By Leona Thomas
The holiday season is upon us and many people are busy preparing for Christmas. This is a time of parties, of exchanging gifts, and of stocking up on traditional food and goodies for the big day itself.
Meanwhile, everyday life continues as normal. This means that for many people at this time of year there is a feeling of pressure as they try to fit everything into their already busy schedules. By the time that Christmas Day arrives some people are exhausted from the whole thing and just thankful all the rushing about is over.
But there are easier ways to go about this.
Firstly, you can prioritise who and what is important to you.
And you can keep stress at bay through listening to soothing music and doing activities that bring you peace and calm. When you are feeling balanced your ability to think clearly and to take easy action comes more naturally. Less energy is used, and you feel healthier and happier as you go through your days too.
My Angel Cafe has a delightful selection of music available for purchase and all tracks are dispatched automatically as soon as your purchase is completed.
Flute tracks are powerful and cannot be played when you are driving but you can use them to bring about transformations in your mood and energy levels.
You can start your day with INSPIRATION. It entrains your mind to a place where you are easily able to have new ideas, to hear your intuition.
If you wish that you could take a spa break or have a massage but you just cannot fit in the time because of all your commitments you might like to purchase FLOWERING 1, 2, 3. You will receive four tracks that provide a beautiful mini healing that would be perfect in your evening or just before bed. They will help you to enjoy a peaceful night and wake up feeling refreshed and restored, ready for the new day.
The healing is delivered in the way that is right for you. Your soul knows you! The music is live and interactive. You may not have heard music like this before. It sounds simple when you listen. Yet it is doing magical things for you. All you have to do is be quiet and still and listen!
You may find that preparation and writing of cards, etc brings up memories of old grudges with family members or friends. You may be expecting visitors over the holidays that have not always been such a delight to be with in the past... And these memories can surface.
The Angels remind you that forgiveness is easy when you allow it to be. They have for you a double track FORGIVENESS: a flute only track plus a bonus track with Leona speaking forgiveness over the flute track. Both tracks have the power to wash away the pain of the past. You CAN enjoy your holiday gatherings with your family members. Let yourself have a lovely holiday!
Take a look at the offerings if you feel called to do so. And let your heart guide you for what feels right.
Your mind may be wondering how on earth a piece of music could transform your Christmas experience, but the Angels know what they are doing. Allow yourself to trust your inner knowing.
The magic of instrumental tracks is that the Angels can use the energy with more variety for each individual, as words are not directing the meaning or restricting what is possible.
By Leona Thomas
I had less than a week left in Morocco and was sitting in the very front of my favourite cafe at Casa Voyageurs, Casablanca. It was like being in my own little box – glass window in front of my square table and to my left, with the wall running down the right side of me and beyond to the back of the building.
I was cosy and focused on chatting online with my friend whilst admiring the small park opposite.
I was waiting for my breakfast to arrive when I had an inspiration.
I poked about in my bag and brought out my Angel Numbers book by Doreen Virtue. I rarely use it but on this day the Angels gave me a number. 229.
I decided to read the words out loud and record them in Messenger so I could send the sound track to my friend.
It seemed a good idea and started off so well... but the Angels had a surprise for me.
My recording was quite upbeat and possibly a little sarcastic, I must admit. But before long I was laughing so much I could barely finish the reading...
I managed the first two sentences okay. But the problem was that my breakfast arrived before I could begin the last one and I collapsed in a fit of the giggles.
You might be wondering what could be so funny... I’ve attached a photo of the information so you can decide for yourself.
Apparently my life purpose in that very minute was to eat my fried eggs with bread, and drink my cafe latte! And according to the last sentence it was a job that only I could do.
Which would be right as I had no intention of sharing my breakfast with anybody!
If I knew the Angels could have that much fun with their little book I might look in it more often. They certainly had a sense of humour that morning...!
By Leona Thomas
Today’s Magic Mondays blog is a very special one for it is the last of its kind here in 2018.
My Angel Cafe is on the move at last. There has been movement this year but now it is finally time for the big one. The tickets are booked, the bags are being packed and the goodbyes are being spoken.
