What Katy Louise Did...

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Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Sex, death and secrets uncovered! It's all in the stars

I've been taking some quiet time to myself to compensate for the manic-ness of office life and the zillion emails that bounce at me. And as it's Halloween, or, to be accurate, Samhaim (pronounced Sow-en), which is the Pagan name for this festival, the 'veil between the worlds' is said to be at its thinnest, meaning me connect with the realm of spirit, I felt it appropriate to do myself a little Psy-cards reading. 
I got sent a pack of Psy-cards while working on Soul&Spirit, but only began using them after my spiritual holiday in Ibiza last summer at Psychic Retreats, along with my friend and deputy editor Golnaz. The course was led by psychic medium Hazel Lee, who is often on Psychic TV, and at times I found it extremely challenging as we had to give each other tarot readings, including to complete strangers! I felt totally daunted by this, and sure I would come up with a load of nonsense. Incredibly, some of the people I read for said I was really spot on about some things - details about where they lived, what they liked to do, and situations going on for them. And, tellingly, all the relevant things came to me when I was relaxed and not trying hard. Each time I felt stressed that I was not coming up with enough information, and felt I was forcing it, nothing came. 
The last time I did a reading for myself it was earlier this year, and about, surprise surprise, a guy, but this time I didn't ask any specific question, I just picked out The Inquirer card, which represents oneself, and then shuffled until I felt ready to deal the cards.

As above, so below
I have to say, I was shocked by the cards as they reflected so accurately the current astrological climate, and what I was talking about today with an astrologer friend of mine, Orli Lysen, who writes the horoscopes for Vogue and Tatler in Australia. Saturn has just moved into Scorpio, and a host of other planets will also be moving into this dark and secretive sign this month too. According to Orli, the themes of sex, death, money and all things taboo, including secrets coming out of the closet, are linked to Scorpio, hence why the sign gets a bit of a bad rep! 

And check out my cards! I smiled when I first turned over the beauty card, as I'd been contemplating how sad I was at seeing little fine lines creeping onto my face with the passing of time, and wondered whether the card was telling me 'don't worry, you are still beautiful'. however, the opposite meaning of this card is vanity! (ego, take note). It's said that the card also represents a flowering of sexuality and implications of danger! 

As soon as I began to turn the next card, and saw what it was, I wanted to put it back: death. But this too is a scopionic theme, as Scorpio is the sign of transformation, and no transformation can occur without the death of one thing to be replaced with a new situation. Scorpio people, of which I am one, are meant to be masters at this too! The positive meaning of the card is rebirth, so there is always an upside to all situations. And I do feel a bit of a rebirth coming on! Then it occured to me that this card is perfect for today - Halloween - as it represents all departed loved ones. My nanna was in my dream last night - she died in 2010 - and was asking me whether all the arrangements were in place for her funeral. I was by her bedside and was comforting her, saying she needn't worry and that everything would be taken care of. It may partly be because I've got a picture of her in my room that I sometimes dream of her, but even before it was there, she would appear in my dreams quite a bit, and never did while alive. 

The Stranger
The next card, not including the Inquirer, was The Stranger, representing hidden parts of ourselves, and also unknown people, or secrets waiting to be uncovered. This perfectly illustrates some current news stories, such as the Jimmy Saville investigation, which seems to keep unravelling, and today's rant from Chantelle Houghton on Twitter about how her ex, Alex Reid, was a cross dresser and turned their home into a sex dungeon! For me, I believe it represents parts of myself I need to own, love and accept, rather than pushing them away, hating them and wishing I were 'perfect' - for who is?

The Stars
Next I got The Stars, which according to the book, represents the cycles we all go through in life, as well as our highest aspirations. Also interesting I was talking a lot about astrology today, and thinking about my own goals and desires. 

The sage
The Sage was the next card, representing wisdom, scientific learning and becoming a master. As cliche as it sounds, we are all on a journey, and though I may lament the loss of youth on a physical level, getting older has so many benefits in terms of knowledge and wisdom gained (though the two are very different, as with knowledge, every day something is added, where as with wisdom, each day something is let go of). 

