Review: Look Who’s Back

Look Who's Back
Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the end, I had to grit my teeth and force myself to finish this. It took me two months. Look, it’s a great concept: Hitler waking up in the modern world and then having to orientate himself, whilst plotting his rise to power and reboot of the Third Reich.

The satire, on the whole, didn’t work for me. There were a couple of genuinely funny moments in Hitler’s dialogue and some minor smiles from cleverly worked misunderstandings between Hitler and his colleagues at the ‘Flashlight’ production company. ‘Flashlight’ has taken Hitler on as a political satirist and given him his own TV and YouTube show.

The problem with this book is that it is really hard to feel any sympathy or connection with the main character. He’s Hitler after all. And he’s pronouncements on Jews, Russians, Poles, Turks, Asians, foreigners of all kinds, violence, gas chambers, concentration camps, the SS, ad infinitum is genuinely distasteful and at times horrific.

I wanted to like this book a lot more. It’s well written. It’s a great concept, but it is incredibly difficult to get past a distaste for the protagonist. And I guess what makes it also quite an unsettling read, in the end, is the sheer blind stupidity of everyone else in the book. Their inability to grasp the real agenda of Hitler and constantly misconstrue every single thing he says cannot be very far off the reality of what happened back in the 1920’s and 30’s that lead to his rise to power. People will see what they want to see, and not what is actually in front of them.

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Reiki in a Nutshell

reiki-in-a-nutshell-bca-chronicle-december-2016The following article originally appeared in the BCA Chronicle December 2016

From 6th October to New Cairo, from Mohandiseen to Maadi, and everywhere in-between, people are signing up for classes to learn the art of Reiki. Just as it has done in much of the rest of the world, Reiki is surging in Cairo. 15 years ago, there were one or two Reiki teachers in the country, now they seem to be hiding around every corner. But what exactly is Reiki, and why is it so popular?

Reiki is the fastest growing complementary therapy in the world today. It’s a healing method that is having a profound impact on the lives of significant numbers of people and can instill a deep sense of peace. But it’s main claim is as a method for healing physical and psychological problems. There are no conditions, illnesses or disorders, that Reiki can’t help alleviate. In some instances, it can affect a complete cure, even if the problem is very deep-seated or life-threatening.

According to the International Association of Reiki Professionals, Reiki is “…a spiritual healing art… It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.” That’s right, Reiki has nothing to do with belief. Much the same as when you turn the key in your car’s ignition, the engine starts without you having to recite mantras, do yogic breathing, or pray to many Gods for the wellbeing of your vehicle etc. Reiki’s like that. It works, even if you don’t believe in it.

The system was developed by a Japanese Tendai Buddhist called Mikao Usui, a little over a hundred years ago, but it has its origins in a much older practice called ‘Buddho’ that dates to the historical Buddha, some 2,500 years ago. According to the International Centre for Reiki Training, there are now estimated to be more than four million people worldwide, who have taken some form of Reiki training.

Reiki works by bringing the body and mind, to a state of deep relaxation, enabling the body’s healing mechanisms to work at optimum capacity. The practitioner channels subtle energy through their hands to the recipient, and it is this energy, flooding the body and mind, that creates the circumstances for deep healing to begin. There are no special aids or devices involved, no prayers or mantras, no meditative alpha or theta state needed for it to work, and anyone can learn it.

Some years ago, I gave an interview on BBC radio about Reiki. Following the broadcast, I received a phone call from a lady in her late 50’s wanting treatments for a severe case of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. She’d been suffering with the condition in various stages of severity for the previous 30 years, and was only days away from being in a wheelchair. After several treatments that helped reduce the pain that she was feeling, she decided, along with her husband, to learn the method for herself. That decision was a critical moment in her life.

Three months later she contacted me to say that her last blood test had revealed not a trace of her crippling arthritis. The condition was eliminated and her stunned doctors had no explanation for it.

In another case, a young man was rushed to hospital with a perforated colon that was allowing bile to leak through his system. He was in a coma with a temperature of 109 degrees and a prognosis of imminent death. He was given Reiki continuously for 2-3 hours. At the end of that session, he came out of the coma, the bile purged from his system and he had a normal, restful night’s sleep. The following morning, he was back to his normal self.

