Monday, 24 December 2018

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : MERRY CHRISTMAS, FOLKS!

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : MERRY CHRISTMAS, FOLKS!: We popped up to stay on our narrow boat, Dotterel, in Warwickshire, because we were taking our twin granddaughters to the Birmingham Ge...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, FOLKS!


We popped up to stay on our narrow boat, Dotterel, in Warwickshire, because we were taking our twin granddaughters to the Birmingham German Christmas Market. Managed to get some shots of our mooring at Calcutt Boats in Napton because the weather was so good. 


The following day we took the girls to the market by rail. I didn't take any photos of the market itself because it was cold and wet and we needed to keep moving. But I loved the decorations inside the Bullring Shopping Centre, and we bought Bubble drinks - different flavoured teas with or without milk with chewy black 'bubbles' at the bottom. Tasted like tasteless jelly babies in texture! Very odd.

Christmas presents? What?!




Back to the station. A Santa Express steam train was on one platform. Bit of a surprise!










And these were the views we woke up to. Can't be bad! 




Back home to watch some telly:
International Space Station Christmas Dinner rocketed to the scientists. Watched this on the telly. Fabulous! 




































Image result for free royalty free images christmas











































     Merry Christmas, all!


Friday, 21 December 2018

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : CHRISTMAS CAKE WARS - YUM!

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : CHRISTMAS CAKE WARS - YUM!: Christmas Cake Wars - Yum! It's bonkers - and great fun to watch! Glad I'm not taking part, it looks hard work. But the r...

CHRISTMAS CAKE WARS - YUM!




It's bonkers - and great fun to watch!
Glad I'm not taking part, it looks hard work. But the results are amazing and yummy creative fantastical affairs.   😋

(I'm hoping the YouTube clip is okay...!)

This was mine. All gone now. 
Mini me was particularly sweet.


CREATING MY ODYSSEY






CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GUEST POST : HELEN ANNE GREGORY - MENTAL HEALT...

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GUEST POST : HELEN ANNE GREGORY - MENTAL HEALT...: Why we should be talking about what GOOD MENTAL HEALTH is! If I were to ask most people if they had Mental Health issues most pe...

GUEST POST : HELEN ANNE GREGORY - MENTAL HEALTH BLOGGER, LIFE COACH, OPERA SINGER, ARTIST

Why we should be talking about what GOOD MENTAL HEALTH is!
If I were to ask most people if they had Mental Health issues most people would say no.

They would say no because our society gives out the message that if you are not mentally ILL (with a recognised problem such as depression, anxiety, bipolar etc), then you are mentally healthy.

But the truth is, it's just not true. Would you say that someone was physically healthy just because they didn't have a specific illness or disease?

Probably not, because it's more obvious that physical health exists on a scale.

Some people are much fitter than others, for example. That doesn’t always mean that they are totally healthy.

We've recently realized our society is hurtling towards massive physical health problems because of obesity and inactivity. We are now, quite rightly, bombarded with education about
how we should all be moving more and eating less.


But what about mental health?

If you go to the doctor for a general checkup it is fairly normal for them to tell you that you need to work on your physical health. I know my  friendly local GP practice nurse would be obliged to tell me that I was a little on the overweight side when I had my annual checkup, and I'd be told that it might be a good idea partake in some regular exercise, but when was the last time you went to the doctor and they told you that you needed to work on your mental health?

An absence of mental illness is NOT the same as mental healthiness.

We all know how good physical health should basically present itself; A stable healthy weight, regular physical exercise, good diet etc etc… but do you know what excellent mental health looks like?

What does good mental health look like?

If I were to ask you to describe a mentally healthy person, what would you say?

Social media seems to say a mentally healthy person is happy all the time.

Wrong...

Negative emotions are as much part of the human experience as positive ones.

A sign of a mentally healthy person is someone who can deal with negative emotions. It's unhealthy to be telling people that if they aren't Happy then there must be something wrong with them.

Here are the things I personally think constitute the Ingredients for Good Mental Health!

1. Emotional Balance
The ability to be willing and able to process positive and negative emotions and being able to take responsibility for how we feel.
It’s about knowing that all emotions are there to serve a function and to recognize what those emotions are trying to communicate something. If we deny our emotions and we don’t allow ourselves to feel them then there will always be a knock on effect going forward.
If you have ever tried to hold a ball under the surface of the water, you will know that it is difficult because the air inside wants to come to the surface. Eventually, the ball will find its way out of the water, and usually with an explosive effect.
Have the ability to recognize why you are feeling any given emotion. What thought are you having that is causing you to feel that way?
2. Appropriate Internal Control
This is all about trying to use externally controlling behavior towards yourself or others.
You can’t control others. You can ask others to change but you can’t force it so trying to is not healthy. You should not be making physical or emotional demands of others in order to make you FEEL anything.
You should also avoid trying to control situations which are fundamentally out of your control, it just leads to mental anxiety.
Think about the person who gets angry when they are stuck in traffic. The anger at the situation won’t change the situation but it can only affect the person experiencing the rage (and those around them) but has zero effect on the actual issue. Doing this can have knock-on effects on your physical as well as mental health. People with severe anxiety usually have accompanying physical problems such as stomach problems or headaches, all induced by the stress hormones they are producing.