I learned the hard way that goodbyes are important because we never know what will happen next.
Back in 2011 I left Kathmandu without saying goodbye to everybody. There were some friends that I hadn’t seen for a while and my plans changed quickly.
So I set off to India on a bus (never going to do that again!).
About 3 months later one of my Nepali friends wrote to me saying that he had just found out that I had left without saying goodbye to him and his heart was sore. I replied to him and then had what turned out to be a premonition. I said, “Don’t you go and die before I get back!”
I came back in May 2012 and was told that he was very sick. He had tried treatments in Nepal and in Thailand and in India before finally going to Singapore. And that was where he was – lying in a hospital bed, dying.
It was 7 July 2012, my Mother’s birthday, when I found out that my very special friend had died on the Summer Solstice, 21 June 2012. I was devastated.
I aborted my birthday cake plans and bought marigold flowers, incense and candles and went home to make a personal ceremony to celebrate our friendship and to promise to never forget him.
Now I make sure to say goodbye to everybody who is important to me.
And today is one of those days for goodbyes.
Tomorrow I leave Morocco. There are a lot of people in Casablanca that I am meeting with and many photographs are being taken and exchanged.
Casa Voyageurs is a place that most travellers pass straight through on their way to somewhere more exotic.
But it is their loss.
Hidden here amongst the hoards of bustling red taxis and irritated travellers there is a wonderful community of warm hearted generous Moroccans and I have been so blessed to live with them.
I find my heart is sore leaving behind all the souls that I have fallen in love with here in this crazy corner of the world. This wonderful community has stolen my heart.
Tomorrow Morocco celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and I begin the journey back to my other home.
Kathmandu Nepal welcomes me on Wednesday 21 November 2018.
And a new chapter begins.
By Leona Thomas
When Ramadan ends there is a huge celebration that starts with special prayers in the Mosque and then includes eating a lot of food all through the day. Most people also go out with friends and family now that they have more energy!
So in 2017 my Ramadan came to an end and some Moroccan friends took me and the other volunteer out to see the big Mosque down by the sea in Casablanca. The day is called EID and the whole world was out on the town.
We had a lovely time at The Hassan II Mosque and took loads of wonderful photos but eventually it was time to head for home. It was time to find a Petit Taxi (small taxi).
That was when we discovered that everybody else was thinking the same thing. We could see red taxis everywhere. The problem was getting any of them to stop for us!
Luckily we had our friend Aziz.
He puffed himself up tall and proud and went into Moroccan Man mode. He stepped forward and raised his arm, shouting loudly at the red cars passing on the other side of the wide road, “TAXI! TAXI!”
The little red taxis ignored him.
He shouted and he gestured that he wanted them to turn round and come to pick us up.
They continued to ignore him.
We watched as a steady stream of red Petit Taxis drove down the other side of our road. Aziz got annoyed. He kept complaining, “It is so hard to get a taxi...” “TAXI!”
I told him that was the real problem - he shouldn’t say that if he wanted to be able to stop a taxi!
I pointed out, helpfully, that if you think it is difficult to find a taxi and then you keep saying it is difficult to find a taxi... then you cannot be surprised to discover that it is difficult to find a taxi! Allah is listening to your every word!
He humoured me with a nod.
And then when the next red taxi came into view he repeated his Taxi performance.
His energy was getting more and more frustrated. He was in full Moroccan Man mode. And he was getting nowhere fast.
Unfortunately that meant none of us were going anywhere!
We watched taxi after taxi turn round further down the road and a huge crowd of people would stop them before they could come anywhere near us.
Finally I could stand it no more.
The energy coming from Aziz was never going to allow a taxi to come to us. His whole energy was focused on how we didn’t have a taxi and how hard it was to find one.
So I suggested we start walking home.
And I turned to our other Moroccan friend, Simo, and asked if his fancy camera made videos. I suggested we could make videos of each other as we walked home.
This sounded like fun and we began to chatter happily amongst ourselves. We were relaxed again and distracted from any thoughts of Petit Taxis.
So, of course, it happened. It had to now that our resistence was gone...
