Saturday, 27 December 2014

Celebrating the New Year

How do you celebrate New Year?  Do you have any particular rituals you follow, and do they have any real meaning for you?

There are many different rituals around the world, but there are some common themes underlying most of them.  Here are just a few examples:

In Panama, people burn effigies of well-known personalities.  The effigy represents the old year, and burning it drives away the evil of the old year, making way for the good of the New Year.

The concept of throwing away the old to make way for the new is taken one step further in Johannesburg, South Africa, where people throw old furniture and appliances out of their windows on New Year’s Eve.  If you are planning to spend New Year in Johannesburg, watch your head!

In Japan, workers have what they call a “bonenkai” party some time near the end of the year.  Literally, this means “forget the year party”.  The idea is to draw a line under what has happened during the year so you can start the New Year afresh.

In Denmark, people stand on a chair during the countdown to the New Year and leap from the chair as the clock strikes 12.

A rather different custom is the communal New Year kiss in St Mark’s Square, Venice.  What could be better than starting the New Year with love and friendship?

Finally, while most of the above is about forgetting and letting go of the old in order to start the new, “Auld Lang Syne” is all about remembering people with fondness.  “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Ayrshire folksong.  It was transcribed, but not originally written as many believe, by Rabbie Burns.  The custom of singing “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve was instituted by the Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo.

Here are the words of the first verse and chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” (literal meaning “Old Long Since”):

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

The theme throughout most those rituals and customs is that we should clear away the clutter of the old year, all the things holding us back, and start the New Year afresh.  At the same time, we should remember those who have helped us on our way.

We don’t need a ritual to do this though.  Nor do we have to do it only on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  I think it should be a daily practice.  At the end of each day, reflect on what has happened.  Forgive anyone who has wronged you, and forgive yourself of all the wrong you have done, releasing all the bad which will otherwise hold you back.  Think of all the good that has happened and be thankful for it, and especially for all the people who have been good to you.  Now you can sleep easy and be ready to start the new day afresh.  Make this a daily habit, remembering and being thankful for the good and washing away the bad, and you will find it so much easier to make a fresh start and achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.

If you would like help with setting your Resolutions and goals for the New Year, or for any time, take a look at my “ResolutionRevolution” -

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Lessons from A Christmas Carol

If you are reading this the day it is published, then it is Christmas Eve, but whenever you are reading it the lessons are the same.  It was on Christmas Eve that Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the Christmas Ghosts - the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge key moments in his past where, had he taken the opportunity by the hand, he could have become a very different person.  Instead, he rejected all those opportunities to live a happy life and became a miserable miser instead.

The Ghost of Christmas Present appears to Scrooge in the form of Father Christmas.  Not the red, "Coca Cola" version, but the more traditional green robed Father Christmas.  A version beloved of all children who hang their stockings by the fireplace and expect him to come down a very narrow chimney, as Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Present has the essential ability to change his size to fit into any space, small or large.  This Ghost appears both as a jolly, partying Father Christmas carrying a symbol of peace on earth and goodwill toward men (and women!), and a stern, sarcastic chastiser who throws back at Scrooge his own selfish and unthinking comments about the poor and needy.  As he accompanies the Ghost of Christmas Present and sees the probable fate of his employee's disabled son, Tiny Tim, Scrooge seems to feel some remorse, asking whether Tim will really die.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come never speaks, but just points, leaving Scrooge to draw his own conclusions.  The future he shows is grim.  Nobody mourns the death of Scrooge, in great contrast with the feelings of Bob Cratchitt and his family over the death of Bob's son, Tiny Tim.

We all know the outcome of these three visitations, of course.  Ebenezer Scrooge realizes that although he cannot change the past, if he changes what he does in the present he can certainly change the future.  And that is what he does, becoming a changed man spreading joy instead of misery, and receiving joy instead of misery back into his life.

There are very clear messages here we should all learn.

Regret the past, but don't dwell on it.  What has happened has happened, and we cannot change it.  But we must learn from it.  We must see what went wrong and not make the same mistakes over and over again.  Having taken the lesson we need from it, we must give ourselves closure.  Forgive ourselves for anything we may have done which we shouldn't have done.  Forgive others who may have done wrong to us.  This forgiveness both ways is vital.  We cannot allow Christmas Past forever to mar Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come!

Recognize that the future is Yet to Come.  Fear about the future is pointless.  It is not here yet and it can be changed.  Scrooge saw his own death unmourned and Tiny Tim dying prematurely, but neither actually happened, because Scrooge changed his actions in the present.

Remember that the present is all we have.  Don't let anyone take your present from you - it is God's gift to you, giving the word "present" a double meaning.  Nobody has the right to take that gift from you, or the ability to do so unless you yourself give that to them.  Live in the present, and live a full life now - not a live centered in regret about the past or worry about the future.  Do what you should do now, live the live you want to live now, be the person you want to be now, make the changes you want to make in yourself and all that is around you now.  Realize it is not too late to do this, but also that there is no time to lose.  You cannot sit there frozen, thinking you should have done this in the past, and you must not sit there thinking you can do it some time in the future.  Do it now!

Do this and your life and the lives of those around you will change radically and very much for the better, just as was the case for the hero of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Ceremonial Magic

If you came to this article looking for a magical ritual you can take away and use as is, I am afraid you will be sorely disappointed.  My purpose here is to give any non practising magicians just a little idea of what is involved.

Firstly, for my Christian and Muslim friends I want to dispel the notion that ceremonial magic is a form of idolatory, or even of black magic.  In its purest form it is neither, although the beliefs of some magicians may come close to what may be described as a form of idolatory, and a black magician may well use a distorted form of ceremonial magic.

Another word for ceremonial magic is "theurgy".  A ceremonial magician may also therefore be called a "theurgist".  I will use these terms for brevity.

A theurgist recognizes that there are many different powers "out there".  Some theurgists will view them as personal gods, and therefore would attract the ire of Christians and Muslims alike.  Others will view them much more as Jungian archetypes.  My own view is that the distinction is rather academic, although I would perhaps veer closer to the archetype than personal god view.

