Look!  I’m on an advert for something awesome.  I didn’t even photoshop it and make it up at all.  I know, I know hard to believe.  Find out all about this incredible type trauma therapy at Havening.org (or just read the bit I’ve written below the picture).

I'm the one in the green cardi on the right.

(Top row; I’m in the green cardi on the right.)

The first thing you should probably know is that I had to give up my job as a playground supervisor for this.  I didn’t want to leave because I loved being a playground assistant.  The problem was just that the deputy head didn’t understand that I subsidised my two hours working in school with a second income (known as my real job) as a hypnotherapist.  So, when she refused to give me those 2 hours off to go to New York for a week and get certified in Dr. Ruden’s ground breaking Havening technique, I faced a difficult decision.  Should I stick with my job working for £14 a week in a rainy playground?  Or should I fly to New York in a heat wave, spend a few days at an inspiring conference on trauma, certify in the latest techniques, meet the inventors, their families, have a few days off browsing and boozing in the big apple with old friends?  It was a tough choice, worsened by the fact that the deputy head had just offered me a third lunchtime hour each week, yes, she explained if I played my cards right, £21 a week was waiting right there for me.

Let’s talk about Havening.  Ok, it’s really simple (no surprises there if I’m teaching it right?).  So what you do is basically rub someone’s arms and their trauma goes away and doesn’t come back.  I know, sounds dumb doesn’t it?  There is actually a bit of science behind it, wanna know?

So, if you think of trauma being a red line memory at the back of the brain.  It sits there sometimes quietly dormant, but doesn’t go away.  Sometimes, it sits there noisily interrupting everything in your life, popping up in your thoughts all day despite your best efforts to subdue it.  The idea is that this trauma is rooted in the amygdala area of the brain.  To undo it, you flood the amygdala with your body’s own natural serotonin – by rubbing your face, arms or hands.  It’s very simple.  Sometimes,  people also need to do other things such as hum tunes and count.  This is done to distract the more conscious, working memory and to prevent people from getting too overwhelmed if their remembering the bad ole times.

Some of the problems I have  treated with a couple of sessions of Havening in my clinic include; rape, assault, shock of discovering a dead body, bullying, a variety of phobias – (dental, height, spiders, jealousy).  Blushing, IBS, child abuse – sexual and emotional, drinking, sex addiction, coping with suicide, bereavement, trauma from giving birth, facial tics, physical pain, upsetting childhood memories, abandonment.  The list could actually go on and on, I’ve worked with so many different problems with this on adults and children.

The idea is that if someone comes with a range of behaviour that they’re unhappy with – be it feeling low, eating too much, remembering very sad times etc, Instead of treating those things as the presenting problem, you see those things are symptoms of a more fundamental problem (underlying trauma).  The skill is in finding the root cause of the problem, which can sometimes be something quite innocuous to us as adults, but may have felt traumatic in our childhoods.  If that root cause is treated, with Havening, then the symptoms cease and the person returns to a “normal” sense of well being.

You can do it on yourself too.  I don’t recommend you do big traumas without a trained person to help guide and protect you.  Sometimes the memories can feel incredibly powerful and overwhelming.  But if you feel a bit stressed, then try this.  Just rub your arms from your shoulders to your elbows  saying “calm, calm, calm” in a gentle voice, but out loud, as you do it.

Ok, gotta go, my kids, I mean My Public, await.

H x

Wembley Great Hall, 1st and 2nd Oct 2011

You’ve probably heard of Paul McKenna (McK) right, but might not have heard of Richard Bandler.  He’s something of a big guru in the world of NLP and hypnosis.  A controversial character for many reasons, none of which I can be bothered to bitch on about here.  His innovative techniques for phobias, metaphorical language and personal change, I’ve used with success.  I’ve never seen him because his training seminars are way out of my price range.  I have read some of his books one of which “A Guide to Trance-formation” I rate highly as a guide to learning hypnosis – if you ever want to.  Overall, I didn’t really know what to think, other than he’s got quite a dedicated fan club who dangle on his every hypnotic syllable (eugh).  So when the chance to see him for two days for £188 arrived in my inbox I took it, well I bought it from NLP Life actually.  Most of his training seminars cost thousands of pounds to attend (hence I haven’t done any of them) and this seemed (comparatively) a good deal.

