Where Have I Been? Yoga Teacher Training… that’s where!


Yes, yoga has taken over my life pretty much for the past six months since my last blog (I am ashamed).  I am two thirds of the way through my yoga teacher training with The Yoga Academy and every day it is impacting my life.  I am not complaining, far from it.

It has encouraged me to meditate daily, sometimes with a special breathing practice, other times just simply sitting and concentrating on my natural breath or perhaps a mantra or phrase to think about; gratitude for example.

I have spent many hours planning lessons; those of you who do classes and think the teacher just drives there and teaches… not so much.  I have spent hours practising drawing pin men (little stick people in various postures with legs up, down and rotating, heads facing this way or that, arms in the weirdest positions, and don’t get me started on whether the knees are forward or backward of the feet!).  Grids, curves and mirroring.  These words are now so familiar but before the course I used to get on my precious mat and move, not realising there was a whole other dictionary of words available.

There has been an overwhelming amount of information trying to squeeze itself into my (autistic) brain which is already overcrowded and tired.  I have read so many books (not, itself a problem as I love to read as you know), but some of the information is so new and difficult to retain.

I always say, when I am talking about my autism, that I have the wrong type.  If I had a wish from a Genie (or perhaps Buddha), it would be that I could retain in my head every piece of information I read; certainly it would be useful for my exam coming up in November.

Hmm, second thoughts, those adverts which keep popping up on Facebook would stay in my mind and I would be completely penniless if I couldn’t forget the content!

I digress, but seriously I do have an exam (they call it a big quiz, like that makes a difference) looming and I have to remember so much: not only cues for postures but alignment, anatomy, physiology, philosophy, Sanskrit, mantras, ethics, meridians, breathing practice, memes, gunas, cakras, sutras… wow, I wish I’d never started on this list.  I really must start revising.

Not only that I have two more observed class assessments, and a major project to complete – all by next March.  I am not complaining really, I love every minute of it – perhaps not the feedback, but the rest.  I have met some wonderful new friends, travelled to a couple of beautiful places, and spent a vast amount of money!  I also have an interesting array of leggings, and an ever increasing pile of notebooks building.

Very soon I shall be opening my own classes, not simply cover and assist, and I can get to enjoy putting into practice all that I have learned, and help others to discover the joys of my venture Blooming Yoga which no doubt I shall tell you much more about in the coming months.

For now I wish you ‘Shanti’ (peace) and invite you to join me again soon where I shall be telling you about another project underway as I attempt to sense the simple life more and more.

Until next time…




New Year Connections

20195Nine days into the New Year… how’s it going so far?  I came into the New Year with a new attitude to how I live my life.  I wanted to be more focused, so that whatever I did, fed into my goals for the year, for my life, but in a simple way.  I wanted to do little things which mattered, whenever possible.  This includes basic things including household tasks and shopping to more meaningful things: kind words, positive gestures, gifting presence and listening skills.

I love my husband and family very much, I have a few friends whom I cherish, and I adore my fur babies; often however I am so busy, I see far less of them than I would like.  I have a tendency towards being a chatterbox, especially when I am ‘full of beans’ and I have realised more and more than I don’t always listen.  My husband can ask me to do something and two minutes later I have forgotten what it was.  We both assume that my memory is not so great, but I truly believe that sometimes I just don’t listen properly.  I also believe that this is common in our busy world.

My first goal for the New Year then, is to ‘enjoy time with family and friends’.  This means quality time, and during conversation listening to what is being said.  For the first nine days of the year so far I have managed:

1. Visiting and chatting for some time with one of my yoga teachers, not seen for many months

2. Taking my mum and recently widowed aunt to the cinema (Mary Poppins Returns), and for a late lunch

3. Spending the day with my husband at a vintage market and eating a delicious Sunday roast in a lovely restaurant

4. Meeting with one of my oldest friends (and ex dancing partner) for a lovely belated birthday meal (for her) at a delicious Turkish restaurant, with lots of chatting

5. Returning to dance classes with my dad – I took a break while doing my doctorate some years ago, and I missed it so much.

Tomorrow my husband and I are going to the theatre and at the weekend friends are coming to our home for an afternoon cream tea.

This pace won’t continue for the rest of the year, it would be too exhausting, but I am determined to make an effort to connect with people in my life. I have to remember though that being autistic, overload can hit quickly if I keep my life too active, so balance is needed.  Of course I also need to leave room for my other goals for the year as well.  I never make resolutions, simply goals to keep me on track and ensure I don’t waste what is a precious life.  More about these coming up soon…

My husband is due home any time from an evening of teaching… so I am shortly to leave you, so that we can catch up and spend some quality time together.