Those who have not studied theurgy in any depth may view these "powers" as nonsense, yet at the same time fear any invocation or evocation of them.  Ignorance usually results in fear, so I guess this should not really surprise me.  I am not going to attempt to "convert" those who refuse to believe.  I believe, and am happy to share my belief with those who wish to understand.  Is there any need for fear?  Well, if someone is going to try playing with forces they do not understand, yes there is.  Not because we are talking about devils or evil spirits, but for the same reason you should fear electricity if you are thinking of playing with some powerful electric black box when you know nothing about what is in it or how it works.  Electricity is not evil, but it can still kill you if you use it in the wrong way.

Another great misunderstanding about theurgy is the idea that a god, spirit, or other power is being harnessed purely for the purpose of achieving some material gain.  That should not be the aim of the ceremony at all, although it may nevertheless result in such a gain.

Returning to the Jungian concept, you could view the purpose of theurgy as an individuation process.  Creating a proper balance of all the powers that are there whether we like it or not, by working one by one with each power, integrating each of the archetypes properly into our true self.  The theurgist does this by focusing on one power so completely that this power materializes.  In a very real sense, the theurgist now "owns" this power.  Yet the power itself is something far greater than anyone who has not studied this subject could ever imagine.  Once one power has been properly invoked in this way, the theurgist moves onto the next, until eventually he or she has incorporated all the powers, or archetypes, and (using a term from another discipline) achieves samadhi.  Purists will probably criticize me for mixing terms from very different disciplines in this way, but to me it sums it up perfectly.

If you wanted to achieve individuation in the traditional psychotherapeutic manner this is not something you could achieve by yourself.  You would have to surrender yourself totally to another person.  It would also probably cost you a lot of money!  A theurgist does not surrender himself or herself to any other person.  Also, no money should change hands for the ceremonies themselves - although if you are going to do this properly (and it would be very dangerous to try doing it any other way!) you will need to invest a lot of time, energy, and probably money too assembing all the right magical implements.  When I undertook my first magical ceremony as a teenager I invested many long evenings searching for exactly the right branch to create my magic wand - and then had to time the cutting of the branch to the right astrological alignments.

If this brief introduction has ignited a spark of interest, I encourage you to study some of the masters (and mistresses) of the ancient theurgical art.  I suggest you go back to before the current fad of "new age" beliefs, as these have often corrupted the original pure teachings.  Search for works by Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie or Mouni Sadhu.

As a start, try "The Tree of Life" by Israel Regardie, "Theurgy" by Mouni Sadhu, and "The Training & Work of an Initiate" by Dion Fortune.  And when you have soaked up the wisdom in those three books, you will be ready to acquire the full training and rituals of the Golden Dawn.  Only then will you be ready to start on the great task of theurgy yourself.

PS, the above links are all US sources.  If you prefer UK sources, here are more links:

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Telling Stories

If I really want to get a point across to someone, usually I will try to find a way to do so without "attacking" them head on.  Why?  Because it is human nature to argue!  So if, for example, I hold up a pen and say to you "this is the best pen in the world!" your conscious mind will probably start from the premise that it is not the best pen in the world and will then look for all the negative reasons that prove this.  It would be an unusual person who accepted the statement at face value and then looked for the positive reasons to justify this stand.

One of the best ways of doing this is by telling a story.  2,000 years ago in Palestine there was a story teller who really understood this principle and used it to best advantage.  Most Christians will recognize, for example, the story of the Good Samaritan.  This story encapsulates some powerful moral principles.  It is much easier for the listener to absorb those principles by listening to the story than it is by hearing someone lecture them on the need to help those around us no matter how different they may be from us.  In fact, you could argue that a large percentage of the Bible consists of stories that convey moral, ethical and spiritual messages.  Those messages usually pass under the radar of our conscious mind, which might otherwise try to argue, and instead lodge directly in our subconscious, instilling in us the uplifting traits they illustrate.

This is true not just of Christianity, but of most religions.  The concept goes back far more than 2,000 years.  From the time humans gathered together for mutual benefit there have always been story tellers, and they are usually held in high regard.  In the best examples the stories they tell, again, pass on spiritual truths to their listeners, but in a non-confrontational and unpatronizing way.

Parents of young children will probably agree that they tell stories on a daily basis to their children, and it is very likely they choose at least some of those stories to illustrate some important lessons.  Perhaps, for example, the fables of Aesop.

You can use this method to change the negative aspects of someone's behaviour if you do it carefully.  This is especially the case when they are doing something wrong without having thought through the consequences or without really meaning to do so.  A very wise work colleague taught me this technique.  He said when that happens, tell a story to that person about someone having done whatever that wrong thing might be and the consequences that resulted.  Add into it how different things would have been if only they had behaved in a different way.  Tell it as if it were a tale of something that actually happened to you or to someone you know.  When this is done carefully, the person you are talking with will not realize what is happening.  They will not consciously know they are the "hero" of the story.  Their defences will therefore not be up and they will listen properly and often agree with you about how bad this was and how the person concerned should have acted differently.  But although consciously they do not know what is happening, and therefore do not resist, subconsciously they get the message.  Very often you will find that just this one little story will do a lot of good in changing the person's behaviour.

Just as you can use the story telling method to change someone else, so you can use it to change yourself.  It is an extremely powerful technique.  Gather together some of the world's best literature and see if you can find some stories which have underlying strong moral, ethical and spiritual messages.  Obviously a good place to start is with the religious writings of your own religion - or perhaps of a number of religions if, like me, you have an open mind on religion.  You don't have to be a member of a particular religion, or even of any religion, to benefit from its stories in this way.  Concentrate particularly on the writings that contain stories.  A Hindu example is the Ramayana - the Tamil version written in English by R K Narayan which is a wonderful introduction to this epic.  As a Sufi example, try some of the marvellous works of Sayed Idries Shah - for example "Tales of the Dervishes", or "The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin".  The Midrash and the Talmud are full of enlightening stories, as, of course, is the Bible.

Once you get into the habit of looking for inspiring literature in this way you will find it can really change your life.  Not only spiritually, but also in all other aspects of your life, including even financially.  Check out some of the fairy tales and other folk stories that abound - but take care, as not all are intended to convey teachings you may wish to imbibe!

One very good example of this is a rather quirky adult fairy tale by Charlotte Pingriff, called "Mr Happy".  Read this and you will find the message of living a happier life will pass underneath the mental barriers all adults put up, and your life will change in subtle but important ways.  If you want to be happier, I strongly suggest you give this one a try, testing out what I have said here at the same time as creating a happier life for yourself.

