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!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Trip to the South, Day I

I moved in the morning, as I carried boxes and boxes of books up one flight of stairs, to the new office. Much of my moving has been related to that!

Although LO arrived early, I wasn't ready, so we didn't get away as early as he had hoped, and I forgot some things. The plus side was that we weren't on the motorway which got completely blocked, in both directions, and were able to take a detour via the small roads. It was really lovely just to be driving through the French countryside, seeing small villages, and the amazing changes in scenery within such a short space of time.

We had intended to get as far as Sete, but instead stopped at a camp side at beside the Pont du Gard. It was too late to visit it in the evening, so we just set up the tent, and had supper on the camp site...not the greatest meal, it was billed as a salad, but was heavier on the charcuterie, and a tad light on the veggies!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Comforting the child within.

So much recently has been about this concept; Pam's changing of Brat to Princess, re-reading Eric Berne, the child exercise with Y at sophro, conversations with Mme B.

This has been hugely important for me, because I *did* have a happy childhood, no major traumas, and couldn't/wouldn't accept where there had been issues. The exercises have helped. There were issues, but in the grand scheme of things they were minor. I realise that I took too much on myself, it was not imposed on me from outside. The child within was stifled, and the parent too prevalent. In other words, I was rather bossy! lol By suppressing Kelpie, the natural fun-loving part of me, the Brat came out too often, inappropriately etc.

The sophro exercises give me a chance to make up to that child; and enjoy her now. It's never too late to enjoy the child within!

Kelpie v OWE

Discussion between
Own Worst Enemy aka Ms Perfect aka Ms Negativity aka I Told You So aka Ms Self Pity

Ms N: See, you can't keep to your plan, and what happens, you put weight back on!
Kelpie: I knew that Wednesday's figure was really low, and I expected it to go back up again. In any case, I'm still down on the beginning of the week.
OWE: You didn't drink enough water yesterday.
Kelpie: Yes, I know. However, since I was invigilating a national exam I couldn't leave to try to find a loo in a school I don't know. And the upside of that was that I finished the Happiness File, and got to talk to DD2's German teacher who says she's a model student when she thought he didn't like her.
ITYS: But you did have some wine.
Kelpie: In the evening; I enjoyed the moment with friends, and I was still within the same calorie range as the previous two days.
Ms SP: So why can't you just be happy, why are you feeling low? There must be something wrong with you!
Kelpie; Not everyone can be happy all the time, and I'm worried about mum. Also I've just checked the calender. As I suspected it's almost that time of the month, even if I don't always have it! And that always makes me very cranky. DB says he he's never seen anyone as susceptible as me in that way.
OWE: Since you're worried and upset, why don't you just have something to make you better, chocolate usually works? It's good for PMT...the magnesium you know.
Kelpie: I know, but it is only a short fix! I'm trying to go for the long haul.
Ms N: Long haul! You've been a flybaby for how many years now, and you haven't even made up your Control Journal yet, you can't manage to plan and carry out and take things to completion, can you?
Kelpie: Since I'm exercising, I'll soon have more energy, and then I'll be able to do it. The NEWO group and Jonathan are cheering me on, helping me keep to the challenge and not give up this time! The Happiness File has inspired me again. I've spoken to DD1, I've ordered the audio version, as she loves audio books, and we are going to work on the CJ/Happiness File together and with the others in the house. That will show them another way to do things and serve them well in the long term. The house looks loads better than it has in years, and since I'm no longer putting out raging forest files all the time, I can look to fire prevention.
Ms P: But you can't get 3X5 cards in Europe.
Kelpie: So, I'll be creative. I'll use 4X6, and get one of those boxes for photos, and if necessary make the dividers myself.
So what I think I'll do is start the joke and inspiration parts of the Happiness File, try and get a NEWO in this afternoon, when lunch is digested, and just wait it out.
OWE: So what had this got to do with Sophrology, I thought that was your thing at the moment, you can't concentrate on anything can you? A real grasshopper!
Kelpie: It doesn't matter what the label is. In fact the Happiness File says a lot of the same thing, without the scientific words. And it makes me laugh! And Sophro gives me specific exercises to do to help me reach the same point.
Ms SP: Laugh! you really think that you are able to laugh at this point in time. I know that you are on the point of tears...I can see through you!
Kelpie: All the more reason for me to try and look for happy and look on the bright side and to the future! I'll write out my 12 short, medium and long term projects on a card, that's two for the price of one.
Babysteps, I have to accept that I can't do all in one day....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Some thoughts on the Happiness Files

Searching for another cartoon I found this one and it is really very appropriate, sonce my preferred choice of moving is nordic walking!