Let me know what your goals are, and how you connect with others.  What is important to you?

Until next time…



Awareness of the BASTARD Childhood Cancers

untitledIn a bid to spread more awareness for Children’s Cancer Awareness Month, I need to travel back in time to an event which impacts my every action; my very being: my childhood cancer.  The photo shows me in the lovely and then very fashionable cheesecloth shirt and green skirt, during the summer my hair was growing back after 18 months of chemotherapy, and getting ready to start secondary school.

‘The cold, smelly, waiting room was empty; it was late in the evening.  I had been rushed up to London from my local hospital in Kent. I remember being given a band to wear around my wrist with my name and 3AB.  I didn’t realise it then but 3AB was to be a ward which would become my second home.  It would be somewhere I would spend many weeks.  I would have a new family there.  I would make so many new friends.

I also didn’t realise it would be a place of memories.  Forty one years on and I still remember the ward as if it were yesterday.  I can picture the various beds I spent time in; the kitchen where I made popcorn with the nurses and my fellow patient-friends; the playroom where I spent ages making flowers out of pencil shavings; and the treatment room where I received many tortuous treatments.  As I write, I can taste the toxic drugs flooding my veins, ready to speed through my body in a bid to destroy the bastard tumour that was filling the space between my fifth and sixth left ribs. My type: a Ewing’s Sarcoma,

            ‘A form of sarcoma usually affecting the shaft of a long bone in young adults’.

I was just nine years old. Statistics given to my family at that time were as follows:

Curability rate: 30-60%, Occurrence rate: 3-4% of all cancers. It was RARE. It was AGGRESSIVE.

1Photo shows the tumor attached to my ribs, which were removed along with it.

Ward 3AB at the Hospitals for Sick Children, lovingly and more commonly known as Great Ormond Street, deep in the heart of West Central London, was to be the place I called home for the next two years.  This is where Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes TV programme is coming from.  Two years of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiotherapy, and major surgery were somehow slotted into my life amongst the dancing competitions and reading. I celebrated the Silver Jubilee with a fetching wig, and saw my siblings grow from toddlers to young children in that time.

Photo shows my chest after the tumour and ribs were removed, with small surgical clips (which still set the scanners off in airports!)2

My family was changed forever with the events which followed a seemingly minor accident in 1976.  There is no concrete proof that this caused what followed, but it was deemed highly likely by professionals at the time and my gut has always told me this was true.

Great Ormond Street would be in my ‘heart’ for the rest of my life. I still have check-ups relating to this cancer – I had one this Monday just gone – not directly about the cancer, but to check on some of the after effects. Someone said to me just last week that cancer and its effects, are lifelong. Something new regularly pops up, and often it is related to the original area or treatment. Nowadays I am treated at the University College London Hospital, which is just down the road from GOSH. I think I’m a little old to for GOSH now, although I still visit when I’m passing to sit in the beautiful St Christopher’s Chapel, for peace and solitude, to say thanks for allowing me to stay in this life. I understand my dad spent some time here when I was a child. He was tearful talking about it all at our wedding, in his speech. My treasured oncologist at GOSH, Dr Jon Pritchard was at our wedding. Sadly he is no longer with us – ironically taken some years back by a brain tumour.

This disease really is a BASTARD. It took my grandad, my nan, my father-in-law, my husband’s best friend, my best friend (just last year), and several other friends and family members. It has had us grieving constantly.

BUT it’s not all bad news. There are survivors, the world over, and we continue to fight every single day. We will not give up, we continue to tell our stories, to give others hope… my life since has been shaped by that day and made me who I am.  I am a fighter, a survivor…

To anyone who is fighting right now, may I send you hugs and prayers always.


Check out my website www.sensingthesimplelife.com for more about me and my work

Simple Sunday Morning

farmerA lazy Sunday, with nothing major planned; a cold is brewing and my body simply needs a rest.  A quick trip to the vet with Rosie for her annual vaccination, and then we decided to try out our local Farmer’s Market for the first time.  I expected a few stalls with perhaps some preserves and some baked goods.

How wrong was I, and I have become so obsessed by what I found that I rushed home to book each monthly market into my diary for the foreseeable future.

