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.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Never Married? Oh!


I recently overheard these words that were part of an animated conversation. A third party was being described as ‘never married’ and the response came back, “Oh!”

It was this small word that signified so much.

“Oh – she’s a loser!”

“Oh – so she’ll be an old maid.”

“Oh – so no one wanted her, right?”

“Oh – what’s wrong with her?”

“Oh – she must be ugly.”

“Oh – if she is still single there must be some good reason or justification, something that is her fault.”

“Oh – she’s never known love.”

The list of assumptions did not need to be vocalised in this particular occasion as the three people in the conversation knew exactly - as was shown by the solemn acceptance of his response - what he was talking about. His meaning was crystal clear.

The stigma of never being married still persists in the 21st century. The person passing society’s judgement was not asking why the woman had stayed single, he presumed because ... he could. His presumption was not questioned either.

As the conversation continued I wondered if this man had even paused to think that the woman in question may have chosen to stay single, may be waiting to get married, may be in a committed partnership that is not public knowledge, may be unable to marry ... for legal or political reasons. Or did he just know – taking on the world view that women of a certain age should be married and those that weren’t were somehow drawing unnecessary attention to themselves and their ‘problems’.

As the conversation progressed it became more apparent that he would have been more comfortable if she had been married and then divorced rather than not married at all. This ‘always single’ status made him severely uncomfortable.

“Oh!” he said again. And immediately displaced the woman from the centre of society. She was highly visible because of her difference in status but there was also a need to make her invisible as well. Most societies signify marriage as a contract between a man and a woman that builds family relationships; these relationships are deemed the bedrock of society (just a casual look at statistics will prove this assumption to be based on sinking sand), however, the majority of people still hold on to the idea that all heterosexual marriages bring stability to society and communities as an unassailable truth (again, look at the facts). This woman was painted as a pariah in society - divorcees were more welcomed.

Although he was not talking about me – he could have been. I guess I am one of those women who will never fit in to this man’s world view but that does not mean that I am unhappy with my single status or that I have never had any wonderful relationships.

Never Married? Oh! ... Just because my personal and social status does not fit into this narrow description does not mean that I am any less a person than a married woman, and it especially does not mean that I have never known love ...

Other ‘never married’ women:

Queen Elizabeth I

Mother Teresa

Emily Bronte

Christina Rossetti

Gertrude Bell

Jane Austen

Emily Dickinson

Octavia Butler

Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Where there's a will ...


... there’s a way. But there are also other things as well.
I’ve just signed my last will and testament. So now it is legal and binding. The two witnesses were solemn and professional in their duties and my will is sealed for after my death. That sounds sombre but it is necessary.
When you have specific requirements and you know that people don’t agree with your point of views in life, it is not unrealistic to believe that they will not agree with you when you are dead. Hence another good reason to make a will.
This is not the first will that I have made, however, it is a new will to respect my current situation, my family and my future desires for my family. My extended family have their views, but the law is the law so they have to adhere to the details of my will ... at least I’m hoping so. You often hear about people contesting wills, but my estate will not be worth much, my only value is in my son and what happens to him. So I have updated my will.
As I left the solicitors office I felt more emotional than I had on all previous occasions of will making. This is a serious matter and I really experienced that today. The details of this will have been in place for some months, but signing it has made it real.
I shook hands with my young and genial solicitor who assured me that this was the correct thing to do to avoid problems in the future.
“It’s just one of the facts of life that we have to deal with,” she said calmly.
I nodded because I had already explained my emotional state and didn’t feel able to add any more words to the conversation without coating them with tears. Walking back to the car park in the bright sunshine I held the copy of the will in my hand and exhaled.
Where there is a will ... there are emotions.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Slow motion


Have you ever been so tired that the day seems to move in slow motion? Well, what I really mean is that you move in slow motion and the day carries on at the normal speed that to your tired brain seems like a high speed train.

I had one of those days.

Even after I had ‘caught up’ on my sleep with a power nap I still felt as if I was wading through porridge with full scuba diving gear on; the flippers were especially hard to move. My legs felt like lead for most of the day. I’m sure my brain was sending the correct messages to all of my limbs but they just weren’t responding as I expected them to.