‘Miracles’ such as these, are not common, but they do happen. There are dozens of stories from around the world, testifying to the fact of Reiki’s miraculous healing ability.

As well as such anecdotal evidence, there’s also hard scientific evidence to support the claims made by Reiki practitioners. Medical research has shown that the range of frequencies that promote healing in the body are precisely those that are found in the bio-magnetic fields that manifest around the hands of those using therapies such as Reiki. Specific frequencies being beneficial for different tissues.  Placing an electrical coil around a fracture is a well-known method of stimulating bone repair. Ultra-sound is used to break up kidney stones and to clear blocked arteries, and soft tissue is encouraged to re-generate with the aid of physiotherapy equipment that utilises the healing effects of specific frequencies.

Reiki is now available within hospital and other health-care settings around the world. According to The International Centre for Reiki training, by 2007, over 800 hospitals in the US were offering Reiki as a normal part of patient care. This is mirrored in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and elsewhere, where it is being used to treat sufferers of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and a multitude of other serious conditions. It is being used to help speed recovery from heart surgery and by Dr Sheldon Feldman, head of breast surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Centre, directly in the operating theatre.

But the beneficial effects of Reiki, don’t stop at the health needs of human beings. Dr Barnard Grad of McGill University in Montreal conducted an experiment in which he tested the effects healing energies have on plants. With elaborate double-blind procedures in place, a set of barley seeds were fed with water that had been held by a healer for 15 minutes in a sealed container. A second set of seeds were fed untreated water. The seeds fed with healer treated water grew faster, were healthier and produced 25% more weight and had a higher chlorophyll content.

It’s important to remember however, that regardless of other’s experiences, and regardless of what the scientific community may have to say, the only real proof worth giving credence too is one’s own direct experience. Reiki can manifest results in many seemingly mysterious ways. Some of these can be scientifically validated, whilst others cannot. Ultimately, if Reiki improves the quality of your life, as it has done for so many thousands around the world, then this is the only measure that matters.

Give Reiki a try. It will change your life.

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The Importance of Art Education in Academic and Career Success

The following article appeared in Cairo West December 2016 

As the academic year kicks into high gear and exams creep ever closer, parents all over the country are encouraging their children to get down to some serious study, work hard in school and do their homework. Many are investing in extra tuition to nail those the-importance-of-art-educationi-in-academic-and-career-success-cairo-west-december-2016-3important subjects, like maths and English and science. The pressure is on to grab those A*’s and then later, get a place at a good university. But what of the other subjects on the curriculum, like art and music, and in some places, drama, and dance, which help to develop a student’s imagination and creative abilities? Too often, these subjects tend to be given little importance, and are marginalised at the expense of those that will lead directly into a career. After all, why would a prospective engineer or doctor, need to know how to draw a vase of flowers?

Albert Einstein, the world’s greatest theoretical physicist said “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” He was stating a fact that all true educationalists understand as a given: that learning and practicing the principles of art is absolutely vital to the development of critical thinking. And critical thinking not only applies to scientists, it extends to all areas of academia, whether it be maths, information technology, history or geography. A*’s will get a child into university, and maybe one day they’ll be at the top of their particular profession. But will they stand out and be the Einstein of their field? Probably not. Thinking outside the box is vital, and that is a skill that art, more than any other subject, provides.

The ability to see the world in a different way, to think around a problem and view it from a different angle, takes imagination and is the cornerstone of success in all subjects. And the more advanced the level of study, the more important the skill becomes. It’s a skill that arts educationalists can rightly claim as their own. Nowhere else in the curriculum, is it taught so comprehensively and with such a powerful focus on the real world. Imagination is where all human success springs from. Imagination is, let’s be blunt about this; the womb of critical thinking.

