The world of Formula 1: a woman’s eye view!

Let’s get one thing straight: Formula 1 is not just about ‘men driving round in circles’, the old go-to comment from those who have no interest in the sport. There are no tracks used by F1 that are neatly circular!
And, from a female fan’s point of view, F1 is absolutely not just about the races… it is a world within itself, and possibly the most fascinating reality show on television.
We come to know the drivers, and we worry about them. We also learn to recognise their family members and decide whether or not we like them. There is one particular driver, a fantastic, feisty young man whose father is not my favourite person in the world, even though he has been behind his son every inch of the way. I have heard the stories about how he went about things (from the driver himself, even, in interviews), and I felt sad and indignant on his behalf. Not that he’s complaining or asking for sympathy. And the tough years have obviously paid off, given his level of skill, courage, and self-belief.


Women love the stories behind the scenes!

Women tend to pick up on the stories behind the scenes. For example, I wasn’t keen on Esteban Ocon at first, believing him to be a little cocky in attitude… but I came to understand him more, especially after hearing him explain about the sacrifices his family made to support him in his racing career, and how important it was to him to become successful… to make it all worthwhile. I became a big fan, and was gutted when he was ousted from Force India (I still struggle to call them Racing Point), but relieved when he didn’t end up at Williams.

On the subject of the Williams team, all women should admire, respect and sometimes cry for Claire – her determination and her dignity are second to none, and the task she is currently facing monumental. As the mother of a young child, and deputy team principal of a struggling Formula 1 team, she must, at times, be exhausted and living on the edge of her nerves… but she pulls it all together and keeps going. I think everyone in F1 is rooting for the Williams team, and everyone would be incredibly sad to see them go. So, fingers crossed for better days. I still wouldn’t want to see Ocon driving for them though, as things stand – it could be the kiss of death to his career.
There are drivers that you just know aren’t going to be there next season, and your heart bleeds for them – especially as the season unfolds without them acquiring a seat for the following year. I fear for Grosjean and wonder if he is now driving on borrowed time. So many times Guenther Steiner has appeared to want to throttle him with his bare hands, and probably for good reason! But Grosjean is so likeable and he has tried so hard, coming back from the brink many, many times. Yes, he can be a bit of a whinger, but he wears his heart on his sleeve, and when he is happy his face lights up… and you just have to smile with him! I hope I am wrong, but I would be surprised if he is still in F1 in 2020, the way things are going.


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What about the technical stuff?

By now you will have noticed that I haven’t touched on the technical aspects of the sport, and won’t be at all surprised to hear that I don’t understand most of it. However, I do understand about DRS, and the different tyres used, and some of the most common rules (and the various arguments that regularly spring up around them!). Whilst watching the film, Rush, for the first time, I even immediately spotted that they were on slicks, instead of wet weather tyres, at the beginning of the race… and my partner was quite impressed! For a brief second in time, I felt like an F1 old-timer! I watch everything including some of the practice (I am usually working), qualifying, and of course the race itself, as well as all the pre-race stuff, ending with Ted’s notebook (on Sky).
 And I love the documentaries showing how the hospitality suites etc are neatly dismantled and carted off to the next venue, where they are neatly-but-hurriedly reassembled – by what I can only describe as a team of miracle workers. How the hell do they do that?? Pit-stops are another source of great wonder, though I have become seasoned enough to deem a three-second stop as being too slow! Ridiculous.


Fewer celebs, please!

The grid walk is usually kind of exciting, especially when the teams all have to charge back to the pits, en masse. But some of the ‘celebrities’ really pee me off, and they spoil it for me, especially the more up-their-own-arse variety, flanked by a bunch of over-zealous flunkies, too important to stop for a chat with Martin Brundle (don’t get me started on Mariah Carey). Or, they do stop but give attitude – making themselves look ridiculous. However, most of the ‘big’ stars are responsive and polite, like Will Smith, Michael Douglas, and Daniel Craig. I don’t think that some of them understand that the real stars at a Grand Prix are the drivers and that most people would much rather see Lewis, or Seb, or Max, or Kimi. Well, I know I would. I’d also rather be in a queue for a cup of tea behind Toto, Christian, or Guenther, than any of the celebs (apart from Will Smith, maybe). And I would have given anything to have met Niki Lauda. My partner and I were both in shock and tears, following his sudden death, and it is still almost impossible to believe that he has gone. It was sad enough to hear of the passing of Charlie Whiting, but the loss of Niki was really hard to accept. I actually had a dream about him, in which he told me to be ‘resilient’, and although it was just a dream, it meant a lot to me. The following day I was watching an interview with Toto Wolff (I am sure it was him), and they asked him to describe Niki – and the first thing that he said was that he was resilient. That really blew me away, and made the dream even more meaningful.



