Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Time...

This past weekend has made me think a lot about time...and how quickly it seems to pass.

Our youngest turned nine and it seems like no time at all since he was a teeny baby - where did all those years go to?  Our eldest is now a teenager...the births of both our children seem like they only happened yesterday...

But the real 'time turner' for me was photographs.  Part of being an author and being one that is contracted to a smaller publisher and not being of the JK Rowling ilk is that you are required to do a lot of marketing and sales yourself...well you don't have to but if you don't...you don't sell any books and what is the point of writing a book and then not selling any?  It is a hard part of being an author and is really a bit like pimping yourself...

However having a hubby who works with graphic design helps...

So...this weekend we took some promotional photographs (NO...not that sort!!) to use to update my website.

Our neighbours must think we are total loonies as I pranced about our back garden in various outfits (including a bowler hat) whilst hubby did his David Bailey thing...

We ended up with over 200 photos...which then involved us sitting and looking through them all on the laptop...thank goodness for digital cameras.

The scene that followed went something like this:

Hubby: "I like that one and that one and that one, ooh that's a good one, oh that one is sexy,  nope that one is over exposed and that one is blurry"
Me: "I don't like that one my bum looks big, I don't like that one I am all squinty, I don't like that one I look grumpy, I don't like that one you can see huge bags under my eyes, I don't like that one my face is all saggy, I don't like that one...I look old..."

Out of 218 photos I only approved 5 of them...

And that was the crux of it...OLD...

This month I will turn 46 years of age.

Just recently it has hit me that I am no longer twenty...and you know what?  Initially the thought is that it totally sucks.

I have been through the 'my hair is going grey...actually it's going white' scenario and decided that I am not ready to be au natreul yet.

I have accepted that my figure is no longer a size 10 (actually I wouldn't want it to be) and I am learning to embrace my curves.

But the face...that is the real teller of time.

Yes I have wrinkles around my eyes and yes my face is somehow much lower than it was twenty years ago (how does that happen??) And yes I know...it happens to us all...but accepting it and being comfortable with it is a whole other kettle of fish.

I could not and would not ever have plastic surgery, that's my choice and I wouldn't do it (apart from the fact that I couldn't afford it!).

So I am left with the challenge of accepting that my face is ageing along with my body, but it's hard.

I do make an effort, I always have.  You won't often find me without any makeup, I don't wear a full face of slap every day but I always wear a little.  I always do my hair, keep it washed and tidy.  I always make an effort with my clothes even if I am just around the house.  Twenty two years of being with my husband and I still make sure I look nice for when he comes home from work and I always make an extra effort if we are going out anywhere.

But that doesn't stop the ravages of time...

So it's all about mind set, maybe it is the worry of not looking attractive anymore?  I am not sure... I have to accept that it is happening and learn to live with it.  Is there a magic wand to wave to make that happen? Nope, not that I know of.  I have to learn to live with the fact that my body and face are now entering the Matriarch phase and my head needs to accept it, learn to live with it and in fact not only that but to embrace it and celebrate it.  I am not there yet, my head is still lamenting the lost looks of youth (possibly not the 1980s makeup though...) but I will get there...

The photo is me...circa 1987...


Friday, 17 October 2014

Reflections...

It is about this time of the year that I sit down and mull over the past year, part of Samhain for me is to look back at what I have achieved, what didn't work and what did and how life has been over the past few months and then to focus on what I want to do over the cold winter months and what plans I have that I want to put in motion.

This month my fifth book A Kitchen Witch's World of Magical Plants & Herbs is published and it has already sold out on Amazon before it is even released which is totally amazing and I feel extremely humbled, along with the usual worries of "but what if no one likes it when they actually come to read it...".

This month I also received notification that my three Pagan Portals books have been taken up by an Italian publisher and will be translated into Italian...!

This month has also seen some changes within the Kitchen Witch School - revamp of the homework tasks and a trial run with Webinair which is very exciting.

We also have a little bit of a surprise to launch hopefully at the Wandering Witches fair in November...

