Monday, 31 December 2012

Instructions for Life

With it being the last day of 2012, I think what I'm about to share with you is rather appropriate. It's something to take into the new year with you. Kind of like a Baz Luhrmann ending to the year.

It's a set of instructions written by the Dalai Lama and was given to me as a Christmas gift by my younger sister.

The instructions consist of nineteen points.

Here goes:

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:
Respect for self
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you've realised you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.  
See you in 2013.
: )

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Give Your Worries To The Angels

It's only natural that doubt arises when questioning our purpose in life.

What if we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing?

What if we're wasting our time doing something that isn't relevant to our calling?

What if we end up squeezed up to our last breath like in a sardine tin, still not knowing what we were supposed to be doing?

Or even worse, what if our purpose suddenly makes itself known to us as our last breath is released?

That doesn't sound ideal to me.

Whenever I get into this state of uncertainty I become aware of what life is trying to tell. I look out for symbolic smoke signals and signs. So what happened next was I received an email from someone who I had only met twice before whilst training as a bereavement support worker. In the email she asked if I would sign two copies of my book for her. One of them was for herself and the other she had bought as a Christmas gift for a friend.

After signing the books, my friend stressed the fact that the reason she had bought a copy for her friend was because her friend was into angels. I felt like she was drilling this into me. She said it several times. After the meeting I got thinking about my book and how people perceive it. It never really occurred to me that it was a book about angels - when clearly, it is!

Shortly after, when I was alone, I asked the question, 'Am I supposed to be working in the field of angels?'

Kindred Spirit magazine popped into my head, so I went out and bought a copy. I flicked through it and it contained article after article on angels. I was drawn to an article by Jacky Newcomb, who later I found out, she was known as the Angel Lady. I had never heard of her or her books, but I felt an urge to send her a copy of my book - this I did on Christmas eve.

I like to listen to music whilst writing, so whilst out walking I asked out loud 'Should I order an angel CD?' (I had a CD by Llewellyn in mind). I looked to my right and there was a small white feather dancing in the wind in front of me. Now, I'm not at all widely educated on angels, but I know that a white feather is taken as a sign that you have been heard, that you are being watched over and you are not alone.

I have recently ordered the CD by Llewellyn.

Since then, ideas have been pouring in as to what I can write about, and I truly feel that I'm back on track with my calling.

Last night I was at my sister's. She was panicking because she couldn't find a much needed dummy so my one year old niece could fall soundly asleep. I popped out to the local store to see if they had any - but it was Christmas evening - nowhere would be open. I drove back and updated her. In the kitchen I saw her keyring on her keys. It's coin-like and on the outside it says, 'Give your worries to the angels.'

'Help me find a dummy,' I whispered.

'Gav,' said my sister, 'check the ball pool (which my niece had got for Christmas) in the dining room.'

I dipped my hand in the brightly coloured balls and pulled out a dummy. I smiled. 'Thanks,' I said.

That's another thing - I was always told to say thank you when you have been helped or assisted by an ethereal being.

I'm aware of how feminine angels are portrayed, but guys, don't let this put you off.

I don't know what angels are. I don't know who they are. I don't really know how they work, or even if they exist, for that matter!! But I can speak from experience, that something happens when I call on them for help and advice.
Take the advice from my sister's keyring - GIVE YOUR WORRIES TO THE ANGELS (just to see what happens)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Woodland Walk

Solitude is like medicine to me.

I like the company of others, don't get me wrong, but spending time alone, especially in nature, is something I find priceless.

I recently walked to a nearby wood which is part of the the Woodland Trust - a charity I've just joined. The wood was Wither Wood in Denby Dale, West Yorkshire.

There's something about being in a wooded area which I find very therapeutic and exciting. I can remember repeatedly watching Robin Hood Prince of Thieves when I was a boy. I loved how it was good guy V bad guy in a wood.

Did I want to be Robin Hood?

Damn right I did!

When I finally arrived at my destination (which was at 11am - I set off at 8:30am) the first thing I did was sit on a bench and pour myself a hot drink from my flask. I'm not a fan of flasked tea - is anyone? - so instead of tea or coffee I decided to put in half a cinnamon stick and a spoon full of honey.

I drank nearly all of it whilst looking over the valley and listening to my surroundings.


The sun shot golden rays through the almost bare canopy, silhouetting a couple of squirrels as they sat on branches eating acorns. Blue tits, great tits, coal tits, black birds, magpies and robins all came to pay me a visit and to sing me their own version of nature's song.

Dog walkers plodded past, always commenting on how amazing the morning was. Their dogs bounced ecstatically ahead, not getting too far without stopping and turning around to make sure their masters were following.

I set off walking again and did a tour of the wood, which took about an hour. The ground was carpeted with yew tree needles and sycamore and oak leaves. It was very boggy in places but this seasonal rug seemed to soak it up, adding a spring in my step in the process.

Held in my hand was the Woodland Trust Leaf identification swatch book; a free gift when you join the charity. This made it so much easier to identify the trees who were keeping me company on my tour.

For about ten minutes I stood and watched three squirrels in one oak tree. One of them was staring at me barking and screaming. I wasn't even anywhere near, but I must've come across as a threat. Have you heard a squirrel bark? It's a strange noise. Not something you expect coming from such a creature. It kind of sounded like a depressed firework without the bang. . . if you can imagine that.

Later on in the day when I was telling my family about my little trip, I was surprised that both of my sisters asked the same question: What music did you listen to?

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love music. But there's a time and place for it. And walking in nature isn't either of them.

I can't imagine sticking my earphones in and ignoring the sounds of nature. How much I would've missed if I had!

For me, a walk is very much a sensory treat. My senses come alive and anything mental which may be taking up space, soon evaporates. This is why they recommend a walk in nature if you suffer from a mental illness or if you just 'want to get a way from it all'.

If you would like more information about the Woodlands Trust, visit:

You could be helping a lot by joining for less than £3 a month.

Happy walking. :-)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Honesty and Muffins

Today, a work colleague told me about something which had recently happened to her.

Diane returned to her car to find somebody had clipped her wing mirror. The actual mirror hadn't smashed and she luckily found the back cover lying in front of her car intact. It simply just had to be fastened on.

I best mention here that Diane is a postal worker, and sometimes we postal workers will use our cars to navigate around our deliveries. This is what she was doing on this specific day. After discovering her wing mirror had been hit, she got in her car to move it to her next stop. As she parked her car a driver pulled up behind her so close that she had no room to manoeuvre.

'Great,' she thought, 'he has blocked me in.'

A young West Indian man got out of the car and approached her.

Not knowing what to expect, Diane was a bit stunned when he said, 'Excuse me, did I clip your mirror back there?'

'Somebody did, yes,' she said.

He had followed her to own up and he fixed it for her there and then. He even offered her money for a new one but she refused.

One more thing to mention about Diane is that she had made a batch of double choc chip muffins which she was selling at £1 each to raise money for Children in Need.

'I'll tell you what you can do for me,' she said to the young man, 'you can buy a muffin for a pound. The money will go to Children in Need.'

To which he happily did.

'You know,' she said to me, 'I really want to stress that he was black. Young black lads get a lot of bad press. What he did really comforted me.'       

It was a nice story, then she added, 'And out of my £5 ingredients, I made £105 for charity.'

Well done, Diane J

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Spiritual Healing

I received a text at the beginning of the week asking if I could attend a spiritual healing group for moral support.

A random request, but I accepted.

It was being held at a local spiritualist church. I've never been to one so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew (or thought I knew) was that these churches trained people to communicate with the deceased.

They were like bootcamps for psychics.

