Life can be tough – it’s a known fact.
It can pull us down, twist us, break us, and crush us.
And just one simple decision can send us on a path of pain and sadness.
But even down the darkest roads lay a glimmer of light.
We are friends, and I want you to know I am always here for you.
And I know you’re there for me too.
We must never forget to ask each other for help when we need it.
We must never be so proud that we can’t admit we are low.
We may make fun of each other, and banter until we cry with laughter.
But this must still be tempered with warmth and love.
Otherwise friendship can decay under the weight of solely harsh words.
Even though we may not see each other often, or only speak on occasion,
I am still your friend.
And time nor distance has no bearing on this friendship.
Little changes when we do reunite.
Even so, we must take great effort to keep making memories.
And always have events to look forward to.
Photos must be taken, and cherished for a lifetime.
Simple coffee breaks, to parties and holidays.
Each meeting must be special and unique.
We are friends, and I want you to know I am always here for you.
My door is always open. The kettle is always ready to pour.
And I am always ready to listen with a sympathetic ear.
Too often we are reminded that this world connects us in more and more ways,
yet only seems to push us apart further and further.
We must remind ourselves that our online lives are an illusion.
They are a condensed persona we display after scrubbing away the dirt.
As time pushes on, we must bridge the gaps that seperate us,
and reminisce about the journeys life has taken us.
Life is truly beautiful, and we share this part of history with many people.
Of all the years mankind has existed, we are lucky to share this time with those we love.
We must realise that each and every one of will face tough times at some point.
To be human is to feel the full gamut of emotions.
From the deepest lows, to the soaring highs, I want to share them all with you.
For we are friends, and I am always here for you.
Everyone knew about the ghost in the nightblub I worked in. Tiles had gone under many names over the years, but the bar itself was largely untouched. As well as reputedly being the longest marble bar in the UK (or was it Europe?), it could be clearly seen where the divisions of first, second, and third class once were. The Victorian look of the venue gave it a unique, look – beautiful yet forgotten, almost decaying in some regards. During the years me and my friends worked there, there were the assortment of strange events. Phone ringing internally on their own, disembodied laughter, figures appearing both sides of the bar, unexplained footsteps coming from the dancefloor in plain sight, keyfobs being pulled, and doors closing on their own.
But all these events can probably be explained away by the more skeptical and easily dismissed. And I could probably agree with them.
But one event in my life, I still today have no explaination, and even today I struggle putting it down to imagination or lack of sleep etc.
Around the age of 23 I began writing a screenplay for a project called ‘Last Battle’.
It involved a young man called Richard Crowell – successful in both his personal and professional life. Yet when he is tragically killed in a car crash, he awakes in the realm of Heaven in a kind of hospital. Noticing everyone appears sombre, and all are looking at him with suspicion and sadness, he enquires to a nurse. He is then told that Hell has finally amassed enough souls to stage an full on invasion of Heaven, and it is he who (for better or worse) is prophecised to determine the outcome of the war.
Now Hell has appeared in a few works of mine, and I find it as a playground for my imagination to conjur up various monsters. As a Pagan, my non-belief of Hell helps in this. But ‘Last Battle’ was different, and required approaching with care and authenticity. I researched for months, delved into works ranging from the Old Testament to the Divine Comedy. I wanted to give character to angels and demons alike and flesh them out in ways that felt correct.
Since the script involved the War of Angels – where Lucifer and his minions fell from grace, I needed to research this. This was largely before the internet was a valuable source of information (Wikipedia wasn’t a thing at this point), and I could only scour what books I could find. Thankfully my father is a big occult fan and this meant he had tons of material to delve into.
Some sources say one third of Heaven fell in the War – approximately 130,000 angels. So whilst this number of characters is absurd to write about, I landed on 13 instead, and used the works of Jacques Collin de Plancy, the books of Solomon and various other dark texts to breathe life into these 13 fallen angels and demons.
