The fear of c a t s is real

I have an alarming aversion to c a t s and, if I catch a glimpse of one, the unfortunate people within the vicinity could become victims of an unforgettable (even psychologically damaging) experience when witnessing my reaction.

So it is with trepidation that I have accepted an invitation to the ‘unravelling of writers’ group meeting on 2nd May to work on the finer details of ‘the book wot we are writing’ collectively. The collective being current/past University of Hull students who are participating/have participated in the Creative Writing Honours Degree Course since 2004. The book celebrates the 55 writers (along with their tutors) who have been involved in the programme during its reign at the Scarborough Campus, which is now coming to an end.

The lovely hosts for the meeting have offered to place their two c a t s in the bedroom where they ‘should sleep for the duration’ they assure me (YES… TWO IN THE SAME PLACE AT ONCE! YIKES!).

I don’t want to put anyone out but I know I will be riddled with anxiety in case someone accidentally opens the bedroom door.  Asking people not to let the c a t s out (as opposed to ‘don’t let the dogs out’) is not something I can announce without attracting unhelpful and irrelevant comments such as, ‘aw, pussies are so lovely, why don’t you like them?’ Er, it’s not that I don’t like them; I’m simply terrified of them. Doesn’t anybody actually know what ‘phobia‘ means? (Please note the sarcastic emphasis of this rhetorical question.)

There is an alternative option available in that the lovely hosts have offered to ask their daughter to keep the c a t s for the day instead of using the bedroom solution. I feel this is going to be a big deal – eg, maybe she lives a million miles away? – and have said (against my gut instinct) that I can probably try to cope with them being in the bedroom, especially as two understanding friends have volunteered to be on ‘lookout‘ for me.

I really appreciate the support on this one. And before anyone comes rushing in with advice for a cure, believe me, I’ve been there already (yes, even those ‘cures’ advised in the link at the end of this post!)… with all attempts proving frighteningly unsuccessful. I have suffered some horrible c a t experiences that I would not care to repeat and I still have nightmares about them.

I have attempted to write about these incidents, on a number of occasions, as a sort of exorcism to enable me to achieve a more comfortable place of acceptance rather than a cure. To date, this has been unsuccessful. The writing has proved far too scary and instilled palpitations in me to the point of passing out. I can’t help thinking it’s such a waste of experience for me as a life memory fiction writer. The horror story potential of the material is remarkable, particularly for an audience of readers who will go to any lengths to avoid any form of contact with c a t s, like myself.

However, it is a step forward that I’ve been able to write this post and ‘come out’ in public as a c a t phobic when you think about it and, looking through one of my journals recently, I did find a first draft of a c a t story that deals with the origin of my phobia, so there is hope.

The story fits my criteria for life memory fiction but I find the content too awful to revisit – today at least. In the future, if I can edit and craft this story into a worthy piece of writing, it is a good indication that I am capable of reaching out to that more comfortable place of acceptance I mentioned earlier. It’s worth a try but don’t hold your breath.

I’ll keep you updated on it (if I can)… and also on how ‘the book wot we are writing’ at the ‘unravelling of writers’ group progresses (whether I make it to the meeting or not).

The fear of cats is real  (LINK WARNING FOR PHOBICS – CAT IMAGE ALERT!)

Which damn fool decided it was a good idea to put an image of a  c  a  t  in an article about the fear of  c  a  t  s ?

Daffodils of Shalom

On Holy Saturday night, a vase of daffodils surrounded by glowing candles was the focal centrepiece of the evening. Friends circle-danced around it in time to the meditative rhythmical melodies as harmonic voices sang songs of Shalom.

Later, I prepared the Sacred Space Prayer Corner at Burniston Church in readiness for Easter Day, placing the gift of daffodils from the dance as a central focus below the cross – to celebrate our risen Lord.

On Easter morning, as the scented narcissus filled the room with Shalom, the congregation’s joyous rhythmical melodies and harmonic voices rang out in praise and worship.

Easter Day 2016 Sacred Space

Doorstep Daffodils

Yesterday, I walked along the roadside taking in my turmoil of thoughts – the result of a traumatic few weeks’ events… and I prayed with each step to regain my peace of mind. I prayed for the return of that sacred space in my heart that brings me close to a spiritual presence. I didn’t notice it happening. I didn’t notice anything on my journey as I was intent in my prayer. I came to a bench where I decided to sit and wait for my bus into the busy town.

As I gazed at the green fields on each side of the road, a watered down sun appeared and its rays began to filter through – startling the green meadow into life. Horses trotted playfully across the wide open space facing me. The birds’ intense conversations filled the air and, in the distance, their songs welcomed in the morning.

