Thanks for the adventure, London!

 

At the end of last week, I flew off to London for a couple of days to spend the Friday playing Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki’s game Cashflow 101 with Judith Morgan, and a few of the fabulous women in Club 100.

It seemed a rather decadent thing to flit over to London just to play a game, but it also sounded like fun and adventure, so of course I just had to do it.

It was a great opportunity to just say fuck it, have some laughs, learn a thing or two, test my mindset and body (first travel since knee injury last October), and meet and hang out with some of the fab chickies I spend a lot of time with online. Why deprive myself of all that??

So I booked the trip in total faith that everything would work out just fine… and it did.

I lived in London for about a year in 1998-1999 and it’s a place I love returning to. Each time almost feels like the first, as I tend to stay in different parts and discover new places, faces and ways of being in that great city. This time I stayed in Brixton, where I’d found a lovely room with private bathroom on Airbnb.

Brixton is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The best way I can think to describe it is a bustling hotchpotch; a mess of noise and activity mingled with the ever-present smell of dope. Reggae/rap/ragamuffin and combinations of all three blare out of car windows. Men and women stand on footpaths and street corners preaching the word of God; groups of people huddle together talking loudly and animatedly – no, they’re not arguing, they’re just talking.

Brixton Village offers an eclectic mix of delicious food options, and I had the absolute pleasure of sampling a couple of them: a Jamaican place called Fish, Wings and Tings, where my friend Sally and I tucked into a delicious (but spicy… but delicious) roti, and a great little Italian tapas place called Casa Sibilla, where four of us lost track of time on the Friday night as we ate, laughed and talked about life, entrepreneurship, dreams, the universe and everything.

So now that I’m back in Toulouse, I’m happy to report that the transition back to French suburban quiet after my little adventure was rather pleasant, but as I take stock of those 48 hours spent across the pond, I want to say Thank you, London.

First of all, thank you to Easyjet for not cancelling my flight and to the French air traffic controllers for not going on strike (a regular occurrence, especially in summer). Thank you to the Big U for having my back at the airport: prior to leaving I’d been obsessively worrying about how I was going to manage to get my bag up in the overhead lockers (crappy hands and wrists from years of lupus- and sarcoidosis-induced arthritis and inflammation), but plane delays meant they needed people to volunteer to put their luggage in the hold to speed up boarding. Yeah!

Thank you to the man at the Gatwick Airport train station ticket booth for reminding me that bad, grumpy service is not just a French thing, and for selling me the wrong train ticket, which would lead to my next lot of thank yous…

Thank you to the Gatwick Express train inspector for not fining me when he discovered that unbeknownst to me I had purchased the wrong ticket, and for the short, comical interlude when he exclaimed “Oh no!” then paused for dramatic effect before saying “You’re on the wrong train!”, leading the passengers around me to panic thinking they weren’t headed to Victoria Station after all.

Thanks to him for telling me instead that I would probably get stopped on arrival at my destination to pay the price difference.

Thank you to the woman sitting next to me for telling me that there probably wouldn’t be anyone on the gates at our destination and not to go looking for someone to pay, but instead to just walk right through the gates.

Thank you to the old man who had secretly been following the debacle and who followed me through the gates, happily cheering when I made it through without having to pay extra: “Yay! You made it through!” he shouted, raising a victorious fist in the air as he walked by me with a huge grin on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Thank you to the crazy, stressed out commuters at Victoria Station for reminding me of why it’s such a blessing to live in a smaller city, work from home and not have to commute.

Thank you to the lovely young man at Brixton Tube Station (yes, I did just say “young man”. Yikes!), who approached me with a big, kind smile and said “Can I help you up the stairs with your bag?”, and once up the top stopped to make sure I knew exactly where I was going to get my bus and wished me a lovely evening and a pleasant stay.

Thank you to Sally of Well Spent Days for so patiently waiting for me, hanging out with me, being open to trying new foods and new places; for her wonderful, calming company and for carrying my bag down four flights of stairs for me on my day of departure!

