to live in France, and when my children's father left, I decided to stay in France. I do not regret that.....but.....

But what? Well, Terres Gilet has been home for longer than any other place in my life, and it is home. The dwelling itself. And I am delighted that my children want to keep the house on, and have come up with a project where that should be possible. I myself am looking to moving to live with my partner of 8 years, not immediately, but when we are still both young enough to make a go of it.

Funnily enough I feel more at home up in his part of France, Haute Savoie, where even if there is neither sea not ocean, there is a lake and mountains,compared with this flat plain far from the sea and hills of my childhood. My house but his area....not possible, so I shall have to adapt.

We moved home a lot when we were children, my father's job obliged the family to up stakes quite often. The plus side of that is that we are adaptable. The minus, for me, is that I hate throwing things out, even when they are well past their sell by dates. That goes for relationships too.

Like my brother, the wee croft house is the place that I consider *home*, although I have never lived there, and could not live there full time. It says a lot that my sister and her family, and me and mine all want our ashes to be taken there. I think we need to buy the field to plant the trees that that represents!

Home? The Elvis song comes to where the heart is. My heart is with those I love, so I have more than one home. Here, it goes without saying, but also Edinburgh, with my parents and my siblings, the croft house, J's of course, and even the tent when we go camping in the Landes. Coldbackie with sun!

Yet I know that here I am not fully at home. The language is different, the culture, and during the last Gulf war, I felt "A stranger in a strange land". And for my children it is even more complicated. My elder daughter felt Scottish until she lived there for a year. She now realises that she is probably more French than anything.

Home? A luxery that we take for granted.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

2 years on

I wrote and read this poem when we planted Kai's tree at Coldbackie, last summer.......

For Kai, at the planting of his tree

With what colour will I fill the space left when you went away?
That is the question I can ask, today and every day.
The answer I can choose, it is not set in stone;
The choice is mine to make, me and me alone.

Black was the space when you went away, an absence of all light,
A void that drained all energy absorbed so much of might.
That will not do, not sparkling white, nor even shades of gray.
I shall choose bright colours, to illuminate my day.

The colours that I chose represent some of my memories of you,
Not easy to reduce your life into a verse or two.
But I shall try to paint some pictures with my words,
And evoke some images to balance out the hurt.

Red for love, fire castles, roses, sunsets of every hue;
Yellow for spring, sunshine, Marie Curie daffodils too;
Pink for sweeties, bubblegum, frothing cremola foam;
Green for fields, new life, trees tenderly cared for by mum.

Orange the fruit, monks robes, 60’s pop art patterns,
Purple the music, passion, things for you that matter.
Blue the sea and dolphins and peace within my heart.
This rainbow of colours is however only a start.

The colours ebb and flow, a real kaleidoscope,
This rainbow of souvenirs is also a symbol of hope.
And we have also here other memories of you
In Katrin, Kai Scott, Keira, and our Sonny too.

Our lives continue despite your early departure,
The best of you lives on embodied in your four.
You are always with us through their very presence
Our memories of you, past future and present.

With what colour will you fill the space left when he went away?
That is the question you can ask, today and every day.
The answer you can choose, it is not set in stone;
The choice is yours to make, you and you alone.

And here I have stolen my other brother's blog

Kai's tree

Kai's tree, originally uploaded by ccgd.

We interred Kai's ashes at Coldbackie back in August, the first time that the whole family could get together at the croft house almost 14 months after his death. His kids then planted a tree - a rather nice red bitter sweet crab apple (sums up Kai I suppose) - over his final resting place.

A funny/sad/happy/difficult/cool sort of occasion. But it worked.

Oh and have a look at the Kai Davidson Trust website - its all good stuff.

And he made the dead rock stars website. Now that is funny.

Midges were hellish though........

See him at the entry of sep 22nd 2008

My hunting cat

She looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, does our Dinette (ds1 chose her name! it means toy tea set in French)Well this little cat is quite the hunter, and obviously thinks that she is really a terrier. Last night she dug a hole in the grass (calling it a lawn would be pretentious) and her head and front legs were quite down it. I'm not sure if she caught that particular mole, no offering this morning, unlike others. But she does also hunt to eat. And if she keeps the mole hills down, I am quite happy!

