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, 31 August 2010

What's the point again?

What’s the point again?

Sometimes I think it helps to ask “What’s the point?” especially when you are being drawn into a conflict or contest of wills that is not your concern. I really mean it when I try to find out exactly what is the point. I need to know what can be gained from entering into the dispute.

So when people start arguments I often ask this. What is their point?

Then if I choose to get engaged in it as well I ask myself “What is my point?” When I am clear about my intention for my deliberate action, and if it is worth it to me - right there, right then - I will continue. Otherwise I will leave it well alone.

Because there is no point.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

My Village Green

Welcome to my garden fence ...

Although this space is limited in some aspects – for example, we can’t lend sugar over this virtual garden fence - we can lend advice, links, share photos and find out about each other’s health; in this space we have different capabilities.

Before the technological age took us away from our small communities we had much more communication with other people – from our family to our friends and even strangers,

This garden fence can also help us to indulge in the great British obsession of talking about the weather ... or least knowing what the weather is like in each “garden” that we inhabit or visit.

We need this garden fence to keep in touch with each other. This has become our social lifeline and to some people it is essential to their psychological and social well-being. It is an important and valuable therapeutic activity to link us to each other. Without the contact that we gain from using our internet and text “garden fences” we could become isolated and totally lose our sense of belonging to any type of community.

Facebook, as a primary social networking site, is akin to the old village-green. Here is the place that we have those casual conversations and we can do a quick catch up on what’s going on with each other on our way to another place. Like the pubs and cafes in soap-operas Facebook is the place where we get up-to-date on gossip.

Gossip is not a bad thing - it is healthy for us to share. In this modern technological way we can become firmly joined to our new and virtual village; this contact restores our sense of community and gives us that vital connection to others. It can help to relieve the pressures of life and the sense of isolation. In the 21st century our lives are moving as fast as the technology that we use and therefore we can become socially isolated as we strive to exist in an increasingly fragmented society.

The use of texts and the social-networking sites have extended the contact from the garden fence to the worldwide village-green.

I like to pass through every so often and it’s nice to share some time here with you. I’ll see you again soon.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Health issues

