You know, it feels so good to be writing a blog! Apologies for the long delay – it has been over a month now – but an awful lot has been happening, and every time I thought about writing a blog something else came along to distract me. Since my book came out I am delighted to have been asked to write several articles including those for Watkins Mind, Body, Spirit magazine, Kindred Spirit, and the online journal, Positive Health – for whom I am doing a second part as I kind of couldn’t fit everything into the first one. Nothing new there then! But the most exciting news is that I heard my book has been entered in the Biography section of the Costa Book Awards. Even if nothing else happens with it I am ecstatic. I never even thought I would write a book, so this is an amazing turn of events, and one for which I am deeply grateful.
I have also been busy doing radio interviews, which is all a bit weird, but I am finding that, as a previously shy person, I am enjoying having the opportunity to explore different themes in those interviews. One that was especially enjoyable was my chat with Lawrence Ampofo, founder of the Digital Mindfulness Research project. You can reach it through the Interview link on the right hand side of this page. He is on a mission to help create good experiences on the Internet and while using digital technology and we talked about the more positive aspects of having this amazing resource at our disposal. As I believe I mentioned in the previous blog, it opened up a whole new world to me when I was ill, both as a writer and as a means of massive support, but we both feel it gets a very bad press. Yes, it does separate people from their companions as they peer into their mobile devices during a meal, or can’t watch a whole film without checking Facebook – or posting on Facebook that they’re watching a film. How weird is that?! What it also does, though, is allow communities to grow up that bring people together, regardless of where they leave, which is no small feat considering the increasingly divisive world we seem to be living in these days.
Anyway, all the chatting on the radio gave me another idea. Marketing strategies and websites have changed so dramatically since I started The Wessex Astrologer that it has been a real challenge to keep up, especially with being out of the running while I was ill; but what I do know is that websites are much more exciting these days when they offer more than just a list of products. With this in mind, and in anticipation of an upgraded website for Wessex I have started to interview my authors so that when the website is ready I will have a load of interviews to launch it with. We now have a website for Flying Horse Books, our MBS imprint www.flyinghorsebooks.com, and it was one of these authors who bravely agreed to plunge in and give me the chance to hone my interview skills. I worked closely with Ellie Duvall Thompson to get her book, Diary of a Reluctant Psychic into print, and I felt there was an awful lot more of her story still to be told. I was delighted to find I could record Skype calls, so last week we recorded the first interview. I wanted Ellie to tell me about the reality of being a psychic and the background to the title of the book; she responded with some very frank and honest observations. It was also very strange that at exactly the point we were discussing beings from other parts of the universe getting in touch, BT switched off her broadband so she could move over to Sky. It was supposed to be 5pm, but no, they had to do it right then, at 11.30 in the morning, in the middle of our interview. To be honest I didn’t think it was funny at the time as we were in full flow and I had no idea how we would get that energy back, or stick the two bits of the interview together when we reconvened at about 5pm. However, we managed it and with the genius of my son Matt and his music editing software, you can’t even hear the join. I’m really, really pleased with the way it turned out, and we’re scheduling more as Ellie has an awful lot more to communicate. The next one will be on the subject of Alzheimers. You can find her first interview on Youtube here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OssKI0pDScg
Still on the talking theme, I have come to realise something of late. Well, I think I thought it when I was ill but maybe didn’t write about it, so it didn’t stick in my mind. My brother and his family are suffering the slow and heartbreaking torture of losing their beloved Rosemarie to Alzheimers Disease. I have been sharing his blog posts on Facebook because he is an astounding writer and I am sure he is helping other people in similar situations through his searing honesty and refusal to give up on her. (In case you missed it his blog is at http://www.otherkosh.blogspot.co.uk.) I have become uncomfortably aware that I haven’t been very good at keeping in touch with him, and I rationalised that it is because I feel he doesn’t want to be talking about it all the time, just as I didn’t want to be talking about cancer the whole time when I was ill. Or afterwards. Then I wondered how much of it was me not knowing what to say. Now, how many times did I hear that when I was ill? After a long talk with my lovely niece (his daughter) in which she assured me he did want to talk, and that I wouldn’t be intruding, I resolved to call him. And I’m so glad I did. Because what I realised is that, although he was heading out fairly shortly, what he wanted, and what appeared to raise his spirits, was not to talk about himself, but to hear about what has been going on with me. As you can imagine, I was able to bore him fairly senseless before he apologised that he really had to go, but his tone was higher and clearer than at the beginning of the call, and he even laughed once or twice. So I think the interesting thing about communication, on all levels, and in all mediums, is that you never know quite what to expect.
And the exact opposite of communication is Mindfulness, which of course is all about stopping the internal chatter and focusing on the moment. It feels like I am running two careers now – my own writing (and media stuff!) as well as the day job – so finding calm in such busy times is becoming even more important. I have a chime App on my phone which goes off at random intervals to remind us to stop what we are doing, take three, slow mindful breaths, and allow our systems to calm down and reset. It is amazing what a difference it makes. I find that rather than interrupting my train of thought it actually helps me to focus better. Not one for the car though, obviously. And quite by chance I came across one of Pema Chodron’s courses called The Freedom to Choose Something Different. I’m loving it. One of the difficult things about dealing with cancer is the fear of relapse. It is something I try not to think about 100 times a day, and sometimes I do really well, but the slightest twinge or odd feeling in my body brings on so many fears. Which I instantly catch myself doing, and change course, but keeping my mind away from such thoughts sometimes feels like an endless task, and occasionally I grumpily wish I could have not had cancer and have to do all this stuff. But then I remember the amazing gifts it has brought me and I calm down again. This course is perfect. Pema Choron is such a beautiful and wise woman; she teaches in a very funny and down-to earth style that reflects not only her spiritual experience, but also the experience of having been married, divorced, giving birth to children and now being a grandmother. You feel she really understands the problem of maintaining a spiritual life in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday busy-ness because she has done it too. The course takes the form of 10 hours of video presentations as well as lecture materials and the opportunity to make observations in a journal. It is brilliant.
So occasionally, just occasionally, there is peace and quiet in the Cahill household :-)
Wishing you all good health