PS, the above links are US sources.  If you prefer UK sources, here are some more links for you:

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Be and Do What You Love!

I want you to take a few moments right now to daydream.  If you don't have the time right now, please don't read ahead but instead book some time in your diary when you will do this.  At least 5 or 10 minutes, or maybe a little more, when you know you will be uninterrupted and will not start worrying about something else you need to get ready to do.

Ok, are you ready?  Then let's begin.

What do you love doing the most?  Think carefully about this.  Don't just give a throwaway answer.  Don't give an answer you think someone else might want to hear.  You are safe!  Nobody else is listening.  Not your mother or father, not your spouse, not your priest, not your teacher or coach.  Nobody but you.  So be very honest here.  What do you really love doing?  Focus on it now.  Imagine you are doing it right now.  How does it make you feel?  Hold that feeling.

A different question.  If you could be anyone in the world, who would that be?  What is it about them that you would really love to have as a part of you?  Now expand on this.  Imagine you could create a completely new character by taking the very best from other role models.  Maybe people around you.  Maybe people you have read about or seen on TV or in films.  By "the very best", again I don't mean what you think you should regard as the best.  I mean aspects of that person you would really love if those aspects were a part of you.  Of your personality.  Of your mind.  Of your body.  And of your spirit.  Focus on this newly created being right now.  Imagine YOU are this lovely person.  How do you feel now?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Why?  What is it that you really love about the idea of living there?  This doesn't have to be somewhere you have been.  It could be simply the kind of place you have imagined, whether or not it is a real place.  What is around you right now as you slip into this lovely place?  Try to visualize everything that is there, all the things that make it perfect for you, that make you so love being there.  Let the feeling of being there fill you with energy and fill you with love.

How about your perfect relationship?  How does that feel?  It may be your relationship with your current partner, but something about it has changed so that the love between you is magnified many times over.  Or perhaps it is a relationship with someone you have not yet met.  Let the love in that relationship fill your being.

Ok, you have finished your daydream.  For the moment.  But what I am now going to suggest is that this is a serious exercise, and not simply a daydream, which you should repeat often.  Do it when you wake in the morning.  Do it when you slip into bed at night.  Do it at odd moments during the day.  Why?  Because what you are doing is creating your dream reality.  A reality which you really can manifest and turn into a dream life that has come true for you.

What you have just learned how to do is perhaps the most difficult step of all in learning to manifest, in putting into action the Law of Attraction.  Everything you want to achieve, you really can achieve - but first you have to want it so much it becomes a burning desire.  You have to really love everything about what it is you are trying to achieve.  Do this and your dreams really can come true!

If you want to learn how to take this to the next stage, listen to this "Dream Builder" webinar:

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Thanksgiving and the Law of Polarity

For those of my readers based in the States, assuming you are reading this on the day it is published, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  A day on which, naturally, we express our gratitude.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about expressing gratitude, but if you are not actually grateful that is not possible to do.  Even if you think you are grateful, you may well find that there are many things for which you should be grateful but are not.  If you are not grateful for absolutely everything and everyone in your life, then you still have some work to do!  So today I want to explore gratitude more fully and link it to what I call "the law of polarity".

Some people list all the things that are wrong in their life and then more or less say "look at that list and tell me why I should be grateful!"  Those are people who have clearly not heard of the law of polarity.  This law says that everything has two equal and polar opposite sides.  Every situation that looks so bad has an equal measure of good if only you will look for it.

If you truly understand the law of polarity, this will change your life dramatically.

Everything that happens just “is”.  But like two sides of a coin it has one side that seems terrible and another that looks great.  You get to pick.  You can have the terrible side or the great side.  Which will you choose?  Whichever you choose, that is what will materialize.

Remind yourself that the universe is friendly to you.  There is a limitless supply of everything you require.  An infinite supply of money, clients, time, love, friendship, whatever.  No circumstances can leave you lacking in these things for long unless that is what you choose – consciously or unconsciously.  Don’t focus on the one you have just missed – focus instead on what is coming.

Next, remind yourself that you get to choose what to call the circumstances you are in.  You get to decide whether there is good or bad in them.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to see the good when you are right in the middle of something that seems so bad, but just understand it really is there.

The worst experiences you have should prove to be the greatest gifts.  They are your instructors.  Each one bears within it the seed of something that is amazing if you will only be ready to accept it.

Have you seen the film “Front of the Class”?  This is the true story of Brad Cohen, a man suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome who becomes a teacher.  Others suffering from this condition may have railed against it and asked why it had to be this way.  But Brad Cohen viewed his Tourette’s Syndrome as the best teacher he could have, showing him the way to become a very good teacher himself.  Brad certainly understands the law of polarity better than most people, and he has used it to great advantage.

Now that you too understand the law of polarity, you should use it to your advantage, just like Brad Cohen.

Begin by taking a sheet of paper and filling it with all the things for which you are grateful.  Make certain you have listed at least twenty-five or thirty items and that you have included at least a couple of items from each area of your life.  Include your monetary resources, health, career, relationships, recreation and anything else you can add to this list.

Stop right here and do the above before you read any further!

How did you find this exercise?  Was it easy?  Did you have any trouble making the list long enough?  A short list means there are still a lot of things in your life to which you have not yet applied the law of polarity.  These are the areas where you do not like things the way they are.  So here comes part two of the exercise:

Take another sheet of paper and make a different gratitude list, again covering all the different areas of your life.  However, for this list, begin with things you don’t like.  The boss with the bad attitude.  The car that won’t start.  Your ex.  Your cantankerous adolescent stepdaughter.  The tax man.  The pimple on your nose that won’t disappear.  The bills that keep arriving.

Now use the law of polarity.  Find the other side for each of these items.  For example, with the list I suggested in the previous paragraph you might enter the following:  Gratitude that you have a job.  Gratitude that you have a car.  Your fresh insights into relationships.  New parenting skills.  The money you have received on which you now have to pay tax.  A sound body.  The advantages of the merchandise and services you have received.  Get the idea?

Discover something to be thankful for in each of the items on your list and write it down.  Fill the paper with these gratitude assertions.

Again, don’t read any further until you have completed this exercise!