Sat at night in my father’s attic office I was scribbling down names, signals and symbols in order to develop the characters. Now looking back I think I was naive and silly to be dabbling in things I clearly didn’t understand, yet onwards I went!
Suddenly, I noticed I could see my breath. The room had become VERY cold, and had taken on a bluish, oppressive look. But this was late Spring, and had been a warm day. I became aware of what felt like a thousand eyes watching me; as if I was writing on a stage. Intrigued witnesses were peering over my shoulder at what I was penning. Icy chills ran down my spine. Whatever was in that attic with my didn’t feel human (or former human) at all! I’ve never felt fear like that before and I did wonder if what I was doing was a good idea at all.
I grabbed my Encylopedia of Angels and began frantically scribbling out the names of the Angels on a fresh page. Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Auriel – you know, the more famous ones. Gradually, the room seemed to warm up again, and the dull blue tinge brightened into a warm glow again. My breath vanished, and the watchful eyes seemed to melt away.
Now like I say, this all could be just an overimaginative imagination – and as the years go on, I conclude this more and more.
But at the time it seemed so real and visceral, and felt so…unknown.
The time is coming when I will rewrite this story, but in novel format. And once again I’ll be dragging out those occult books again.
Maybe this time I’ll take precautions.
Anyone know a priest?
And so tonight these long nights take their strongest turn of the year and begin to recede once more in favour of warmer sunny days. This year for us Brits has been a unique one – having one of the hottest Summers on record coupled with an extrarodinary performance from our lads in the world cup (making for great pub visits!), another Prince got married, a Princess got married, wildfires spread, we celebrated 100 years since the first world scuffle ended, watched in awe as offended levels grew to extreme new heights when someone uttered the words ‘stupid woman’ in Parliament, and some bloke swam around the entire UK, all whilst that dreaded ‘B’ word hung in the distance.
Now 2018 is drawing to a close, and many of us are quietly wondering what an uncertain 2019 will bring? Will our leaving of the EU come and go without barely a whisper? Will we be sent into wrack and ruin? Or will there be a second referendum happening, and bring the whole thing to a grinding halt? Who knows?
But whether or not our government proceeds with our first uneducated answer (seriously – the day we voted to leave, a friend of mine who’s British born, but whose heritage is Pakistani was screamed at in the street by and old man “We voted to leave, now get out of our country!” Get a grip and an education you dumb old shit!) we should still be optimistic.
More and more it’s doom and gloom being shown by the media, and thus it’s no wonder mental health problems are on the rise. It’s hard to stay happy when Theresa May acts like a broken guffawing record – “The people voted to leave, so we will deliver on that vote.” In other words “You asked for this shitstorm, and whether or not it’s what you envisaged, you’re gonna deal with it!”
But there is a light! More than ever, mental health awareness is becoming bigger everyday, and the words ‘Man-up’ are becoming less prevalent than ever. And rightly so. With over 200 classified forms of mental illness, it can reveal itself in many ways. As someone who has had loved ones deal with mental issues, it’s important to know and understand the signs before it’s too late.
So going into the new year:
- Be unwavering in your kindness to others.
- Give love and respect to everyone, even if they mistreat you. You have absolutely no idea what they are going through. Your kindess could be just the thing they need.
- Keep an eye on your friends and family. Notice usual changes in their behaviour, such as withdrawing from the world. Smiles can hide a soul screaming for help.
- Always have time for others. You have no idea what five minutes, a cup of tea, and a sympathetic ear can do for a person’s well-being.
- Recognise the beauty and colour in the world. Just because good things don’t get reported (an understatement if ever there was one!) doesn’t mean they aren’t happening all the time.
- Remain in the now – don’t fall into always remembering the past, or worry about the future. Only the ‘now’ matters.
- Breathe deeply and rejoice in the gift of life today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.
- Don’t put things off. Forgive easily. Love with an open heart. And never leave until tomorrow what can be said today. You might not get the chance.
- Help others and give generously, even when they have no way of repaying you.
- And no matter what, take everything within your stride. I’ve seen people with the worst luck in their lives, yet they remain happy. It’s not the circumstances which determine your happiness; it’s your reaction to them.
