Thursday 12 December 2013

Christmas came early to Andy and Eileen's hoose...

Saturday the 7th December saw a gathering of Auld's celebrating a traditional Scottish Christmas with turrrrrrkey and all the trrrrimmings. The reason for the early celebration was due to Kenneth, our older son, and his girlfriend Natalie spending the yuletide time with Natalie's parents in Mauritius!

I have to say it was wonderful to get a trial run of the chocolate roulade... I trust the one on December the 25th looks better. Due to the festivities being brought foward by two weeks, everything else came early too... such as the Christmas cards and decorations.

It brought to mind how so much of our lives are ruled by dates, and if you are anything like me... times! I seem to have inherited the punctuality gene! So from now to the end of the year, I will be taking the more leisurely approach to commitments... I may even turn up late to an event or two! I will certainly not be writing up this blog until after the 5th January 2014. So here's wishing you all the most splendid of festive times!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Love, laughter and leadership

Not been as active writing up the blog recently due to being more active with the "living" side of life. Yes I know that you can always make time to write and not just reply to emails; however my time has been taken up with organising a dinner party... haven't had one of those for a long time; organising Forever Christmas evenings... well that is at least an annual event, and organising next year's calendar of events... Which is why this blog's title is "Love, laughter and leadership" and is staying with the theme of Well Connected Life's December's newsletter. The intention is that all the events I organise next year will involve Love... with a capital L! Laughter and leadership!

I wrote a poem many years ago wishing a friend an "L" of a Life... I am sending that same heartfelt wish to you as a download (click here) reflecting what I believe everyone would like their life to be...

Let's not just live a little... let's live a lot! Notice how that one letter, the letter "L" can make such a difference to a Life!

 with lots of love, Eileen
P.S. If you don't already subscribe to our monthly Well Connected Life newsletter... why not click here and enter your email address in the 'Register for our Newsletter' box to become more "well connected"?

Saturday 9 November 2013

Living It Leadership!

Having enjoyed my restorative quiet time, I am now enjoying the anticipatory feeling that comes when embarking on a new adventure. No I am not returning to Italy just yet, I am getting ready to present a totally new workshop from the Living It Leadership stable called a "Stellar Class".

The theme is about Making an Impact in your life and making an impact on others, with your life. So that got me to thinking, who has made an impact on my life and of course the answer is everyone! As we all have an effect on each other - whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, we are all connected and as I change, so you change and as you change, so do I. Powerful stuff eh!

Waiyin Hatton and myself are working together now through delivering the Living It Leadership presentations. However at some level we have always been working together. We both acknowledge the kinship that we felt on first meeting many years ago and when that meeting developed into a friendship then it followed that our like-minds wanted, even needed to work together.

Consciousness has a way of making itself felt. The subtle feeling of being comfortable or uncomfortable where you are. The unexpected joy felt when seeing a solution to a problem. The clarity of thought that arrives after a walk along the sea shore. The immense sense of being loved and cared for when a stranger helps you with your shopping! Ok, perhaps that last one doesn't appear regularly in your life, so why not be consciousness's messenger and help someone else with theirs!

What is important to me now is that I am enjoying "Living It"... whether as a tutor, presenter, shopper or messenger... the message is the same.
 "Be authentic... Live your truth... Recognise how your life is impacting on everyone else's life and accept the responsibility to be truly "Stellar"! Click here for link to Marianne Williamson's quote.

Monday 4 November 2013

"Living It" quietly!

What with organising Living It Yoga and Living It Leadership, there seems to be a whole lot of "Living It" going on.  So this month has been about taking "time out" as the sporting fraternity say. I would probably prefer the wording of putting "time in", as in making time for reflection. This dovetails nicely with the recent Living It Yoga workshop on Saturday the 2nd November that focused on meditation and mindfullness. They sound the same and they are related, however there are differences. More important than the differences is that they both are effective life enhancers.

 As the past month has been one of leisure for me I have been reading, writing and taking time to ponder. I have even been on a wander or two...

Sometimes it is worth taking time out to reboot the batteries or even just check that the road ahead is the path you want to take. Perhaps it is time to take a detour or even stop by the roadside and watch everyone else taking life in the fast lane. There has been a certain level of hectic in my life over the past few months, so this month has been all about refreshing the spirit and connecting to my life on a soul level.

It is what Marianne Williamson talks about when she says "the spirtual path - is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path, most people just don't know it". Living It quietly has been like chicken soup for my soul... I can heartedly recommend it.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Adventures over for now ... e basta!

It is nearly a whole month since I last wrote up the blog. Been busy, busy doing and not having the time or the inclination to write about it!

As is pretty obvious, I love adventure. I enjoy the excitement of new places and new projects and am able to embrace change fairly easily. Well I now confess to you all that I have had enough adventure to last me a wee while... I am wanting to experience more of the quiet life. Yes, I hear you saying, "How long will that last?"

