Archives for posts with tag: London

Hi all:

My break away from the blog is coming to an end, but as today I was travelling back to internet land, I decided to share a review of one of the books I’ve managed to read while I was away (I’ve done a fair amount of reading so I’ll keep sharing some of the reviews for the books I’ve read regularly). And hopefully the regular features and other things should be coming up soon.

You might remember I shared the review for the book The Eagle in Splendour about Napoleon’s court not very long ago and I told you I was hoping to read more books by the same publishing company I.B. Tauris. When I saw the book The Georgian Menagerie and read the description, I knew I had to read it. And I was right. Here I leave you the review and my heartfelt recommendation.

The Georgian Menagerie by Christopher Plumb

The Georgian Menagerie by Christopher Plumb

My thanks to I.B. Tauris & Co. and Net Galley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fascinating book. I’m one of those people who find the history of the good and great all very well but I’m more interested in what everybody else and society at large was up to while the battles and big political debates took place. And the more curious the topic and the angle used to shine a light on an era, the better.

Christopher Plumb’s choice of topic works well on many levels. Most of us have been fascinated by animals when we were children (and into adult life, whether we admit it or not), and the more exotic to us, the better. Imagining a period in history when many westerners would have never seen a parrot, a kangaroo, or a lion, might be difficult now, but it wasn’t all that long ago. The circumstances of the exhibition and sale of many of these animals provide a fascinating insight into human curiosity, enterprise, and society. And it goes from the Royals to the people who would manage to get a few shillings to pay for a ticket to see the latest attraction. If not everybody could afford their own aviary or menagerie at home, towards the end of the era canaries were affordable by many. The topic is well-researched, with beautiful illustrations of the period, references and footnotes for those interested in further enquiry, but it never becomes arid or tedious. This is not a list of sources and data. The era, the personalities of the merchants, anatomists, and even the animals are brought to life through anecdotes, fragments of poems, songs, newspaper articles, letters…Although readers might not share the point of view and feelings of the people of the period, it’s easy to imagine being there and looking on.

We learn about the uses of bear grease, civet as perfume, turtle feasts as symbols of power, eels and sexuality, parrots and jokes about women, Queen Charlotte’s zebras and the jokes to follow, the prices of animals and tickets in relation to salaries, the opinions of the general population about their monarchs, sexual mores and allusions, famous elephants, sickly giraffes, lions roaring in London’s Strand, the Tower of London menagerie, and how all changed with the arrival of the Zoological Garden at Regent’s Park. Christopher Plumb draws interesting conclusions (or rather guides the reader to notice certain things) that emphasise how the external manifestations of human nature might change, but at heart, perhaps we aren’t that different from our ancestors and we’re not as enlightened and modern as we’d like to think.

This book can be enjoyed by all readers, even if they don’t know much about the Georgian period of English history (also referred in the book as the long eighteenth century), but I think it will be an invaluable resource to anybody studying or researching the era, as it provides vast amounts of background and information (without seemingly doing so) from an unexpected angle, and many of the anecdotes could become full stories in themselves. Vividly described, each chapter can be read individually for specific research purposes, but I feel the whole is much more than the sum of its parts.

A book that will keep me thinking for a long time.

Although I read an e-book version, the links are to the hardback edition, as the final e-book version is not available yet.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1784530840/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784530840/

Thanks so much to Christopher Plumb for his book, to I.B. Tauris and Net Galley for providing me an advance copy, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, and CLICK! And thanks for your patience!

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I bring you new books. This one I’d had on my list to share for a while, but I was determined to read it and include the review in the post too. And finally, its turn has come. Today I share a fascinating book:

Chaos is come again by John Dolan and Fiona Quinn. My digital version has a different cover but...

Chaos is come again by John Dolan and Fiona Quinn. My digital version has a different cover but…

“Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul But I do love thee! And when I love thee not Chaos is come again.” Sean hears voices in his head. Travis snorts cocaine. Teagan thinks she’s the next Lady Gaga. Avery has the boss from Hell, and a mother with dementia. And Goose wants to catch a serial killer. ‘Chaos Is Come Again’ is a psychological suspense, a mystery and a love story, loaded with irreverent humour and viewed through the lens of obsession. WARNING: Contains references to Judas Iscariot, a dwarf, and a performing monkey.

I think the description will probably give you a fair idea of what’s to come, but here is my take on the matter:

The publishing business, murders and madness

I have read and love the three books (so far) in the series Time, Blood and Karma by John Dolan. I know Fiona Quinn from her fantastic blog (I recommend it to anybody interested in writing thrillers. I had the pleasure of being one of her guests). And I was very intrigued by their collaboration. If any more encouragement were needed, the reviews were great too.