I read a bit late last night; the wonders of 2nd hand books on Amazon, I managed to get a copy of the Happiness Files. I laughed my head off at their tales of their childhood.

I haven't finished (I'm invigilating this afternoon in an exam so I'm taking it with me) but what struck me very forcibly was that Pam and Peggy were writing from their hearts, and their message was more or less that of several other writers today, way after they wrote their book.
1. Part 11 Chapters 2 and 3 : Getting it Together, and Working With Our Assets reminded me of Steven Covey
2. Part 11 Chapter 4: What’s on your mind, reminded me of David Allen.
3. And lots of aspects of sophro, especially in writing things down. Putting things on paper is a

Also, my Princess wanted to read the last chapter…(it wasn’t a thriller so it wasn’t as if I was cheating to find out whodunit)….and I was struck by Peggy’s feelings about faith; “not the blind faith where one sits in a rocking chair and hopes that something good will happen, but faith bold enough to face negatives and keeping moving” That summed up to me a very sophro approach…we can change our own futures, if we concentrate on the positive, and face the negative.

I’ve been doing more physical than sophro exercise, however even walking is a sort of meditation, especially when I repeat my mantra “I am determined to get fit”…not lose weight, but get fit. That is more important, and bigger than losing weight. There again sophro has helped me to get to what is important, by concentrating on the real desire, rather than the perceived one (rather like the give three reasons)

I’m also slipping moving in throughout the day, a minute here and a minute there. It all adds up. And I realised that that is a sort of lesson for either positive or negative thoughts, they all add up to, and make either a positive or a negative weight! Hmm......

And the good news is that I am also feeling a teensy bit fitter....babysteps, babysteps!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Using Sophrology to increase Commitment to getting Fit

This is the beginning of the NEWO fitness challenge 5. Jonathan says that any day can be our January 1st, and this time I am determined to turn my want into commitment. This morning, I went for a nordicwalk, and repeated to myself that I am committed to getting fit...and I am feeling a change in attitude. I will not give my starting statistics here, but I shall, I hope be giving my losses. There is a Sophrology book in French, specifically about weight loss, and a supporting cd, so the support is there. And I am also working out my own thing. In essence it's about futurisation, and programming my day in advance, two different and complementary techniques.

I'll have to take the camera out with me on my walks, so that I can start to use my own photos, rather than those imaages that I deem to be appropriate, that I have found on the internet...and that will use my creativity!

Monday, 11 May 2009


I've been thinking, always a bad thing says LO, however I don't agree. Jonathan, of NEWO, sent out a mail about commitment before the beginning of his latest challenge. I put a message about it on the bigtent forum, but it appears to have disappeared....

In essence it was about the difference between wanting and being committed; I want to lose weight, get fit, or whatever, but am I committed to that?

Sophrology, if you are committed can help to change the mindset. Time to really look at that..........

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Some definitions

SHE: A sidetracked Home Executive.

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: a fortunate stroke of serendipity a series of small serendipities.
The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English

SOPHROLOGY is a term created by the Spanish Medical Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Alfonso Caycedo to designate a discipline that studies the consciousness and the being's existence values, by own and original procedures .
Official site

Serenity: the absence of mental stress or anxiety

CHAOS: Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome one of Flylady's sayings another is FLYing

NEWO: see a system created by Jonathan Roche

LO: Loved One, my adaptation of "etre cher" in French.
DS: Dear Son (for me 1 and 2)
DD: Dear Daughter (for me 1 and 2)
BF: Boyfriend
GF: Girlfriend

Not the best of nights

We had a lovely evening, although I should have taken photos, some of the expressions during the charades were hilarious. The meal went well, two keeper recipes in one day, Caroline's cheese tart for lunch and the chicken and vegetable crumble that I had made in the evening. And there is enough left over for today.

