The memory box

Folding the letter she gently smoothed the sheet of paper under her fingers feeling beneath them dryness of age that had affected it. Eyes too poor to read it now, nevertheless she knew every word by heart having devoured it so often over the years, now carefully stored with so many others and only now seeing light of day.

HARRY!

Closing her eyes his face flashed into her mind, hazy now as she struggled after so long to keep his features sharp and clear, she was losing him to time she knew that and the thought made her smile sadly. So long ago yet brief moments of clarity would invade her thoughts, his smile cutting through the fog and making it seem like only yesterday and then he was gone again leaving her with only these tangible memories. 

Sighing softly she replaced the pages into the large carved wooden box, fingers brushing a small packet as she did so drawing it slowly towards her before cupping it gently in her wrinkled palms and clasping it to her chest.  ‘Not long my love’ she thought to herself ‘Soon, it shall be soon’

Leaving the packet unopened she returned it quickly to the box, thrusting it inside as guilt burned and she slightly afraid of being discovered although she knew she would not be, nobody came any more. A splash of bright colour caught her eye and she reached towards a garish painted picture of a child’s hand with crude scrawl underneath depicting the artist’s name.

Ella.

Another smile, eyes warming briefly before the light quickly faded, no Ella was long gone and this just yet another memory of things come and gone in her many years of being. Sadness less sharp as each year went by panged momentarily before she dismissed it and returned the picture to lie back along its fellow inhabitants of the cluttered old box. 

Her worn gaze swept over the small grizzled teddy bear and the beribboned letters, oh she had been so popular in her day with her many suitors all begging for a smile, a glance, some sign of recognition from her but almost from the first she had only had eyes for him. Sweeping an errant lock of hair from her forehead she leaned further over the box disturbing the contents in her hunt for the one thing she sought. She needed to find it, to bring him close again before her failing mind refused to remember what she was looking for and left her in that absent place where nothing mattered any more. 

There! There it was.  Her heart leapt as she found the one thing she wanted and fingers rapidly cleared the dust from the front of the small framed picture. Lovingly she gazed at the sun bleached photograph, yellow with age, showing a young couple smiling shyly at each other.He resplendent in some bygone uniform showing duty to his country and she delicately pretty in florals and lace, bonnet trailing from fingers gently clasped between his.

Harry.

Even as she gazed the fog came and eyes clouded over, picture already forgotten falling into her lap and memories of him vanishing like mist in the sun. In the shadows of the room a figure waited, brass buttons shining on a uniform of old, boyish face echoing the love reflected earlier on hers. He could wait, he’d waited such a long time that a little longer would not hurt. 

‘Soon my love’ he smiled ‘ i shall see you soon’ 

goodbye my friend

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From the time we are small we will encounter many other people whose lives will interact with our own. Some of them will linger for a time before passing along their own path whilst others may stay with us forever. No matter the length of time each leaves behind some tiny little footprints in our memories and often our hearts. 

It is with great sadness today that i learned of the passing of a very old friend. A friend lost in the distant past but despite the different paths our lives had taken still a friend for all that. Mingled with sadness is an overwhelming guilt that perhaps i should have tried harder to hold on to the friendship instead of letting it go,. Perhaps my presence could have made some difference to her as it did in the past. Could i have saved her?

She was fragile you see and i knew it. A total contrast to my own mulish strength and i often was the support for her failing life. She did not cope well with the downsides of life and sought solace often in the bottom of a glass. I know it was not my choice and she lived the way she wanted but memories of old remind me that i could have stopped her or at least led her to moderation as i had in the past.  But maybe i failed her by not being there. 

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in our own lives and i am the first to admit i am very solitary. My friendships are few by choice even if my acquaintances are many. Yet we found each other she and i, in a time when we were both at our most vulnerable and formed a firm kind of limping friendship that i like to hope mattered at least a little. That she was only slightly older than i is a painful jab at just how short life really is and perhaps makes me more aware than ever of my own mortality. Yet i like to believe that once a friendship is formed then it will always be so whether the years steer you in different directions or not and i think that perhaps she would have agreed with that. 

Wherever she is i hope she is in a better place for i know that for her life was not an easy experience. Perhaps now she will find the happiness that for so long eluded her and finally find herself some peace.

Goodbye my friend, 

There is a happy land

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In the course of my work i encounter many many people. All walks of life, all ages, races and religions. Some of these are your average pleasant examples whilst more often they are sadly the opposite. Whatever the person you meet there are occasionally those who for some reason or another stay firmly lodged in your memory. Up until now it has been my misfortune for all of those of my experience to be of a negative nature rather than a pleasantly positive.

Recently all of that changed when i had a conversation with an elderly man. To begin with he won me over with his lovely chirpy greeting and after a morning of exceptionally rude people he was definitely a balm to my downcast mood. They say that you can hear in the voice when a person is smiling and of this gentleman this was certainly true. Smiling he most definitely was. 