My ears were deaf – dulled with age perhaps – to the occasional whoosh of a passing car, only noticed because, in their passing, my eyes were alerted to the daffodil-lined verges. I hadn’t noticed them before. How could I have missed such a display of yellow happiness dancing in the day as I’d walked that route moments before?

If I hadn’t stopped to sit and stare I would have missed all these things.

I gathered in the peace that I’d prayed for and, as the bus pulled in to the stop, I took the peace with me for the remainder of the day.

At the end of a perfect day, I arrived home to find an anonymous gift of daffodils on my doorstep.

With love and gratitude,


Doorstep Daffodils

Sacred Space at Lent

 Welcome to Sacred Space Prayer Station (Lent 2016)

Burniston Methodist Church, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

SS lent Week 1.201614th February – Purse of Betrayal
21st February – Bowl and Towel
28th February – Bread and Wine
6th March – The Whip
13th March – Crown and Robe
20th March – Palm Branches
24th March – Maundy Thursday
25th March – Good Friday
27th March – Easter Day

On Easter Day there will be a vase of water available in which you are invited to place a flower in celebration of our risen Lord.


Read about Jesus’ Betrayal, Arrest, Crucifixion, and Resurrection here (John 18:1 to John 20:31)


I’m Here and I’m Now

As someone who has always worked to deadlines, I’ve spent years struggling with learning how to live one day at a time but now I think I’ve finally got the knack. This has come about through a close relative’s attitude to her diagnosis of terminal illness and the example she is setting in living each day as it comes. I have been convinced that, without question, what’s important is ‘right here and right now’ and simply being in the present moment is the best place to be. The past is gone and the future’s to come. Why bother worrying about either of those? Therefore, I didn’t start the year with a heap of resolutions. Nor am I in my usual state of panic because I am only just, on the edge of the end of the month, penning a January blog.

I’d already decided at my November birthday (see blog 27 Nov 2015) that I had been doing too much since I retired in March, so I dropped those activities that made me feel like I was still ‘working’. For example, I came off the Committee for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle (though remain a member).

I believed that saying ‘no’ was to be a new mantra for me in 2016 but, as always, life had a different agenda and presented an obstacle to that last Thursday. The speaker for the next Writers’ Circle session had to cancel and I felt obliged to provide something for the members to come along to – seeing as it was me who had booked the speaker in the first place.

So much for saying ‘no’ then…

The next best thing to not saying ‘no’ is to look for damage limitation. With that in mind I reached for a reliable cliché and killed two birds with one stone, ie, the first exercise planned for the session is to write a blog of how your year is going so far.

Ta Da!

If you are in Scarborough on Tuesday next (2nd Feb) you are very welcome to join us. We meet at 7.15-9.15pm at Vernon Road Library, Scarborough. The meetings cost £2.50 (including refreshments) or £1.50 if you are a student or member.

The outline for the evening is as follows:

Bit of a blog talk from a personal perspective…
Sharing of blog/journal/diary entries (those who have done one).
Three quick warm-up exercises for ideas in gathering inspiration to kick-start a piece of writing.
From a selection of news stories to be given out on the night:
Choose one headline and write a blog/diary/journal entry using that headline as a subject
Choose a news story – rewrite it from the POV of one of the ‘characters’ as a blog/diary/journal entry.
Read and share the above (and any blog that’s come to fruition during the evening.)
Discuss the process/progress of the writing.


And so it is with enthusiasm that I embrace my new found inner peace and feeling of well-being as I continue to follow my relative’s example by enjoying being in each moment… whatever each moment holds for me as it encompasses the conception of living in the here and now.

With peaceful blessings to you all,


New Year’s Eve

The end of the year feels more like the end of my life as I know it. I am unable to engage with my in-depth writing on social media for the foreseeable future and will be using my private journal. I am too wounded to share.

I leave you with this thought:

It is better to come to the Lord in prayer with a heart full of love and no words than many words and an empty heart. 

Jesus bauble




1st Sunday of Advent

‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.’ (Psalm 37:7)

We think of Advent as a time to take stock of our faith journey – to see how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to grow. This year why not let go to let God decide what we’re waiting for – instead of having something of our own to contemplate. Therefore, instead of rushing around trying to be still long enough to think what it is we’re waiting for, let’s wait inside a silent prayer each day to listen to what God wants. In taking one day at a time through Advent in this way – like an Advent calendar not to be opened prematurely – we will not miss a single moment of the present day – a day that the Lord has made and given to us as a gift to enjoy with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.

