BACK TO THE PAINTBRUSH!

I’ve had a fine old time these past few days stuffing around with painting again.  I haven’t felt like it for a while, having been somewhat under the weather since my fall on New Year’s Day and then getting bronchitis, but this week I have felt my energy returning.

The first artwork I did was just a light-hearted reflection of coming back into the world. Wheel of Fortune I doodled various pastel colours over the canvas then rubbed them together to blur them.  Next I drew a wavy path which reflects my life’s journey and then sat there looking at the result.  It didn’t look finished but then I got the urge to draw a heart in the middle and finally I could see words filling the spaces created by the travelling, wavy line.

And because I’m feeling so much better, all the words were happiness-based which brings a smile to my face when I look at the painting.  I also added in some butterfly stickers and little glittery flowers around the heart, plus a heart beside the word “Hugs”.

It’s not high-art, but who cares, it speaks from my heart.  I’ve called it “Wheel of Fortune”, to reflect the Tarot Card I picked on the day I created this and which relates to fortunate changes in one’s life.

And then yesterday, I had the great fortune to be part of an art vigil organised by Hali Karla on Facebook.  It was a coming together of women to create and link during one time period and it was absolutely awesome.  It was something that danced into my life synchronistically, with the Full Moon in Leo, an opportunity to open up again to the world and move forward, feeling part of a wonderful, loving group of women in a safe haven.

When I start artwork, it’s seldom that I know exactly what I’m going to create. I usually intuitively pick out the size canvas I’m drawn to work with and then see what images come up.  This time I picked a square canvas, with the aim of creating blocks of colour as I was inspired to use colour by hearing the co-ordinator of the Venice Mardi Gras commenting how people need colour in these somewhat challenging times.

However, I was staring out at our garden before I actually got started and saw the one and only, solitary hibiscus flower which had poked its head up. So then I got the idea of taking a photo of that, fishing out pics of Windows on the Flowering Heartflowers I’d taken in other places, printing them off, sticking them on the canvas, and adding colour around them.  It worked a treat, and here are the flowers and the places I lived where I took the pics, from top left to bottom right:

Hibiscus: Alsancak, North Cyprus

Orchid: Kempsey, mid-north coast, New South Wales

Pansy: Bowraville, mid-north coast, NSW

Canna:  Bowraville, mid-north coast, NSW

Apothecary’s Rose: Alsancak, North Cyprus

Rhododendron: Traralgon, Victoria

Tibouchina: Bowraville, mid-north coast, NSW

Cactus Flower: Pingelly, Western Australia

Flowering, hanging cactus: Kempsey, mid-north coast, NSW

Funnily enough, all the colours daubed on with the sponge came out looking flowery. BUT the photos wouldn’t glue down properly, so I then surrounded them with a frame of purple paint which creates a window effect. And to finish it all off, while the paints were wet, I splashed on very fine, purple and pale pink glitter.

I’ve called this painting: Windows on the Flowering Heart.  It seems to me that we’ve been here in North Cyprus for nearly one year and in all our moves I’ve found it takes 6-12 months to get settled in, particularly when you move continents.  So I figure that this painting has opened windows on the past for me, to remember very good memories wherever I’ve been – whether it be general experiences of the wonderful people I’ve met – and now I’m here, the Alchemist’s Rose in the centre embodies building my future life henceforth in North Cyprus.

The Rose is from a bush of the Alchemist’s Rose which is in our garden. This rose is an ancient one from the Turkish region which, for some reason, I find quite thrilling.  As you can see, it’s got an enormous heart, something I haven’t seen in other roses,. It signifies, for me, the influence of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, as this is her island. Her energy for me is intense as, in astrological terms I am Libra Sun and Libra Rising, with a few more planets in Libra. And Libra’s ruler is Venus or Aphrodite.

So as the Beatles’ song says: “Love, love, love. All you need is Love.” 

FOOD, FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD..

