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Today we travel to the beautiful west coast of Scotland to chat with Anita Neilson. We’ll talk about how knowing 3 modern languages, losing all sense of purpose in life, a pair of buzzards, and a visualization holiday create the flow of Anita’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Anita Neilson and I live in my native Scotland near the beautiful west coast. If you like, why not watch this short video I’ve produced, called My Scotland! I graduated from University (more than a few decades ago!) with 3 modern languages and this allowed me to work and travel a fair bit in Europe before settling down in Scotland to careers in commerce and education.
Here’s a photo of me with my faithful companion Amber, my Labrador retriever, taken in our local park. She follows me absolutely everywhere and is the sweetest soul. I have Fibromyalgia and M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome) and need to spend most of my time at home due to pain and fatigue.
But this next image is the view from my window and it’s something I never ever tire of. It’s beautiful, right? Most days I see deer, horses and a plethora of dogs taking their owners for walks! It’s so peaceful and a balm for the soul. Living here absolutely helps to heal me – body, mind and soul.
In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have?
I write mind, body, spirit books. My third book, Soul Murmurs, was released July 26th, 2019 and I think it’s my best one yet. It has a richness and depth to it that develops the more you write. And I love the cover, it’s just perfect. I discovered the artist (Ken Eaton @ Natureworks) online and he was thrilled to have his image on the cover! You can find more of his work here.
My first book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair, was written during the initial months and years of illness. I had to give up work and had lost all sense of purpose in life. Yet changing focus away from myself and my worries and onto how I might help other people gave me that new purpose. This book is very precious to me and gives lots of practical advice on how we can all do acts of kindness for ourselves and others, regardless of our circumstances. You can find out more, read reviews and purchase Acts of Kindness from your Armchair from your preferred online retailer.
My second book, Rose Petals Floating Downstream is a compilation of spiritual poetry exploring finding the Divine in all aspects of the natural world and within ourselves. It’s beautiful and I often read one of these poems before settling down to meditate!
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
An interesting quirk about how I write is that I often receive what I call “incoming”. This happened especially when I was writing Soul Murmurs. I would be ‘interrupted’ during meditation with words just flowing out of me, repeating over and over, that I knew I had to write down or they would disappear. At other times, I would be dropping off to sleep and the same thing would happen. I would be woken up in the night with words just rushing to come out and be written down! I did grumble a bit about being woken up, but I had a notebook, pen and little torch by my bedside so that I wouldn’t disturb my husband. I can chuckle about this now when I see the scene in my head. And I always, always thanked whatever Source provided these particular nuggets of inspiration.
A couple of years ago, hubby and I were heading up north to the Scottish Highlands for a few days holiday. It was springtime and as I sat taking in the scenery as he drove, I suddenly shouted to him, “Wait, slow down. I’ve got incoming!” The words of the poem Winding Roads were flooding into my mind. Inspiration can strike at any time! You can read the poem here.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
My spirit animal would be the buzzard. Firstly, because I’m fascinated by birds. I love watching them soar and swoop. They have such freedom. And they provide me with moments of fun as I watch their interactions at the bird feeder in our garden. Secondly, because in the beautiful meadow which frames my view from the house, we have a pair of buzzards who call this their domain. I often see them and hear their eerie calls as they circle far above us.
When I was researching power animals, I was blown away by what was written about the buzzard because it seemed to resonate so strongly with me. The buzzard apparently symbolises the cycle of death and rebirth. It aids in the purification of mind, body and spirit and comes at times of change and transformation, helping you to awaken to your higher possibilities. Wow!
Now here’s what’s spooky about that. My latest book, Soul Murmurs, is arranged around the seasons to echo the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. It also tracks my spiritual development throughout the passage of the year and has helped me to realise my higher potential in all areas of my life (as a writer and in all my relationships, including with the Divine). The Buzzard features in the short story in the book, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll just have to read it for yourselves!
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned about myself through writing is that “I AM GOOD ENOUGH!”. If I could give advice to my younger self (please see my short video, 5 Simple Things) it would be to say ,“You are amazing. You are more than good enough. You don’t have to be perfect so don’t waste your life trying to be.”
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most amusing/embarrassing thing to ever happen to me was epic. I had just started my first job, after graduating, as Bilingual Secretary to the European Sales Director of a consumer electronics company. Now they liked to splash the cash a little and the Chairman had decided to rent out a whole castle to celebrate his son’s 21st birthday. All of his employees were invited. I was young, jumpy and nervous, anxious to make a good impression of myself. So first things first, I needed to visit the Ladies (restroom). As I entered, the air was thick with excitement and lots of women were crowding around another woman and excitedly chatting away to her. Of course, I wanted to be part of this excitement so I joined in with the group. Looking down at her swollen belly, I chirped, “Oh, how lovely. When are you due?”
A hush, heavier than an approaching storm, descended on the room, a ‘pregnant’ pause if you like.