Dear God, help us to find a silent space.

We say ‘amen’. Then we think again,
and instead of rushing away
to fill our day with this and that,
We stop. We sit. We wait. We stay
to listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of our life’s busy, noisy clock,
and your voice fills the silent space.

Dear God, help us to be still in the silent space.

We don’t say ‘amen’. We start again
because we don’t want to rush away
to fill our day with this and that.
We want to stop. To sit. To wait. To stay
and listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of our life’s busy, noisy clock,
as your voice fills our silent space.

Dear God, help us to listen in the silent space.

Dear God, help us to hear you in sacred silent spaces.

It’s time to claim back my butterflies

Since retiring in March, I’ve thrown myself headlong into various activities. I had many of these interests during my working life but, like so many new retirees, I thought I would have more spare time so added new interests to those. Hence, I have taken on so much that I am no longer enjoying my freedom from the routine of a working life. I realised this when I reached my birthday recently, a number that does look quite attractive, and took stock of myself. I looked at what I’d committed myself to and compared it to what I was actually enjoying. And it was a chance encounter with a friend that helped me reach a decision about taking drastic action to cut down on activities.

My friend’s name is Julie too – and she asked, ‘Julie, where have all your colourful butterflies gone?’ She went on to explain this as being the aura I usually carry around with me that she was so used to seeing and it is what makes me… well, me.

I thought about this some more when I got home and looked in the mirror. I looked tired and dull and there was definitely no sparkle. I’d confided in my friend about a stressful period I’d been going through in recent weeks and how I’d felt quite unwell, both physically and mentally, at times. She advised me to stop pleasing others and please myself more, to encourage my butterflies back. Looking in that mirror again, I think I saw what she saw: I was surrounded by dark moths that had taken my light and they were flying around me like prophesies of doom.

Over the next few days, as people made demands on my time, it finally came to a head with me reacting badly to a situation. I demonstrated traits of my character that I do not like. I knew I had to do something immediately. Once I’d made that decision, it was easier to sort out what I would keep and what I would let go, and I felt in control again.

At the moment I am honouring two commitments that end in mid-December, have dropped two things I am no longer enjoying, and I have two commitments to honour in early 2016. I feel refreshed knowing that after this I will have a clean canvas to work with. I have already started saying ‘no’ to things I’ve been asked to do that I really don’t want to do. And I owe it to myself and my butterflies to continue with that promise to myself.

At the Scarborough Writers’ Circle this week, one of the members led a session in celebration of Thanksgiving Day. The remit was to bring a piece of writing to read on the night illustrating the subject of ‘giving thanks’ by way of our own interpretation of that.

This was my offering:

I’m thankful that I am able to express my creativity through writing, painting, music and dance; I am grateful that I am blessed with the means to do this because of my sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch… thus enabling me to use the therapeutic qualities of my creativity as a celebration of my life.

I give thanks that my response to this creativity highlights what is important to me, and it is through the gift of my creative self that I recognise my belief in a God who gave His only son as an atoning sacrifice to pay for my sins… so that I may be forgiven and receive salvation for my soul.

I give thanks for the people I encounter on my life journey who help me grow into the kind of person fit to serve a loving God… and I also give thanks for those I encounter who bring out distasteful traits in me by their challenging behaviour, because this helps me strive to change my own reactions to that behaviour.

Mostly I give thanks that in His mercy God does not look on what I am now nor on what I have been but on what I desire to be.

I am grateful that in this world of manmade rules and regulations there are none that govern how I should pray; there is no right or wrong way. I simply talk to God, sometimes baring my soul and falling before Him like an open wound. And He picks up the pieces and fixes me within the boundaries of my broken life.

And in the midst of all this, there is love.

I give thanks for the love I’ve known; the contented feeling of loving arms; the warmth of a human heart from a random act of kindness; a loving touch of support from a friend; a visit or phone call from a prodigal – returning home – and I’m grateful for a bond so strong that time apart has allowed for a reconciliation and a rebirth of that relationship.

I give thanks for the love of my partner; my children; my family; my friends; the people in the places where I work, rest and play – yes, even those who are ‘not like me’. I give thanks for our individuality – our diversity – and that I am surrounded in love, completed in love and enabled to share my love with others.

So then at the end of each day… when I’m stripped of myself – of my expectations – of others’ expectations – of what I am or should be, and love, even love for myself, flows down like grace into my empty vessel, I can become full of what God intended me to be – for His purpose, His plan – not mine, or yours.