I had read interviews about the process involved in writing the novel and I wondered how it would have worked in reality, as it sounded fairly complicated.

Given all that I had been looking forward with trepidation to reading the novel and it did not disappoint.

The novel is seamless. I could not pick up parts that I fell were more likely to have been written by either author (I might have my theories, but nothing stood out), and once I got into the story that was no longer important.

The novel has two main protagonists: Sean, a young Englishman, a barista diagnosed with schizophrenia and with a violent incident in his past that weights heavy in his mind (although we’re never given any details), and Avery, an American woman, a literary agent burdened with a mother suffering from dementia, and whose difficulties provide at times light entertainment and at others add poignancy to the proceedings.

The two storylines: life in the literary world, a woman’s point of view, friends and chocolate cakes; and London’s gritty life, anxiety and self-doubt, together with a writer with a penchant for scandal (some would say blasphemous), an aspiring poet/singer and girlfriend with no evident redeeming qualities, and a mysterious serial killer, create as many plot threads as any eager reader would wish for (possibly even more).

Social media (Twitter in particular) helps bring the two protagonists together and reels us into a thriller/romance, with a disquietingly open ending.

It’s dynamic, flows well although the rhythm varies according to whose point of view we’re seeing the story from, and with its mixture of characters and likable central duo it’s difficult not to find somebody to root for.

This is a book for readers who like to explore outside established genres and don’t mind open endings. I’m not sure die-hard thriller fans would approve but writers will have a chuckle. I did.

Here is where you can get it:

Paperback:   http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Come-Again-John-Dolan/dp/0957325665/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Come-Again-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B00OSP0AGW/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chaos-Come-Again-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B00OSP0AGW/

Thanks to John and Fiona for their book, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know the drill, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, and above all, read and review!

Today as all Fridays (although we’ll take a break to bring you some Christmas specials during the festive period) I bring you a guest author. This time is a classic that I think most of us will be familiar with (and especially with her characters): Beatrix Potter.

There is plenty of information about her on the internet. I leave you a short biography and links to more information about her and her works.

BP with rabbit

Biography:

Helen Beatrix Potter was born on the 28th July 1866 in London (South Kensington). Both her grandparents had been industrialists in the cotton business (in the Manchester area) and her parents were quite wealthy and followers of the Unitarian faith. Her father was a barrister and amateur photographer and her mother enjoyed embroidery and drawing. They were both interested in the arts and encouraged Beatrix and her younger brother, Walter Bertram, in the pursuit of their artistic interests. She was educated at home by private governesses, and she and her brother spent time studying, drawing and taking art lessons and observing and playing with their pet animals. The best know of her governesses, Annie Moore, taught her German and was only 3 years older than her, becoming also her companion. They corresponded throughout the years and Beatrix sent her children (particularly Noel, who was often ill as a child) illustrated letters and tales to keep them entertained. Many of these letters would later become some of her best known children’s books. Her family used to go on holidays to the countryside, often visiting Scotland (Perthshire) and later the Lake District. She developed a love for the area and for the countryside, well reflected in her best known works.

2009cr7471_beatrix_potter_and_parents_290x290

She studied art privately and took exams, although preferred to develop her own style and favoured watercolours. She did illustrations of animals, insects, fossils and fungi, and one of her articles on fungi reproduction was presented to the Royal Society, but due to being an amateur (and also a woman) her findings were ignored. She had some success illustrating cards, and after encouragement she published privately the illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901) that was published by Frederick Warne & Co a year later as a small three-colour illustrated book. She became engaged (unofficially, as her parents disapproved) to Norman Warne, her editor, in 1905, but he died suddenly of leukemia.

Despite this loss and from the proceeds of her books and a legacy from an aunt she bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a small village in the Lake District, near Ambleside, in the same year. Over the following decades she bought a number of farms nearby, as she had become interested in conservationism and become friendly with one of the founders of the National Trust, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley.

She continued to write and illustrate children stories for Warne & Co and as early as 1903 she made and patented a Peter Rabbit doll and followed with many other related items (you will find all kind of merchandise related to her stories and characters, from pottery, bedding, dolls…).

Beatrix Potter and her husband William Heelis ...

Beatrix Potter and her husband William Heelis on their wedding day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1913, aged 47, she married William Heelis, a local solicitor. She became a celebrated breeder of Herdwick sheep and died on 22nd December 1943 at her home near Sawrey, aged 77, leaving most of her property to the National Trust (and that included her flock of Herdwick sheep). To her credit is the preservation of much of the land that is now the Lake District National Park.

There have been a number of adaptations of her books, to songs, films, ballets, and there are also movies about her own life, like Miss Potter (2006, Dir: Chris Noonan, with Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor).