I love Lewis, warts and all!

Of course, I have my favourites and Lewis has to be top of the list. I started watching F1 in late in 2006 (introduced by my partner, whom I met in September of that year), and followed his career from that point. I have argued with people who claim that Lewis is arrogant (I don’t see self-belief as arrogance), and those who say that he should stop all of his extra-curricular activities – as in globe-hopping and rubbing shoulders with the filthy-rich-and-famous (why should he? It clearly isn’t interfering with his racing). I don’t love everything he does just because he is Lewis Hamilton, and sometimes, yes, he can be a bit of a sulker – but he is a human being, not a god. He has struggled at times, emotionally speaking (I laughed out loud when he once claimed, in an interview, that he is not an emotional person!), and I love the way we get to see the worst and the best of him (well, some of it, anyway). I remember Niki, always up-front and unfazed, confirming that Lewis had been so upset that he had trashed his little room at Mercedes, following some incident during the Hamilton-Rosberg years. And I also remember (two years ago, I think) Lewis’s dad, Anthony, saying that he had locked himself into his room for the whole evening following qualifying at Silverstone, because he had made a miscalculation and believed he had blown any chance of winning the race and had let everyone down. Except that he hadn’t and he didn’t… because he won it. He is a passionate, hugely talented young man who is thinking ahead. He is creating an empire that will outlive his F1 career, and only very recently said that when his Formula 1 racing days are over, he won’t be there in any other capacity.
However, as much as I want Lewis to win, I also want Seb Vettel to win… and Max Verstappen… and Valteri Bottas… and Charles Le Clerc… but only sometimes. And of course, mixing it up is always good; the 2019 British Grand Prix was, in my opinion, the most exciting race of the year, and the excitement only eased after Vettel drove into the back of Max’s Red Bull – otherwise, it probably would have gone the distance.


“F1 has become boring”. Not to me, it hasn’t.

Over the years, I have heard many men say that F1 is now boring and not what it used to be. Well, I can’t argue the point because I have only been a fan for 12/13 years, and in that time it has changed face more times than I can count. I believe the whole aura of Formula 1 is now different… but different doesn’t necessarily mean worse. I have read and watched much stuff about the history of the sport, and the darkest days were when drivers were killed as a matter of course, several a year in fact, and no-one wants that. The last accident-related death in F1 was that of Jules Bianchi, who crashed in October 2014 at Suzuka, passing away in 2015, at the age of 25. This was absolutely devastating and completely unexpected. After all, the last driver to die had been the legendary Ayrton Senna, in 1994 (I cannot bear to watch the film Senna, again – I sobbed and sobbed, and once is enough), and it is hoped that no driver will need to die again, either on track or as a result of a racing accident. I don’t believe that Formula 1 is boring, or easier, as is sometimes claimed… but hey, what do I know, apart from the fact that I really love all aspects of it, from the pit-lane to the finishing line. I love the personalities, the gossip, the drama, the highs and the lows, the struggles, and the success stories. To paraphrase one philosophical team engineer I once heard interviewed: Formula 1 is mostly misery with the odd bit of joy thrown in!






Are your emotions running the show? Are your thoughts and feelings driving you crazy?

Is your own thinking driving you crazy? Are your thought processes muddled, scattered, and highly emotionally-charged? Rarely, occasionally… or very regularly? If so, do you have the guts to admit this to yourself, and commit to change – for the sake of your own sanity (and possibly other people’s, too!)?

Emotionally reactive thinking is rapidly becoming a modern-day problem, especially amongst the 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s – and sometimes even within the 50’s and 60’s. It disempowers us because it usually has its roots in procrastination and resistance… a fact we may be tempted to talk around and deny (get it? Procrastination and resistance?). It also prevents us from being able to see the bottom line, the brass tacks, the facts and figures – and it certainly doesn’t help us to reach any  workable solutions!

