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Reach Out Beyond The Pyre

As the storylines developed and were woven together I was drawn deeper into the historical fabric of this carefully researched book. The strongly drawn characters, shades of fantasy and dramatic action overlaying the real history of the Cathars made for an enjoyable and interesting read. David Berkshire (Amazon.co.uk)

I thought the characters were brilliant, and I loved the link between the different centuries, as well as the switch between perspectives and the interesting use of setting. Eleanor Jones

Direct from the publisher, Austin Macauley or Amazon and your local book store, this exciting new novel moves seamlessly between the 13th and 21st centuries. An absorbing read and the second novel from author, Steve Costello. Steve is nearing completion of a third novel, set in very ancient times and the present. Exploring our timeless position in the universe while following some of the BTP characters.

Beyond The Pyre is set in the south of France and within the human mind. Two young lovers reach out to their future selves. Their task; to help protect an ancient secret that humankind must never see. Two quintessentially evil characters stand out but there are hundreds of others with a different motivation. Some seek to destroy everything; others only want the power of the secret. The flame of the human spirit leads characters living across the centuries down many paths. Find out if their spirits truly connect or was it wishful thinking brought about by hope and fear motivating creative ways to survive.

From the darkness beyond the pyre,

two young lovers reach out to the future.

A malevolent force lurks in the shadows,

seeking to destroy them

and expose their closely guarded secret.

 

Published by Austin Macauley, Beyond The Pyre is available in Digital, Hardback and Paperback formats.

In this exciting new novel . . .

. . .  past, present and future collide. Things the characters never thought about come to life. Pulling them into startling events set in the 13th and 21st centuries. BTP isn’t a ghost story. It is as real as the words you are reading now.

In 13th century France during the time of the crusades against the Cathars, two young lovers call out to the 21st century from Beyond The Pyre. Catharine, an adept spiritual traveller hears the call and realises her connection with Elionor, a 13th century noblewoman. There is a treasure that must survive the centuries and stay out of the human domain. The women are central to the survival of the treasure and they must keep it out of the hands of Les Deux, servants of a dark master.

Historical fact merges with fiction which merges with Spirit and mysticism. This story is as much about the Steve’s spiritual journey as it is a gripping story about survival. BTP is about new relationships, loss of loved ones and the tenacity of the human race to make sense from chaos.

Order a copy from . . .

Amazon

Smashwords 

Barnes & Noble

Waterstones (UK)

Don’t forget your local bookstore. If they don’t have it in stock, they can order for you.

Pain and Back (Part 2)

The conversation at the edge of the water-hole between the young man and his old friend continued.

“So, life was wonderful and you felt positive and optimistic after coming out of that old, dark relationship?”

“Yes, until March 1999 when I crashed. Literally; I didn’t notice a small dent on the cycle track as I headed home on my roller blades at dusk. Falling backwards, I kicked my left knee with my right skate and fractured the top of my tibia.

As I lay on a bridge over the river Maas in The Netherlands, a mum, dad and two small daughters came to my aid. Their images were strange, out of focus. But here’s where my ego took center stage. They offered to call an ambulance and that kindness reminded of the pulmonary embolism that invaded my body back in 1994 after an operation to fix a torn Achilles tendon. I hesitated.

Isn’t it wonderful how the ego serves to protect? There was no way I would go to hospital despite its insistence that I should’ve been in intensive care. Laying in pain, I fought the ego and asked the family to guide me home. Surrounding a stranger with love, they helped me stand and with my left leg off the ground, wheeled me two-hundred meters to our door. I never saw them again but can’t shake the feeling they were meant to be there on that unusually warm spring evening.

I went to the hospital the next day after a sleepless night and left with a hip to toe cast with a six-week prescription. I’d had countless sporting injuries before and was slightly happy with this one because work paid me to recover at home with my amazing family and their unfaltering love and light.

Then darkness fell. I didn’t recover as expected and by the time our second son arrived seventeen months later, I was sitting in a wheelchair. A doctor told us to expect no recovery or exit from the wheelchair, and only high doses of opiates would manage the pain. I felt like an outsider to this world, looking in from a distance while our infants grew into toddlers, started school . . .didn’t understand what was happening. The medication placed an uncomfortable blanket over the pain, made me weak and vulnerable. The ego ran riot; everything was about me. I tuned inward into a hostile environment, rarely and only briefly would my true self pop up for air.

My family shared their unconditional love our friends rallied, and during one of those clean air moments, I knew the doctor wasn’t right. My soul shouted and for once I heard the distant wake-up call. But, many more dark days followed, my pay went to half and after twelve months down to zero and we were forced back to the UK. The most painful decision we ever had to make.