In terms of “getting the life I wanted”, well when I booked this seminar I have to admit I didn’t really think that was something I particularly needed.  I’ve been feeling pretty happy with my life for a while now.  I do struggle to understand the pseudo spiritual culture rife at the moment like “The Secret” where the goal of life is – getting what you want.  If I was leading a seminar it would be called “Want the life you’ve already got” (and no one would come).  The real “secret” of a lot of this bull is about giving people unattainable dreams and then convincing them they can have them.  Then if they aren’t able to attain that dream (because it’s totally unrealistic and implausible and unachievable) then the problem is that they didn’t “believe” in it enough to make it happen.  So it’s their own stupid fault they’ve failed again.  I think there are kinder ways of seeing the world than this.  To be honest, I think it’s probably better for people if you just cut out the middle bit and told them at the start that the “Secret” is it’s all their own fault.  I think if you did it in a slightly mystical way with some soft music and a faraway look in your eye then it could be really effective.  I’ll try it out on people over the next couple of weeks and let you know how it goes.  Maybe in the playground, next time one of my mum chums comes to complain about her husband leaving dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, I can go into a slightly altered state and tell her that I “feel” (because a lot of this stuff runs on how we “feel” about things), yes, I feel that ultimately she is creating this situation and that only she can resolve it (because there is no longer any such thing as “fault” only incomplete solutions).

Ok, so you can see that I wasn’t the most ideal candidate for this seminar, but by the time it actually came round, I have to say I was feeling pretty uncertain about some of the decisions I was making about my future.  I’d lost my mojo somewhere around early August and blamed it on six weeks of holidays with my three darlings at home (what to speak of two weeks in a tent with them).  But it wasn’t really true, I had properly lost my mojo and didn’t know where or how to get it back.  I was happy enough, but just not as sparkly as I normally feel.  For example, I’d look at my blog and just not write it, even though I used to love it.  So I was sort of curious by the time it came round to see if it would help me, or if it would fill me with impossible dreams and then leave me on Sunday evening, waiting for a tube in the rain with big fantasy umbrella keeping me dry – if you know what I mean.

The first thing about the seminar that made a real impression on me was that McK opened it alone.  Yep, Bandler hadn’t bothered to get out of bed for 1,300 people (at an average price of £270 pp).  Unbelievable.  None of the “Hi, it’s like really lovely of you all to be here, this is gonna be so fabulous” etc etc ad nauseum.  I had to admit I sort of liked it him for it.  I mean how many of us sit through all sorts of shite just for the social nicety of it all.  Bandler didn’t.  I think I was envious as I was sitting through yet another McK enactment of his dream life as Sean Connery.  (He obviously hasn’t seen Megamind yet).

McKenna smoking during the break

McKenna smoking during the break

I think it went a bit like this the night before:

Bandler:  “Fuck it, McKenna you do the fucking morning, I’m not getting out of bed and driving all the way to fucking Wembley till I’ve had my fucking brunch.”

McK: “Er, ok, I’ll warm them up using my rather fabulous James Bond persona.  The natural charm and confidence I adopt will spread good feelings through the audience and……”

Bandler (interrupting) : “Do what the fuck you like, make them cluck like fucking chickens but don’t expect me there before 3pm”.

McKenna: “Ok M, leave it to me, ”.

Bandler: “What did you fucking call me?”

McK : “Nothing”

So McKenna did the morning.

Now I have to say I’ve seen McK a few times in the past.  The first time I saw him he was in a really bad mood.  I don’t know what was up with him – he was living the Bond life he wanted after all. Wearing a Bond suit, telling the time on a Bond watch, driving a Bond car, planning his career with a real life Money Penny;  and dating Bond girls – who turn in psychos and stab him in the back – hey what more could a guy want?  Anyway, I went to his I can make you thin event a few times, I bought tickets, I won tickets, I couldn’t get away.  And I couldn’t get thin either.