Sometimes we don’t even recognise the fact that our own thinking is causing us…

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Clean up your thoughts and feelings… and seriously empower your life!

Imagine being able to live a life that is not clouded by repetitive bouts of anxiety – a life in which you respond to challenges, rather than automatically reacting. Imagine being able to retain a sense of perspective, rather than feeling overwhelmed every time you run into a difficult situation or person. Think about how freeing it would be not to crumble in the face of criticism, taking it all personally and reacting defensively. And, even if you are doing some or all of these things only some of the time, wouldn’t any degree of improvement be liberating?

My answer would be a resounding yes… because I actually lived in an incredibly disempowering way, until I began to recognise how just much of an unhelpful role I was playing in my own life! I still don’t have it all under control but it is a darn sight better than it…

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Getting back with your ex: COULD you? SHOULD you? This will help you to figure it out!

Previously published on
Think about the ex you are struggling to get over, or find yourself hoping to reconcile with (even if you haven’t been in touch with one another for ages): what, specifically, is it about that person that is so special? Push aside emotional sentimentality and break it down. Forget, “I don’t know… I just still love him/her”, and analyse it objectively.

To begin, make a list of a minimum of 5 clear positive characteristics your ex possesses (not generalisations!). For example, these could include:

Genuine kindness and empathy

An attentive listener

Generous with time and/or money

Enthusiastic about life

Loyal to family and friends

Hard working

Encouraging and supportive

Easy company

Emotionally secure

Honest without being unkind

Clean and well presented


Willingness to accept personal responsibility

Now, make a list of a minimum of 5 not-so-positive traits your ex possesses. These could include:

Plays the blame-game… it’s always someone else’s fault.







Lack of self-care


Refusal to communicate

Resistance to reasonable discussion about the future

A tendency to flirt with other people

Mean with money, or poor financial management

Obviously, and realistically speaking, even the best partner would display some of the characteristics from the second list. However, if you are being completely honest and objective, and are ticking off more not-so-positive traits than positive ones, you might need to question your yearning for reconciliation!

Also, consider the areas of compatibility between the two of you, under specific headings:




Hobbies and interests


Plans for the future

Emotional intimacy

Family and friends

Again, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to tick every box, and differences can work well in a ‘grown-up’ relationship… but if it is clear that you and your ex are largely incompatible, it would be foolish to sweep that knowledge under the carpet!

Now, look at the timescale of the relationship, and ask these questions:

How long were you together?

What percentage of that time was genuinely healthy and satisfying?

What percentage of that time was difficult and painful?

How often did you experience feelings of anger and frustration toward your ex?

How often did you push your ex away?

How often did you feel the need to ‘punish’ him or her?

How often did you feel that your ex was pushing you away?

How often did you feel that your ex was stone-walling you (ignoring you, refusing to communicate)?

How many times did you break up and get back together again?

How many times did you say, “right, that’s IT, this is his/her very last chance!”?

How many times did you complain to friends or family about your ex, whilst still together?

Your answers should give you a clear understanding of the healthiness of the relationship between you and your ex: on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), what number would you truthfully give it?

And now, we come to the break-up (this is real bottom-line stuff!):

Who ended it?

Why was it ended?

Was the break-up amicable, or bitter and blame-filled?

Were you left with unanswered questions?

Do you feel that others have an unfair, distorted view of what really went on between you and your ex?

Did you leave your ex for someone else?

Did your ex leave you for someone else?

Are you or your ex still with that person?

Let’s now come to the current time:

Are you and your ex in contact with one another?

When was the last time you communicated?

Do you know whether your ex is single or not?

If you are in contact, what do you talk about?

And if you are in contact, are you actually meeting up or just texting or talking over the phone?

In line with the above, how long has that situation been going on?

Also in line with the above, how long would you be willing to allow the communication to continue without making further, definite progression?

Important final questions to ask:

Do you really want to get back with your ex… or do you just think that you do?

Having given consideration to the content of this blog, do you still feel that getting back with your ex would be a good idea?

What have you learned from all of this – do you feel that you yourself mishandled the relationship with your ex?

Or, do you feel that it was your ex who created most of the problems?

Or, do you feel that it was the two of you together that was the problem?