The final card, which pleased me greatly, was the Union, showing two streams merging together, and a goldern chalice. Maybe it means I'll meet the man of my dreams this week?!?!? Who knows, however, I found this card interesting as not only did I get the image of a wooden grail in my mind while out on a brisk, blustery lunchtime walk today - related to one of the many projects swirling in my brain - but this image of the cup, with the water streaming together, reminded me of how I'd had a bit of a 'moment' earlier at work... while sitting on the loo! I was taking a breather from my overflowing inbox, and trying to centre myself - the loo is as good a place as any to do this - and for a few moments my mind became still; for the first time since I've used that toilet - and I've been working there five years - I suddenly paid attention to the sign on the door, not for the words that read 'now wash your hands' but for the image of hands joined together almost in a meditative position, and receiving water from an open faucet. It reminded me that a) I must meditate more - the hands are often in this position when I do - and b) only when we are still and open, can we receive abundance and be 'in the flow'. 

And now, as it's late and I had aimed to be in bed by 10pm as I've a long day in London tomorrow, I shall extinguish the candle flames and retire to my bedroom. I wonder what my dreams will conjure up tonight! (oh, and I had no trick or treaters either, which was probably a good thing as I'd forgotten to buy chocolate anyway). 

Monday 29 October 2012

Advice from a rich woman...

Just had to share this. As I may have ranted on yesterday and this morning, I've been trying to get focused on book writing. The other day, via one of my usual web links that led to another web link that led to yet another link (I suffer from information overload), I ended up purchasing a copy of Rich Woman: A book on Investing for Woman, by Kim Kiyosaki, wife of the best-selling author, and millionaire many times over I'm sure, Robert Kiyosaki, who wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad - I read that some years ago.

Right words, right time
So, I just picked up the book and flicked to a random page. Bearing in mind all I've been thinking about in the past few days, about how I really just need to stop talking and start taking some action to making my dreams happen re becoming an author, the page almost caused me to laugh out loud! Here is a book on investing, and I just happen to turn to the page all about getting on with writing a book! I've attached it for you here - sorry about the bad photo - but the gist of it is that Kim also had the same problem with talking about writing for years and her friends one day pulled her up on it and said 'so where is it then? You're all talk!'. It took her three years. She then goes on to give an example of a woman who did her accounting, who always asked for advice on investing. After a few years of the same conversations, Kim got so fed up that she declared 'Enough! No more advice until you actually go out and make an investment!', which the woman finally did.
LETTERS FROM HEAVEN? My 'random' first page of Kim Kiyosaki's book, Rich Woman, which just happens to be all about getting off your backside and actually writing a book! 

Guided from above?
The point is that you can talk and talk all you want but only actions will get results (unless, of course, we're talking about relationships, in which the opposite is often the case, as I have found, but that's a whole other subject for another time!). I merely wanted to point out the somewhat synchronistic 'chance' of opening the book to this very page. Perhaps it's a sign? I do get rather into my 'signs' and wondering whether seemingly random things might mean something, or be prompts from another level of reality. Some might even say it was my guardian angels giving me a physical nudge in the right direction, especially as I then went and picked up the Doreen Virtue pack of angels cards sitting beside my bed, opened the box, and the first card I saw was the 'Books' one, affirming, 'Your purpose and mission is to write, read, edit or sell spiritual books'. A double sign! Well, I've been told (she says, nodding to 'them upstairs').