No, I’m not Oliver Twist, thank goodness, but what got me going on this topic was checking out an on-line “cheap and easy” recipe. I started reading the ingredients and howled with laughter. Some of the ingredients were not the day-to-day stuff you find in a pantry – pomegranate molasses, to name but one of the required elements of the dish I looked at, but this wasn’t an exception.

Actually, here in North Cyprus I have to admit that pomegranate molasses is an everyday supermarket item because pomegranates grow here. But when I used to live in regional Australia on a limited budget, I used to tear my hair out over the so-called “cheap” recipes which required trips to specialised supermarkets to stock up on the ingredients.

It got me thinking about foodies, the claptrap around food in Western societies like Australia and Great Britain, and all the excitement about what will be the next food “trend”.  It’s as if we’re never satisfied with the latest fad – whether it be Korean, Peruvian or native food which is the “in” thing, anything where  “rustic” or any other of the bollocking phrases used these days can be tagged on.

I don’t know about you, I’ve enjoyed gourmet tucker, but the tastiest meals I can remember have been the simplest, and the best red wine I can remember was cheap as chips.  Back when I was a student in Strasbourg in 1970, my boyfriend came to visit me and we popped into a bistro around the corner from my rented room, where we tucked into Strasbourg sausages, French fries and salad.  It was magnficent, well-cooked, tasty and memorable.

When I first arrived in Perth, we’d visit a Lebanese restaurant which dished up basic Lebanese food of dips (hummous, tahini, baba ganoush), flatbread, tabbouleh (parsley, tomato, onion and cracked wheat) salad, and grilled chicken. Oh god, my mouth waters remembering the meals we had there. And then it got reviewed in the Sunday paper, packed with people and sadly went downhill.

Another meal I recall was at a small, vegetarian restaurant run by a yoga group in the Perth suburb of Nedlands.  We had curried vegetables, fresh mung sprouts, dhal and chapattis.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Another time we ate with Malaysian friends who dished up a curried chicken dish which was sublime, along with simple accompaniments which turned our meal into a feast. Their only alarm was when  I got stuck into the bottle of pickled chillis which I used to eat like they were going out of fashion. I say “used to” because, sadly, as I’ve got older, I can no longer tolerate dishes which are too hot. 

When we arrived in North Cyprus and were getting ourselves sorted out, we stopped at a smafood-cyprusll cafe on the main strip leading into Famagusta and had a huge meal, totalling AU$6.50: chicken shish with grilled flatbread, chips, salad, pilau rice, pickled chillis, local yoghurt, and a chilli tomato salad.  It was fantastic, very simple, but sitting in the bright sunshine watching cars, passers-by and feeling very benign towards the world was quite simply a first-class experience.

Recently at home we had a good old stand-by: bubble and squeak and fried egg.  I remember bubble and squeak as a kid and I also remember laughing when an American friend puzzled over what the heck the dish was.  Basically it’s to use up leftovers – greens of any kind, such as cabbage or brussels sprouts (and yes, I’m weird, I LOVE brussels sprouts, believe it or not) and potatoes, all mashed together and then friend in one large cake in a wide frying pan, browned on both sides, and then dished up with a fried egg. Bliss!

In Beijing, China, I recall a very simple dish of stir-fried green beans and almonds, perfectly cooked, again a taste sensation.

North Cyprus food
North Cyprus food

And in Xian, where the buried warriors were found, we had a simple steam boat of broth and lots of ingredients chopped or sliced – chicken, beef, green vegetables, eggs, and other food I never managed to identify which was par for the course in China where every shred of food is used – which were then dipped into the broth to cook in the heat, and then we drank the broth at the end which was intensely flavoursome from all the ingredients which had been cooked in its depths.

And if you’re wondering about the wine – well, it was something called QDR (Quaffing Dry Red) which a friend who lived in Sydney used to order by the dozen and which, back in 1977, cost the princely sum of $1 a bottle. It came from one of the fine vineyards which surround  Sydney and it was brilliant, knocked spots off the more expensive bottle which we also drank as a comparison (well, that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it, lol!).