Faintly Welsh with that singsong lilt to his voice he replied that as the sun was shining he was very well indeed and asked after myself in return.  ‘My Lovely’ he called me and that in itself made me smile for it was nice to hear after a particularly harsh day. I explained the purpose of my call and he listened intently before pausing for a moment after i finished speaking. then he began to chuckle and i was taken aback as he announced that he would be glad to help but he really did not see the point for he was not long for this world. ”I’m dying you see” he told me quite nonchalantly.  Like any empathetic person i was horrified and apologised profusely, condolences rushing forth although i wasn’t really sure any of them were enough to befit the situation. Startlingly he dismissed my words with another chuckle and told me that he was ready to go.

”I’ve lived my life you see” he told me ”I’ve lived a very happy life, had a wonderful wife who is waiting up there for me to join her”

Then he began to talk. He told me of his life and his time in the second world war. That he found in me a willing audience there seemed to please him greatly and we talked for some time as he told me of his time as ground crew personnel. Scoffing genially at me as i enthused my love of the B-17, telling me firmly that there was nothing to hold a candle to the good old Spitfire. As he talked he never changed, that same chirpy happy nature shone through and despite his bombshell i found myself smiling too, very much warming to this old man i had never met and he did seem to be genuinely happy. 

Smiling still he told me of his wife, clearly from the gentle affectionate way he spoke of her it seemed he really did love her. That he was looking forward to seeing her again in whatever place exists after passing touched me and made me smile. No clearly this lovely old man had lived a happy life, this much was evident from the way he spoke. He stuck in my memory for his charm and his friendly nature and his gentle acceptance of his lot and i wondered if in my own turn i should feel the same. 

I have always been a big believer in trying to do the best we can with the life we have for we really do only get one try at it. There is no ‘return to go’ for those who make mistakes and get it wrong no matter how much we should wish it. Although many years hopefully yet to go i couldnt help but hope that i should be able to say the same as this lovely man, that my mistakes however many were still nothing compared to the happy parts of the life i managed to have. I have to admit a relief that my time is not yet up for i have not yet reached that place where i can look back and say i have led a happy life. My mistakes are many and i am not so very good at getting things right. Yet there are those things, however few, that definitely make all of the difference and i can truly say i feel i got right. It is so very hard to realise just when something is worth counting and when it is of no consequence at all but just sometimes there are things you just know you have to count. Regrets will follow when you realise you should have counted something that you didnt or in hindsight put too much stock in that mattered not at all.

It is all a question of balance and doing for yourself those things that will make you look back and say you led a happy life. Perhaps you may not have started out that way but the world is full of choices and it is up to us to choose the path to the right memories. For myself i shall remember that lovely old man whom i met only briefly but who made me smile on a very bad day and who gave me faith that if you stay true to yourself and what you believe you really do have the potential to be happy. 

Wherever you are sir i wish you and your wife a most happy ever after. 

The weight of desperation…

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As you go about your daily life it is highly unlikely that you will fail to see the obesity crisis rocking the western world in more recent times. Whether it be the huge increase of overweight people in general  or simply the ever increasing adverts screaming ‘LOSE WEIGHT FAST’ you would have to be blinkered indeed not to notice. We are a self indulgent society, there is no escaping from it and sadly it seems we only consider the consequences after the fact. Very far after the fact it seems for many and i myself have been no exception.

I am not one to take much stock of some aspects of social media yet i am amazed at how many people, my friends included, live their whole lives on facebook or its like. There is nothing too personal nor too private that they do not feel ready to announce to the world and i am ceaselessly amazed at some of the things i see and read. As a blogger i am happy to share certain opinions and amusing anecdotes relating to my life but i like the option of privacy and am selective about whom i share my intimacies of life with. Still i am not above browsing interestedly at the public announcements of my friends cringing or chuckling as the status may warrant. Today however, as i idly browsed i was struck by the number of weight loss adverts peppering many of the pages i viewed. Although all different brands and methods they all nonetheless screamed out the same message ‘LOSE WEIGHT FAST’  Perhaps the most alarming thing of all was not the presence of the adverts themselves but the sheer number of people flocking to them wanting that quick fix to their excess weight.

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For me it was a definite trip down memory lane and an almost Christmas Carol like visit to my former unhappy self. To say i was overweight would definitely be no understatement for the disgrace that i had become was almost double the person i am now. Yet it was all of my own doing and to a certain extent a deliberate attempt to obliterate the unhappy shadow that i had become. Never in truth did i consider the consequences of my actions nor did i have the foresightedness to realise that being big would not change the problems that had forced me there, it would only serve to be lessened slightly by the momentary comfort of some sugary treat. It is hard for anyone who has not experienced it to understand the comfort and solace that can be found in the arms of a bar of chocolate. If only the feeling lasted as long as the unhappiness but alas it does not and with it comes the crashing low of reality.

IM FAT!! 

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There may be those rare few who genuinely are happy being bigger and who do not feel the need to conform to a society ideal in order to feel attractive and loved. Sadly i like many was not once of those and longed to undo the damage that i had inflicted upon myself and be once again the slim person i had been before. But again like many i was daunted by the long road ahead and i failed to see the reality of the situation, it had taken years to become this large and it was going to take equally as long to take it away.

I wanted it now! 