Stressed mind = tense body

So, following on from Damian's advice yesterday, just how successful was I at 'doing nothing and spending the day treating myself'?
Not very. :-(

It started well, watching Strictly, then I did lay on the couch reading - and had a little snooze - but I just couldn't stop myself doing some admin things, namely sorting out the notes on my phone so I can transfer them to my computer - it has to be done at some point so why not now, I figured? - and sitting planning out , in my mind, how I'm going to write one of my books. I kept returning to The Celestine Prophesy, but to no avail - the thoughts would not leave my head about how I needed to do ABC, and XY and Z, in order to get my writing career off the ground, going in circles from one book idea to the next. All this was NOT what Damian told me to do, which makes me wonder: am I incapable of just spending a lazy Sunday afternoon by myself without feeling bad about not being productive? Seems so.

Addicted to busy-ness
I've experienced this before; anytime I've had a weekend with no plans, which has been rare for the past 12 months what with all my to-ing and fro-ing to London for numerous dance rehearsals ans performances, I've not been able switch off and relax. If I'm at home I feel like I need to be doing something useful, like sorting out my wardrobe, typing up my mound of receipts so I can see exactly how much I've blown the budget for yet another month in a row, or, to come back to my previous example, writing my damn book! Though I love doing nothing, it does give me too much time to sit and think; time in which I often get flooded with thoughts of 'why have you not yet accomplished this? Why did you not do that  last week, month, year? blah blah blah'. this is what Damian had to say: "The point of treating yourself is to relax and enjoy your own company. If you can't 'do' that, this is where the problem/block lies. This is where your work need to be done, on learning to relax, doing nothing - it's a nice 'problem' to have!"
I'm just not sure I'm capable of that though! On the one hand, though I tired myself out this year with so many commitments each weekend and many week nights, it made me feel great because I was so active and always doing something. Now that's stopped, the lack of constant activity makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, as if it was masking something deeper. Robert Holden http://www.robertholden.org has a great calendar that I have on my desk at work, which reminds you that being busy does not always equal success. Each day the insightful quotes remind me to question what success really means to me, and that being busy keep us from enjoying life. The irony is, I read them, take about ten seconds to reflect on the wisdom, then get stuck into my day because I'm just too busy to fully appreciate what he's getting at. Funny that.

The pain of holding on
Another phenomena I've noticed over the past couple of months is a painful spine - right in the middle and in between my vertebrae. it hurts when I bend forward, especially when I wake up in the morning, or if I attempt to do cobra pose in yoga. Even sitting back against a chair hurts! The reason could be the drops and lifts I did in salsa, or lugging a metal wheel on my back during the Olympics ceremony, or, it could be poor diet (I read eating too much sugar can cause aches and pains, and my back was miraculously better last year when I gave up sugar for 5 weeks), or perhaps, as Louise Hay, queen of affirmations, would say, it's because I'm holding too much tension and too much 'stuff' including regrets for the past. I often find myself with shoulders hunched up around my ears when I'm lost in a negative train of thought, or tensing my back, glutes and legs.
Maybe relaxing and 'lifting up the oars' to drift down the river, as Damian advised in the previous post, really is what I need to do. I can't see that ever happening at work, so my only hope is in my leisure time. Now, if only I could just switch my brain off...

Sunday 28 October 2012

Getting what you want (by doing nothing)

Woke up nice and early, appreciating the extra hour as it allowed me some time to meditate for first time in ages. Was looking forward to my Skype session with Damian Smyth, author of Do Nothing: Stop Looking, Start Living (amazon.co.uk). My expectations were that I'd finish the session with an action plan for my book, list of things 'to do' and feeling motivated to get started once and for all. However - and I ought to have guessed, considering his book title - what transpired was rather than focusing on things I need to do, Damian advised me to take the day off and enjoy myself, rather than focusing on goals. What?!?!? But I'd planned to be so productive this weekend! This was not what I wanted to hear. Having listened to me ramble on for five minutes about why I want to write and what I want to accomplish, he told me something I felt was counter intuitive to progress: take the day off!
Here's some of what he said, which you may find applicable to your life too if, like me, you keep striving to 'get somewhere'.