I do wonder whether this obsession with food and foodies is due to the spiritual malaise which infects our society – a sense of emptiness where we keep running from fashion fad to fashion fad, from one fancy restaurateur to another, trying to feed ourselves with external ingredients, when the ingredient which really  feeds and nurtures us is listening to the inner messages we hear from our hearts and souls calling us to an authentic life where we truly honour our gifts and talents.

Just some thoughts of mine, but I’ll finish by saying that one of the favourite dishes my husband and I enjoy is what would definitely be called ethnic, rustic and earthy (just to pinch some of the favourite terms bandied around about food by the foodies) and heart attack materials (from the food nazis): moussaka. I got the recipe in 1970 from a Spanish lady I worked with and it’s rich, fattening, laden with oil, would frighten the life out a dietitian, but god it tastes good: sliced potatoes and aubergines cooked in oil until crisp and brown; layered with a bolognaise sauce, and topped with a cheese sauce, on top of which is grated cheddar and Parmesan (or should I say Parmigiano-Reggiano, to be foodily correct?) cheeses, and cooked in the oven until the top is golden brown.

Eat yer heart out, Heston Blumenthal and all your fancy, schmancy molecular gastronomy, you ain’t got nothing on good ol’ simple food!

 

TRUE CONFESSIONS… Sort of

1.  I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions.  To be truthful, I clean forgot but I also simply didn’t have the interest in making resolutions prior to the end of 2012. And  then I saw a comment (and my apologies for not naming the writer, I’ve forgotten where I read it) that mid-winter is not really an appropriate time for new resolutions, it’s a time of hibernation, going within, having quiet times, allowing the new to come to fruition.  This really had meaning for me, so I’ve decided to allow my inner voice to cook uGoddesses Flyingp new paths to follow, and old paths to bring to fruition or perhaps to leave if they’re leading me into thickets rather than clear spaces, and to birth these at the time of the Spring Solstice.  Makes much more sense to me.

2.  I’ve stopped moaning about the  power cuts we often get here in North Cyprus. Whingeing doesn’t make the power come on any faster, and we still have gas to cook with, so I’ve chosen to see these blackouts, lasting only 30-60 minutes, as opportunities to sit quietly, go within and enjoy the peace and rest. I thoroughly enjoy not doing anything except sitting on my sofa with my puppies and cats when they’re asleep and cuddled up to me. Today I had my hand on Zoe, who is now too big for my lap, as she slept on the sofa. Ziggy has been cuddled up beside me with his paws resting on my leg; and my cat Sweetie stretched out on my lap and flaked out.  I simply sat, enjoy the warmth and companionship of my pets and, get this, DIDN’T FEEL GUILTY!

3.  I don’t own an iPad, iPhone or iPod nor have I used iTunes. And, in act of great daring and bravery, I have no intention of buying or using any of these.  I’m amazed at how addictive and anti-social they are. I don’t like the way in which Apple has created a throwaway system to boost its profits, i.e., always updating products so you throw away one which is perfectly good because hype says your sense of self-esteem is only maintained by having the latest product. I am sad that what used to be an innovative company has now morphed into a monopoly giant intent on stifling competition to boost its profits at the expensive of innovation. And, better and better, I don’t feel a scrap of guilt about not owning an Apple product. I try to keep my life simple and use products like mobile phones and computers as long as I can because I have seen the rubbish dumps in Nigeria where poor people get sick by working on breaking up the toxic dross from our throwaway mentality.

