Day 40

New strenuous Chi Kung process (agony for the feet but I’m sure it’s worth it – and at least I didn’t fall over) followed by a trip to see the ruins at Phaistos – 37 degrees and no shade but a beautiful and interesting place. Back just in time for class to start at 11. For the first 20 minutes or so, I was just so hot I couldn’t think but got better after I sat in the path of the fan for a bit. Julia Kurusheva taught Shamanic Journeying. Very interesting experience, though I was a bit disappointed that my animals didn’t talk. Other people reported having had entire conversations with their animals and some even hugged them, but my fantail just flew and the bear looked stern and pointed at a stone for me to pick up. At lunchtime I went back to my room, set my alarm and thought I’d have a quick nap. I woke up late for class having slept through 15 minutes of loud doorbell noises (the alarm on my phone) and probably some vigorous knocking from the housekeeping staff, if the pile of towels and cleaning equipment outside the door is anything to go by. Intended to swim after class but, you guessed it, ended up having a nap instead! Nice Greek salad and cod with garlic sauce for dinner. Lovely after dinner walk and conversation with Janine, a fellow student.

Day 39

Woke around 4 a.m. but managed to get back to sleep eventually and didn’t finally drag myself out of bed until 0750 – leaving just enough time to brush my teeth and pull clothes on before level 2 Chi Kung at 8 a.m. Much more comfortable today – in spite of me unexpectedly falling into a rosemary bush at one point. Embarrassingly, this didn’t happen during one of the bits where one has to stand on one foot. Both feet were firmly planted on solid ground but for some reason that wasn’t enough to stop me slowly keeling over. Only real agony today was in the arches of my feet which cramped pretty much throughout the half hour practice. A nice swim before class started again at 11 a.m. Laughter yoga was fun and felt like a workout and Richard told the first part of Mantak Chia’s “my master teach me” story – always one of my favourites. Two very trippy processes (ascending states and the unanswerable question) proved a refresher on breathing in time with another person and the subtle art of supporting a less experienced practitioner from the client chair.

Nice bedtime conversation with Nick and the children. Nick put the phone on speaker at his end and Sherlock woofed in the background. Dash is very excited about going to Chessington with school tomorrow and Katie has apparently left a mystery box of gifts outside my bedroom door awaiting my return.

Day 38

Woke up at 05:20 and thought ‘woohoo – I’ll photograph the sunrise’, but it was still completely dark. Spent three quarters of an hour trying to get back to sleep before giving up and deciding on an early swim. The water was really warm and the beach was beautiful but the waves were much bigger / stronger than I was expecting (apparently it is usually completely calm) so I took an ultra-cautious approach, not least because the only other person on the beach was a young woman in a startlingly short frock and no discernible underwear, beached face-down on the sand, possibly in a raki-induced coma. I was wondering whether I needed to try to move her into the recovery position when, to my great relief, she stirred, stumbled to her feet and staggered off down the beach. And then there was just me.

I spent about an hour pottering about in the shallows then went back to the hotel and got ready for morning Chi Kung. The strenuous new exercise was pretty challenging. Afterwards I returned to my room intending to do something useful but instead did a process and immediately fell asleep, waking up just in time for a quick breakfast of bread and honey before the course proper started at 11. Did the new exercise again in the afternoon – more comfortable second time around but knees still making an alarming noise reminiscent of a TARDIS trying to dematerialise. By the end of the day’s activities, I had the definite feeling that there was a small tingling charge at the tips of my fingers, which caused interesting sensations if I ran my fingertips over the skin of my arm for example.

Usually on Richard Bolstad‘s courses I have half an eye on ‘could I run this training?’ but not in this case. The things Richard can do with a straight face (and loose-fitting clothing) are so far outside my comfort zone that you really can’t get there from here.

Nice walk and good after dinner conversation with Maria Noone.

Day 37

Lift Chi Up. Integration (in Crete). Task.