How was that?  Did you feel particular resistance to some of the items on this list?  Difficulty in finding the good side?  These are areas in your life where you particularly need to focus and find the good side, as they are the very areas that are holding you back.  Keep working on them until you have prised out those good points.  Any time you spend doing this will be well rewarded.

If you want to explore in more depth the law of polarity and the other laws which together allow you to use gratitude to create unlimited abundance, get yourself a copy of my e-book, "Gratitude Now".

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How Much Are You Worth?

If you had to put a value on your time, how much would it be?  How much are you worth per hour, per day, per month, per year?

Whatever you have written, I suggest you now multiply that by 10.  This new figure is probably a more accurate estimate of how much your time is really worth.  And that is simply what you should be valuing it at now, not what it could be in five or ten years' time.

Some people reading this will immediately get it.  Something will shift inside them and they will know I am right.  If you are one of those people, then great!  Now go out and use this new realization!

But many will be mystified.  They will hang on to the figure they originally stated.  If you are one of those people, let me ask you another question.  Have you tried using the "Law of Attraction" and found it didn't work for you?  Have you tried "manifesting" and found nothing you tried to manifest seemed to appear?  Let me tell you why.  You are grossly undervaluing yourself.  You are telling the Universe that you are only worth the figure you have just written down and do not deserve more than that - and the Universe is listening to you!

Many people will have written down the figure they earn as a "wage slave" - i.e. what their boss chooses to pay them.  Others who are self employed may have written down their average earnings, or perhaps if they are a little more optimistic they will have put something near the highest amount they have recently earned.  But these figures are not what you are worth.  They are not even close.  You are worth far more than this!  That is why I told you to multiply your stated figures by 10.  Even that is probably not the right figure, but it will be a lot closer!

Once you have done this exercise, how should you use it?  Well that will depend very much on your circumstances and on what you want to achieve.  In most cases it would probably not be a good idea to just march into the office of your boss and demand a tenfold increase in your salary!  Notice, though, I did say in most cases - in a few cases this might just be the impetus you need to branch out on your own, which is almost certainly what will have to happen if you demand such a large salary increase.  But simply being aware of your true worth (I mean the financial worth of your time, of course, as your real true worth cannot be measured in pounds or dollars) is a very good first step to creating greater wealth.  If you now start to use the "Law of Attraction" again you should find opportunities arise which result in more money coming your way.  Maybe not large sums initially, but Rome wasn't built in a day!

Knowing your true financial worth, begin to dream.  And let your dreams reflect that new worth.  You will find, bit by bit, this will make a big difference in your life.  A bigger difference than you probably expected when you first began reading this article.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Conquer the "Beauty Ideal" Villain!


Charlotte Pingriff

After a recent relaunch, my business, Perfectly Cast, is now all about something that I find hugely important – helping ladies to develop a positive body image.  So, I thought I’d write this article about that notorious villain, the beauty ideal, and the ways in which I feel ladies can stick 2 fingers up to the notion that they have to fit this ‘ideal’.

Beauty ideals have been around since Adam was a lad, but there’s no denying that there’s more pressure than ever on women today.  We are bombarded, daily, with images of what the media, our apparent mirror to society, believes is beautiful.  Now it’s not my intention for this article to be political in any way, no.  My aim, through this article, is try to discredit the myth of ‘the beauty ideal’ and to help ladies everywhere to get it into perspective, and, most importantly, feel better about themselves.

First let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time there was a young girl.  She was slightly chubby (puppy weight), wore big, thick, plastic framed glasses, and was a model student.  Her family told her she was beautiful and clever, mean kids told her otherwise.  Four eyes, and square were regular taunts.  Upsetting though it was, this was part of daily life.  She looked at beautiful women on TV, and in magazines, and though her young mind was not yet fully affected by crippling self-doubt, constant comparisons to ‘the ideal’, and superficial self-esteem issues, it soon would be.  It would soon become a demon that she would battle daily. One she would only defeat through sheer will, and some ninja mind moves.

That girl was me.  I’m a women who has run the gauntlet of body, and self esteem, issues.  I love clothes, shoes, beauty treatments, and make-up as much as the next girl, but it’s crucial to me that I accept my body, quirks and all, and that I do all I can to feel positive and good about myself in a healthy way.  This is something that has not come easily, and I still have off days.  So I can relate, and empathise with, ladies who feel the pressure to constantly compare themselves to the fictional creatures they see on TV, in magazines, and on social media.  I say fictional for a reason, I’ll come to that in a moment.  Add to that the misogynistic attitude cultivated by lads mags, lap dancing clubs, music videos and online porn, and you have one explosive mix! 

This is a very complex topic, and one that can’t be fully addressed in one article, but I want to do my best to condense it into a few key truths, and pieces of advice, that may just help ladies to see things in a better light.

If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to remember that even those women that you idolise, likely have their own issues and insecurities.  I know that sounds obvious, but we tend to forget.  That said, it’s not really about those women, per say, it’s about how you feel about those women.  Which leads on to my second major point – please remember that these women have very carefully cultivated images.  They have a huge team around them, and countless thousands of dollars, and a huge time investment, to enable them to look that way.  On top of the endless hard work/money, they put in, it’s worth reminding yourself that it’s not their natural state.  Even those women don’t look like those women.  I don’t say that to run them down, but rather to point out that the media ideal is not real.  It’s all smoke and mirrors!  That is why I refer to them as fictional creatures.  Cindy Crawford once famously said that she’d love to look like Cindy Crawford.  Of course, it can’t be denied, that some have been smiled down on by the gods of genetics more than others, but you can bet your bottom dollar that without all the money, time, and professionals, these ladies would look like you or I.  On the flipside, you or I could look like these women with all that malarkey in our lives!

This leads me neatly onto my next point.  Try to avoid your comparison triggers.  You know the ones; the images, situations and ideals that make you feel crappy.  Whether that be your boyfriend’s lads mag, Googling celebs, or reading fashion mags.  If it makes you feel rubbish, and you find yourself creating negative comparisons, cease and desist!  Why make yourself feel worse?  I was the one for doing that, I was always at it!  And I’m telling you ladies, it doesn’t help.  Of course you can’t always avoid all the things that can make you feel rubbish, but if you at least try to actively avoid them, not only will it increase your non-comparison ratio, it will also help you to build a better sense of self, that will help when you do come into contact with your comparison nemesis’.   