Art lessons play an important role in nurturing young minds and developing their creative and imaginative abilities, and this spills over into non-art related subjects.  A comprehensive study by James Catterall, professor of education at the University of California in Los Angeles, reported that students who had more involvement in the arts scored better in standardised tests. Catterall said:

“While education in the arts is no magic bullet for what ails many schools, the arts warrant a place in the curriculum because of their intimate ties to most everything we want for our children and schools.”

If parents are worried about the academic success of their children, then more art is needed, not less. It has been widely reported that involvement in the arts can lead to gains in maths, reading, verbal skills, critical thinking, cognitive ability, motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. According to ‘Americans for the Arts’ children are four times more likely to get noted for academic success, when they participate regularly in art activities.

In the area of language development, the practice of art for younger children provides opportunities for them to talk about their work, learning the words for different colours, shapes, and the motor skills employed. They learn to use descriptive words to discuss their work and talk about their feelings in relation to their work and the work of others.

The development of motor skills is also enhanced through an engagement with art. Holding a paintbrush, using scissors and scribbling with a crayon help with the growth of the finer motor skills that are needed at a later stage of development. Art engagement helps develop the dexterity needed for writing.

In a world filled with smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions and other technological gadgets, visual literacy is more important than ever. Drawing, painting, making things from clay or sticking beads onto a collage contribute substantially to the development of visual literacy.

According to Dr Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University: “Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past. Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.”

The world that children are moving into, is one filled with visual stimuli of all kinds: marketing logos, advertising hoardings, and other graphic symbols, delivered through a variety of media, and at an ever-increasing pace. Having a developed sense of visual literacy helps children and young adults navigate this world, and become smart consumers and producers.

“The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions. Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about art education. By encouraging children to express themselves and to make things that previously hadn’t existed in the world, they start to develop a sense of innovation and inventiveness that will be necessary skills in their adult lives.

Allied to the ability to understand the society that exists around us, is cultural awareness. We are constantly bombarded with images from around the world, and we read the world according to our understandings of it. That understanding is framed against our own culture, which we buy into based on social values and the influence of our parents, relatives, friends and colleagues, amongst other things. Through the study of art, we can start to contextualise other cultures and learn that what an artist or designer portrays is simply their interpretation of reality, which may be different, but equally valid, to our own. We develop an insight into other ways of being.

Art has a long and proud history in Egypt, perhaps more so than in any other country. The history of Egypt, and thus civilisation itself, going back several millennia, is told through the creative, visual expressions of generations of artists and craftsmen who highly prized their artistic abilities and creative skills. What would be left of ancient Egypt, were it not for the work of artists? Very little.

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge… Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world,” Einstein said, and in this, he sums up the cultural urgency there is for an educational refocusing on not only visual art but the other Arts of music, dance, and drama as well.

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Review: How To Write A Novel The Easy Way Using The Pulp Fiction Method To Write Better Novels: Writing Skills

How To Write A Novel The Easy Way Using The Pulp Fiction Method To Write Better Novels: Writing Skills
How To Write A Novel The Easy Way Using The Pulp Fiction Method To Write Better Novels: Writing Skills by Jim Driver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A basic guide, but all good I guess. More of a nuts-and-bolts guide to writing a novel in general, than anything specific about pulp fiction, which the author claims is the precursor to the modern practice of self-publishing. Which I don’t entirely accept. Pulp fiction writers still had to write to please an editor, who, if the work wasn’t up to scratch, would have rejected it. Not so with self-publishing, where the writer is the arbiter of what is, and what is not publishable.

I guess the thing that rankled a bit for me in this book, was the regular referencing of his other books, which if I wanted, I would go and buy, but given the all too frequent in-text advertising of them, I probably won’t now.

I’d have liked to have seen a little more about the pulp fiction method (is there such a thing?), rather than the need to simply churn out as much as possible because in the end, there will be something you can throw at a readership – quality or not, which is what the author pretty much advocates here.

Still, a useful reminder of some of the nuts-and-bolts of the author’s craft.

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My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I teach this meditation and am always interested in reading more and expanding my understanding. So I bought an ebook version of this some time ago, and finally read it on the plane today.

Unfortunately, the quality of the language is so bad that much of the book is incomprehensible and those bits that can be understood are shallow.