No to the pity party

I woke up this morning feeling *decidely* sorry for myself; sinusites and throbbing eye, coughed during the night with asthma, sweated so much I have whorls on my fingers.....the perimenapause is not somewhere for sissies, to paraphrase a quote. And then I thought about BJ, with whom I am carrying on an on line corresspondence. Her goal is to get fit after surviving being hit, as a pedestrian, by an articulated lorry. I'm worrying about a throbbing in my eye....she has lost the sight in hers. I'm feeling a tad sorry for myself that I have to work on a Saturday....her state of health means that she can't work. And then a mail from her, where she says "The best thing my orthopedic surgeon told me was I would never be able to use my arm much. That only gave me the mindset to prove him wrong. I am already doing more with it than anyone ever expected."

There are so many ordinary people out there, and here, who manage to just live, to take the positive, where others would just turn their backs to the wall. I don't think that they realise the positive good that they do in the world. I can think of a few "angels on earth"; they would be horrified that I could think of them like that.

I also thought of a line in my triple murders last night, but nordic walking with one of my sons. There was a steep hill and another walker showed us it could be a lovely slide.....and he also said just to live the judgments no preconceptions. It was great fun going down the slide, like skiing or canyoning.

But now to shower (I am no shrinking violet this morning) and then off to supervise the TOEIC)

Friday, 12 June 2009

Grrrr Trains!

We took the train to Lyon Saturday, and had problems, and dd 1 is on the last leg of a trip back from Lyon as I write....she had gone for a day trip, to see a Harry Potter exhibition. Yes, in France. Dd2 had been to the cinema in Bourg, and we had planned that they were to be picked up at the same time more or less.
I'm not sure how many phone calls there have been, the train was 20 minutes late, then 2 hours late, get the picture. Dd 1's bf isn't keen on driving at night in the town, so we both went for dd2, so that he could see where to pick dd1 up later. As we walked in the door, the phone rang. The train had arrived. had we known we could have made just one trip...and not wasted time, deisel etc. It hadn't just contributed to global warming, the air had been a bit blue here aswell!
Not terribly sophro.......

Monday, 8 June 2009

Last weekend of the first cycle

The next step is Andorra!

A weekend with practicing with Y on the Saturday, and then theory with C on the Sunday. Very interesting, but it does make me wonder what is in store for me at the end of the month. C talked a bit more about the conflicts within France, and the different schools of thought....and his opinion! So we'll see.

Also, he talked about the possibility that there will be a formal recognition of the profession of sophrologist......and that would be good.

I'm thinking of other possibilies of how to use sophrology in my work. I just hope that the school accepts my proposition of teaching it to the BTS students.

And I really need to keep working on myself...if it works on me it could work on anyone!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Walking through the jungle....

I looked at myself in the mirror this evening, and was not 100% happy with what I saw. For some reason the book written by Julie Lacome came to mind. Find it at This book is great, and when I taught English to babies I used it. What's more, Julie the daughter of friends of my parents. We spoke last year in Scotland at her father's exhibition mostly in memory of her mother. We talked about the book, and she said "when I was famous"
Wy did this come to mind? The second line is "What do you see?" And it is not necessarily the what do I see when I look in the mirror? Hmmmmmm

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A far cry from Thursa

When we were little, that's what my father would say about our travels, that we were a long way from our roots.....and the days by the med showed that.

At the end of Saturday J showed me a little fishing village that I found hard to believe; in Sete, a stone's throw from the tourist traps, the big hotels, the rows of holiday homes, a small corner which reminded me of Burano, off Venice. There was a real feeling on community there. In fact people were painting what was going to be the scenery for their "fête". In the north of Scotland they still have their galas and their games. And maybe more of those later.

They also seem to have a sense of humour.

The above picture was taken early sunday morning, as we bought oysters to take to the Drome.... different from the boats of my childhood....the Primula in particular. The men were however rather similar!

