These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


A couple of weeks ago it was Father’s Day. What did you do to celebrate the father in your life? If you have a living parent or if you are a parent what does this day mean to you each year?

This year, for me, it was a time to remember …

My father died 7 years ago, having lived a fairly long life (he was in his 90s), but what really brought the day home to me was that it fell on the same date that my mother died 33 years ago.

No mother, no father, but does that make me parent-less? I do miss them, but I’m used to being without them, especially my mother. I’m more used to not having a mother than having one! Odd, but true. My relationship to my father was not always easy. He was still there for me regardless of how I viewed him. He relied on me more as I grew older. I appreciate him the more I think about what he did for his whole family. Things do become clearer as you age. You see things that you didn’t see, or think about, before.

All that said …biology is not the only attribute to having or being a parent.

Now a parent myself, I feel the pain when my son is sad, be it the bullies at school, or the scratched knee falling from a bike, or the nightmares that just won’t go away – I’d willingly take them all. I know he needs his experiences but I want there to be more happy ones than sad ones for him.

Aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends have all helped to parent me. My thanks go out to them all as I remember …

Monday, 16 June 2008

Invisible world

As the light fades westwards the streets of commerce everywhere fill up with a different group of people. The suits and stilettos of the bright daylight hours now beat their way into their own familiar spaces. The image of the population alters.

The people of the night streets find a place, sometimes in plain view, to be still. They are as still as their anguish will allow. All day they have been on the move, being shuffled from one position to another, being as invisible as their current status in society has dictated. The cloak of this alternate identity is heavy. It brings no warmth or comfort.

The promise of the daylight returning again is alive in some of the hearts inhabiting the impossible locations. Still others drift into unconsciousness pleading for the darkness to keep them forever. There are signs etched in each body: repeated rejection, disgrace, fear, foolishness, greed, and bitterness. Each person has an individual burden to carry.

However, they hold few things in common, and with what energy remains they all, separately, colonize a small foothold on the world as they start another unknown sojourn in their one-night homes.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Honesty is a rare attribute today. And in line with being honest what I have in mind today is doing a ‘friend audit’. Sounds drastic, unnecessary? Wait and see how you feel in a few moments, then ask the same question …

Do you recall a time when a favourite pair of shoes broke and you had to get a replacement pair quickly, you know, just to do the job for the time being until you got a new pair, a pair that were the same and as good as the old trusted pair?
The comfort of those shoes was beyond question, that’s why they lasted so long.
The new ones are just a substitute. You don’t like them and have no plans to keep wearing them, but they’ll do for now. They’ll do until you discard them for what you really want.

Back to the friends audit …
Are there substitute people in your life today? People you don’t plan to keep, people you are just putting up with until the real person you are looking for shows up (for the first time, or comes back).
Is that a fair way to treat people? Is that their real value in your eyes.

Like the search for chocolate, gold and diamonds, people really do not settle for second best. They keep going until the real deal is present in their lives. You know the taste, feel, touch of the real friend. Don’t settle for any imitations.

Also, don’t allow yourself to be a substitute person in anyone else’s life. However they value you, you know your true worth.

Everything about you is valuable, and should be treated accordingly.

Be real.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Why do you matter to me?

Heather left the luxurious surrounding of the seminar room in the exclusive sanctum of Oxford University. High on the company she had just met and the ideas that now floated around her mind she made her way back along the ever-busy streets towards her parked car.

A young girl, sat in a doorway as she fed a large bone, mostly meatless bone to a grateful dog, caught her attention. Slowing her steps Heather reached into her handbag and rooted around for her purse. Pushing aside her phone and keys she retrieved it.