3. The Absence of Avoidant Behaviours
We are a lot more mentally healthy when we choose not to indulge in behaviors that help us avoid feeling negative emotion. We might overeat, binge drink, get addicted to drugs or sex or gambling. These are temporary distractions and false pleasures which ultimately lead to problems.
These behaviors take us away from our ‘negative’ emotion for a few minutes or hours.
Eating cake because you feel stressed makes no sense. Yes, a cake is delicious and you will enjoy it for a few minutes and maybe you’ll forget about your stress, but once it’s eaten it’s not actually taken your stress away, it just deferred it. Now you’re stressed again and you have probably de-railed that diet you were supposed to be following. Now you have a double negative of stress AND potential weight gain. Can you see how you have just deferred the stress?
You need to learn to deal with the causes of negative emotions, not find ways to ignore them.
If you are feeling stressed because of work then you need to address the sources of stress in order to get rid of it.
4. Your State of Mental Health Should NOT be Dependent on External Sources.
If you feel you are mentally healthy because you have a great job or a fantastic family/relationship, what would you do if that great job or loving relationship was no longer there?
You need to be able to generate your own feelings of self-worth/value, confidence, self-esteem and love. That way you will be more emotionally resilient when one of life's inevitable storms hit.  
It’s nice to have your life boosted by having and doing nice things, or by having lots of external love and support but your capacity for happiness, purpose, and fulfillment should not lie solely in the hands of others or in the hands of fate.

5. Future Planning
People with future plans and goals to work towards are proven to have better mental health.
Take the time to look at all of the areas in your life. Your job, your environment, your relationships, your friendships, your finances, your fun and recreation and think, what do I want out of these areas of my life?  
Human beings need to feel they have a purpose in order to thrive mentally. Give yourself purpose by thinking ahead and planning for things that excite or inspire you.
Then you can break down those big plans and dreams into smaller goals and move towards them purposefully every day. I can guarantee you will feel so much happier when you know where you are heading.



Blog Post written by Helen Gregory who is a Mental Health Blogger and a Life Coach alongside her career as an Opera Singer/Artist. You can find out more about Helen on her website: www.helengregorycoaching.com/blog

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

THE NOVEL - UPDATE. OUTLINE OF PART 1

ADULT CONTENT

Okay...

If you've been following the story of The Novel (Alias Jeannie Delaney) and my progress on the editing process, I've been helped hugely by Husband, my chief critic and editorial bloke. Some say don't let family, friends or pets critique your creative work. Too much 'That's nice.' or 'Well done.' and not enough: 'Good. Could do with some tweeking of that sentence...' or 'How about a different way of putting this...?' etcetera. This is where Husband is an excellent critic - firm but fair - and it's in his best interests to keep me going 'cuz it prevents me from going nuts and who knows? One day I could make my fortune and my novel could be turned into a film starring... ooh....Sharon Stone? And he'd reap the benefits of my newly acquired riches. What's mine is his... etcetera...

A writing pal of ours suggested I stick with Husband as my chief critic and editor and not go here, there and everywhere for critiques, otherwise it could just get confusing and contradictory. Absolutely.

You might know that my intention - the conclusion reached between Husband, myself and loyal son a month or three ago - was to finish Part One, publish it on Amazon, then work on Part Two...and so forth. There are five or six parts. That's got to be cut down. Too many. So far, I've edited right up to the end of Part One, and each chapter that's finished I've printed out and Husband reads and critiques. I'm going back over chapters and continuing to edit because there is still so much to do. I'm working on getting the story and my protagonist Jeannie the way I've always imagined them. I think I'm getting there. It's bloody hard work but very pleasing when it seems to come together.

This is me - not my heroine!


The story (novel) so far...

Jeannie (Morgan) is born in 1865 in New Orleans in the French Quarter. Her mother, Alice, is a southern belle through and through. Father, Dean, is a surgeon practicing in the city during the war. He's from a Virginian farming family and has a sister, Martha, who helps their widowed mother on the farm. Dean is a kind, liberal man and everyone adores him. He worships his wife and adores his daughter, who becomes his favourite offspring. Alice's father is a strict church minister. Jeannie has three older brothers. The younger one is born when Jeannie is two.

Jeannie develops into a beautiful tomboy and Alice struggles - and fails - to instill ladylike tendencies into her, and a deep disappointment in her only daughter grows within her. Rodger, the eldest son and mother's soul mate, strongly resents Jeannie for hurting their mother. Jeannie's favourite brother is Mike, two years older then her. She is a rebel, extremely strong minded, opinionated and independent. She succeeds in not being forced into a stay, or corset, and, home from school, insists on wearing trousers and cutting her hair short. As she matures, many of the surrounding boys turn to her as a fun-loving and funny leader.
   