I’m proud of my nation. In the past we’ve stood battered and bruised in the face of a supposedly undefeatable enemy and screamed defiantly we would never ever surrender. Now that enemy has taken another form and it’s coming from within. By raising each other up, we enrich the whole country, and make us stronger and more resiliant to this threat.
So as the days begin to get brighter, and Friday the 29th March 2019 grows ever closer amid the chaotic death knells inside the Houses of Parliament, we need to realise it’s us as a people that have the strength to carry on and perservere. To keep pushing on regardless of the outcome next year. Keep the peace alive, keep the hope glowing, and let’s remember why we have the word ‘Great’ at the start of out nation’s name.
Much love to you all.
Have an amazing Christmas (or Yule, or whatever you celebrate), and a fantastic New Year!
Footnote: This post pretty much came out of nowhere. I feel I needed to write about the worries of some of my friends and clients, as well as the impact it’s having on the mental health of people. This and the fact this unique year is growing to a close. I did initially start writing about my own experiences of this year, but felt that was a bit boring.
October is only a couple of hours away. And with this month brings the beloved Halloween. Or as some like myself call it – Samhain! And it’s a further reminder that I myself, am a crap Pagan!
As we move through life, it’s inevitable our beliefs and faith changes, depending on circumstances and events that unfold. Religion is always a taboo subject; something we’re taught never to bring up in conversation, in order to avoid arguments and confrontation. I however, have always been fascinated and respectful of the beliefs of others, and will often ask questions about it if the other person is open about such things. Recently, a new friend of mine told me she was Zoroastrian – a religion I’d never heard of before, and yet it’s one of the oldest, originating in Iran around 3600 years ago.
As for me, I was always told I was raised Christian. And although I’d been baptised, it wasn’t until I reached my late teens did I realise that wasn’t the case. My mother came from a highly Spiritualised family. Her side was full of talks of ghosts, spirits, sightings, reincarnation, clairvoyancy, and the love from beyond the grave. They even had a family medium. I think her name was Mrs Oxley. I can recall cassette tapes of family members sat with her and other mediums, talking about messages from the other side. It was wonderful to grow up this way, as I felt that people who had passed, weren’t really gone. They could simply be contacted through a tape recorder!
My father’s side were a bit more mysterious. I remember as a child, my father kept a metal tin made for playing cards, and inside were a pack of tarot. The Versailes pack which he had painted himself. As I grew up, I’d see more and more books and trinkets relating to witchcraft, the occult, astrology, and various other pagainstic things appear in the house. In fact, my dad even looks a bit like Aleister Crowley himself!
I never knew where he got this fascination from (in fact Dad, if you’re reading this, tell me!). His mother, my grandmother was a child of nature – a beautiful soul who would take me and my sister on long country walks through fields and forests whenever she and my grandfather babysat for us. She would know the names of every plant and flower, and of every tree. She would collect bushels of branches and flowers, and bags of blackberries on our mini expeditions, often banging into people walking by with her collections. She adored the outdoors and was akin to an elderly Snow White. Nature indeed loved her. She often remarked she felt she’d been dunked as a witch in a former life, and looking back, with her knowledge of old wives tales, and insistance of having the house decorated with all manner of flora, I can see it was probably true.
As I grew up and left school, I would read through all my dad’s books on paganism and Wicca, and I felt more in tune with those beliefs, specifically Celtic Paganism. In time my father would surround himself with a group of friends whom all followed this path, and many became a good source of information. Eventually I created my own visualisation which I ran through every night for many many years. I would wear a crow around my neck for the figure Morrigan. I was quite a timid child growing up, and this mythological being inspired courage and bravery. I think this is where my love for birds and phoenixes originated, and even now I’ll be fully aware when a crow lands nearby.