I have a health issue that will be with me forever. There is no way it will get better or stop affecting my everyday life. It is part of my existence. I have had to accept that.
When I say get better what I really mean is that there is no way that the condition will go away. It also will not get any worse, unless something in my routine changes. And that’s exactly what happened at the beginning of this year. Something changed.
My doctors were unsure that the medication that I have been on for several years was still effective so they thought that it would be a good idea if I stopped taking it. After all I had become a woman of a certain age and they presumed that changes were afoot in my body. Willing to be guided by the professionals I concurred. I was wrong.
Within a week I felt odd. My whole body was behaving in a different way. My moods were altering as I experienced the withdrawal symptoms from medication that had been balancing my life for the past three decades. I tried to manage my days but it became harder to focus. I lost my ability to concentrate and tears were always available for the slightest of reasons.
After a while I had forgotten that I was once on the medication. I had forgotten that I was now off the medication. All I knew was that each day I woke up and tried to get through the next minute without forgetting that I had responsibilities to take care of.
All I wanted to do was to sleep and cry. Oh yes, and to eat. I really wanted to eat. All the time. As soon as I woke up I felt I needed to eat.
Eating became my replacement drug. I was never full or I was always hungry – even when I had just finished eating a full meal. I have an odd relationship with food and even as the constant grazing was saturating my mind I hated what was happening. I was drowning in food. I could no longer think.
This was another factor in my new life that didn’t make any sense.
But because I couldn’t think straight then I couldn’t do anything about it.
There were weeks within the period when I was exiled from my normality that I saw a glimpse of what was happening, it was at these times that I began to exercise obsessively, I behaved like it was the only thing that could keep my head clear. I spent hours each day doing punishing routines and trying to sweat the fog away from my mind.
For the duration of my exercise time and for a few brief moment after I had finished my workout my mind was clear and this gave me a new high, something that I tried to repeat each day. And I did, until I became too tired to exercise. Then I gave in to what I saw as the inevitable decline. I allowed the television and food to become my constant companions. The only deviation to help my mind was the occasional game of online Scrabble.
Scrabble kept me sane. I know that now.
The words that I made on the Scrabble board were the only link to my former world that was filled with words each day. I needed Scrabble to hold on to my past and to take me back to my future.
After four months in the mire of uncertainty I decided to go to my GP, not the oh-so-wise-consultants that had taken me off my medication, and I asked for a blood test to ascertain what was going on in my body. I could feel the changes but I could not identify them exactly without some medical assistance.
The day the results were due back I rang the receptionist at the GPs and she read some of the results to me then there was a long hesitation before she put me on hold. After an interminable wait to mind-numbing music she came back on the line and said that certain numbers were unusual so she had just been to talk to my GP to check.
I wanted to know what they were; she didn’t want to tell me. I pressed her for the answer until she revealed the figures to me. She added, as some kind of vain assurance, “The doctor said that the figures are normal ... for you.” My numbers had changed by about 800% but they wanted me to remain without medication as the trial period still had about six weeks left to run.
I was not happy.
In addition, not surprisingly, my body was expanding. My clothes were tighter and everything was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable from the inside out.
I was not happy.
I cried. Often. Alone.
I was scared.
In the day time I smiled when I could and I carried on, my son needed me to be there for him. I put all my energies into that alone. I could not let him down: this one thing I knew.
After another month of sinking I reached rock bottom. I called the GPs and made an appointment. I decided that enough was enough.
I had noticed more physical changes in me that meant dormant issues were now active again. It was time to put a stop to this experiment with my life.
I arranged for another blood test and by the next week I had the results. They showed that the numbers were now another 300% higher than at the last reading; since I was taken off the medication my levels had risen by around 1100%. I laughed.
There was no humour in my laughter yet I laughed.
I laughed because I knew. I had felt it happening. It had been like the slowly deepening darkness on a winter’s evening.
I was now at midnight.
Since I have resumed the medication it appears that the dawn is beginning to break somewhere over the horizon ... but my night was so settled I know the day will take time to arrive.
My body has to get used to the medication again so I am experiencing a whole different range of tolerance issues. However, I am looking forward to the sunshine. I can tolerate these changes because I know at the end of this journey I will see the smooth sands and experience the peaceful sound of gentle waves in my life. The storm is passing. The fear is now subsiding. I can see the clouds changing from the darkest indigo into a peaceful shade that is merely a curtain to my new day.
This is a change I am embracing.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Usain Bolt's feet

Sure-footed. Feet first. Put your best foot forward.

Phrases that bring steadiness of progress to mind. They remind us of times when we are unlikely to slip, stumble or fall. Being stable on our feet means that there is a steadiness that is not subject to alteration or deviation. This steadiness is based on having focus on a goal. Focus brings out the capability that is often hidden within and progress increases the confidence.

Babies crawl before they walk. Then they are called toddlers. They move from the first stage of life to the next – once they begin to ‘find their feet’. Babies know that they want to move faster and more independently, and they invariably manage it with great confidence in themselves. They may achieve their goal on the first attempt but if they do not that does not deter them; babies keep on trying until they become the Usain Bolt of their own lives.

Sometimes on our way through life we stumble and fall. We lose our footing. We become disorientated and confused. At times we may feel unable to get up again. We feel lost.

When we lose our way, we have to start again – somehow. Although we have fallen we cannot stay down. We have to get up and move on. The fall may have brought on some confusion

One way might be for a few moments to focus all our attention on our feet. If we concentrate on our feet we will know exactly where we stand right now. If we can took down and feel secure after that we can look up and move forwards with assurance.

I need to get my bearings and having my feet on solid ground is the starting point. There is the old cliché to remember that every journey begins with the first step: it is true. Knowing that there aren’t physically limitations to prevent you from moving forward is important for some people before they actually make a move.

Falling is not usually a onetime occurrence. I may slip again – and that will also be OK. I can find my way, again. I just need to find my feet first and then focus on the goal ahead.