With only minutes to spare, I walked into the small church, had a pee in the gents and made my way to the main hall where I saw my acquaintance sat in a circle made up of nine people; all of which were over fifty-five. She smiled and stood up to greet me and thanked me for coming.

'I've no idea what to expect,' I whispered.

'Me neither,' she said. 'You might get some healing though.'

'I'm cool with a bit of healing.'

She told me to fill in a 'Patient form'. It asked for basic details like name, address and why I was there. For that section I simply wrote, 'moral support'. I couldn't think of anything that needed healing. I looked up from writing and noticed a small grey-haired shih tzu walking around the place. It walked over to me and I gave a it a little stroke. It sniffed at my leg for a while before making itself comfy in it's little basket at the front of the hall.

Psychic dog? I thought. I've heard about those.

I joined the group and sat down. Everybody stared, like when you walk into a local pub when you're not a local.

I smiled.

In the centre of the circle was a tall table with a lit candle and a book of names.

A thin lady with short grey hair stood up and said we were to begin. It was time for the introductory prayer. We were told to shut our eyes and lower our heads.

A song started from the sound system. Soothing vocals and harmonies. It had a very Irish feel to it.

'Oh Father,' the lady said, 'thank you for giving us this opportunity to heal. May your healing energy surround us and support us. May your protection reach every being. May you bless the animal kingdom. May you give us strength and guidance in our lives. Ahmen.'

The lady and another, one who looked a few years younger and spoke with a geordie accent, got up and each stood behind a different person with their hands resting on the sitting person's shoulders. Everyone had their eyes shut. A part from me, of course. When the prayer was complete I was ready to stretch until I saw that everybody was motionless. My bad.

So I shut my eyes and began to meditate.

The Irish music was constantly on in the background. I really enjoyed it. I must ask them for the CD afterwards, I thought.

The two healers spent about six or seven minutes with each person. When it got to my turn, the geordie one came and sat next to me.

'Do you know what to expect, love?' she whispered. She was leaning on her knees with her elbows. Her eyes were super green.

I said I didn't have any expectations.

'Well, you might experience heat or a tingling sensation. You might have a healing crisis . . .'

A healing crisis? That doesn't sound good.

'For example,' she continued, 'if you have a cold, your symptoms might worsen afterwards. But they'll soon balance out. It's the same with any healing. Basically, healing energy is going to come from the spirits, through me, who's acting like a channel, and into you.' She smiled.

'OK,' I said. 'That's fine.'

She got up to start then sat back down again. 'You don't mind being touched, do you?' she added.

I shook my head - but I guess it depends where, I thought. I didn't want to have that kind of crisis.  

So I shut my eyes and she stood behind me with her hands resting very gently on my shoulders.

The music had stopped at this point so I could hear everything in the room:
  • Stomachs bubbling and churning.
  • The woman opposite me had leather shoes on. Her legs crossed at her ankles. She was rubbing them together making an annoying squeaky noise. ('WOMAN, I'M TRYING TO BE HEALED HERE!)
  • Then the fireworks started outside. Mainly rockets followed by the occasional explosion.
  • A boiler that kept on starting and stopping every forty-five seconds.
  • The round man in the circle tried clearing his throat discreetly but ended up choking himself.
  • The shih tzu snored like a trooper in the background.
It's strange where your mind takes you when you're keen for stillness. It'll do anything but be still.

That dog. Because I could hear it snoring my attention got diverted to that damn dog.

'If I had a shih tzu, what would I call it?'

Gav, you're supposed to be thinking about not thinking. Silence!

'I think I'd call it Sue.'

Gav . . . stop it . . .

An image of myself in a field with the dog popped into my head.

'If it wouldn't poo and I was losing patience with it, I'd shout "Shit, Sue!"'

A massive grin appeared on my face which I couldn't hide at all.

The healer took her hands off and I was ready to say thank you and get up, but she replaced them onto my chest for a couple of minutes.

Then it was over.

I opened my eyes and said thank you. She asked if I would like a glass of water to which I said yes.

My acquaintance smiled at me, who was having healing done at the same time.

Despite the inappropriate canine thoughts, I was relaxed and felt good.

Now it was time for the closing prayer.

This time it was the geordie lady who stood up to speak.

'Oh Father,' she said, 'thank you for all of your healing energy hear today. Thank you for touching every one of us. May your protection continue to reach every being on the planet. May you continue to give us strength and guidance in our lives. Ahmen.'

We all said thank you to one another and got ready to leave.

'You're always welcome,' said the thin lady with short grey hair.

'Thank you,' I said.

It was a nice experience. How much healing I received, I have no idea.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A stranger asks for help

Occasionally life presents us with situations and circumstances which stand out from our day to day routines.

I was given such an experience last week as I walked back to my car through Huddersfield town centre.

Picture in your mind a lady of about 60. She's small and round and can't speak a word of English.

She stands in my path and stares at me with deep blue eyes, muttering something in a language I don't understand. Then she holds up a piece of paper and again mutters something. I take the piece of A4 and begin to read the child-like writing:

I judged her at first when she stood in my way and held out her hand. It's not uncommon for that to happen, but the note added something. It gave her a background. A story; something which we don't normally get to see. We don't go around with a piece of a paper around our necks displaying our dramas for all to read.
I wonder what kind of effect it would have if we did?
So I'm staring at this lady and I'm feeling really connected to her.
We looked into oneanother's eyes for about ten seconds without saying a word. Ten seconds doesn't seem a lot, but I assure you, it is, especially when it's someone you've never met before.
When was the last time you looked into another's eyes for more than five seconds? After about three it gets scary. They say the eyes are the doorways to the soul . . . what are we hiding? 
I put my hand in my pocket and gave her all the money I had. It wasn't much. About a fiver in coins. She expressed her gratitude by bowing her head slightly and muttering something else I didn't quite understand. I'm sure it was a thank you, but it could've easily been, 'You tight wedge'.
She walked on holding her piece of paper as it blowed in the wind.
I couldn't get her out of my mind.
Was she sincere?
Had I just fallen for a scam?
When I got home I explained to one of my flatmates (there are 9 of them) what had happened and he said, 'She probably can't speak a word of English, but the guy who she works for probably can.'
I don't think I'll ever find out if her drama, her story, was legit or not.
I don't think I care, to be honest.
I did what was right for me, given the circumstances. My intention to help was honest and came from a compassionate place, even if I only gave her my loose change.
I wonder where she is now . . . 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Content Taxi Driver

I had a flying trip to London last week for a meeting and got talking to a taxi driver as he took me to Victoria station.
I asked the habitual question, 'Have you been busy?' Then I remembered how much of a ridiculous question that was as he was a taxi driver in the capital of England.
'Yes' he replied.

'How long have you been doing this for?' was my next question.

I watched as he did some quick maths in his head. 'Thirteen years.'

I asked him if he enjoyed it and he said he did.

'Don't you fancy doing anything else?' I asked.

'No, I don't think so,' he replied, looking at me through the rear-view mirror.
'What did you want to be when you were a kid?'

'A professional golfer,' he said.
I could see him smiling as if remembering how amazing that dream actually was.

'What do you do in your spare time? Is there a hobby you do which you could excel in?'
'Nah, not really,' he said.

There was a pause as we snaked in and out of cars, buses and cyclists.

Then he said something which made me smile.
'I'm content, you know.'

'Yeah?' I said. 'That's good.'
'I've never really been one of those ambitious people who reach for the stars and have to have this or that. I'm content driving my taxi and doing it the best I can.'

I continued to listen whilst smiling and looking at the passing scenery of tall buildings, trees and loads of busy people doing their thing.
'I'm not unhappy but I wouldn't say I'm over the moon either. I'm just content with what is.'