The Gallery

The Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Links:

Gorgeous website (it includes information on visits to the World of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District):

http://www.peterrabbit.com/en/beatrix_potter/beatrixs_life

In Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrix_Potter

The Beatrix Potter society:

http://www.beatrixpottersociety.org.uk/

The page of the Beatrix Potter Gallery in the National Trust:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatrix-potter-gallery/

Very appropriately ‘Visit Cumbria’ dedicates a page to Beatrix Potter:

http://www.visitcumbria.com/beatrix-potter/

She also has a page at the Victoria and AlbertMuseum website:

http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/b/beatrix-potter/

Their biography is also very good and has excellent photographs:

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/biography-beatrix-potter/

Beatrix Potter’s Garden in Perthshire:

http://www.perthshire.co.uk/index.asp?pg=231

Her page at the Tate:

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/helen-beatrix-potter-1794

Beatrix Potter in You Tube:

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3887DA12301CFBEA

It seems the Japanese also love Potter:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-24625202

Her house is now Grade II listed building:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10289561/Beatrix-Potters-summer-home-preserved-with-Grade-II-listed-status.html

Her page in IMDB (movies and cartoons based on her stories and some about her):

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0693229/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Benjamin Bunny

Benjamin Bunny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Works:

This is the author’s page in Amazon. I suspect that due to the illustrations the books are not free on this site although some are very cheap.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beatrix-Potter/e/B001HCRWI8/

Free books by Beatrix Potter in Project Guttenberg (there are 25 including two in audio format):

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/292

Here in e-pubbud:

http://www.epubbud.com/search.php?q=Beatrix%20Potter

Many thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, don’t forget to like, share, comment, and of course CLICK!

And as preparation and winding down for Christmas, from next week I’ll be reviewing and reposting some of the most visited posts.

beatrix-potter-museum-christmas

beatrix-potter-museum-christmas (Photo credit: JT Graphics)

Hi all: Like all Fridays I bring you a classic author. I think she’s a new classic, although to our minds she’s a true classic and the world of crime fiction wouldn’t be the same without her.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (born Miller) was born in Torquay, Devon, in an Upper-Middle-Class family on 15th September 1890. Her mother was an Englishwoman born in Belfast and her father an American. She was home-schooled and she loved reading from a very young age. She spent most of her childhood travelling between Devon, London (to visit her step-grandmother and aunt), and on holidays in the South of Europe. It seems her family, although nominally Christian, had an interest in paranormal phenomena and they believed their mother, Clara, was a medium. Her father died when she was 11 of a heart attack (he was in poor health and had suffered from cardiac problems for some time). She was sent to Paris for education and attended three different schools.

When she came back to England in 1910 her mother was ill and they travelled together to Egypt, Cairo. On return to England she started writing some stories and a novel, although this was rejected. She met her first husband, Archibald (‘Archie’) Christie, at a dance. He had been born in India and joined the Air Force. During WWI he was sent to fight in France. Agatha got involved in the war effort and she got married to Archie on Christmas Eve in 1914. By 1918 he had become a colonel and was posted back in London.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her first novel was The Mysterious Affair at Styles featuring Hercules Poirot. It was rejected by several publishers but finally published by The Bodley Head when she agreed to change the ending. She entered in a contract with them (that later she would find exploitative). She had long been a fan of crime novels, like Wilkie Collins’s and also those of my guest last week, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

She had a daughter in 1919 (Rosalynd). Her next novel was in 1922 The Secret Adversary with a new detective, Tommy and Tuppence, and alter another Poirot novel Murder on the Links (1923). To promote the British Empire Exhibition she travelled extensively with her husband leaving her daughter with her mother and sister. It seems they were amongst the first Britons to surf standing in Hawaii.

In 1926 her husband asked her for the divorce as he had fallen in love with the secretary  (yes, I know it’s like the plot of a bad romantic novel; I guess it happens in real life too). They quarrelled, she left a note for the secretary saying she was going to Yorkshire and went missing in strange circumstances. There was public outrage, she was searched everywhere (even Doyle gave her glove to a medium…). After 10 days she appeared in a spa-hotel in Harrogate (to give her her due, it’s in Yorkshire, lovely place and very popular for waters and spas, and posh). She was registered at the hotel as ‘Mrs Teresa Neele’ from Cape Town. She never explained her disappearance and there has been much speculation about it. Trying to get back at her husband? Psychogenic fugue?

They eventually divorced in 1928 and she always kept the name for her writing.

She married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist, in 1930 and their marriage lasted until her death in 1976. She travelled extensively with him.

She set most of her novels in familiar places. Middle East, that she visited with her husband, Devon, Abner-Hall, owned by her brother-in-law James Watts, she wrote Murder at the Orient Express in Istambul where they were staying, near the southern terminus of the railway.

