Thursday 28 March 2013

S is for Soul

It's week nineteen of Alphabe-Thursday!

S is for Soul...

As you can probably guess I am a big believer in the soul. I believe we are all spiritual beings with a soul who choose to incarnate as humans so we can experience life. I believe many of us are 'old souls' who have lived on Earth in some other incarnation in the past. I believe our souls reincarnate again and again to learn more and to experience more. 

I've always had an affinity with Ancient Egypt. As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by the culture, the spirituality, and the magnificent temples of the ancient Egyptian people. When I moved to London in 2004 my plan was to organise a trip to Egypt as soon as possible. I'd dreamt about going there since I was a little girl and I was determined to make it happen. In 2005 I finally got to fulfil that dream.

The interesting part of this story is that I actually won a holiday to Egypt! I entered the competition in a magazine and won a trip for two. I'd never won anything in my life and wouldn't you know it - I haven't won anything since! I believe it was part of my soul's destiny to go to Egypt because I believe my soul once lived as an Egyptian scribe (it's no coincidence that I'm a writer again in this life). That's why I won that trip - the universe was sending me there because Egypt was calling me home.

I believe all this because of the great shift that happened within me and in my life while I was in Egypt. I felt such peace while I was there, a peace I'd never experienced before. I felt in tune with energy for the first time. I could feel the spirit of Egypt in every temple stone and when I looked at The Nile I felt at home. There is no other way to describe it. It was the most powerful experience of my life. My time in Egypt opened me up spiritually, it reminded me of my spiritual essence, and from then on I was connected to my soul.  

I've spoken to many spiritually-minded people and we all share this common belief - that the place we are drawn to, the place that holds our attention from an early age, for no apparent reason, is most certainly one of the places we lived during a past life. Our souls have been here before and they will return again once we are gone. In that way, we can all live forever. That's a comforting thought, isn't it?

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Book Review: As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

'An abducted child. A ruthless killer. A race against time.

Haunted by her failures, police detective Isabelle O'Connell is recalled to duty by detective Alec Goddard to investigate the abduction of yet another child from her old home town. With the killer playing a game of cat and mouse they have only days in which to find the girl alive, but they have very few clues, a whole town of suspects and a vast wilderness to search.

For Isabelle, this case is already personal; for Alec his best intentions to keep it purely professional soon dissolve. He starts to think of the missing child as if she were his own, and his anguish over Bella's safety moves beyond just his concern for a colleague. Their mutual attraction leaves them both vulnerable to their private nightmares - nightmares that the killer ruthlessly exploits.' 

I read Australian author Bronwyn Parry's debut novel As Darkness Falls because it conveniently fit into two of my 2013 reading challenges - the Australian Women Writers Challenge and Book'd Out's Eclectic Reader Challenge which called for a 'romantic suspense' novel. I had heard about Parry's books through last year's AWW Challenge and was intrigued to see how a romance and a crime story would fit together in one novel.

Parry did well to write for two specific, and very different, genres and to combine them into one fast-paced story. She gave both elements of the story equal time on the page so I never felt the plot leant more one way or the other. Parry successfully grabbed my attention from the beginning because I was interested to see how a love story could possibly develop amidst a criminal investigation. 

The love story between Isabelle and Alec was definitely nice to read, but I did feel it moved way too quickly. They seemed to go from attraction to full-blown love within the space of a couple of days. I realise Parry needed the romance to fit into the time frame of the kidnapping investigation (which needed to be dealt with swiftly for the child's sake), but the speed in which their love grew was unrealistic for me. Not having read other romantic suspense novels, I can only assume that this is typical of the genre simply because there are two very important elements that need to fit into the book. In my opinion both elements suffer because of this.

The crime aspect of the novel was dealt with just as quickly and I admit I was quite surprised when the kidnapper was revealed. I don't think Parry left any clues along the way and when the time came for the detectives to work it out, it all happened a bit too easily. I wasn't entirely convinced that they could work it out the way they did.

Having said all this, the story was engaging and I did enjoy reading it. Where Parry excelled were her descriptions of the rural Australian setting. The small fictional town of Dungirri is richly depicted and I was really able to get a sense of the place. I grew up in a small country town in NSW so I could easily relate to the small town mentality!

All in all, an interesting first encounter with the romantic suspense genre. It was a good story, but I don't think I'll be returning to this genre any time soon. I prefer to read a well-developed, realistic romance or a gritty crime drama, not both combined.