Do you feel that, separately, you and your ex could both be genuinely happier with different partners?

Is it the pain of rejection and unanswered questions that is keeping you hanging on?

Is it a fear of being alone that causes you to return to thinking about your ex?

Is it the belief that your ex has moved on more easily than you, that is holding you prisoner?

Is it a belief that you aren’t good enough, and that no-one else will want or love you, that makes your ex seem like an attractive proposition after all?

Have you mentally and emotionally edited the relationship, ‘forgetting’ the darker stuff?

Having acknowledged the reasons for the break-up, have the problems and issues that existed been resolved… or could they be resolved?

Do you have strong evidence that your ex definitely wants to get back with you?

Have you forgiven your ex for the pain of the past, or does it still exist, deep within?

Would you trust your ex again?

You are likely to find, if you are being honest with yourself, that your answers either reveal something you hadn’t previously recognised about the reality of the situation, or it will bring you face to face with a truth you had been hiding from. Or… who knows, you might even find that getting back with your ex absolutely makes sense!
Break-ups are always going to be painful, even under the most amicable of circumstances. However, more often or not, they are devastating, messy, and blame-fuelled, leaving a legacy of unresolved pain and unanswered questions. It takes time to be able to see the wood for the trees again, and to be able to view the situation with clarity; sadly, I have worked with too many people who are still hanging onto the deceased relationship several years down the line, either awash with anger and resentment, or with sadness and longing. I wrote about this in my blog, GETTING OVER YOUR EX: MAKING SENSE OF THE FEELINGS THAT ARE HOLDING YOU BACK.
I am not saying that grief has a sell-by date, but there probably comes a point at which we might need to seek help to let it go and move on. I remember one lady who had been re-married for 10 years, but who was still raging about her ex to anyone who would listen! And the guy who so frequently spoke bitterly about his ex, I asked him how his current partner felt about his obsession – and he looked a little shocked. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that his unwillingness to let go of the past might be having a negative impact upon the woman he claimed to love. We all lose the plot and feel lost sometimes; the trick is to recognise when it is getting out of hand!
For advice and helpful pointers about the world of attraction and dating, outlining the 6 major but most common pitfalls, you might want to check out my booklet, published as a blog: Attraction And Dating: How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap!


I finally reduced adductor muscle pain with a couple of basic stretches!

I have struggled with a painful adductor muscle for around 5 years, and it has, at times, been excruciating. Eventually, I visited the doctor, who sent me for a hip x-ray (no mention of the adductor muscle). Happily, there was nothing wrong with my hip and the situation was left there… although the pain continued.

I started taking Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), and they actually helped, but the pain and discomfort continued to keep me awake at night, and my hip/groin area would often suddenly ‘lock’. I battled through it, walking the dog daily, and I even took up kickboxing – I was determined not to be held prisoner by this effing thing! Many times, after class, I could barely walk, and the condition definitely affected the height and power of my kicks (and to make matters worse, I have short legs!).

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It was my eldest daughter who explained that it wasn’t my hip, but the adductor muscle. She is a kickboxing instructor, and periodically experiences the same kind of pain; in fact, it is a very common injury for sporty people. I am pretty sure that mine first occurred when I was learning to ride my motorbike… I fell off a zillion times, having to drag the poor machine back into an upright position time after time!

I revisited the doctor, who referred me for some physiotherapy, but although the guy was very nice, he basically showed me the same stretching exercises we were doing during kickboxing classes and advised me to stick with it.

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Fast forward 6 months, I was still in pain and more often than not walking with a limp. My daughter kept telling me that the tightness was probably caused by the glute muscles, and I did my best to loosen them up! And then, after class one evening, she handed me a sponge snord and instructed me to put it on the floor and roll my bottom over it… and I felt a crunching in the offending cheek, which was actually quite pleasant, in a weird way!

I started to do something I used to do, many years ago: repeatedly and tightly squeezing and releasing my buttock cheeks… on the couch, in bed, whilst at my computer desk, etc. I also got into the habit of performing sets of hip-lifts, and stretching my legs whilst holding onto my toes (and watching TV!), and I began to notice an improvement in my groin – there was far less tightness and a lot less pain… plus no locking! I have been waiting to wake up one day and find that it was just a temporary improvement, and that the stiffness is still there – but, two weeks have passed, and I am still able to move around much better than I have been able to for years. I am not saying that I am completely pain-free, but probably about 85%. I still try to be careful with how I move, especially whilst turning over in bed, but it really seems that a couple of simple exercises have made a massive difference!