Thank you to all the Cashflow 101 attendees for good learning, great laughs and insights, and to Judith for treating us to delicious lattes and cappuccinos in glass Bodum cups (yes, I really liked those).

Thank you to the girls for circles driven around Streatham Hill and Brixton, lost in a zippy little Clio, and for great food, conversation and bonding. Mildred, you were really rockin’ those jewels!

Thank you to Kaff Bar for delicious breakfast waffles and a great atmosphere, and to Sally, again, for sharing that moment with me on our last day there.

Thank you to the dozens of naked people on bikes for a good chuckle as my train pulled out of Victoria.

Thank you to the lovely guy at the Estee Lauder counter at Gatwick Airport for spending so much time putting creams and makeup on my face even though he didn’t have the product in stock that I wanted to buy; for sharing good conversation and a great laugh, and for signing off with a “Next time you’re around with a bit of time to spare, come back for another play!”

And most of all, thank you to my body for being strong throughout (the gym is paying off!!) and to the lupus for playing nice and letting me enjoy the moment.

I’ll be back!

P.S: Thanks to Sally for the lovely picture of the tea cup and saucer set I bought at Brixton Village and promptly broke, leaving Sally to glue the pieces back together!

The good fight

Random thought this morning: “It might be time to lay down your arms.

And suddenly I felt a weight lifted. I noticed my heart had been pounding strong and fast, for days.

I’ve been on alert, my warrior senses on edge, weapon at the ready to protect myself from any surprise attack and keep the enemy at bay. It’s exhausting.

The wild woman in me is wide awake. But has the danger passed? She is protecting me for a reason, I know it, but if I don’t remain calm, she risks hurting the very thing is so ferociously protecting.

Breathe. Trust. Flow.

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The other day, I came across a group on Facebook called The Brave Girls Club. It seemed right up my alley, as I’m all about women and girls being brave. It’s really no surprise that my favourite character in Game of Thrones is Arya!

So when I stumbled upon this group, it seemed only natural that I should join. yachting-free

But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Something about it bugged me and, after some contemplation, I realised it was the word “girl”. It would have been ok if the group were aimed at girls or helping parents to raise brave girls, but it wasn’t. It was clearly aimed at women.

Now I realise this might make me sound a tad crazy or extremely picky, but I don’t see why women should be referred to as girls, especially when the word is being paired with Brave. For some reason, I’m ok with girl talk, girlie lunches, girls’ nights out. Probably because they all imply a certain level of immaturity; permission to step it down a notch, act a little “silly” and just have a good old laugh (or giggle). But I drew the line here.

I won’t lie to you: I was surprised at my strong reaction. I’ll be 40 this year and it seems I’ve only recently started coming to terms with the fact that I’m a woman. Not a girl, even though one of my sisters calls me the eternal adolescent and that’s pretty much how I’ve always felt deep down, but a woman.

This got me thinking about what being a woman means to me. What sets women apart from girls, besides, of course, the obvious physical differences.

A woman to me is a real grown-up! She is aware of her own power and embraces it. She takes responsibility for her own life, decisions, choices and future. She accepts the lessons from her past and learns from them. She sets clear boundaries and she enforces them. She stands up for herself, her wants and her needs. She is able to communicate what she needs and wants (when she knows what it is) and even ask for it. She decides what she’s worth. She decides what she wants and goes after it with no apologies. She lives by her own rules and is willing to face the consequences of her mistakes.

No doubt as I keep giving this some thought, other differences will become clear.

I realised that while I was busy thinking of myself as a girl, I was denying a huge part of myself. The part that doesn’t need permission. The part that doesn’t need protecting or nurturing. The bravest part of me. The part that is comfortable with her strong personality, sexuality, sensuality…

So no, I won’t be joining that club. I don’t want to be a brave girl. I’ve been a brave girl. Now I want to be a brave woman.