I think there are a lot of us who mistake happiness for contentment.

For me, happiness is on the surface and has little depth. It might be short-lived and it comes in bursts. Contentment goes much deeper, but only shows subtle ripples on the surface in the form of a small smile of knowing that all is well.
The taxi driver was content. He didn't need dreams and ambitions to find purpose in his life.

I learnt a lot from him.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

'I've been to a good place. Everything's OK.'

Whilst volunteering at my local hospice last Monday, I was made aware of a booklet called Nearing the End of Life - A Guide for Relatives and Friends of the Dying written by Sue Brayne and Dr Peter Fenwick. This booklet is there for anybody to read.

Now, it was Fenwick's name that jumped out at me because I've read his amazing book The Art of Dying.

He is a well known researcher into NDEs (Near Death Experiences) and OBEs (Out of Body Experiences) and believes that at the point of death, consciousness doesn't cease to exist, but actually goes on to another state of existence.

I was excited to find this booklet (which has been there for ages and I've never seen it until now) because other material I've read which the hospice provides for families (especially to help them with their grief) says, and I'll paraphrase, 'Once your loved one has died don't be surprised if you feel their presence around you, or have certain sensations like being able to smell their aftershave or favourite perfume. These are natural reactions to grief.'

This simple says that if you feel your deceased relative around you - it's not them. It's the grieving process.

I don't agree with this.

I'm a trained bereavement support worker with Cruse Bereavement Care and they said the same as the hospice - again, I disagreed.

If someone has felt their deceased loved one by them and it's brought them heaps amount of comfort and has eased their pain of 'losing' them, then surely, just because this experience can not be explained scientifically by our limited understanding of consciousness, we shouldn't assume that these experiences are grief-induced fantasies.

What a shame to dismiss someone's comforting experience out of ignorance.

The booklet, which I mentioned above, contains several stories. One of which I would like to share with you now:


I knew that my father was going to die that day and decided to leave him alone with my mother.

I had no problem leaving him as he had told me he was 'ready to go', wasn't frightened and very calm. We spent a lot of time talking while I nursed him, and without actually saying it, we had said our goodbyes.

I wandered around until I just felt that he had died, returning home to find he had indeed died 20 minutes before. I felt mixed emotions of relief, as he was no longer suffering and fearful.

I had not seen a dead body before. I stood nervously, with my back to the wall, at a distance, plucking up the courage to approach.

It was then I felt the pressure of hands on my shoulders and a voice whispering in my ear, 'I'm OK'. This was followed by the overwhelming sensation of a very strong force moving far away with immense speed.

I knew it was my father. Any fear I had I felt melted away. It gave me the strength to deal with the duties associated with death. Much later I realised this experience had removed my fear of dying.'

Imagine saying to Denise, 'You were just grieving. It's natural for things like that to happen.'

But that's exactly what our current scientific understanding of these experiences is saying.

I've recently read Raymond Moody's latest book, Paranormal. Moody has played a huge role in the field of after death studies. In the 70's, with his book Life After Life, he coined the term Near Death Experience. His latest book is biographical in nature.

He explains his troubled relationship with his dad, how his dad never really accepted his research into life after death. His dad, you see, was a respected surgeon so he had his reputation to protect. He even, at one point, admitted his son (Moody) to a mental institute because he thought he was loosing the plot with his latest research into the technique of scrying.

Towards the end of the book, Moody describes the passing of his dad, and this is what I'd like to share with you now, as it really made me smile. Remember, this is someone who, throughout his life, didn't believe in life after death, despite his son's tremendous research:

In the moments before his death, my brothers who were there at his side said his breathing picked up and they were amazed to see his eyes open; the doctors had told them he was in a coma from which he would not regain consciousness. He was wearing a beatific smile as he looked into their puzzled faces and said: 'I have been to a beautiful place. Everything is okay. I'll see everybody again. I'll miss you, but we will be together again.'

With that proclamation, he died.

I always remember the psychic medium, Johnathan Edward, saying, 'I prefer to live life believing in an after life and then to find out there isn't one, than to live life not believing and to find out there is one.'

Monday, 27 August 2012

Giving an idea wings

Before meeting with a friend for a coffee on Friday, an idea came to me as to how I could get my book into the hands of more readers.

The basic principle was for the reader to pass it on once they'd read it.

You know what an idea looks like in your head, right? It's vivid and it calls for your attention. If you don't give it your attention it fades, and sometimes I've found it can move onto somebody else who is more than willing to invest time and energy into it.

I can't remember the amount of times I've said, 'I had that idea,' but simply didn't act on it.

So the idea for my book came as an image in my mind's eye, and it looked like this: the book was opened on the first page and in it were the words, "Dear reader, once you've read this book, please pass it on to somebody you think will benefit from its message. With love, Gavin." And at the bottom was the date and the words, 'Book 1'.

I got kind of excited by this so I acted on it without delay (excitement is usually a clear sign that an idea deserves some attention). I got the only copy of my book I had, opened it up to the first page and wrote the words I saw in my mind's eye.

I then took it with me when I went to see my friend and gave it to her as a gift. I asked her if she would be interested in starting off an idea for me, 'to give my book wings,' I said. She was thrilled by the idea and said she would be happy to pass it on once she'd read it.

So - - - - in a short period of time there's going to be ten copies of my book floating around. I'm going to pass them onto friends to pass them onto their friends, who will pass them onto their friends.

I think it's a beautiful and rather organic way to spread the comforting message of the book - a message I believe in.

So if you do come across my book, Waiting for Wings - A Story of Hope, know that it has been given to you because the giver thinks you might gain something of value from its content. I sincerely hope you will then pass it onto somebody else for them to gain comfort.

Much appreciated.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Poem - 'Together'

Writing poetry is something I took up about two years ago. I never force an idea. If it doesn't come easily, then I don't write it.

Three nights ago, before going to sleep, I said to myself I wanted to write a poem to help people who have lost a loved one.

I woke up with the following poem ready to be written.

(I suppose that's where the term 'sleep on it' comes from).


by Gavin Whyte

 I never thought I would say this,
So it is my hope that you believe;

But death is not the end,
It's just the way it's perceived.

We always dreaded that moment,
And I know we said it wasn't fair,

We had so many plans,
And life didn't seem to care.

But now I understand, you see,
Every breath is planned by our host.

We were together, love,
And that's what mattered the most.

We will pick up where we left off;
Time will become a thing of the past.

Eternity as one,
Me, you, together at last.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Farewell Letter by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I haven't updated the blog in a while, for the simple reason that I haven't felt like saying much.

What is there to say when one spends one's time looking and listening?

Words don't seem to come close to capturing the moment felt.

I got given the following link this morning and I felt compelled to share it. I read it out loud and it had a massive impact on me.

So this is it for this post. Short and sweet, but I hope the content of the link will make up for it.

Happy living, folks.

Remember to breathe deep and smile! 

Sunday, 10 June 2012


I'm currently reading Lessons from the Light by Kenneth Ring. It's a fantastic book which covers what we can learn from the near-death experience.
Since I was a young'n I've asked the question, 'What happens when we die?' so I'm naturally drawn to such topics as NDEs and OBEs.

In the book, Ring states that, as an exercise, we should reproduce the quotes he has used from NDErs - so I don't feel guilty for doing so here.

You see, when you read what people have experienced when they have been close to clinical death, it's like a contagious bug; you end up changing, especially if you read them with an open mind and an open heart. Your perspective on life begins to change, and you start to notice your feelings, thoughts and actions and the effects they have on you AND others.

This where it gets interesting, because when people have an NDE they go through certain stages. One of which is a life review.