And then, a miracle happened! Hours after my 40 winks I was suddenly alert again. It was like being in a plane surrounded by fog and flying through it into bright sunshine; it was as if I had a sudden caffeine boost (but I’ve never had coffee so I’m only guessing here). I was, of course, pleased to feel in full control – at the correct speed – of my faculties. The only thing was ... it was nearing my bedtime! Ah, the vagaries of the body.

I think I’d best start treating my body better again because this pease pudding living is like constantly existing in slow motion – it’s definitely not for me.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Confused?



We all look for understanding from others but sometimes they are not willing to even try to understand us.

It’s at times like this that I remember what a counsellor once said to me, “It’s not your confusion, it’s theirs. It’s best to leave them with their confusion.”

And you know what? It really works! Try it for yourself.

This one’s on me.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Running (wo)man


Jade sat at the side of the road and slowly undid the laces of her worn out shoes. Painfully pulling them free from her feet she turned them over in her hands and she saw holes in the sole.

“That’s why it hurt so much,” she thought, “because my sole had gone.”

Jade had been running for years because she thought she had to. She was doing what she was taught was right. She didn’t know anything else. So for years she had been chasing a shadow that could never be caught. Exhausted, Jade dropped the badly worn running shoes to the dusty ground. A cloud of dirt and smoke rose to greet her. She coughed and turned around to avoid the swirls of dust.

It was then that she looked up and saw a beautiful jewel filled city. The gems were of different colours and sizes and they were fixed in that space. They glinted in the sunlight. Jade shaded her eyes as she peered towards them.

In her life she had become used to shifting mirages so doubt filled her mind as she looked towards the bright lights. Nevertheless, shifting her weight forwards Jade attempted to stand.

Her feet really hurt. And her sole was almost torn to shreds.

“How did I never notice the pain?” she mused to herself. “Will I even be able to walk now?”

One painful step at a time Jade moved towards the city of gems. To her surprise it didn’t disappear or get smaller as she approached. The ground appeared to be cushioned as she repeated her steps in the new direction. Walking barefoot was a newfound freedom.

The discarded shoes were soon blown away by the desert wind.


The story goes that the shoes came to rest in the crevice of a hill many moons away where they were found one day by the dream Jade had been chasing. It was many years later that they had even noticed that their constant shadow was gone, so they turned back but it was too late for them, the only thing they found on their search was a pair of shoes with a worn out sole.

In the meantime Jade had settled into her new city life and found a gem that suited her. It wasn’t long that she even forgot about the times when she was forever running and chasing something that was trying to shake her off.

Her soul is healing now.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Fringes of behaviour



Here’s a perfectly random question. Why don’t more boys have fringes? And what is the purpose of a fringe? But wait, let me explain why I’m asking it.

I was sat observing a group of boys and girls, they looked pretty similar as they were dressed in a uniform of black trousers and white shirt or blouse. Then I took to looking at their hairstyles while we all waited for a scheduled event to begin.

The girls’ hair was an array of colour, twists, plaits, flicks and lots and lots of fringes. The fringes were so varied: some were the traditional straight down cut just above the eyebrow type of fringe, others were off-centre parting swept behind the opposite ear style and still others defy description. Suffice it to say they fell in the broad category of fringe.

Here is a dictionary definition of a fringe: a border of hair that is cut short and hangs across the forehead.

Then I glanced at a boy. He was walking away from the stage and I saw that he had a short back and sides haircut that looked very smart, then he turned back and he had curtains of hair across his eyes at fascinating geometrical angles that seemed to defy gravity without the use of gel. I was awe struck. He was beautiful, the style suited him. As this vision of intrigue moved before me I saw yet another candidate that sought to defy the dictionary definition of a fringe. The boy wearing it had relatively short hair on one side but, in a variation on the traditional comb-over, he manipulated his luscious ebony locks from behind his left ear to just over his right eyebrow in a forty-five degree angle taper.


It was at this point that I began to question why I hadn’t noticed the lack of fringed boys before. The way these two boys created and styles their hair was just magnificent. They swaggered with style. They were confident and ebullient in every movement.

Switching back to the fringed girls I noticed that they all appeared to bend forwards rather than throw their heads back in the self-assured manner of the boys. My brief (unscientific) observation led me to conclude that boys with fringes are more extroverted while girls similarly adorned appear more reserved. The un-fringed girls behaved more like the fringed boys.