I started out thinking that the language problem was just sloppy editing. But I think it was a case of someone writing in a language that is not their first language. Either way, it doesn’t excuse how bad this book is.

if you’re going to sell a book to the public at least have the courtesy to make it readable. This should never have been released. At least not in English.

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Remember My Name

This is the first draft of my new short story. I’m working on a novel at the moment and struggling with it. Having written this, I am conscious of the fact that I write better in the first person. I guess so much of my youth reading Raymond Chandler and watching Bogart films, had an effect. I was pleased with this draft last night when I wrote it – it took me about an hour. Not so sure today, but I do think there is something worth working on here. It’s a true story by the way. Events happened exactly as described here. Comments gratefully accepted.

It was damn cold that night. It didn’t matter how tight I hunched into my coat and pulled it around me, I was still shaking with it. How the hell the old guy, who didn’t have a coat at all, wasn’t shaking like I was, I have no idea. I guess, like all alcoholics, he’d become immune to the temperature.

I’d headed out to grab a pint. There was this cosy little nook of a pub right at the bottom of the Tor. I’d been in just once before, not long after moving to Glastonbury, and it was a place I fancied going back too. A big log fire, great beer and an ambience that made you feel like you’d walked into that bar scene in The Lord of the Rings. It was all just so, ‘olde England’. No idea what the place was called now.

I got to the top of the High Street and turned the corner. There was an orange glow from the pub’s windows and the sound of people laughing and having a good time, coming out into the street. The old guy was on the other side of the road. I saw him ask a couple of people for a smoke and they walked right past him. No acknowledgement, nothing. Then it happened again. I felt sorry for him, so went over and offered him a cigarette. He accepted eagerly and we both sat down on the wall opposite the pub.

I took out my tin and started to roll him a smoke. I don’t know what he said to me now. It was nothing of consequence I guess. I just wanted to give him the cigarette and get in the warm and have a pint. But the old guy kept talking and so I listened. I remember this though, and it had nothing to do with the rest of his conversation. He said to me “Only God is good. My name is Nikolas Lebadar. Remember my name.” I nodded. What else could I do? I felt sorry for him.

In the glow from the pub, I could see that his clothes were old and filthy. I guess he hadn’t had a proper wash in days. Maybe weeks. And it wasn’t the time of year for anyone to be stuck out sleeping on the streets. But that was the way it was. I didn’t think about it much at the time. He was just a lonely old tramp who wanted a smoke, and someone to talk too. So I sat with him and listened. The pub wasn’t going anywhere.

I rolled myself a cigarette too, and light his for him. We sat and smoked, watching the smoke and then our breath forming thickly in front of our faces. It was damn cold. The old guy sat with me and we smoked in silence for a while. Then he talked some more and I listened some more. And then “Only God is good. My name is Nikolas Lebadar. Remember my name,” he said again.

And it was like that for some time. I rolled us both another smoke and we carried on sitting on the wall at the foot of the Tor. People were coming and going from the orange glow across the road, but I sat, feeling even my bones freezing over, and listened to Nikolas.

I don’t supposed he’d had a decent meal in a long time. I don’t suppose he had any friends or a place to be. I guess the world didn’t give a shit about him. I coudn’t fix all that, but I could sit and listen and smoke. And right at that moment, that’s all he wanted. I gave up on the pint and offered him the tobacco tin. His hands were shaking and he couldn’t roll it for himself. So I took it back and rolled one for him.

“Only God is good. My name is Nikolas Lebadar. Remember my name,” he said again. In fact he said it to me several times. I don’t know why all these years later, 22 to be exact, I still remember that. I guess it’s because I promised him. I don’t know why I promised it either really. Maybe to stop him repeating it over and over. But I promised it anyway.

After more than an hour of freezing on that wall and smoking way too much, the pub closed. It was back in the days when pubs had sensible hours. Not like now when you can go out and get pissed at any time of the day or night.