Feel free to share any thoughts about what being a woman means to you!

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Superpowers: a blessing and a curse

Have you ever wished you had a superpower?

I’m pretty sure most of us have at some stage, usually in our younger years.

Or if we haven’t wished it ourselves, we’ve been forced to think about what kind of superpower we might want, by a curious friend with a penchant for superheroes or a wild imagination.mighty_mouse_using_pop_art_style_by_duceduc-d561xzj

I’ve had many answers to that brain-prodding question over the years, usually influenced by the latest happening thing in popular culture – Stephen King books, X-men…

But the real superpower I secretly wanted was the ability to feel everything that someone was feeling, just by touching them for a split second. Is that masochistic or what?!

I always found it frustrating that we can never truly and fully know what someone is going through. One same event can be experienced in myriad ways depending on the individual in question, their past, their influences, their baggage, their beliefs about themselves, the world around them and the present and future.

I was convinced that if just for a split second we could experience what someone else was going through, we would be infinitely more accepting, kind and compassionate. We would be less judgemental and impatient. We would no longer feel alone or alienated. There would be no brave face, no illusions, only truth and vulnerability. Relief.

If everyone had that superpower, surely no one could use it for evil doings and manipulation?

Now that I’m older, I realise I have actually always had that superpower to some extent. I didn’t have to touch people, and I obviously couldn’t feel everything they were feeling, but I have always been able to get an overall sense almost immediately when meeting someone and to detect subtle energy shifts. In some ways I’ve found it to be a curse.

Being a highly sensitive person (note the lack of caps there, as I don’t believe I’m referring to HSP), I felt like a human sponge. I had no way of protecting myself from all the different energies and vibes I was picking up. I didn’t know how to separate myself from them and I also felt powerless to help people in most situations. My natural inclination is to help, protect, save. But without proper boundaries in place and tools for self-preservation, this can lead to disaster.

I’m almost convinced now that this “superpower” is part of the reason I got ill. Another reason, I feel, was my incapacity to express fully everything that I felt and absorbed.

Like all superpowers, it’s a double-edged sword. It has made me a kinder, more compassionate and understanding person, but it has also brought me great pain – both physical and emotional – and much sadness. Of course, as we all know, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and so it has been with my illness as well. I don’t regret any of it, but with age and experience comes wisdom and mine tells me that I cannot use my superpower to the fullest if I don’t take care of myself first.

I have a couple of other superpowers that I’m aware of, and one that has been manifesting itself clearly to me lately is that people have a natural inclination to confide in me and reveal some of their deepest secrets.

This is a big responsibility and I must show myself to be worthy of it. Each time, I must resist the urge to give advice unless it is asked for and suppress the urge to swoop in and make it all better (yes, I suffer from Mighty Mouse syndrome*), thereby depriving them of some important life lessons and opportunities for amazing growth. It’s not that I feel the need to be a superhero; I just have a protective nature.

I will always root for the underdog and speak up for those who aren’t brave enough to do so for themselves.

But what I’d like now is to help them to be brave enough. Even for a minute.

 

Deep-rooted guilt

I don’t know about you, but I love meaningful conversations. In fact, it seems to me they’re about the only conversations really worth having. The other night I went for dinner with a good friend of mine, and we were lucky enough to stumble into one.

The conversation went from her husband’s desperate desire to renovate their new house himself even though he doesn’t really have the time, to talking about her latest (gorgeous) handbag. You know, as girls women do.  This got us neatly onto the topic of guilt over buying nice things.

Before this, we’d had no idea that we both suffered from the same affliction, so we compared notes. It turns out that we each are aware that we have a good, comfortable life in which we want for nothing, but we also each grew up with a single mum who had to support us and who struggled financially on a quasi permanent basis.

I’m happy to report that in the last couple of years I’ve been kicking the guilt over spending and working really hard to overcome the scarcity mindset I grew up with and adopt instead an abundance mindset. It’s working really well for me so far, thanks, and we can discuss this further in a later post.