Ok, so let’s get back to Bandler, when he eventually got up and had brunch (he’s American and I believe they all have brunch every day; then hot dogs with yellow mustard in the afternoon when they’re doing their police jobs; then they have dinner somewhere swanky in the evening. Trust me, I’ve seen it ont’elly).  He managed to spur himself towards our event and arrive mid afternoon.  No rush, no rush.  Then he proceeded to tell outrageously funny (and seemingly embellished) stories of inventive therapy sessions he’d conducted.  Couldn’t help but like his stories and his irreverential style.  During all this he was spinning something called “nested loops”.  It’s a hypnotic technique where you begin a story and then digress with another story, and another etc building different levels within each story.  Then you do some subliminal work on the clients (us) and close the stories one by one in the right order.  Well, that’s how Bandler teaches it, but it’s certainly not how he does it himself.  I have to say many of the loops were not closed and I have no idea what the hell he was doing with them all over the place.  But I sure felt good by the end of the day and felt like he actually gave a shit about people’s mental well being.  This was also reflected in the imaginative and kind work he did with people on the stage.  Humble he is not, but skilled he certainly is.

On the second day there was an interesting exercise with McK where we looked at our values and from there our goals (yes, yawn, is there anyone who hasn’t done that a thousand times before), but then we put them on a time line and played around with them on there.  A timeline is an imaginary line depicting your life in chronological time.  You can move stuff around on it, change things and do interesting stuff with it therapeutically.  Anyway, eventually we went to the end of our lines (metaphorically our old age) and looked back over the part we’d been planning with our values etc and checked we were happy with it.  McK, then asked a few people in the audience about theirs.  Now a lot of the audience were NLPers (you can tell cos they look like estate agents.  “Height phobia Madam? I want you to imagine yourself in a low lying bungalow in Southend, feel how big the rooms are, notice how small and grey the price appears, would you like a viewing?”).  So, from the audience we got all the typical  I want, I want, I wants.  There were famous writers, famous musicians, famous filmmakers and famous photographers (notice a theme anyone?). Fine.

But as I looked down my own timeline there wasn’t anything famous on it.  I saw myself responsibly bringing up three children on my own, who I love.  I saw myself working as a hypnotherapist, which I love.  And I saw myself spending an inordinate amount of time getting a science degree from the Open University, which I will love.  Nothing sexy, glamorous, award winning, rich or famous along this line.  But as I looked back from my old age perspective I felt an incredibly powerful sense of well being, I felt the reward of being responsible to my children, the joy of helping people with their problems and the challenge of study.  And I felt an incredible sense of simple satisfaction that I’d spent those years of my life on those things.  And to be honest, there’s something a bit priceless about feeling that good about the life you’re living; the one you’re already actually living, not an imaginary life that you wish you had.  And right at that moment, I realized I’d found my mojo again.

Paul McKenna

Richard Bandler

The other good news is that I’ve picked up my blog and started writing (obviously) and begun to manically walk everywhere I go.  I’ve stopped over-eating and one week after the seminar have lost 5lbs.  I have also more strangely found myself doing stomach crunches at 5am in the living room before going back to bed (!!). I don’t know if it was Bandler or McK, but I have to say, I’m really glad I went along.

Bye xx

I’ve been trying to buy a second hand car.   This can be a difficult thing to accomplish as a single woman who knows nothing (useful) about cars.  My last car was a silver one and it was very expensive to maintain, as well as being very unreliable, so never get silver.

Another thing I learned last time, was to be very careful about who you buy it from.  Previously I have avoided all the dealers.  Instead, I bought my last car from a retired middle aged couple in leafy North Oxford.  They had a genuine reason for sale and were effusive about the car and sad to be selling it.  Turned out they were a couple of crafty old shysters who swapped my cash for scarp metal in their neighbour’s recycling boxes.