This life review is like a film being played back from your first breath to the present moment - but you're not detached from it. You are the observer but you're also taking part in it. And it all happens in an instant because time is fiction. Our minds can't even begin to comprehend what that must be like.

This is where I turn to the quotes in the book to show you what people have reported, just so you get a taster.

"Then it seemed there was a display all around me, and everything in my life just went for review . . . When I would see something . . . it was like I was seeing it through the eyes with (I guess you would say) omnipotent knowledge, guiding me and helping me to see. That's the part that stuck with me, because it showed me not only what I had done, but even how what I had done had affected other people . . .because I could feel those things . . . I found out that not even your thoughts are lost . . . Every thought was there."

How does that make you feel?

Every thought was accounted for!

Here's another one:

"I remember one particular incident . . . when, as a child, I yanked my little sister's Easter basket away from her, because there was a toy in it that I wanted. Yet in the review, I felt her feelings of disappointment and loss and rejection. What we do to other people when we act unlovingly! . . . Everything you have done is there in the review for you to evaluate (and) when I was there in that review there was no covering up. I was the very people that I hurt, and I was the very people I helped to feel good . . .It is a real challenge, every day of my life, to know that when I die I am going to have to witness every single action of mine again, only this time actually feeling the effects I've had on others. It sure makes me stop and think."

That's some powerful reading.

Can you imagine not only seeing what you've done to others, but actually feeling what it was like on the receiving end, whether it was good or bad?

One last one for you:

"Mine was not a review, but a reliving. For me, it was a total reliving of every thought I had ever thought, every word I had ever spoken, and every deed I had done; plus, the effect of each thought, word and deed on everyone and anyone who had ever come within my environment or sphere of influence, whether I knew them or not . . . No detail was left out. No slip of the tongue or slur was missed. No mistake or accident went unaccounted for. If there is such a thing as hell, as far as I'm concerned, this was hell."

Can you see how you can be changed by reading such accounts?

How do they make you feel?

Next time you call someone a name, think how they must feel - because, chances are, you're going to feel it when your time comes.

Next time you lose your temper at the traffic lights and give someone the finger, think what ripples you've just caused. And consider the possibility that those ripples, caused by your feelings, thoughts and actions, will recoil straight back to you.

Even if you don't believe the accounts, not only will you be dismissing thousands of peoples' experiences, but you'll be gambling with your souls growth and condition.

In the book, the author suggests you finish the following sentence:

When I reflect on these commentaries in relation to my own life, I  . . .

Why not give it a go.

Remember, whatever you say to others is reflected back to you. Whatever you do to others, whether good or bad, is reflected back to you.

It comes back to the old adage, what you give is what you get.

After reading these accounts I wrote the following in my journal: 'Life is like a boomerang; at the point of death, what you have given, you shall receive. This is universal justice.'

More on this topic later. :-)

Sunday, 3 June 2012


This post is a little belated but never mind.

My book, Waiting for Wings, is now available to buy in paperback.

I've used Lulu, a self-publishing, print on demand company.

I did this because, not only do I trust them to create a brilliant finished product, but by going with them I'm chopping out the middle man from the equation. Middle man being the hard-to-reach-publisher.

I received a contract in March from a publishing house. I was very excited at the prospect. The subject in the email I received said, 'Contract book offer.' I can remember sitting back in my chair before opening it and saying, 'Sh*t, this is real.'

I read through the contract and it seemed OK to the layman that I am, but I decided it would be wise to get a solicitor friend to read through it, to which, when she did, pointed out some factors that didn't sit very well with her - and later, myself.

The more I thought about accepting the offer, the more fuzzy my stomach felt.

I tell people all the time to follow their gut instinct; it was time to take my own advice.

I declined the offer with the trust that something better would come along.

Lulu was brought to my attention about three years ago and since then I've visited their site several times and looked at what was on offer (in terms of the genres they covered, how much they charged the customer AND the author etc) and that fuzzy feeling never once made an appearance.

My aim, since completing Waiting for Wings, has been to get it out there to as many people as possible - as quickly as possible, and by using Lulu the speed of making it available was achieved.

Now it's just up to me to get it out there - but I won't turn down your help.

I know, from what I've been told by those who have read it and reviewed it (thanks to all of you) that people will gain something of value from reading the story.

As the review by Felicity Warner (Author of Gentle Dying and the founder of Soul Midwives Foundation) says, 'A wonderfully uplifting book, which I would recommend to anybody fearing the process of death or living with a degenerative disease'.

I'm massively grateful to have been (and continue to be) part of this process with the book - it's a real journey, and with it being my first book I'm learning a lot.

I'm currently working on a new project; a short illustrated book on bereavement for 4 to 6 year olds. It's being illustrated by my good friend, Laura Skilbeck. I can assure you it's going to look great when it's completed. I've seen her ideas - and I'm excited!

The ball is rolling faster than ever now with Waiting for Wings and I've always believed that word of mouth will play a big part in getting it to the right people at the right time in their lives.

If you have read it and think someone you know will benefit from its message then please feel free to pass it on.

Once again, thank you.

If you haven't already seen the book, the following link will take you straight to it:

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Visitor

Today, on my delivery, I spoke to a lady who was recently in a nasty car crash. Her three children were in the car as well but fortunately they were unharmed - physically, at least. They've had nightmares ever since. Whereas she can't remember a thing.

The last time I spoke to her was not long after the accident; she looked like she had been beaten up really bad. Her face was swollen and was made up of several colours, ranging from yellow, red, purple and blue.

When I saw her today she looked like she had recovered 100%, although she told me she still hurt inside.

She still can't remember anything that happened. Her children keep trying to kick-start her memory but to no avail.

Then she said something that resonated with what I'd been thinking and reminding myself of all morning.

'Having this experience has made me realise that it can all be over in a split second. One minute you're here, and the next you're not. We (her and her husband) haven't even made a will. We're in the process of making one now. We didn't think about it before. You think you're invincible, don't you? You go through life thinking that you're going to be here forever. But you're not.'

I shared with her the saying that goes something like, "A mere banana skin separates you from death".

'That's exactly how I feel,' she said. 'You can be gone like that.' (she clicked her fingers).

I mentioned before some resonance between what she said and what I was thinking of.

What I was reminding myself of was making me feel great. It was making me perceive things more clearly. Gratitude was overflowing from within. My senses came alive every time I uttered it. I was soaking up everything. And the more I reminded myself of this one statement, which only consists of three words, the more elevated I felt.

And those three words were . . .


Monday, 14 May 2012



I try and be honest as much as I can. I don't like to feel like I'm being fake or my integrity is being compromised.

It becomes tricky when feelings come into the equation; whether they belong to you or somebody else.

We (I say We, but I can only speak for myself) don't like to upset or offend anybody by being honest, but sometimes the honesty has to be expressed, and if there is awareness there and the honesty is taken on board with openness and acceptance, then personal growth can develop.

Lately, I've had to be honest with a couple of friends and I wasn't sure how they would react and if our friendship would be put under strain. It had troubled me for a few days, causing mental static and stickiness.

I live in the same building as a Buddhist nun, and she said to me, 'They might be good people, and that's why you don't want to hurt their feelings, but if they are good friends, then they will stick by you and your decision.'

Then she said, 'I think in times these, we know deep down what has to be done.'

And she was right.

I had made up my mind to tell my friends how I felt, but I was delaying doing so out of fear.

After speaking to her I went straight to my laptop and sent both my friends an email telling them what was bothering me.

Within moments they replied saying how they completely understood; how they felt the same way and how they would continue to support me with my endeavours.