"Just go and have some fun and don't think about anything else. All the times you put yourself on the hook, that's you doing it to yourself and you can take yourself off the hook; you're OK where you are and as you are; everything is and has happened perfectly; as soon as you surrender to the idea of something you know is going to happen, it will happen. Stop fighting to find a way to make things occur. The way to do it is let go, find out who you are, and love yourself."

Interesting! and something I've heard and been told countless times from various mentors and self-help gurus during my time at Soul&Spirit magazine. 

Lifting the oars...
"If you are rowing upstream and putting all your effort into it, and you suddenly realise the boat is going in the wrong direction, the best thing to do is not turn the boat around, but just lift the oars. Stop doing things you think are going to work; stop the doing and trying."

This 'Go with the flow' advice is as old as the hills but perhaps it's for a reason. Maybe I am trying to hard, even though to me it doesn't feel like I am as I'm not 'getting anywhere', but my mind is like a constant battlefield of thoughts about 'you should be doing this, that and the other' or, worse, 'you should have done that already and have wasted years'. Those thoughts make it almost impossible to be creative and move forward with anything at all. Feeling not good enough or satisfied either with what I have, what I have achieved, or who I am, isn't helpful. Oh, and I love the tag line on his Skype account, which is 'you will Find the answer by realising you already have it'. Nice.

Learning to love yourself
On this subject of approving of oneself, back in September at Hay House's I Can Do It! conference in London (hayhouse.com), I realised that actions coming from a place of acceptance and self-approval are bound to be more productive than ones that are born out of fear and self-loathing. After that weekend, I vowed to treat myself as a best friend would, and ditch the negative talk. It lasted about a day, but it was a start... there are years of criticism there to work on!
Wayne Dyer, a Hay House author and one of my most favourite spiritual speakers, says we must "abstain from thoughts of harm, whether directed towards ourselves or others". For me, it's a case of breaking the habit of a lifetime, or, as some have advised, letting it go, as 'breaking' implies force; what's gentler is to greet the inner critic with amusement, thank it for its concern, then let it pass by.

Lady of leisure!
So, Damain told me to enjoy my day, go to a spa, the gym, into the park, to a coffee shop to have a huge piece of cake - whatever it was, just to be kind to myself and completely take my mind of 'achievements'.
I've started with catching up on my fav programme of all time, Strictly Come Dancing, and that put a huge smile on my face. The rest of the day I may just lounge on the sofa reading books that make me feel good, starting with the final instalment of The Celestine Prophecy series: The Twelfth Insight. I wonder whether I can go the whole day without thinking and feeling that I ought to be 'doing' something more 'useful'...

Wednesday 24 October 2012

How to make good decisions - listening within

I subscribe to a site called DailyOm (www.dailyom.com) which delivers horoscopes each day. Yesterday's was spot on - and I read it this morning, so it didn't influence my day yesterday. 

“October 23, 2012
Instinctive Decision-Making
Scorpio Daily Horoscope
You may find yourself feeling disoriented and confused about making the best decisions today. Family matters, business decisions, and personal endeavors may all make you feel overwhelmed as you try to determine the best choices for your long-term growth. Dissolving indecision can be a simple process if you tune into the innate wisdom that lies within you today. In a period of quiet meditation, begin by setting aside all fears, worries, and doubts about which decisions are right or wrong. Empty your mind of stressful thoughts and allow yourself to rest in a haven of peace and well-being. Then imagine turning your attention inward to the center of yourself. See an image of your higher self, shining with brilliance and light, coming forward to meet you. You can then ask your higher self any questions you may have and receive the guidance you need. As we learn to tap into and trust this higher wisdom, we begin to feel more confident about making beneficial decisions.”

Well, I’m not sure I was able to do that as I ended up stressing over a major work-related decision, and then doubted myself the minute I made it, even though I'd asked my unconscious mind to give me an answer in my dreams and then I woke up thinking of a certain option, which I went with. 
This is a terrible habit of mine – doubting pretty much everything. I’m surprised I’ve gotten as far as I have in life with such a strong inner critic that seems to be on constant duty, making me question almost every decision I make.
Anyway, the point is, the horoscope was so spookily accurate – they often are from this site  – and made me realise I do need to meditate more and find inner stillness, as that is where the answers lie.