Even though we had a second daughter by this time, the world felt like a very exclusive place and I wasn’t a member of the club. Not to mention the pain my partner and our eldest daughter felt. That scared me most of all and silent tears, kept hidden from view, tumbled in frustration and, dare I say it? Self-pity; it was all my fault. There was no bigger picture; I loved my partner and our children but had no love for myself. On the scale of 0 to 100, I vibrated below 20.

The medication wasn’t working, the treatments failed, I developed migraine headaches and with this came more medication. A physiotherapist refused to treat me because I was too sensitive, the pain was too great. Go to this clinic, go to that, no time in the day to do anything but respond to the pain.

A grumpy old man, under forty-five. A leading neurology professor in the UK couldn’t find a cure. Why would he? Nobody could. I was a lost cause living under my blanket of darkness and negativity, surrounded by the love of my family.

Occasionally positive distractions fell into my lap and learning took place. I recognized fifteen years ago where I needed to be today, but health, psychological setbacks and medical interventions and misleading diagnoses kept popping up. Each time they did, new learning took place, and I grew. The light beckoned once more; it had only asked that I consider a few things; including what it felt like to be told that I had MS which was later disproved by one doctor, reasserted by another and disputed by me.

Something odd happened in 2005 when we managed a five-week road trip to the south of France from our home in the north of England. A long trip, over 1400 kilometers each way and, it should have been outside my reach. Regardless of the pain determination became a strong ally. The further south we traveled the lower the pain became. There was no logic to this; it was just the way it was, and I didn’t stop to question the accompanying light.

We bounced back and forth every summer for the next eight years. I looked forward to the respite the holidays brought to the painful existence I suffered during the rest of the year. It didn’t seem logical but deep-down, it didn’t matter.

Most of all, the light forced me back to events before 1995. A theme that festered on my mind. Something, and please don’t ask me to explain, told me to forgive myself for what I became. Also, to forgive the other for allowing her to lead and be led by me into that place of pain and misery buried beneath excuses. It’s strange to think I worked in a caring profession but didn’t do such a great job of caring for myself.

That relationship wasn’t the only debt I needed to pay. Thoughts of constructs in my mind embedded long ago danced their dark tangos. Ask for forgiveness, forgive, move on became a mantra as childhood models of reality crumbled, no longer reality, serving nothing. Was this karmic debt demanding repayment? Surely not all this pain if there’s such a thing as Divine love? I asked for forgiveness, forgave, moved on. I visualized the source of my memories, went face to face with confusion, pain and doubt.

There was another subtle shift too. I took treatments, took the love my family unconditionally gave, until one day I realised that I needed to start giving instead of taking. I became for giving and although it was a long painful process of self-analysis before I could begin to move forward. I forgave myself for the pain my selfishness had brought about in others.

Picture the most stunning sunrise you can. Now, imagine creating minds-eye views of your own painful events and confusing models of reality. Only by doing that would it be possible to ask those concerned for forgiveness and forgive everything that forced me off my divine path into an abyss.

People often say, ‘forgive and forget.’ Through doing just that, slowly things changed. Grounding myself in the present I moved forward. Drawn to writing, speaking and enabling, today, the light is infinite. I’m travelling and guided to the place of my destiny with gifts meant for sharing, not burying in a well of self-pity.

Occasionally, I caught glimpses of my personal power while I was sick, and I knew I needed to live a different life. All I needed was to stay positive and loving, focused, balanced and at peace within. Easy to say, acutely painful to achieve.

A telephone conversation with a stranger informed me I am a healer and, this wasn’t the first time I heard this. That was back in 1995. He blew away the good news though by explaining that while I could heal, I couldn’t heal myself. I believed him. The journey might have been different had I chosen to believe I can heal myself. We all can; as tough as it may seem, we have a choice. We are limitless souls with free-will living in human form.

A psychotherapist* summed up where I am today,

Spiritual work focuses more on what is intrinsically right: how we have infinite resources at the core of our nature that we can cultivate to live more expansively. If psychological work thins the clouds, spiritual work invokes the sun. *

I was in darkness rediscovered the light and despite clouds cast over my life that light never leaves. It’s where I and all of us are meant to be. The learning didn’t follow a curve, rather a series of vertical leaps and the hands of the universe never left my back.

So, if I am to sum up three things you might take away from my beautiful and continuing journey; they are these:

As dark as it may get, the light is always there. The Universe has your back.

If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. Reach out for peace, love and happiness.

Trust your intuition (Divine Wise-Self); it knows what you need. Be patient, listen and pay special attention if you’re sent a wake-up call.