Alla scuola!
Just back from attending language school on Elba and I had a wonderful time. I was even upgraded by Hertz to an Alpha Romeo rental car. Totally unnecessary I can assure you to have that level of luxury car on Elba, especially on the ferry! The people at ABC Elba language school (click here) are wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed being with them again. Loved being re-aquainted with Cristina, Manuela and Debora and meeting a new teacher Alba, on the left of the photo, and Martina on the right, my fellow student who was a Swiss lady from Monaco!

And of course enjoying my own private swimming pool. It was too cold for everyone else! not beside the pool just in it and yes I did swim... 10 lengths every day!

Anyway why have I had enough adventure for the mo? It seems that I have been on a merry-go-round for the past year. Mega travels both at home and abroad and of course not forgetting the exciting skydive.

The bay at Porto Azzurro

My sense of adventure was severly affected by the Italian transport system. It started with the idea of accompanying my husband, Andy from Elba to Pisa on Friday the 20th September. Andy had joined me for the first week on Elba mainly to see what all the fuss was about... as I just love the island, especially Porto Azzurro where I stay. I don't think it was to keep me out of trouble but you never know. It was my birthday during the week and a great time was had by us both... delighted to report that he fell under the island's spell too.

Now to the Friday...

We had decided not to take the car off the island but to use Italian public transport instead. We needed to get to Pisa, stay the night in a hotel which was already booked, and Andy would fly home and I would return to Elba on the Sat using public transport again. Easier said than done as ferries, trains and buses all failed to connect.
Began my return journey from the hotel in Pisa at 9 am Saturday morning and one taxi ride, three train journeys, and a cancelled train, a Moby ferry trip and a bus later, I arrived back at my villetta on Elba at 7.30pm, somewhat exhausted with the phrase "never again" running in my head...

However we did stay at a 5 star hotel in Pisa. Andy is still not sure how he managed to book that... mega brownie points for him.
View of the leaning tower from the hotel!

So having experienced first hand the frustrations of the Italian public transport, I now know that our catch phrase "Life's a journey - enjoy" needs to be reinforced... over and over again whenever one needs to use the very adventurous Italian transport system.

I also love the statement "life is a journey not a destination", so perhaps it won't be too long before I pick up my adventurous lifestyle once more. Going to Sicily for New Year so that will be a bit of an adventure I think. Montelbano here we come!

Monday 9 September 2013


Serendipity strikes again...
I am so grateful for universal timing as I was taken into the grip of the most amazing serendipitous occasion. I say grip, however it is more like the flow...

On Sunday of last week, the 1st of September... as the week spread out before me, I decided that on Monday afternoon I would collect the "big cheque" from Branding Boutique (the excellent business that supplies me with everything marketing) and then I'd organise a photo shoot sometime later in the week. Ann Cromack of Ikat Photography takes my photos and has been donating her time and expertise to photographing the Canine Partner Charity campaign! Thank you so much Ann and the team at Branding Boutique. You never cease to amaze me with your expertise!

Andy Cook, Zoe Maclean and Remus, and myself... all beaming!
Having raised over £1720.00 from the skydive campaign, we wanted to get something special organised to show off the presentation, and it came on Tuesday the 3rd September in the surprise package of Andy Cook, the CEO of Canine Partners UK. He was cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats and just happened to be passing through Largs on Tuesday! He was part of a peleton of 100 cyclists... not all of them were cycling for charity but many were raising funds for various deserving causes. However all descended on our famous Largs landmark. No, not the Pencil monument commemorating the defeat of the Vikings, but the world famous cafe, Nardinis!

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together... especially when you didn't even know that there was a plan!

Sunday 18 August 2013

Memories of the Skydive

To view the full skydive video click here!

Two photos prior to the Skydive and I am smiling in both. Amazing how happy you can feel when you have no knowledge of what is about to happen. Well I suppose I had an inkling... however it is nothing like the real thing. You know... the reality of  falling from a plane at a great height!  

The following is a picture story of the event as it unfolded. A record of my thoughts and feelings wonderfully etched on my face for all to see.

Each participant gets "bussed" out to the runway and the sun is shining and all is well with the world. Once out on the runway, we wait for the plane to arrive and I am anticipating all that the scrambling into the small plane will entail. I have had a practise run so I know that my knees are up to the various positions and although I am aware of my heart beat, it isn't pounding excessively.  Strange to say I am eager to be up and oft. Or is that glad to be getting it over with... how does one know how to explain one's feelings in words. 
Excited just doesn't do justice to the moment! The plane arrives and in we go... hand in hand! 
I am full of confidence in my instructor. I am smiling and grateful that so far my knees are up to the scrambling and cramped seated position on the tiny plane. Steve, my instructor is reassuring and keeps the banter going and my mind fully focussed on the delights of the views and the joy of the flight. He has done this jump literally thousands of times and with many people from the whole age spectrum.