The man I bought my last car from

They’d banged an old tyre on at each corner and called it a “car”.  They assured me the engine was “very quiet” and off I rolled, literally downhill all the way from there.  They hadn’t climbed to the top of the Saga cruise ship without using other people as their stair lift in life, I was to discover.  The “car” had everything replaced by my local garage over the following three years.

This time I decided on a Vauxhall Zafira.  Wtf?  I hear you ask. I’m sure you imagined me in a vintage sports car or saw me as a sophisticated Yummy queuing up in environmentally customized 4×4 outside the school gates?   I hate to disappoint, but there are a few intelligent reasons which led me to choose Vauxhall over Lexus, Range Rover or Maserati – they’re all called price. Chiefly, the price is right because Zafira’s qualify for a government scheme called Motability for the disabled.  It’s really clever, just like the name, a synergistic combination of motor and motility, or motor and ability, (or motab and ility).  Anyway, exactly what the scheme is doing for the disabled?  By signing over the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) each month for three years, anyone in receipt of Higher DLA can lease a brand new car with full servicing, tyres and Road Tax included.  After three years they can chose to upgrade again to a brand new vehicle if required.  This clever scheme has run since the 1970s and has managed to both create a whole consumer base for new cars (people who would never have afforded them and wanted to get out) and simultaneously has managed to boost the flagging motor trade with thousands of sales per annum.  Clever eh?  It was introduced by the Late Lord Goodman (before he died).  Anyway, the upshot for me of all this is that there are tons of second hand Zafira’s around,  they’re low in price,  low in miles and have a full service history.  I was going to have one.  Motability is the biggest supplier of second-hand cars in the motor industry, but you can only get one of their used cars from a motor dealer.

So out on the hunt for a good deal, I first visited the Bellinger Vauxhall dealership in Wantage.  I had two of the “Oh-my- god children” (omgc) with me, which sufficiently deterred any of the salesmen from an approach.  We even ventured into one of their glassy showrooms where I acquired lots of new biros (and the omgc acquired all the complimentary biscuits).  We were just about to leave; feeling very satisfied that Vauxhall had a lot to offer, when a salesman approached.  Five minutes later I found myself huddled over a brochure trying to decide which of the brand new cars I’d be most interested in.  The omgc excelled themselves by playing quietly together near one of the show cars.  Sensing my dilemma (I don’t actually want a new car), my dealer said if I wasn’t fussy on colour, he’d see what he could do.  (Please god, not silver.)   He disappeared for ten minutes and when he came back he generously added £1,000 to the price of each of the cars, saying he’d found the new price list.  Weird.  At this point I wanted a fast exit, so I asked the omgc to stop filling the show car with forecourt gravel and we left.

I needed a car with more space for the kids

Now, I learned an important thing on that outing.  No one takes a woman seriously if she has two dirty young boys in tow.  She’s just not considered mentally competent.  So when I visited Hartwell Vauxhall in Kidlington, I made sure I amassed four dirty young boys and an idea of a competitive price.  The hustle was on.  And then it was off.  Could it have been the sight of my old banger part askew on their lot, or the sound of breaking plastic which arose unidentifiably from the back seats while we did the test drive?  I’m not sure, but I was mighty upset when I saw Sami prize the top off the gumball machine and generously share his stolen hoard.  I rushed over hoping no one else had seen.  Patiently, I explained that they had to pay for the sweets and they were there to help sick children with Leukaemia.  Looking at me with total scorn, omgc #1 said “Eating loads of sweets isn’t going to make them better.”  Another hasty exit, (but I didn’t make the kids empty their pockets of gobstoppers).

Eventually, I found a car.  Well, actually my 85 year old mother found it in her local paper.   She told me to ring the garage in Tewkesbury, and while I was on the phone she interrupted asking;

“Will they take a cheque or do they want cash”

“Would they prefer a Banker’s Draft?”

“Can you pay now by phone, or do they need the card?”

Eventually, I told her that we’d play them hard by going to see the car before buying it. Savvy – that’s me.