During WWII she worked in the Pharmacy at University College London and she learned about poisons that she would put to good use in later novels. She was investigated by MI5 who suspected she might have a spy in their code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, as she names one of her characters Bletchley, but it seems that was not the case.

She was appointed Commander of the Order of British Empire in 1956, in 1976 she became Dame Commander of the same order, three years after her husband had been knighted for his archaeological work.

From 1971 to 1974 she started to become ill and signed the rights of The Mousetrap to her grandson.

She died on 12th January 1976 (she was 85) of natural causes and is buried at St Mary’s, Chorley.

Miss Marple first appeared in 1927 and it seems that she wrote the final novel of both Poirot and Marple many years in advance, keeping them in a vault and only publishing them in 1974 when she realised she could no longer write.

She became interested in archaeology in later life (probably in relation to her husband’s work) and it features prominently in many novels.

 

Links:

Official website:

http://www.agathachristie.com/

Wikipedia (fairly comprehensive including list of adaptations to TV and film):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie

Her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialAgathaChristie

Biography.com:

http://www.biography.com/people/agatha-christie-9247405

Her Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/123715.Agatha_Christie

Her holiday home, Geenway, now a National Trust property:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway/

For links to adaptations of her work, IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002005/

In Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Agatha-Christie/e/B000APENBC

Links to books:

In her case she’s a classic but a bit more modern than my previous guests, so I could find very cheap versions of her work, but most still in copyright. Of course you’ll find her in charity shops, libraries, second hand bookshops…I did find websites offering many of her novels in e-book format for free but as this should be pirate copies I decided not to share them.

Project Gutenberg offers only her two first novels here (that are now not on copyright any longer):

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/451

I promise I’ll go back to older classics, but couldn’t talk about Doyle and forget Christie…

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you have, please, like, share, comment, and click!

Agatha Christie's Poirot

Agatha Christie’s Poirot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi all:

I wanted to tell you a bit about what I’ve been doing over the last few days. I went on holiday to see my parents, in Barcelona, but when I came back I attended a retreat organised by Dr Russell Razzaque, a consultant psychiatrist who works in a PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) in London. The retreat took place at the Carmelite Priory in Oxfordshire (a lovely and secluded place with great views of Oxford), and its remit was to offer training to a number (26 plus the organiser) of psychiatrists on Mindfulness.

The grand Meditation Hall of the Burmese Buddh...

The grand Meditation Hall of the Burmese Buddhist Temple, Singapore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia (yes, I know, but’s it’s a brief definition):

Mindfulness as a psychological concept is the focusing of attention and awareness, based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. It has been popularised in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Despite its roots in Buddhism, mindfulness is often taught independently of religion.

Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people suffering from a variety of psychological conditions, and research has found therapy based on mindfulness to be effective, particularly for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology)

I had been reading about Mindfulness, even tried some of the guided meditation audios provided on-line, but found it a bit difficult to make full sense of it by myself, or get any idea of how well, or badly, I was doing.

Although there’s a growing body of research on the use of Mindfulness (and Mindfulness based therapies, like Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy and Acceptance Cognitive Therapy) as a therapeutic approach, I must confess I was more interest in it for its own effects on myself, or in recognisable parlance for my own ‘professional development’.

We had a number of talks and instructions as to what Mindfulness was or could do, but most of the stay was focused on practice. We had 24 hours of silence (including not only not talking to each other, but not reading, writing, using the phone, social networking or any other ways of communicating), and engaged in plenty of exercises of meditation, including sitting meditation, standing meditation, and walking meditation (that as quite a few participants noted, and I also thought, because you walk very slowly backwards and forward in the same stretch it makes you look like a very slow zombie), mindful observation (observing a raisin for 5 minutes and then eating it and trying to notice all flavours, sensations, texture in another five minutes) and mindful eating.

The focus (as I understand it, and as you see I’m no expert) of mindful meditation is the breathing. You focus on your own breathing, or a particular part of your breathing (we were trying to focus on our abdominal breathing and a particular point of the abdomen) and whilst meditating, every times thoughts came to our heads, we acknowledge them, let them go, and focus back on the breathing. It is a mode of acceptance. Yes, we have thoughts, and we might be distracted by them, but should not feel bad about it. It’s normal, it’s natural; we contemplate the phenomenon and go back to the breathing.

It is an attempt to try and swift the balance we have of allowing our rational and conscious mind to take over, with its worries, its anxieties, etc. One of the quotations I liked (not sure I can live by it but…) is: ‘thinking is overrated’. We might have silly, bizarre or weird thoughts, but they are not all we are. We are the context and the thoughts live within, like fishes in the sea (we’d be the sea), or passengers in a bus (we’re the bus and our thoughts the passengers).