Chloe looked up at the woman who now stood besides her.
A warm smile passed between them.
“Hello. Just give me a minute,” Heather moved her credit cards aside as she searched for some change.
“Hi. No worries, I’m not going anywhere for now,” came the answer. The dog continued to lick the huge bone and to search for small pieces of meal on it.
“So, what are you doing out here?” Asked Heather.
Chloe laughed.
“I’ve just got this bone from the butcher’s for Jake, so I’m making sure he gets something to eat.”
She held the bone with one hand and stroked the dog’s head with her other one.
“Are you sleeping on the streets tonight?”
“I hope not, but…” again Chloe laughed a ironic laugh, a deep meaningful laugh that was hard to hear from a girl not yet in her twenties, “I’ve got a problem, or so they say.”
Heather looked down on the girl’s hair and clothes. She had obviously not been on the streets for too long. What was she rebelling against? Where was her family?
“Oh yeah? What’s that then?”
With a smile that came from her eyes as well as her mouth she said, “I’m not pregnant, I’m not on drugs and I have a dog. So all the places in the shelters have to go to the others as a priority.”
“What about the one on St. Michael’s Street?…Won’t they take you in? The Gap, I think.” Heather moved her hand around in her purse and selected more coins. She had just purchased two expensive books at the seminar and was initially thinking of only a small amount to give to this girl, but the longer she stood there the more she wanted to give.
“I’ve already been to all of them, you have to get there early to get a chance. But the one down by the ice rink, St David’s, the man there, he said that if I come back later, he’ll try to keep a place for me and Jake, so at least I’ve got a chance for tonight. So I’m just waiting for now.”

Suddenly feeling as if whatever she did would not make a difference a shyness enveloped Heather. But she fought it and held out the coins in her hand.
“I hope you don’t mind if I give you this…”
Wiping her hands on her clothes to remove the smell and touch of the bone Chloe looked up again.
“Don’t worry to do that,” Heather said quickly, “I don’t mind touching you.”
The laugh came again, but with more warmth.
“You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to have any physical contact with me. It’s as though if they touch me they’ll become like me. They look at me, throw a few coins in my direction and run away down the road. So, thanks, thanks a lot.”

Humanitarianism. The very word conjures up ideas of big corporations and aid projects.
Daily we have evidence that the businesses supply help to alleviate suffering to many worthy causes, and it is therefore necessary for these organizations to be present in the world today.

But why? Why do they exist in the first place? When did human generosity become a business? The individual duty to promote the welfare of other individuals has seemingly been lost, or buried under the mountain of selfishness and individual greed. Community interests seem to have died.

Humanity- how do we treat each other? In a loving, thoughtful, helpful, concerned, charitable, compassionate, gentle way?

See a human being today. Help another person.

Who can I help? Any person.

Remember, everyone is someone.

I am who I am because of who we all are.

Humanitarianism is big business. I’m also making it my business. Ubuntu.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Living the difference …

Living the difference …
Between theory and practice.

How many times have you both said and heard the phrase ‘Don’t make promises you can’t keep’?

Wise advice I think.

But what happens when you break a promise? How do you deal with the fallout of emotions from that? The guilt… the disappointment … the broken dreams …

I broke a promise recently, I’m usually faultless at keeping promises, and this one hurt a lot.
I broke a promise I made to myself. And then, now, I am paying for it, well, dealing with the after effects of the breach.

I felt like I let myself down, my last trustworthy porthole. Now what? If I can’t trust myself, who can I trust?

Sometimes, I have now found out, that we are harder on ourselves that we are on others. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it ’s ok to make a mistake. And more that that, it’s ok, and fair, to forgive yourself for that mistake.

I had no intention of breaking the promise to myself when I made it. That is the most important fact that I have to remember. The situation in which I had made the promise had changed and I made the best decision possible in the circumstances, and that meant a broken promise. So although I at first thought I had done a wrong thing I had in fact done the best thing for myself. So the guilt, the anger, the disappointment could all go without worry. Then I moved on to the next step.

I have forgiven myself because forgiveness means freedom.
Freedom from the guilt, from the disappointment, from the fear.

For years I have said the same to other people, that they need to give themselves a chance and not be so hard on themselves, but I am now starting to live the difference between theory and practice. I have applied the healing salve of forgiveness to myself and I feel better already.

I have the power to forgive myself, and I have freely done so.
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