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Therein we find the problem of many a dieter, once the decision has been made and the excess weight confronted we want suddenly to be slim overnight. This does not happen and even when the weight loss is rapid the effects upon the body cosmetically are not appealing as the skin fails to keep up with the speed of the weight lost. I have seen many a person embark upon some extreme weight loss programme only to be devastated by the resulting swathes of excess flesh where they had imagined some bikini body. Yet still they flock to these adverts willing to part with hard earned money for the illusion that this will be an overnight fix. I did it the hard way. I dieted, i failed, i cried, i sweated at the gym and i got right back on the wagon after every cheat and tried again. I threw many a tantrum and hurled many an abusive name at my reflection in the mirror but i kept on trying until i finally saw the results. In hindsight i think the stuggle in itself taught me more of a lesson than any quick fix ever could and even today i still carry on fighting the battle to keep from obesity. 

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I cannot help but feel a sadness for those who clamour around the quick fix for i was them once and i remember well the hopelessness and the desperation. The need to conform and the desire to be accepted and loved. Once you have been overweight you are never free from a diet for it is your curse to be susceptible to temptation and weaknesses that led you to where you were in the first place.Yet you learn in a way you never have before and you find a way to ignore the little voice reverberating in your brain urging you to give in and indulge.

I am quite sure i drive my boyfriend mad with my constant self criticism and shattering insecurities and that is my cross to bear. Yet thankfully he understands me and knows from whence it comes. He listens without complaint yet sometimes will reprimand me for slamming down any comforting compliment he may make. Perhaps the latter rather frustratedly for he knows at times that no matter what he says i shall not hear it.  But hear it i do although it maybe sometime later when it penetrates the sometimes self loathing i feel. It is a battle i shall continue to fight maybe forever but i’m winning…at least i am winning. Still i cannot help but feel sad when i see the girls i used to be, cannot help a wave of memories crash in, followed by the relief that i made it. Almost.

There simply is no quick fix. It is something you come to learn as you make the journey yourself, for the battle is as much inside as it is out. I made it on the outside, i was lucky and i do look good i grudgingly can admit this but it took someone else to open my eyes. The inside is something else and i shall carry on along the road with a supporting hand in mine.

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The weight of desperation.  

Ain’t no mountain high enough

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Pick up any newspaper, turn on the television news and you cannot fail to see the constant doom and gloom predictions of the current economic climate. As we read daily of hardships and hurdles, of food banks and homelessness you cannot help but see the downturn of life in general for so many. There is surprisingly an odd detachment in society  however, with the true realities of a life of hardship being a most alien concept to those more fortunate and favoured. Perhaps it is true that unless you have had to live a reality then why should it even exist for you and this definitely seems to be the case today. Not for the first time i have witnessed people shocked by the genuine realities of life for the less privileged and the admittance of a total unawareness of such existence. Media it seems has much to answer for in its portrayal of modern human lives.

Personally i cannot deny that things have been somewhat of a downward spiral in some elements of my life and, control freak that i am , i find being hemmed into very tight corners a most unpalatable situation indeed. I have likened the situation very much to running a hurdle race and finding that some imp of fate is gleefully adding extra hurdles only in my lane, leaving me running far behind my fellow competitors. 

I have in the past often imagined my life as like that of a rat in a maze, constantly searching for that one door exit whilst fate peers interestedly at my struggles to succeed. I guess here though is where my quirky sense of humour kicks in and i send up thanks that i am not growing an extra ear upon my back. Yes the life of a lab rat would definitely not be one of my choosing and i am more than a little thankful that i am not so far down the species ladder as to genuinely be of the rodent variety.

Despite normally being of such a positive nature it is very difficult after some time not to allow those glimmers of disillusionment and negativity to creep in. It is easy then to self doubt and wonder perhaps if it is not society at all but yourself that is lacking and failing on an epic scale. Looking in the mirror you cease to smile and focus instead on those imaginary flaws and inflate them to fantastical proportions until they dominate your life. I have to my shame done this and i freely admit it. 

”Stupid ugly cow” i have hissed at myself in the mirror. 

I have never been the type of person to outwardly direct my frustrations and self doubt, instead choosing to direct it inwardly at the person i consider to blame. 

Myself.

Perhaps this is more than a little unfair as most of my obstacles have come as the result of outside influences that i genuinely had litte control over and whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing it would have been very hard to erase any of them as each sprang out of an at the time necessity.  Frustrating in the present though when any present efforts are hampered by the chains of the past. But the whole point of running a race is to get to the finish line and often those most remembered are not the ones who came first in blazing glory but those who fell and yet got back up and finished despite coming far behind everyone else. 

So as another monday rolls around i feel a little lightened and ashamed of myself for my negativity thanks to the words of a friend.

The strongest wood, is from trees that withstand the strongest winds, And steel, has to  go into the hottest fire/furnace to become the strongest steel. And of course a piece of coal, has to undergo the most tremendous pressures, to become a diamond

I am running my own race, i realise this and must keep on running no matter the hurdles. I may not come first but i will never fail as long as i just keep on running. The same friend pointed out to me the following quote and i realised he was right, i knew it all along i just let negativity blinker my goal. 