My experiences may have written stains on the lives of my wonderful partner and our beautiful family. I hope not, rather, I hope I will have left them lessons and a road map that shows how the choices we make can lead to a life of disruption and pain. That has been my path, not theirs although they have blessed and crossed mine. I thought everything was about me when we should follow entirely different paths. Sometimes though, our paths are intricately woven on singular threads.

I ride my mountain bike once more and ski as though the skis never left my feet. My body has healed, my spirit is no longer a shadow of its true self.

The young man took a breath and absently wiped away a tear as he turned to his friend; who had gone. He left with the sunset, reminding the young man that the sun would rise again the next day and every day after.

*Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, John Welwood

Pain and Back (Part 1)

Looking out across the savannah, the young man saw giraffes and marvelled at their incredible grace and beauty. Far away to his left, the trail of dust left by a herd of wildebeest and zebra drifted and settled in new places. A pair of warthogs splashed in the ever-decreasing water hole after several elephants enjoyed an evening shower before going back to graze in the nearby bush. A flock of starlings appeared to fly into the setting sun.

“You’ve discovered a wonderful place to share a few moments my young friend. What
brought you here?”

Before sitting, the older man tested the dead tree by the waterside. Satisfied it
would take his weight, he made himself comfortable and indicated a place for
his friend.

“Giraffes are on the endangered list for the first time. At least that’s what I read
somewhere. But look at them; they seem blissfully unaware of any danger.”

“Humankind is their only real enemy; but I sense you aren’t here to discuss the extinction of another beautiful species.”

“You’re right, though concerned, I chose this as a place to think and reflect on the
day I stepped out of the darkness and into the sun.”

“Not literally I hope.”

The young man laughed.

“No, far from it. I suppose I should’ve said, stepped into the light. Yes, that’s a
better fit. My life today is blessed with positivity and opportunity. I strayed far from my path and experienced some difficult lessons and some extreme mental and physical pain. My family suffered too. Now the table is clearing for a banquet of all the beautiful things life has to offer.

Back in 1995, buried deep in my work; buried and lost for over twenty
years and living far from the land of my birth. Few friends and no life to
speak of outside the safe routine of work. I was in a dark relationship that
served neither of us and we were too scared to admit it.

I allowed myself to be controlled, didn’t even notice it happening. A visit to
the bar with colleagues at the end of the work week wasn’t encouraged. Life was
a balance of positivity at work and negativity toward everything at home.
Material things was our way of temporary respite; mountain bike racing and
skiing my stress relief.

When my workday finished at 10.00 pm on a Friday in August, I was excited because the car was loaded for a road-trip. Two weeks of psychology seminars at a university in
England. After five minutes at the wheel, I crossed from Germany into The
Netherlands aware of a subtle shift in my mood. Difficult to describe except to
say, I felt light.

The further away from base I drove, the lighter I felt. Interesting too that
although I’d given myself more time than I needed for the trip; I had few
breaks, no need of sleep and didn’t once review the information I had about the
Psychology seminars; despite my intention. Whatever had me, made everything
seem irrelevant. The feeling was wonderful.

It was early morning, a little after dawn when the French car ferry arrived in England
and I followed the scenic coastal route from the port of Dover to Brighton. I
knew most of the way but had forgotten how beautiful it was. I felt like a
child seeing the ocean for the first time.

Shortly before 8.00 a.m. I turned off the route to an area of dunes and a traffic free
space to park, lay out my sleeping bag and took in the clean salty air. The
feeling of light didn’t leave me for an instant; it was so persistent that as tired as my body should’ve been, the thought of sleeping still didn’t occur. The sun rising in front of me created an outstanding light show on the gentle waves. Illusions of little people and heavenly beings rode the surf and dived into the troughs between the waves as they broke.

Even after arriving at the university, I couldn’t sleep despite having until 6.00 pm
to do as I pleased. So, I walked, got to know the block world that was to be my
home for the next two weeks. Forgetting to find out where the campus restaurant
was.

Fortunately, a beautiful woman rescued the lost, hungry man in distress. She escorted me to an early evening meal and, although she had eaten, offered to keep me company.
It was like sitting in a dazzling room with the sun in my eyes. I could see her
but everybody else was shadow-like.

We found a bench outside afterwards and shared the trivia of our lives before she
dug deeper for the things that mattered. I went along happily and not one pause
to wonder why until the sides of our hands touched and a dynamic spark exploded
through my body.

Not sexual at first but incredibly lustful. Something took hold of me and it wasn’t
ever going to let me carry on living in the dark and on the wrong path.
Somehow, I knew everything was right; no analysis, no questions required.

