Missing in action

Have you missed me?  I am painfully aware of the fact that I have not blogged for more than two weeks and my readership may be wondering where I am.  Of course one of my readers lives with me so should be expected to know exactly where I am.  Then again we haven’t seen a lot of each other just recently and even though I set off for work this morning he can’t be certain I’m there now.

I am, by the way, at least if I publish this post before 6.00pm.

Coincidentally, things not being where they should be has been a bit of a problem for me just recently.  In the past few weeks, I have misplaced my keys to my mum’s flat, a roll of bin liners and my blogspiration (a handy portmanteau word meaning “inspiration to blog” – I’m not saying I invented it but I’ve never seen or heard it before so make of that what you will).

My mother believes that if something unaccountably goes missing it’s because the Devil has borrowed it and will return it when he’s finished with it.  My mother also believes there are women in Southern Italy who lock their husbands out of the house when there’s a full moon because they turn into wolves.  Just saying.  Following her logic (on the Devil, not men turning into wolves) I have come to the conclusion that, inspired by my post about Marie Kondo, the Devil decided to declutter my mum’s flat and guest-blog about it here.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the idea that the Devil might be reading my blog.  Should I be scared or flattered.  Should I try to encourage him to be a little bit less … evil?  And what if he starts posting comments?  I never knew blogging was going to be so complicated.

Anyway, he’s obviously changed his plans, as all the missing items have reappeared with no sign of a blog post by the Evil One.  My blogspiration has returned, bringing with it several ideas for the future.  The bin liners turned up in the drawer where we keep aluminium foil and clingfilm.

And then there’s the keys.  This is where it gets spooky.  My mum’s flat is in a small block for the elderly with doors you have to zap with a key fob to get in.  Having done that, the doors will open for about 15 seconds before they lock again.  I used my keys to get into the building, then into the flat.  I couldn’t find them when I was ready to leave.  I turned out all my pockets.  I turned them out again.  I checked up my sleeves, in my ears and down the back of my neck.  I did not have my keys.

I did not have my keys because they were on the back seat of my car.  Which you will realise, if you’ve understood the last paragraph, is a physical impossibility.  So how did they get there?

The Devil only knows.

Because he put them there.

Why does there always have to be a reason?

Regular readers (and I now have five, some of whom aren’t even related to me) might be wondering when I’m going to get around to blogging about hypnotherapy. Either that or change the name of my blog. Well the time has come and the name’s not changing.

It’s not that I’ve been deliberately avoiding the subject, just that I’ve kept being sidetracked by other things I wanted to say. And if I’m honest, I have been sort of avoiding it because of the big elephant-in-the-room question, “Why do you want to be a hypnotherapist?”. I suspect this question may reveal another elephant in the room, then another, until I can’t move for elephants. Be that as it may, it’s a question I really do have to try to answer, not least because if I apply for a course it’s probably something I’ll be asked.

So lets tackle elephant number one.  Why do I want to be a hypnotherapist? And right on cue, in walks another elephant. This one appears to be wearing a tee-shirt with the slogan “Do you REALLY want to be a hypnotherapist?”. Yes Mr Elephant, I do – can I get back to your friend now? He was here first.

The second elephant is still here, looking at me. I think he wants something, but I don’t know what. Maybe if I throw him a bun …

Okay, so complete the sentence “I want to be a hypnotherapist because …” in an apt an amusing manner using twelve words or less.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because it looks interesting, I could use it to help people and I feel the need for a new challenge in my life. That sounds lame, even to me, as well as inviting two more elephants into the room – I’ll leave it to you to design their tee-shirts. It also vastly exceeds the word limit but I could probably cut it down.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because I originally wanted to be a psychotherapist but the training takes forever. This is partially true, in that I did start out by looking at psychotherapy training and realised I really didn’t want to commit to a course of that length. However, hypnotherapy isn’t a second-best option for me – while looking for information on psychotherapy training I came across a lot of hypnotherapy courses and soon found myself investigating them with increasing interest.

The second elephant has just left the room – I think I’ve given him what he wanted.

I want to be a hypnotherapist because I’ve always kind of fancied it and I find some of the stuff Derren Brown does on TV fascinating (even though that’s closer to stage hypnosis which I don’t approve of and he claims he’s not really using hypnosis or NLP or anything like that). And I’ve read of couple of Paul McKenna’s books and I know most serious hypnotherapists think he’s an egomaniac who’s in danger of bringing them into disrepute but he does seem to get results.