Before Simo could even get his big fancy camera out of its fancy case, a little red taxi pulled up beside us and the driver asked, “Taxi?”
But in Casablanca the Petit Taxis can only take 3 passengers. So now we just had to decide who would get a ride and who would have to continue walking home...
By Leona Thomas
One thing you notice if you travel a lot is that the standards for driving are very different in other countries from the UK. But it is not just the driving that is shocking. It is the condition of the vehicles themselves too!
In Morocco in 2017 I was in a small town called Temara and it was the beginning of Ramadan. This was a town with no tourists so there were no cafes open to serve any kind of drinks during the day but it was still possible to get into a supermarket and buy water.
The problem was that the supermarket was on the opposite side of a busy road and Moroccans don’t stop for pedestrians. It is not their thing.
So I did what I had seen all the other pedestrians do.
I stepped down from the huge kerb into the road itself and stood waiting for a gap in the traffic. There were two lanes of traffic on both sides of the road.
Less than a minute after I stepped off that 12 inch high pavement (sidewalk) I watched with interest as a large white taxi changed direction and steered straight towards me.
I assumed the taxi was stopping to drop somebody off because I could hear a terrific noise of screeching metal yet there was little sign that the battered white Mercedes saloon was actually slowing down.
But it was definitely driving straight towards me!
I stood watching its imminent arrival, wondering if I should prepare to jump out of the way. I felt no fear. It was as if I was an observer from some other perspective.
The high volume screeching of what was left of his brakes came closer and closer. Less than a minute had passed but it seemed to be lasting forever. It was almost a slow motion event - but there was not enough slow in the motion of the taxi as it closed in on me!
I waited calmly. It was too late to jump out of the way now.
Finally the taxi stopped.
I looked down at the front edge of the car and discovered that the bumper was about 4 inches from my legs and the toes of my shoes were underneath the car.
I looked up at the taxi driver.
Our eyes met and I roared with uncontrollable laughter.
It was the best fun I had had since arriving in Morocco and it was funny enough to keep me laughing all the way across the road, through the car park, inside the supermarket and then all the way home again too!
When I looked back on the incident I was surprised I had no fear at any point. I just stood watching my impending doom with great calm.
And that is what saved me.
Had I let fearful thinking take over I would have had to jump out of the way to save my legs. It was the peaceful vibes emanating from me that created the safe outcome in my experience.
More fun with taxis in Morocco
How hard can it be to stop a Petit Taxi?
Well that depends on who's stopping it...!
By Leona Thomas
The last weekend in October can be an unsettling time in many countries of the world because the clocks get put back by one hour. You need to be organised. Digital equipment often corrects itself automatically but most homes still have clocks and watches that need manual adjustment. And sensible people do all of this before going to bed on the Saturday night.
Here in Morocco, it would have been the same for us too but just 2 days beforehand the Moroccan government decided that we would not turn our clocks back! This works well for the old-fashioned clock on the wall but unfortunately, most people in Morocco own a mobile phone and they automatically turned the clock back because all the internet programs believed that Morocco was still going to put its clocks back on Saturday night.
Consequently, when I woke up on Sunday morning and reached out to look at my phone, it told me some porkies (Cockney rhyming slang... porky pies = lies). I didn’t realise the error until I checked the prayer App. Something was seriously wrong! I was still half asleep but I knew I hadn’t been praying that early in the morning!
What was going on?
An automated smart phone was what was going on!
It thought Morocco was now on GMT and so it changed the prayer times too.
Eventually I woke up enough to work out how to correct the prayer App and to persuade my phone that I was in Casablanca AND still on British Summer Time (BST). It was hard work and I missed the cut off time for the Dawn prayer!
The bigger problem with this sudden change of policy would affect travellers in the country. If you were flying you might still get to the airport in plenty of time. But if you were planning to go by bus or train you’d have to make sure your phone is really on the correct time or you would arrive after the vehicle had departed.
Even the Magic Clock is confused. But it must have seen the trouble coming as the working clock face began losing time long before the weekend. There may not be many travellers at Casa Voyageurs who manage to catch their train on time with the station clock running 1½ hours late and automated phones claiming 6am when really it is 7am!