So, the result of this social questioning is another set of questions: why do girls use fringes to hide themselves and why are fringed boys like peacocks?

Of course, P!nk is the exception to this rule!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Walnut lives




I am a criminal.

Before you send the boys in blue to my doorstep let me explain what I mean because you’ll probably have to call them to get you as well. You see, you are implicated in my crime; you are an accessory after the fact.

The reason I say this is that crime is never a one-man job. It is an event that affects several lives. Each crime is like cracking open a walnut with a hammer. Every single piece of the walnut has the potential to feel what has happened.


But you may decide that I haven’t committed a crime after all, so there won’t be any need for officials to come and get me and swing lights in my face to extract a confession to my dark deeds. I guess I’d better clarify what a crime is because there are many different definitions of a crime.

Crimes can be seen as acts that are against the law or they are deemed to be acts that are against the moral code. This means that crimes are not fixed in nature. According to some societies things I do daily would be considered a crime. But if I don’t consider them a crime am I guilty? Questionable point I’m sure you’ll agree.

The truth is crime is relative to those defining criminality. Regardless of the source of the definition it is universally agreed that each crime still has a ripple effect.

Back to my criminal activities. I’m sure you want to know how I breach either the national or moral laws. I’ll get to that in a moment ... maybe (now I’ve started to open up I’m not sure I want this to be ‘used in evidence against me!’).

So instead I’ll give an example of another possibly ‘unrelated to me’ crime I think will prove my point.

Here goes: I am aware of adult people who are in love with each other. (OK, you may be wondering where this is leading - just hang on for a few minutes we’ll get there.) These people have been together for many years, they have a home together and they share time with each other. (They may or may not have children.) They have a deep emotional connection and understanding of each other. They support and comfort each other through the highs and lows of daily life. Anyway, this is the scene. Can you see how criminally negligent these two people are?

No?

OK. I’ll give you another example to clarify it somewhat.

I am aware of adult people who are in love with each other. (Are you wondering if this is duplicated from above? Well spotted, Sherlock.) These people have been together for many years, they have a home together and they share time with each other. (They may or may not have children.) They have a deep emotional connection and understanding of each other. They support and comfort each other through the highs and lows of daily life. Anyway, this is the scene. Can you see how criminally negligent these two people are?

Again you answer no. Given the evidence I am not surprised by your response.

The situations are the same but one couple is deemed criminal because they are the same. Two women who love each other or two men who love each other. These people (let’s not forget that they are loving each other, being each other’s companion, friend and confidant) have been judged to be breaking a moral or national law because of their innate capacity to love another adult human being.

One couple in my identical examples is commended for its ability to love, the other couple is condemned. This is where the crime exists I think, not in the love but in blindness in the face of reason and facts.

And if I was on any jury selected to rule on either of these cases I would have to cast my vote in favour of allowing both couples to live their lives of love in peace.

Alas (or rather I should say, fortunately), I am not the one doing any judging on the freedom of love.

It’s at times like this that I think ‘would the decision be the same if the situation was reversed’? Would the outcome be the same if the people making the judgement were the majority instead of the minority?

Those who are morally branded criminals because of their love are constantly under the same stress as the innocent walnut; it is just a walnut, that’s its nature.

However, the external pressure of society breaks through the shell of the walnut as if it had been bashed with a hammer. The pieces fly in all directions and some bits are damaged beyond repair. For the pieces that do survive they have to exist in a angst filled environment, never knowing what is going to happen next. The person doing the damage is also affected by their actions of condemnation and attempted destruction. The ripples of this crime will continue to flow outwards.

This may be a familiar or alien example to you. However, I’m sure you can think of a situation in your own life when you feel intensely under pressure and, although you are right in what you are doing others may make you feel as if you are wrong. This always causes stress.

So, I’m suggesting that one of the things you can do when the stress of being a cracked walnut makes your life break into fragments that ... you actually eat walnuts. Walnuts really help to relieve stress despite the pressure they are put under. Then you can just continue being yourself and I believe you will prove to be the greatest benefit to yourself and others at this time. You see, no matter what state they are in walnuts always give benefits.