Photos from the trip

A link to my picasa photos, most taken with LO's little camera!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A trip to the South, Day 3

The first chateau we had intended to visit was closed, so we carried on to Puivert. It was particulalry nice, with certain rooms being furnished, and the only secular hall in Europe at that time, with carvings of musicicans. It is privately owned, and we managed to chat to the owner. What an indertaking to restore it!

We ate lunch under one of the most famous of the castles, for the wrong reasons...200 cathars were burnt to death at Montségur. The weather was poor, and we couldn't actually see the chateau, but the village was very pretty.

It was a fair hike up, and we got above the clouds....nearly 1700m I think. And at the end of the day it was a bit of a disapointment, expecially after Puivert... this was a ruin.

It seemed to be relying on the fact of the martyrdom of the 200 Cathars. After all, to pay 5 euros for a 20/30 minute hike, and then have just the walls to see......If the weather had been better, then I think it would have been better....the sheer inacessability of the place, and its dominance over the passes would have been more obvious. You could however imagine why these castles had continued to have a strategic importance in the strugles between Spain and France.

We then drove towards a spot that LO wanted to share with springs! The trip was memorable, (especially the D29, a dirt track at one point, officially closed to traffic) and the landscape changed so often.....over a pass and it was quite different the other side. One of the beatiful things about France is the sheer diversity of the landscapes....and seascapes. We saw gentians by the side of the road, alpine meadows almost, warm sunshine, and the snow still on the peaks of the Pyrannees in the distance.

The hot springs were fun; there was also a sauna and turkish bath, so we relaxed in style. I enjoyed that there was a real cold plunge bath....not as extreme as the ice in Budapest, but exhilerating all the same!
Another nights camping; not easy to find a restaurant though.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A trip to the South Day 2

Day 2 started with a Nordic Walk to the bridge.....very impressive. When I think what my ancestors in Scotland were doing at the same epoch.....mind you, we did manage to stop the Romans! Next a trip to the beach, or rather the lagoon, and we discoverd it was market day....bought oysters and veggies for lunch. Yummy...LO had a swim, but although the water wasn't cold, I just didn't fancy it.

We carried on and visited the well preserved medieval town of Villefrance de Conflent Unfortunately we weren't able to meet up with an old canyoning acquaintance. Next time.

We went to another beach for lunch, proper seaside this time, but again, I didn't swim. The town was rather depressing, full of people, houses so close to each other... LO and I agreed that we have a certain savage side to us...we prefer less people and more wilderness, and we are lucky that we can make that choice.

On to the Cathar trail, and the first mini hike up to visit the chateau of Aguiler
What was intersting here were all the botanical names etc. It was also where I realised that the battery on my camera was running out, and one of the things I didn 't have with me was the charger! Good one! Luckily, LO had his camera, se we did manage to take some photos.

Next on the itinery was the chateau of Quiribus very dramatic setting.

Next was a theatre show, the sermon of Le curé de Cucugnan. It was very cleverly done!
"Below Quéribus is the village of Cucugnan, which had fame conferred upon it by a well-known story, Le Curé de Cucugnan. The tale relates how the priest in the village, alarmed by the lack of faith among his parishioners, conjured up such dreadful visions of hell in a fire-breathing sermon that subsequent visitors to the village were struck by the universal piety of the inhabitants. The story was originally told in Occitan by Achille Mir, one of a group of 19th-century writers known as the "Félibres", dedicated to keeping Provençal culture (or at least a sanitised version of it) alive. It was subsequently popularised by another member of the group, Alphonse Daudet, in his collection of tales of Provençal life Lettres de mon Moulin ("Letters from my Windmill"). This probably accounts for the fact that lots of people think Cucugnan is in Provence. In any case, the village now houses a "pocket theatre", the Théâtre Achille Mir, in which the tale is re-enacted. A ticket for the theatre entitles you to entry to Quéribus, and vice versa. Incidentally, the church in Cucugnan has an unusual statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary."

We had left it too late to get a B and B; a visit to the tourist office sent us through the Gorges of Calamus, (which LO loved, but I realised that I am still a bit afraid of heights!) towards the nearest campsite, at St Paul de Fenouillet.
The Guide Routard suggested the following hotel, and we had one of the best meals I have had in a long time!