Behind every fear, is a person, you want to be. You face your fears, you become the person you want to be. You run from your fears, you’re not living

So following a friendly mental slap, armed with new motivation and the offer of help from that friend i am willing to walk out onto the ledge and take a small leap of faith. Not in him but finally in myself.  Perhaps after all it is not for me to judge my own strengths and weakness but someone more impartial and less biased in any direction as i am in myself. I am willing to try at least for i shall never reach my goal if i keep on standing still. Someday you may know my name, someday you may not but whatever the result i shall know i gave it all i had. Obstacles are there for a reason, to climb over but often the biggest obstacle of all is infact yourself.

It is possible, so i have been told, to climb a Panda.

Anything is possible if you only try. 

I dreamed a dream..

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Love them or hate them, when we close our eyes we all dream at some time or other. Many of us will not realise that we do for they are so quickly and easily forgotten upon waking. Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to remember a dream that despite your best efforts slips away without you even realising? I have, to the point that i resolved to keep a notepad beside my bed to pen down my imaginitive nocturnal ramblings. I have always been of the opinion that dreams are the minds way of making sense of what it either cannot or will not whilst we are awake. 

I dream a lot. I have never quite decided whether it is purely because i think too much and have a chaotic mind or whether it simply is because i have a lot of unresolved past residing in the darkest recesses of my brain. Perhaps a mix of the two although i confess i definitely do fall into the overthinkers anonymous group a lot of the time. Still given the fantastical nature of some of my sleep sodden imaginings, i should perhaps be writing them down and turning them into potentially best selling novels. 

Sometimes though a dream will recur and these i do remember. Perhap the sheer repetitiveness of it drums it into my longer term memory for me to muse over and self psychoanalyse at leisure. Lately though a dream has recurred that i do not have to particularly look at in too much depth for i know the source of it very well.

REGRET.

My dream is of my grandmother, i have news she is dying and i am trying frantically to get to her but cannot. I find myself running through a field of deep mud and getting nowhere as is often the case in a dream. As i run i pass people i know and frantically hold out my hands begging for help. One by one they shrug and turn away or just ignore me completely until i say desperately ”But i was there for you!!” Then one parody turns and laughs saying  mockingly ”That doesn’t mean that we are there for you”

The result of the dream is always the same i am so bogged down that i do not make it in time. Whatever the visual interpretation my brain put on it the facts are still the same, i have a lifelong regret that i did not make more time for her in the years leading to her death and this is something i have had to learn to live with because the clock cannot be turned back however much we wish it. Perhaps the bigger regret is the time wasted on meaningless things and on those people who deserved my time much less than she. Whilst i know she would not judge me and never would she think ill of me, still i feel that i have failed.

I have always tried my best not to regret things i cannot change for it does little good and in the end merely holds you back.  The curious thing about this dream however,  was the presence of people within it who either were not present in my life at the time or who have no relevance to the situation. I have not yet concluded what significance they have in the dream but i wonder if perhaps it is my own inner awareness warning me not to make the same mistakes again. Perhaps i am guilty of placing too much importance on things and people who do not matter and neglecting those things and people that could be a cause of regret. Maybe it helps to remember who were those who were those who were there for me when i needed someone and who were those who caused me the pain to need someone in the first place. Whatever the meaning it seems sure that this dream is determined to recur until i have taken heed and acted upon it. 

Life is full of regrets. Some we can live with and some may haunt us for the rest of our lives, emerging in our dreams as sad reminders of the mistakes we have made. I do not want to spend my life running through mud chasing regrets, especially the ones that will be the kind to haunt my dreams. It seems, at least for me, that it is time for change although much thought is needed as to what these changes will be. I cannot ignore the fact that lately i have been less than enamoured with some aspects of my life and a redress is in order. Perhaps then i can return to my fantastical dreams of the purely fantasy nature and sleep more soundly than i have of late. 

Still if one is going to be a Panda then at least one should look like a Panda and thanks to a few sleepless nights i most definitely do.

Sweet dreams everyone!! 

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That which i do not know

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Plans, plans plans.

It seems our society thrives on them and for many of us it is a predictability that dictates our lives. We plan every aspect of them with regimental detail and for many of us the resulting order is the only path we feel safe upon. We like to know what will happen and when, from getting up in a morning to when we go to bed. All carefully organised in a familiar routine.

I hate routine. I find it suffocating and i am one of those rare people who hates to plan. I abhorr appointments and preplanned order, partly because i am terrible at remembering to keep them but mostly because i do not like being forced to do things at a certain time. I am very much a whim person, if i want a haircut i want it done the same day or i do not bother but this works very well for me.

So with the passing of the Yuletide holidays, waving goodbye to christmas, as usual my friends are planning planning planning. Holidays, Easter, Birthdays, going to the gym, family get togethers and even those christmases yet to come. No sooner has one ended than another one is already in the planning department being drawn up for final review. However i try i just cannot seem to bring myself to think further forward than a month at the very most. Oh of course i have hopes and dreams like everyone else but i would never begin to forward think on any of them.