Morocco has taken confusion to a whole new level this weekend...!
By Leona Thomas
On my first visit to Nepal I was surprised to discover a yearning inside my heart to learn to play the bamboo flute.
But my first lesson was less than ideal.
I spent 40 minutes trying to make a sound. I was blowing so hard that I began to get light headed.
Still no sound.
My teacher was very patient with me. But eventually I gave in to my exasperation and thrust my flute towards him saying, "You play it!"
He blew into the flute and no sound came out.
"The flute is broken!" he announced.
We went down to the shop to get a new one.
My next lesson was a spectacular improvement and I actually learned some notes.
But the problem with learning a new instrument is that you must practice to get good at it. And as any neighbour will tell you, along the way, it sounds terrible!
I was staying at Malla Hotel, so I had to practice in the garden. I soon discovered that some of the residents were seriously annoyed by my performance!
One day, I sat on one of two benches situated under the shade of trees. For about 30 minutes I read a book and all was peaceful and calm.
Then I decided it was time for my flute practice. But the locals were not happy.
As I played I felt something hit my shoulder. I turned to see a twig lying on the seat next to me.
I thought, 'That's odd. Nothing fell out of the tree before!'
I resumed my practice.
Something hard hit my head.
"Ow!" I yelped.
I continued to play my flute and within seconds a flurry of hard objects suddenly rained down upon my head and shoulders!
Finally, I stopped playing and looked around me. A huge pile of leaves, twigs and sticks were now scattered all over my bench!
I looked up into the trees overhead. I could see nothing unusual and I could hear nothing unusual.
But I wasn't fooled.
I spoke loudly and firmly.
"This is the only place I can practice playing my flute but there are trees all round this garden so if you don't like it, go somewhere else!"
A few seconds later a huge flock of crows flew out of my tree and relocated to the end of the garden!
I don't know if they all left but there were no more missiles fired at me during the rest of my practice time.
Meanwhile, I would just like to reassure my customers that should you decide to play my flute tracks whilst sitting under a tree you should experience no such missile attacks. My training days are far behind me so you should be safe.
But if you are planning to sit on that bench at Malla Hotel, Lecknath Marg, Kathmandu, I cannot guarantee your safety. The locals are feisty and unpredictable. I recommend you drop us a line and we can arrange for a motor cycle helmet to be delivered to you!
By Leona Thomas
My choice of fancy hotel for my first Himalayan Christmas had not been successful so, of course, the trekking agency now took over.
The office manager announced, "I'll take you to Hotel Radisson."
Unfortunately, he decided I should ride on the back of his motorbike. There was little room for me to sit as his bike was old and had a bar at the back of my seat. And I was wearing a fancy tight skirt.
There was no way I could sit comfortably. I had to ride side saddle and cling on to him for dear life
It is warm in Kathmandu during the day in December but when you are traveling on a motorbike it is a chilly experience. My see-through lacy sleeves were no help in keeping me warm!
Luckily, this Lazimpat hotel was a short ride away. I dismounted and eagerly entered this second hotel.
But there wasn't much sign of Christmas in the lobby. From a distance the restaurant seemed not to be offering any Christmas fare. I was simultaneously wrong and right! The Nepali style Christmas was about to reveal itself...
I joined a line of about 10 people. All was well until an old man near the front of the line started shouting,
"I want turkey!"
He stamped his feet like a petulant child.
"I WANT TURKEY!"
'Definitely not British...' I thought.
We're too polite to shout in public in a foreign country. The British way is to politely seethe behind a pleasant happy face.
I soon discovered there was something to seethe about, although it wasn't the food.
Having already managed to arrive at one 5-star hotel and check in my little bag... only to discover they were closed and on strike... I was impressed that Hotel Radisson had any food at all!
When I finally arrived at the front of our line I discovered the problem. Our Christmas turkey was actually some kind of sausage meat lump covered in thin slices of cooked chicken.
I didn't have the energy to demand turkey loud enough that the folks back in the UK would have heard me and taken pity and sent a food parcel...
Instead, my British reserve allowed silent resignation to settle inside me.