It is my opinion that just because someone calls you a criminal doesn’t make it true.: especially where love is concerned.

But according to some definitions I am a criminal because I believe in allowing people to love each other naturally. Bring on the handcuffs ...

Monday, 21 March 2011

It's natural ...



I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that what I was feeling wasn’t right. I had many people tell me that same fact. I tried to believe they were right because it would make things easier – for them. But ... my feelings never went away. I still feel the same. After all this time of trying to bury my feelings, deny or change them I still feel exactly the same.

I eventually got to the point where I started allow myself to realise that my feelings are natural. So, here today I can proudly proclaim ‘I love you,’ no matter what others tell me about unsuitability. I can declare my love for you because I am also able to love myself and I want what's best for me.

After all, it’s only natural for me.

Clear vision



I have worn glasses since I was a teenager. I didn’t have any choice in what they looked like until I started full-time working at the age of seventeen. Then given the freedom I began to follow the fashion of the day – whatever it was, you see I wanted to fit in. I took advice and I tried to go my own way too. I bought brightly coloured large framed glasses, dark frames, small frames, I was guided by that invisible (but over powering) hand of ‘common fashion’. The style of the masses was appealing as I desperately wanted to fit in.

It wasn’t until my third decade of life that I really knew and accepted my own true identity and style. And then things changed in all areas.

My vision changed completely.

Looking at my range of eyewear – from prescription glasses to sunglasses, I realised how important it is to see and be seen. The way I’m seen is a part of my choice of how I display my identity from my hair to my footwear.

My glasses (or contact lenses) are an intricate part of how I want things to appear to me and how I want to appear to all onlookers.

Sometime I see how I could be seen. I am happy with my vision.


2004 home
2004 July Jamaica


2007 July home


April 2010

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mind over matter


I’ve been thinking about people and places recently. I like people and I like going to different places. The thought that came to me the other day was that if your mind is in the right place and you are fortunate enough to be with the right people then your battle for peace and happiness is almost won.

The emotionally peaceful place that I have sometimes struggled to find is like floating on air when you are blessed with good friends, no matter where you happen to be physically.

I am blessed by good friendships and growing friendships.

And that’s all good for me.


Friday, 18 March 2011

Maroon day


People tell me that they learn new things about me from reading this blog. Some also say that they learn new things about themselves as well.

I learn new things about myself as I write them as well. I don’t go through like thinking ‘ah, that would make a good blog,’ but sometimes it does occur to me to share a certain incident here. This is one such time.

And here is a health warning ... if you are of a nervous disposition or unsettled by talk of blood then now is the time to go to another post. Click to the right of this entry and you will see lots of different options going back years that may well be more suitable for you.

For those intrepid readers that have stayed the course, hang on it may be a bumpy ride.

Although, in the UK today, it is Comic Relief Day where people do funny things for money and often wear red noses I was not taking part in those oh so jovial activities this morning. My colour was maroon. I will explain.

I had an early blood test booked. This meant no eating or drinking before it. That’s all good, I don’t normally eat breakfast that early anyway. I’ll skip the boring bits and get to the juicy (pun intended) bit.

As the maroon-looking blood was pouring steadily out of my arm into the vial I mentioned that I was curious about the Vitamin D test that was ordered. The phlebotomist pulled the needle out of my arm and looked confused. That was a mistake. Not the confusion, but the extraction of the needle.

She told me to keep pressure on my vein while she checked her computer, and there it was the test request I’d just mentioned. She tutted and said I should have told her before. I said I had informed the receptionist when I booked. More tutting followed and I watched as she went to get another needle.

Suddenly I said, “It’s spurting,” as the blood pushed its way pass the cotton wool and through my fingers. The shock of it caused me to move my hand and then there was a small fountain erupting from the middle of my left arm.

“Oh, that’s not good,” was all I could manage as it continued.

She flustered, pulled the forgotten tourniquet off my arm and grabbed copious amounts of tissue and cotton wool to mop up the blood. This is when I learnt that I am OK with seeing other people’s blood but I am really no good at seeing my own. Actually, I didn’t learn that today, I was reminded of it because when I was a teenager I used to have random and spontaneous nosebleeds and I felt just the same about those as well – unsteady.