My current struggle though, and the reason 2014 is supposed to be my year of guilt-free, is that even though I lost my mother two years ago next month and for 8 years prior to her passing I lived on the other side of the world from her, I am still riddled with guilt over things I did as a teenager that really reflected a lack of understanding of our situation, a lack of respect for her struggles and sacrifices, and a general lack of gratitude.

I feel this guilt in spite of the fact that I got a part-time job at 15 to be able to pay board and buy myself the little luxuries I craved as a teenager living in an affluent part of Sydney, surrounded by little rich kids. In spite also of having made some sacrifices of my own.

The major one that comes to mind is that when I was 17 my Mum wanted to take me to the dentist for a last check-up before I turned 18 and could no longer be covered by her health insurance.  The dentist told me that not only I had to get all my wisdom teeth removed but I also had a canine embedded in my chin bone because it had no room to grow in my mouth and it absolutely had to come out. The whole operation had to be done in hospital under general anaesthetic and with at least an overnight stay. When he announced the price tag of around two thousand dollars, I watched my poor mother turn pale, explain her situation and ask him for alternatives. (Gosh, even telling this story now makes me cry).

He said: “I don’t think any other oral surgeon would suggest this, but I’m confident I can do the whole operation right here, in one visit, under local anaesthetic.” She started to refuse, but I couldn’t bear the idea of her lying awake at night worrying herself sick over money because of my teeth. So I said that’s what we should do. I was game.

Needless to say, that was an awful, traumatic experience and I still remember like it was yesterday. For 12 years afterwards I did not find the courage to plonk my butt in a dentist’s chair.

Anyway, in spite of plenty of evidence to show that I was indeed very conscious at all times of my mother’s financial struggles and felt very responsible for them, too, I STILL feel guilt. And I hate myself for it, because I don’t want to remember my mother as a victim or someone to feel sorry for in any way and I’m so proud of all the adversity she managed to overcome in her life and how brilliantly she sparkled in spite of it all.

I regret inviting my friends over every day after school and drinking all the coffee and milk, eating all the bread. I regret hounding her for months on end because I absolutely HAD to have a pair of Doc Martens like all the other cool kids. And what I regret most of all is that I never took her on a holiday. Never took a trip, just her and me.

Years ago, I went to see a Brandon Bays practitioner as I had been very ill for a long time and wanted to get to the root of the problem. I can’t really explain the process to you but you get to a sort of semi-conscious state where you don’t control where your mind goes and you get talked through a healing journey. I hopped into a spaceship with my granddad (you choose a travel companion to support you on your voyage) and had no idea where I was going to end up. When I got to my destination, the practitioner asked me to tell her how old I was, which confused me rather a lot because I couldn’t tell and I couldn’t speak. She must have read my facial expression, because she said: “If you can’t tell, look down at your feet and describe them to me”.

So I did. Imagine my surprise when I saw the bare feet of a baby aged about 12 months.

The practitioner asked me to describe the scene. What was going on around me? We were in the caravan. My mother was sitting on the bed crying, rocking back and forth and holding her throat. My father was standing above her yelling and gesticulating wildly. I was standing on the floor crying and screaming. I wanted him to stop, but I had no words to say it. I was outraged at what was going on and I couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t make him stop.

Waking from that journey I realised that my guilt had deep, deep roots. I had spent my entire life wanting to shield my mother from all the bad that could happen in life. From that outrage and frustration, my fighting spirit was born and that has served me well and others, too. But this guilt really has to go.

Happy un-anniversary to me!!

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I’ve been in a bit of a funk this week. If I were a character in a comic book, I’d have walked around for the first half of the week with a furrowed brow and clouds above my head with a lightning bolt piercing right through the middle.

The dark clouds seem to be finally clearing now, though, and actually we got treated to a glorious blue sky today in France, so that surely helped. But funks can be useful if they don’t stick around too long. They leave room for introspection. Sure it starts out all dark and aggro and grim, but pretty soon you get down to the good stuff. The meat of it, if you will. And I’ve been translating a rather dry report, so plenty of opportunity for some part of mind to wander off.