I really can’t say that at an interview with the UK College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy. Can I?

I want to be a hypnotherapist because … it’s complicated and I can’t even explain it satisfactorily to myself. It’s tied in with my need to help people and make everybody happy because maybe then I’ll stop feeling guilty about heaven knows what. So it’s linked in with my own psychological issues but at least I recognise it and can admit it. And it does look interesting and I think I’d be good at it.

I think the elephants liked that answer. I’d ask them but they’ve gone.

Care about clutter

Iain and I are partway through our annual decluttering process. So far we have amassed five bagfuls of unwanted shirts and trousers to be taken to the local clothes bank. Coincidentally, I have just read an article about the Japanese superstar of tidying and decluttering, Marie Kondo. For those who haven’t heard of her, over the past year or so she has sold unimaginable numbers of her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” in 21 countries and counting. Maybe I’m a bad person but that title doesn’t make me want to rush out and buy it.

However, I do feel we could use some help in achieving the goal of a tidy house. We live surrounded by clutter – on my desk right now I have a bottle of William Morris handwash that has been there for at least a year and a tartan bow tie the provenance of which is a complete mystery. Iain’s approach to tidying is to sweep anything on a given surface – books, CDs, money, stray children – into the nearest drawer and promptly forget about them. To the extent of denying all knowledge when questioned as to the possible whereabouts of Trixie from next door. So I read on as a preliminary to possibly buying the book.

Before I say any more, I feel I should issue a warning – what follows is based solely on the magazine article, not on the book itself. I could be horribly misrepresenting Ms Kondo and possibly an entire nation, in which case I apologise.  Anyway,  Japanese people apparently believe that inanimate objects have souls so we should treat that disreputable pair of smelly trainers with respect. If, after years of service protecting our feet from the rigours of daily life, we just toss them aside without a second thought they’ll feel hurt (the trainers, not our feet). And that just wouldn’t be right.

According to Ms Kondo, when going through my wardrobe, I should hold each individual item up to the light and ask myself, “Does this spark joy?”. If the answer is “Yes” I get to keep it but should pop back on a regular basis to tell it how lovely it is and how blessed I feel to have it in my life. If the answer is “No” I should dispose of it, but only after thanking it for being a part of my life and apologising for no longer wanting it.

Now I am the sort of person who will happily have fruitless conversations with things that are not going to answer. Just today, I found myself asking one of the dogs what she intended to do with the stick she insisted on carrying back from our walk. “Are you going to turn it into driftwood art and sell it in Other Daddy’s shop?” were my exact words. However, I draw the line at apologising to a shirt. Besides, I’m not sure that I’ve ever owned an item of clothing that sparks joy. My personal decision-making process could be said to be more thorough, relying on three questions rather than just one :-

• Does it still fit?
• Is it in reasonable condition ie free from holes and questionable stains?
• Does it make me look ridiculous?

If I can answer “Yes”, “Yes” and “No” I put it back in the wardrobe and never give it another thought until the next time I wear it. Otherwise, to the charity bag it goes without so much as a twinge of regret.

But what if my unwanted clothes really do have souls? I am not an atheist. I’ve tried, but I just can’t quite believe in nothing. I can see my dogs’ souls when I look into their eyes, so is it such a huge leap to accept my shirt might, just possibly, have an inner life? For me, I’m afraid it is. But just in case, when I take those five bags of clothes out of my car boot at the clothes bank , I intend to whisper “Thank you”.  And as I drop them into the bins, I will mutter “Sorry”.

Always provided there’s no-one listening!

Under the Weather

The weather in North Northumberland, like that of the rest of the UK, has been somewhat dreich for longer than I care to remember. Living within spitting distance of the Scottish Border, we Berwick residents are allowed to use any Scottish words we take a fancy to – I’m sure it’s enshrined in Berwick’s constitution. If “dreich” means nothing to you, I suggest you take a look outside – the odds are you’ll see a perfect definition.

Of course, if you’re reading this in the middle of July (and what kept you?) you may need me to explain that dreich is a term which may be applied to a combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. According to one Charles Gordon, contributing to www.urbandictionary.com in 2003, at least four of these adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich. All six apply to our current weather.

However, yesterday, the clouds briefly parted, the rain stopped and we saw a slither of blue sky. Not enough to make a sailor a pair of trousers but maybe enough to patch the ones he already has. Taking advantage of this brief period of spring-like weather, we took the dogs to the beach where we watched the waves crashing onto the shore like a 1950s Hollywood love scene. Although I can’t imagine Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster getting “romantic” on Spittal beach.