By putting in an effort that surpasses all others I am ‘putting my best foot forward’ in my life journey and I hope that I will remain as sure-footed as a mountain goat.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?
My surname, aka family name, is not my family name it is my father’s name. He was not the whole of the family, he was the patriarch of the family and he loved the power of ruling over us all. My mother’s name is different; she always kept her mother’s name as well as her father’s name – it was important for her. It is important to me. I remember her explaining all the initials in her name as she recounted her relationship connections. My mother understood the importance of connections.
I have two names that I use regularly: my given name and a combination of a personally chosen mix of my birth names and my mother’s names. I still use the latter, with my mother’s name included, on important things, things that I want to last beyond my time on this planet. My given name is important to me and I had the opportunity to permanently change it but I did not. I did not want something borrowed ...
Since that time I have consider changing it, willingly, because of a different relationship - with myself. It is strange how something can be so precious to you when you are not secure in yourself but not at all important when other factors, like love, are in the mix. (I almost wrote ‘true love’ but there is no other type of love that I can think of...)
So, what is really in a name?
To me it’s an identity, but above and beyond that it’s recognition of a love relationship. A love relationship with the person who named you – whether this is as a child or as an adult. Naming is about a sense of belonging.
My son loves his new name because he says he likes being like me. Having my name, he says, means “I am you, too.”
What’s in a name? Identity ... and love.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Light is hope

Despair is like a blanket covering the present and the future.

In moments of utter helplessness we can neither move or think, then a pinprick of light appears and we feel safe because we can see hope.

The smallest amount of light can alter a journey. It is different for everybody. Then we move from stumbling about in wretchedness to focussing on the way forward in a split second.

Sometimes we just need to move our vision by a few degrees to perceive the light.

It is there.

Sometimes we just need to open our eyes because our eyes can adjust to our environment and we will see that it is not really as dark as we thought it was.

We can see ... something.

Closing our eyes is like deepening the darkness.

The lighthouse is there. It is always there.

We have to keep looking for the light.

Once we have discerned the rescue point ahead, we can begin our gentle movement towards the next part our journey.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Architects and Interior Designers

Architects conceive and create the most amazing structures. All around us we have evidence of magnificent constructions that have emerged from their ideas; they range from bungalows to mansions, chapels to cathedrals, from country roads to super-highways.

Each is individual and wonderful as itself.

Each of us also has a starting point, a blueprint that we can adjust. We make changes each and every day.

We are all architects.

Every single person is the architect of their own life.

We are also interior designers.

We decide how to fill our lives. We choose the content of each day.

Our lives, as with newly constructed buildings, are like empty rooms. They are without character and purpose until we decide what colour to use, what furniture to fill them with, and what identity to bestow on them.

The canvas is in your mind. You direct the process and the progress. Enjoy your creation today J

Monday, 9 August 2010

Shore leave is over

Sometimes we are reluctant to make a change because everything is not ‘just so’. We reason that we need to prepare A, B, C all the way to Z before we can start on the way towards our dream.

These are the excuses that we all often use that stops us from fulfilling our individual dreams. “The time isn’t right, everything is not in place. I need to do this first ... That needs to happen before I can start ... I’m waiting for ...”

Now, some of these reasons may well be valid but it is my belief that the majority of them are excuses. Excuses that are created from that place of fear that lives inside of us. That place where the seed of doubt has taken root and where, on these occasions, we allow the lack of belief in ourselves to grow.

Sailors who want to reach another shore still have to get in the boat and leave the relative safety of dry land even though they are not assured of the weather ahead of them; they learn to read the signs of the sea and the sky and they adjust the resources that they have with them to use the wind and the waves around them to their best advantage. If the wind is not moving your sails in the right direction you can always use your oars. Different tools in life develop different muscles. Sometimes what looks like it may be working against us may well be helping to manoeuvre us into the position we need to be in. It is possible to make headway in the most inhospitable climates. This is not the time, like some sailors of old, to desert our dreams and revel in the distracting excesses of a secondary life. This is not the time to take a leave of absence from our dreams.

It is time to be the wind and the oars in your own life. Choose your own life course, do not allow yourself to drift into something that you do not like, do not want, and will never enjoy.