The meaning of success
I also smiled when reading Robert Holden’s quote for today, from his perpetual flip calendar, which said: “Measure your success by how much you smile, how much you laugh, and by how much you really enjoy yourself.” Hmmm!!! Yesterday the wasn’t much of any of those things, despite the few minutes of great salsa dancing. That too made me think I’ve not been very successful at enjoying life of late, being so bogged down in ‘serious’ matters – whicih ultimately, probably don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
Maybe I ought to prioritise fun rather than 'productivity' as no doubt the former will lead to the latter anyway as it puts one in a better mood, therefore more likely to feel like being creative and productive! 

Resistance is futile... how to stay calm within

Feeling on edge
I'm not sure what's gotten into me but I've been feeling so restless of late. One day I'll be perfectly fine and happy, going to work, doing what needs to be done, coming home and feeling optimistic about the future and my many projects that swirl endlessly in my mind, waiting to be born out (mainly in book form).
At other times, and with an increasing regularity as to slightly worry me, I feel dissatisfied, like there is indeed a pea under my many mattresses, causing only slight but noticeable discomfort (and using that analogy causes me to question whether I am being too much of a princess about it all and ought to 'man up' as one of my former beau's would have told me).
Perhaps it's a combination of having ended my intense year of dancing, and the adrenalin I no doubt called upon many a time that caused me to push through physical situations that normally would have me lying under the covers for days, coupled with the shake up of changing jobs.

Planning my escape route
At any rate, I find myself mentally planning out escapes: going to live in the jungle with a community at Pachamama in South America; going to live at a retreat centre in Hawaii as a volunteer for three months; going to Ibiza or Bali or somewhere warm at any rate to train full time as a yoga instructor. But I also know/predict these will most likely remain dreams, as I'm one to follow the 'sensible', conservative path. I'm due to buy my own flat very soon, which I'd so dearly wanted earlier this year, yet now I question it over and over, wondering whether the disproportionately long delay in the process is actually a sign from above that I ought to get out now, keep my deposit and free myself from the 9-5, if only for a year. Yet I know I most likely won't.
The funny thing is that a similar situation occured some nine years ago, when then I was debating: travel or property? I chose property, mainly out of fear of 'wasting all my money and never getting on the property ladder later' as my dad told me at the time. So, good old fear of the unknown kept me firmly on British soil.

Is this situation repeating now? I can't help but see patterns emerging, as I've grown older, and felt 'hmm, didn't this happen X number of years ago, or with X person?' as things seem to crop up that seem vaguely familiar, like a mild version of deja vu.
Even going to salsa last night only lifted my spirits for about half an hour - during all the really good dances I had when moving perfectly to the music and feeling that sense of connection to my partner and the dance. I came back feeling sadder than when I left.
Of course, the other explanation is that the most recent ending of a 'relationship' (I use the term loosely as the very fact it was so undefined is what caused me to call time on it, as it was not making me happy) affected me more than I thought it would. I ought to be hardened to those sorts of endings too by now, as it feels as if I've gone through a fair few, but it never does seem to get any easier. And that is another area of my life where repeating cycles are increasingly evident, hence the purchase of an online book about 'how to understand men' late last night after returning from dancing.... but there's another blog in itself, in fact a whole book! (watch this space).