I didn’t want to leave Nikolas there, but what could I do? My wife would go nuts if I took him home with me. I knew that, because a few days before, a tramp had knocked on our front door and asked for some change. Instead, I took him in and gave him some food and a coffee and made him feel welcome. I couldn’t leave him out there in that weather for God’s sake. I think she’s forgotten about that now, but at the time, I knew I was in the doghouse. So I could n’t take Nikolas home with me.

I gave him my tobacco tin, whatever money I could spare and shook his hand. I needed to get back into the warm. As I headed back towards the High Street, he called after me. I turned and he said “Remember: only God is good. My name is Nikolas Lebadar. Remember my name.” I smiled and silently promised I would.

I never saw Nikolas again, and have often wondered what happened to him. Maybe he’s dead. Maybe, as a friend just told me, he sorted his life out and became a success. I don’t know. But I suspect that he died. The world didn’t care about him, and won’t be missing him. No one will. No one gave shit. But for a while, I shared a wall with him and listened, and smoked, and made his world sort of okay.

And down the years, 22 to be exact, as I said, I have remembered his name. It was Nikolas Lebadar. Sometimes, I have panicked and had to dive into the fading parts of my memory and drag his name out by the scruff. Almost. It almost went. But I got it back and I keep it as best I can in my memory. I made a promise. But he’s probably dead, and no one gives a shit. But I remember his name, and I remember that only God is good.

“Only God is good. My name is Steve Gooch. Remember my name.”

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Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had to read this. It’s Stephen King after all, and if anyone knows how to write a blockbuster, very saleable novel, you can’t get much better than King.

Although I was entertained and found many parts of this huge tome very funny (the bit about oysters getting a bit of grit in their shells, leading to the production of a pearl, rather than them attending pearl making workshops with other oysters as an analogy to would-writers attending writing workshops), on the whole I got very little out of it. Yes, there was some good advice (cut your use of adverbs), but really…this was less a practical manual for writers, less a guidebook on how to avoid the pitfalls and problems of starting out as a writer, and more a ramble through Stephen King’s own journey from A to B. Interesting as it is. Amazing as it is. Inspiring as it is. But maybe that’s the point: less of a ‘don’t do this, do that’ textbook, and more of a ‘here’s my life journey, with some lessons for you on the way’ sort of book.

I am glad I read it, but as an aspiring writer, I don’t think it told me very much. I am hacking adverbs everywhere, and it is definitely making a difference to my work. Lesson taught and learnt, so Stephen King, thankyou for that.

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Milk’s GottaLotta Bottle

milks-gottalotta-bottle-bca-chronicle-november-2016The following article appeared in the BCA Chronicle November 2016

‘Milk’s Gotta Lotta Bottle’. That was the Milk Marketing Board’s iconic marketing slogan back in 1982. And it reinforced what every good mother across the nation knew as a generational certainty, and were telling their own children: milk, that most natural of superfoods, is good for your bones, good for your teeth and will boost your health and fitness. Like brushing your teeth, it was an accepted, unquestionable fact. But there’s not a shred of truth in it.

In recent years, this so-called wonder-liquid has come under increasing scrutiny, and many studies, both in the UK and elsewhere have put these claims for the health benefits of drinking milk under the microscope.  There is now a large body of evidence that clearly shows that all of those accepted certainties, were in fact, myths. Not only does milk cause some diseases, it is actually utterly useless in preventing those for which it is traditionally reported as being a panacea.

In 2014, the British Medical Journal reported a study in which it was shown that women who drank two and a half or more glasses of milk a day had a higher bone fracture risk than those who drank one or less glasses a day. The reason is simple, as the anti-milk, ‘Save Our Bones’ campaign has shown: whilst milk is indeed packed with calcium, it’s of a kind that the human body simply cannot absorb, especially when it is pasteurised. The process of pasteurisation makes the calcium unabsorbable. Ironically, in fact, milk has been shown to increase calcium loss from the bones, as the body draws on the bone’s own calcium stores to neutralise the acidifying effects of the milk on the body.

According to Amy Lanou, the nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.:

“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets.”

Osteoporosis is a condition caused by, amongst other things, a lack of calcium in the bones, causing them to become brittle. Not surprising then, the social group with the highest rate of osteoporosis are dairy farmers (In a report by The Natural Hygiene Society).