Now how about this - pick yourself a positive role model.  One who is confident, sassy, and workin’ it girlfriend!  I can’t pull off the urban chat can I?  If it helps, pick yourself a role model who’s like you – for example, if you’re 5ft nothing, and curvy, don’t choose a 6ft tall, reed thin celeb to look up to!  Though societal pressure is greater than ever, we have also started, in the last few years, to see more diverse body types being celebrated – yay!!  From the tall, elegance of Giselle, to petite and curvy Jo-lo’s and kim K’s, to the beautifully buxom Melissa McCarthy’s of this world, there’s a lady out there for all of us.   These gorgeously diverse ladies are working it for women of all shapes and sizes, and helping us all to see that, when it comes to beauty, one size does not fit all!

And another thing, be kind to yourself!  It’s ok to sometimes feel down about yourself, you can’t be happy 100% of the time, you are human – but it will pass.  Don’t fall into the trap of generalising your feelings, for example ‘I always feel like I’m not good enough’.  It’s odds on that you don’t feel that way 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Thinking that way simply reinforces our negative image of ourselves.  Instead, tell yourself ‘I feel rubbish now, but it will pass’.  Recognising that a rubbish feeling won’t last forever, helps to take the power out of it.  Even if you do find yourself having the odd wallow though, that’s fine too.  Everyone’s entitled to have down times.

Finally, whilst your deep-seated negative feelings about yourself may take some work to conquer, it’s ok, actually, to do superficial things that make you feel good.  Whether that be buying lovely clothes, wearing your make-up a certain way, getting your hair done, or having beauty treatments.  If you enjoy it, and it makes you feel good, why not?  It’s about treasuring yourself, treating yourself as if you’re worth it.  Similarly, if you don’t like all that beauty stuff, and you’d rather be a natural beauty, embrace that!

In a nutshell, it’s about finding what works for you, to make you feel good, and avoiding the stuff that makes you feel bad.  I have, and I can honestly say that I’m happier with myself now, than I’ve ever been (though that young, insecure girl does occasionally still make an appearance – but I love her too).  The media will always try and shove notions of beauty down our throats and, you know what, those notions will change like the seasons.  So stop trying to run with the media wolves!  That’s no way to win.  Be you, embrace your quirks and stand tall.  Quirky Beauties united!

If you’d like more similarly rousing articles, as well as make-up tutorials, interviews with inspirational ladies, and down to earth beauty advice, then sign up to my free newsletter here - >><<

About the Author and her New Look Business

Charlotte Pingriff is an Artist, Body Caster and Writer. She runs the quirkily creative Perfectly Cast – a lovely arty haven of happiness, positive body image and down to earth cheer.

The whole philosophy of Perfectly Cast is about helping women feel happy, confident about their body, and positive.  To that end, there are 3 core elements to Charlotte’s business:
  • A body casting service, incorporating 4 brilliant packages to choose from (at price points to suit all), that combine a pampering experience with producing a beautiful piece of art, unique to the customer.
  • A shop, called ‘Little Shop of Happy’, selling handmade items that are quirky, funny, cute and very adult!
  • Last, but not least, the free newsletter, the ‘Quirky Beauty Brigade’, that goes out weekly, giving tons of value including articles that encourage a happier life, inspirational videos and down to earth make-up tutorials and beauty advice.

So go and take a look at, join the newsletter, and become a Quirky Beauty!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

There are more things in heaven and earth ...

Do you only believe in what you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch?  Or is it possible that some things exist which are not at all discernible to the five senses?

Hopefully you agree that not everything that exists can be detected by one of the five senses.

Electricity, for example.  Can you see it?  You can certainly see its effects, but you cannot see the electricity itself.  Can you hear it?  Sometimes you can hear a buzzing or crackling sound in the wires between the pylons, but it is not the electricity itself you are hearing, just its effects on the environment around it.  You can sometimes smell what you might refer to as an electric smell, but that is not the smell of electricity but of changes in the wires through which it is flowing.  Again, if you put electric wires on your tongue there will certainly be an effect, but you couldn't really describe that as the "taste of electricity".  The reality is that electricity is not directly detectable, but certainly we can observe the effects of its passage.  Someone who understands the effects caused by electricity can channel it, using its power in marvellous ways.

How about your mind?  Does it exist or are you mindless?  If it does exist, can you see it?  Not the images it creates in your head, but the mind itself?  Can you hear it?  Not the voices it creates in your head, but the mind that creates them?  Can you smell, taste, or touch your mind?  You can do none of these things, but does that mean your mind does not exist?  Certainly not!  Just like electricity, your mind, which cannot itself be detected (even though the brainwaves it creates can be measured), can be channelled by one who understands its effects, and such a person can use the power of the mind in marvellous ways.

Use this logic to explore concepts that maybe in the past you have refused to believe could be true.  I am not saying be gullible and believe everything you read and hear.  But I am saying keep a very open mind and explore.  Be prepared to have new experiences and learn new things.  Recognize that just because you have always accepted that certain things are true and others are false, that does not mean you have to continue to accept this.  And also, perhaps most importantly, accept that even the new understanding and beliefs you may gain as a result are not by any means the whole picture, and that if you continue this process many of those beliefs will change in the future.

If you take all this on board you will be ready for spiritual evolution, and you will find life in the future can be so much more exciting and fulfilling than it has ever been in the past.

Friday, 31 October 2014

What is Halloween?

October 31st is celebrated in many countries as "Halloween".  But why?  What is the meaning of Halloween?

There are two parallel "meanings", both of which have some validity.  Firstly there is the Christian festival of All Hallows in which those who have passed on, and especially Saints, are honoured.  Secondly there is the Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced "sow-in"), which celebrates the end of summer and start of winter, and during which fairies and / or the spirits of the dead find it easier to cross over into this world and create mischief.

Most of the trappings of a modern Halloween celebration can be traced back to one or both of these festivals.

In the Gaelic festival, turnips were carved, often with faces meant to represent evil spirits, and candles placed inside so they could be used as lanterns.  They were called "jack-o'-lanterns" after the name given to the weird lights that can sometimes be seen flickering over peat bogs.  Immigrants to the US replaced the turnips with pumpkins as the inside of a pumpkin is much softer than a turnip, making it much easier to carve.