We walked along the prom watching the council workmen shovelling sand back onto the beach while the dogs ran into the sea, through yellow-grey foam which stuck to their legs. We all had a great time.

Then the clouds moved back together, the rain started again, and the weather went back to being dreich.

Nice enough?

I have decided I should try to be a nicer person. My friend and confidante Lois, who is also my partner’s cousin and one of my all-time favourite people posed the question “Is that possible?”.
I like to think she wasn’t being sarcastic.

Working on the assumption that this was, in fact, a genuine query, I offer the following list of things I do that are not nice.

1) I enjoy the occasional bitching session with Lois and Iain (my partner) about people we know. Probably not about people who are reading this blog.

2) I like to play games with telephone cold-callers. Things like saying, “You’ve got a sexy voice,”  or offering to tell them what I’m wearing (right now, three layers of indoor clothing, a duffel coat and gloves – it gets cold here in not-quite-Scotland).

3) I take too much pleasure in arguing with customer service staff who are probably on minimum wage. It’s not their fault that my internet connection is painfully slow (in my defence, I do tell them that) but why won’t they put me through to someone who can help?

4) I seem to be developing a regrettable tendency to tell it like it is. My mother, who is Italian, frequently says quite unkind things and justifies herself by remarking that “I only say what is true” (that sounds better in an Italian accent). After years of trying to explain to her that there is really no need to tell the truth if it could be hurtful, I have started to do the same thing.  As an example, I offer a recent piece of not entirely asked-for relationship advice “ You’re not a teenager – stop acting like one!”.

5) I’m impatient. I don’t like having to say things twice. I SAID I DON’T LIKE HAVING TO SAY THINGS TWICE. Sorry – old joke. But I really don’t.

So there is room for improvement but do I really want to change any of these things? The bitching sessions are too much fun, just hanging up on cold-callers is boring (and rude?) and I can’t really handle saying “Okay, thanks” when unhelpful customer service staff tell me they understand my frustration. Maybe in trying to be a nicer person I would lose sight of my what makes me who I am.
Maybe there really is such a thing as nice enough.

New Year – Same Old Me?

I don’t generally set much store by New Year resolutions.  Several of my friends showed sufficient lack of consideration as to be born in January, so the beginning of the year is still the party season in my diary.  Promises made at this time of year to drink less, eat healthily, exercise more etc are doomed to failure.
And besides, who hasn’t spent a large part of at least one New Year’s Day vowing never to drink again?
However, I do intend to do all of the above-mentioned things but will start later in the year – not the never-arriving “tomorrow” but maybe on the first day of Spring.  Instead of New Year resolutions, I intend to make New Season resolutions – little goals for self-improvement that I only have to keep for three months if the going gets tough.
I also have the longer-term goals of maintaining this blog and enrolling on and starting my hypnotherapy training course, more of which anon.

Why “The Would-Be Hypnotherapist”?

So I’ve finally started a blog. I’ve been planning this for several years, on a variety of subjects.
Four years ago my partner and I moved from Nottinghamshire to the North Northumberland coast with the aim of living an easier, more relaxed lifestyle and I planned to blog about it. However, the process of moving, settling into a new house, finding part-time work, making new friends and also trying to set up an online business left me with no time to waste on blogging.
Next there was my vegetable garden – wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to blog about? Surely people would love to read about my honest labours, picking up cultural tips along the way then sharing in the joys of my harvest and trying out my recipes utilising my produce. Then I harvested my few knobbly carrots, watched my tomatoes develop blossom end rot, lost the battle against cabbage white butterflies and decided that plan was another non-starter.
In Spring 2014 we brought home our two lovely rescue Labradors, Kip and Belle. I was going to blog about them but the joys of falling in love with them, walking them, generally having fun with them and learning all about their differing personalities took up all my blogging time.
In May 2015, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Trying to put a positive spin on this news I thought I might blog about my journey from diagnosis to (hopeful) cure. My cancer turned out to be quickly and easily treated by surgery. Not that I’m complaining but two operations punctuated by three months with an ileostomy do not offer much in the way of blogging potential.
However, my brush with cancer, which I laughingly refer to as “my near-death experience” caused me to rethink my priorities. For many years I’ve wanted to train to be a hypnotherapist; this year I’m really going to do it. Hence the title of my blog – “The Would-Be Hypnotherapist”.

Musings on life, labradors and hypnotherapy training from the North Northumberland coast