If the evidence for the glaring uselessness of milk as a source of calcium is not enough, then perhaps the fact that it is also a reported factor in the promotion of a catalogue of other health problems, will help dismantle the milk myth.

A 1992 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed that milk proteins promote diabetes by damaging the body’s ability to produce insulin. And in other major studies it has been suggested that there is a link between milk consumption and multiple sclerosis and breast, ovarian and prostate cancer (The Harvard School of Public Health and University of Illinois School of Public Health, amongst others). T Colin Campbell; Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, made this damning observation in 2000:

“cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed”.

The anti-milk lobby has claimed that milk and its derivatives are responsible for, or aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, colic, acne, heart disease, asthma, and lymphoma. The scientific evidence against milk is stacking up, despite the best efforts of the Milk Marketing Board and its equivalents around the world, to hide or deny this evidence. Milk is no longer regarded as the universal superfood it was once thought to be. Not only does milk contain unabsorbable calcium, but it also contains lactose sugar, animal growth hormones, human administered drugs, contaminants and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol.

But what can you do to replace all that milk in your diet? How are you going to get your daily intake of calcium and protein?

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (as well as The Vegetarian and Vegan Societies), the best sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables and legumes. Spring greens, kale, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli are excellent sources. There are more than a 100 milligrams of calcium in a plate of humble baked beans.  Chickpeas, tofu and other bean and bean-derived products are also rich in calcium. Additionally, they contain magnesium, which the body uses in conjunction with calcium to build bone density.

Fortified plant milks, such as soya, rice, and almond milks are also rich sources of calcium, along with white flour, oranges, figs, blackstrap molasses, nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

According to the Vegan Society, the best sources of protein are peas, beans (aduki, blackeye, chickpeas, kidney beans), lentils, soya products such as tofu and soya milk, nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios), and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame). Add to that list, wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, pasta, and bread.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital followed more than 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring their diet, lifestyle, illness and mortality and concluded that switching from just a small amount of animal protein (which includes milk) to the likes of nuts and beans, significantly cut their risk of an early death.

Milk is all washed up. Like cigarettes, which were also once thought of as being healthy and beneficial, the duplicitous claims for the supposed health benefits of milk have been exposed. The increasing evidence is damning.

Milk is a product of nature, and of course is hugely beneficial…if you are a baby cow. That is the creature that it’s designed for, after all:

“Everything in that white liquid – the hormones, the lipids, the proteins, the sodium, the growth factors…are all there to start that calf growing into a great big cow…Whether you pour it on your cereal, churn it into butter, curdle it into yogurt, ferment it into cheese, or add sugar and freeze it to make ice cream… It’s baby calf growth fluid!” (Dr Michael Klaper)

Humans are the only species that takes the breast milk from one species to feed another:  our own. For the sake of your own health, and that of your children, it is time to quit this bovine-elixir, and turn to food products that we are actually designed to eat, and in the process, live a happier, healthier life.

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Jack Canfield’s ‘The Success Principles 10 Day Transformation’. Day 3

Day 3 of ‘The Success Principles 10 Day Transformation’. I didn’t do so well yesterday as one of the goals I set for myself was to get an article written for a magazine that has been sitting around, unworked for two weeks. I should have done it, and I didn’t. No excuses. But, I got up this morning, finished the article and sent it off. So I don’t feel too bad about it now.

But what does Day 3 have in store?

Blame. It’s easy to blame others for the circumstances of our lives. I’ve done it plenty of times. I still do. I blamed my parents for not having enough money to be able to provide the opportunites that others had. I blamed a friend who encouraged me into the teaching profession, for wasting a signficant part of my life that did not allow me to live to my potential. I blamed the college timetable, when I was 16 years old, for not allowing me to study and thus pursue my writing career, and for pushing me in a direction that I didn’t want to go in.

Too often in life, we put the blame somewhere outside of ourselves, for our circumstances. but our circumstances are what we have and we have to deal with them the best way we can. We need to make positive choices, given our circumstances, to bring as much happiness and security and love that we can into our own lives, without harming others.