I can't stop smiling! why? to be honest I don't know why. I think nerves have a lot to do with it although there is a lot of banter going on. Chik, the photographer and Steve are past masters at putting you at ease and this is after all a once in a lifetime experience for me. I remind myself  over and over again that I am doing this to raise funds for the Canine Partners charity as otherwise I would not be risking life and limb just for the thrill.

There were other charity skydivers in our group. I had met Alicia the previous week and she was raising money for Help for Heroes. Kayleigh was raising money for a local Cancer charity. Another for the Roy Castle Lung Foundation and someone else was skydiving for  Diabetes UK. I was in good company both on and off the ground... and here is the ground we are flying over.

The view is stupendous. I can see the whole of the estuary and the river flowing through the fields. There are a few clouds in the sky but not many.  The wind is perfect ... everything is as it should be.
We have got the best of the day. Amazingly, I am still smiling, even the sun is smiling!

However as I get ready to go, as seen below, I am definitely not smiling now eh! You can tell what I am feeling by the look on my face. However I am sure you cannot read my thoughts as I realise that the door is opening, the sign that the die is cast ... Steve is still smiling though, you can tell that he loves his job. I am having to move from fear into feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Now I really don't think that Skydiving was what Susan Jeffers had in mind when she wrote the famous book! I remember reading it and as I recall it worked wonders for my public speaking events! At this moment I am having difficulty speaking at all...


And keep going!

So here we are in flight and I find myself enjoying it! Who knew that the fear would go so quickly and that exhilaration would arrive with the acceleration!

The view was amazing, the feeling of flight phenomenal, however being under the canopy was the best part for me. There was general elation going on that I had made an excellent exit from the plane. Steve's words not mine. To be honest I can't really remember the exit too clearly.

Viewed from above...
Viewed from below...

Here I am safely landed and very, very grateful. My hands are acknowledging Namaste... the sanskrit word for "I salute the divine" and you can be sure at that moment in time I was most definitely living in gratitude for all that is holy!

I made a perfect landing as in standing upright! Brilliant is how I described the experience at the time. Now I would use the words borrowed from our friends from over the pond and say "Outstanding - Awesome". These adjectives describe both my experience and the people who made the Skydive possible...

Thank you soooo much Steve and Chik! How can I ever thank you enough for the safe journey through the sky... those memories etched forever in my mind and recorded on film to be revisited whenever I want to take flight!

Our strap line of "Life's a journey - Enjoy!" has never been more apt...

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Leap of Faith

I don't think I shall forget Sunday the 11th August in a hurry. It was a 5am rise to get to the airbase early to put my name on the board to be first in the queue! Well they had put me at the coo's tail the previous week as I didn't even know that there was a board then. 7.30 am we arrived and found that the Three Muskateers from McDuff had arrived at 6.30 am and that another chappie, Colin, had arrived and 6.45 and the weather wasn't looking promising! So 5th in the queue then!

At least I had got the picnic right. New cool bag from Tescos... complete with champagne bottle and plastic champagne flutes... and a lot of scrumptious food!

It's all in the preparation and as you can see above, here I am ready and prepared for the flight. I loved the matching hat! It was around mid afternoon before this photo was taken as the clouds and rain rolled in and rolled out and sometimes even stayed. Each time they stayed, the flights were cancelled for 30 mins. Then when the wind picked up, they rolled the clouds away but the wind needed to be light so that we were safe when in midflight. It's a tricky business getting things just right. Call it the Goldilocks paradigm!
The Three Muskateers from McDuff, were called Kayleigh, Mark and Stephen and this was their third visit, as conditions weren't favourable for flight previously. I was delighted that they got to skydive as they had left McDuff at 4.30am each time. Now that's what I call commitment. Well done... it was great to share the day with you.

It had been Colin's (the 6.45 guy) fourth attempt due to the weather so I was very lucky at Sunday's go being just my second. There I am on the right in midflight. I know it could have been anyone however it wasn't... it was me! I loved being under the canopy. Didn't enjoy the stepping into the unknown quite so much and free fall at 120 miles an hour for a control freak like me was the most challenging.

So am I glad I did it? I am over the moon, well perhaps not that high, as 10,000 feet was high enough for me thanks. My thanks go to the team at the Paragon Centre at Errol who made the day happen. Especially to Steve who dealt with me and my fear professionally and kindly. Steve was my tandem partner... and a big thanks to Chic, the photographer who filmed my leap of faith and who promised to get my best side, although I am sure the grimaces of fear will be there on both sides...
Steve complimented me on my exit from the plane and as for the landing... 'twas only perfect, even to landing standing up! Who knew at 5am on the 11th of August that a happy landing was going to be the outcome of the day! Isn't that what a Leap of Faith is all about... trust the professionals' advice and do what you have to do.