Lots and lots of stuff came up about all sorts of things, but through it all I realised that today is a rather significant date for me. The 6th of March. You see, on this day exactly ten years ago today, I was supposed to be getting married.

It was supposed to be a rather simple affair in a family friend’s gorgeous garden. I’d picked out my dress – nothing fancy, just a white below-the-knee fifties style strappy dress with a few tasteful splashes of really bright colours. We’d picked the celebrant, too, and had our first appointment with her. We were putting money aside, making plans; everything was going swimmingly.

Or so I thought. And then in an instant – the time it takes to read a rather short e-mail, to be exact – it was all over. The warm, happy glow gave way to sadness, anger, shame, hurt, and in swept the best friend to hide any evidence of the relationship, make cups of tea, tuck me into bed and hand me tissues. And then began the Marian Keys marathon. I must have devoured about 5 or 6 of her books in a row. They’re great for heartbreak, with just the right dose of humour and tear jerking.

Next came the anxiety attacks. They’d happen at any time of the day or night and I felt like I was going insane. And that’s when I realised that this wasn’t about marriage. It wasn’t about rings and dresses and nesting. This was all about hiding from the truth that my life was making me miserable and I was waiting for someone else to save me, to make it all better. Something else to focus on rather than fixing what needed to be fixed. And I’m so grateful to that man for being courageous enough to realise that it wasn’t going to work (although cowardly enough to end it via email) and for being the catalyst for major change and healing in my life.

Of course now I can’t help but take stock of these last ten years, wonder if I made the right choices, if it was all worth it. I never in a million years could have guessed this is where I would be a decade later. And I can’t help but wonder what the next ten years will bring. What choices I will make. Where those choices will lead. I just hope I can be brave enough to always live my highest truth.

 
photo credit: Robynlou8 via photopin cc

When Gratitude is blinding

Lately I’ve been experimenting with gratitude as part of a month-long online course run by Julia Elmore.

I was starting to feel overwhelmed with resentment in several areas of my life, and one day after some consideration I decided ingratitude was part of my problem and I had to do something about it.

I have found gratitude extremely helpful in shifting my perspective about things. Much more helpful than the usual advice of “Think positive!”, “Look on the bright side!”

Such platitudes just make me want to scratch my interlocutor’s eyeballs out, or at least wonder why the hell I’m wasting my breath talking to them.

Gratitude, I have found, goes much deeper.

It has the power to completely shift your outlook on life and transform your relationships. I can literally feel the layers of resentment vanishing a little more each day. Imagine! And I must admit, I’m pretty crap at doing any of those course-y type exercises, so I haven’t even really been doing them (sorry, Julia!).

I have made my gratitude jar (the easiest practise I figured I could maintain) and bought multicoloured paper to write all my daily gratitude messages on so they can look pretty too, yet the jar sits empty on the shelf. Oops! I will get around to it. I will.

But to be honest, just reading the daily emails and maintaining my focus on gratitude each day has helped tremendously. Of course, until I actually do the exercises, I’ll have no idea just how far this practise can take me.

During the course, it occurred to me that this is what my Mormon brother and his family are doing when they pray: they are practising gratitude. And I see what a profound impact that has on their day-to-day life. I want me some of that. We all should.

But over the last few days I have become uncomfortable with some aspect of practising gratitude. I’m rather a feisty and rebellious person by nature and suddenly my senses were on alert. Here’s what is unsettling me: at what point does gratitude become meekness or acceptance of the status quo, of a situation that shouldn’t or needn’t be?

At what point does being grateful become a barrier to making changes that need to be made and giving your life the kick up the arse it deserves?