E+R=O is the way Jack puts it. Event + Response = Outcome.

We may have no control over the event (someone shouts at you, the weather is bad, an earthquake happens, your wife leaves you), but we do have control over our response (we get upset or send love to the person that shouted, we get wet or take an umbrella with us when it rains, we look at our destroyed home or pick up our lives and go help those in need, we sit and feel sad or try to solve the problems we had in our marriage). Whatever choice we make, leads to the outcome. The outcome is entirely dependent on the Event and the Response. The bit we are in control of 100%, is the Response.

So here are some claiming back blame points that I made in this exercise:

1/ Whenever I feel let down by parents lack of money to provide me with the opportunities earlier in my life, I will send them love and understanding that they were doing the very best they could, with what they had at the time.

2/ Whenever I feel resentment for being encouraged into the life of a school-teacher, I will reflect on the fact that this is now the past, and I have a great new opportunity to build the life that I wish for.

3/ When the job that I was promised fell through, instead of blaming the school, I will be enthusiastic about the opportunity I now to build a new career, in the direction that I wish to go in.

Blaming doesn’t help, ever. Seeing circumstances as opportunities is the only way forward. Sitting and blaming others, the government, the weather, the tax system, the economy, doesn’t help. Taking them for what they are: opportunities to correct our own thinking does.

I will be back with Day 4 tomorrow.



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Jack Canfield’s ‘The Success Principles 10 Day Transformation’. Day 2

Day two of my experiment with Jack Canfield’s ‘The Success Principles Transformation’ programme. I just got the email from Jack and there is a video to watch. But he asks a question first:

What would you say is the #1 thing that’s holding you back from achieving your biggest goals and desires?

  • An unsupportive boss or coworker?
  • The economy?
  • Your spouse?
  • Your health?
  • A lack of time, resources, skills or knowledge?

So before I watch the video, here is my answer to Jack’s question:

The thing that I feel is holding me back, is my own fear of failure when the going gets tough. It is self-doubt. It’s giving up when the going gets tough, instead of persevering against the odds. 

Okay, let’s see what Jack has to say.

Day 2. It’s time to take responsibility for my own life. I can’t argue with that. It’s me all along. At least I have the ability to self-reflect enough to have figured that out. Well done me. So my first step is to read Chapter 1 of Jack’s ‘Success Principles’ book: Take 100% Responsibility for your Life.

“Everything you experience in life—both internally and externally—is the result of how you have responded to a previous event.

Event: You are given a $400 bonus.

Response: You spend it on a night on the town with friends.

Outcome: You are broke.

Event: You are given a $400 bonus.

Response: You invest it in your mutual fund.

Outcome: You have an increased net worth.

You have control over only three things in your life—the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior). How you use these three things determines everything you experience.” page 9 – Jack Canfield, ‘The Principles of Success’.

There’s a worksheet to go through today.


Task 1 is to fill in column one with the targets and goals I set yesterday. These are:

  1. Be in a successful and loving relationship.
  2. Be living back in the UK a lot more, in a bigger house.
  3. Get my second book, a novel, published (my first book is here: Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom).
  4. To be making a living from teaching others how to improve their lives and developing themselves spiritually.
  5. To be a successful freelance writer, with a regular magazine column in a UK magazine, along with being published in various other magazines and journals around the world.

Task 2 is to fill in column two with all the excuses I make for not achieving the above. So one at a time, being as honest with myself as I can.

Task 3 is to write down all the ways in which I have played a role in creating the situation that I’m in.

Task 4 is to list the ways that I could fix the problem.

So I have done all of that and identified three things that I can do this week to get the ball rolling. Firstly to make a dedicated time slot for my novel writing, that is inviolable, secondly to look for some work, even if part time back in the UK and thirdly to get the article written this week that I promised to write for Identity magazine.

So I have my goals for this week. And that exercise gives me enough time for the rest of today, to get on with the third of those targets.

I will be back tomorrow with Day 3 of Jack’s programme.


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