If i am honest i would have to admit that unlike most people i am not afraid of the unknown but more likely the complete opposite. It is the fear that what i do know will be taken away that scares me most of all. So often the unpredictable comes along to scupper any plans you have made and then perhaps it is all the more painful because you had expected things to happen or for situations to be a certain way. Instead you are left devastated when your hopes and plans are shattered because it was not as you had imagined it should be. So no i do not plan, i do not take for granted that what i have and where i am now will stand to be the same a month from today. I am too afraid to want for certain things to happen or for certain things to stay the same. So i expect for change and loss and should it not transpire then i am only left gladdened and never disappointed. Perhaps if in the back of your mind some small part of you expects to lose that which you have, it makes you value it all the more rather than taking for granted.

Is it any way to live a life, secretly fearing? Perhaps not, but as i listen to those friends making plans for many months from now i cannot help but wonder how many of them will actually get to see those plans transpire. I should like to hope they all will but experience tells me it shall not be so. I do not know where i shall be  a year from now, i will never imagine or even plan for it to be any particular way. Life has a funny way of working out exactly how it is supposed to now matter what we try and do about it.

For now that is enough.

A Mother’s Love

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He sits in half silence surveying the scene around him, lips flickering with a smile now and again as some humorous interaction infringes on his somber mood. Hunched slightly forward with arms around his waist he half heartedly joins in the conversation flowing around him although i know he secretly wishes he were back at home. The woman is not fooled she knows his moods better than her own and she leans forward, gently touching his arm. 

”What’s wrong?” She says and he shakes his head, shrugging slightly ”Nothing”

She knows better than to accept his words. A brow creases with concern and fluttering hands beckon him closer and i watch as in an instant the face of the man i know becomes instantly again a small boy. Abashedly he hangs his head and he smiles somewhat ruefully but does as she asks moving instantly to her side.  Those motherly hands reach for the boy within offering comfort and he confesses some small discomfort to the woman at his side. Ever the mother she gathers him close, this man of mine, this child of hers and the caring embrace soothes and pets him and he relaxes beneath her ministrations, smiling at her words. Murmuring softly to him, words i cannot hear she seeks to make this child of hers feel better with the love only a mother can give. He makes a pretence and  shrugs away slightly.

”Mama, i’m fine”

But she knows he is not, this boy of hers and continues to mother him making him smile for despite his protests he secretly  feels better for having her caring arms around him hugging him close. Strange how sometimes all it takes is mother to make it all better again just like when he was small. 

Suddenly i feel very much an outsider. Like some small wistful child looking in a toyshop window on Christmas Eve at the toy she knows she will never get, i watch an unfamiliar scene. Strange that i should miss something that i never had in the first place but then the moment passes and i cannot help but smile at the little boy before me where before i saw a man. He has no idea how endearing he looks as he tries to pretend that he does not need the care she gives yet secretly relishes it all the same.

 A mother’s love it seems brings out the small child in all of us and no matter how old we may be we will always be someones little girl or boy. Just as he is hers and i am glad for the small easement he feels from her gentle affection. It just goes to show that no matter where we go nor how old we become, you really never are to old to be your mother’s son. 

The tides of life

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Sometimes, just sometimes, life has a way of making itself felt with an almighty slap that sending you tumbling off your feet with no idea of where you will land. My philosophy has always been that sometimes fate just steps in and gives you a push into the direction you were to afraid to take for yourself. Other times perhaps it is simply because we were taking too much for granted and merely needed a sharp reminder to be just that little bit more grateful for the things that we do have. There is no doubt that most of us are guilty of complacency when it comes to our lives and often do not cope well when change upsets our little world and everything in it. 

When i was small it all seemed so easy. I had my life mapped in a fairytale way that only a child can imagine and never at so young an age did it occur to me to think any differently. I may not have liked everything nor been happy with it but since it was all i had ever known i accepted it as a given and never had the thought to even try and change any aspects of it.  As a child, even when things are not perfect, we do not really see nor really register the less than ideal but merely accept it as it is. We simply do not know any different and therefore have no reason to hope for more. Only when exposed to situations more idealistic than our own do we sometimes wonder what life may be like if we were someone else. I never imagined for myself the life that i have now. Never did i imagine going wthout nor sacrificing until you wonder if you have anything left to give. No, for me i imagined a glamorous lifestyle and a handsome husband who adored me. 

As i should have realised, life does not work out in such a fairytale way for most of us and even those we imagine living the perfect lives have their own regrets and unhappiness. Perhaps then it is not merely what you have that makes you happy but your perception of it. Is it enough to have money, esteem and material things or perhaps is it a case of the more that you have, the more you want. Whilst it is a good thing to have things to want and aspire to, to be without dreams makes life not much of a life at all, there comes a point when perhaps the wanting is not merely for ourselves but more to appear credible and successful to others. What hope of happiness when we rely on others to give us some sense of worth, yet will living our lives for others give us the feeling of success we crave? Will it make us happy?  At the end of the day when doors are closed and we are alone, there is only our own reflection looking back at you in the mirror. It is then that perhaps you realise that without a love for yourself and a sense of inner peace, the regard of others does not count for much at all. 