The problems was the night. It was one of those nights where I soaked not just my side of the bed, and I had to go to the other side, with a towel, and then change the sheets this morning. Horrid! Add to that disturbing dreams/nightmares ..... a very strong example of how the imaginary can be as powerful, if not more so, than the real. This morning I realised that the message was hidden. It wasn't really about the ex, but the friends who were in it too, and my feeling that I should be more in touch with them.

However (the but word is forbidden in Sophro lol) Sophro helped me a lot. I finally got to sleep about 2am (we had a great evening as I said, and I needed time to wind down) I needed soprho to relax, and it eventually worked. When I woke at 6 I used relaxation again, plus futurisation (fitter and slimmer for the wedding in the summer) and got back to sleep. When woken by the bad dream I used my memory of a positive event, and my scenery to replace these thoughts with those of my loved one (somehow etre cher in French is so much nicer).

I'm calming down now, I still have to do a sitting up futurisation, normally you're not supposed to do them lying down, but when I am suffering from disturbed sleep, they help so much! The feeling of mild panic is retreating, and I can get on with planning what is left of the day.

Dynamic relaxation is high on the list!

A three day weekend

Because the previous weekend we had not had a teacher for one of the days, Y suggested that we had a three day weekend. As the 1st May is a public holiday here in France, that was possible. Funny how things work out.

On the Friday we worked with Y, and particularly on Futurisation....Very useful with the new fitness challenge coming up. I saw myself slim and pretty and K's wedding. I also managed to put longer term projects into my imagination. However, I had a racing heart, which was a distraction. Y explained that my body was "braking" my progress, i.e. I was being my own worst enemy! Goodness what a surprise! When we redid the exercise I was able to really live the Y says, the strength is in the repetition.

One of the interesting things we do is to have 12 projects in each of the short, medium and long terms. The short and medium I can do, the long is harder. When I looked back at the 12 in the short term from last year, I had successfully completed 9 of them, and the others were no longer relevant. And as each project is completed, another should take its place.

Day 2 was with M T and her daughter. First we had fun with the "pushing" exercises....; mind over matter indeed. In the following exercises I was very aware ofmy 3rd system, almost like a splinter. I was also aware of my size! Here I was judging, not very phenomenological!

I had lunch with M T, and she was surprised how I accepted the ex's situation.

In the afternoon, Pandora's box was opened. It came from the end of RDC 2, where we were to make a wish of peace to someone. I was astonished by my reaction. The person to whom I made the wish of peace was not the one I would have imagined, and I ended up bawling. Now, this is a good thing! What sophro does it lets the hidden feelings out, those that we suppress, are scared to acknowledge.....and then what we can do is write a letter. I realise that I have several letters to write, even if none of them are ever sent. It's all about being honest.

Poor LO, that evening I was not good company! There really are times he wonders if it was a good idea, when he sees me in a state. I tell him that at least I am conscious of being in a state, and of why I am in a state. That's progress at least!

Day 3 was with Y again, and I wanted help. Of course, he wouldn't give it to me. The idea is that I can do nothing for the other, and he can do nothing for me i.e. I have to do it for myself. What he did do was to tell me to use my magic wand, and imagine the perfect future, and how my body would really feel in that future.I realised that this crisis was all about me thinking about that imaginary perfect future, wielding my magic wand. Or rather, my problems in allowing myself to fantasize in that way.

In the afternoon, I did a CDR 1 on my own. Non perfect, but the others really lived it. Of course it was to show me that I could put my own negative feeings into a basket and get on with things. A useful lesson. I wondered if Sophrology were a way for me "To Paint Pictures with Words" and I felt proud of myself.

The rest of the day was super, and LO was pleased that evening, when I was happy again!

It also proved, as if proof were needed, that the more I practice, the more positive results I get.