4. I can get the staples of life – Milo and Vegemite – from my local supermarket. Yeah, how good is life! Yes, yes, I know they’re not super-healthy foods but I like them and I’m fed up with all the conflicting health recommendations which change from day to day, month to month and year to year. I aim to eat a varied diet but I don’t feel guilty if I throw in a few supposedly unhealthy items.  I couldn’t care less about the food nazis, a little of what you really like does your heart and soul good and contributes far more to good health than nit-picking about what food goes in your mouth

5. I hardly ever watch TV.  When we arrived in North Cyprus, we didn’t have a television for a long time and we found we survived very nicely without it.  We got fed up with the dross that so often gets onto TV these days and found we did very well with the miserable, miserable news programmes. I do love reading and listening to music as they leave you feeling uplifted and

6. I am happy. We don’t have a lot of money, but we can pay our bills. I >Artwork I've created in alignment with New & Full Moons, and Eclipsesdo have fibromyalgia and arthritis in the my spine which causes stiffness in my muscles and pain in my legs. But on balance, I have a regular, fixed income, the age pension, even though it’s not large; we own our home and car; we live simply and eat simply; I have my eyesight, sense of smell, a sense of hearing (although a bit run down now so I need hearing aids), my two arms and two legs; and my brain’s ticking over pretty well. I have managed to get 65 and when I see the misfortune that some suffer, often much younger than I am, I’m very, very happy to have got so far without any major mishaps. 

 

 

1 BILLION RISING – Details from the website’s newsletter

I have subscribed to the newsletter from the 1 Billion Rising website, and here are details from the most recent e-mail:

One billion rising4 Weeks From Today the RISING Will Begin!

We are 4 weeks away from the very first RISINGS! As the day rises in the east and continues across the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, a billion will RISE and DANCE to end violence against women and girls!

Are you ready for your event on 14 February 2013?

Here are some ideas to help you plan:

READ Eve Ensler’s Newest Monologue “Rising”: Eve has just written a new piece which she composed during her recent travels in India, amidst the incredible uprising there. We envision this monologue as a beautiful addition to your event to motivate the participants to dance.
DOWNLOAD “Rising” by Eve Ensler >

MAKE The One Billion Rising Pledge: One Billion Rising is the beginning of the new world ignited by a new energy. It is not the end of our struggle but the escalation of it. We are suggesting that everyone who rises makes a pledge to do one thing in the next year to end violence against women. Spread the word at your event and have all of your participants make the pledge! We believe a billion people will rise. Imagine a billion activated pledges.
The One Billion Rising Pledge >

ORGANIZE A “Break The Chain” Flash Mob: “Break The Chain,” the One Billion Rising dance anthem, will be used in flash mobs all over the world! The legendary Debbie Allen has choreographed a simple dance sequence that you can learn with your fellow RISERS right from home!

LEARN the dance from Debbie Allen with her “Break The Chain” instructional video >

Also CHECK OUT the “How To” dance video by the Senior dance class at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts >

READ our simple “How To Organize a Flash Mob” Blog >

DOWNLOAD the MP3 of “Break The Chain” >

WEAR Red & Black: We’re encouraging all RISERS to wear red and black in solidarity with our fellow One Billion Rising activists throughout the world, and those women and girls who could not be here to STRIKE, DANCE, and RISE with us.

A Moment of Solidarity: Choose a time during the day to take a moment, join together with your colleagues, fellow students, family members, and friends, and leave your workplaces, schools, and homes and be together as one. With the earth beneath you raise your hand in the air if you can for one minute. Stop everything, look around, and know you are a part of a worldwide movement of 1 billion people standing together in solidarity to end violence against women and girls.

DANCE! FOR WOMEN’S RIGHT TO LIVE SAFELY

Wild, Wise, Witchy WomenI think most of us are probably familiar with the awful story of the young woman raped and beaten in an act of unimaginable violence in India, thrown off a bus with her companion, and eventually dying from the dreadful treatment meted out to her. It has brought into focus the shameful treatment of women in India, and their second-class status in a deeply misogynist, patriarchal society.

But it’s not all confined to India. These unspeakable acts against women happen in our own backyard. A few days ago my attention was caught by an article about the gang rape and mis-treatment of a young woman in Steubenville, Ohio, in the US. She was apparently unconscious through alcohol or a date rape drug, was raped continually both anally and vaginally as she was carted by two young men from party to party by her hands and feet with head lolling back, left naked in the street, and other young men were encouraged to urinate on her as she lay in the street, with no clothes and utterly vulnerable. The young men involved are from the local high school football team, Big Red.