Later that evening, we sat on a hill between the concrete blocks watching the stars.
The cosmos gave the most amazing display of shooting stars either of us had
ever seen. Our vibrations were up there with the stars and stayed there
throughout the following week.

Something deep inside of me awoke and there was no way I would turn my back on it. The feeling of somehow knowing became absolute. My soul spoke, and I heard its
beautiful song.

Eight months later, she and her amazing one-year-old daughter were living with me.
Shooting stars never stopped and five-months later, she was pregnant, and our
son arrived the following summer, five days after my birthday. What an amazing
gift being in that sunlight room with my beautiful partner and an earth-angel
in the guise of midwife. Together we watched and helped guide another perfect
soul into the world.

That same summer, I gave up the free accommodation that came with my job and we
moved to the nearby Netherlands. We made so many true friends and thinking about
their outstanding generosity and friendship brings a lump to my throat. Work
colleagues didn’t get it. How could I give up so much? What they didn’t know
was the symbolic giving away of the darkness that had plagued my life. I was
waking up to my Divine nature although still in ignorance of the true bliss
that could bring. My new-found energy propelled me forward.

Part 2 Follows soon

 

Not the latest fad or new-age fashion

Mindfulness is not the latest fad or new-age fashion. It’s been around for thousands of years. The scope of this post is not to explore origins, rather, how mindfulness works and what can be done to maintain positive mindful practice.

It’s like a diet in some senses; if you don’t do it, there won’t be any benefits.

I noticed considerable argument surrounding a UK television programme on social media regarding how mindfulness can be used to alleviate problems associated with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some say it can, some say not. I wonder how many of the “not” camp reside in the pharmaceuticals industry?

So, there you go. I’ve just blown my cover. I am proudly a member of the “yes it can” camp.  But don’t forget what I said; use it or lose it!

That’s a challenge with most children, young adults and adults alike. Generally, we’re brought up not living mindfully. For the greater part of our lives, we react to events. Worrying about what we did or didn’t do in the past and about what the future will bring, or not. Doing that we lose our attachment to the present moment. One of my favourite sayings is, “life is right now, in this moment.” This is mindfulness.

It’s about noticing what is happening right now in this moment.

Having awareness of what your body senses. Feeling emotions in your body, through positive or negative sensations. Noticing what’s happening in your mind.

What happens when you start noticing these experiences?

Awareness of what’s happening around you will enable deeper focus, and attention to your own senses will develop improvement in many aspects of life.

Improved focus can advance sports, educational or musical achievements for example. Any high-achiever will tell you that. Read about how great athletes prepare for a race. It’s not just about being physically fit. Mindfulness can help reach higher examination grades too. We always do better when we pay direct attention to our life-activities.

Noticing what’s happening around you, can help you to calm down when you’re sad, angry or frustrated. Mindfulness helps you deal with difficult emotions and can lift a dark mood. It can even assist recovery from chronic illnesses or addiction. I have my own evidence for that through personal experience which you can read about or listen to elsewhere. We will come to that.

Humans are pretty good at judging and reacting too. Think about it. How often have you seen somebody dive in and take apart a person or group because of something they’ve said or done? Here’s another aspect of mindfulness; without judgement and staying neutral yet maintaining curiosity.

That sounds tricky doesn’t it? It’s not as tough as it sounds but we may be carrying some baggage from our lives that makes it seem difficult at first. Once we parcel that baggage and learn to put it into our experience boxes and move on, it’s not so difficult.

So, if I could show you the space where mindfulness resides, I would point to this great quote from Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Covey talked about Viktor Frankl, a famous psychiatrist imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during WW II

“They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.” 

We all have that freedom or power to choose how we respond to any situation the moment it arises. It’s how we respond that matters.

How does mindfulness work?

When someone says something we don’t like to hear, we react. Sometimes we say something and wish to retract it as soon as it’s spoken. Or we are knocked down by the emotion caused by an event.

Mindfulness helps us create space between emotions and actions. We learn to deal with positive and negative experiences more calmly and by making better decisions.

If we are mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we respond positively and, without hurting our own or the feelings of others. Sometimes life packs hard punches. Practising mindfulness gives us the ability to recover faster and move on.

So, mindfulness works with the daily ups and downs of life and can also lead to outstanding results with major events such as chronic illness as I have proved to myself along with countless others.

It wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging on a statement like that, but I will for now and until I get back to you, I encourage you to seek more information with an open mind. There’s plenty out there.

Additionally, I’m involved with a project called, “Courage To Connect” where you can read about part of my journey into mindful living and those of several other authors. Watch out for more information.