A very big thank you to all the people who donated to the Canine Partners because I had decided to embrace a mega fear. I did it for you...
and I did it for you, Zoe and Remus. You do what you have to do every day!
Love and hugs to all............
p.s. the video will be coming to a computer screen near you... very, very soon!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Setback or everything for a reason - You choose!

Sometimes life just doesn't go according to plan. Well maybe it does but just not to my plan. For instance the charity skydive for Canine Partners didn't happen as high winds interfered with my intention to fall out of a plane while firmly attached to a parachute and an expert parachutist! The cancellation although understandable caused mixed feelings of disappointment and frustration... funnily enough there was no feeling of relief as I had been psyched up for the event!

What did the delay tell me? I think first and foremost it was a lesson in patience and persistence, you know the maxim "if at first you don't succeed..."
Also it was a huge lesson in dealing with disappointment. On Saturday, I accepted that the skydive couldn't take place as the winds were fierce. However on the Sunday when the weather was braw and the wind had died down, my mood, my emotional state was flat, as I had obviously chosen the wrong date to fly... or had I?

This week has been about turning around disappointment to totally accepting that everything for a reason has to be the best approach to any set back. After all feeling disappointed about not falling out of a plane... is just plain daft! as I am sure you will agree.

I will be delighted to recount the experiences of better weather conditions on the next visit to Errol airbase... soon, very, very soon!

Wednesday 24 July 2013

A Road Less Travelled

 Do you recognise the famous road in the photo below? It is used in the background of many postcards and paintings and I am delighted to say I drove down that road and I am also delighted to report that recently I took the road less travelled ... by choice!

How many times do we take the road less travelled? *

Usually in my case, it is when I have taken a wrong turning. Both in the literal sense and the metaphorical. So when young Ken, the older son, and myself went exploring Italy... we experienced "a road less travelled" in every sense of the words! It started at the airport when I took, what was to me, a familiar turning. However as we were visiting a completely different area of Tuscany we were, you guessed it, on the wrong road! Now it took us a full hour to find this out as our directions still worked! How does this happen? No idea, but I think we make it so. We fit our lives around our beliefs. So when people believed the world was flat they never went further than a stone's throw and made sure that safety was their priority! I am sure there were a few adventurous types... you know the ones that discovered other worlds beyond the horizon and were disbelieved by those souls who stayed at home. Their stories were described as "Tall Tales"...

The following may well sound like a tall tale. It is a wonderful story of "happenstance". You know when something happens... because you happen upon... so here is an account of our happenings...

Kenneth and I went a cross-country route to find our hotel just outside Siena. As already mentioned, a very cross-country route. Not that we were cross, as we were discovering lots of different roads that I had previously been unaware of. When you stay on the main thoroughfare you miss so much of the countryside. It's the downside of getting where you want to go as quickly as you can!

So Kenneth and I tootled across Tuscany as seen on the left and we eventually found our hotel which just happens to be a modern build. We responded by being a little disappointed as we were by this time very tired, and emotions change when you accept tiredness as the standard emotional approach to life. However we all know that happiness is not due to outside circumstances and I was by that time, just looking for a comfortable bed and a shower. We checked in and we got upgraded! Oh and by the way did I tell you we got an upgrade at the car hire? A Coupe would you believe! Now the emotion/connection to the hotel is changing... Kenneth and I have a lovely room each and I have a balcony overlooking the most gorgeous Tuscan scenery and a fabulous view of Siena. Kenneth meanwhile finds that we also have a pool, and a pool bar. Talk about counting your blessings...

We shower, swim, and get dressed for dinner. Now we are accepting the explorer's frame of mind,  being open to whatever comes along, and we find a wonderful restaurant, La Guida in Taverne d'Arbia, the next village to ours. It is probably true to say that nearly every restaurant in Tuscany is wonderful, but this is such a gift that we return on the second evening and even get a discount! But I am getting ahead of the story and I know that the tale is getting taller by the minute...

We were supposed to visit three venues in the Radda area of Tuscany, but due to Mr Ryanair changing flight times we had to forego seeing them. (Although I had been offered the chance of viewing them from their gates!) So while dining on our first evening, I decide that The Universe is telling me to go a different road. Yes again you guessed it, the road less travelled. Now it isn't just me The Universe talks to, The Universe talks to everyone. It is just that we are sometimes too busy or even too pigheaded to listen. I can assure you that there are many conversations going on. You can even eavesdrop on some of them. You know the ones... when you hear someone else telling you their dreams and you are inspired by their courage when you see where their dreams take them.