Life is sent to test us. Some of us more than others and whilst the instinct may be to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that which is happening, sometimes the solution is to stand up tall and weather the onslaught the best way we can. Perhaps we will emerge a little battered and we may need to pick ourselves back up from the floor, but sometimes we can rebuild a better stronger version of what was there before. It is easy to be swept along by the tide and overwhelmed the the deluge that life occasionally throws our way but if you do not swim just that little bit harder then it is so easy to be washed away and drown in the tides of life. 

I have lost my focus of late because i forgot to remember to count my blessings. I fell victim to the need to feel sorry for myself when circumstances dealt me a decline in fortunes. So focused was i on what i had lost and what i no longer had that i forgot about those things that i do. In hindsight all i have done is waste months of my life on worry, regret and upset when really i should have stuck out my chin and taken the blow. We never lose everything, there is always something left to cling to even when it seems like we have nothing left at all. It is that one thing we need to hold on to and start building upon it until we have more than we had the day before. Even as i am I am fortunate, i  somehow forgot that along the way, but there is no doubt that i AM fortunate. Whilst i could definitely have more than i do right now there is no doubt i could easily have a lot, lot less. I have been there before and i will try to remember how far i have come. 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Oh yes, i am fortunate. 

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The power of a word

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I wonder how often we ever stop and think about the things we say. Most of us very rarely do unless we are aware, due to conscience, that what we are about to say is offensive or hurtful. Sadly even then there are those with none, who just do not care and will say whatever they wish regardless of consequence or resulting feelings. Even knowing they are causing hurt to others is of no matter since they feel little empathy for the other person and pay no heed to the results of their actions. 

Ordinarily i am not a person to pay mind to the cutting words or tones of others and have over the years developed a disregard for the negative opinions of those around me. Having always been a strong personality with more than a little resilience, i wear a very thick skin with all the aplomb of an armoured knight of Medieval England. Lately however, perhaps due to a very stressful period in my life i find that where once i should smile and ignore, i find i now take more to heart than i did before. Strangers i more easily can forgive but not so those verbal wounds from those closer to me. Unless for good reason one does not expect to be on the receiving end of an unkind comment or harsh tone of voice from a friend or loved one. 

So often lately i find myself biting my tongue and apologising profusely where once a simple heartfelt ”i’m sorry” would have sufficed. It seems these days people are not so ready to accept an apology unless it comes so often as to be almost of begging and pleading proportions. Forgiveable yes when the apology is merely a platitude but is it so forgiveable when the apology is a genuine one?  I myself am not a lover of discord and conflict and often will remain secretly agitated by an unpleasant situation even if i pretend on the surface that i am not. Yes, i confess i am one of those who sleeps badly at the slightest upset in my life these days, perhaps as the result of a metaphoric straw upon an already overloaded camels’ back. Perhaps a lifetime of being the peacemaker and backing down for the sake of harmony is wearing thinner than it should.  Yes i confess i secretly nurse the odd hurt although i hide it well since to confess it often draws out the cause and in turn makes it all the worse.

Yes it seems we really have lost the ability to be nice to each other. It seems that verbal abuse, cutting tones and blatant name calling are the norm of the day with once derogatory names such as ‘bitch’ now being used in everyday language as an acceptable term to refer to ones female friends. Not a term i can say i wish to be referred to by. If it is the norm for you to open your mouth and something unkind or unpleasant come from it perhaps then it says more about you as a person than about me. However often i hear this and no matter how much i try and pretend otherwise i cannot lie and say it does not hurt and even knowing that sometimes the comments were made in jest do not detract from their meaning nor their destination.

Myself i think i prefer to remain silent. I was taught by a very good kind person that it is better to say nothing than to say something unpleasant and i hold firmly to those principles. Whilst i will defend if attacked i will never knowingly inflict on others anything hurtful that has the intent to cause bad feeling. I shall not lie for i believe honesty to be a must in all cases no matter the consequences but i shall not deliberately set out to hurt another with the force of my words.

Profanity and abuse may be the norm in todays society but only if we continue to subscribe to it. Somewhere along the line someone has to take a stand and lead by example by refraining from doing as others do. Words are a most powerful weapon and used in the wrong hands can wound with invisible scars. A most famous quote springs to mind ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ , i wonder had the author seen todays society he might have changed just a little and quoted ‘the spoken word is mightier than the sword’

Words…will yours hurt or heal today??

How are you today?

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As the telephone crashes down signalling the abrupt and rude end to yet another work related interaction i cannot help but heave a sigh. Positive thoughts come rushing to the forefront of my mind as usual, telling me to pay no heed. A now well worn smile pastes itself to my face and out of habit i adopt a bright cheery tone to deal with my customers. A smile on the face, so i’m told, reflects itself in the tone of the voice and i am careful to heed this advice. I should not like to come across as stern or forbidding. I like to pretend i am developing a thick skin when on the receiving end of less than pleasant treatment but i know i really am not. You cannot help but be affected when people talk to you in such a way even if logic tells you they do not mean it. In truth though many do and just do not really care. But never would i let that show that i care and i pretend as hard as i can that i really do not mind at all.