This month Tracey and I have also both started studying again, two different courses.  We are now training on the first spiral to become Priestesses of Andraste and are working with the Wheel of Britannia, it is quite a full on, in depth course that will also require us to visit Norfolk next year on two weekend retreats and we have also just received the first pack for the Singing in the Bones course that focuses on the sabbats over a year - lots of work, but should be extremely interesting.

Seven weeks ago we launched our first online course - an eight week course working with the Celtic Goddesses and I have to say we have been totally bowled over by not only the response to sign up for the course but the amount of interaction and feedback that we have had - it has inspired us and we will be running four more online courses next year (Herbal Pathways, Celtic Gods, Dark Goddesses and Sun Gods & Moon Goddesses).

We have had some amazing experiences with the workshops that we have run this year - Celtic Goddesses, Hoodoo, Divination, Tarot, Totem Animals and Faeries & Elementals - we have met some wonderful, wonderful people and had huge amounts of fun...and cake...plenty of cake.
However we made the decision not to run any workshops next year (but never say never...) they are brilliant to do but a huge amount of time, effort and work goes into them and there are now a lot of other people running workshops as well in the area, we don't want to get caught in a battle for people!  It will also allow Tracey and I to have a little extra time to work with our own studies and focus on the Kitchen Witch School a bit more.

We have also had some fun and occasionally very soggy open rituals at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and were overwhelmed to have had some of our lovely students ask to be initiated into the Kitchen Witch Coven (some online and some offline) which made us extremely proud.  The rituals will continue next year, we have eight dates booked with the themes - Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Love, Prosperity, Protection and Healing.

We have also attended some great fairs - the Wandering Witches which is always fun, fairy fairs and mind body spirit ones - next February we will be attending the Enchanted Market and hopefully the Wandering Witches ones again.

February we stayed in an amazing B&B in Glastonbury - the Covenstead, we can highly recommend it - fabulous decor, huge breakfast and the most amazing host - we stayed because we attended the Mystical Arts fayre where we had a stall and I did a talk - how nervous was I talking to a crown of people in Glastonbury?  Off the scale!  I was on the billing with some very big names in paganism and I felt incredibly small...however when it came to my talk there were so many people we had to go and get more chairs and my lovely Kitchen Witch lot mostly sat on the floor!  Huge thank you for all the support ♥

Three more tattoos were added this year - a moon goddess on one arm, a Celtic warrior design on the other arm and a beautiful top hatted lady on my shoulder - I have nearly run out of space now...nearly...

We also launched a set of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards which seem to have been very well received, we are very pleased with them and a huge thank you to my hubby for all his artwork, not just on the cards but with all the graphics he does for us and on a personal level for just being there and knowing exactly how to deal with me...it's not an easy job.  This year we celebrated 22 years together ♥

This year also saw me contribute to three collaboration books - Paganism 101, Witchcraft Today and Naming the Goddess, all fascinating books and I was very honoured to be included in the esteemed list of authors.

We spent an amazing day in February birthing our own drums...I cannot begin to fully describe what an emotional and wonderful day it was and I am now the proud owner of a stag hide drum that I made entirely myself, I can highly recommend The Hero Soul not only for drum birthing but also for shamanic practices.

My fourth book Pagan Portals Moon Magic was published at the end of January and has done extremely well - sales figures are just under 2000 copies as of end September.  October should see my book sales hit quite a special figure...more about that next month...

I have had the absolute pleasure of doing several talks for various local groups which are always fun and at each one I have received wonderful friendly welcomes.

I continue to write regular articles for several magazines - The Mystik Way, The Magical Times and The Pagan Dawn all of which are a pleasure to do.

I want to also thank Tracey Roberts...our journey with Kitchen Witch has been a bit of a bumpy ride at times with personnel changes and big decisions but it has ended up with the two of us working side by side and I think we work dang well together, not only that but this year has also allowed us to find a very strong friendship too, I feel extremely blessed.