Peace, Love and Light,

Steve

I Changed My Name

The old man sat on a low wall at the edge of a pine forest, staring into the trees, apparently searching.

“Don’t worry about me, my young friend. Tell your story, I’m listening.”

The younger man didn’t look so sure. Such was the look of concentration on his old friends’ face. Still, he joined him on the wall and told his story.

“Pre-teens, I thought my childhood was no different to my peers. But it was, and I didn’t realize until my teenage years; why would I? Yes, a few things showed during our childhood but nothing of great note, at least nothing I understood. All that changed as I matured. My parents were not so careful with their words and I saw things myself. It’s a pity that the version of events around me originated on supposition, hearsay and even the church people followed. My inherited world view was not right, and I set about fixing it with limited tools.

My best childhood friend and his siblings lived in the dark, to thrive or not. Mum gave them no attention I ever saw, only orders to leave the house, “go out and play.” Dad was never there, he worked at British Aerospace. a respectable and well-paid place of employment. They split up and mum moved away with the children. My best friend disappeared from my life. It hurt.

I saw him again ten years later. Stood at a bar drinking alone. I didn’t recognize him at first. When I did, he had little to say except, “I’m a bin man, I collect the garbage.” I think that was true in more ways than his employment situation. He had an older sister by exactly one year. They shared the same birthday on the last day of October. Estranged from his younger brother who I remembered as the kid who always yearned for kindness. He put his arm in a wasp nest to get our attention one day. A few years later he took his life.

Where was my friend? He was the one with joy and hope in his heart. Not there at that bar with a beer in his hand. That was somebody else.

A few years earlier and a rare occasion, he invited me to dinner. We had sausages and chips. I think I was seven or eight. That meal was the best, and I was excited to tell my family all about it when I got home. Mum and nana were not impressed. I was a catholic and had eaten meat on a Friday. I sinned and would have to go to confession the next day. I didn’t understand why my friend, a protestant could eat meat and I couldn’t. That’s just the way it was.

Filled with dread at attending confession, and petrified of priests and nuns. They could sentence me to hell if they chose. “Thou shalt not, thou shalt not,” still echoes through my mind when I think about them.

Christmas day was a time of great joy. Home was like a toy store. At least until we turned thirteen when toys became new clothes. The time for play stopped, and the focus turned to the future. “What will you be when you grow up? British Aerospace pays well, and it’s a great place to work. You should aim for that. It won’t be difficult to get a mortgage on the wages they pay.”

I didn’t much like the sound of that, but I did what they said and got the dream job. I didn’t like it and after five years, I quit to go travelling. I planned to leave on the first of September and found myself homeless and living in a spare room at a friend of a friend’s house two months before the planned start of my new life. Nobody at home would speak; they said I had let them down. That was a tough pill to swallow.

A few short years before I bought the plane ticket to my freedom, late in my final year at school, I watched as a man, dead from a heart attack was carried off the train I waited to board. I can’t explain why I experienced such a wonderful explosion of light and joy as I watched. Then there was a switch. Listening to other people gossiping about how sad the situation was, I heard somebody say the mans’ name was Stephen. He was fifty years old and had worked at British Aerospace.

Following that, I insisted people called me Steve and vowed that my fate would not follow Stephen’s. No disrespect intended.

I became a volunteer youth worker. OK, I was only sixteen so, I worked with pre-teens. I loved that work and knew it would play a huge part in my future. Excited about this, I took the idea I should go to college to my parents. To prepare for a university degree. They said, “no.” I had a job at Aerospace and I would take it.

The trade union rescued me a year after I started when I became the youngest ever representative. Responsible for looking after protecting the rights of my colleagues. That didn’t go so well with the management. I was ‘advised’ to quit voluntary youth work and the union if I wanted to realise a bright future with the company.

I left to travel after my twenty-first birthday and couldn’t believe the well wishes, gifts and tears given openly by my colleagues. It still brings a lump to my throat when I think about it. What happened during my travels is another story and you know my friend that I went to university. I became a qualified community and youth worker and the first in my family to get a university degree. Even though it was not supposed to be for the likes of us.”

The old man pulled his attention away from the forest and a beautiful bright smile beamed.

“You challenged many familial models of reality that had passed through the generations and paved the way for others to follow similar paths. Look at you now, you did what people thought impossible. You have grown beyond recognition and all because you had the courage and conviction to follow your heart.

Don’t be complacent though. You never know when one of those outdated models of reality will come back into your life. Be vigilant my young friend and always follow your intuition. It knows where you need to go.

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