Occasionally some bright cheery soul is on the other end of the line and a few moments of happy banter ensues but more often followed by dismissal and undisguised rudeness that would make my grandmother turn in her grave. Not being as social a creature as perhaps i could be i wonder if the general interaction between we humans has deteriorated rapidly, sliding a slippery downhill slope that i had failed to notice. What happened to us all? How did we become so uncaring of others and the world around us that we behave with such contempt and bad demeanor. towards others.

I’d like to hope i am a nice person although as i have said before i am not one who is overly sociable. I certainly can give a pleasing appearance of being so but in truth i prefer the company of one or two people whom i am both familiar with and close to. Unlike most people i am perfectly at ease with my own company and when left alone can happily while away many an hour without craving company from anyone else. When i do i find the number of people i seek company from to be very small.  At some point i did wonder if perhaps my own semi solitary nature drew forth such response from people but i know that i interact extremely well in social settings so this is evidently not so. I get along very well with almost everyone, i just choose to keep myself to myself.

All this being said i try extremely hard to remain as pleasant and friendly as i can for i am very aware of the need to be agreeable to others. Mindful of both my own manners and the treatment of those others at my hands. If perhaps i can be labelled as a bit of a doormat then this is hopefully my only failing and of detriment to nobody but myself. Still ,however bright a visage you try and maintain, you cannot help but come to a point where such endless misery and rudeness begins to haul you down. Grey enveloping hands dragging you down into the depths of depression that is hard to avoid even with such a positive attitude.  I cannot help but feel that sometimes i should just like to fly away to somewhere quiet and not have to deal with other peoples rudeness and bad manners. Far away from the trials and tribulations of daily life to yet again rebuild my positive armor and become once again the sunny eternal optimist i always was. This is a person i seem to have lost somewhat of late and i find i am most unlike myself at present.

How ironic then that i choose to daily deal with the public and leave my small emotional ship at the mercy of waves of unfeeling negativity. But i am learning very well how to row this little ship of mine and it is time again to turn towards the open sea and row steadily towards the oncoming storm. Still i can find a smile and i shall keep my eyes firmly upon the horizon looking for that small ray of sunlight peeping its way through to shine a happy glow my way.

Positivity.

Yes i still have it….do you?

Happy Birthday to You

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So another birthday comes along. Another year has gone on its merry way, another ring has been added to the tree of my life.

I have to confess i do not much like birthdays, that is to say i love to celebrate other peoples but i am far from having any fond feelings for my own. Too many unpleasant memories are barely tempered by slightly more enjoyable ones of late. Alas the negative wins out by sheer number for want of any other reason.

As perhaps is typical i mourned the loss of another year and then began to ponder my place in life in relevance to my remaining years. At first, of course,  it was easily done to follow the thought paths leading to wondering how many years i may have left and whether i will achieve the many things i would like to within my lifetime. Where will i be ten years from now? What will i be? Who will i love?

Strangely unbidden a quote popped into my head that much disturbed my train of thought and i wondered perhaps if we are so guilty of forever wanting more that we forget to live and enjoy the life we actually have.

 “First give time to your love, family and friends. Who will remember your presentations, meetings, degrees and overtime after you died?”

I have no idea why that thought popped in my head and i sat and mused about it for a while. Whilst it is true that those very famous of us may be remembered for the things we did, the rest of us in general will not. Of all the people who are no longer in my life i confess i do not particularly remember what they did as a career, nor do i know their qualifications or if they were given awards or recommendations. Yet what i do remember long after they are gone is the kind of people they were and the roles they held in my life. For that i miss them greatly and yet for no other reason than that. They may have achieved great things, true enough, yet strangely it matters very little now that they are no longer here and those deeds have long since faded. Yet i shall remember those people and yes in many cases miss them greatly just for the kind of people that they were. 

I wondered then how i should like to be remembered when i am gone. Am i so guilty of wanting that which i do not have that i forget to be happy about what i have in the here and now. Perhaps it is all too easy to take for granted what you have, to assume you will always have it and to continually keep on reaching for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Yet as i realised recently, assuming something is a constant in your life is easy until you see a glimpse of what your life would be without it. A thought we should all consider far more often than we do i think.

There is no doubt that we all need dreams. They give us purpose and give us something to make our lives worthwhile. Strangely though, we often do not realise that the happiest things we dream about most are often those things right under our very noses. It is not until we are in danger of losing them that we realise they are dreams at all. It may be something to consider that perhaps a dream does not cease to be a dream just because we attain it.

So another ring on my tree and if i take a rather maudlin moment to consider my mortality i shall adjust my perception and place a little greater importance on leaving a reason to be missed. No you will not remember my qualifications or my career. You will quickly forget any achievements that i made or even if i became famous. But what you will not forget, i know, is the small way in which i touched your life and hopefully made a difference. 

It only takes one person to keep a memory alive. Have you touched anyones life enough to be theirs?