And a huge thank you to all of our lovely Kitchen Witch students, you are all amazing and to those that attended our workshops and to everyone that regularly comes to our open rituals - we have met and made some very wonderful friends and continually feel blessed, overwhelmed and amazed at your support, thank you so much.

I am currently working on book six - A Kitchen Witch's World of Magical Food...manuscript is due in to the publisher at the end of this month ... eep! For publication in 2015.

It has in general been an extremely positive and productive year but of course there have been a few hiccups too but nothing overly major.  I have stuck my head well and truly above the parapet this year and in doing so you get shot at occasionally but I am a big girl with sparkly big girl panties so it is something I am learning to deal with - you can never please all of the people all of the time.

On a personal note my spiritual journey continued to twist and turn, I am a witch, always will be but I have delved into shamanic practices this year again as well as learning about Hinduism and taken what works for me from them.  The focus now seems to be on goddess work so I will go with the flow and follow where it takes me.

One of the most important lessons for me this year has been learning to say 'no'.  I always want to help everyone and do what I can but sometimes that comes at a cost to myself, my own focus and my family.  I learnt a very big lesson from that this year and have been saying no quite often ever since, it feels very good to do so - sometimes you have to focus on you, otherwise people can seriously take advantage of your good nature, your time and your efforts.

I continue to learn more about myself and how I am as a person, becoming ever closer to 'the person I really am and the person I really want to be' - one and the same...it's all a learning curve and I look foward to the next year with anticipation.



Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Woven Word


I was honoured to be asked to endorse a book recently - The Woven Word by Romany Rivers.

The book is available now for pre-order from Amazon and due to be published on 31st October 2014.


A fascinating book celebrating and utilizing the power of the word both spoken and written within all areas of the Craft, including beautiful prose, blessings, meditations, visualizations and invocations. A great reference for how to use words for the greatest benefit.


The official blurb:

This is a pagan tome of poetry and prose designed for rituals, festivals and celebrations. Working with deities, Romany has chronicled invocations and evocations for many Gods and Goddesses, and created clear and crafty quarter calls, circle castings, celebratory prose and meditations. Ritual is broken into its component parts allowing for easy reference and personal adaptation, and the additional correspondences information benefits the creation of unique rituals and celebrations. Created for use by both solitary practitioners and covens, sample rituals are also provided for seasonal celebrations and life events. Romany’s personal experiences as a High Priestess give this book an enlightened view of the use of poetry in ritual, whilst her skills in classes, courses and workshops create a solid, practical foundation. Pagans, Priests and Priestesses, initiates new to the Craft, RE teachers and students, and anyone who loves Romany’s poetry will thoroughly enjoy this latest work.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Hot flushes from Hades and losing the plot...

This is a bit of a girly post...but I thought I would share as I am pretty darn sure there are a lot of women out there going through the same thing...ladies...you are not alone.

Several months ago I started getting hot flushes, nothing major just short ones, mild but inconvenient. Then I started getting headaches, something that I have never really suffered from and then in the last few weeks I have had some 'total lost the plot' moments.

Then...I had the hot flush from Hades...it not only lasted nearly two hours but it was horrendous to the brink of passing out...seriously scary and not pleasant in the least bit.

Hello peri-menopause it is NOT nice to meet you.

My body is not exactly in perfect health and never really has been after being hit with ulcerative colitis and proctitus from the age of 16 but I deal with it, over the years I weaned myself off all the nasty medications and now manage it with holistic therapies and eating properly.  

However my lady parts have been through the mill a bit - an ovarian cancer scare a few years back resulting in an operation (thankfully successful), a miscarriage, one polycystic ovary and two C sections have left it feeling a little bit jaded but my moontimes have carried on regardless and haven't really caused me too many problems although they are now quite erratic.

I don't hate my moontimes, I have never thought of them as a curse, more of a reminder that I am a woman so these peri menopause symptoms have come as a bit of a shock I can tell you.