Arrived in Matala about 1a.m. and was ushered straight to my room by the taxi driver. Accommodation clean but very basic (no phone, no chair, very strange bed). Was initially pessimistic about chances of sleep on very hard bed but fortunately the 6 Step Reframe did the trick and I slept quite well. Very weird feeling to wake up in a new place with no feeling for where I was, having arrived in the dark, but Matala is beautiful and has a nice laid back vibe. Very good experience of Robert Dilt’s neurological levels. Some interesting students on the course, (mostly women – which is always good :-), especially a woman who teaches mediation to secondary school kids in NZ. There’s a guy from Adelaide – and trying to stop ‘one more boring Thursday night in Adelaide’ from running through my head has been like Karen Blixen trying not to think of the camel’s left knee.

Wildly expensive dinner at an overpriced local restaurant with amazing views.

Raki is disgusting! But if you had some lime scale build-up around the taps I suspect it might be just the thing to dissolve it.

Looking forward to learning some new Chi Kung tomorrow – though a kind of weird half-sitting thing Richard demonstrated today looked painful!

Day 36

Kids off to school, thoroughly cuddled since I won’t see them for a week. Lift Chi Up. Packing. Train. Airport. Bag Drop. Security – cabin luggage chosen for random swabbing to detect explosive residues but no groping. I hate non-underwired bras but they certainly make it easier to get through security. The engineering marvels (cunningly disguised as wisps of silk and lace) I get from Rigby and Peller set off the damn machines every time. Mind you R&P were lingerie suppliers by Royal appointment to HRH the Queen Mother, so that gives an idea of the scale of challenge they are prepared to take on!

Day 35

Lift Chi Up. Dentist. Hairdresser. Errands. The Events at the Young Vic Theatre, task.

Another fabulous sunny, hot, hot, hot day – never let it be said that the weather gods didn’t sort out fab weather for my career break! The Events was very clever, moving, gritty, sad. I could have wished for slightly better singing from the choir, but Nick felt that they were just authentically amateurish.

Day 34

Lift Chi Up.

A beautiful, sunny, incredibly hot day. Very glad I wasn’t in the office. When I watered the pungas, Sherlock ran back and forth under the hose like a kid under the sprinkler (though thankfully without the squealing).

I started the day tired, after being awake half the night dealing with my mystery bite situation, and the heat, and some sad news from NZ, further mitigated against productivity. As a result I have rather too many things to do tomorrow and some things that should have been done before I go to Crete will now be done on my return. Hey ho – from this babies won’t die (as Linda Bulger used to say).

Over the last few weeks I have begun to think of myself as an ex-civil servant. However my inability to tear myself away from radio 4’s coverage of the cabinet re-shuffle yesterday tells me that “civil servant in recovery” might be more accurate.

Sad anniversary

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death in 2008 – it is hard to believe it has been 6 years but it must be true because Katie was still a tiny wee thing. Earlier in 2008, I had assisted on Instructor Training in Auckland and Dad had come up to do the proud (if rather nervous) Grandad thing. It made life rather tough for my sister, who ended up looking after the vomiting baby AND the slightly frail elderly man but it was, I think, a very special time for all of us.

Day 33

Lift Chi Up. Task. Altered two pairs of silk trousers, mended one dressing gown and one silk kimono. Attached leather patches to the torn knees of two pairs of leggings and one pair of jeans. Attempted (unsuccessfully) to bleach the stains out of favourite white blouse. Played with Sherlock and did some watering. Small mountain of handwashing. Obtained what I hope is a reasonably complete list of invitees (to Katie’s party). Got several bits of tedious admin sorted.

Day 32

Writing. Lovely long phone call with Ann Eade. Task. Lift Chi Up. Played with Sherlock. Altering clothes (not especially successful).

Just before five, I got a text from Estelle, the mother of one of Katie’s school friends, thanking me for the invitation to the party, asking if the party is to show off the new tree house and checking that the children are really meant to stay all day. This was a little bit alarming, as we don’t have a tree house, and I didn’t know anything about a party. A little detective work revealed that, while I was at Resilience over the weekend, Katie kept herself busy making “cards” for all her friends. Unfortunately it now turns out that the cards were actually invitations and she has apparently invited an as yet unknown, but possibly large, number of 7 year olds to an all day party at our house on the 27th of July.