With slices of the sausage meat and chicken lump nicely displayed on my plate, I then discovered the next part of the meal was more challenging. There were covered silver platters but when I lifted the lids I discovered an assortment of curries!
'But at least I have food' I thought and sat alone at a table.
Then it all went downhill fast.
Father Christmas (Santa) arrived!
I don't know what happened to old shouting man. Maybe he had already collapsed in a disappointed heap in one of the corners of the restaurant. I don't believe he would just sit meekly with this latest development but maybe Nepal had finally defeated him....
In the lobby, a very skinny Nepali man was dressed in a red Father Christmas (Santa) outfit, complete with a white beard. He had a huge pillow stuffed down the front of his outfit.
But that was ok.
I could have coped if it was just his costume...
The problem was that he also had a bell.
And it was big. He walked up and down that lobby vigorously ringing his puja bell, all the while yelling, "HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas!"
It went on for so long that I began muttering under my breath. British reserve be damned! I was scowling and being sarcastic at my table for one.
I begged all the Gods (the Christian one and all 3,000,000 Hindu Gods too) to please find him a little child from somewhere. Surely then he would sit down and stop ringing that bell?
Alas, there were no children wanting to hug Santa. After all, lunchtime on Christmas day is too late to tell Santa you've been a good girl. Everybody knows he comes down the chimney with his presents on Christmas Eve!
My first Christmas in Nepal turned out to be an unforgettable experience and not a brussel sprout to be found anywhere in Kathmandu!
I never did get any Nepali Christmas Cake but a friend in the UK sent a small Christmas parcel by UPS so I did have Tesco Christmas Cake at the office later that same day...
By Leona Thomas
My first Christmas in Kathmandu was as a newly arrived tourist, so I had yet to learn that life in the (then) Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was nothing like being in a Western country.
No matter how hard they try to do Christmas, somehow, they never quite get it right. After all these years I now suspect they gave up trying years ago!
I had looked through all the fancy adverts in the two English language newspapers in Kathmandu and had chosen The Yak and Yeti Hotel because of its promise of home-made Christmas cake.
Despite the unseasonable warm weather, I was still in full Christmas mindset so when the big day arrived I put on my best clothes and even applied a little makeup to my face. I had an invitation for a motorbike ride after lunch so I was carrying a small day pack filled with warmer everyday clothes too.
The taxi rattled its way to the entrance of the hotel and drove off the moment I was standing on the pavement. A concierge showed me where to go and, upon entering the building I discovered a check-in desk.
It seemed like a good idea to give my day pack to the man rather than sit with it on the floor by my table. This was Christmas Day, so I wanted to do things properly...
The man took my bag from me and put it in a cubby hole space on the shelf behind him. He logged me into his little book.
I looked around me as I waited for him to finish what he was doing. I saw 3 chefs dressed in modern white clothes with the tall white chef’s hat. It looked impressive.
When the man was ready, I asked where I should go for the Christmas dinner.
"There is no Christmas dinner," he replied.
I wasn't sure we had heard each other properly but then he added,
"The hotel is closed. We are on strike!"
My mind was reeling. Why did he take my bag if they are closed? Why did they even let me in the building?!
Then I saw a television crew filming for the news channel. This was obviously big news.
I left the building with my bag but there were no taxis waiting by the car park. The concierge sent a boy out to Durbar Marg to get a taxi for me. As we waited he explained that the hotel had been on strike for 2 days now and they had had to send all their customers to other 5-star hotels in the city.
At some point during this conversation the film crew showed up outside and began filming us. It crossed my mind that I would be seen on television by millions of Nepalis. Thank goodness I had dressed up for the occasion!
Finally, a taxi arrived and I sped towards the trekking office in Tredevi Marg.
"How was your Christmas dinner?"
"There wasn't one. The hotel is on strike."
The guys there refused to believe my story saying they hadn't heard anything about this. The managing director rang the hotel.
After a brief conversation he turned to me.
"You're right! " he exclaimed.
The staff set about deciding where I should now go for my Christmas dinner....
In Himalayan Christmas part 2.. A Christmas Surprise!
Did Leona get any Christmas dinner?
The surprises kept coming...!