Dean has aspirations to go west to take up ranching, but feels guilt at the thought of dragging Alice from her beloved south. But Alice succumbs to tuberculosis, and the doctor prescribes a change of climate. To travel west. The children are besides themselves with excitement. Rodger, the eldest brother, declines to join them, having decided to become a church minister and stay with Alice's rigid brother.

The journey on part of the Oregon Trail brings out ten-year-old Jeannie's character. She feels as though she's coming home. She makes friends with their mountain man guide who tells her stories of the west, including stories of outlaws, and teaches her various frontier skills. She learns to shoot. Alice dies of her illness on route. Dean can't face further travel and splits from the main party to cross into Wyoming. Another family accompany them. They're attacked by Indians and Jeannie kills her first man - an indian who is about to shoot her Pa.

The family settle in Wolf Creek, Wyoming, on the Laramie Plains at the foot of the southern Rockies, and start ranching. Beloved Aunt Martha comes to live with the family as housekeeper and to look after them. Jeannie's development into a rebellious, strong cowgirl continues. She has developed a rip-roaring, irreverent sense of humour. She becomes charismatic to the extreme and grows into an androgynous beauty. She also learns the art of the fast draw and has become very effective at fighting the boys. She's become leader of her gang. She's developed a strong friendship with Victoria Allen, who sits behind her at school, but Vicky's father, Dirk Allen, hates Jeannie and disapproves of the friendship.

The years pass. Jeannie is given a dog, Tim, by her Pa, to help keep her out of trouble, but she becomes a thorn in the side of the town's people and parents have ordered her friends away from her side. She becomes an excellent cowgirl and has developed an extremely fast gun hand. She has proved her toughness, and people fear her. She is also in love with Vicky - and Vicky with her. Neither of them are aware of the other's feelings. Jeannie is terrified of what's happening to her, sexually. Just to compound matters, she's reached puberty and boys and girls are beginning to fancy her. She discovers her fancy for men with relief, and becomes a 'man-eater', but an irresistible one, almost to prove her sexuality. Eventually, Bob Delaney, one of Pa's cowboys, and Jeannie fall for one another. 

People begin to form jealousies of her and her qualities, and enemies resent fancying her as well. At last, she and Vicky admit their love for one another, kiss and enjoy one another. There is some relief for both. Then Jeannie admits her feelings to her family and Bob can't cope with this. He ignores and turns away from her. Jeannie and Vicky are discovered being physical and Jeannie is beaten by Vicky's father. The people want her out of town and they try to hang her, but Vicky saves her from the noose. Then the men shoot her. The first time she's been shot. She survives but is badly wounded. 

In 1886/87, terrible blizzards kill a huge proportion of the cattle and many of the ranches become bankrupt. This is the end of the free range. Dean makes the decision to restart with a herd of cheap cattle, turn to horse ranching as well and do a bit of farming. In the spring, Vicky is raped by a gang of hoodlums. The marshal and deputies lose them and Jeannie is disgusted with their efforts. The gang return and loot the bank when Jeannie and her brother Mike are in town - she has risked a visit, refusing to be imprisoned at home. A woman inside is killed. The masked outlaws leave the bank and Jeannie recognises them from Vicky's detailed description. Jeannie's dog, Tim, is with her and he takes exception to the outlaws and chases after one to the far end of the street, barking and making the horse rear. Mike, without thinking, races after Tim and picks him up. He looks up just as the outlaw's mask slips. He realises that Mike has identified him and shoots him. Mike collapses and the outlaw grabs Mike and shoves him onto the back of his horse, then gallops off. Jeannie charges into the street and makes ineffectual efforts at shooting them, but they're too far ahead. She stands in the middle of the street with her smoking gun down by her side, and the marshal's deputies ride either side of her, raising dust as they go. She yells at the outlaws to bring her brother back.

When she tells the marshal and deputies how useless they are for losing the outlaws again, they tell her to go for them if she's so clever. That does it!

Jeannie is practicing her fast draw on a glass bottle of whiskey she's drunk and chucked into the air, smashing it to bits. Her hated brother Rodger arrives at her side. After understanding that her intention is to ride after the outlaws and dispense with them, he threatens her, telling her that she's evil and must be dispensed with when she's not looking. He's psychotic, driven that way after the death of their mother, which was caused by Jeannie, so he states. 

Jeannie has left a note on her dressing table for Pa to read, telling him she's had enough and she's going to find Mike and the outlaws. He's devastated but not surprised. As she rides away, she's caught up by a bunch of young riders. It's her old gang. They feel guilty about deserting her in her hour of need and intend to keep her out of trouble. She smiles and they ride on. 


So there you have it. To be continued...



(If anyone has similar stories or experiences of such, I'd love to hear from you!)



CREATING MY ODYSSEY