It is strange how life goes, and how we end up at a certain place without even realising we have got there. Let me explain. Amidst all the excitement of getting the book out and giving my first talk, there have been changes afoot. Part of my talk at Watkins, entitled ‘Blogging as a Spiritual Journey’ was about the positive and supportive side of social networking. (You can find it on the links page to the right of this article.) I am blessed to be part of a support group on Facebook which was started by Anita Moorjani; it is for cancer sufferers and their families, and anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer, and the people on there are the most open and generous-hearted that I have ever encountered. Sadly, it is the nature of such a group that there is a high turnover of members, and occasionally one stands out in particular. A beautiful and much-loved soul graciously took her place in the heavens last week, and such was her attitude to both her living and her dying that we are still reeling from the loss of her. However, amidst the tears (and I am still welling up when I think of her), we all realise how honoured we were to watch this lady grow in strength – ironically – as she moved from thinking she was surviving to realising that she was losing her fight, and believe me, she fought. I so admired her spirit, which she conveyed with such strength and courage in her posts through the group; we were witness to her gradual acceptance of an imminent departure, and then her joyful realisation that she had prepared the way for her family to continue without her, and that she was ready to leave. She was posting right up to the day before her death, and we watched as her grace increased and she developed a kind of glow about her – even through her writing. When she finally, peacefully, left her ailing body, we were relieved but heartbroken. And I never even met her. Such are the power of words, support groups, and especially, social networking sites, and I feel humbled to have witnessed even a tiny part of her life.
As I drew close to the end of my talk, in which I did include a little of that story (and happily managed not to cry), I realised how we have an amazing tool at our disposal. For every annoying or negative image that comes up on Facebook, I realised that there are many more positive ones being posted by people who wouldn’t previously have had access to the wise words they are quoting. People who would never had thought of reading a book on Buddhism or one by someone like Eckhart Tolle are now sharing lovely pictures with just a few wise words on them that get straight to the point. It struck me that we are lucky to have these unexpected bits of positive energy popping up before our eyes, and I welcome them into my day as I see others do too. I am on Facebook quite a lot now as apart from my own page I also have The Wessex Astrologer and Flying Horse Books to administer – so it is a good medium for being in contact from a business perspective. However, all that scrolls up is not wonderful and good, and a few weeks back something shook me to the core.
I had noticed several pictures relating to animal cruelty coming up, but the trouble is that the picture has imprinted itself on your mind before you get the chance to censor it, and I was so shocked I didn’t think about how to stop them appearing. I was really, really upset and felt I should share them too, but I didn’t want other people to feel sick to their core as I had done. I like to think there is an element of trust with the ‘friends’ I have on FB and I don’t want to abuse that. Where does one draw the line between sharing something that should be public knowledge, and not passing it on because it is too shocking? While I was deliberating this another post came up, which revolted me even more and made me feel ashamed to be part of the human race. In a moment I realised that if I blocked the person who had shared the news item then I wouldn’t have to keep seeing them. The message had got through to me, and I didn’t need to see more of the horrors that were being inflicted on animals.
We had lamb for dinner that night, and I sadly pushed the bits of meat around my plate, unable to eat them. The pictures hadn’t involved lambs, but the symbolism was there and it was very vivid in my mind. I had sat numbly at my desk all afternoon wanting to talk about what I had seen, but found couldn’t even give voice to it. After we finished eating (in my case just the vegetables), I told Stephen what I had seen and explained that I was so shocked and unhappy that my body had switched off and I couldn’t even think about eating meat for the foreseeable future.
Now that was a bit of a surpriise in quite a few ways. After the cancer diagnosis I was very aware that most people on an anti-cancer diet give up meat. I have tried several times in the past but have been unable to – I seem to get very weak and hungry and just crave it, so I have always caved in. I felt very guilty that I wasn’t making this big and apparently vital contribution to my efforts to avoid a relapse, but that decision has now been taken out of my hands; my body has spoken. I had also wondered how people find stuff to eat, day after day, that doesn’t involve endless meals of processed soya or Quorn (neither of which count as proper or even exciting food as far as I am concerned) or beans on toast (I hate bread) or jacket potatoes (don’t really like potatoes much). But I am amazed that I have discovered a whole new interest in food, and I am loving exploring the new recipes and ideas that we are trying on a daily basis. The extreme irony is that Stephen was a veggie for 15 years and only started to eat a lot more meat, and especially beef, when we got together. He is happily participating in the change of culinary direction, with the odd inclusion of a bit of chicken when he feels the need. All of this has only happened in the last few weeks, so I haven’t been talking a lot about it, but I have been eagerly accumulating recipe ideas and also inventing our own. Since my illness I have increased by a dramatic percentage the amount of vegetables I eat, and we have also been including a lot more veggie dishes in our daily repertoire, so we weren’t completely without resources. The subject came up over dinner with some friends last night and it occurred to me that I now have a lot more to share than is currently on the Vits, Tips and Resources page of this blog. And so a new page was born today – recipes from the kitchen of Under the Cover. I will be adding more as I go along, but I hope you enjoy what is there. The link is on the right hand side of this article.
As usually happens in all this weirdness, all of this coincided with us hearing about a new juicer, which apparently is less messy and a lot easier to clean than our previous models. But looking through the reviews, we came to the conclusion there was still something missing. Ah yes, the fibre. The fibre gets thrown into a huge jug which we usually throw away with heavy hearts as it seems such a waste. We were reading the reviews for this new super-duper juicer and one reviewer only gave it four stars out of five, because she said that although it was definitely easier to clean, her Nutri Bullet knocked spots off it on a nutritional level. Aha. Hadn’t heard of one of those so we eagerly did a bit of research and I am happy to say our newest gadget arrived on Thursday. We played with it yesterday and it is scarily powerful .We have a smoothie maker (now up for grabs if anyone wants it) which has a 300 watt motor, and I think the Bullet has about 900 watts. Wow. And the best thing is you don’t need as much produce to get a reasonable result. I stacked up a huge pile of veg yesterday to create our first drink – at least as much as we would have needed were we juicing – and discovered that we didn’t even need half of it. We are delighted, and very much looking forward to playing with it a lot more.
So, in conclusion, out of bad came good. Out of a peaceful but much mourned passing came an increased sense of grace and humility, and out of an horrific set of pictures came an increased commitment to my health and that of all living creatures. Life is definitely strange.
With much love