If your dream lies on the high seas then shore leave must end now.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Open Heart

Warning *** This is not a short ‘normal sized’ blog entry *** (for the shortened version please go to this blog at Happy Every Day)
I saw a man’s heart today. Well, not literally, but metaphorically.
I had regularly been talking to a fairly new acquaintance on my morning walk and he was telling me about the neighbourhood – he lives a few streets away from me. Phil has lived in the town all his life but in this particular area for less than ten years. I still feel like a newcomer in my street although I have lived in the same location for fourteen years now. This is because most of my neighbours have lived in the street for around fifty years. The ones who I now regard as friends in the area have seen the real changes in the community over several decades. They have watched as their older friends have moved on – whether through choice to stay with family or because their life time has run out.
Phil spoke of the way he used to be part of the neighbourhood watch scheme in his old community and how difficult it was to get people to talk to about anything. He laughed as he said that for most of his life he only really spoke in depth to about three people in the previous neighbourhood and now he stops and talks to so many different people each day.
‘I’ve got one real friend from over there,’ he said as he pointed beyond the fields with his stick. ‘He helps me out, you know, he does a bit this and that for me, you know, a bit of painting and the like.’
‘That’s nice,’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ he replied, ‘but we do stuff for each other you know, it’s like that. We help each other out. I’ll do something for him,’ he gestured vaguely in the air as if describing a particular task, ‘and he’ll do the next thing for me. We’ve been like that for years,’ he smiled to himself as he recalled the intervening years between his youth and his current age. I stood there quietly as I was excluded from his memories.
‘My mate, Jack,’ he continued, ‘he was helping me to put the guttering up before the rain came a few days ago, yeah he was helping and the wife was going to do the painting just where the water butt was going to be, and Jack said “I’ll do that,” – see, he’s kind like that, and before you knew it he’d done the whole of the side wall, not just where the butt was going. That really saved the wife some time. He did a good job, too.’
‘That’s kind,’ I said, ‘he saved your wife some work. It’s nice to have friends like that.’
‘Oh, she likes to do it, but he was just offering like, so she said “yes, thanks.” And then he did the whole thing. And blow me down, if after we rushed to get it all done before the rain came, like the forecast said, if it didn’t stay dry! You can never trust those forecasters you know.’ He laughed at his own observation.
I started to say something but he had more to tell me so I swallowed the thoughts and words that were about to flow from my lips.
It was evident that this morning all I had to do in this conversation was to listen and acknowledge his story at the right points to give him the encouragement to continue. Phil had greeted me with the observation that this was the last morning for a while that our paths would cross as the school holidays were about to start. I walk my son to the school bus stop and then usually meet Phil on my return journey home. He’d been enquiring about the end of term for a few weeks now. I think I’ll miss him and his dog Jasper as well over the summer break.
My attention was taken from my personal thoughts back to Phil as he explain that this was the first time he had done the guttering since they’d moved into the house five years previously. Although they’d only been living there for such a short time he was obviously pleased with the move. I soon understood why.
‘It’s been in the family for years,’ he commented, ‘the wife’s family. The house has been in her family for years. But it was a bit run down and after her old dad had died it kind of just got left alone and went to ruins a bit you see ...’ his voice trailed off a bit but his blue eyes were still sparkling as he thought about what he was going to say next.
‘Oh,’ I murmured, ‘that’s sad.’
‘I’ll tell you what,’ he said brightly, ‘it was really sad to see the wife each time we went round to her old dad’s house, the last time we went, before we put it on the market, she was sat outside the house in the car like and said “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back in there again, or come back to this street. It hurts too much. There are too many memories in there.” Then she cried and handed me all the keys.’
‘Oh dear, that’s sad. Poor thing.’ I offered my sympathy, ‘ How long did her family live there?’ I questioned.
‘Ah, um ... well,’ he hesitated while he thought, ‘it was her dad’s and his dad’s before that so they’ve been there for a long, long time. That was their family home if you know what I mean. But it got a bit run down and all so the offers from the estate agents were a bit silly.’
