Friday, 27 September 2013

The Healing Hearts of Horses...

I've just spent the most amazing day in the company of a horse called 'Smiley'. The day was a birthday treat to myself and it was centred at a holistic horse centre; where horses are used to help humans interact better with each other. By learning to communicate clearly and decisively with horses, it seems we dumb humans can learn valuable skills which can help us in business and life generally. This is because (and here comes the science bit): the brain of a horse does not have the 'reflective' part which is a feature of the human brain. A horse only operates on the intuitive level. You can read up about this, but basically, it means that most of us have lost the knack of reacting intuitively. Or even if we haven't, we've lost the confidence to trust this valuable sense. Having signed up (I thought) to a fun day out in the fresh air (and it was a lovely sunshiny day), I was surprised to find myself engaging in 'leadership' and 'negotiating' skills of a very high order. At the beginning of the day, I felt myself to be the least confident member of the group. I was scared to approach the horse when 'invited' to (kind of) give the horse a hug. Each participant in turn had a chance to 'connect' with a horse, before the next exercise of leading the horse into a nearby field. By standing quietly with one hand on the horse's neck, and one hand on the end of its mane, I could feel our hearts beating in synchronicity. An indescribable experience of staying 'in the moment' and learning to 'engage' with the horse and everyone and everything around it. After this, volunteer members of the group were asked to lead the horses into the field. At every stage of the day, we were 'invited' rather than 'instructed' or 'cajoled' as might be the case with more conventional methods of learning to deal with horses. The horses, in turn, are looked after with kindness and respect. When I had a go of leading the horse, it seemed to sense my lack of confidence and did not walk along 'nicely' like some of the other horses. At one point, it stopped suddenly and wouldn't budge. I should have known why from the sudden smell; so of course we stopped for a poo break. Traditional horsemanship would require that a horse be made to go the way the rider wants it to go. However when I gave up trying to make the horse go the way I wanted it to go and allowed it to go its own way (still holding loosely onto the rope), I managed to lead the horse right round in a big circle back to where I had wanted it to go in the first place. This was 'allowing the horse to be right' - which I had learned instinctively. I got the feeling that the horse was 'allowing' me to lead it. In a few seconds I 'got' why my nearest and dearest never listen to a word I say; and why trying to 'boss' people about (especially family) just does not work. I've never considered myself to be a leader; but also not a willing follower. And now I know why. Good leadership is about communicating goals clearly. Which applies whether you are running a global empire or a family. Or both. After a lovely healthy lunch and some further coaching, we embarked on the last experience of the day with the horses. This was like watching or being in a scene from 'The Horse Whisperer'. And if you have never read that book or seen the film, I'd highly recommend it. But even better would be to have a go yourself.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

BACK IN SKINNY JEANS.MIRACLE OR WHAT?

No doubt you have seen the pictures of the lovely Kate. In her first public appearance since the birth of her son, she is reportedly back in her skinny jeans only 28 days later. Well, I am here to report that, some 28 YEARS after giving birth, I am managing to get into some 'skinny-ish' jeans that I haven't worn for years. Almost, but not quite. On reflection, although my legs have become a lot more scrawny post menopause, I regret to report that I have still not been able to shed that 'mummy tummy'. Maybe I'd better revisit the maternity section if I am determined to get into some skinny jeans. On the other hand, maybe I'll sit in the garden with a book and enjoy the last of the summer sunshine!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

It's a...baby?

In all the talk about what the Royal baby might be named, someone jokingly suggested that it might be called 'Godot'.

This would be after the play titled 'Waiting For Godot' by Samuel Beckett which, as I recall, was an exceedingly tedious play in which (not surprisingly) there was a lot of waiting around.

However, in this instance, it was not 'Waity Katy' who was waiting around, it was the rest of the world. The Duchess of Cambridge was in and out of hospital in just over twenty-four hours, which might suggest that she did not have any unnecessary medical interference with the process.

Prince William's mother Diana was in and out of hospital even quicker. I have just looked at the old footage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles on the steps of the hospital, prefaced by the news reporter's comment that 'No sooner was she in the hospital than she was out again'.

My recollection agrees with this because one Saturday morning, nearly 29 years ago, when I was heavily pregnant with 'my little prince', a friend rang me to say that Princess Diana had just gone into hospital for the birth of her second child. A few hours later Diana was safely delivered of Prince Harry. I went into hospital later that day (with a false start - like the one Kate is reported to have experienced). However, instead of sending us home again, the hospital kept me in and put me on a drip to induce the birth - which led to a forceps delivery. I went into hospital Saturday afternoon and my ordeal ended on Sunday around lunchtime. When the nurse in the labour ward placed my newly born son onto my chest, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten what I was doing there. It was all so terrifyingly awful. Hence the title of this post.

I came out of hospital about ten days later with severe post-natal depression (although I didn't realize it at the time). This had wide-reaching effects for me, my son and my husband.   Suffice to say that we didn't have a second child and even now, I find it hard to think back to this time without getting upset.

Maybe if I'd had a birthing 'coach' like Kate was reported to have had, things might have been different. (The annoying thing is that, at the time, my husband had a private health care package which would probably have picked up the bill for such a consultation.)

Or if I (and everyone else) had listened to my mother who said, in her simple, homespun wisdom: 'The apple will fall when it is ripe'.

I am pleased to see that the Royal baby appears to have had a gentle entry into the world. He came in his own good time. Which is good for him, good for his mother and good for his father (and ultimately, may be so for the nation).

However, a good birth should be everyone's birthright.

Monday, 22 July 2013

LABOUR OF LOVE...

