Thursday, 28 February 2013


The pendant swung to and fro, to and fro, and then began to spiral wildly.
What does that mean?” I asked the mystic.
You seem to be conflicted.” She said, “That will be £20.”
But what do I do about it?” I moaned, pulling a crisp note from my purse.
Listen sister, there's nothing you can do – that's just your path. You're a life pendulum; your head always argues against your heart.” She patted my arm, took my note, and turned to the client behind me.
I could have told her that!” I muttered as I moved away to a neighbouring stall and began fingering the gemstones, “What kind of a psychic fayre is this?!”
In front of me was a handwritten card which said: LUCKY OPALS. The overhead lights bounced off a collection of polished stones. They looked as though they'd been rubbed too aggressively. My hand was drawn to a baby pink.
That one's for opening up the heart, and it's particularly good for a life pendulum.” A male voice, which I presumed was the stall-holder, softly informed me. I didn't look up as I was too taken with stroking the stone's smooth surface. It was cool to the touch, but soon warmed up under my fingers. My palms were tingling...
No, I don't want it!!” I hastily said and threw it back on the table. It ricocheted off and landed at my planted feet.
A stranger, whose presence I hadn't felt before, bent down to retrieve it.
This opal obviously wants to belong to you, even if you don't wish to own it. You must accept it. It will balance you.” It was the same male voice that had spoken earlier. He gently touched my clenched left hand, but I refused to open it.
Who are you? How do you know I've been told I'm a life pendulum? Is this how these fayres work? A psychic circuit?” I trailed my gaze slowly upwards as I flung these questions at him.
His face had an unusual glow and his eyes burnt into me. I inhaled sharply, but couldn't look away and break his penetrating stare.
You must keep this stone. It's time.” He calmly stated, placing the opal in my now relaxed hand and closing my fingers around it. “It's a gift. I've paid for it.”
I was stunned! A few seconds passed before I recovered my senses. I expected to still see him standing there, but he'd disappeared! I spun around scanning the crowd, but I hadn't taken in what he was wearing, just his piercing blue eyes and dirty blond hair. I raced out the exit, but there was no sign of him.
Just like me to waste an opportunity!” I cursed.
I unfurled my left hand and studied the opal; there were tiny words inscribed on the underside, which I read aloud: OPEN YOUR HEART TO YOURSELF.

*Inspired by Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Beats Of The Heart

I'm a great believer in synchronicity. Life is not full of coincidences, events are to a certain extent mapped out, brought about for a reason.
For the last two weeks, synchronicity has been toying with me. The universe is forcing me to make a decision. It knows I need to get off this circular road and travel in a different direction. What I hadn't banked on was its cunning ways to make me sit up and listen. The universe has said I'm not going to choose, you have to make the decision. In fury, it's now screaming at me, "WAKE UP!"
This experience is often confused with the law of attraction: people, places and opportunities drawn to you, unknowingly or knowingly, through your intentions. This is not that, this is ATTACK. This is a crisis point, a choice point, a turning point. Time for change, upheaval. Choose it soon before it chooses you because when it does the outcome may not be to your liking.
Because of this I'm improvising, and as you can probably tell this is not my usual polished style of writing. Originally, I had made a veiled attempt to write about my current indecision, but like everything connected to this condition, synchronicity made its feelings known and inexplicably deleted it, and I.T. Support has been unable to recover it. Perhaps what I planned to publish was too personal, too close to the situation, and due to this my words have gone, corrupted and lost from my laptop's hard drive, and I can't retrieve them. Many of you will think: why don't you just rewrite it? My answer to this is: my perspective has changed, so it won't be the same. It's a shame, as if I do say so myself, it was one of my best. I had been inspired, in part, by Robin Sharma, a leadership adviser and best-selling author of, 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari'. Through his teachings, Robin encourages people to reclaim their personal power, to be true to themselves and live fearlessly. In 'The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari', his main character, Jonathan Landry is compelled to travel the world to collect nine talisman letters; each a life-saving lesson. The eighth talisman letter says:
The Purpose Of Life Is To Love
How well you live comes down to how much you love. The heart is wiser than the head. Honor it. Trust it. Follow it.
Over the last few days, I've been convinced not to go against these beats of the heart.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