The metaphorical weight I had gained on my shoulders was unnecessary, but it in an instant it got lifted and left behind.

They were good people - and they were friends.

What a feeling.

There're times when honesty comes from a place of irritation, though, and doesn't really benefit the people involved.

A man on my delivery was cutting his grass. He stopped, looked at me and said, 'Don't you postmen wear uniforms now?'

I looked down and my uniform, then back at the man and said, 'Yes, mate, I'm wearing it.'

He looked me up and down and said, 'Well, you look shit.'


(The words stung a little, but then I realised that they had nothing to do with me whatsoever. Come to think about it - have any?)

Monday, 7 May 2012


As someone who likes to write, I find it hard when I can't think of anything to write about. So I'm sat here at my desk, writing about what it feels like when there's nothing to write about - kind of like an exercise.

'Just write!' is common advice amongst writers, so this is how this post is going to unfold - I'm just going to write.

Two days ago I got told about the death of Adam Yauch aka MCA from the Beastie Boys. I couldn't let it go. My mind was clinging to it. Why couldn't I let the fact that someone (who I didn't even know) had made the transition we call death?

I can remember when I was in my teens and I was going through my Prodigy phase. I loved the Prodigy, they shaped my youth and they also gave rise to dreams of becoming a music producer.

My science teacher at the time (Mr Clarkson) said to a 14 years old Gav Whyte, 'If you can get a list of people who would like to go and see the Prodigy, I'll take you'. I easily got the list and the tickets were ordered. We went in a small minibus along with another teacher called Miss Farey, who taught Media Studies.

That gig changed my life. The pounding bass and the buzz of the atmosphere was something that I will never forget. The Prodigy were at their peak with Fat of the Land and they certainly proved themselves to be an excellent live act. I can remember looking to my left and seeing Mr Clarkson stood at the side of the venue whilst Miss Farey was at the front. There she grabbed hold of Keith Flint (Prodigy's front man) and he spat at her - all part of the rock and roll experience, I guess.

The morning after the gig, I remember waking up and looking around my room at the Prodigy posters covering every bit of the wallpaper. And this is what I thought, 'I can't believe I was in the same room as them. They were there at the front. I saw them'.

In an instant they became real.

That was my first experience of how we make others who we look up to larger than life.

They can do no wrong. We're in awe of them. In our heads they are gods. We want to be them. We will follow what they say, what they do and what they wear and copy them - not realising that we're getting further and further away from expressing who we are. 

I can remember telling a mate how I found it amazing that the Prodigy were in the same country as us. That they looked up at the same moon at night. This blew my mind! Then my mate, who was a fan of Oasis, said, 'Yeah and the Gallaghers are less than an hour away in Manchester'. Wow!!

As time went on I stopped being 'starstruck' and got used to the fact that the people we idolise have their faults, just like we do. They were born and they will die, just like the rest of us.

And this brings me back to MCA.

I looked up to the Beastie Boys. They are great. In my head I had made them larger than life, like gods. Sounds silly - but I wasn't aware I was doing it. It was only until MCA died that I realised I had actually made them into something that was beyond life and death - and I suppose up to a point, they are.

Once again, death acted as a wake up call to remind me of the impermanence of this level of reality.

I liked this exercise, it was good.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Choreography (Was orginally titled Dance Partner)

I spent some time with my cousin today who was in distress over her neighbour's passing. She told me he had always been there for her in the past and now she couldn't help but feel like she had let him down.

She asked me - 'What is guilt?'

My answer - 'Guilt is that which arises when we think we had control over that which was always going to happen.'

We think we could've changed that which is. We mentally go back before the event unfolded and create a story of should'ves, would'ves, could'ves, ifs and buts.

But really, that which is, is.

The fact that it happened means ultimately it was meant to happen.

Guilt seems to be the left over dregs of our personal perspective of that natural happening. We make the impersonal personal.

I write this not especially for you, but more of a reminder to myself.

We carry guilt around with us and it prevents us from moving on. It becomes a heavy burden, sapping our energy, clouding our perceptions and ultimately leads to us living in fear.

When we let go of that burden, when we see that life is as it is and always will be, we can finally accept that we are merely puppets on a string, being danced by the divine. Although we're not dances - when we think that, that's when guilt can arise because we think we should've danced in a certain way. No, we are the dance being danced by the divine.

Do we have a say in how we're danced?

I don't know.

If every thought I have I was meant to have then surely the answer would be no, and that choice is an illusion. But we don't like to think that. We like to think we're in control.

My feet get tangled at that part of the dance - a downside to thinking like a dancer.

Great choreography, though, eh!?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

What You Do Isn't Always What You Do

A young-ish couple have bought a small bungalow on my delivery and have decided to strip it of it's past and give it a new lease of life. I've seen them working on it for months and it's finally started to look like a home. When I posted a letter there the other day the door flew open and I was greeted by the lady who enthusiastically invited me in to show me how much progress they had made.

What was once a dark, cluttered and damp home (an old man had lived there by himself for years) was now a light, modern, clean and fresh home.

I had spoken to the lady's partner a couple of times before and had mentioned my book to him.

As I was leaving he asked me, whilst he was on his hands and knees with his hand in the wall looking for some kind of pipe connected to the boiler, how I and my book were doing, and how I was clearly still a postman.

I laughed.

'Yes, I'm, still a postman, but it's OK.' I began to tell him about my other writing projects, my hospice work and how I'm a trained bereavement support worker with Cruse, and how I can do all this because I'm a postman.

He smiled, stood up and wiped his hands on his already stained jeans.

'Isn't it funny,' he said, 'what people really do.' He paused in contemplation. 'You know, what people really do. You're a postman, but you're not a postman. It's just what you do. It's not what you really do. It's not what you're about. I know this cleaner and in his spare time he studies antiques, but you wouldn't think it to look at him whilst he was cleaning.' He paused again. 'It's strange. I've been saying hello to you since we started doing up this place. I've been saying hello to you as the postman. But you're more than that - now I know what you really do.'

I completely understood what he was saying.

To put it bluntly: we shouldn't go around judging people by what they do, because what they do isn't always what they do.

We judge all the time. I find myself doing it every day. We judge people by what people look like. How they dress. Their hair style. How tall or short they are. The colour of their skin. Their occupation. How they walk. How they laugh. How they frown. How they run. How they smile. How they smell. Their name.

And all the time I have to tell myself - that's not who they are.

They're so much more than the mere attributes we judge them by.

I've spoken before about how everything's a beautiful mystery and is ultimately unknowable - and by unknowable I mean beyond the grasp of the mind and therefore cannot be defined. That goes for everybody you see too.

They're a beautiful mystery just like you.

By judging them you're judging yourself.

By thinking they are the attributes which we judge them by, means that we think we are the attributes that we can be judged on by others, probably by those who we judge!

And by that we're cutting ourselves off from seeing our trueselves - from that mystery to reveal itself.

It's a constant practise of mine to be aware of when I judge someone.

And it really is a constant practise.

We shouldn't go around judging people by what they do, because what they do isn't always what they do.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

What do you expect?

Everybody has a story to tell. When somebody reveals to you part of their story - it might only be a chapter (in the form of a tale lasting only 2 minutes) - you end up looking at them differently. Their story gives them character and colour. It gives them an edge which you weren't aware of before.

Recently somebody told me a chapter of their story.

I was shocked and disturbed, but I couldn't help but feel empathy and compassion for this person, knowing now what they once went through. I was also inspired by them because of how they rose above it.

We all know the saying, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' but what if what doesn't kill you, makes you wish you were dead?

What this person told me had the enormous potential to drive somebody down a slippery slope.