This morning I awoke to another brilliantly sunny day and when I looked out of the window, my ageing yellow VW Beetle was covered with a layer of polleny stuff.

So I brushed it down with a soft brush and then I did something I've never done before...I got a bucket of water and a sponge and started to clean my old 'Love Bug' in the sunshine.

Previously, I've always taken my car to a car wash. Or let those blokey blokes in the supermarket carpark take car of it. After all, being blokes, they know better than me how to clean a car. I thought.

But then some friends told us that they clean their cars at least once a week with a simple bucket of water and a sponge.

Admitedly one of these friends runs a rather posh chauffeur service so his car has to look nice and clean all the time. Whereas sometimes, I let my car go for weeks without so much as a 'lick and a promise'.

It was really a labour of love because I didn't have to do that job today.

Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge.

After all this 'waiting', her time has now come. Apparently, her labour of love is just beginning.

To all those who labour today (including my beloved son, who is studying hard for exams), good luck
and God bless!

Monday, 15 July 2013

A pregnant pause....

Every time a helicopter goes overhead at the moment, I wonder if that's the one that will be whisking William to Kate's side for the birth. (Or indeed Kate to the labour ward).

I was sitting in a spa waiting room yesterday, alongside a heavily pregnant young woman, when a helicopter whizzed overhead. I jokingly asked her if it was coming to take her to the hospital for a special delivery.

The young woman told me that she was expecting twins - a boy and a girl - and I thought 'How textbook perfect is that?'

Even 'Princess Kate', with all her celebrity looks, lifestyle and money couldn't be lucky enough to order that.

Or could she?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Exhibition gave me the Schwitters

For me, going round an art gallery is a chance to be quiet and meditative; and to really think about the art in front of me.

That's why I really didn't like one aspect of the Kurt Schwitters exhibition at Tate Britain, which I visited a few days ago. As I was looking at the art in room one, I could hear some sort of caterwauling noise in one of the rooms ahead of me. When I got to room two or three, I discovered that the noise was a recording of someone (perhaps Schwitters himself, I didn't wait to find out) reciting a very irritating Dada-ist poem.

I quickly moved on to look at the rest of the exhibition; but I did wonder whether it is a deliberate ploy by the gallery to ensure that the crowds looking at the exhibition are kept moving. If it was, it certainly worked.

For the most part, I really liked the exhibition. However, there was another noisy bit near the end where some contemporary artists had created some work which commented upon Schwitters. I'm never a fan of video work in galleries anyway. I don't like standing around looking at something which usually drags out for hours and is often very noisy and unfathomable. You can watch that sort of thing anytime on TV at home.

I'm not saying that this example was of that ilk as I didn't look at it. I'd already had my fill of noise and discord.

One notable exception to my dislike of video art was the wonderful piece by Mark Wallinger, called 'Threshold to the Kingdom' which I wrote about in a previous blog post. That piece of art was perfectly sited at Tate Britain and was one of the most powerful pieces I have ever seen.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Media Sickness - morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night-time...

This morning, as I look at the news websites, I see that Colleen Rooney is 'showing off her baby bump' on a beach somewhere. Further down the page, there is a picture of a conventional-looking mum and a baby, under a headline asking 'Can you be a mum and have a career?'

I think the answer lies somewhere in the 'strap lines' further down the page of the BBC news website - where you might actually miss them (unless you have your eyes peeled for the words 'Kate', 'Catherine' or other quasi 'Royal/Celebrity' words).

If you did, this morning you would have spotted the line 'Kate photos to be published in Italy'. Click on that and you get an article from News UK 'revealing' that the Italian 'Chi' magazine is to publish pictures of Kate sporting a baby bump on a beach in Mustique (Oh, and by the way, she is holding hands with William. I think that came somewhere in the report at least).

From the time Kate appeared in a student fashion show wearing that now famous 'Prince-bagging' dress which looked like a black net curtain creation over a  bikini, the media have been in a frenzy over the girl's over-exposed body. We had the same thing with Princess Diana's 'see through' dress when she was pictured outside the nursery school where she worked.

What is interesting about the Mustique photos is that they were (allegedly) taken on a public beach so, like the fashion show pictures, are (kind of) 'fair game'. (Although if you read my last post, you will gather that I am not entirely convinced that the 'balcony' pictures can really be blamed on others). The media rumpus is all part of the marketing of the Modern Monarchy. They like us to believe that they don't want pictures of bare-chested (or breasted) royals pasted over the newspapers and magazines. In reality, though, they know that those pictures are the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of their business; and that, in 'trying' to 'sell' them to their 'market' i.e. you and me, exclusivity is king. No longer can the royals pretend that they are the victims of the media. They are as complicit with it as the most publicity-concious celebrity.

Talking of which, I noticed  yesterday a strap line, declaring that Madonna had joined some social media website and that the first thing she did was to post a picture of a cleavage to it.  (I'm not an expert so I couldn't tell if it was hers; but she knows a thing or two about marketing if anyone does). There was a headshot of a smug-looking Madge to go with the line.

So it seems, in our celebrity culture, that you CAN be a mum and have a career, if you are a) A WAG of a famous sportsman or other kind of celebrity or b) Married to a royal - preferably the heir to the throne or b) Are Madonna - either the mother of Jesus or the one we adore in contemporary society.

Thankfully, '100 Most Powerful Women'  rankings recently listed some other kinds of career women mothers performing other kinds of roles. I hadn't heard of most of them - naturally - but coming in at number 26 is Her Majesty The Queen. 

I don't recall every seeing a picture of Her Majesty in so much as a swimsuit. That's probably because she would only go about in a swimsuit on a beach which she owned (or her sister owned). Isn't that what proper royals do?