“I’m not,” replied the woman, “I’m just fat.” And with this she swept from the Ladies with as much dignity as she could muster. Oh my, the naivety of youth. Boy was I embarrassed as I shuffled into a stall to hide. When I returned to the function room a few minutes later, my boss pulled me aside and said, “Do you know that was the Chairman’s wife you insulted?”
Oh no, I wished the ground would open up and swallow me. Thoughts darted frantically through my mind, “Would I be fired?”, “What would the Chairman say or do?”, “How would I live this down?” The next day the Chairman came up to me at work and with a bellowing laugh, slapped me on the shoulder, exclaiming, “Anita, my wife is going on a diet now thanks to you.” And with that, he left as briskly as he had come. We learn from our mistakes, don’t we, that’s for sure! My motto nowadays is, “If in doubt, keep shut your mouth!”.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I LOVE this question Camilla. Well, it’s got to be Mr Benn, my favourite children’s animated programme of the 1970s. Mr Benn was an ordinary English gentleman, dressed in pin-stripe suite and bowler hat. He lived at No. 52 Festive Road. However, Mr Benn had a very surprising ‘other life’ in which he would often visit the Costume Shop in his town. There, he would try on a different costume each time before walking through the second door in the changing room, “the door that always led to adventures”. As he did so, he became the person from the costume and would have an adventure. So, for example, when he tried on the space suit, he became a spaceman; when he tried on the Safari costume, he became a big-game hunter on safari and so on.
I loved this as a child. How rich is the world of our imagination! And for the writer that I am now, I can see why it entranced me so much back then. For isn’t this what we do when we write or read? Each time we open the cover of a book, it is leading us on an adventure, isn’t it? And with each page that we turn, we enter a different world, another life. We can be the characters in the book and live through their experiences with them. There are plenty of episodes of Mr Benn on YouTube. One of my favourites is Mr Benn Spaceman.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I do believe things happen for a reason. I also believe that we have been given free will to make our own choices. There’s quite a tussle going on inside me between pre- and self-determination! I’ve been trying to improve myself spiritually for 5 years, meditating each day, tackling my bad habits and helping others where I can.
Was it pre-determined that I would become chronically ill? I don’t know. Did I cause it myself with my bad habits and living a life too much in the fast lane of adrenaline? I don’t know that either.
What I do know is that illness has been a wonderful blessing for me. It’s given me much more understanding and compassion for other people. It’s stopped me from judging others just by the evidence of my own eyes. It’s made me a kinder person. It’s made me just let go, surrender to God’s will (this is still a work in progress I have to add!). There’s a short extract from the book, called Surrender to the Flow, which sums this up nicely.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
Let me describe my perfect solo date. It would be a visualization holiday. The idea behind this is that if you are not able to travel for whatever reason, with a little imagination and willpower, you can still give yourself a break. For example, you could take a visualization excursion: look through photographs of a favourite holiday. Then with eyes closed, bring to mind the sights, sounds, smells, places you visited and who you went with. Look back with gratitude and contentment. I often do this if I’m feeling stressed. Try it for yourself! Just taking a few minutes’ out of your day to take yourself on a calming adventure of the imagination or memory will have such a beneficial effect on your physical, emotional and spiritual life. Read my article on just this subject: The Ultimate Staycation.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Camilla, my latest book is called Soul Murmurs: seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul.
It was wonderful to learn more about you Anita! Thank you for being a part of MTA! All the best and much love to you! – Camilla
“From the author of Acts of Kindness from your Armchair and the uplifting Healing Words blog, comes this new offering for those seeking deeper meaning to life. Soul Murmurs is a must-have collection of poetry and prose imbued with spiritual wisdom from east and west. Each page, resonating with peace and calm, offers comfort and moments of reflection in a fast-moving world.
“I am smitten with the joy and ebullience bubbling through on each page. And the poems! Oh the sweet poems – truly they brought me to That place. It reminds me of reading Rilke.” Mariah McKenzie, author of More.
In this compilation you will discover: meditative verses which speak to the heart and soul; silent cries for longing for meaning; joyful searching for the Divine within and in the wider world; autobiographical vignettes offering insight on aspects of human life that we all experience. Gathered under seasonal headings to echo the eternal cycle of life, each page reverbates with inspiration, spiritual encouragement and suggested action points to uplift the reader throughout the year.”
It published July 26th, 2019 and readers can purchase it from their preferred online retailer.
Anita Neilson is an author, spiritual poet, blogger, podcaster and YouTube creator in her native Scotland. A graduate in 3 modern languages, she travelled, lived and worked in Europe before careers in business and education in Scotland. She is now a freelance writer, contributing to many mind, body, spirit and chronic illness publications. Her writings centre around the themes of kindness, compassion and leading a positive, spiritual life. She has published 3 books to date. Soul-Murmurs: Seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul published July 26th, 2019.