The recently refurbished square in my home town was buzzing with people, and more dogs than I’ve seen at a dog show, wandering about on leads stopping to ‘chat’ to each other as they walked.  There was a real community buzz which was wonderful.  Everyone seemed to have time to chat, and were so friendly.  Does a farmer’s market automatically attract friendly people?  Some were sitting around on benches, drinking steaming cups of coffee and hot chocolate; others munching on hot sausage rolls or a cheeky slice of delicious homemade sponge.  There were stalls with such a wide array of foods from marshmallows to local sausages, locally brewed beers and wines, apple juice and cider and massive jars of juicy olives, pickled eggs and sundried tomatoes.  There were homemade cards, knitted goods, hand painted canvas bags to replace the horrendous plastic tsunami which is engulfing our world and stunningly beautiful handcrafted pens and wooden gifts.

The photo above shows most of my haul, bar the Italian pastry I bought back for Joe as a lunchtime treat.  Who can resist freshly baked onion bread spread thickly with local butter?  It was so scrumptious I had two wedges – shared of course with Holly and Rosie (our fur babies).  I didn’t even wait to cut the local cheese I also purchased Ashmore Cheddar – I’ll save that for later with some of my cousin Amanda’s multi award winning  Captain’s Crackers .I did however sample the cheese in the market, as did Rosie.  Although I am currently on a low sugar kick (more about this another time), I couldn’t resist a lovely jar of Apricot Chutney from a lovely lady who had a good chat with me.  I should make a promise to Flo here, that I will resist opening it for another three weeks.  A fat wedge of goats cheese and asparagus quiche completed my purchases.

Just a simple lunch of fresh bread, real butter, cheese and chutney, with a freshly brewed pot of coffee is simply wonderful.  Who really needs ready made meals?  I am feeling a little smug today; I also have a large pot bubbling away as I make a batch of bone broth for the week’s meals.  So good for you, so cheap, and so yummy.

Apologies if I have made you hungry.  I suggest you get down to your local Farmer’s Market as soon as possible.  Simple really is best.  Enjoy the incredible aromas, colours, tastes and sounds of chatter.

Until we meet again


Don’t forget to check out my website sensingthesimplelife.com, and my book Sensing the City: An Autistic Perspective, where I discuss the sensory issues surrounding markets.

Family Life


At the age of 51 I don’t necessarily have the conventional family life. There is my lovely husband Joe, a karate instructor and Chair of a national martial arts governing body.  And then there are our two adorable fur babies: Yorkshire terrier Holly and Yorkiepoo Rosie, both 11. IMG_1010

We have no children of our own. At home we have never had wet nappies, terrible twos or threes, stroppy teens, empty nest syndrome or having to save for weddings, university or help pay deposits on first homes.  We have lots of nieces and nephews (our siblings have been blessed with these ‘joys’), and have taught hundreds of other people’s children; a job we both love.

As a childhood cancer survivor, I wasn’t able to have my own children, and other avenues were explored and discounted for various reasons. We have been sad for much of our lives together about this, but now in our fifties, we appreciate and are so grateful for the life we have.  Mainly Mothers’ and Fathers’ days are sad for us.

We have a beautiful home, with a wonderful garden to explore and relax in. We love our fur babies so much; they give us love and comfort and in turn we give them everything they could need – basically food, water, exercise and love… oh, and regular grooming opportunities.

In the garden we have a clutch of hens with a loud and proud cockerel looking after their needs. They provide lovely rich eggs, and roam around their expansive pen digging in dirt, socialising, clucking and pooping.

The front garden sees a pond large enough to swim in (Joe proved this when he fell in one day) filled with beautiful Koi of all sizes and stunning colours.

We are both members of the RSPB and encourage a host of wildlife into the garden to admire and appreciate. Butterflies, bees, squirrels and hedgehogs are just a few of the creatures who inhabit our garden, and I love them all.

My parents and siblings live nearby and family barbecues are a regular feature in the summer; my dad cooking and ‘encouraging’ (he can be bossy and I have inherited this trait) us to play racket ball and hoola-hooping (he is a champion at this).

So, that’s us… now you have met us all, it’s soon time to appreciate all that is simple


Until we meet again…

Check out my website: https://sensingthesimplelife.com  where you will find links to my professional sites and books for purchase, should you choose to explore further.



Introducing Sensing the Simple Life

Welcome to my new blog ‘Sensing the Simple Life’. I shall begin by introducing myself and what I am all about.