Although the blood was a beautiful shade of maroon I was rapidly going towards a grey shade but somehow I managed to see that she was more concerned than I thought was healthy for either of us right then. So I decided to become calm. And that’s what I did. I grabbed hold of calm thoughts and controlled my situation.

Once the stem was staunched (less than a minute but it’s surprising how much blood can flow from my ‘good veins’ in that time when a tourniquet is attached!) I mentioned that I felt a bit weak. You’ll remember that I hadn’t eaten or drank anything yet. This news sent her into another spin and she rushed off to get me water.

When she returned she said that her manager would take the next lot of blood from my other arm later as I would need to rest and recover. I didn’t want to wait around so I further controlled my breathing and told her that I was OK for her to do it now. She wasn’t sure but I didn’t want to get up and go to the waiting room to go through all that again. And strangely, I thought it would be helpful to her if she did it because I was one of the first appointments of the day and that maybe have unsettled her to have had a blood eruption so early.

You’ll be pleased to know that all went well in the second arm and the extra blood was taken without any further problems.

For a few moments I was considering being right royally annoyed with her because I thought that if they had read their notes properly I wouldn’t have had to go though that experience, however, from it I learnt that my blood is a beautiful rich maroon colour when it is forced out of my veins, and I also found out that I can still care for people’s emotional state when I am in the middle of my own drama. That was interesting in itself.

Most interesting was that I still felt shaky when I left the office and I know the staff were watching me all the way to the car. The phlebotomist had a bit of cleaning up to do when I left but at least she was smiling (with relief) instead of frowning.


What today also reminded me of when I used to donate blood, afterwards we would be given a sweet drink and a digestive. I can’t eat them anymore (because of the milk in them) but I really needed a high energy breakfast as soon as I got home: that fruit smoothie tasted extra good today.

... And I had matching plasters on my arms where I had the needles stuck in so I felt completely balanced for the rest of the day.

It’s all good.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Living love


Sometimes people in relatively comfortable situations complain about helping those who are not so fortunate: this is their right to complain. The age old saying goes up, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as the wallets and the hearts close simultaneously.


On this year’s Comic Relief there is one appeal where actor David Tennant got so emotional that he was practically begging people to give money to help those who need help. Whenever I can I give to help others – and not just at these times of big campaigns – but the point he was making is that some people just watch the comedy and forget (neglect) to donate (watch this clip from 31:24 to see his encouragement to help).
There are those who don’t have anything to give, so obviously they can’t. But some raise money and give their time. At my son’s school today they are doing a charity run to raise money. People find a way of showing that they care; they help how they can.
A few weeks ago he said to me “Can I give my pocket money to Comic Relief?” Of course I said yes.

To me my son is a caring child that is living love.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Who am I?


That age old question plays in my mind from time to time and I always seem to have a different answer depending on the day, time, mood, location or company.

I am constantly changing and it has taken several decades to shape the person that I am today.

Like the potter at the wheel I am continuously altering one aspect of my creation by pressing a bit here, or smoothing out a bit there. I add water and turn the wheel at a pace to suit the change I have in mind.

My work of change is never done because who I am changes each moment.

I don’t always work alone, either. I receive help in this shaping process when gentle hands shape my world and being. To them I am grateful.

I just hope that I can consistently be the best person possible in each moment of my existence.

Who am I?

Right now I am growing into a new me.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Conversations with myself


I don’t want to go.

Why?

I can’t be bothered.

Why? That’s not a good enough reason.

I feel sick.

How sick.

Too sick to go out.

Are you sure you can’t do it? Won’t going out make you feel better?

There’s no point in going anyway.

Why?

Because it doesn’t matter; me being there doesn’t make a difference.

I think it does.

I don’t think it does, and anyway I’m too late now.

It’s probably OK to be late rather than not go at all.

I don’t want to go.

Better ring them then.

I don’t want to ring them. I don’t know what to say.

Better go then.

OK.



Later ...

Conversation with a teacher


Jordan wanted to show you his work.

Oh. OK. That’ll be nice.

(The beaming boy proudly shows me his Literacy work and I go through it with him. I thank him and tell him that I am proud of what he has accomplished, neither of us stop smiling.)