A 6pm I took Katie to an open day at her school, set up to allow parents to look at the children’s work. On the way home, I broached the subject of the party, trying to get a better idea of the scale of what she has committed us to. She reeled off about 8 names of people she has invited but then said that there might be others so she really needs to write them down. I asked her what her plans were and the response was something like this: “everybody will have 6 turns on the trampoline, then we’ll have tea, and then we’ll play with the dog”. The dog in question being poor Sherlock, the half-trained puppy who can’t be entirely relied upon not to playfully bite small, shrieking, fast moving persons. I asked what she thought she was going to give her guests for tea if she didn’t tell me about the party. “Oh anything. Sausage rolls, that type of thing.”.

I’m not entirely sure what to do about this – it would be kind of embarrassing to withdraw the invitations and there would be the worrying possibility of a couple of people not getting the cancellation and showing up anyway. On the other hand, I don’t really want to get back from Crete on the Friday and host a score of kids on the Sunday. Most of all, I don’t want to subject poor Sherlock to massed 7 year olds. My first thought is to dilute the problem by reissuing the invitations to include mummies – something like trampolining for the kids and a glass of Pimms for the mummies. That way at least the mummies can be responsible for their own kids’ safety re the trampoline / inflatable pool / dog.

One slightly humorous postscript was that we bumped into Estelle and Clara on the way home and Estelle seemed to find the whole situation totally hilarious. Right up until the point where Clara announced “That’s so cool Katie. I am definitely going to organise a party at OUR house without telling Mummy.” Estelle wasn’t laughing quite so hard after that.

Yesterday at day 2 of Resilience, Richard told the story about the depressed client who arrived declaring that all the various therapies he had tried were rubbish and didn’t work, whereupon Richard matched him by saying “NLP doesn’t work. You work.”. Which got me thinking about what a useful frame this is AND how it also leads to an unfortunate scarcity of undying gratitude! It is different in a training situation where one is swapping processes with another trainee – having just done the practitioner role, one knows both that what the other person is doing involves work, and also that the process is responsible for the subsequent change. I will always have a special fondness for Julia Kurusheva on the grounds that, when we were doing master prac together, in the process of learning the allergy cure, she managed to sort out my body’s previously unhelpful reactions to caffeine and insect bites – and I sincerely hope that there are people I trained alongside who have similar memories of me! Outside of training however, it’s more difficult. The more elegant and seamless / seem-less an intervention is, the less likely the client is to think you did anything useful. A few years ago one of my staff, a pretty, intelligent, English girl, married an obnoxious Australian. A few months later, she said she would be leaving, as her new husband had decided that they should go and live in Adelaide in order to be near his family. As the weeks passed she began to look increasingly miserable and I did wonder if I might bear some of the blame for this, on account of having (in the name of staff retention!) emailed her an MP3 of the old Redgum song which starts off: “Well it’s one more boring Thursday night in Adelaide / and it looks like everybody must have died”. But a week or so before she was due to leave us, she came to me in a bit of a state and explained that she was terrified of flying and had heard that I could do something called the phobia cure. Now, I don’t love the phobia cure. One of the reasons I have never seen paying clients is that I strongly suspected that, whatever the presenting issue, I would be inclined to twist it around until it turned into something which could be sorted by parts integration, chaining anchors, or the allergy process – because clearly these are amazing, magical, life-enhancing processes, whereas the visual swish, for example, is just an irritating palaver which makes one’s head ache. But when the client asks for the ‘phobia cure’ by name, there really isn’t anywhere else to go. So we found an empty meeting room, I ran her through the phobia cure, and she thanked me politely and returned to her desk. Now, I was her boss’s boss and she needed a reference, so this was only ever going to end with her thanking me politely! A few weeks later we heard that she had duly pitched up in Adelaide (and was indeed finding it very dull) so I knew that, either the phobia cure had worked, or the caveman had thrown her over his shoulder and carried her onto the plane, sedated or struggling, or maybe both. About 18 months later she came to visit, to show off her new baby. While the rest of the team cooed over the baby, I asked her how the flight over from Australia had been. It was great, she said, the plane was half empty, I got the whole row of bassinet seats to myself, and the baby slept the whole way. Now at this stage, I thought a “Thank you Jessamine, that phobia cure thing you did, that really changed my life” wouldn’t have gone amiss, but no. So I said, “Wow, that’s amazing, because you used to have a bit of problem with flying.”. She looked a bit confused, and then said “Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten about that.”.