My own personal chat was that going south was a better option than going north, and as I had an internet acquaintance to meet, one of those inspiring dreamers I mentioned earlier, in a truly amazing town called Pienza and Kenneth had a vague contact in Castelmuzio, another town close to Pienza... the decision was made. We were going south to uncharted territory. We did have a map; however it was out of date by 10 years and roads can change in that time! Here is a photo of me resting in Castelmuzio, studying the map and checking exactly where I had been driving!

What a glorious adventure we had visiting Pienza and surrounding area. We visited John, my internet acquaintance, at La Bandita and La Bandita Townhouse  A wonderful venue and John's story is as wonderful as his house on the hill. It took us half a day to find our way there and 40 mins to get back to the hotel. We even managed to find another wonderful restaurant for lunch, and later on, we found a cafe that was showing the Andy Murray Wimbledon final. Blessed doesn't do justice to how we felt...

When we visited La Guido on the second evening we were treated royally and remember we even got a "sconti" (discount). Food and wine were superb and I picked up a flyer advertising a Villa Vacanze/holiday villa in a nearby village. Another decision to be made: "Should we chance a visit? Turn up unexpected?" We decided to visit it on our way to Siena in the morn. We know by now that it will be the road less travelled to Siena, however nothing ventured nothing gained.

This is the villa. Villa Brignole by name, just on the outskirts of a village called Monteaperti and perfect for our 2014 yoga weeks. We were enthralled. We turned up out of the blue, were welcomed with open arms, and after some initial misunderstanding due to my imperfect Italian, Sabrina understands that we want to return with yoga students, their husbands, their families... in fact everyone we know. Can you sense my enthusiasm?

 It was ticking all the boxes that my four years of taking yoga weeks in Italy had flagged up. En suite bathrooms; swimming pool (as in photo); garden space; easy distance from Siena; walking distance to local village (tavern); associated spa (which was the one we love at Rapolano Terme). Now how to make it happen...

All this is before our morning coffee which I have promised Kenneth. A very special experience of sipping an espresso in one of the cafes situated in Il Campo, the famous Siena square, as seen below.
Our blessings are mounting and as Siena is my favourite Italian city, I am happy to share its delights with Kenneth who hasn't visited this ancient città before. After our caffè in Il Campo, we sightsee and then meander along the winding streets until we come to rest for lunch at a little cafe. The name of the cafe is Monteaperti (!) the very name of the village we visited that morning where Villa Brignole is situated. Is it a sign? You bet. Now I don't need any persuasion that this road less travelled is the one for us Living It yogis and yoginis. However it is a wonderful "coincidence" and one that I will treasure.

We were only away four days. Four days visiting a completely different world. I don't just mean Italy, I mean visiting a world where everything that happened was an "upgraded" experience. A delight to savour... a road less travelled.

*M. Scott Peck has written a philosophical book called "The Road Less Traveled". I recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore a different approach to spiritual growth. That title is drawn from Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" which is essential reading for anyone, whether they want to explore spiritual growth or not!
Life's a journey- enjoy!

p.s.... if you want information on next year's Living It Yoga weeks... contact me at  I have already got bookings for both the spring and the autumn week!

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Boldly going - responding to challenges!

Well there have been some mega changes in my circumstances since I last wrote in this blog... and please feel free to add your tuppence worth in response. I would love to read about your responses... and no I am not part of the group on the left, boldly going... or to put it another way... playing golf. Although I was supposed to be...
So what happened? At the end of May I attended a friend's son's wedding and danced the night away. So far so good. At sometime during my jigging on the dance floor I exacerbated an underying condition in my left knee, resulting in hobbling around the next day in elbow crutches ... two days later progressing to using a walking stick and nearly a week later throwing the stick away. No biggy, you may say as we can all hurt ourselves and the body has amazing powers of recovery. I totally agree! However the week I was hobbling with a stick... was a family golfing holiday on Arran and the following week was a holiday with friends on Madeira.

Those were the challenges, so now to the boldly going part. "Luckily" my husband had booked us into a spa resort on Arran, Auchrannie, and I "resorted" to chillin' while everyone else was very sporty - golf, tennis, walking in the hills and even... bowls! I on the other hand enjoyed the leisure and pleasure of massages and Turkish baths as well as applying hydrotherapy exercises.

   ... and while on Madeira I moved out of my comfort zone into discomfort as this island only has a few flat roads... everything else is built on the mountainside. I experienced two sides of the recovery coin... you know the rest side and the push yourself to your limits side. On the rest side I repeated the healing massages, Turkish bath treatment and hydrotherapy...

As my understanding of myself grew last month... my knee reflected my needs. I got a better understanding of when to stop and rest... and when to keep going. That was both physically and metaphorically speaking. So thank you Universe for giving me what I needed last month.