Thank you for sharing that with me.

I just wanted you to see the excellent work he has produced. All the pupils you work with are producing excellent work lately; it must be the extra time that they each spend with you. They have really improved and are progressing so well. Thank you.

I’m pleased that I can help.



Later ...

Conversation with myself


I’m glad I went. It seems to matter.

I said that.

Monday, 14 March 2011

My garden



It is spring time and the plants are beginning to grow again. It is wonderful to see the green shoots bursting above the ground. They are so strong and vibrant. Frequently, in the depth of winter, I forget that they exist. When the ground is hard or covered with snow the possibility of new life is hard to envisage. But a few weeks ago I was reminded that these plants, some of which I had transplanted from my father’s garden, are here to stay. They come up every year and they blossom without any intervention from me.

Now all I have to do is to keep the weeds at bay and water the plants regularly.

I have discovered that my garden is unique. Some plants thrive in there and others do not fare at all well. This is because of the soil that I have in the small area. When I first decided to put some plants in I had to do a lot of preparation work (some of it included paying someone else to do the work!). This friend came with all his rippling muscles and removed bricks, crockery, gravel and other household debris. Then he fed it and finally he planted in it.

Now, several years later, with repeated help from friends, I can just watch my plants grow.

My life is like my garden. It had been worked on and turned over and when it is thriving I can see so many things grow from it.

One thing I know is that, like the garden soil, my life cannot give what it has not got. I can’t produce carnations when my soil is only suitable for roses. I am remembering to allow myself to bring forward the best of myself and not try to be a vegetable patch if I am perfect for growing tulips.

How does your garden grow?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Greetings?



A while ago I bought a book that is designed to improve several aspects of a person’s life. Some of the areas need to be studied well before they can be used because getting them wrong will have serious – sometimes irreversible, consequences. For example:

Handle brake failure (section 157)

Escape from a burning building (540)

Dye hair with coffee (331)

Get custody of your pet in a divorce (644)

Other things in this volume I thought I already knew everything about but after reading one section I was glad that I was aware of the long-reaching implications of the action. I will revert to my favourite television detective’s phrase at this point: “Here’s what happened ...” (Adrian Monk c.2009) It was a sunny day ... nah! Scratch that. The weather is unimportant, this is about meeting and greeting people. This is something we do all the time. The book goes through several points about how to shake hands (section 214). The main tip is a “two handed handshake is not for first meetings. It is a sign of real affection, and you should reserve it for friends and intimates.” Good advice, I will bear that in mind.

What happened to me was that I have become cautious about greeting certain people I meet at church as I have been reading their increasingly reserved body language for several weeks, however, there I was in a situation where handshakes were being passed around like tissues at a funeral. It’s my fault, I forgot my caution.

Anyway, I didn’t go in for the affectionate double-handed handshake, I went for the normal I-am-not-dangerous-or-armed handshake. What I received was like picking up a piece of raw meat. It was cold, weak and limp. It was dramatically different to the firm but gentle squeeze I had previously received all the preceding weeks. My suspicions were confirmed as the greeter shifted nervously and dropped my hand too quickly to be polite.

In response to my “How are you?” attempt to ascertain the reason for the change in the warmth of the contact there was an uncomfortable shifting of the eyes and gazing over my shoulder accompanied by nervous laughter and some off the shelf cliché about “I’m all right, it’s the others I worry about.”

At this point I had an overwhelming desire to share point 7 from the book with this man. It says, “Make eye contact when shaking hands. This shows sincerity and honesty. If you avoid eye contact you may be perceived as lying, inferior or possible nervous.” He definitely scored at least a negative 2 out of 3 in this test. The previous 6 steps would also be marked as ‘fail’, because as the handshake today shows a gauge of mood, trust, and confidence I would say he had no positive vibes towards that contact with me today.

I felt like a gate-crasher at a party where my invitation had been withdrawn.


I would prefer no handshake than an insincere greeting. I guess it’s just as well I didn’t go up to him with a bear hug because that wouldn’t have gone down at all well!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Parents are superheroes – everyday



Parents are superheroes. This may sound like a rash statement but I have proof. The fact is that parents, like superheroes, do a lot of their special work independently, so their special powers are not broadcasted. Occasionally parents will work in groups, but this is only with other superheroes – unless they have to keep their powers hidden. So, there you have it, parents are superheroes.