In the wake of the gang rape, a phone video surfaced where  boys from the local high school are laughing so hard about the gang rape they can barely speak. Comments can be heard that the victim was ”deader than Obi-Wan Kenobi after Darth Vader cut his head off”. She was ”deader than OJ’s wife”. They [other accused boys, not those in the room giggling] raped her ”faster than Mike Tyson”. She was so ”dead” that when they penetrated her ”butt” she did not respond. There are also reports of the girl being blamed for allowing herself to end up in this situation – as if any young woman deserves this sort of disgusting violence and as if it’s okay for young men to behave with such brutality and lack of empathy for the victim.

Charming, eh? Nothing much was made of this until reports of this assault begun to surface but one woman, who reported on it, was shut down by the threat of legal action. Details of the gang rape and the lackadaisical response from authorities began to spread on-line. Eventually, the on-line group, Anonymous, heard about it and they took action to publicise this shameful episode and demand justice for the victim.

I have to admit that I was raving mad when I read this report, it was utterly disgusting and I felt sick as I read the details. But I don’t want to just point the finger at the US, because it isn’t just happening there.  There have been instances of gang rape in Australia and the UK, and often it involves sportsmen who are considered heroes and therefore the women victims all too often  become double victims – not only raped but then raped again when she is blamed for the crime by those who can’t bear to see their sports heroes being revealed as nothing more than dirty, filthy rapists.

Luckily I waited to calm down and in the meantime, I came across – by synchronicity – information about action being taken on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, to register women’s rage and determination to stop – world-wide – violence against women and to demand and end to patriarchal misogyny wherever it shows its ugly head.

The event is being organised by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues, and it revolves around dance – women and men rising up to dance and express their wild energy to end violence against women.Dancing Angels

I think the idea of dance as a positive action is brilliant. To stand up and dance is to release our passion and to tune into our hearts.  It offers the opportunity to whirl, to stamp, to sway, to shuffle, to side-step, to dance any goddamned way you wish because it’s your body and your right to move it in any way which feeds your passion.

When we stand up and dance to show solidarity with all women, world-wide, we are asserting our authority to move our bodies as we wish and to dress our bodies as we wish. We are standing tall, unbowed, unchained to assert our right to a safe environment, to be respected as women in whichever way we choose to assert our femininity, authority, uniqueness and integrity, and to demand an end to violence towards women and end suppression of our right to quality in society – ANY society!

When we open our hearts to women throughout the world, we send out glowing threads in the great web of Light which links us all here on Earth and they light up a tremendous network of love, solidarity and power!

Here’s the link to Eve Ensler’s 1 Billion Rising website:

http://www.onebillionrising.org/

Please take whatever action you are able because now is the time for women to stand up and be counted, to be part of a mighty tidal wave of action to say “No more” to violence against women in each and every country that exists on this world of ours.Dancing Fire_edited-1

ELDERLY, BEAUTIFUL AND GORGEOUS

This is a fairy story. Sort of.  Many moons ago, elderly people in Western society were respected, looked after by families in their old age, and were considered a part of the family and a valued member of the community.

But then the Wicked Witch waved her rather morose wand and shunted us to the future where today senior members of the community in Western nations are considered past it (although what “it” is I’m never quite sure), and shunted off to retirement villages, retirement homes or nursing homes. More latterly, senior citizens gave found themselves demonised for having the temerity to live past 65 and claim a pension. Greedy, selfish bastards, continuing to bludge off the younger generation and not popping their clogs once they have, supposedly, outlived their usefulness.

Do I want to go back to the past? Not on your life.  I don’t have idealistic notions of the past where life was tough for women, where domestic violence was condoned, where gay people could be beaten up and have no redress or were blackmailed, where pregnant women with no access to abortion if needed had to resort to the pain and shame of back street abortions, where the abour-saving devices  which make life so much easier today didn’t exist, where married women had to stay at home. But not all advances are for the better and the treatment of today’s elderly is all too often pretty bloody awful.