'I used it to my advantage,' they told me. 'I was just so grateful to be alive. "Bring it on, life!" I would say. People have ended their life because of similar circumstances - but not me. I'm stronger because of it. It's life. You've got to deal with it and learn from it. I wasn't life's victim, I was just part of what unfolded.'

What can you squeeze out of a difficult situation? Even if it's the tiniest drop.

Let that drop of whatever, whether it be hope, wisdom, bravery, optimism, knowledge, love or inspiration, and allow it to grow into a puddle.

Then into a stream.

Then into a river.

And let it flow through your veins and into your life and into everything you do.

Allow it to be the positive driving force behind your words and actions.

Use that drop to help others grow.

When my friend shared their experience with me, I was reminded of this little story, which you might already know.

Twin brothers. Both brought up by their violent father who was an alcoholic. One of the brothers was happy, optimistic and an inspiration to others. The other brother was miserable, an alcoholic and also violent, just like his father. When asked why he was so miserable, he said, 'My father was an alcoholic, what do you expect?' When the other brother was asked why he was so happy and inspired, he said, 'My father was an alcoholic, what do you expect?'

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Not so Oaty

Today I went to my fourth Quaker Meeting.

I'll stop right there and suggest you put aside any preconceptions of who Quakers are, what they stand for and also what they look like. I too had the preconceived idea that they all looked like the guy from the Quaker Oats box.

They don't.

At all.

They look like me and you. They dress like me and you. They talk like me and you.

They are people who, as one author nicely put, don't believe what they told. Quakerism is very experiential. They have to experience something in order to believe it; to take something on board and make it a part of who they are.

It's very common to hear that Quakers don't believe in violence. This is true, but only to an extent. As an elder Quaker member told me on my first visit, 'Yes, we believe in non-violence. Then someone comes along and says, "OK then, what if I have a knife to your sister's throat, then what would you do?" And to that I would I have to say, I don't know. Why? Because I've never been in that situation, so how could I know how I would react?'

One thing which Quakers do have in common is that they honour and worship (a nasty word, I know)silence. This is why every Sunday they gather around and sit in silence for an hour or so.

'But why?' as my mum asked this morning.

Because it is in the silence that they can reflect. It is in the silence that they can be spoken to by the divine (and when this happens it is called minister - if you are spoken to you're called to minister (to share) with the rest of the group the fruit of your contact which you have had with the divine).

So basically, they meditate.

They don't preach or plan to minister. This wouldn't be a form of contact with the divine - it would be just you wanting to share a product of your mind with the rest of the meeting.

I'm assuming (and I know one shouldn't assume, but I can't go on my own subjective experience) that when you're spoken to, you know it.

With today only being my fourth time attending the group (at Birdsedge, in a 17th century converted barn, surrounded by stunning landscapes) I'm without doubt still learning about Quakerism - and the Quaker elders will no doubt humbly say they too are still learning about what it is to be a Quaker.

The path of Self discovery is a never ending one, right?

Whilst sitting in the silence this morning my senses were awakened. I could hear the usual rumblings of stomachs from other sitters - plus my own. I could hear coughs and sniffs and people talking outside. I could also hear a great tit outside showing off by shouting, 'TEACHER! TEACHER!' repeatedly. Then I heard a pheasant squawk, and then to my surprise a woodpecker started to drill every four seconds or so. A wonderful sound. I just sat there and smiled to myself.

Then something interesting began to happen.

With my eyes shut I sunk into the darkness of my eye lids and felt my consciousness expand.

Slowly at first, it expanded to the rest of the meeting. Then it filled the room, not missing out a single crack in the wooden seats we were all sat on. Then it spread to outside - and outside is quite vast, you know! It included every noise. Every sensation. I could sense the interconnectedness between me and everything else.

I was everything else!

I became the birdsong. I became the plane flying overhead and it's hundreds of passengers. I became the clouds and the trees and the sun.

I was sat there with my eyes shut just smiling.

I lifted my eye lids and looked down at my body. It looked so small, but significant and beautiful.

Just like yours.

I don't call myself a Quaker, but I don't believe that matters. Quakers are grateful for people to show up and share that space with them. You just show up, shake hands with some wonderful people, sit and be patient in the silence. You practise being with others. Then you shake hands again, have a cup of tea, a biscuit and a chat. 

As my friend, William West said, 'The space that Quakers offer is truly amazing'.

I agree.

(If you'd like more info on Quakers and would maybe like to experience a meeting near you, go to

Friday, 6 April 2012

Michael Jackson's Instruction Manual

I write about trust quite a bit on this blog. I think it's a vital component to living a balanced life.

I haven't written any fiction for a while. This is due to a shortage of ideas and also a lack of tenacity to develop any of the ideas that do spring up, into fully formed story.

The other day I got thinking about a documentary I saw about Michael Jackson. They were interviewing him in his studio and he was asked where he got his ideas from. Commenting on Billy Jean, he said, 'I asked for it and it came.'

He asked the universe or God, or whatever you want to call it, for an idea and it delivered.

'I asked for a catchy bassline hook. I let it go. Some time later I was driving and in my head came this bassline.' And he started to hum the bassline for Billy Jean.

Pondering on that I asked out loud, 'I could do with some help for a new book idea.'

I let it go and got on with my day just like Jacko did. I think this process of letting go is very important. It allows the seeds to sink slowly into the ground without adding too much water (attention) to them, which could ultimately kill them.

Sat at my laptop two nights ago I had an urge to sift through my bottom draw, known as the Draw of Crap. There I found articles, papers and booklets which I hadn't seen for a very long time. Two thirds through and I come across something which gave me a 'Ah haa' moment. I smiled and said thank you.

Lets just say I got was I asked for . . .

Now the idea is bubbling away in my mind and I hope I have the tenacity to see it through to completion. No doubt I will ask for help with that too.

The universe is such an amazing tool but we don't know how to use because we lack an instruction manual.

I think every one of us has a manual hidden within us.

And it's a manual written and designed for you - by you.

It's what your heart, not your head, tells you.

And for that reason it deserves to be trusted.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Travel Sickness EFT

At the weekend I went to see Steve Taylor speak in Hebdon Bridge. I was getting a lift with my good friend Elaine and her friend Sally. I've known Elaine for about three years. She's a counsellor but also taught Spirituality at Higher Education in Kirklees, of which I attended. Steve's talk started at 11am so I had to be at Elaine's farm at 9:30am, which would give us plenty of time to get there.

We set off in Elaine's brand new 4x4 KIA. A very nice motor. But something struck me about Elaine's driving; lets just say she knew how to put her foot down. It wasn't how I expected this calm and gentle person to be behind the wheel. I sat back and tried to enjoy the trip.

Ten minutes into the journey and we came across an injured crow bouncing around at the side of a very narrow country lane. Elaine, being the animal lover she is, stopped the car and we all got out to try and catch it. It was clearly evident it had a broken wing.

Both Elaine and I took off our coats and tried for several minutes to catch the crow. It was in a state of panic. Luckily, every time a car came the crow somehow knew to cower in the grass next to the dry stone walls at the side of the road. After several attempts we finally managed to get it.

Watching Elaine handle the crow, she clearly knew what she was doing. She slowly lifted up its damaged wing to find blood. It had either been hit by a vehicle or a cat must've had a shot at it.

Sally held the crow on her lap as we headed back to Elaine's farm. She spoke to it and stroked its small black head. I watched as it looked at her, making eye contact, as if it knew it was in good hands. It was such an incredible creature. I love bird watching anyway, so to be up close and personal with one was something quite special for me. The majority of us take birds for granted, but I can guarantee that if tomorrow there were no more birds, you would notice a massive difference in the sound of the outdoors.