‘What were they offering – if you don’t mind me asking ...’
‘No, that’s all right. It was about £60,000.’
‘When was that? Was it recent? Because I know the market has been changing a lot recently but that sounds ridiculous ...’
‘Oh, that were about seven years ago.’
‘That was a rip off offer!’ I exclaimed.
‘I know, we turned it down immediately. Cheeky sods. It just upset the wife even more to hear that. Anyway, I was sitting at home, you know, over there in Jimmy’s End,’ he used his stick to point again, this time I had to duck out of the way as he had obviously misjudged the distance between us.
‘Oops,’ I moved backwards and smiled nervously as the stick returned to the ground. Jasper jumped a bit as the stick thumped the ground beside him. The dog had stood quietly all through the conversation. The occasional pat or extended leg to knee him out of the way when people were walking close by on the path were the only forms of contact that he had from either of us.
‘I was just sitting there one evening,’ he shifted his focus from the fields back to me, ‘and I turned to the wife and said “How’d you feel if we moved into your dad’s old house?” I tell you, she just looked at me and started to cry. “Do you mean it?” she asked me. Of course I said I did and that was that. We decided to move.’
I smiled from the inside.
‘That was the perfect act of love. I’m sure your wife really appreciates it.’ I commented with pleasure.
‘I guess it was,’ he agreed shyly. I believe he was starting to blush. He lowered his eyes for the first time since we had met that morning. He was thinking deeply.
After a few quiet moments he spoke again, this time with a hint of loving pride to his voice. ‘Yes, I guess it was,’ he repeated quietly.
‘It made the wife happy, so I just did it. It didn’t matter to me where we lived, so that was that.’ Again he paused, then after a deep breath he picked up his old tone again and said brightly, ‘You know, although it was in a state and we had to move in quickly like, because our old house was sold, well, it only took a few years to get it all sorted out. I just thought it’d be nice for her.’
Then Phil turned directly to me and said, ‘Anyway, I shouldn’t really be here you know.’
‘Why’s that?’ I questioned curiously. I couldn’t imagine what he was going to say next.
That’s when he shocked me. You see I’m not a prude but I don’t make a habit of looking at men’s bodies, especially on the street. I was standing there on the side street with a man and a dog and the man, Phil, had just pulled up his top and revealed his chest to me.
‘I had a major heart bypass 17 years ago, here – look at my scar,’ he put the stick under his arm and nearly hit me again in the process. I looked in double shock at his bare chest. The first shock was the bare chest and that he had uncovered himself in front of me on the street, the second shock was the impact of seeing the long, thick snake-like scar like a dark burn mark right there on his body. I was dumbstruck.
When I recovered the power of speech I said ‘Wow!’ Then I said it again, ‘Wow...’
While I was trying to take in the immensity of what I had just seen and heard Phil carried on speaking, ‘They told me that I had three months to live, that was 17 years ago, three months, that’s all. If I didn’t have the surgery I’d be a goner now. So, I shouldn’t really be here. Thick arteries they said. My old dad died young from it too. He didn’t make it to 50. Hereditary they said. The blood couldn’t get through right, something like that. Anyway, it was going to kill me in a few months they said.’
He had pulled his top down again but in my mind’s eye I could still see the scar travelling down his chest. I shivered and said a prayer of thanks. I was amazed by this man. We had been talking for months and I would never have known that he had been through such a major operation. He was always so bright and smiling with everyone. If I didn’t meet him at the right time in the morning then we’d miss our chats as he’d be talking with someone else along the way. He always had someone to talk to and something to talk about. This happy man was obviously glad to be alive – every day.
Phil told me his age before we departed, I’d guessed him to be in his late 50s but he was just a couple of weeks short of his 69th birthday. That made him happy as well. With pleasure shared we said goodbye for the summer holidays.
As I walked away I turned back to Phil and said ‘You have a great heart,’ I smiled at him.
‘Thank you,’ he said. He smiled back and raised his stick skywards in a friendly wave over his shoulder as he walked his patient dog Jasper towards the park for their regular exercise.
As I walked home I was thoughtful about how I’d just seen a man’s heart. Although I had not seen his literal heart I did still see his scars on his chest. But the heart I saw first was the loving heart of kindness. What a blessed gift.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Why blog?