We started the sessions with 10 minutes meditation sessions that increased up to 20 minutes and we would do the three types of meditation in a row; we would be doing periods of 1 hour by the end of the second day.

How did it feel? Well, I don’t know. Thoughts come to your head, but you are just supposed to contemplate them and let them go, and it’s Ok if you get distracted, you just go back to your breathing and acknowledge that happened. There’s no judgement of that being good or bad. Not easy to do. Or rather, yes, after a while you might get better at letting the thoughts go and trying and focus on the body and sensations. It’s a very strange feeling and I understand it takes practice.

I can’t say if it’s for me or not. Russell’s advice is that before you can recommend it to other people (Mindfulness itself, other techniques based in it might be useful and can be run without that much experience) you should be a seasoned practitioner yourself, and his suggestion was to make meditation a routine, and if we manage to keep going for 100 days in a row, then we can consider ourselves practitioners. I guess like other things that become habits, it requires commitment. I have started with it, downloaded an App: called Insight Timer (www.insightimer.com) that allows you to not only keep a log of your own meditation but also connect with other people and I’m intending to have a go. I’ll keep you posted, but as a concept I found it very interesting and can see how it could be helpful to some people.

For more information about the organisation that Dr Russell Razzaque has created, check here:

www.mindfulcollege.com

Although it has mental health practitioners in mind, it offers interesting information about therapeutic uses, where to go for retreats, research…so have a look!

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it or are interested (or have plenty of experience that want to share) please, like, comment, and share!

Zazen cushion used by Soto-zen school.

Zazen cushion used by Soto-zen school. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hola a todos:

Quería contaros un poco acerca de lo que he estado haciendo en los últimos días. Me fui de vacaciones a ver a mis padres, en Barcelona, pero cuando regresé asistí a un retiro organizado por el Dr. Russell Razzaque , un psiquiatra que trabaja en una Unidad de Cuidados Psiquiátricos Intensivos en Londres. El retiro tuvo lugar en el Convento Carmelita en Oxfordshire (un lugar encantador y aislado con excelentes vistas de Oxford), y su misión era ofrecer formación a un número (26, más el organizador) de psiquiatras en Mindfulness. No sé exactamente cuál sería la traducción más correcta al español. Ser ‘mindful’ es prestar atención a algo o alguien. Mind, es mente en inglés. Así que supongo que Mindfulness sería tener una actitud de prestar atención, y la idea es prestar atención al momento actual y no quedarse atascado en pensamientos y cosas que nos distraen del aquí y ahora.

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

De acuerdo con Wikipedia (sí, lo sé, pero es que es una definición breve) :

Mindfulness como concepto psicológico es la concentración de la atención y la conciencia, basada en el concepto de la atención (Mindfulness) en la meditación budista. Fue popularizado en Occidente por Jon Kabat -Zinn. A pesar de sus raíces en el budismo, Mindfulness se enseña a menudo independientemente de la religión.

La psicología clínica y la psiquiatría desde 1970 han desarrollado una serie de aplicaciones terapéuticas basadas en la atención plena (Mindfulness) para ayudar a las personas que sufren de una variedad de trastornos psicológicos, y la investigación ha encontrado evidencia de que tales terapias pueden ser útiles, particularmente para gente que sufre de ansiedad, depresión y estrés.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology)

Yo había estado leyendo sobre Mindfulness , incluso probé a seguir algunos de los audios de meditación guiada disponibles en línea , pero me pareció un poco difícil llegar a comprender el concepto por mí misma, o saber como de bien o mal lo estaba haciendo. (Ahora sé que no se puede hacer mal y distraerse es normal).

Aunque hay un número creciente de estudios sobre el uso de Mindfulness (y las terapias basadas en ella, como Terapia Cognitiva basada en Mindfulness y Terapia Cognitiva de Aceptación) como enfoque terapéutico, debo confesar que estaba más interesada en ella por los posibles efectos en mí misma, vamos, para ayudarme en mi ‘desarrollo profesional y personal’.