Now I am going to pick up the challenge of finding a place for our yoga weeks in Italy next year... yep that's right, Living It Yoga is going to keep going... after all it's Living It Yoga that keeps me going... I wonder what the Universe will have in store for me next week in Italy. A glass of chianti at least - medicinal use only!

To carry on the theme from last month's blog... congratulations go to Zoe Maclean who was presented to the Queen this month. Even the Queen is recognising Zoe's leadership qualities!

Sunday 9 June 2013

Living It Leadership

What does Leadership mean to you?

Does it make you think of Gandhi or Mother Teresa. Or are you of a more military persuasion and your thoughts turn to history with Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar or perhaps more recently the celluloid hero, Rambo! Abraham Lincoln is very much in vogue just now due to the power of the cinema and TV. However I am thinking that we could find leaders much closer to home if only we looked at leadership qualities instead of leadership positions. Qualities such as: commitment to a higher cause; choosing to endeavour to save lives; a graciousness that dissipates anger; a passion for living; a courage to speak their truth... and so much more...

Recently  I had the privilege to present with a friend, Waiyin Hatton, a Leadership Personal Development Day called Raising your Game! Not only did we all enjoy ourselves but we have set the bar for our future endeavours... Living It Leadership is now the name of our game and the people tree is what we believe leadership is in essence - people growing people!

I am aware that I am surrounded by inspirational leaders from all walks of life. My history teacher Mr Murray, inspired me. He continued to teach even though his health deteriorated due to suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. He taught when he could only walk with a zimmer and continued to teach even when he had to use a wheel chair.  My friends inspire me when faced with crisis of unbelievable hardship, they still manage to laugh and make the most of the situation they have found themselves in. Some are even able to turn their situation into a funny story to lift other people's spirits...

 Courage in the face of danger we understand but having courage to face a debilitating condition day after day is something that is beyond our understanding that's why I am committing to the SkyDive on behalf of the charity Canine Partners. I became aware of this charity through Zoe Maclean. Zoe has the most amazing leadership qualities... despite her physical disabilities she managed to attend University and get an honours degree in Languages. She presents talks regularly to clubs on the power of Canine Partnership with her partner Remus and is building a business within the network marketing company Forever! No sitting back and letting life pass her by... no way! She is not only a wonderful example of leadership in action but also of leadership in action on a day to day basis... 

I will be flying high on Saturday 3rd August... Zoe flies high in my estimation... every day.

To donate to this worthwhile cause... click here!

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Italy, yoga, friendship

It doesn't seem like a month since I wrote up the blog to accompany the Well Connected Life newsletter... however it is... so I have to totally agree with the statement about time flying when you are enjoying yourself!

I have enjoyed three journeys to Italy since the beginning of this year. The first one in February was sharing my love of Italy with my son Gordon as we went on a fact-finding tour of Tuscany. We went with the intention of finding a villa to host our spring Living It Yoga week and we found one in Punta Ala. This area is an idyllic region of southern Tuscany, as seen in adjacent photo, that is a favourite beauty spot for Italians wishing to escape the city... not so well known to foreign tourists... however a perfect place for a Living It yoga week. The Living It Yoga weeks are primarily to expand the attendees' understanding of themselves and their interconnection with the world and its treasures... starting with Tuscany.

My second visit was to attend school in Florence ... and, guess what, it expanded my understanding of myself and my interconnection with the world and all its treasures. Starting with Tuscany!!!

So to last week, my third visit, when Living It Yoga went to Tuscany... yes, you guessed it, we all expanded our understanding of ourselves and our interconnection with the world and all its treasures - starting with Tuscany.
There were so many enjoyable journeys both in the physical sense of visiting places such as Punta Ala, Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto, Siena and an amazing spa in the vicinity of Saturnia as seen on the right. Serene, inside pool and an amazing array of outside pools using the healing properties of the cascading natural thermal spring waters for swimming, showering or just leisurely soaking in. check out

... as well as the more inward looking journeys experienced during meditation or just soaking in the view... as seen below

Every journey has its place, and I would like to thank all the delightful companions on my various journeys in life, beginning with those who recently came to Punta Ala to experience our Living It Yoga "La Dolce Vita" week. It was indeed a week of sweet living... and a week I will be delighted to visit again and again. Why? Well, because expanding my understanding of myself and my interconnection with the world and all its treasures, starting with Tuscany, is a work in progress!

Grazie mille ai mei tesori - a thousand thanks to my treasures -  my husband, Andy of course, Alison, Grainne, Liz, Lisa and Barbara. What a wonderful combination - Italy, yoga and friendship!

Wednesday 10 April 2013

From frost and snow to Firenze!