Jack-o'-lanterns were hung outside houses to light the way for the dead souls who wished to return one last time before they passed on to the next world and who chose to come on this one night when the veil between the two worlds was so much thinner.  There is a similar festival honouring the dead to this day in Japan, the festival of Obon in mid August, where a trail of candles may be lit leading the returning spirits to their home.

The jack-o'-lanterns were also used to light the path of "soulers" (mainly children or poor people) who travelled from house to house asking for "soul cakes" in return for saying prayers for the dead.  This tradition survives more or less intact today in the Portuguese "Pão-por-Deus", or "Bread in the name of God", where children up to around 10 years old knock on doors and ask for bread in the name of God, receiving not only bread but also sweets and even money.  And of course it survives in the practice of "trick or treat", where children ask for sweets, and may play a trick on the householder if they don't get anything.

While "trick or treating", children usually dress up in various costumes.  Also, many Halloween parties are fancy dress parties.  The origin of this is the ancient belief that All Hallows Eve is the last chance the dead have of coming back to earth and taking vengeance on people who they believe have done them harm in some way.  In order to avoid this ghostly vengeance, people would dress in disguise in the hope the ghosts would not recognize them.

Most of what you are likely to do at Halloween, if you celebrate it at all, will probably be simply for fun.  There is nothing wrong with this - it is good to have fun.  But perhaps you should also remember some of the deeper meanings of this festival.  Remember those who have passed on, thinking of the good they have done in this world and vowing to do at least as much good yourself.  Think of those worse off than yourself (as in the "soulers") and do what you can to help them.  And perhaps also remember that the boundary between this world and other more ethereal worlds may not be as solid as you might believe and that, as the Bard himself once said, "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy".

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Think and Grow Rich

Have you read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill?  You really should!  It is probably one of the most important books great achievers featured in "The Secret" studied and used to achieve their success.  But do not be deceived by the title.  Yes, it focuses on getting rich, and you can most certainly use the techniques in this book to become very rich indeed, but the concept is not limited to acquiring material wealth.  It can be applied to achieve anything you truly desire.

Just to give you a taste of things to come when you read this marvellous work, here is a story Napoleon Hill tells at the beginning of the first chapter.  The story of the man who "thought" his way into partnership with Thomas A Edison.

TRULY, "thoughts are things," and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects. 

A little more than thirty years ago, Edwin C. Barnes discovered how true it is that men really do THINK AND GROW RICH. His discovery did not come about at one sitting. It came little by little, beginning with a BURNING DESIRE to become a business associate of the great Edison. 

One of the chief characteristics of Barnes' Desire was that it was definite. He wanted to work with Edison, not for him. Observe, carefully, the description of how he went about translating his DESIRE into reality, and you will have a better understanding of the thirteen principles which lead to riches. When this DESIRE, or impulse of thought, first flashed into his mind he was in no position to act upon it. Two difficulties stood in his way. He did not know Mr. Edison, and he did not have enough money to pay his railroad fare to Orange, New Jersey. These difficulties were sufficient to have discouraged the majority of men from making any attempt to carry out the desire. 

But his was no ordinary desire! He was so determined to find a way to carry out his desire that he finally decided to travel by "blind baggage," rather than be defeated. (To the uninitiated, this means that he went to East Orange on a freight train). He presented himself at Mr. Edison's laboratory, and announced he had come to go into business with the inventor. In speaking of the first meeting between Barnes and Edison, years later, Mr. Edison said, "He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after. I had learned, from years of experience with men, that when a man really DESIRES a thing so deeply that he is willing to stake his entire future on a single turn of the wheel in order to get it, he is sure to win. I gave him the opportunity he asked for, because I saw he had made up his mind to stand by until he succeeded. Subsequent events proved that no mistake was made." 

Just what young Barnes said to Mr. Edison on that occasion was far less important than that which he thought. Edison, himself, said so! It could not have been the young man's appearance which got him his start in the Edison office, for that was definitely against him. It was what he THOUGHT that counted. If the significance of this statement could be conveyed to every person who reads it, there would be no need for the remainder of this book. 

Barnes did not get his partnership with Edison on his first interview. He did get a chance to work in the Edison offices, at a very nominal wage, doing work that was unimportant to Edison, but most important to Barnes, because it gave him an opportunity to display his "merchandise" where his intended "partner" could see it. Months went by. Apparently nothing happened to bring the coveted goal which Barnes had set up in his mind as his DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE. But something important was happening in Barnes' mind. He was constantly intensifying his DESIRE to become the business associate of Edison. 

Psychologists have correctly said that "when one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance." Barnes was ready for a business association with Edison, moreover, he was DETERMINED TO REMAIN READY UNTIL HE GOT THAT WHICH HE WAS SEEKING. 

He did not say to himself, "Ah well, what's the use? I guess I'll change my mind and try for a salesman's job." But, he did say, "I came here to go into business with Edison, and I'll accomplish this end if it takes the remainder of my life." He meant it! What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a DEFINITE PURPOSE, and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession! 

Maybe young Barnes did not know it at the time, but his bulldog determination, his persistence in standing back of a single DESIRE, was destined to mow down all opposition, and bring him the opportunity he was seeking. 

When the opportunity came, it appeared in a different form, and from a different direction than Barnes had expected. That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity. Mr. Edison had just perfected a new office device, known at that time, as the Edison Dictating Machine (now the Ediphone). His salesmen were not enthusiastic over the machine. They did not believe it could be sold without great effort. Barnes saw his opportunity. It had crawled in quietly, hidden in a queer looking machine which interested no one but Barnes and the inventor. 

Barnes knew he could sell the Edison Dictating Machine. He suggested this to Edison, and promptly got his chance. He did sell the machine. In fact, he sold it so successfully that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market it all over the nation. Out of that business association grew the slogan, "Made by Edison and installed by Barnes." 

The business alliance has been in operation for more than thirty years. Out of it Barnes has made himself rich in money, but he has done something infinitely greater, he has proved that one really may "Think and Grow Rich." 

How much actual cash that original DESIRE of Barnes' has been worth to him, I have no way of knowing. Perhaps it has brought him two or three million dollars, but the amount, whatever it is, becomes insignificant when compared with the greater asset he acquired in the form of definite knowledge that an intangible impulse of thought can be transmuted into its physical counterpart by the application of known principles. 