Nowadays I’m pretty crap at following the sabbats and rituals of the Wiccan ways. Of course I’ll think to myself “Oh! Today is Imbolc!” and then go on my way. I do however keep my own beliefs and principles. Most of which originate somewhat from this old religion. Some people may scoff at some of these, and I respect their opinion. I would never argue their views on them.
- I believe the Earth is a living, sentient presence, which rhymically breathes, and is aware of what’s happening to it.
- I believe plants and wildlife are the same, each having thoughts and emotions, and responding to their environments.
- I belief in being respectful to all people and creatures, and having respect to their opinions and own beliefs.
- I believe in doing what we please, as long it harms no other.
- I believe there is a massive intelligient energy which governs absolutely everything. Something we as humans cannot fully comprehend. Some religions put a face, or many faces to this energy, and call it god, etc. I prefer to call it the Universe.
- I believe this energy is neither good nor evil, yet can be swayed to bring about changes in our lives as desired.
- I believe we are all responsible for our lives, and must work hard to be the best we can be.
- I believe we are simply a mind swimming around in a mass of jumbled up energy. Our brains act as a translator, taking some of this energy and deciphering it to make it understandable to us. It adds form, colour, and other aspects we all collectively agree on. If you think about it, all we are seeing is a cinema screen at the back of our brains.
- I believe we return here many times through many lives. And we choose what experiences we are to have before we arrive. I must admit though I sometimes struggle with this concept. As who would choose some of the suffering and pain we see in the world today.
- I believe our soul can divide and come from a larger version of ourselves on another plane of existence (like a central hub). Thus we can be here as various animals and other people at the same time. This would account for the fact there are more people alive today, than has been in all of history. I got this concept from the Seth Speaks books and it’s always stuck with me.
- I believe we harmonise with what we give out. Be what you want to see in the world.
- I believe the universe speaks to us all through symbols, events, people we meet, and slight nudges we receive. The more we are open to such things, the more we are pushed towards our greatest experience.
- I believe there is more to history than we are told. I believe there’s many civilisations that existed way beyond what we thought. I believe there’s rich knowledge lost throughout the ages and we’re only just beginning to discover these things again. I also believe this is being held back from us by certain powers.
- I believe humanity is on the whole good, and we must not believe the world is becoming a crueler place.
- I believe in being kind to everyone and everything we meet. We’re not here for a long time. I believe being kind and sending out love is the key to being happy.
There’s obviously more, but I think these are the main principles I go by. I will eventually write down the visualisation I followed for many years.
Looking back, I do believe the combination of Spiritualistic and Paganism growing up have made me who I am. Those close to me will say I’m an unusual person. Maybe weird? Maybe unique (a nicer way of being called weird)? But I think it’s made me stable, happy, fully confident in my own abilities, respectful, passionate, hard-working, unafraid to give myself fully to others, and able to practice kindness to everyone I meet. It may not be the most orthodox of upbringings, but it’s one I’m lucky to have, and one I’d never change.
Love to you all as always 😀 xx
It’s always the way isn’t it? The sun is shining, the world is in order, your job is secure, your relationships are solid, your wealth is growing, and you’re in great health. All the previous life worries you once endured and fought through seemed to have vanished. They just don’t enter your mind anymore. Things are bloody brilliant!
Then suddenly it feels as if life, god, the universe, or whatever sees this and thinks “Hmmm, they’re enjoying themselves way too much! Time to change this a bit!”
And before you know it, an almighty curve ball slams straight into your face!
Boom! You come into work to find out you’re being made redundant.
Boom! Your significant other decides to break up with you.
Boom! Your roof decides to fall in, uncovered by insurance and costing you way more than you can afford.
Boom! Illness hits, you and hits you hard!
Or any other of life altering situations! Where the hell did that come from?
Without warning, it can feel like this nice soft rug of life has been violently ripped out from beneath you and you spiral face first into the course, rough ground. And as you pick yourself up, just as that little rain cloud above your head starts to release even more misery around you, you’re left wondering what to do next.
Long ago, after a particularly harsh dumping by the same person for the second time, I vowed I wouldn’t mope around for months like I did the first time. I wouldn’t be a slave to this person’s actions.