A way to find inner calm?
Anyway, I'd better wrap up as work calls. The dark and dank weather make it particularly unpleasant to stare at a glaring computer screen, coupled with a harsh, bright light over head that shines directly into my eyes (I need one of those old fashioned editor's visors!). Oh, which reminds me the very reason why I began this blog! (I do tend to go off at tangents). I'm reading the Life of Pi, an excellent book, and a line in it made me stop and think. Pi is on an island, and talks of how it's a very 'Gandhian island' in that the waves crash into it relentlessly, yet the island absorbs them and is not affected or damaged, and how Pi concludes that the only way to resist is by not resisting - allowing whatever is to just be. I thought perhaps I, too, would fare better if I adopted this mindset, of letting all the situations and people causing me stress to just wash over me, like a stormy sea, and remain unaffected within. Meditate more, I'm often told. Now is a good time to listen to that advice... :-)

Monday 15 October 2012

Endless endings... it's the season of change

Today I was reminded of the Buddhist saying, "This, too, shall pass", as I received a couple of different email newsletters about endings. The first was from the Insight Meditation Centre in Limerick, the owners of which were writing about the death of a close friend, and how it was a wake-up call to them, and to us all, to do what we love. To quote from their newsletter: "That may involve listening to more music, reconciling with family and friends, taking that trip, sitting by the ocean, reading poetry, more prayer, planting a late autumn garden, whatever you know to be appropriate for you. This is autumn and the season itself reminds us that all living beings on our planet eventually must die."
And it was only last month, mid September, that Jon Sandifer, a great man who not only wrote many books on feng shui and the I Ching but had written a column for Soul&Spirit magazine for the past couple of years, also sadly passed away. I remember receiving the email from his business partner while at home one Sunday, and felt so shocked that I burst into tears. I'd only met Jon a couple of times, but his wisdom and joie de vivre was infectious, and the stories he told me of his life were fascinating - he was a truly adventurous spirit.
The second email was from Nikki Wyatt - 'the Karma Coach' in Soul&Spirit - who creates flower and crystal essences to help deal with different problems, be they current life issues or ancestral ones going back many lifetimes. Her email, too, was about shedding the past, clearing away emotional debris, and well as having a good physical clear out of clutter.

NATURE KNOWS BEST: Trees in a Abby Fields, Colchester, last weekend, just as the leaves are turning. We can't stop nature changing, so why resist change in our own lives?

The season of letting go
All this change in the air is no doubt brought on in part by the impending autumn equinox, which will mark the end of the 'light' half of the year and a move into darker days. Autumn, when nature sheds her leaves, is always a time synonymous with letting go. Clinging on to the old, whether that's people, places, or possessions, only keeps us stuck in the past and unable to allow the new to arrive and thrive. I for one know this only too well, as I've been rather hesitant about making changes and have clung on, rather too forcefully at times, to things that I've outgrown, or which were probably never right or good for me in the first place.
The encroaching end of the Mayan 'Great Age' in December may also have something to do with the current feeling of restlessness and shedding of baggage, after all, it's when the cosmic clock, so to speak, will reset itself back to zero, ready for another 26,000-year cycle - according to the Maya anyway.

Time to move on
Endings are quite often sad but just think for a moment about a world where nothing ended: it's inconceivable. You and I would not be here. Nothing would be. Whatever was first created would be static, stuck in time and space, never evolving. Plants give up their leaves because they trust in the process - they know new leaves will grow next year. So it's foolish of us, try as we might - and Lord knows I've tried! - to hold on to things that have died, be that relationships, friendships, moments in time that were special, possessions that no longer serve a purpose.
Also, most of us live as if we'll never die, and put things off for 'tomorrow'. Yet life is short. But rather than getting depressed and morbid about this, let's take it as a wake-up call to be true to ourselves and spend as many of our days as we can fulfilling our passions - be that writing, dancing, singing, travelling - and being with people we love and care for.
Everything ends, as it must; we only suffer, the Buddha tells us, when we cling to what was, including life itself. So this autumn, in the much anticipated year of 2012, why not assess what needs getting rid of in your life, and start prioritising the things that bring you joy?