Well helloooo folks. Waking up on Friday the 22nd of March to the snow was somewhat bewildering to say the least. I know it caused chaos for many people with power cuts, traffic problems and several accidents. Selflishly I was only concerned about my flight from Glasgow to Florence via Amsterdam and my friend, Catherine's ability or should I say desire ... to drive in the extreme conditions that we had found ourselves in. The snow seemed to have decided that Largs was the place to be. Unusually for us on the coast, we were "enjoying" weather that is more often found in Arctic regions. The journey to Italy on the 22nd of  March was certainly eventful, however I arrived safely at my hotel, Plaza Lucchesi in the centre of Florence, at midnight and didn't need any rocking to sleep...

Next day, up and about, enjoying the sunshine and excited, as I am going to meet two friends for lunch. Cristina, on the left of the photo was my Italian language teacher at school on Elba last year and the other "amica" is Manuela, Cristina's sister-in-law who organises the school in Elba. check out and of course the associated school in Florence. You can see Florence stretching out behind the girls and notice the fact that it is a sunny day. After this day the weather became somewhat damp... as in the heavens didn't know how to stop their precipitation. However at least it wasn't snowing!

Saturday was to be an adventurous day with a visit to a museum and garden that was only going to be open that specific weekend. How lucky were we... The hotel I was staying in was on the river Arno and really close to Santa Croce, one of my favourite Florentine churches and the piazza is a delight in itself and just round the corner from the school I was going to attend for the week...

 So what about the school - it was brill or should I say "meraviglioso!" Learnt lots, laughed lots and chatted in my own version of Italian - lots! 2 hours of grammar followed by 2 hours conversation in the morning and then my private lesson with Cristina for 2 hours every afternoon... That was the more official side of my education. I also had the numerous museums to visit, churches to see and meals to enjoy... and yes there was an occasional glass of wine to sip while I watched the world go by. I can thoroughly recommend watching the world go by. Learning to take time out and watch while people rushed around was the most educational experience of my 11 day stay in Florence...

Visiting Florence is like living history and visiting the city gives you a sense of past times. Medieval beliefs are on every corner, in every church and within every museum. I also treated myself to a promised bus trip to nearby Fiesole, an ancient Etruscan town on a hill overlooking Florence. This was an important centre until the Romans came and decided that the river traffic, as in trade, was a more important feature of life than the protection of an inaccessible hill summit civilisation that is at the centre of all Etruscan towns.

The city of Florence itself showed its many colours to me during my stay whether in a downpour when I had to skip through puddles to get to my destination, a restaurant called Il Cibreo where I was offered a glass of prosecco and hairdryer (both much needed)... or when the sun set over the Arno (as in photo) and delighted me on my leisurely walk home from visiting one of the many museums that proliferate the city. So all in all would I recommend Florence for a visit... most certainly. Just be prepared to take your umbrella with you!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Life's Surprises! Genie is out of the bottle and I am needing bottle!

Life is full of surprises... there I am attending Italian class every Thursday afternoon. Enjoying the banter with the other students and progressing slowing with my conversational Italian... piano, piano as they say... when some homework made my life change unexpectedly. We were reading about Ugo and Piero in the Italian class, Ugo was a risk taker and gung-ho type and Piero was more restrained, more inclined to ponder before doing. Our teacher, Angelina Smith asked us to write about something we would like to do in the manner of Ugo. I decided to write about skydiving for a charity. The charity I chose was Canine Partners and I described the event in Italian with all the gusto I felt Ugo would put into the event.

Now about 3 years ago I had looked into tandem skydiving for a friend and myself to do, just for fun. That friend was Zoe Maclean, a girl I have known since she was 10 months old and who is now 28! Zoe's life is curtailed by the need to use a wheelchair due to having had problems at the time of her birth. The condition's label is Cerebral Palsy... however like many others who struggle with a limitation of physical function Zoe is one smart cookie! and in our world we don't do labels! not even Versace! well maybe Versace once in a while!

3 years ago I couldn't find a company that would provide the skydiving service for Zoe and myself and so we let it go... however the non-conscious has a way of making things happen. When I teach people to manifest using universal laws I always say "Ink it, don't just think it" and then add "talk about it with passion and joy". So just less than 3 years after the first thought, I find myself doing just what I recommend to others... thinking about skydiving, writing about it in Italian, passionately sharing it with the rest of the students, talking about it with Zoe's Mum and lo and behold the genie is out of the jar and Eileen is Tandem Skydiving on the 3rd August for Zoe and Remus, Zoe's canine partner. Surprise... surprise! If you want to contribute to the charity please visit.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Fact finding visit to Italy in February and again in March

How wonderful to get the chance to experience Italy outside of the tourist season. Makes me feel more of a local. Last month it was the wonderful town of Orbetello, away from the usual tourist haunts and a place that inspires anyone who has the good fortune to discover this unique spot on the Tuscan coast...
... and this month is a more recognisable tourist destination - Florence. I am fortunate to be attending the school to study Italian. This is the associate school from the one I attended in Elba last year... and yes I intend to return to Elba for more tuition in September. I am looking forward to attending both schools, however in Florence I will be attending a class in the morning and then enjoying one to one tuition in the afternoon. I expect that Il Duomo and the Uffizi will feature in the afternoons along with a "gelato" or three, an "espresso" or perhaps "tante caffe" and of course the odd glass of wine... only as a fact finding experience understandably.