It's that day that every singleton dreads: Valentine's Day. Soppy cards with hearts; boxes of chocs; and red roses. Has Cupid plucked his bow and sent you an admirer?
My first Valentine's card will always be special. I remember how my teenage heart leapt as the letterbox rattled that morning, and how it raced even more as I ran downstairs dressed in my school uniform. I had no reason to receive anything, but somehow I knew that I would; and there it was: a baby-pink envelope with my name on it. I bent down and grabbed it, and stole away as quick as I could back upstairs to my bedroom, where I stared at it. When I did eventually break the seal, I had no idea who it was from, and so I spent the whole day at my all girls' school asking myself: who could possibly like me? And before you state the obvious, it wasn't a joke and it wasn't from my Mother. I had what every teenage girl dreams about: a secret admirer.
The secret admirer, it turned out, was a lad seven years older, and we knew each other, but we'd never really spoken and even after this we didn't. Neither of us overcame our shyness and seven years is quite a gap when you're young. I never knew if he was just being kind or if he meant his Valentine, but since then Valentines have been thin on the ground and dating has been precarious. You're meant to throw yourself into it - I was at one point with gusto – but it always felt more like walking into a lion's den or entering a cattle market. A domestic chore that had to be done to be accepted. It's what you do: try to behave laddishly and attempt different dating strategies. When you find the 'one' or anyone, get married and have a family. Drinks in pubs and clubs, dinner dates, cinema dates, with always more expected. I resented how my life was being mapped out for me. If you want to settle down then dating is unavoidable, but did I want to? Was I doing this for me or to fit in with society?
Four years ago, I turned my back on dating and relationships, but I still find watching other people's attempts attractive. Blind Date, Street Mate, Dinner Date, Take Me Out, The Undateables... People randomly matched or specifically chosen. According to ratings, there's a large number of us who like to see singletons paired up so we can comment out loud on it: “What is she wearing!?”; “Oh, he shouldn't have said that!”; “Don't pick number one, pick three!” The search can come across as shallow and crude, or sweet. People get dismissed for their quirks, their work, their shoes; others get picked for their attractiveness, their interests, their food. And, of course, at the end of it we all want to know: Did they find it? Love that is, not fun and frolics on the Isle of Fernando's. Dating has become rather like a shopping list: you write down the qualities you want and search for a model to match it. If a potential fit displays characteristics not on the list then it's unceremoniously rejected, and unfortunately dating shows mainly reflect this attitude: deviations from the spec will not be tolerated.
It's a myth that a soulmate has to tick all the boxes, and even if you think you find 'the one', there will always be something. But that's the point: love is imperfect, and a person without quirks is undateable.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Two Mondays ago, it was the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride & Prejudice, whose author we know was Jane Austen. Most people can tell you how the story goes or can quote the opening line from it: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' Is marrying for money still relevant today? With more women climbing up the corporate ladder, would this same line be considered true if reversed? Does a single woman in possession of a good fortune want a husband as much?
Marrying for love rather than money was a repeated theme in Jane Austen's books. Quite a few of her female characters managed to happily achieve both. Charlotte Lucas was the exception; after Lizzie refused Mr. Collins, she prudently engaged his addresses towards herself. Who can blame her? She knew this was her chance to marry well, so she took it. She couldn't guarantee her own happiness, but she could secure her future. How many women now would willingly betroth themselves to someone as vexing as Mr. Collins?
Matrimony was a business; it was the only eligible way an well-educated woman could provide for herself. Women had no independent means; as daughters they were the rightful property of their fathers; as sisters, they belonged to their brothers; and on being wed were possessed by their husbands. To remain unmarried was a disgrace; younger daughters were prevented from 'coming out' and the family had to worry about the continued financial responsibility. Romance wasn't considered necessary if the suitor had the prospect of wealth and a comfortable home.
In Jane's own case, she was determined and lucky; she obviously had an understanding family for she wasn't the only maiden aunt, there was also her sister, Cassandra. Any brief dalliances Jane may have had came to nothing. If a match didn't have an appropriate living then a romantic attachment was unsuitable. This is what Jane captures so well in her novels; her leading female characters will not sacrifice their happiness for these values. Their affections will be engaged and will be reciprocal. The irony is Jane couldn't pursue this in her own life, but her work is better for it. What she gained was far more important: she had more freedom to live as herself. While she may have been beholden to the whims of her brothers, her name stood for itself.
Today, unlike Jane's day, women do not need to enter into matrimony to gain their independence or secure a comfortable future. The power to provide no longer lies outside, women can provide for themselves. Liberated, marriage is deterred as women do not wish to curtail this with 'house-husbands'. There's no longer a need to inquire of men: How much do you earn? What are your aspirations? Because most women are Janes; they use their brains to support them.