Barnes literally thought himself into a partnership with the great Edison! He thought himself into a fortune. He had nothing to start with, except the capacity to KNOW WHAT HE WANTED, AND THE DETERMINATION TO STAND BY THAT DESIRE UNTIL HE REALIZED IT. He had no money to begin with. He had but little education. He had no influence. But he did have initiative, faith, and the will to win. With these intangible forces he made himself number one man with the greatest inventor who ever lived. 

How did you like this taster?  If you truly study it and put into practice what you learn from it, this extract alone can help you achieve your life goals.  But if you want to develop it further, then get yourself a copy of the complete book.

Here is the link for you:

Or if you are in the UK:

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Many Different Paths

Which path are you following?

You may well counter this question with "path to what?".  I could, for example, have headed my article as "Spiritual Paths".  But that would make it too narrow.  "Personal Development Paths" is another possibility, but for those who DO want to find out more about spiritual paths that might be too narrow also.

Frequently people ask me "what path should I follow?".  Without wishing to seem evasive, my reply would usually be something along the lines of "what path do you WANT to follow?" or "what path do you FEEL you should follow?".  The reality is there are very many paths, many of which are "right" and "good".  The "right" path for you may well be very different from the "right" path for someone else, even if that person is a close friend and lives right next door.

You should begin your search with that in mind.  There is no "one right path" to follow, no matter what anyone may tell you.  When you find the path you are following feels absolutely right and is giving you great results it is very tempting to become evangelical about it.  You tell everyone around you how great it is and try to convince them they should follow the same path.  Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to share your good fortune and help those around you gain similar benefits.  But it is a very small step from that to starting to tell people that the paths they are following are wrong and that they must stop following them and follow yours.  That is most definitely NOT the right thing to do.

This applies in all walks of life.

Take "spiritual path" for example.  Most people, if they follow a spiritual path at all, choose to follow the one followed by their parents, their friends, and the people around them.  There are many different spiritual paths, and the fact that your parents followed one does not necessarily make it right for you.  The fact that most people in your culture follow a particular spiritual path does not mean that is the path for you.  Do not misunderstand me, though, when I refer to "spiritual path".  I am not necessarily talking here about religion, although changing spiritual paths can sometimes mean changing religion.  But if you have a strong belief and find that belief helpful I would not want you to try changing that belief - just to find the path within that belief which seems to work best for you.  For example, if you are a Christian you may find you wish to use a mystical path.  You may follow the spiritual exercises of Ignatius Loyola.  Maybe you wish to follow a more devotional path, and for example use "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas à Kempis as your guide.  If you are a Protestant, the fact that both the authors I have mentioned here were Catholic should not deter you, as their exercises are not really exclusive to one denomination.  Alternatively, find authors within your denomination who have outlined appropriate practices you can follow - if you look hard enough you will certainly find them.  Like me, you may find a silent or near silent Quaker meeting works best for you.  Or you may simply find regularly attending the church or chapel in which you were raised, and following the advice given in ministry or sermons is the right approach.  As a Muslim you have similar choices.  Likewise a Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever faith is the faith of your own culture.  There are meditational, mystical, devotional, and practical paths that can be followed in all the main religions.  Or you may wish to belong to no religion at all and follow a spiritual path - there are many such paths you can follow, most of which will work to make you a better and more spiritual person.

With personal development, there are again so many different paths you can follow.  As I have stated in a recent article, very many of them are good and will give you the results you need if you persevere with them.  That is the key, of course.  Persevere.  And know the difference between needing to keep going in order to get the right results and flogging a dead horse that is never going to be right for you.  Ultimately you will probably find you can combine elements from different systems and create your own unique path.  But do not be in too much of a hurry to do this.  Remember, the people who created these systems made lots of mistakes along the way and found the right way to counter those mistakes.  The danger of picking and choosing elements from different systems too early is that you will make the same mistakes yourself and not know the best way to get back on the right path - or maybe even not realize you have made the mistakes at all.

If your search is for the right occult path, there are again many from which to choose.  You may, though, wish to start with the underlying mystery teachings of either the country in which you live or the culture from which you come.  Whilst it is possible to use teachings from a mystery school not connected with either you will find it a much harder, more uphill struggle, and you may find the results are not as clear as they otherwise might be.  For those of us in the West, one of the main mystery schools is hermetic wisdom,  the combination of Tarot and Qabalah instruction which has been used in many secret societies and which is now readily and openly available if you look hard enough.  If you are in the UK, then you may also consider the practices of Wicca.  In the United States you may consider using Native Indian practices.  A little further south and you may wish to explore Toltec sorcery.  For those of you from the East, or who are more comfortable with Eastern philosophy, the Tantric Yoga system from which the chakra theory so common in "New Age" practices arose, may be most appropriate.  Those of you in Australia may consider turning to the Aboriginal culture, which is filled with wisdom which can help.  And those in New Zealand should look carefully at the wisdom teachings of the Maori culture.  Or in both cases, if you are not of Aboriginal or Maori descent yourself, look to the culture from which you are descended - perhaps coming back to the hermetic tradition or Tantric yoga.

Whatever path you are trying to follow, remember that the "truth" itself is something that cannot simply be expressed in words understood by all.  It is much deeper than anything we can express in that way.  The end result is that there are many different systems which all express the truth in different ways using different means.  Pursue your path diligently and you will be rewarded.  But never fall into the trap of believing that because your path is right for you it must be right for everyone.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

How to be successful

"Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

The other day one of my subscribers told me he had been trying to become successful but that it wasn't working, and he wanted to know what he should do about it.  Does this have a familiar ring?  This is probably something that, if we are truly honest, we have all suffered at one time or another.  So how do you ensure you can be successful?

Everything comes down, in the end, to state of mind.  Yes, circumstances can help or hinder.  Sometimes the circumstances in which we may find ourselves can be dire and it can seem impossible to succeed.  We look around and see nobody else in our circle is succeeding either.  It has to be the fault of our environment!  But although those circumstances may be placing apparently insurmountable obstacles in front of us, the real key is what is inside, not what is outside.  We see the obstacles and immediately something inside says "it's impossible - I will never succeed!"  And you know what?  As long as you allow that inner demon to go unchallenged it will be right.  This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is the basic underlying principle of most success systems.  Change the voices within.  Change them properly, not just superficially.  Change them permanently, not just for a day or two while you are trying out a new system.  Focus them on achieving your goal and achieve it you will.

How can you change those voices?  How can you eliminate the defeatist, miserable voice that has been with you since early childhood telling you "it won't work", "you can't do it", "you aren't good enough"?  How can you turn it around so your inner, non-stop chatter is full of "that's great!", "you're getting there!", "you have what it takes!" instead?

The first step is to look at your resources and be realistic.  Many other Law of Attraction gurus may disagree with me here and tell you that whatever it is you want to achieve you CAN achieve it if you only focus on it, visualize your success properly, and truly believe it.

Well, yes, they are right.  It IS possible to achieve anything if you are able to do those three things:
  1. have a clear, smart goal
  2. visualize achieving it whilst basking in the positive emotions this creates
  3. believe with every grain of your being that on another plane you have already achieved it and your only task now is to bring that already successful achievement down into this plane.

Read that paragraph again, as you will find it is the master key to success.  But look again at the very last essential component.  Believe.  If you do not have that solid, unshakeable belief then all the rest is just window dressing.  If your goal is unrealistic your subconscious will know this (even though many gurus will try to tell you otherwise) and it will resist your every attempt to believe.

Paradoxically, being realistic does not mean limiting yourself to far less than you really want to achieve.  I would view realism here as a recognition of the fourth dimension that currently constrains us all - time.

The enormously successful inventor, business magnate and philanthropist, Bill Gates, once said "most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years."  So do not set yourself a short term goal that you know in your heart of hearts you are unlikely to achieve in the time you have given yourself.  By all means set that seemingly unachievable desire as your long term goal, but then focus on what you can do NOW which is one step towards it and which does not seem completely impossible.

Once you are certain you have chosen that short term goal wisely, visualize how you will feel when you have achieved it.  Let that feeling permeate your whole being.  See how wonderful that feeling is!  Know that you HAVE achieved it, and bask in the feeling that generates within you.  Start noting down the differences it makes.  You HAVE achieved it, and now your role is simply to recognize this whilst at the same time taking the steps necessary to make it a reality in this plane as well as the plane above where it is already a reality.

If you tackle your dreams and goals in this way, drawing on the immense power of belief but not at the same time putting obstacles in the way of that belief (obstacles such as being completely unrealistic!) you WILL succeed.

Once you have taken this vital first step, look around for the tools that will help you reach your goal faster.  There are many such tools out there.  Some are great, some mediocre, and some don't really work at all.  Let me help you by sifting out the mediocre and useless.  Join me, if you haven't done so already, by going to where you will get 4 e-books to help you on your way and will receive regular information from me on systems to help you achieve what you desire, many of which are completely free.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Do you start and finish each day expressing gratitude?

If not, why not?  Do you feel you have nothing for which you should be thankful?  I can assure you that cannot be true.  For a start, you are reading this, so you must be alive!  Not only alive, but also in possession of at least one of your five bodily senses - one which Helen Keller never had, but Helen was thankful for what the Universe gave her!

Perhaps you ARE thankful but do not feel the need to express this.  That is a BIG mistake.  You need to express it not because there is a jealous God out there who will punish you if you don't give Him His due (personally I believe in God, but I do not attribute to Him petty human emotions like that).  You need to express it so that you really internalize how much you have for which you should be grateful.  The more you do this, the more positive you will become.  And the more positive you are, the better the life you will have.

This applies both to saying "thank you" to the Universe (or God, depending on your religious views) and also to the people around you who have contributed to your happiness.  By saying "thank you" to other people you will not only feel really positive yourself, but you will be spreading that positive feeling to others.  A win-win situation!

If you are really grateful, then you should also look for ways to "give back" to God, or the Universe.  There are so many ways you can do this.  Any limitations you see are just in your mind.

Stuck for ideas?  Let me give you a couple of ways I have expressed my gratitude recently.  Both happen to relate to charities, but neither involve much (or even any) digging into your pocket.  You can copy these ideas, contribute to the charities, or simply use theme as stepping stones to find unique ideas yourself.  Do whatever you wish with them - just do something.

Last Sunday I committed myself to running a half marathon in aid of a charity called the Himalayan Peoples Project - Nepal.  This charity is a small but very dedicated charity which is trying to improve the lives of poor and disabled people in Nepal.  You can find out more about it at  I have never run or walked anywhere near that far, but I was determined to complete the half marathon.  As I got within a few miles of the finish line I felt as if my legs were about to fall off.  Quite literally - I actually wondered briefly whether they were suddenly going to disclocate!  But I kept going.  Why?  Because I am grateful for my health.  I have had cancer, and still suffer some permanent after effects of the treatment, but I am far healthier than many of the people the charity wants to help.  I am grateful for that, and wanted to do something to help them.  Notice I didn't actually have to dig my hand into my pocket - my gratitude was expressed in another way.

You can see the view I had of the finish line here, just approaching Windsor Castle a few miles away in the distance.  Put yourself in my place.  How does that make you feel?

How do I feel now?  Great!  I am fitter as a result.  At the top of this article you can see me just after I got my medal that proved to me I did it!

I also feel more positive.  And I know I can send a lot of money to the charity thanks to the people who sponsored me.

How do those sponsors feel?  They feel great too, knowing the good that will now be done with their money.  Another win-win situation!

Then, a couple of days later I did something to help another very small charity.  The Chreda Foundation, which helps young people with their spiritual development, in the widest possible sense.  What did I do?  Help launch a challenge which the Foundation hopes may go viral just like the Bucket Challenge did - but one which is more environmentally friendly.  Everyone who participates in the Dragon Challenge donates a small sum (the Foundation asks for just $10, or £5) and then performs musically on the internet.  It doesn't have to be star quality - check mine out and you will realize that!  All that is important is that you give it a go.

You can see my attempt here:

Was it fun doing it?  Yes it was.  Did it help me at all?  Yes - it made me put some time into learning to play a keyboard properly, which is something I had been meaning to do but never actually got around to doing.

And again I feel more positive.  A little bit of money has gone to the charity, but if the people I have included in the challenge do it, then more will go.  And if the people they challenge do so as well, then even more will go.  Perhaps even you will give it a go, and become an honorary Dragon, after reading this and watching my attempt.

These are just a couple of examples.  Nothing really big.  But a way of giving back to the Universe (or God).

I am doing my bit, and I will stay grateful and keep finding more ways to express my gratitude.

How about you?