You’ll understand that I have a vested interest in this question of how senior citizens are regarded as I have entered their ranks.  I don’t feel 65, and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way. You’re only as old as you think you are and I think I got stuck at six years old. I’ve seen young people older than their age because they’ve becAnimated dancing cat e-mailome stultified in their approach to life. And I’ve seen Golden Oldies who are younger than their years because they still think young and live young.

I started thinking about this whole question of the position of seniors in today’s society after watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel again.  It’s even better the second time around (do see it if you haven’t already), but what has stuck in my mind was the idea of sanctuary for “the elderly and beautiful”.  I don’t think I can recall an occasion when elderly people in either Australia or Great Britain, my stamping grounds, have been called “beautiful” and I thought using such a gorgeous word for the elderly was pretty damned good.

I mean, why shouldn’t the elderly be beautiful?  And by “beautiful”, I don’t mean awe and wonder about men and women who look pretty chipper in old age, or who get admired for looking “younger than their years” or who fake youth through plastic surgery, botox injections and so on.  To me, this is all too often a reflection of the worship of youth and reinforces the fear of getting older. I find beauty in faces that are well-lived and reflect the experiences of people bearing these faces. One of the loveliest faces I’ve seen is that of a very old woman, it is heavily lined but the light in her eyes and the wisdom that radiates from her are awe-inspiring.

Here in North Cyprus, for instance, there is a mix of modern and more traditional societies.  You see young women wearing modern fashions, along with young women wearing traditional clothing of head covering, long skirt and long-sleeved top, or you see young women with head covering but trendy tops and leggings. Whatever your choice is, it rocks. But this is a society not obsessed with age, and so you see elderly women who aren’t done up to the nines, who look older than Western women for their age, but who are still part of the community and aren’t shunted off to retirement villages or homes or nursing homes.

At the last festival held here, Kyrenia Belideye (council) paid special attention to the elderly in the community in recognition of the fact that the younger generation stands on their shoulders and they should be shown respect and support.  Council members visited elderly people and offered gifts and good wishes and you often find other councils holding functions for seniors to honour their work and position in society.

Not so these days in Western nations. This was brought home to me when I had the misfortune to travel on the Underground during the rush hour in London.  It was terrifying.  I have some mobility issues, need to use a walking stick, and was quite tired by the end of the day.  I felt like I was invisible as people rushed past me, pushed me aside or glared at me for not walking fast enough. In the end, I had to walk right by the wall and my husband walked behind me and slightly to my right to protect me.

I’ve read about inhumane treatment of the elderly in nursing and retirement homes both in Australia and the UK, and it stands in such contract to the treatment of elderly people in more traditional societies, such as the Islamic society where I live in North Cyprus.  Too often Islam gets condemned because of the actions of a very few fundamentalists. But in Islam it is considered part of the natural order to care for older generations and the idea of sticking elderly family residents into retirement homes is considered quite weird. In British nursing homes, for example, it’s rare to find residents of the Islamic religion.

Of course no-one wants to go back to a situation where you got stuck with ghastly relatives who clung to you like limpets and drained you dry by their vampire-like treatment of you.  I guess what I’m talking about is a need to recognise that you might be a Golden Oldie but you are still very, very beautiful and you deserve respect for having lived life and survived. Although, being a Libran and looking at both sides of the equation, I do have to put the whole case – you earn respect, it’s not just given to you, so I don’t have much truck with grumpy old people who think the world owes them a living just because they’re old.  It’s wisdom and mutual respect for younger generations which earns you the right to be regarded as a community Elder.

I started this a while back and wanted to edit it, so gave myself time to step back a bit and revise the original. So I was delighted to see in our local paper , Cyprus Today, an interview with Billy Connolly who is part of the cast of the new movie, Quartet, about four retired opera singers.  He says, and I thoroughly agree with his words, that the notion of growing old gracefully is one he rails against:

“I think disgraceful is the way to do it; be a nuisance, stay alive. In Britain you’re encouraged to wear a cardi and have the crotch of your trousers away down at your knees – bum fainters they call it in Scotland, because if you look at it from behind it looks as though your bottom’s fainted.