But first, why ‘Sensing the Simple Life’? Simple (excuse the unintentional pun), my second book published last year was ‘Sensing the City: An Autistic Perspective’.  It made sense (sorry, another unintentional pun) and I liked the sound of it.

For readers of my previous blog, ‘the autistic voice’, the literalism of an autistic writer is more obvious. To the uninitiated, I shall explain a little more about autism (in part taken from my aforementioned book).

You might have days when everything seems to go wrong? The alarm doesn’t go off, you are late for work, the train breaks down, your sandwich has gone soggy, it rains and your hair goes wild… well an autistic day can affect you in the same way but it might take just one thing to cause it.  It might be as small as the post being five minutes later than usual, or the teabags running out just as you need to make a cup of tea.  Just one small thing can turn the day into a complete disaster; a diversion on your normal route to work or someone arriving a few minutes late for an appointment.  These simple occurrences might spark the most disastrous and stressful day you could ever imagine.  There will possibly be one or likely most of the following: anger, tears, feelings of depression, anxiety, shouting, screaming, throwing things, overeating or not eating at all…  The list is endless and quite extreme but when you are caught up in one of these days, it just goes on forever and makes you feel like nothing will help.

The filters in our brains are filled with ‘holes’ which let far too much information in. This overload means that we are unable to select what we actually need or what is relevant and we progress quickly to sensory meltdown that is widespread panic causing diverse emotions and physical actions.  Meltdowns can be devastating both inwardly and in the way the individual lashes out.  Meltdowns can be angry, depressive, verbally or physically aggressive, and mostly distressing.  We often blank out what we do or say, it is not personal to anyone other than us, and we have usually been building up to it over hours, days, or even weeks.  Just one trigger can set it in motion and sensory overload is a substantial trigger.

Even though I may not always progress to full overload, often if there are too many sensory triggers around me, I may just ‘blank out’. This happens to me often when I am with other people; I can be chatting away one minute, and the next I just go completely silent and chatter or noise around me goes over my head and I lose all focus.  Outwardly it looks as though I am ignoring people, or look bored or am being rude.  I just switch out.  My internal system seems to just suddenly kick back in when my brain has caught up with everything it has digested.  Not every autistic individual will react like this; we are a heterogeneous community of people and all have our way of reacting or dealing with what goes on to or around us.

Sometimes the effects of an ‘autistic’ day can last for several days afterwards. Autistic individuals do not want sympathy though; we also have spectacular days when our sensory differences, unique characteristics and abilities are put to good use and light us up inside.

One of the diagnostic differences for autistic individuals is that we are likely to have sensory impairments in one or more of our senses. These impairments are more about perception than biological in nature such as blindness or deafness. An added complexity is that no two autistic individuals are likely to have the same sensory perceptual pattern.  While I might be affected by strong aromas, another might not even notice them at all.  Some individuals perceive visually in small fragments rather than looking at a whole picture.  My autistic husband often points out images in wallpaper, or on floor tiles for example (apparently we have a duck on our kitchen floor and Oliver Cromwell’s face in our living room), whereas I can only see the overall differences in the natural slate and flowers on the wall.

We can have other traits including social and communication differences: the need for literal language is common. I am also terrible at ‘getting’ jokes!

‘Sensing the Simple Life’ is not all about autism, although as an autistic writer and human being, my perspective is always bound to be flavoured with a little autistic spice. I have also discovered over the years that a more simple life is helpful in dealing with some of the more frustrating aspects of autism… for me and my family at least.

The last few years have been busy, emotional and exhausting; I will elaborate more as time goes on. I have been striving to simplify our lives to meet the needs of these challenges and since I love to write, the marriage of the two seemed rational.

For now I shall leave you with a quotation from one of my all-time favourite books ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. This has been pivotal in my writing and each of my doctoral papers including my final thesis included a quotation from the wonderful Harper Lee who co-incidentally published in 1960, the year my fabulous husband was born.  Another coincidence was that one of the characters Boo Radley has been said to be autistic.  I love co-incidences.

In the words of Atticus Finch (character in TKAM), ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it’.

Well readers, I hope you enjoy metaphorically ‘climbing into my skin and walking around in it’. I shall endeavour to inspire, entertain and journal my foray into a more simple life.

Until we meet again…


PS. Check out my website: https://sensingthesimplelife.com  where you will find links to my professional sites and books for purchase, should you choose to explore further.

‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it’. (Lee, 1960)