Once back at Elaine's we placed the crow in her greenhouse with some straw and some water.

'Right,' said Elaine, 'we really must get a move on or else we'll be late. The crow will be OK. I'll look at its wing when we get back.'

. . . Skip forward 30 minutes . . .

Elaine's driving took on a whole new level.

'By the way, Gavin,' she said, whilst taking a sharp left, then right, then speeding up narrow lanes between parked cars, 'I used to be a racer.'

Just when you think you know someone, they tell you they used to be a racing driver!

I was sat in the back holding on for my life. I was chucked left and right, pulled forward and pushed back. I knew what was to come if this continued.

Travel sickness.

I've had it for as long as I can remember, which is probably why I hate being a passenger when going further than a few miles.

The symptoms are:
  • Being quiet. This is because all of my attention is focused on not throwing up. And it makes it so much harder when that seed in my mind has been planted, because every corner waters that very seed.
  • Cold hands. I have no idea why I get cold hands.
  • Then come the sweats.
  • Then comes the watery mouth.
It's truly awful. I just kept on thinking, I can't throw up in Elaine's brand new car. But what if I did? How would she react? Would we still go to Steve's talk? It's like my mind goes into overdrive.

Then Sally mentioned she could feel a migraine coming on.

Great, I thought. A bit of selfless compassion and empathy might divert my attention away from myself and alleviate some of sicky symptoms.

'Could you pass me my bag, please, Gavin?' she said. 'It's in the foot well.'

Now, there's one thing that you definitely don't do if you get travel sickness - look down.

I closed my eyes, held my breath and reached for Sally's bag and handed it her.

My attempt at compassion and empathy didn't work.

My mouth was filling up with watery saliva causing me swallow heavily every seven seconds - I was running out of time.

'Why don't you try EFT?' said Elaine to Sally.

EFT!! Why didn't I think of that?! So I started tapping the pressure point on the karate chop part of my hand, whilst repeating the term, 'Even though I feel sick I fully and lovingly accept myself.' If you've read anything on EFT, it's a phrase like this that you repeat whilst tapping certain pressure points on your body.

I was tapping like a mad man.

My tapping hand started to ache so I switched hands.

And would you believe it, it started to work!

The sweats began to cease, my stomach began to settle and I began to feel normal again.

Then Elaine accelerated up and over a hill.

The sweats came back. The sickness returned. I continued to tap like a crazy fool in the back of the KIA!

'Even though I feel sick I fully and lovingly accept myself. Even though I feel like shit I fully and lovingly accept myself. Even though I might throw up I fully and lovingly accept myself.'

It finally it began to work again and within minutes we arrived at Hebdon Bridge. I wanted to kiss the ground and roll around like Kevin Costner does in Robin Hood when he reaches the beach. I was so happy and relieved.

I'm fed up of getting travel sickness Every F&^*"!£ Time!

At least now I know a cure for it.

Oh, and Steve Taylor's talk was awesome. Check out his books: Out of the Darkness, Waking From Sleep and The Fall. Highly recommended.

(For information on EFT visit:

Happy Tapping!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Kindle or No Kindle

I've been asked by a few people when my book will be available in paperback.

This I don't know - although I'm 90% certain it will be this year.

If you don't have a kindle you can still download my book on to your computer or iphone etc. When you have my book on screen (click on the link at the end of this post to take you straight to it) look on the right hand-side (you might have to scroll down) and there will be an option to 'download free kindle for PC'. Just click on that and follow the instructions. Then you can read my book, and any other ebook, on your PC.

If you do download it I hope you enjoy it and get something of value from it.

The book link -

Friday, 23 March 2012

Rushing Roulette

Being a postman, I deliver to 540 houses. On a daily basis this takes me on average of about three hours and the distance I walk is approximately 7.5 miles. I've been on this delivery for the best part of seven years.

Because of this, I've got to know loads of people. For example, this morning I was talking to someone for about three minutes and in that time four or five cars went passed hooting their horns at me, each time the drivers' hand waving out of the window.

I've seen families form and families crumble. I've said goodbye to people, only to find out the next day that they've died overnight or over the weekend.

A lot of people I deliver to no longer look at me as their postman, but as their friend.

Someone walked passed me last week and said, "You always have time for everyone, don't you" and smiled.

And this is one of the things I've found out that people want: time - which equates to your presence.

I've said to a few people, "There's not enough time to rush".

Now, on occasion I do find myself walking faster than normal and I also find that when I'm in this mode, I find my patience being put to the test when someone is talking to me. There's a part of me that wants to move on. "I must keep going. I must keep going."

This is the result of lack of awareness, because the majority of the time I'm rushing for no apparent reason whatsoever.

It's only when I become aware of this unnecessary state of being that I can drop down a gear.

And what happens when I drop down a gear?

I start to ease into the moment and my surroundings come alive (of course, they were always vibrant, it's just that I was blinded by my state of mind).

I become aware of my breathing. I can hear the birds and the wind in the trees. I can smell the air. I can feel the sun's heat on my face. I can hear the traffic. I can hear a distant siren and a barking dog (one of the worst sounds for a postman to hear - mixed with the sound of pounding paws galloping their way towards you is a common nightmare amongst us post folk!).

But what I have found is that when I slow down I gain something.

And that something is time.

Kind of ironic.

I'm more present. Slowing down brings me back here. I look and listen more intensely. But I also get to share this presence with others.

By doing this I become less selfish and more selfless. My time stops and is replaced by Time.

What do I mean by Time?

This shared moment - a continuum which we can't be separate from. It can't be owned.

It's now.

And now.

And now.

And now.

When we're here it's blissful and when we're not here we tend to suffer in our ignorance.

When you're here you're in Love.

It's funny that we're always in Love, but can't see it because we're preoccupied with other things which we think are more important.

It's like we're gambling with our state of mind.

"Would you do . . . if you knew you were missing out on . . . ?"

When you sink into IT you'll have all the time in the world - the last thing you'll want to do is rush.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kindness on Ebay

Kindness is one of those things which has little effect if it isn't put into action. Whether it's a kind word expressed or a good deed done, if these actions are held back because of fear of ridicule or rejection (or any other reason), then the intent withers away.

I see it as a single flame being put out by a wave of water. That flame has so much potential. As the buddha said, a single flame can light a thousand candles.

Imagine what effect the right word at the right time has on someone. It can change their life.

Even if it's just a smile!

That single smile is like the candle. It can make someone feel great (one candle lit). Then that person, because you smiled at them and lifted their spirits, might smile at someone else which might have the same effect (another candle lit) . . . and the process goes on and on.

I've recently put a few items on ebay: DVDs,CDs etc. Amongst the DVDs were three boxsets. Series 1, 2 and 3.

Series 2 sold.

As I was putting it into the padded envolope, I looked across at the unsold DVDs, series 1 and 3, and knew what I had to do.

I put them in the packet too and wrote a little note:


It felt ace!

It still does.

Knowing how surprised that person is going to be puts a smile on my face.

And the thing is, I didn't stop there. I had several imported CD singles that didn't sell. Someone from Romania kept sending me messages asking what to do because he really wanted them but couldn't bid because I had selected UK shipping only.

Like I said, the CDs didn't sell, so I sent him a message asking, "If you had've won the bid for the CD's, what address would I use to send them you?"

He sent me the address and even told me instructions of what to do on ebay so he could choose the BUY IT NOW option. This guy really wanted these singles.

With his address at hand, I put all the CD singles, even more than what was originally on ebay, and posted them to him in Romania. Again, I wrote a note:


I could've quite easily put that intent to one side, put the CDs on ebay again and let him buy them. But it didn't feel right. What did feel right was for him to receive them unexpectedly as a gift from a stranger.