I don’t mean I vowed to block out the sad emotions that came with it, as this is unhealthy and can lead to further problems down the line.
But I vowed whatever was to come, I’d accept it, and aim to move on as quickly as possible. Feel the emotions, acknowledge them, and let them go. “Begone with you!” I knew I’d be happy again in a relationship one day, so why waste time complaining on what had just transpired.
This way of thinking did help when I found myself being made redundant. Rather than kick off at the loss of my job and my apparant bad luck, I found myself becoming excited at the new opportunities before me. I remember getting my stuff on the last day, being pretty sad to be leaving my friends, but I went home, got a takeaway, had a long hot bath, and cleared my mind of any negativeness. Instead of focusing on the bad, like having to tidy up my CV, slog through job listings and go through interviews, I focused on the good. I had a sizable redundancy package to clear some debts. I finally was able to learn to drive through a crash course, and then was able to buy a car. I could now look for other jobs where I’d learn more, and meet new people. Ultimately the universe forced me down another path – working for myself. Which had always been a major goal in my life, but I always felt was a long way off. And now I’m grateful that I was kicked through that door!
I guess my own views of the Law of Attraction also helped here. I took responsibilty for everything that happened in my life. Even the really bad stuff. And honestly, it made things easier.
Disclaimeer: please don’t get me wrong here – I’ve had friends who have gone through some serious bad times, especially with illness, and I’d never suggest they attracted those things – some shit really does just happen sometimes.
Ultimately, we all just want to be happy. And life is way too short to dwell on past events, or worry about future ones. As Chris Gardner would say – ‘Start from where you are’ (great book by the way!). Look from the outside in at your life, and at any areas that might not be working. You hold the answers to change your life. Yet always remain positive that you are being pushed towards your own desires and goals, no matter how turbulent the journey may be.
Shit happens, but it doesn’t have to persist. How you deal and process events is what really matters. Go with the emotional flow and always strive to become better. If life was 100% easy we’d never grow and get stronger; it’s here to test us and help us develop. How you react to the actions of others is also paramount. It’s easy to live in anger and bitterness, but if you never forgive, then you’re only hurting yourself. And if you can’t forgive, then release and forget. Living happily is always the best revenge anyway. And never use the actions of someone else to justify your behaviour to others. Always be kind, it’s what people remember most about us.
The truth is, we’re all going to have setbacks. But it’s up to us how far back we allow them to set us. Wouldn’t you rather hit the ground running, instead of crashing and remaining down and dormant for longer than neccessary? Life is short, and people on their death beds will tell you a multitude of regrets they have. Get back on the horse and have as few of these regrets as possible.
Live in the now, be present, give love wherever you can, treat others how you want to be treated, look for the good and the opportunites in everything that comes your way, let go of the pain, and sooner than you think – that sun will shine again, and your world will once again be in order.
Much love to you if you’ve read this far.
Keep smiling and have a wonderful day. x
Ok so I’ve been in two minds about posting this, but seen as it’s a blog (sort of) documenting my experiences, I thought it best to record it.
On my wall is a list of projects and goals for my own work. Over the years of self-employment all I’ve done is take down the list, change the year and pin it back up! Nothing gets ticked off! It’s even become a running joke with some of my pals. Every so often I’d remind myself about doing writing or illustrating, but it’s usually a fleeting moment.
Recently I’ve felt a strange weight on me. Like my environment is full of cotton wool, or a heavy atmosphere around me. For months I’ve been unable to shake it. I’ve changed my morning routine, moved my desk around several times, change how I meditate, looked at my diet, and even the bloody coffee I drink! Nothing seemed to help. I didn’t feel present. I couldn’t focus. It was like those dreams where you try running but end up moving very slowly. I was becoming so distant.
As the focus waned more and more, my backlog of work recently began to build up. I was falling behind. Customers were complaining, money became slower at coming in, and people (and even clients) were asking if all was ok with me. I felt fine – I think. I wasn’t upset, or depressed or anything. I just wasn’t…aware. Even this morning seeing my father for lunch, I’m sure he felt I was distant and uncommunicative. I can’t explain it. Like part of me was asleep, or elsewhere.