Each time I travel to Italy I consider it to be a fact finding experience. No-one can deny this, as every time I go I discover so much more about the history, the culture and the people.   
Examples are just two of the places visited while fact finding food and drink on a leisurely stroll along the Via Torre Clementina, Fiumicino. The first is an Enoteca (wine bar with food) that served the most delicious wine with an enthusiasm that was infectious! My glass is the one on the right, full bodied and aromatic ... and as you can see in the background, there are lots and lots of bottles to choose from.

Full marks for presentation and ambience go to the owner, Paola.
She served oysters and various hams and cheeses and my mouth is watering just thinking about the whole evening's gastronomic entertainment.      Grazie Enoteca Ostriche, e grazie mille Paola...
The second is an amazing bar that was also a bakery. Yes folks these cakes were being served in a bar! Its' full name is Supermario Bar di Mario Balletta e Danilo Codini SNC! Now how is that for a name and what a great idea. I took photos of both these amazing places, after asking permission of course, and at the bakery/bar which is open 24 hours, the barman insisted that I wait until he put out his best cakes and then proceeded to pour me only the strongest gin and tonic ever! I think this was a bribe but I really can't be sure. ... However you can be sure that the next time I am in Fiumicino I will be visiting these two very different bars... on a fact finding mission of course.

Monday 25 February 2013

Italian travels with my son

Gordon at the Captain's Table

It was a wonderful week... if a trifle chilly. The weather that is, not the mother/son relationship. Tuscany in February is still sunny however the sky is deceiving as furry coats would have been the best option. If I had one that is... We arrived in Rome late Saturday evening and set off for the southern Tuscan coastline early Sunday morning with me delighted to be driving my Fiat Punto courtesy of Hertz!  I do love driving, especially in Italy. In fact everyone says that I drive like an Italian. I know that I certainly park like one! you know when straight lines are really only a guideline!

Gordon, our younger son, and myself were on a fact finding tour of the Maremma area. In fact, we were searching for a suitable villa to host the spring Yoga week and find it we did.

We were staying in a beautiful area called Gianella on a promontory that joined the area of Monte Argentario with the mainland. Our hotel was wonderful and the staff always eager to help... especially with our Italian. We were adjacent to the town of Orbetello which is situated on another causeway in the middle of what is a protected bird sanctuary and lagoon. See photo below. This is a truly wonderful part of Tuscany and doesn't usually feature high on the tourists' agenda but is high on mine.

I love the unbelievable trust of this town nestling at the foot of some amazing hills, not to mention the Monte Argentario itself. Monte Argentario is a very large remnant of  volcanic activity... a huge rock that is an island with the most amazing views of the Tyrrenian Sea. In fact I am quite high up on the rock when I took this photo! and yes of course the road was "curve" - the Italian for bendy and also very steep and single track! What can I say - I love to view life from the top and it would appear being at the top of this particular rock is a regular occurrence.

As well as touring the countryside, we spent a lot of time on the island of Monte Argentario itself, in a town called Porto Santo Stephano We visited many of the local towns, however Porto Santo Stephano is one of our favourites for although the weather was chilly the locals were not. The sky and the sea were blue, the food was absolutely magnificent as the fish were arriving one day and on our plates the next.

The photograph shows the blue sky and blue sea and perhaps conveys some of the tranquility and pleasure we felt while walking along the prom...

Another favourite of mine is Pitigliano, seen here, where the Etruscans came and carved their city into the rock itself. Well worth the two hour drive around many, many steep curves! That is two hours up and another two hours down! Now that is the time it took me while driving the car... imagine the time it took them when they landed on the coast all those years ago. Probably at Monte Argentario...

As I said, we found our perfect villa with its touch of luxury! It is situated in Punta Ala, with a panoramic view of the Tyrrenian Sea and the island of Elba. I am so looking forward to taking my students to visit this beautiful place and perhaps we can even include Pitigliano in our schedule. Our Living It Yoga weeks include sightseeing trips, market visits, spa days, Italian cooking - mine! as well as what you would expect ; asanas and meditation.

Gordon and I spent a whole week enjoying amazing food, wonderful wine, good company and inspirational scenery... he did complain that "radio Eileen" was a constant feature so if there is anyone out there looking for a radio host or hostess... I am available!