Say a husband buys his wife a beautiful little sports model car and then forbids her from going anywhere with a speed limit above 70 km/h. Sure, she could say “Oh I’m so grateful I have a wonderful husband who is generous enough to buy me the car that I want and who cares so much about me and my safety that he imposes limits on me. It’s because he loves me and I’m so grateful.”
Well sure, she would be right. But what he’s also doing is imposing limitations on her that impede her freedom and independence. He is projecting his fears onto her. He is undermining her self-confidence in questioning her ability to deal with such a situation. And over time, what do you think that does to a person?

Or what about the single, self-supporting mother who feels overwhelmed because she’s had guests in and out of her home all week plus kids to look after, and a few days in starts to feel tired of so much cooking and entertaining.

She could say “Oh I’m so grateful to have so many friends and family members who come to see me and spend time with me and my children and I’m so grateful to be able to prepare good food for them etc., etc.”, and she would be right. But she would basically be discounting the overwhelm as a warning that she is not tending to her own needs in all of this. She could instead be grateful for that feeling of overwhelm for showing her that she is doing too much and needs to slow down. And use that opportunity to ask for help or simplify things and not expect so much of herself. Guess which version of her the guests and kids are bound to enjoy more? I’d wager it’s the happy and relaxed version.

Those are just a couple of examples that cropped up during the week, but the bottom line is this: practise gratitude, by all means. Practise it as much as possible, as it has healing powers. But whatever you do, don’t use Gratitude to pull the wool over your own eyes.

Stand in your power and do the work. Then you can be grateful to yourself for being so brave. Oh what a feeling.

 

Fast day 5

I’ve been sitting here for the last 15 minutes, staring at a blank page and wondering what to write about.

Before that, I was putting the groceries away and cleaning up the kitchen while wondering what to write about.

I thought of at least 50 different topics, all of which could have been interesting. But the truth is, I feel hungry and my head is all fuzzy. I just don’t really have the energy to write tonight.ID-10098338

You guessed it: today is a fast day for me. I made the silly mistake of going grocery shopping on a fast day. Thanks, lesson learnt. Fast day and grocery shopping just don’t mix.

My mouth watered the whole way around the supermarket. I came home with all these lovely things that Stef could eat tonight – stuff he doesn’t usually eat. Transference. Stuff I will have to watch him eat!!! ARGH!

And I normally wouldn’t be this hungry at this time, even on a fast day. I normally wouldn’t buy any of that stuff except on really special occasions.

So, as I said: lesson learnt. I won’t be doing that again.

Another thing I’ve learnt is that there is a really good reason I’ve gone 39 years without counting calories: it’s just not my thing. The mere thought of it gives me a brain ache.

I tried buying a couple of recipe books for low-calorie meals, but when leafing through them last night on the hunt for something nice to eat tonight, I was disappointed to find that most of the recipes in them contain carbs or sugar. I don’t want carbs or sugar on fast days. So for now it’s back to the good old safe bet: grilled fish or meat with salad or steamed veggies, and in the evening a mandarin for dinner.

I’m going to focus on finding really great, easy recipes for my non-fast days instead and keep fast days plain and simple.

So… that’s a few nice lessons learnt on my fifth 500-calorie day!

 Image credit: “Stacking Sliced Salad” by Serge Bertasius on freedigitalphotos.net

The dream

Some years ago, I had a very vivid dream.

I was in some South American city, sometime last century.

Of course being a dream, I don’t remember most of the finer details.

I didn’t look like me at all. I was with an older, frail woman whom I knew instinctively to be my mother.

There was commotion and violence all around and we feared for our lives. I could feel my heart pounding and my nerves on edge.

All around, people were running in random directions and screaming. Not I, though. I had to protect my mother. I had to keep us safe. I had to be strong for the both of us.

She was clearly sick and weak. Our survival depended on being able to get out of the city and for that we had to move fast. But she couldn’t. I had to prop her up and half carry her.

I didn’t want to lose her; she was everything to me.

Somehow we did make it out of the city, into a large green field on a hillside. There, we finally got to rest our tired, aching bodies and think about what to do next.