And I pray that God’s glory will shine from me, reflecting the love I have received, so that others who touch the edge of that radiance will know that they are in the presence of God – because God is the essence of me.

At the end of my reading I sat down and I knew that I’d just described what my butterflies look like.

And I want them back!


Belated retirement thoughts

So, while I’m waiting for the release from Customs of the PROOF Anthology for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, I thought I’d play catch up with my journal notes and look what I found! A note to self to type up (amongst other things of course) notes from opposite page (in my journal) re my retirement (which happened in March and it is now October!). I have been busy…

This then is a record of my finale as Administrator to the North Yorkshire Coast Methodist Circuit.

The two weeks leading up to my retirement was not a time to reflect on my working life as I was still busy working and I was in a state of anxiety and panic – not about retiring but about fitting everything in that needed to be done before I left – in order to hand over to the person who was taking over from me. We all know that no-one is indispensable. There is always someone waiting to step into our shoes – no matter who we are or what we do.

Instead of slowing down to enjoy my final two weeks, I found myself making lists about lists of things to pass on. However, the time passed so quickly and the final day arrived. I was left with one hour alone in the office at the end of that day to heart-wrenchingly surge the filing cabinet of information that was no longer relevant to the new post.

I did not have the luxury of time to ponder and reflect on each piece of work as I stripped it from the files. I simply threw away the last 8 years of my journey as if it meant nothing. However, knowing I had the most important paper files backed up on disc was a consolation. I borrowed these and when I have more time to reflect I will salvage the files that contain my own creative self therein. I’ve been so busy that it hasn’t happened yet – apart from a frantic search through for information I required in regard to a worship writing project I undertook. It felt good to know that my work for the Methodist Circuit was still useful.

Almost at the end of this final day, my husband called into the office to pick up my personal adornments, ie, pictures and icons from the walls, books, cards, etc. When he left, I sat with a mug of tea looking around at the space, resting in the quiet, being in the moment, indulging in a little nostalgia. Then, I simply grabbed my bag, rose from the chair and walked out as if it was just another day – which it was really.

All the above had been interspersed with well wishes via cards and email messages from around the Circuit, from those people I have come to know and love, albeit with challenges along the bumpy way that only served to make my journey more rewarding as these were met.

I had numerous unexpected emotional moments, especially at the end of my final Circuit Meeting when I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, which bloomed for 3 weeks afterwards. I still have the now dried multi-coloured petals from the rose in a keepsake box and, of course, photographs. I was unaware at the meeting that there was a monetary gift from all the churches inside the card I was given with the flowers as I didn’t open it until I got home. I hope everyone received my words of thanks via the email I sent to the ministers, circuit stewards and senior church stewards. (This would have been a good measure of the communication system I instilled in you all!).

My celebration continued after leaving the office for the last time on 27th March 2015 as cards and gifts kept arriving and, finally, on my favourite day in the Christian calendar (Maundy Thursday) I was taken for a farewell lunch at Raven Hall by the ministerial staff, where I received several surprise gifts. It was an emotional and beautiful farewell, and I felt much appreciated as a person.

I want to thank everyone in the Circuit (belatedly) for being part of my journey, not only in my working life but also for encouraging me in my walk of faith. I was not a Christian when I took up post on 8 January 2007 but that changed dramatically when, on 10 March 2007, I came to believe in Jesus Christ as my saviour. This single revelation has to be the highlight of my time working for the Circuit.

Almost there…

A project listed on my last blog has almost reached completion! HOORAH!

With a closing date for submissions of 28 July, I can now report that everything has been gathered in to bring the Scarborough Writers’ Circle Anthology 2015 to fruition. The anthology’s interior is in book format, cover design will be ready later today. All that’s required is for me to upload both to the publisher and off it goes. It will be 8 days before a proof can be delivered back to me for one of our eagle-eyed members to read through to check for errant typos – those annoying little errors that always seem to appear after a print run. Hopefully, we can capture these (if there are any!) before ordering that.

So… watch this space… initially for the appearance of the book cover so you can gaze at it whilst anticipating the temptation to investigate further when, on 1st October, the book should be available to purchase (at the cheapest price possible, I promise).

Many thanks for your patience, both to those who are awaiting this publication with bated breath, and to the contributors, my fellow writers with whom I share two hours on alternate Tuesdays at the Scarborough Writers’ Circle group meetings.

You are welcome to join us if you are interested in writing. Simply come along as a guest to any of our sessions.

More info at (the website is in the midst of an update but you can still access it).

Many thanks for your interest.