Still not convinced? Well, to prove this theory further let me run through a list of the special abilities that parents and the superheroes you know have in common.

Superhuman strength (ability to lift cars off small children)

Extraordinary skills (ability to know when children have done something wrong even when they are in a different room)

Enhanced senses (gift to know when their child is hurt or sad)

Strong moral code of right and wrong (refusal to harm but willingness to consistently do good without reward or recognition)

Talent to keep the identity and powers secret from people

If you have recognised any of these powers in yourself – even if you are not a parent – then (here you have to get down on one knee while I place a sword on your shoulder. Ready? OK, let’s continue ...) I hereby dub you ... (insert your chosen name here) superhero extraordinaire. Welcome to the group.

Anyway, now that you are aware of those superpowers I have one small thing to mention. Superheroes rarely get time off. They are constantly on call until they have taught their charges how to develop their own powers. Only then do parent superheroes get take off the suit and assume an identity of a ‘regular’ human being. This is, I guess, the only point of the superheroes’ weakness, the need to have time off.

Apart from that small Achilles heel, parent superheroes are invincible!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Underdeveloped personal development



Have you ever wondered why personal development and personal motivation are such big business growth areas? Business 101: personal growth = business growth.

Apparently, there are many people who have an underdeveloped sense of personal identity and therefore need life coaching to enhance self improvement. I wonder how this happened.

I am definitely not knocking life coaching, motivational speeches or counselling: I have used them all.

You see, I am qualified - as a seasoned user - to know how helpful these techniques are. When I was on my personal journey from floundering to treading water, I obviously didn’t look at the bigger picture. But now I have space to reflect as I take positive strokes in dream fulfilment and I find I can ask these questions.

Where do the standard social and educational systems fail so extensively that society is awash with people who feel they have a low quality of life, lack much self-esteem, have no discernable dreams or aspirations and are blatantly unaware of having any natural talents or potential?

Why do people feel inadequate for the majority of the time?

What standards are we judging ourselves against to measure our lack?

If you type “personal development” into the Google search engine you’ll come back with over 50 million (yes, that’s right 50,000,000!) results in under 2 seconds. Google can find in excess of 1 million links for “motivational speakers” in the same time. What’s going on? Why are people so de-motivated to live their best life without a crutch?

I have had some times when I think nothing is possible and many other times when I would probably be described as a dreamer and an idealist because I believe that everything and anything great is possible.

When does the excitement of learning, and just being - that are part of most children’s lives - stop being integral to us as we grow up?

I’m beginning to think that if there is so much need for a fix then maybe the solution is not in throwing more personal development courses or motivational speakers at people, but maybe in going to the root of the problem. I think we should find out when it all goes wrong. At what age does the self-belief start to seep away? And then invest in reversing this damaging trend.

Either that or I could start a new career as a motivational speaker. Mmmm.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

I dare you!


Many childhood games and experiences are based on the idea of daring. We constantly challenged each other to learn about our limits and to strengthen our connections.

I have a challenge for both me and you today.

I am saying that I don’t dare to let you know me.

Do you dare to get to know me?

Dare you!


If you try, you have succeeded – because at least you tried. If you don’t try then, sorry, but you have failed.

It needs a certain amount of courage to share yourself with others and a similar amount of courage to attempt to know someone. This is not an exercise in foolishness, this is an exercise in joy.

Once again, I dare you, triple dare you!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Things fall apart



When you prepare for an event every part of your body is anticipating it. Then it happens. You find that it has passed and marvel at the ease with which you handled it, especially after all that build up.
Then, when you least expect it, like when you are saying goodnight to your child for instance, things fall apart.

Unbidden tears start to form in the corners of your eyes. Just one at first, then another in the other eye, then both eyes start to compete in the rush to expel water. You try to hide or disguise the renegade tears as signs of tiredness. Quickly wiping them away and trying to keep an even light tone of voice you slip away from the beautiful child falling asleep in the bed.
Well, that’s what I did anyway.
Then when I’m alone, and she is fast asleep I let the barriers down and really let things fall apart.
That’s better now.
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