Thursday 21 March 2013

R is for Reiki

It's week eighteen of Alphabe-Thursday!

R is for Reiki...

When I started this blog three years ago I wrote a post entitled 'My Journey to Reiki and Beyond'. Re-reading that post today I realised that it still sums up so perfectly my feelings about Reiki and its effect on my life. So I'm re-posting it below...  :-)

But first I just wanted to acknowledge the 5 Reiki Precepts -

Just for today do not anger
Just for today do not worry
Honour your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to all living things

It is these precepts that make Reiki much more than just an 'energy healing treatment'. Reiki is a spiritual practice and a way to live one's life. With these precepts in mind, one can move through life with compassion and joy. One can take each day at a time and cherish every single moment.

Reiki is not a religion, but for me it is my faith in something grander than me, something divine.  

Here is my post from 2010 -

My journey to Reiki and beyond

'Reiki came into my life, like all good things, because I listened to my intuition. I’d heard of Reiki but knew next to nothing about it or how it could possibly help me. I was going through a time of change in my life, everything was new, and I had no idea which path to choose or what to do next. And then one day, like a single snowflake falling from the sky, the word ‘Reiki’ came into my mind. I found a local Reiki Master and booked myself in for a session. I didn’t know what to expect, but I trusted that it was the right place for me.

As it turned out, my Reiki Master noticed something in me that day, something that I was not even aware of myself – a desire to study this healing art. So by the end of that first session I’d signed up to do the Reiki First Degree course. The energy had a plan for me, it would seem, and I was grateful to be along for the ride.

I often think that my attunement to the Reiki energy during my First Degree course was really my attunement to life. Not that I wasn’t alive before, but I was living a sort of half-life. A life devoid of real awareness. Reiki became my initiation into the spiritual world. I began to view things differently – with love rather than fear. I began to write - something I’d talked about doing for years. I connected to my creativity. And I began to read - devouring spiritual and New Age books. I felt my mind expanding. I was desperate to know more, to feel more, to live more. I started meditating. I started tuning into my chakras. I bought crystals. My path had become illuminated.

Reiki is energy healing but it is also a spiritual path of self-development. Working with ‘invisible’ energy, feeling and seeing its healing power, had a transformational effect on me. I felt a shift in my consciousness, as though a door had opened. Through that door was the world of unlimited potential, the place where I could connect to my infinite divine essence. A place where love and joy abound. I’ve never looked back.

Since that initial burst of spiritual awareness, I’ve continued to develop regular practices – meditation, chakra balancing, and of course writing – to maintain my connection to the divine. Reiki has become a consistent part of my life (I completed Reiki II in 2008, and the Reiki Master/Teacher course in 2010). I continue to move deeper on my own journey within, the journey of my soul. And Reiki is the light that guides me.'

Thursday 14 March 2013

Q is for Quest

It's week seventeen of Alphabe-Thursday!

Q is for Quest...

I consider my life to be a quest for spiritual growth. I long to know spirituality, to feel the essence of spiritual truth in my everyday life. Sometimes I get lost in 'normality' and forget to nurture my soul. When that happens I disconnect from the magic of life. But luckily something always brings me back - I witness a moment of compassion or Mother Nature inspires me and I'm instantly reminded that there is more to life than the everyday stresses.

But as much as I do long for knowledge, my spiritual journey has made me realise that the mysteries of our world can not really be understood by our brains. Our logical mind is limited - it will often convince us that what we know to be true in our hearts is actually wrong. But I've had many experiences since I started out on my spiritual quest that really do defy logic. I've witnessed synchronicity work its magic to bring just what I needed into my life at just the right time - as though I had placed an order for it! I've seen angels float into the room while I've been giving a reiki treatment and then had my client say, without me revealing my own vision, that they too saw the same being of light hovering over us. That kind of event can not be explained away as an overactive imagination. When two people see the same thing that is proof enough for me!

There is something far bigger than us at play in our universe. Whether you call that God or spirit or life energy or love, it all means the same thing - it is the light of the world, the divine presence that permeates everything. My spiritual quest is a lifelong exploration of that divine light. I want to experience it as much as I can, to let it feed my soul and bring me closer to the truth of who I am. I know I am a spiritual being - I am more than mere flesh and bone. I know we all have a divine spark within that guides us. It is my desire to always live from that spark and to help others connect to that part of themselves so we may all know just how truly magnificent we are.