On the subject of transitions, I love this song by Seal - Prayer for the dying. I first bought his album in the mid 90s I think. I read the words in the cassette jacket and felt moved by them, almost as if they stirred something within my soul that was hidden, or that I felt a connection to what he was saying. Anyway, the album is perhaps one of my favourites, as it puts me in a contemplative mood

Saturday 13 October 2012

Busy doing nothing... after summer of dancing

Why’s it so hard to sit and do nothing? Having postponed my London dentist appointment and decided not to go a free dance workshop as my body is still tired from an onslaught of salsa in Chelmsford last night, I’ve opted instead to sit on my sofa reading various magazines and books, including The Life of Pi, which I’m very much enjoying and has made me laugh out loud on a number of occasions. Though I’m loving the peace and relaxation, the day seems to be slipping by rapidly, and I can’t help but compare this leisurely pace to a few months ago, when I was at the height of my ‘manic London schedule’, in which I stretched time, or so it seemed, by cramming in so much. I was going there 2-3 times per week to rehearse or perform in some capacity. I’m wondering how on earth I found the energy to schlep all the way over to Fulham each Friday to practise for salsa shows, perform on weeknights and get to bed at around 2am then work the next day; rehearse an afro samba number for a jive ball and then zumba event; go on a Croatia salsa holiday that involved an extremely erratic sleep schedule; do Olympics rehearsals for the closing ceremony, which not only overlapped somewhat with the salsa shows but meant whole weekends in our heavy costumes and pain-inducing shoes, and – the finale! – parading in both the Notting Hill Carnival for three hours, followed by more dancing in the streets, then the Thames Festival a fortnight later, which was the same as Notting Hill but at night and for longer! (see below for photographic evidence of all the aforementioned shows)

BRIGHT LIGHTS: The flag handover ceemony for London 2012 Olympics, dancing as one of the passistas (with the wheels)

PARADE OF A TIME! At the Thames Festival, Sep 9, 2012

STREET LIFE: Salsa freestyling at the Latin Rave party, Notting Hill, after the parade

SHAKE IT UP! Dancing with 'ala Shaik' with the Paraiso School of Samba at Notting Hill Carnival, Aug 2012

MAKING A SPLASH: At the Salsa Beach Splash Festival in Croatia, July 2012

A TOUGH LIFE: Backstage with the boys from the Laith Sami Performing Group after our 'Terminator burlesque salsa hiphop routine! 

GOLDEN GIRL: In the Olympic stadium after the finale of the closing ceremony, August 11, 2012 

TRIBAL: At the 'Sex and Candy' Jive Ball in April, where I performed with Monika Molnar's DanceMyWay student group afro samba routine

So now, sitting here listening to Ibiza chillout music and looking out the window at the glorious sight of white fluffy clouds backlit by the sun, giving them a luminous glow around the edges, it’s weird to be doing what I consider not much. I know rest and recuperation is precisely what I need, yet the harsh taskmaster of my mind seems insistent upon telling me I ought to be getting ready to go out this evening, or to be getting on with writing my book, or doing something else either productive or sociable.

The drive to be productive
Why is this? Is it just me, or does everyone feel like they should be doing more? I think social networking is partly to blame. Every time I check Facebook I see another event I want to go to – a class, a workshop, a party – and then feel bad about missing it, as if my life is somehow going to be less enjoyable if I stay home. I’ve only been out of the London salsa scene for a couple of months yet it feels like longer. And, although I was enjoying my break, last night at the Chelmsford event, a handful of the City crowd were there to perform, which just made me yearn to be part of another group. I’d promised myself I’d take it easy for the rest of the year, spend more time by myself, get my stuff in order, finally have the clear out and tidy up I’ve been needing to do for so long, and yet there I was telling them all I’d be at the next audition in a few weeks, eager and raring to get back into another tiring, not to mention expensive, dance schedule.
I’m not advocating I, or anyone, stop following my/their passions, I’m just wondering where this inner drive to always be busy comes from, and the feeling of missing out. I've done more in the past 6-12 months than perhaps in any other period of my life so far, so why this relentless feeling of needing to do more? Anyway, for the rest of this weekend I’ll try to be content with stillness – and reading – and also avoid Facebook. J

Sunday 7 October 2012

How do you want to grow old?