Jason Jones Autocare was the final stop on my car buying journey.  He turned out to be brilliantly eccentric, everything I’d ever imagined in a second-hand car dealer.  He was vaguely recognisable from the photo on his website, obviously taken around 1988, when he was svelte and youthful.  He couldn’t find any of the many cars he’d promised me were in stock.  He couldn’t work the basics on his own computer and had to get someone old enough to be his grandfather to tell him where to click (it was that hard).  He also had a great sense of humour (obviously).  However, he managed to get me the car I wanted and to undercut the main Vauxhall dealers by about £1,500.  This was without giving me any special discounts or deals, so what can I do but recommend him?

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, he knew all about the silver cars and he advised me to go for a blue one.  He said they’re really reliable and never crash.

Me and my new motor

(Should I mention that the kids smashed a window on it before it was a week old?)

Nah,  let’s not spoil it eh?

Day trip to Bognor

30 November, 2009

On Saturday I went to Bognor Regis for the day. Last time I’d been that way I’d followed Ben’s car. Ben was following his satnav and no one got lost. Anyway, it was completely different this time. I did eventually find Bognor. (Just incase you’re looking for it – go straight down England to Southampton and then turn left and make your way across the city, as best you can.  Continue for another 20 miles on winding back roads).  Alternatively just stay on the M27 and follow the massive signs.

Now I’ve never been to Bognor before and as a kid I had a fascination with the name because it had the word “bog” in it. At my catholic junior school, using the term “bog” for the loo, was basically as sinful as questioning things like armaggedon. Sort of like, “Er Sister Emmanuel, how can a fallen angel like satan really challenge god’s position as creator? And can I go to the bog please Sister ?”. (Nun goes ballistic in response). Letter home about my appalling use of language, (no mention of their appalling misuse of philosophy). Junior school wasn’t the highlight of my educational career. In fact neither was grammar school, or university. Er, lets move on.

My mother reliably informed me, during those toilet obsessed years, that Bognor was a upmarket seaside resort. I’ve often referred to it as such when I’ve met people from Bognor, and of course they’ve always agreed. In fact they’ve readily agreed – I now know why. There is a theme that runs through my Mother’s general knowledge which I will call “out of date”. So, normally I could expect her to be, say, between five and forty years out of date which I can accommodate fairly well. It just depends on what you ask her. So, for example if I say, “do you know where I can go for coffee in Cheltenham?” She will suggest a cafe that shut down five years ago. But that’s only because she lives in Cheltenham and regularly goes into town and keeps fairly well informed about such things. But the conversation can easily go like this;

“Mum, I don’t know where to meet Sophie (made up posh friend) for coffee in London?”

Mum: “Well, the Lyons tea-house on Oxford Street is always very nice”


Then I’d reply; “You mean HMV?”

Mum, “Oh, has it shut down now?”

Me; “Yes, they just closed it in 1971”

Mum; “What a shame”


I’m used to these informal history lessons and I”ve made the most of them over the years. It saved me revising for my history O-level and I even passed (the resit). But every now and then she throws a truly spectacular one in. Bognor is a classic example. She knows it’s an upmarket seaside town, because once, when she was a young child in school, she read a very old book which told her all about Bognor Regis and its development. So the “book” she was reading could have also been called a collection of parchment leaves loosely bound to form a rudimentary precursor to what we now term  “book”. At the time her parchment manuscript was scrawled, Bognor was probably an exciting new build, full of new money. History actually confirms this to be true.  So top marks there mum. Bognor was apparently a purpose built resort, developed during the 1780s mostly by an East India Company trader,   Lord Hotham. He needed somewhere to retire to and found that Bognor had the perfect soil for brick making. So he got all excited and built Bognor Regis to compete with Brighton.  Guess what? It didn’t.

So, thanks for knowing your stuff about Bognor mum. Shame, you got the wrong century, but hey, no-one’s perfect. Just in case you want an update –  these days, out of season, Bognor is a shabby place with cheap shops and is still no competition for Brighton. But its saving grace is that Dan Jones lives thereabouts, and he’s a skilled hypnotherapist., who is well worth a visit.


Spectacular Bognor Regis