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page a few weeks ago and it made me think about why I blog.

I’ve always written my thoughts down as far back as I can remember I’ve been writing.

But after laughing about it, then worrying for a nanosecond in case it was true, I have been doing the usual amount of writing and putting more of it onto my blogs. So that picture has been an incentive to keep going, to keep sharing my thoughts. The main reason is because I know it’s not necessarily true as I do have friends ... I’m sure I do.

Just need to get away from the computer and find them ...

I’ll be right back.

(But I’m just going to check Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter before I go.)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Three (3) (III)

Three is the first odd prime number. Three is my number. It is odd, as I am. I am in my prime, so I am often reminded. Those are a couple of the reasons why I have a close affinity with this digit. Three is also the number of adult relationships that I have had. Three is my comfort level.

I identify with three.

In the history of the world the number three has recurred numerous times and it is part of many religions and myths; Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists all have concepts of a trinity.

Three is a huge part of my story, both as a Christian and as a woman. Three represents my adult life. It has three major parts – these have not always corresponded with the relationships I have had. They are my childhood, independent living and motherhood.

Being a mother really changes you. It has to. It makes you into three distinct personalities: nurturer, protector and disciplinarian. Like a Venn diagram these all co-exist, sometimes happily. The person that I am most of the time is somewhere in the centre of these three roles.

This month, August 2010, has a special significance for me, and yes, it is related to the number three. It is an anniversary; one that I alone celebrate. Three years ago, for the first time, I felt the reality of being loved. That may sound overly dramatic but I will never downplay it because it was extremely life changing. In one moment I knew I had received the genuine deep affection just because I was me, not for anything the person giving the gift could gain but simply because they cared for me as I was in that precise moment. It literally shocked me awake from my comatosed state of existence.

In the intervening three years I have separated from my partner of over ten years, whom sadly I know I never really loved; I have been free to love and travel to my love – I regrettably left my heart across a foreign border; I have since found happiness when and where I least expected it. I am now at peace with my heart.

This year was the time when I had planned to be reunited with the one person who I will never forget, but bad decisions made in the intervening years now mean that that door is closed and I can never reopen it because of my respect and love for her and myself - I have to leave the past alone.

An interesting fact to remember is that while you are procrastinating the likelihood is that others are moving forwards and you will never synchronise again.

I know that there always comes a time, a time of growth, when you become uncomfortable, when you are growing. Because things are changing within then the outward movement also has to make adjustments, just like a baby learning to move from crawling to walking – there are sometime a few falls before the steps gain some steadiness.

I believe that this anniversary month, a month of so many good and treasured memories may well be the month when I finally move through my uncomfortable stage at the edge of three and veer away from the fading past familiarity.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


People wear t-shirts emblazoned with the image or the slogan of whatever they are promoting, or what they think is amusing. You see them everywhere. T-shirts with people or products on them. Promoting someone or something. It may be the child-like games character or the symbol of a multi-national company. The space is used for a sign of some kind of devotion. There is intense competition for advertising space – everywhere. Even on our bodies. We are advertising ourselves all the time.

When I wear my t-shirt with the words ‘Jesus, Hope for Tomorrow’ on it I get pitying looks. At first I was not totally conscious of the looks then I began to notice that I was getting those double take looks that people do when they don’t quite believe what they have seen. The eyes were on my t-shirt. The glances re-read the words then took me in. Disbelief settled in their eyes. It is as if people have investigated the truth behind the story of Jesus and have decided that it is a myth, a joke, nothing to take seriously. The sadness is palpable. Sometimes it is open disgust.

When I wear t-shirts with other graphics or symbols on them I see people look, smile or nod appreciatively but this never happens when Jesus is up front. Jesus is not a popular name to say in serious conversations or public places. Jesus has become the butt of all jokes. His name is used regularly, but mainly as a swear word.

In the 21st century Jesus has become the anti-hero in the world. He is no longer held in high regard.

The world has a new hero. Superman is the hero. Any superman. In fact, any superhero.

Superheroes are the devil’s plan to make sure people don’t believe in Christ Jesus.

Superheroes are the anti-Christ.

Because people do not really believe in superheroes - and they are part of the fabric of everyday life - then it is becomes more likely that people will grow in disbelief when faced with the reality of the life and powers of Christ.

Superheroes were conceived to make the real Hero unbelievable.

Even sweets are heroic!

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