Tuvimos una serie de charlas e instrucciones sobre lo que podía conseguirse usando Mindfulness, pero la mayor parte de la estancia se centró en la práctica. Pasamos 24 horas en silencio ( incluyendo no sólo no hablar entre nosotros, sino que tampoco podíamos leer, escribir, usar el teléfono, las redes sociales o cualquier otras forma de comunicación) , y participamos en un montón de ejercicios de meditación , incluyendo meditación sentados , de pie y la meditación caminando (que un buen número de participantes observaron , y yo también pensé, porque caminas muy lentamente hacia atrás y hacia adelante en el mismo tramo, que debíamos tener pinta de zombis a cámara lenta), Mindful observación (observando una pasa por 5 minutos y después pasarnos cinco minutos comiéndola, intentando notar todos los sabores, sensaciones, texturas) y también comer de acuerdo con los principios de Mindfulness.
El foco (como yo lo entiendo , y como veis no soy ninguna experta ) de este tipo de meditación es la respiración . Te concentras en tu respiración, o una parte determinada de la respiración (nosotros tratábamos de concentrarnos en la respiración abdominal y en un punto del abdomen en particular) y al mismo tiempo meditas. Cada veces que pensamientos nos vienen a la cabeza, los reconocemos y los dejamos ir (como si fueran globos),  en lugar de seguirles la corriente. Es un modo de aceptación. Sí, tenemos pensamientos, y nos pueden distraer, pero no debemos sentirnos mal por ello. Es normal, es natural, contemplamos el fenómeno y volvemos a concentrarnos en la respiración. Es un intento [pr tratar de cambiar el dominio que tiene nuestra mente racional y consciente sobre nuestro ser, con su empeño en ponerse a cargo de nuestras emociones y acciones, con sus preocupaciones, sus angustias, etc. Una de las citas que me gustó (aunque no estoy segura de que puedo vivir de acuerdo con ella) es: “los pensamiento están sobrevalorados”. Puede ser que tengamos pensamientos tontos, extraños o raros, pero eso no significa que nosotros seamos raros o tontos. Nosotros somos el contexto y los pensamientos viven en el interior, como los peces en el mar (nosotros seríamos el mar), o los pasajeros de un autobús (nosotros somos el autobús y los pensamientos serían los pasajeros).

Empezamos con sesiones de 10 minutos de meditación que aumentaron hasta 20 minutos y como hacíamos los tres tipos de meditación uno detrás de otro eso resultó en períodos de 1 hora al final del segundo día.
¿Cómo me sentí? Bueno, no lo sé. Los pensamientos te vienen a la cabeza, pero se supone que sólo tienes que contemplarlos y dejarlos ir, y no pasa nada si te distraes, te vuelves a concentrar en tu respiración después de contemplar el pensamiento. No tienes que juzgar lo que ha pasado y decidir que lo has hecho mal. En práctica, no es fácil de hacer. O mejor dicho, sí, después de un tiempo es posible mejorar y se hace más fácil dejar que los pensamientos se vayan, e intentar centrarse en el cuerpo y las sensaciones físicas. Da una impresión muy extraña y entiendo por qué se necesita práctica.
No puedo decir si es para mí o no. El consejo de Russell es que antes de poder recomendarlo a otras personas (Mindfulness de por sí, otras técnicas basadas en ella podrían ser útiles y se pueden ejecutar sin mucha experiencia personal), el profesional debe experimentarlo por sí mismo, y su sugerencia fue la meditar cada día y si logramos practicarla durante 100 días seguidos, entonces podemos considerarnos practicantes experimentados. Supongo que al igual que otras cosas que se convierten en hábitos, requiere comprometerse y ser constante. He empezado con la meditación, he descargado una aplicación que se llama Timer Insight (www.insightimer.com) que te permite no sólo llevar un registro de tu propia meditación , sino también conectarte con otras personas que estén meditando. Yo he decidido intentarlo y ver cómo va. Os mantendré informados, pero como concepto me pareció muy interesante e intuitivamente entiendo cómo podría ser útil para algunas personas.

Para obtener más información acerca de la organización que el Dr. Russell Razzaque ha creado, visitad este enlace:

www.mindfulcollege.com

Aunque está creada pensando en profesionales de salud mental en ella ofrece información interesante sobre sus usos terapéuticos, a dónde ir para formarse, investigación…Echad un vistazo ! (En inglés, aunque estoy segura de que podéis encontrar equivalentes en español).

Gracias por leer, y si lo habéis disfrutado o estáis interesados (o tenéis un montón de experiencia que queráis compartir), por favor, ¡dadle al me gusta, comentad y compartid!

An aerial view of Oxford city centre, showing ...

An aerial view of Oxford city centre, showing some of the spires that give the city its nickname. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you well know I like to bring you classic authors on Fridays. This time I thought I’d bring you a mother and daughter. Although unfortunately Mary Wollstonecraft died when her daughter (also Mary) was only a few days old (I’ve read 10 or 11) the two make a very interesting combination. Both are interesting women, both broke conventions (in the case of the mother, in particular, that haunted her reputation for years, even centuries, to come) and both are examples of the will to be yourself and to discover your own gifts and create yourself.

Writing in the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecra...

Writing in the 18th century, Mary Wollstonecraft is often hailed as the founder of liberal feminism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Wollstonecraft.

