The past week has been a really interesting one on a number of levels, it has been filled with much work, as most of us deal with at least 5 days a week, some reflection on the ever looming Xmas season and all the excitement and fun that holds for us (even though there are some that don’t get as excited as I do about Xmas and all that it promises and most of the time delivers!)  I am a big one for Xmas – but more of that in the coming weeks when I get to put my Xmas trees up (yes trees – 2 this year but again more on that later).

I had news this week that always can knock the wind out of your sails let alone the wind of people involved with a gorgeous friend sharing with me that she has breast cancer and will head into hospital in a couple of weeks for a double mastectomy and then another gorgeous guy who has just been diagnosed with HIV.  Ah life and the things that it throws into our paths to hopefully make us stronger human beings.  I suppose one of the down sides of getting older is there are a range of different things that can come into our lives to test our ability to cope and be…and we get to know more and more people who are having to deal with difficulties in their health and well being.

For people who know me and I have a few friends on Facebook that see my daily posts, I always attempt to say and stay positive about the things that are happening in my life and how the challenges and expectations put on me are dealt with a smile and a sense of always looking for the good and not the negative.  Being true to myself but also allowing myself to feel the wonderful, the not so great and all things in between and learning important life lessons from them has been one of the things that I have learnt in my journey so far.  This has not always been easy but it has been an interesting and wonderful journey to date!

I remember nearly 25 years ago when I started searching from some spiritual guidance or sense of what the universe offers that I first discovered Reiki and since then have dabbled in meditation, dance and now exercise as ways to improve myself and to be the best human being that I can and to also share that with the people who I have in my life.  I have never been a person who has wanted to ram my beliefs down other peoples throats as I also believe that any journey in life has to be one that we can walk together side by side on but you have to make your own decisions and your own choices about the things that you want to experience and perhaps follow.

This past week has allowed me some time to think and connect with all of the above and again reflect on who I am and how I can be a better human being for the people that are important in my life – this will be a continuous never ending part of my life journey.

A couple of the things that I do to relax and take time out, other than exercise regularly (something 10 years ago I thought I would never really get into) are listen to good music and also read good books. I am an avid reader and really love at the end of a busy day to get stuck into a really good book to lose myself for a couple of hours and enjoy the story telling of a really good author.  I have many favorites and many of the books I read have a gay slant to them – gay murder mystery, coming out stories, love stories, biographies or photo essay books but I do not limit myself.  I do like to experience a wide range of different authors and have many others that I get into but at the moment I find myself heading back to some of my favorite gay authors who just happen to have new books coming out at the moment or in the coming months.

I am excited that at the start of the new year Armistead Maupin- http://www.armisteadmaupin.com has another in the Tales of the City series coming out – “The Days of Anna Madrigal” is due out on January 21 and I for one cannot wait to once again fall into the familiar characters that have inhabited this series since it was first published in 1978…but more on that in January.

heavens rise

christopherrice

Currently I have just finished the latest book by Christopher Rice “The Heavens Rise” – http://www.chrstopherricebooks.com I have been a fan of Christopher’s writing since his very first novel “A Density of Souls” which was published when he was 22 years old.  This is his fourth novel and is a supernatural thriller that centers around a young women, parasites that can enter your body and allow you to control other peoples bodies and minds as well as unleash nightmares. There are some complex intricately drawn characters that all bring this novel to life and keep you glued to each page.  It is haunting, scary and at the same time one of those books that I could not put down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  Christopher always takes you on an incredible journey with his writing and I have yet to be disappointed by any of his novels and The Heavens Rise again ticks all the boxes for a great read!

Now in terms of music, if you read my previous post you know that I have been listening alot to Lady Gaga and her new album ARTPOP.

Tina-Arena-2-001-horz-001

But another album that grabbed me in the past couple of weeks that shares disc space with Gaga is the wonderful Tina Arena – Reset – http://www.tinaarena.com and her first studio album of original songs since 2002’s Just Me. It always amazes me that someone with such talent and vocal quality can be ignored here in her home country but that seems to have been the case for the past 10 or so years. She has released music in that time but because she did not have a local record label for some of that time she self financed 2 of those albums until she was signed with EMI who then released them into the market place here in Australia.

I recently read an article where she mused on the fact that perhaps some of this came from her past time as a member of Young Talent Time as Tiny Tina Arena, I have to say I do remember those days and if that is the case it is a pity that people who really enjoy good quality recordings and vocals that soar cannot see past that and really appreciate all that is on offer with this amazing singer.

It was not until she decamped to France for a number of years that her true mastery was really appreciated by an audience that can be more fickle than the Australian one. But they saw her for what she was – a superb interpreter of any song she wants to sing and an emotional resonance as well.

Reset is an amazing album filled with wonderful original songs that each paint a part of the story of a complex life and a life that it seems from my ears to be one where she has finally come into her own and is reveling in the beauty of who she is and where she now finds herself and her life. Here are 16 songs that each sit well together in a listening experience that I have read from some critics is like her “Whispering Jack” album. For me it is just yet another strong set of songs from a consummate performer who never disappoints and always delivers.

There are no highlights for me – the whole album from start to finish works and works amazingly well! So as Molly Meldrum used to say on Sunday night on Countdown- “Do yourself a favor” and get a copy of this wonderful album by an Australian treasure.