A Message From Babette and the Stockdale paradox

26th March 2021

Babette Bluett-Duncan


Feeling down

As I write (March 19th)  I am feeling very mortal, rather down, and reflective. Many of you have fed back to me that my positivity and general attitude are an inspiration, and I was touched to read it. But should it really be an inspiration? Or am I using my natural "Glass Half Full "view of the world to hide the fact that I have a mortal disease? It is so difficult to live isn't it, I mean, I find it difficult to know what is right, or not so right. There are so many different views of the world, and most are valid. I mean, most people manage to live, have families, hold a job, generate love around them, and this whether they are a hippy style or a strict military one, whether they believe in life after this one, with or without religious connotations, or perhaps that there is nothing after this one...

I have been saying I am lucky to be given time to get used to my passing, compared to being hit by a bus. But am I being totally unaware, unconscious, and refusing to face the facts? The facts are not too exciting. My visible tumour is spreading, to be specific, the bigger tumour has stopped after the German treatment, but many small ones are appearing around it, and I will attempt to have radiotherapy on it, as I understand from a chat with Arcadia that nothing else would deal with it, and as the oncologist had also mentioned radiotherapy for these surface metastases. It won't be what will kill me I am told, but it could become inflamed and carpet like, apparently there is a French term used to describe this type of cancer which is "Cancer en cuirasse", cuirasse being an armour, bit yukky. So this is spreading, and I can see it, and I find it slightly scary. And also, as I write I have still not met with my oncologist here, consequence of covid I guess, though we are to meet next week.

Is seeing the spread the main reason why I am down' more than when I was told I had tumours on my liver? Because I could ignore these for a lot of my waking hours? Or am I getting used to the fact that I have very slim chances to still be alive next year? But I also often talk about fear, as in, not giving in to fear because what will fear change?

And yet I realised yesterday that since my return, I have, de facto, been living as if I was going to live to 90, which is not per se, a bad idea (Positive Visualisation does work), BUT what then happened is that I was back in the kitchen, back on my feet long hours, consciously happy to cook for us all, including my new special diet, back to my "old" self. I realised yesterday that I was exhausted, and had stopped doing some of what I learnt at Arcadia. So, after an open chat with Jeanne and Josie, we have decided that I was going to exit the kitchen, sit at my sewing machine or the piano, when I want to be doing something, and otherwise give Babette some quality time, whilst they kindly take on the shared job of cooking for the family. I wanted to share this with you, to share how difficult it is to do that, or how easy it is to go back in old habits. So, one day at a time, and with kindness towards myself and my slow learning. Slow learning is better than no learning.

NDE's (Near Death Experiences)

In Germany, I learnt about Living Well with Cancer, or Striving with a Cancerous Condition as Henning calls his precis, and I shall endeavour to continue to do that. When I was in my twenties, I read about people having had an NDE, Near Death Experiences, and that marked me profoundly, it gave me a sense of peace in the afterlife, and even sometimes I have been heard to say "I can't wait to be dead, to see whether there is a meaning, and what it is, and see how much of it I understood when I was still alive, I am really curious about finding that out." And yet this does not mean that I want to go, at least not quickly, I feel I still have so much to do, to accomplish, to help with. But the reason why I mentioned the NDE's is that what people who have come back all seem to agree on is that All that matters is  Love, and then Learning. Love as in "What makes others feel loved", and Learning not as in learning the encyclopaedia by heart, but in learning how things work, function, trying to make sense of what doesn't seem to make sense at first glance. And this I have been doing, I still do, or rather I mean I still try to do: spreading as much kindness, understanding, good feelings, recognition on this planet as I can, and continue to be curious, nosy, querying, and researching. What makes me a good person, what makes me a good mum, a good wife, a good friend? What can I learn, and accomplish, and change for me and around me? But for now, I mean for today, it means looking after Babette, do little, feel a lot, be brave to kindly tell people when they hurt me, be brave to thank people when they make me feel seen, recognised, and loved.

Stockdale Paradox

As I re-read this the following day, (March 20th) I see that I am in the middle of the Stockdale Paradox that you may recall Andrew describing some weeks ago. Believing that I will come out of this, being positive and generally fearless, but not at the price of facing the brutal facts of my reality. Yesterday was a day to share with you my brutal facts, and OMG that is hard, but today I am back on my horse, back feeling that being depressed and fearful will not help me. I am an extremely lucky lady, blessed with the ability to reflect, and with the support of my husband and family, who put up with change of moods on top of my reduced input in family life, and of some friends who know how to listen without trying to fix the situation, able to refrain their own anxieties about death when listening to me, and  I'm so lucky with all of you rooting for me and asking me to share my path. Writing updates is very therapeutic for me, because I think of you, and it makes me think more clearly,  as I want to be clear to you. So a huge thank you for reading what I  write, and for all those who are taking/have taken the time to write to me.