The doctor can't do much apparently, they can offer anti depressants for the mood swings - erm no thanks, having taken them for seriously bad post natal depression and suffered the side effects it is not a route I want to re-visit and that's pretty much it until you hit the actual menopause when they can give you HRT (not convinced about that either but I will cross that bridge when I come to it).

So what to do?

Enter stage right...herbal remedies.

When I first started getting the flushes I did my research and sage seemed to be the King of all herbs to beat them.  I have been taking a sage complex for a few months which was helping...unfortunately I am totally rubbish at remembering to take them...so I now have my whole family on 'mummy's happy vitamin duty' to remind me.   

I have also started adding sage leaves to my herbal tea in the morning, it is seriously yuck on it's own but not too bad added in with mint tea.  They also advise drinking sage tea at the onset of a hot flush to take the edge off.

If I find anything else of use I will share...but for the moment it is a bit of a learning curve, a bit scary and all very new with that fearful feeling of "OK what happens next and how do I deal with it" but as many women have dealt with it before and many will continue to deal with it after I shall do the same...I will let you know if I start shop lifting...



Sage Complex contains:
Wild Yam - provides diosgenin, a precursor for female hormones.
Dong Quai - the most widely used female hormonal tonic, dong quai also has hormone mimicing action and may regulate uterine function.
Red Clover - rich source of isoflavones (water soluble chemicals that act like oestrogen), some studies suggest that it may boost bone density.
Chaste Berry- acts on the pituitary and hypothalamus helping the body to manufacture more progesterone and hence alleviate hot flushes.
Sage Leaf Powder - aside from its rich content of hormone mimicing compounds, sage also works on the hypothalamus, the temperature regulating gland, thus alleviating hot flushes and night sweats.
Siberian Ginseng - stimulates the adrenals to help energy and stress reduction.
Pomegranate Extract - nature's richest source of plant oestrogens, it is also a powerful antioxidant and may help to protect against some of the concerns associated with midlife concerns.
Hops Powder - aside from their anti-anxiety properties, hops also provide compounds that have been shown to help reduce hot flushing.
Kudzu - displays a variety of phyto-oestrogens and has been used historically to relieve common menopausal complaints.
Fenugreek - a tonic for the reproductive system used for PMS and menopause

Available from www.victoriahealth.com

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Clearing out, de-cluttering and charity

The past few mornings the fresh hint of autumn has been in the air, it is most definitely on the way which as it is the autumn equinox today makes perfect sense.

It is at this time of year that we seem to have a good clear out...particularly wardrobe wise.

The past weekend we turned out all our wardrobes and several bags of clothes from the loft.  It was a really therapeutic exercise.  Bear in mind that clothes are my weakness (watches hubby's eyes roll) although to be fair the older I have become the more choosy and dare I say it even slightly restrained I have become in my clothes shopping.  I never spend lots of money on one item and I always purchase items in the sale or from charity shops...but I do have a very large wardrobe...and then some...

Not only were summer clothes packed away and winter ones removed from their storage - away went the flimsy summer dresses and shorts and out came the heavy skirts and a silly amount of velvet items...I love velvet *sigh* but we also found bags of clothes in the loft that were marked up as "skinny clothes" from a time over the past few years when our waistlines were a lot smaller.

Hubby has been amazing and lost a couple of stone over the past few months so he was delighted to be able to fit into quite a lot of the 400 band t shirts we recovered from storage...OK slight exageration but not by much...

My skinny clothes however were sent straight to the charity bag...

We were really ruthless and banished clothes that had been sitting in the wardrobe for months, the kind of item that you look at and say "well I might wear it...one day" - now all gone to charity.

It did make me think how lucky we are to have all  these things and it also made me very aware of how materialistic it is, but I am hopeful that I am allowed one small weakness...but I am working on it.

However the end result was ten...yes TEN bags of clothes for charity.

It does feel like a time to sort, de-clutter and re-organise, preparing for the colder, darker months ahead...this weekend we will work in the garden, tidying and sorting making ready for the garden to hibernate until spring.

Wishing you all blessings of the equinox ♥