There are many detailed biographies and I won’t attempt to give you all the details of her fascinating (although short, she died of puerperal fever at 38) life. I’ve left you some links but feel free to investigate by yourself.

She was born in London, in April 27th 1759. Her father has been described as violent (there are mentions of Mary sleeping across the door of her mother’s bedroom to prevent her father from beating her up) and very poor at managing his financial affairs and that resulted in the family having to move often. Her mother died in 1780 and she decided to earn a livelihood, not easy for a woman of a certain class and education at the time (as we’ve noted before, working class women have always worked. Women in rural areas have always worked in the fields apart from work at home.). With her sister Eliza (who had left her husband and child encouraged by Mary) and fried Fanny, they established s school in Newington Green (1784). Based on her experiences there she wrote a pamphlet called Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787).

When her close friend Fanny died (in 1785), Wollstonecraft went to work as a governess in Ireland. Although the children of the family really loved her she did not enjoy the job and never got on well with lady Kingsborough, taking her as a model of the worst of aristocratic women, only interested in their appearances, vanity and status. She went back to London three years later and started working with Joseph Johnson, helping him set the Analytical Review, and becoming a regular contributor. She wrote one of her best-known works A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792. She denounced the position of women in society advocating for them to have access to the same educational opportunities as men (she also advocated for women’s vote).

In the same year whilst visiting a friend in France (it was the time of the French Revolution and many English intellectuals visited) she met Captain Gilbert Imlay, an American timber merchant. They started living together although they never got married and she had a daughter to him, Fanny. The relationship was fraught with problems and she visited Scandinavia in an attempt at keeping the relationship going, although he left her. She wrote: Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark that became her most popular book of the time. She tried to commit suicide twice (once by drowning jumping into the Thames, the other one possibly by Laudanum poisoning).

Back in London she met again William Godwin, founder of philosophical anarchism. Although both were against marriage, they did get married when she got pregnant. She had a baby girl, Mary, but had a difficult labour (18 hours) and the manual removal of the placenta resulted in infection and she died a few days later (10th of September 1797).

Godwin published her unfinished work Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, where she gave voice to a prostitute and also acknowledged female sexual desire, a scandal at the time. He also wrote a biography giving a detailed account of her life, including her suicide attempts and having had a child whilst unmarried and that gave prominence to the scandal rather than to a serious view of her work. In more recent times her work has been greatly vindicated by the interest of feminist historians and also philosophers and educationalists.  

 

Links to Mary Wollstonecraft:

In Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wollstonecraft

BBC History:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/wollstonecraft_01.shtml

Spartacus Educational:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wwollstonecraft.htm

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wollstonecraft/

OregonState page and link to read A Vindication of the Rights of Women on line.

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/philosophers/wollstonecraft.html

Another link to  A Vindication of the Rights of Women

http://www.bartleby.com/people/Wollston.html

Free Links to her books and writings (See also above for internet links):

Vindication of the Rights of Women:

http://www.amazon.com/Vindication-Rights-Woman-ebook/dp/B004TP7JMO/

Letters on Sweden, Norway and Denmark:

http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Sweden-Norway-Denmark-ebook/dp/B004TP232U/

Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman

http://www.amazon.com/Maria-Wrongs-Woman-ebook/dp/B0083Z4KAK/

English: Cropped portrait of Mary Shelley

English: Cropped portrait of Mary Shelley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Born in London on 30th August 1797 (we know all about that). Her father William Godwin looked after her and Fanny (Mary’s first child by Imlay). Although it wasn’t a very formal education, her father had plenty of connections and she had access to interesting ideas and met some of the most brilliant thinkers and writers of the time when she was still very young (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth), including her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. She liked to read and daydream and also started writing at an early age.

Her father re-married Mary Jane Clairmont in 1801 but Mary never got on well with her step-mother. She had two children from a previous marriage and had a son with Godwin. Mary got on well with one of her stepsisters, Jane.

In the summer of 1812 she went to Scotland to stay with friends of her father, William Baxter and his family.

In 1814 (still very young) she started a relationship with Percy B. Shelley who had been a student of her father and was still married at that time. They ran away together accompanied by her stepsister (Jane Clairmont) and that alienated her from her father. They got married on 1816 when Shelley’s wife died (committed suicide).

They travelled through Europe and Mary lost two children. In 1816 during a summer when they were in Switzerland with Jane Clairmont, Lord Byron and John Polidori, on a rainy day and after reading ghost stories, famously Lord Byron suggested that each one of them should try and write their own horror story. Mary Shelley started writing Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. (I understand that Polidori wrote a vampire story…) The finished version was published in 1818. This was published anonymously. The book was a big success and as Percy Shelley had written the introduction many thought it was his.