We fell asleep; it was night time.

We woke suddenly to the sound of boots marching along the dirt road that ran along the edge of the field.

Red coats. Guns. The army we were running from.

I bolted upright and caught sight of a soldier lifting his rifle to his shoulder to aim it straight at me.

In that split second, I grabbed my sick and frail mother and shielded myself with her body.

The shot rang out, and I bolted.

That’s when I knew everything was going to be OK. I was going to be OK.

Have you ever had a vivid dream with a powerful message for you?

The bake sale – Part 2

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I just had the most wonderful meaningful conversation with my coach and I need to take a little time out and process all the new info and goodness that was revealed.

So… that means you get to read the second part of The Bake Sale story about Amy. Remember I told you the second part was my fav? Here it is:

 

“She thought back to Jimmy Hawkins Jr that morning, at the bake sale in the churchyard. How he’d stopped right by her table, kicking up dust with the tip of his old and worn white Adidas shoes.
“Surprised you’ve got any cakes left!” he jeered. “Figured you would have ate ‘em all by now.”

He snickered a little as an eager audience started to settle around him, drawn by the smell of trouble.

“But then again, I guess you’ve got no room to fit anymore in!”

At which point he threw his head back and burst out laughing, turning towards the crowd for support.

“Imagine it! The incredible popping-woman! She’d be standing there in her birthday suit looking like one of Old Pa Killer’s pigs after Michael’s got at it with a pair of clippers!”

The lot of them burst into cruel laughter, pointing at her and slapping each other on the back. Beyond the humiliation, she had felt an intense rage boiling up within her and had eyed the giant lemon meringue pie that stood close to the corner of the table. Without a moment’s hesitation, she had reached out to grab it, intent on throwing it square at his pink, greasy pizza-face.

But just then Mrs Hawkins had appeared out of the crowd, grabbing young Jimmy Jr by the arm to drag him away as she muttered loud enough for everyone to hear “Come on Jimmy. Jesus loves everybody… even the physically challenged. We should live by his example”. With that, she had squinted sideways at Amy, her thin lips pursed with distaste, then had turned her head dramatically away, nose upturned, eyes straight ahead and sashayed off with her brutish offspring in tow.

As the crowd had slowly dispersed in search of the next hornet’s nest, Amy had spotted her mother just a few steps away chatting to Father Lincoln’s secretary, Ms Murray. Amy couldn’t believe it. Her mother had missed the whole thing! Was she so oblivious to this world?! How could she not have heard the evil laughs? Sensed the commotion? She edged a little closer to eavesdrop and had suddenly understood perfectly.

“I’ve the perfect fine linen for it”, she’d heard her mother say. “And just the right gold and blue threads for the pattern I’ve in mind”. Well that figures, Amy had thought. Since Father Lincoln had mentioned that the altar cloth was too moth-eaten to be presentable for any mass, Linda May had thought about nothing else.
Helping Father Lincoln with his altar cloth brought her just a few steps closer to Heaven and for that, she was ready to put in any amount of effort.
“She’d never think of using that perfect fine linen to make me a pretty new dress that fit”, thought Amy as she sighed and headed on back to the cake stall to sell Sister Iris half a cherry cheesecake.

Standing in front of the mirror, Amy had been so lost in reliving the day’s awful and humiliating events, that she’d forgotten to count the brush strokes as she ran the plastic bristles through her long straw-coloured hair. She had read, just the other day, that for shiny, healthy hair, one should brush it with a hundred deliberate strokes every day. She figured today was as good a day as any to start, as she was getting ready for the next dreaded event of that Sunday: dinner with Brian May, her father. Apparently it was Brian who had thought that calling their little bundle of joy Amy May was a good idea. He was fond of word games and puzzles and an anagram here seemed perfectly fitting. Amy had been wondering more and more lately if that was the reason she now felt so mixed up inside.”

 

Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane on freedigitalphotos.net