Friday 8 March 2013

Book Review: Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson

A teenager on the great throne of Egypt is a dangerous thing. Tempted by debauchery, unbalanced by power, King Tut is being driven mad by the thought that the unavenged soul of his beloved foster mother Nefertiti wanders lost in eternity. He orders his advisor, Lord Meren, to find her killer and bring her peace. 

Linking up with the seductive female spy Anath, Meren sails upriver to interview the only remaining witness to Nefertiti's death. But a fanatical enemy, trying to stop the investigation, sets a terrifying trap for Meren's son and daughter. 

Now Meren feels the bloodstained sands shifting beneath him. A titanic struggle between old gods and new has begun, and Meren's next move -- to save his family or catch a killer -- will have shattering consequences for this glittering world of palaces, temples and tombs.

For the Eclectic Reader Challenge I needed to read a 'historical mystery' novel, so I chose a period of history that has always fascinated me - Ancient Egypt. Slayer of Gods is the sixth and final book in Lynda S. Robinson's 'Lord Meren Series' and the mystery in question is the death of Nefertiti.

Back when I studied Ancient Egypt at university I was drawn to the reign of Akhenaten - the pharaoh who abolished the worship of multiple gods in favour of just one, Aten. Akhenaten's wife was Nefertiti so when I saw this book was about her death I quickly chose it.

In hindsight it would probably have made more sense to start reading the series from the first book because it was obvious at the beginning of Slayer of Gods that I'd missed a whole host of past Lord Meren adventures. That being said, Robinson did provide past details to fill the reader in so I wasn't completely lost.

Something that bothered me in the first few chapters was Robinson's use of a character mumbling to themselves as a method of exposition. While I appreciated the necessary knowledge being revealed, I found it quite unrealistic that a person would go around mumbling important information to themselves. They might think it but they certainly wouldn't speak it out loud in that way.

But after this initial hiccup I really got into the story. It kept up a quick pace and successfully threw me off guard a couple of times so I wasn't sure who the killer was. Slayer of Gods is a typical mystery novel that follows the formula of this genre. I'm not a huge fan of mystery novels, but the historical appeal was enough to keep me interested. And it was good fun to read a genre that I wouldn't normally.

What I loved most about this book was its setting. While reading I was constantly reminded of my own trip to Egypt and this really helped to make the book come alive in my imagination. It's obvious that Robinson has a love of Egyptian history and has done thorough research to make her book as authentic as is possible for a fiction story. I found reading about Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Akhenaten very exciting. I'd happily recommend this book to people who enjoy the mystery genre and who have an interest in Ancient Egypt.  


Thursday 7 March 2013

P is for Play

It's week sixteen of Alphabe-Thursday!

P is for Play...

When I was a kid I would spend hours lost in my imagination, creating worlds for my toys to inhabit and stories for them to act out. I suppose it's no surprise that I grew up to become a fiction writer! :-) But play wasn't just about my imagination. It was all about the fun of doing something just for pleasure. That's one of the best parts of being a child - we can frolic without guilt. We're free to fill our days with playfulness.

Adults aren't as lucky. We have work and responsibilities. Play slips further down our priority list the older we get. When we do give ourselves time to play we often encounter guilt - we even refer to our playful times as 'guilty pleasures'. But why should any pleasurable experience be a guilty one?

Play is vital for our well-being. Letting go and enjoying life is one of the best things we can do for our health. Play can relax us and stimulate us all at once. It can help us relieve tension and stress, clear our minds so we're better able to problem-solve, while also motivating us to focus on joy and carefree fun.

Play for adults has become all about competition. Our sporting heroes have built a career around playing and yet I wonder how many of them still enjoy what they're doing with the same youthful abandon of a child? Once play becomes work it often loses its joy.

Adults need to play, even when there are no kids around! We don't have to wait to join our children in their fun (if they'll let us!). We need to break out the games and reignite our ability to bring wide-eyed curiosity and carefree delight into our daily lives. 

When was the last time you had a snowball fight or swung as high as you could on the playground swings? When was the last time you skipped rope or played hopscotch? When was the last time you played a boardgame or even simply lay in the grass and looked at the clouds floating by? Remember childhood play? It was so much fun!! :-) Let's bring more of that into adulthood! 

Can you recall the last time you felt as free as a child, lost in the joy of playfulness and pleasure? If so, what were you doing?