Her relationship with Shelley was difficult, they lost two other children but she had a son, Percy Florence (1819) who lived to be an adult. Her husband drowned whilst sailing in 1822.

She had to support herself and did it by writing (that wasn’t very easy for a woman at the time). She wrote several novels, including a science-fiction book (The Last Man, a dystopian novel). She also dedicated herself to promote her husband’s work.

She died of a brain cancer on 1st February 1851. She is buried at St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth alongside her father, mother and the ashes of her husband’s heart.

William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin,...

William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, St Peter’s Churchyard, Bournemouth (Photo credit: Alwyn Ladell)

Frankenstein is and will remain her most famous work; it has an enduring hold on people’s imagination, and it has seen many adaptations, to theatre, TV, film…

Links to Mary Shelley:

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Shelley

New World Encyclopaedia:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mary_Shelley

Links to movies based on her writings:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0791217/

Biography.com page:

http://www.biography.com/people/mary-shelley-9481497 

 

Free Links to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s books:

Frankenstein:

http://www.amazon.com/Frankenstein-ebook/dp/B0084BN44Q/

Proserpine and Midas:

http://www.amazon.com/Proserpine-and-Midas-ebook/dp/B000JQUO92/

Mathilda:

http://www.amazon.com/Mathilda-ebook/dp/B00849RPGQ/

The Last Man:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Man-ebook/dp/B00847OOMG/

Thanks for reading. And don’t forget if you’ve enjoyed it to comment, share and CLICK!

I have an author guest today who will tell us all about her new novel. I came across her through my good friend Magda Olchawska and I’m eager to introduce her to all of you. Gladys Lawson had kindly offered us her biography, information about her novel ‘Blood Borne Connections’ and a candid interview about her career as a writer. Without further ado, I leave you with Gladys Lawson.

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Gladys Lawson –

Gladys Lawson currently lives in London and works as a microbiologist in pathology management and also volunteers as an inspirational mentor. She says, “I was greatly inspired by the need to tell a story where despite the evil displayed, good wins, good survives and good reaches out and makes a difference. The relationship between my different characters was something that I really enjoyed writing about.” She is currently working on her next book.

9781622126460-Perfect.indd

Blood Borne Connections

Synopsis

Blood Borne Connections is a fictional thriller about the Mafia, human sex trafficking, and the ability to survive against all odds.

When 15-year-old Tatiana leaves a Czechoslovakian orphanage with four other girls for a new start in America, they are promised a better life. Less than a month later, Tatiana and the others are forced into prostitution by sex traffickers. When a Mafia boss discovers some of his men are involved in sex trafficking children, he instigates a Mafia war to cleanse his organization and stop the trafficking. In the aftermath, people on both sides of the law are killed.
Blood Borne Connections takes the girls on a ride they never bargained for. Can their road to ruin turn into a journey of hope?

You can buy my book on:

Amazon US  http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Borne-Connections-Gladys-Lawson/dp/1622126467/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366652162&sr=1-1&keywords=Blood+Borne+Connections

Amazon UK -http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Borne-Connections-Gladys-Lawson/dp/1622126467/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366646369&sr=1-1&keywords=Blood+Borne+Connections

Publisher’s website http://sbpra.com/gladyslawson/

Interview:

When did you first start writing? Since 1997

What inspired you to write? Life. Things I have seen in people and places and things that I haven’t seen in people and places.

Have you always been intrigued or wanted to write a particular genre? No, I tend to mix murder, romance, suspense and fact together.

How did you come up with the idea for your newest/current project? Hearing about the injustice inflicted upon people exploited by sex traffickers and my interest in the mafia.

Do you write as a full time occupation? If no, do you think your everyday job provides you inspiration for writing or is it a necessary evil? No I do not yet write full time but soon will. I am a Pathology Laboratory Manager, a Microbiologist by training and I will always add a few scientific things in my books.

If you could meet any writer (or writers) in the history of literature (dead or alive) who would you choose? And why? Jane Austen, I love ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

What do you think about social media? Do you use it mostly as a promotional tool or is it an integral part of your life?
I use it regularly when I have the time.


Any tips for people thinking about writing/publishing?
Don’t give up. Follow your dream.


Tell me a new thing you have discovered recently that you think should be shared.
No matter what you are going through – Life is wonderful, a gift from God, enjoy it, embrace it and each day live it.

Tell me an old thing you’ve rediscovered that you think shouldn’t be forgotten. Remember the good times – they will keep you strong when things are not so good.

Glady’s blog: http://gladyslawson.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blood-Borne-Connections-book/121559344708084?ref=hl

Tweeter: https://twitter.com/Bloodborneconne

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmoKWHymspI

Thanks to Gladys for being such an interesting guest and thank to you for reading. And don’t forget to CLICK!

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