“You’re constantly told to grow up. ‘Grow up, it’s time you grew up, you’ve got some growing up to do boy’, they say. What they really mean is, get boring, stop being angry, stop being interesting and stop being a nuisance.

“I would say don’t grow up. By all means grow old, but don’t grow up. Don’t be beige.”Play-time hat

Isn’t “being beige”  a lovely word to describe becoming a boring old fart?

And yes, I’ve taken my motto from the Ulysses motorcycle club in Australia for the over-55s: “Grow old disgracefully.”  The more who do so, the merrier.

It’s why I’m still a wild woman and crazy crone, and I do my utmost to live up to those monikers!

 

HUGS, HUGS, GLORIOUS HUGS

I’ve adapted the title from The Hippopotamus Song by Flanders and Swan, a duo who used to produce quite humorous ditties which was quite surprising because, apart from their collaboration, they were reputed to hate each others guts.

So here’s my adaptation of the chorus:

Hugs, hugs, glorious hugs,

Nothing quite like it for heating the blood.

So follow me follow, down to the hollow,

And there let us wallow in glorious HUGS!

I was thinking about this subject recently because I come from a generation where you didn’t show a lot of emotion in public, the closest you came to greeting people you met outside the family was a handshake, and my father never, ever hugged me in his lifetime.

So when I went to meet the lady who became my Reiki Master and took me through Reiki 1 and 11, I was stunned when she hugged me – pretty much a perfect stranger – when I left.  But it opened the flood gates for me as I drove home and hugged myself with the image of being hugged.

More years down the track,  in October last year, I attended a reunion of friends from my university days.  We hadn’t seen each other for over 40 years, we all recognised each other, and we all HUGGED each other, which I thought was wonderful.  I don’t know whether any of us hugged each other when we were younger. 

We met at the Royal Festival Hall, on the banks of the Thames River in London. There’s a lovely cafe on one of the upper floors where you can natter, get coffee and food as you need, and no-one interrupts you. We decided to leave via  the bridge beside the cafe  to catch an Underground train from the Embankment Station back to Euston Square for our return trip to where we staying during our holiday in the UK.

As we walked out onto the bridge, a young man turned to me and asked if I would mind if he shook my hand. Bryan said he’d been shaking hands with friends and turned to me as I walked out. So I told him I had no objections at all but, instead of a handshake, on impulse I asked if I could I give him a hug.  He looked quite gobsmacked but nodded, so I gave him a huge hug and a peck on the cheek and wandered off.  I lookedA bee that's just been hugged!

A bee that’s just been hugged!

back and he looked quite stunned. BUT for me it was the most amazing feeling to open my heart to a complete stranger, to enfold him in a warm embrace, and feel such kindness and good feeling towards him.

I thought I’d mention this because we are so careful to keep our distance from strangers. We made our way back to Euston Square in the rush hour where people looked pale, frazzled, distant and unheeding or uncaring about any other people in their way.  What a way to lead your life!

Of course, I can say this with hindsight because I worked in London when I left university in 1970 and I was one of the herds of lemmings in each rush hour. But now I can look back and wonder at how we lead such stress-filled lives which leave us looking drained and soulless and dis-spirited. It may pay the bills but does this way of living pay our hearts and souls with the nourishment they need?

So I thought I’d suggest that you might give consideration to hugging a complete stranger in the not too distant future, perhaps someone who looks a bit down or miserable, or someone you’re simply drawn to. Obviously you need to ask their permission beforehand and preferably with a big smile not a scowl as if you’re about to mug them.  It will lighten not only someone’s life but also feed the fire of love that burns in everyone’s hearts. 

Have fun, have hugs!

PS – Here is the original verse from The Hippopotamus Song:

Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud