Mara's Musings

Moments from a Mid Life Crisis

My Blog Is Moving

By on June 2, 2018

My blog will be moving over to a free WordPress blog site within the next week or so.  This page will then be closed.  This is to enable me to retain my privacy which I feel may be relevant considering the subject matter of some of my posts.

The new blog will be announced once everything has been moved over.


See you there.

Continue Reading


Vancouver – I survived the 9 hour flight (Just about!)

By on May 5, 2018

The flight from Heathrow Terminal 2 to Vancouver International is 9 hours in duration and I have to admit I felt it during the last 2-3 hours.  I did the journey to Montreal last year and that was 7 hours, but this time I found that extra couple of hours was a real killer.  Read more…

Continue Reading

Life | Work

I’ve Been Away … But Now I’m Back!

By on April 30, 2018
I'm Back

I’m Back after a small hiatus – and a few folks have asked me why I haven’t been musing as much as normal.

So, where have I been!?

The answer is nowhere at all, but life has been happening and it has been happening in spades.  I’ve had so much going on I just haven’t had the headspace to deal with it all so blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

Today was the last day in a job that I have had for the past 8-9 years. For me, the last year has been a difficult one for a multitude of reasons but for the majority of the time I have spent there, it has been wonderful.  It’s one of those mixed feeling things because my colleagues are actually second to none and I am going to miss seeing them as often as I do now, although they will undoubtedly be getting invites to parties at mine.

So what next?

Well, I am now officially self-employed.  (You can check out my website here although it is not completely finished as yet) and I am also open to offers.   That said the next couple of months will be spent traveling around and generally being a kept woman.  This has never happened before and I’m not sure how I feel about it but I am grateful for the fact that I have a wonderful man in my life who will give me the back up I need while I try to consolidate my business.  I honestly could not have even considered resigning without the support of my husband.   He is my lover, my best friend, my cheerleader, my facilitator and an absolute rock.

So I am going to have to knuckle down to all of that business building stuff and keep plodding on with the studies for my BSc.  The next few weeks, however, are going to be spent trying to regroup psychologically after what has been, for me, a bit of a stressful time.

So, I’m back, and will soon be as opinionated and sarky as ever…..




Continue Reading

Life | Social Media

Drama Queens & Tricoteuses

By on March 9, 2018
Drama Queens

Drama QueenThe Drama Queen

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there and done the whole Drama Queen thing.  We all have events happen in life that we don’t like or we can’t control and we all have a need to vent.  We want the world to know!  We want tea and sympathy!  And people to agree with us!

In real life, this is usually self-limiting in terms of both behaviour and reward.  We tell our nearest and dearest, they say ‘there-there’, make tea and serve it with cake and platitudes.  We feel better, we move on.  On social media, however, the role can become rather more problematic both for the Queen and the others around them.

On social media, there are vast numbers of people we can reach out to and although we call them ‘friends’, in reality for most of us they are little more than acquaintances at best, strangers at worst.  By posting on social media we get a huge reward for our dramatic behaviour in terms of quantity – and also sometimes – quality of response.

Sadly, if we already have attention seeking issues and we allow the  Drama Queen to become our default go-to persona every time we go online we can spend our whole life in a state of heightened angst which is perpetuated and encouraged by our so-called ‘friends’.

The other side of this is, of course, the age-old Boy Who Cried Wolf – if our every other post is some catastrophe, offence, or suicide threat, on that one day when we actually need someone everyone is going to roll their eyes and think, ‘more of the same’.

When we are in full Drama Queen mode we are in desperate need of attention; we want people to notice our plight, empathise and be on our side.  At this stage, we are particularly vulnerable to the Tricoteuse.

The Tricoteuse

This person thrives on drama – especially other people’s.  They will be more than happy to give the Drama Queen every ounce of attention he or she may feel they are lacking and keep on coming back for more.  They are often happy to take the moral high ground on just about anything and tell us how right we are and how awful the other person/people is/are.    Sadly, however, they

Les Tricoteuses – women who knitted at the guillotine whilst heads rolled

really need some drama in their own life so they will not exactly be giving us the chance to move on.  Instead, expect all sorts of moral indignation and bosom shelving.  They are also more than happy to exacerbate the situation by making ‘helpful’ suggestions of what one should do next, or how they would do this that or the other ‘if that happened to me’.  Of course, they would do no such thing but are quite happy to watch others do so.

Often this may stop short of actually encouraging someone to engage in criminal activity, although I have seen people suggest that someone smashes up a house as an act of revenge, or trash someone’s car.  Whilst revenge may be fun to fantasise over and it might make one feel better in the short term it can also end up in all sorts of trouble that will make the original issue pale by comparison.

Of course, at this stage, the Tricoteuse who is always on our side, will be conspicuous by their absence having moved on to the next, much safer, drama.

Naming and Shaming is one of the key phrases of a Tricoteuse.  Again, we’ve probably all been there, I know I have told people to do this in the past and I do believe that there are circumstances where this could be appropriate (bullying springs to mind).  However, if this is just an act of revenge on our part we should maybe consider how that makes us look, what benefit anyone will gain, will it end up with a visit from the police, and ultimately are we just being guilty of bullying and harassment online?  Remember also that however bad we think someone’s actions are, people have actually killed themselves as a result of being publicly shamed.

This is a strange relationship – the Tricoteuse is not being supportive for altruistic reasons or because they are our friend. He or she is not encouraging us to help us although they might actually believe this to be the case.  In reality, they feel important and involved in something because guess what?  Either they have an empty life or they crave attention almost as much as the Drama Queen.  On top of this for some people, there is an element of schadenfreude:  They are actually getting off on watching you explode.  If they can spread the anger, hate and angst further afield they will and if they can big themselves up in the process and make themselves look good, all the better.  If you believe in vampires, look no further than the habitual tricoteuse.  They will literally feed off your anger and upset until you are sucked dry.


A friend, online or in real life, may well comment on our drama.  They may well empathise and say how awful something is.  In fact, they may do all of the things we will see in The Tricoteuse.  The difference is that a real friend will not encourage us to break the law or continue to wind us up in order to perpetuate a situation. Often they are attacked by the Tricoteuse for not being supportive enough or perhaps suggesting that they are ‘taking sides’ against us.   A real friend, or even actually a half decent human being, will try their best to calm the waters, and will not offer advice that will land other people in the poop.


And finally, if our lives are always filled with unpleasant dramas we should consider that maybe we are the ones bringing it to the table.




Read my disclaimer

Continue Reading

Glastonbury | Life | New Age

Reiki (The Woo Chronicles)

By on March 2, 2018

I trained in Reiki and I still think it’s woo.

Reiki – It won’t heal you. But it might make you feel better.

Like so many things that claim to have an ancient and noble past, Reiki is actually fairly modern, having been invented by Mikau Usui in 1922.  I trained as a practitioner of Reiki circa 2001 and was told a pretty way-out story about how he discovered Reiki through a strange mystical experience.  I did ask at the time if this involved mushrooms. It didn’t go down well. Whether this story was indeed the case, or merely the teacher’s own interpretation of the events, remains unclear.

The central beliefs of Reiki are as follows:

  • There is a universal, never-ending energy that can be channelled for healing.
  • Anyone can access this energy providing they are ‘attuned’ by a Reiki Master.
  • Energy flows through the hands when the practitioner places them on or near the patient.
  • Energy is intelligent, diagnosis is not required, energy automatically diagnoses, treats and heals the patient.

There are 3 levels of Reiki.  Each requires a different level of attunement.  You can expect to pay hundreds of pounds in order to become a Level 3 (Master) Practitioner.

  • Level 1 – learn 12 hand positions on the body through which you can channel the Reiki energy.  You are just a conduit for the energy.  If your hands feel hot – it’s working.
  • Level 2 – you learn the special ‘secret’ Reiki symbols, distance healing and healing by “listening to your inner voice”.
  • Level 3 – Reiki Master.  Usually over a year to learn.  You learn to embody Reiki Energy and attune and teach others.

I have particular issues with the claims of distance healing:

Some Reiki practitioners also claim that their practice can be carried out from a distance, thus obviating any contact save you sending the nice man or lady your credit card number while he or she heals you from across an ocean.


Reiki is not based on any form of rational science – it is the epitome of woo – all clinical research has shown that it probably won’t do you any harm, which is probably its only saving grace.  It is not an effective treatment for any medical condition at all.  All of the evidence for Reiki is anecdotal, there is no objective scientific evidence that Reiki actually works, or is any better than just getting a good old-fashioned massage. It is extremely relaxing and in that way, at least, Reiki can and does make people feel better.

Overpriced & Unregulated

Reiki hand positionsI achieved Reiki II in 2 weekends. If I’d been willing to give up a year of weekends and pay out a lot of money, I could have become a Reiki Master myself, set up courses, a therapy centre and start charging for treatments.

I later discovered that the symbols and hand positions were ‘secret’ so people could charge a lot of money for sharing them.  Of course, had I been a tad savvier I would have saved all of that hard earned cash and just learnt the hand positions and symbols online, printed off a load of certificates, made up a lineage and called myself a Reiki Master.

Unethical? Yes. Illegal? Nope.

Currently in the UK we have voluntary self regulation for complementary therapies i.e. it is not compulsory. It is the person doing the Reiki who is regulated, not the Reiki itself, i.e. it is how they work and their interaction with the public.

The UK Reiki Federation

I’m not sure what credentials they have to actually regulate anyone but you can, of course, join (for a fee):

We are an independent federation of individuals who have been attuned to Reiki, with the objective of providing support and guidance to Reiki Professionals and to the public, with particular reference to education and training, and the public practice of Reiki.  (UK Reiki Federation)

This is obviously a group of people who care deeply about what they do and want to make this safe for everyone, especially the public.  They work closely with another organisation – The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

We were set up by the government to protect the public. We do this by providing a UK register of complementary health practitioners. Protection of the public is our sole purpose.

We set the standards that practitioners need to meet to get onto and then stay on the register. All CNHC registrants have agreed to be bound by the highest standards of conduct and have registered voluntarily. All of them are professionally trained and fully insured to practice.


The key wording here is, ‘registered voluntarily‘. That said, the  CNHC at least tries to provide a standard and a way of checking up on various practitioners, but this is a voluntary process. If someone chooses not to register, they can still practice Reiki if they want to.  Also, it is not clear what powers the CNHC have if you don’t meet their standards- they can throw you out I guess, but they have no legal right to stop you plying your trade.

Both groups essentially seem to be made up of good people who believe in this stuff and want to stop people from preying on the vulnerable.

I’ve known several Reiki practitioners who pride themselves on giving good quality, low-cost sessions to people without making outlandish claims so I know these people do exist.  Often these are people who have a deep-seated sense of service to the community. Sadly there are always the bad apples and some people are being charged – sometimes a lot of money – based on claims that something will ‘heal’ them when it won’t and this is, by definition,  preying on the vulnerable.  Far better to just say that it won’t heal you but an hour of blissful relaxation and having the complete focus of another person might do you the world of good.

It is worthwhile noting that the Advertising Standards Authority (in the UK) will give you a damn good slapped bottom if you make any kind of medical claims for Reiki, and rightly so.  However you might choose to market it, scientific it ain’t and at present, it remains yet another example of pseudoscience; basing an entire industry on the healing powers of a Universal Life Force which cannot be shown by any empirical means to actually exist.

It’s just my opinion!  Read my disclaimer!

Continue Reading


Dear WefEmuff – This One is For You

By on February 24, 2018

This one is for WefEmuff who spends so much time spamming my blog.

I have a spam filter.

Your nasty websites to shaved asses (I mean what the hell have donkeys ever done to you?!) and sexy hot moms are not going to get an airing on here. Stop wasting your time and go peddle your tatty cheap rate porn elsewhere.

That is all.

Nothing to see here.

Continue Reading

Life | Relationships

Life – It’s Short

By on
life is short

Life is short, fragile and is balanced on a knife-edge.

Life is short, it is fragile and fleeting.  Nothing brought this home to me more than the death of a friend last week.  She was not an old woman.  I had seen her 2 weeks prior to her death where a group of us enjoyed a slap up meal in the local Indian Restaurant and had a really good time, then suddenly she just…stopped.

We all say it constantly, ‘life is short’, but never seem to do anything about it.  Sometimes you really do need a kick up the proverbial to really ram home the truth of the matter: On average our lifespans may be on the rise but that is no guarantee that you personally are going to live to a ripe old age.  You need to live right now.

How often do we go through one of these awful situations and then go back into our ruts and the drudge of day to day life?  Stay stuck in a job that doesn’t value you, where you are treated badly?  Or in a relationship about which you could easily say the same?  We stay on our rails and follow the same old sequence of events because, why?  Maybe fear of change but also because it is easy.  You might be bored rigid but hey, it is easier to just stay in a job you can do with your eyes shut than it is to make the effort to find and learn a new role.  You might feel undervalued or even abused by a partner on multiple levels, but change is scary, and it is often so hard to get the help you need, you stay put, the years drift by and so it goes on.

How many of us try and try for a partner who shows us no appreciation or value?  How many of us knock ourselves out for a job where you know full well your employer would replace you within 24 hours if you dropped dead tomorrow?  Is it really worth it?  We all need money to live and we need to work to get the money – but we need to start working to live instead of the other way around and focus on our personal relationships with others – the ones that make us happy!

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that 2018 would be the year when I would work less, travel more and spend really high-quality time with those closest to me and who I care about deeply.  I planned to remove as many negatives as I can…so far I have pretty much failed.  My friend passing really has given me a kick up the arse – and I am going to make changes.

People who know me ‘in real life’ will be aware that I never sugar-coat the dead; we are all just people, good and bad, and this doesn’t change when we pass, but this woman really was exceptional and when I say she was one of the nicest and most genuine people I have been fortunate enough to meet, I actually mean that.  We knew each other I guess for just over a decade, we were never exceptionally close but she is going to leave a huge gap in our little group, in my life and the world will be poorer without her in it.

Continue Reading


The End of the Affair – Memes

By on February 19, 2018

Memes – why I am just so out of love with them

Memes are the killer of rational thought

I used to love a good meme – they used to make me happy and be full of nice things like kittens doing cute stuff, people being inspirational or just plain funny.  Now memes are full of anger, used to stir up hate and wind people up.

The internet is amazing, it gives us the ability to research all sort of wonderful facts, why then do so many people spend so much time posting up a shed load of absolute bollocks and try to pass it off as fact?

Seems legit

No, the EU is not giving all our money away to people in other countries, no Muslims are not training hamsters to go on suicide missions at the local PetsAtHome.  Seriously, no matter how much you hate the EU, fear Muslims, or hate hamsters, just because someone creates a fancy pants meme that happens to fit into your worldview doesn’t make it true.

Most of the really idiotic memes involve racism, sexism or people whining about what they think other people are getting and they aren’t.  Although just 3 clicks away are the actual facts of the matter for some reason people prefer to believe the worst about just about everyone else on the planet that isn’t them.

Welfare has its share of memes – people banging on about the millions of pounds asylum seekers or illegal immigrants receive in buddha memebenefits, whilst pensioners/army vets or whatever get bugger all.  This did the rounds so many times that the Government even produced a paper refuting this.  If the welfare lifestyle is so fabulous and people are that jealous how come they haven’t quit their job? Because fundamentally they are not stupid and know this is not true.  All they had to do to avoid feeling hours of angry bitterness was count to 10 and then click on hoax slayer or UK Gov and find out.  But no, let’s go off half-cocked and wind everyone (including themselves) up.

Muslims –  Anything really from ‘banning Christmas’, ‘banning easter eggs’, to forcing us to eat Halal food.  All of these are untrue and again a quick internet search could clear that right up before anyone gets all hot under the collar and then shares that feeling to everyone they know online.

Pseudo-Science ‘Woo’ – Memes involving cures for cancer, onions in shoes, various bogus ‘remedies’ (which are almost always promoted by someone with a vested financial interest) circulate almost constantly.  From the anti-vax stuff right up to and including ways to resuscitate yourself by coughing, sniffing a sweaty sock and standing on the roof singing Nearer my God to Thee.  I mean if someone wants to give themselves whipped cream enemas as a preventative treatment for erectile dysfunction who am I to stand in their way?  It won’t work but it gives us all a laugh.  However, some of this stuff is pretty dangerous and could cost someone their life.

So, the meme has lost my affection.  For now at least, until I see the next one with a puppy in it!






Continue Reading


The Mammogram – A Menopausal Delight

By on February 16, 2018
mammogram breast cancer ribbon

Mammogram – what should I expect?

Why should I have one?

A mammogram is one of the central pillars of breast cancer detection and alongside regular self-examination can detect breast cancer really early giving one the best chance of a cure.  In fact, the Mammogram breast examinationmammograms they do now can detect early signs of cancer even before you can see or feel any change in the breast itself.

If you live in the UK and you hit 50 you will get invited for a regular NHS mammogram every 3 years.  The mammogram is not compulsory but as an ex-nurse and someone who believes in medicine and the scientific research that underpins it, I would urge you to seriously consider having one when you are offered it. I know there are a lot of bogus health websites out there so I would urge you to check out something that is actually based on real science as opposed to ‘woo‘.  I mean please feel free to place an onion marinated in cannabis oil in your shoe or wave a bit of rose quartz around but do it while you have a proper check up.  Have a look here at this super helpful page by the lovely folks at Cancer Research.

What to expect

I received my letter bearing the joyous news that my Valentine’s Day gift from the NHS was getting the chance to once again place my tits inside a cold x-ray machine which works in a way similar to a workbench vice.  I’m probably not selling this am I?  Bear with me.

So, Valentine’s morn I kiss my spouse goodbye and head to the mobile Breast Screening Unit which looks like the rear end of an articulated lorry and is conveniently parked in the car park at Morrisons so you can go shopping and buy yourself a nice cake or something as a treat for being brave in the unit.  I digress, having been distracted by thoughts of cake.

On arrival I was greeted by a radiologist who took me into a tiny office, confirmed my details and asked a few brief questions; had I noticed any problems and that sort of thing.  After this you get put into a small cubicle where you take your top clothing off (so make sure you wear a top and skirt or trousers rather than a dress!) and your bra and then replace one top to keep you covered.  After a very brief wait, you are then called to the x-ray room where the fun stuff happens.

After you’ve removed your top the radiologist basically positions each breast in turn onto the machine.  The first film is a top to bottom view so the breast is flatted from the top down – a bit like a sandwich toaster.  After this they do the same thing but from side to side.  The whole thing took about 10 minutes and the machine itself is automatic so once she has it in place and ready to go all she has to do is press a button.  The machine whirrs, moves up and down the breast and then releases.

I am not going to say it is the most pleasant thing and the sideways view is a bit mean, but it literally lasts less than 20 seconds.  The NHS mammogram is free at the point of delivery and it does save lives!  You will receive the result within 2 weeks.

What I am saying is – go!  There really is nothing to worry about!


Video:  What it is like to have a mammogram by UK Cancer Research 




Continue Reading


Great Eighty Challenge – Writing Challenge

By on February 9, 2018

A colleague put me on to this amazing website, Third Word Press, where you are challenged to write something but only up to 80 words long.  You can win prizes if you win the challenge your work is included in an anthology which is distributed to the homeless who can sell them to raise funds.  Here is my submission for today:



Later, in the quiet of my room, I will cry my own tears. Later. Not Now. Now I have to deal with the faces; strange, disembodied and tear stained. They claw at my soul, expecting comfort; demanding it! My resources are spent. I am numb, pain-free, floating in space and time. No emotion. If I answer their needs they will diminish and later, in the quiet of my room, I will cry my own tears. Later. Not now.


Continue Reading