My good friend, Paul Walsh, walked into Borders bookshop, picked up a book on how to get rich quick and put money in it before putting it back on the shelf.

How ace is that?!

Another friend of mine, Susan Dewhurst, when putting the lottery on, bought a lucky dip for the person behind her in the queue.


What random act of kindness can you do today?

. . . I have a dog named Talk, and I Walked it . . .

Sunday, 11 March 2012

That Really Sucks, but Thanks.

You know when life doesn't seem to be going according to plan? When things seem to be going wrong all the time? Sometimes it can seem like one thing after another; your car breaks down, your pet gets ill, you come down with a cold, you run out of milk or bread etc (left the worst till last).

You end up saying, 'Come on, Life, just give us a break!' Sometimes, if things really get on top of you, you might take on the role as the victim and end up saying something like, 'Why me?'

Been there. Done that.

But life is never personal.

Life is an impersonal process.

The bigger picture just has to be seen.

About three weeks ago I came down with Laryngitis. Then on top of that I had a flu-like bug. It (and I) wasn't pretty. I could feel my physical ailments getting the better of me - and the answer to my problem lay in that one sentence. I could feel my physical ailments getting the better of me. When I saw that I wasn't my physical ailments, I detached myself from them, and therefore was no longer them.

I became the observer.

As the Zen master, Suzuki, said about his cancer, 'There is pain there, but there is no suffering.'

So my attitude to Laryngitis changed. I started to say thank you for the experience. I had no choice but to lay in bed, read, watch films, and basically just chill out and rest. I hadn't done this for a long, long time. So I started to feel really grateful for the opportunity.

Can you accept the crappy circumstances (if there are any) going on in your life? More importantly, can you see that the circumstances, the opportunities to grow, aren't crap?

That may be a tough one, I admit.

I wouldn't be saying all this if I didn't practise it myself. So believe me, I know it's hard. But to see everything that goes on in your life as a blessing, a gift, an opportunity to grow, your suffering lifts, and your spirit goes with it. You'll feel lighter. You might even smile at whatever it is that has happened - depending on the severity of it.

Remember, Triple A:
  1. Accept
  2. Adapt
  3. Acknowledge
Your car breaks down; accept it. You get Laryngitis; accept it. Your pet gets ill; accept it. It's already happened, so by accepting it you don't resist it. Resisting what already is, surely, is a waste of time and energy.

As Ram Dass said, resistance is like picking up all the leaves in Autumn and trying to stick them back on the tree.

By accepting the fact your car has broken down, you don't resist it and therefore you can adapt to the situation more easily, more calmly.

Acknowledge that the happening is for you and your growth. You will grow (you are forever growing). You will learn things about yourself. You will never get to a point where you say, 'I've learnt all there is no learn about myself.'

'Life is a process of continuing growth.' Bruce Lee.

Whatever life throws at us, it's our emotional involvement that decides whether it's something big or small.

. . . When really, in reality, everything that happens, just is.

. . . Look! Spring's here . . .

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Happiness - The Big Issue

On my day off yesterday I decided to catch the train to Leeds to visit the art gallery.

I woke up in good time and was on the 8:45am train.

Once in Leeds I headed straight for Cafe Nero (a favourite place of mine) and had a bowl of porridge (with maple syrup) and a latte (with caramel syrup). After finishing my oaty breakfast I sat back in the nice leather chair with my latte and began to read an article in the Nov/Dec issue of Resurgence magazine. It's a special 'wellbeing' issue. The article I began to read was called Happiness as a Higher Good written by Richard Ryder.

It starts off with the following:

The word 'happiness' did not appear in English until the 16th century. It derives from the much older word 'hap', meaning 'chance' or 'good luck'. We see it still in 'haphazard', 'hapless', 'mishap', 'perhaps', and so on.

In between reading, sipping my coffee and trying to lick the maple syrup from my fingers, (it might've looked like I had a problem because my fingers would not stop being sticky so I kept on licking where I thought the syrup was) I looked up and noticed a man selling The Big Issue. He was getting soaked from the rain and yet there he was smiling at everyone who walked passed him, saying good morning to them and even waving to people on the other side of the road.

He walked around in a kind of square, getting excited when someone walked passed him, all in the attempt to try and sell the £2 magazine. He looked so happy to be there, to have that job, to be out in the open and be talking to strangers.

I got to the end of my article which ended with:

We now know there are seven main factors affecting human happiness, probably in this order of importance:
  • family relationships
  • financial security
  • work
  • friendships
  • health
  • freedom
  • personal value
I sip the frothy dregs and put the magazine in my bag, take the tray to the counter, say thank you to the staff and leave the cafe. The rain has got heavier now so I zip up my coat a tad further, which doesn't make any difference whatsoever, and cross over to this happy fellow on the corner of the street.

He has a woolly hat on. It's red, brown and yellow. He has a beard which gives him an unkempt appearance, but his eyes - it's his eyes that shine. There is so much joy coming out of them.

'Morning!' he says, waving at me, even though I'm only a few yards away.

I return the greeting and walk closer to him.

'Can I just tell you,' I say, fiddling with the coins in my pocket, trying to figure out what felt like a pound and what didn't, 'that you have made my morning.'

He looks perplexed. 'Why's that?'

'Because you're the happiest person I've come across so far today.'

His face softens. 'Thank you,' he says, nodding his head and smiling.

I pull out two pound coins and hand them to him and he gives me an issue of the magazine in return.

His smile oozes gratitude.

'Please keep it up,' I say.

'I will,' he says, grinning.

I walk over to the art gallery and try the door. It's locked.

'Doesn't open till 10, mate,' says a voice. It's a young guy putting chairs outside the gift shop below to my left.

'Cheers, buddy!' I say.

I have half an hour to kill so I wonder further up Headrow towards the shops. I walk into Whittards and look at the different teas, coffees and teapots. I catch the girl behind the counter smiling at me so I smile back.

'It's so cold,' she says.

'Compared to the last couple of days it is, yes. Everyone seems a lot happier when the sun's out, don't you think?'

'Definitely,' she says. 'I look out there and it's just,' she scrunches up her young, pale face, ' . . .grim.'

I laugh.

'Grim?' I say.

She laughs at her own comment, which I don't think she would've done if I hadn't have laughed in the first place.

'Yes, it's grim,' she says.

'You know, I've just bought a copy of The Big Issue from one of the most happiest people I've come across. Without doubt the happiest person I've seen today.'

Her face lit up.

'The guy that shouts morning and waves to people on the other side of the street?'

'Yeah, that's him,' I say, sounding quite surprised.

'You know,' she says, 'he has been like that for about seven years.'

'Maybe he's an enlightened one,' I say.

She shifts her gaze away from me without moving her head, as if pondering on what I've said.

'Maybe,' she says, coming back to me.

'So think on,' I say, heading towards the door, 'it's not grim.'

'It's not grim,' she says, smiling.

'Spread the joy not the grim.'

'Spread the joy not the grim!!' she says with passion. The other two customers look at her and smile uncomfortably.

I laugh.

'That's going to be my motto for the day!' she says. 'Spread the joy and not the grim . . .' she ponders again.

'Good bye,' I say, interrupting her thoughts.

'Yeah, see you!'

After two hours of looking at awe inspiring art in the gallery, I head home on the train and open up the magazine at the next article. It's called A Better Way of Life by Richard Layard. On the page there's a Happiness Pledge that reads:


If you see the happy Big Issue man him tell him how great he's doing and thank him for being the way he is - and you might as well buy a copy of the magazine whilst you're there too.

...and remember, spread the joy not the grim.