Can you bypass ill health and grow old gracefully? A walk in the park causes Katy to ponder the ageing process, and how a lot of it is determined by our attitude towards getting older, and the thoughts we think

Yesterday as I was wandering through Abby fields in Colchester - part of an epic walk from one end of the town to the other, just to take a lamp to be fixed - I passed a lady whom I'd guess was probably in her late 60s; she had sleek, grey hair cut into a bob, smart sunglasses, and a confident air. Something about her made me stand up straighter, take deep breathes and hold my shoulders back. I had a thought, albeit fleeting, that I'd like to grow old and look like her. Now, I don't know what her life is actually like as we never got talking, but looked healthy and happy.
At the same time I spied her, I was pulling my iPhone out of my pocket, which at that very moment began playing a track from a talk by Louise Hay about growing older - I must have pressed a button accidentally, though I thought it was locked. (on that note, I've noticed a number of times how it seems to pick out songs that seem relevant to the moment; not so long ago I was sure the device was warning me off seeing a certain man, as it kept selecting tracks at poignant moments to do with being broken hearted; turns out it was probably right, but that's another story...)

choose how you age...
Anyway, Louise Hay's talk, given some 6-7 years ago, was about how she wants to create a community called 'Elders of Excellence'. She says that though we all get older, we have a large part to play in the process and must all take responsibility for our health. She also points out that whatever age you deem to be 'middle age', is when you will begin to deteriorate physically, which is an idea also espoused by Deepak Chopra, author of Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, who says we can change our very DNA through our thoughts, and that we, not doctors, are the ones who heal ourselves.
Anyway, I found it somewhat synchronous that within seconds I'd seen a healthy elderly lady, who just by virtue of passing by had caused me to consider my own health and longevity, and at the same time my iPod chose to play Louise Hay's words echoing my own thoughts.

no excuses
As it happened, I had just been for a jog - making the most of the glorious sunny autumn day - and had included some high intensity interval training, which is basically short, intense bursts of activity, such as jumps, sprints, press ups etc, followed by a short rest period.
Having just switched from editing Soul&Spirit to Bodyfit, my thougths are naturally turning more towards my physical and not just emotional and spiritual self, and I've made the commitment to not only strengthen my muscles and increase my cardiovascular health, but to increase my flexibility so I'm able to do the splits - I've given myself 12 months to achieve the latter. And I now believe it's possible. Deepak, Louise, Wayne Dyer and a number of other spiritual gurus all tell us the same thing: that if you believe something, you can achieve it and experience it. For years I held the limiting belief of "I'm not flexible". Well, as Wayne would say, whatever you put after the words 'I am' is critical to success or failure (for more on this, see his latest book Wishes Fulfilled, which is one of the best on manifesting that I've ever read). So, by saying, 'I am not flexible' I was enforcing that belief. However, last year I got sent the updated version of Vanda Scaravelli's Awakening the Spine, and was amazed and encouraged by images of this slight, 90-year-old woman putting her feet behind her head and bending into the most incredible postures. And she only began yoga in her forties. I also watched some Youtube videos of women who've taught their bodies to do the splits in just a few months by practising each day. So, no more excuses for me....

healthy mind = healthy body
What we do with our bodies and minds, not to mention what we put into them, IS our choice. We choose what to eat, drink and think. but it's a daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute practise. I won't get flexible overnight; progress, in any area of life, is often made by taking constant, continuous, little-by-little steps.
But the combination of seeing the elegant lady, hearing Louise's talk, and recalling Vanda's book all motivate me to take healthy actions so that, hopefully, I live to a ripe old age. I plan to be doing yoga - and the splits - in my nineties, and I have a feeling I'm going to grow old disgracefully, in that I'll be far less stressed and worried about what other people think by then. Though I do wish my grey hairs would hold off for another decade or so until I'm really ready for them!