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Of course, my leg muscles are stronger than they were a year ago before I began kickboxing, and so that will definitely have helped. But, even so, the young students in their teens and twenties obviously have more natural flexibility than I do, at 61. However, I am quick on my feet whilst sparring, and am told by the instructor that I have very ‘fast hands’! One test is going to be when I next wear shoes with heels; although I used to almost live in heels, nowadays I am either wearing trainers or flip-flops or have bare feet. I noticed in the past that the pain would become more intense after I had changed my footwear for something a little loftier, even for just a few hours… and I am hoping that that will no longer be the case!   

Another of the areas I know I still need to work on is how I hold myself during pad-work and sparring; I am way too stiff, which admittedly, puts a bit of power behind a jab-cross, but is poor style! And of course, a more fluid approach is going to help me improve technique and speed, and avoid unnecessary muscle strain. It is so easy to throw yourself into it, shoulders stiff and scrunched, forgetting to ‘flow like water’!

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And, of course, good rotation is absolutely necessary where fluid movement is concerned; the three R’s have been drummed into us like a sacred mantra: reach, rotation, and retraction!

It is never too late to become more physically flexible, and reduce or even heal old injuries – and sometimes it isn’t even as difficult as we fear it might be. I am not saying that these simple and common-place stretches are the ultimate solution to all adductor issues – only that they have been working for me, and my particular problem. I was on the verge of angrily demanding further medical assessment, convinced that I would never be free of the wretched pain and stiffness… but I am hugely more hopeful now! 



Can a slow writer make a living as a freelancer? It appears that the answer is probably not!

I am a slow writer, and it takes me forever to write a blog. Having researched the subject of freelance writing it is clear to me that anyone who wants to make a living from the writing of articles and blogs needs to be able to whip them up in the blink of an eye. One woman in particular outlines her daily routine, and allocates 2 hours for the production of her commissioned articles (notice I say articles, in the plural!). Usually, I can’t complete even one blog for one of my websites in 4 or 5 hours, never mind 2, and so the idea of being able to make it big as a freelancer is probably a bit of a pipe-dream! 

It is my habit to edit as I am going along, and then re-edit before publishing; I then often return to the published offering and tweak it again. I tell myself that next time I am going to spit it all out beforestart the editing process, get it all down on paper first (well, on Google documents), but I just can’t seem to work that way… it feels incredibly uncomfortable to me.

I have my first little book, available on Amazon, that I know for sure needs to be edited again; it was my first offering and I am genuinely proud of the story and the characters within, but I can see the flaws in it. I still haven’t finished my third book, and I need to pick up the slack where my blogs are concerned. Like most people, I have a day job (I am self-employed but it is still a job in that I earn my living from it), and I have a busy family life… and I choose to attend kickboxing classes 3 to 4 evenings per week. I would retire from my current business if I was able to replace (and increase) the income, through writing. I have been doing it for more than 25 years, and am proud of the fact that I have managed to make it this far down the line – after all, many self-employed people end up against the wall, forced to go back to the drawing board to start again. However, I would, like so many others, love to write for a living. The competition is stiff, the opportunities few (apparently), and the potential for failure huge.

But I am not going to give up. I have faith that, one way or another, it will all work out in the end. I had a dream last night in which I was in despair about my progression in life, and suddenly the image of a figure (I think it was masculine, but I can’t say for sure), with huge butterfly-type wings, appeared before my eyes… and it was struggling to get off the ground. I immediately understood its dilemma; the wings were big and beautiful, but almost too much for the figure to handle… if it could only reach the point at which it was rising and hovering, rather than struggling with the vastness and weight, it would be able to figure out how to spread those spectacular wings and fly!