Then only a few hours ago it happened. Sat at my desk looking at all my emails and trying to gear my mind into getting work done, I glanced up at my list of personal projects. Looking over the familiar titles of books and images there was suddenly a ‘snap’ in my mind — a crack of a whip back into lucidity. A wave of realisation hit me. And with it came a rush of happiness. Suddenly I remembered one of the main reasons I went self employed in the first place. To spend more time on my own projects. Over the years I’d faltered and let my own dreams slide whilst hammering client work more and more. Don’t get me wrong — I adore my clients and couldn’t survive without them. But I feel the part of me, the ambitious, dreaming part of my soul had gone to sleep and given up. Looking at that list awoke that part of me with a vengeance.
Immediately following this i found myself blasting through the current piece of work I was on. I wrote a new schedule to give my own projects time, renewed my affirmations, and before I knew it I felt more organised. My world suddenly feels colourful and vibrant again. I’m singing away to my music once more and my emotions feel more intense again! The weight is gone, the clouds lifted, and I can’t completely explain it. I feel unstoppable. Even my posture is more upright. I’m looking at my home with fresh love, my relationships with renewed gratitude and closeness, and my dreams with a gut-wrenching desire to be completed.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt such clarity in my life. All because I glanced at a tattered goal list on the wall. I feel it’s now time to focus hard on my life once again, bring all those dreams to fruition, and resolve myself never letting such things slide again.
Now I realise why I have such an attachment to phoenixes!
As the UK and other parts of the world continue to enjoy baking hot temperatures, lounging around on beaches and parks in the hazy glorious of the heat, it’s easy to overlook the dangers of such extreme weather.
Apart from forgetting to dab ourselves and our kids in Factor 50, the boiling sunshine can have more destructive connotations. Here in England only a few weeks ago we had grass fires dotted around the country — some of which a few firefighter friends of mine battled. But thankfully there was no loss of life (to my knowledge anyway).
In Greece though, things have taken a turn for the tragic. Several fires in the past day have caused a large loss of life as villages near Athens have burned away, with the inhabitants still present in them.
One very sad story involves a group of 26 adults and children unable to escape the blaze around them. In their last heartbreaking desperate measure, they embraced, and perished together.
It’s a stark reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed. That today could easily be our last. Those people didn’t wake up on this final morning knowing it was the last time they’d see the sun rise. And neither will we when our time inevitably comes.
It’s true I’ve spoke about this before, but in the comings and goings of life it’s easy to forget our own fragility. We all need (including me!) reminding that each day is a blessing and that we need to make the most of every moment on this earth.
So never forget to tell people you love them. It’s the one thing you might regret one day. If you haven’t told someone you love them, or hugged your kids today, don’t put it off.
If you’ve a dream job you want to pursue, or a place you wish to visit, makes plans now accomplish it. You can’t do them from your death bed.
Give thanks everyday you wake up. As Morning Coach’s JB Glossinger would say – many people went to bed last night and didn’t wake up. Each day is truly a blessing.
Always strive for happiness. You may want riches and possessions, but ultimately it’s happiness we all desire.
Your own heart and mental well-being are paramount. Never put up with people or situations that hurt you or pull you down. Your gut feelings about things should never be ignored. React to everything in the best way you can and watch those things change.
Always have something to look forward to, and keep hope in your heart of better things to come. Ignore worries or fears.
Be kind. It is the biggest thing people remember about us.
Ultimately, we all will die one day and we want to know we’ve lived to our best potential, loved deeply, laughed loudly, enjoyed experiences, built connections, pursued goals, and pushed forward without hesitation or regret.
Life is beautiful. Truly beautiful. We just need to open our eyes to it.
Huge love to you if you’re reading this. You’re amazing. Never forget that. And I wish you an amazing today… and tomorrow. xx