Kindest of  Regards.



PS: On a different and fun note, I have been playing with a Emile Henry Cloche a Pain (bread cloche) that Magimix is giving  away with the purchase of some of their bzoom bzoom machines (... French slang for food processor).To be precise it's the 4200XL and 5200XL models

which you can find here 

More details next week.

Covid-19 Update

Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Director, Art of Living cookshop

Disclaimer: this information is correct at the time of publishing 06/07/2020, our situation will be under continuous review. 

  • Art of Living's Reigate and Cobham shops are now open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 3.00pm.

    At the entrance of the shops, we have a unit that I built with sanitiser and we are encouraging you to use it, especially if you want to touch things in the shop. This also applies to people wearing gloves. 

    We are all wearing visors, which is a great find (thank you Em) because they are far more pleasant to wear than masks, and enable us to be facing you without the 2 metre distance, and above all they allow us to be understood by customers and colleagues alike. I have built a screen in front of the tills and these are working well. We also have more sanitiser there.

    We are still allowing only 3 customers in the shop at any one time. If you come in as a couple, we would ask you to stay together if there are other people in the shop. 

    We’ll be asking you to pay by card if possible and the floor is marked out to give you a guide on distancing.

    Our website shop remains open, alive and kicking.

    Kind regards

    Andrew Bluett-Duncan

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are pleased to say that we are operational, our website is open for you to place orders and we are dispatching at an unprecedented rate. Our incredible warehouse team have been working non stop to make sure we can still pick, pack and dispatch your orders as quickly as possible. As with most companies, we are operating with fewer staff than we normally would be, so we hope you understand that it may take a little longer than usual to answer your phone calls and respond to your emails.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

To make sure we can answer all customer queries as quickly as possible, please consider the following Frequently Asked Questions before contacting us:

When should I expect my order?
We are currently asking customer to refrain from calling us to chase up delivery dates for orders. This allows us to prioritise actually getting your goods out for delivery. Unfortunately we are not able to answer telephone queries at this time, though you can leave a voicemail message for us. This may, at times, mean that our response times are a little slower than usual but we would ask that you bear with us. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience, but please rest assured that all customer enquiries will be dealt with.

Our warehouse team is working hard to make sure that most products are dispatched within our standard lead time and many items are going out much quicker. Some items do have longer lead times due to our suppliers also working with fewer staff and taking longer to deliver to us.

Depending on whether you gave us your email address or mobile number when you placed your order, we will email or text you once items are dispatched and on the way. Your order confirmation will give you a 'worst case scenario' delivery date.

Why have we suspended taking telephone orders?
We are currently unable to take orders over the phone and so we ask all customers to visit https://aolcookshop.co.uk/ to place orders.

I received my order, but it was incomplete.

We do sometimes part ship orders to ensure the products arrive as quickly as possible. So if you receive a delivery and think something is missing, please check the delivery note as this will let you know what should be in the parcel and if there is anything to follow in future deliveries.

My delivery tracking shows my items have been delivered but I haven’t got them.
Our carriers are currently operating “Contact free” deliveries. If you receive confirmation that something has been delivered but haven’t received it, it’s worth checking around your property or in your designated safe place before contacting us.

Do you have plenty of stock?
In short, yes we do! We are constantly ordering more stock so that we can not only continue to fulfil orders as they are placed, but also reduce the amount of time you have to wait. However, a number of our suppliers have gone from delivering to us in 24 – 48 hours to 10 - 14 days and this, along with a spike in demand means that some items may be delayed, or temporarily unavailable.

I have another question or problem

We would like to assure you that we continue to be here if you need us. Like most of our customers, many of our staff are spending the vast majority of their time at home and we realise that cooking and baking are becoming a sanctuary. We are committed to making sure we do everything we can to continue to supply you with the best quality products at great value.

Please email info@artoflivingcookshop.co.uk.

Thank you for your continued custom and for your support and patience at this challenging time.

We really appreciate it and wish you all health and best wishes.

The Art of Living Team