This very short blog has taken only a couple of hours to write, whilst watching the Indie 500 on television (for the first time), but that is because a) it is, as acknowledged, short, and b) the subject matter is fairly straightforward. Most of today has been taken up with the Monaco Grand Prix (Formula 1 is a BIG thing in this household), but still, other writers would have started and finished within 20 minutes (with or without Indie 500). I believe it does depend upon the subject material of a blog – I often have to think very, very carefully about how I am expressing things, and whether or not I am being ‘authentic’ – am I conveying what I intended to, and is it easy enough for the reader to hear me? The messages within this mini-blog are fairly straightforward: I am a slow writer; I would ideally prefer to speed things up in order to produce more content; I still have to figure out how to get the best out of my wings.  


“Nothing good ever happens to me!” You DO NOT want to think, say, or believe this!

Originally published on

I have many faults (yes, really!), and I am likely to be a work in progress until I take my last breath… but I don’t believe I have ever uttered the cry, “nothing good ever happens to me!” And if I have, it would have been a long time ago, and I would have deserved a damned good shake from someone less entrenched in self-pity!

It is a phrase I have heard many, many times – and it is always a lie! Think about it: NOTHING good EVER happens to me. NothingEver? The last time this miserable phrase assaulted my ears was around 2 months ago, courtesy of someone who was having the kind of uncomfortable problems we all experience in life… someone in possession of reasonable health, with people on the planet who love her and whom she loves, enough money to live on, access to health care, technology, education, and transport… the precious things that are far too often taken for granted, especially by the habitually dissatisfied. This lady’s problem was a frustrating relationship issue, a situation that was being allowed to balloon out of perspective, overshadowing every other aspect of her life. And you might say, “oh, well, it’s just a phrase, something we all say at times – it doesn’t mean anything!” – and I would respond with, “Sorry – you are dead wrong there!”

Words are far more powerful than you might imagine, and although we all experience periodic dips (crashes, even) throughout our lives, it requires a certain kind of thinking to allow the offending statement to slip so guilt-free and easily from our lips. If we say it just once, without immediately thinking, “ouch, I really didn’t mean that, I do have so much to be grateful for, despite my problems – I am just feeling bad about this particular situation, right now, at this moment in time”, we are likely to think and say it again… and believe it. And that has the capacity to lead us to unconsciously seek out anything that validates the belief that… nothing-good-ever-happens-to-me. And who the hell wants to live under that miserable banner-heading (or associate too closely with anyone who does)?

Every aspect of our life has its own, individual energetic field, and we are always in the process of attracting and repelling. Our brain is aware of everything we think and feel, especially the stuff we repeat over and again, creating new neural connections accordingly… programming us to automatically replay and act out the old, familiar patterns. And our unconscious mind is continuously sucking it all up, even when our conscious mind has temporarily been distracted away from whatever the ongoing issue is… ready to bring it sharply to the fore every time we think about or experience something similar. It likes to match things, to join the dots; if we have unwittingly programmed our unconscious mind to accept that nothing good ever happens to us, it is duty bound to assist us in being right (survival instinct). It will cause us to be aware of, and even attracted by, circumstances that ‘prove’ our beliefs to be correct. Of course, that is not all that the unconscious mind is about, but its contents are all our own work – nothing gets in there that wasn’t generated by us, wittingly or unwittingly.

What are other examples of the kind of thinking we really need to avoid like the plague?

Why do bad things always happen to me?

Why does everyone let me down?

Bad things happen to good people.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Why am I so unlucky?

Why do I always attract the wrong people?

There is a tendency toward generalisation where destructive beliefs are concerned (another danger to be avoided), the biggest culprits being the words always/everyone/continuously. “I am ALWAYS unlucky!”, “you CONTINUOUSLY do things to hurt me!”, “EVERYONE lets me down!” Imagine being the person who is always and continuously kicked in the gut by everyone… whew, there is actually some kind of dubious power to be gained from that, I imagine!

So, when it is said that words don’t matter, maybe one-off or off-the-cuff remarks don’t carry too much weight… but never underestimate the potential cumulative effect of habitual negative thinking – the most insidious form of self-harm! We are all going to suffer at times throughout our lives; we are all going to want to howl at the moon, or stand on a mountain top and scream from the centre of our very being, or grab God/the universe by the short-and-curlies, throwing out our best possible punch… but if we retain even one ounce of awareness and gratitude, we won’t reduce the precious aspects of our lives to mere rubble. Whenever we take for granted the things that are a part of our everyday life (including the basic things that other human beings can only dream of), willingly buying into bitterness and resentment, we are signing up for the dark side!