Tuesday, 17 December 2013


    Next year I am going to come back as a dog. I am not talking death and reincarnation here - or at least I hope not - just a new attitude to life.
    Sugar and stress are bad for cancer. I know this from one of the many self help books I ordered when first diagnosed. I was determined to be the most knowledgeable and healthy cancer patient the world has ever known - most of  these books lie untouched in their Amazon boxes but occasionally I get one out and dust it down and this is how I know about sugar and stress.
    The former I am not too worried about - I don't eat much chocolate and everyone knows that the sugar found in wine is good for you - don't argue with me - I live in one of the most famous wine producing areas in the world and that's the buzz around here.
    But stress - now I do worry about stress. I worry a lot, I worry about everything. I inherited it from my Father, I could have inherited many of his wonderful qualities but I ended up with the worry gene.
    But all that is going to be a thing of the past.
"Think of someone you admire...." I read in my copy of' 'How To De-stress in Thirty Days' - or in my case - 'How To Get Distressed after Thirty Pages.'
    "...think of someone you admire, think of how they cope and try to emulate them...'
 This required some serious thought - I got up to make a coffee and was just debating the merits of Mandela versus Mother Teresa when I spotted our dog basking in the sunshine outside. His long limbs were stretched out, his head nicely cushioned on a bed of freshly swept leaves, a slumbering, shaggy mass of perfect contentment. His name is Rory and he's a large, gentle, bearded beast. I smiled and then it suddenly hit me... this was who I should be copying.
    Sod Mandela and Mother Teresa, I had the perfect example of how to live a stress free life lying right there in front of me. The more I thought about it the more sense it made.
    Rory can lie for hours doing nothing whereas I can barely last five minutes. I was brought up to believe that one should always be doing something. The motto in our house went something like this;
"Make hay whilst the early bird catches the worm and Jack's idle hands make him a dull boy."
    I've sort of rolled them together but you get the general gist.
Right I thought - no time like the present and grabbing a large wooly jumper and an unopened copy of 'Meditation Made Easy' I made my way outside.
    I lay on the lounger with Rory on the ground beside me, opened the book and followed the instructions. I exhaled and invited calm into my entire being. I cleared my upper mind of troublesome thoughts. To be honest I never knew I had a lower mind let alone an upper one but you live and learn. After about five minutes one of the troublesome thoughts flew back into my mind and lest I forget it I decided to get up and write it down in one of my never ending lists. I sat up but was immediately struck in the chest by a large paw.
    Rory clearly had other ideas. His huge brown eyes gazed at me steadily until I gave in and curling back into my wooly layers settled down to enjoy the warm winter sun.
    My husband came out half a hour later to find me still dozing. He was stunned.
"Part of my new regime." I explained. "I'm going to be serene and calm. I'm never going to panic or worry again. When I go to bed I am actually going to sleep and I'll wake up ready to face the day with tranquility." He kissed me and said. "Sounds like you're going to be on sedatives for the rest of your life."
    Rory does not spend all his time doing nothing. Sometimes he is overtaken by a wonderful exuberance and runs around the garden leaping over chairs and rolling in the grass. He bounds into the river, regardless of the weather, for no other reason than that it makes him very happy. In fact he is one of the happiest beings I know.
   I too will not sit doing nothing all day, I may not bound into the river but I may roll in the grass if the mood comes upon me - which it might. Of course we need to be busy, we have a business to run and I have another book to write. But I will most definitely take some time each day to be bone idle.
    Having cancer has changed me, it's a life threatening disease and it would be weird if it hadn't.
It has taught me a few lessons. Family and friends have always meant a great deal to me but these last few months have heightened their importance. I have always enjoyed life - on many occasions maybe too much - but this disease has taught me to cherish the moment.
    I'm not going to spend all day cherishing each and every moment - that would be silly and take a very long time -  but I do have a tendency to rush through things and I am guilty of thinking too much about tomorrow.
   Rory doesn't think about tomorrow; 
'It Is Now and I Am Here' - that is his motto and mine from now on.
    And on that note I am going to fill a large glass with something vaguely alcoholic and propose a toast.
    "To my four legged friend, thank you for being by my side, thank you for never failing to lift my spirits, thank you for loving me and thank you for showing me the way forward....
Ladies & Gentlemen... I give you RORY."


  1. To Rory! An excellent example to follow!

  2. Brilliant blog Janie. Cherish every day, that is my motto too :-) xx

  3. Inspired by you. I'd add to your Rory impressions a touch of yoga when you can, and I have learned a great thing.....when I am trying to free my mind and instead it whirls around with every crazy, worrying thought possible, I simply stop and say, 'right, I'm going to wait for the next thought to come' - and in that second or two your mind empties...you have to keep doing it and keep doing it, and the blank gets longer... but it's the best feeling when there is sod all in your head, even for a few minutes. Love you Jane xxx

  4. This is genuiinely wonderful! The thought is wonderful, the expression is wonderful, the writing is wonderful: a wonderful, brilliant read! And, the icing on top, is that you're finding such inspiration to be able to share it! Blog on, daaaaarling Janie! xxxxxx

  5. (and, for what it's worth, I agree with Vonny about meditation: you just have to sit there and accept what comes, but try every time not to let it whisk you away: just come back and open again. It works, it really does, but I REALLY wish I had a dog too!!!)