Escape

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It should have been the stuff of nightmares and for all intents and purposes it was. She imagined time would have long since faded the memories but closing her eyes she could see with startling clarity events of a long lost youth playing inside her head. Hardly anything to smile about yet her mouth curved faintly upwards as she recalled some childish attempt at freedom. So simple in its innocence yet so profound in its efficacy, making her shake her head and marvel at an ingenuity borne of desperation from one so young. Had she really believed she could live in a tree?? Perhaps too many days seeking escape in tales of adventure had clouded her thinking yet this had been a most carefully devised plan. Childish yet naively effective if one did not look too deeply and seek fault where to her there there was none. Tarpaulins!! for a roof, she had decided, to keep out the rain and rope to construct all manner of furniture. Emulating heroes cast ashore on desert islands. Forced to improvise often most improbable necessities. That she had neither the skill nor the equipment to perform either task did not occur to her and hours were whiled away planning and dreaming of liberation.Waiting for the day to come when all would be prepared and the dream would at last be a reality. However unlikely this was, it afforded her a means of being anywhere but where she was and anywhere was better than here!!

She would have to hide she decided. The risk of discovery in daylight hours was too great a risk and so beyond the witching  hour was to be her time to risk leaving the safety of her refuge in search of food and supplies. Mentally forced to criminal activities in an attempt to survive she truly believed in the effectiveness of her plan. Blithely dismissing the small pang of conscience that prickled, telling herself this was unavoidable and not an option of choice. She knew well the difference between right and wrong for hadn’t she been taught it most frequently in the cruellest of manners, yet one sufficiently adequate as to produce the desired result. Yet even this did little to deter her. Hopeless misery obliterated all reason and she was beyond anything but a small glimmer of hope sprung to life in a well used imagination. Yes, a most effective plan were you not to examine it too closely and one most frequently put into practice, in her head at least, and strangely this was often enough. You cannot harm what you cannot reach and she was far far away happily swinging in the bough of her tree and that it was not real somehow mattered not at all. Yes she remembers and sometimes if you see her turn and smile at the sound of rustling leaves you will wonder if she is once again that small child. Adventuress and dreamer and inventor of a plan only worthy of the young.

The Lost Art of Propriety

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Propriety. Little known a word today yet cast yourself back a mere century and you would find yourself in a time considered the epitome of propriety. In a time when ones image and behaviour were the most important factors of all, attitudes toward other people were courteous and respectful regardless of who they were. It was considered the height of bad manners to be seen conducting yourself in anything but a decorous manner and regardless of your personal feelings towards another individual you were expected to maintain this nevertheless. Of course a class  divide did exist and those of higher station were not expected to treat those below them with equality but nonetheless there remained a standard of conducting oneself regardless.

Forward again to the present time and alas the situation is very much different. Manners seem to be very much a dying practice and people in general rarely care nor heed whether their treatment of others is courteous or respectful. One would imagine in today’s society that this would be simply the evolution of the lower classes and indeed i have heard comment before that nothing better can be expected from the poor. Strangely though it has been my experience that it is not these people who are perhaps those most guilty but those more successful and affluent individuals in this modern day world of ours. Indeed i myself have been witness to a growing rudeness and supercilious dismissal of others that exists within the business classes and it becomes more obvious the higher up the ladder of success one has climbed. Perhaps there exists some unwritten rule that should you gain success of any kind this no longer puts you in the category of having to maintain a respectful manner towards others.

Admittedly our lives are so much more consumed with our careers than perhaps in any previous era and there can be no doubt that on the whole we are busier than ever before. But have we really become so self absorbed nowadays that we care little about others nor about our attitudes towards them?

Does success really make you so much better than anyone else that simple manners and pleasant manner are so far beneath you?

From recent experience it seems so and i have, on more than one occasion recently, stared aghast at some rude quickly dashed missive designed not to consider the feelings of the recipient and indeed leave them feeling curtly dismissed and slighted. Perhaps it says more about those in receipt of such ill treatment that they in turn do not respond in kind as one could argue would be justified. Whatever the reason it seems the population of today would do as well to look to their ancestors and perhaps learn a lesson or two in etiquette.

Measuring your success by how high up the ladder you have climbed may seem to many to be the way of today. But if the only respect and admiration you have is from your peers of similar ilk then perhaps you may not be quite as successful as you may believe. Courtesy and manners cost nothing and there are many that seem to have forgotten that every ladder has a bottom rung and they were once standing upon it.

Please. Thankyou. Such simple words yet amazingly profound when used correctly.

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A little bit of Thin-spiration

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Ask any woman in todays modern society exactly what they consider to be the perfect body and you can pretty much guarantee that the word ‘thin’ will be in there somewhere. Average statistics show that at any one time 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will be on a diet or weight loss program of some form or other. In an increasingly media driven society models of perfection are paraded as examples to aspire to and aspire to it we do. 

Despite an ever expanding population the diet and fitness industry continues its popularity explosion with companies like Weight Watchers pulling in a hefty $1.452bn (1) in annual revenue. Definitely no slim sum by any means and a clear indicator that the diet industry, in the western world at least, is definitely big business. As the media continues its glamorous promotion of those body beautifuls, we in turn fuel the trend and flock in our millions to buy into the illusion that they sell.

So much of a change from a small few decades past when icons and idols sported more ‘womanly’ curves. Glamour oozed from such well rounded starlets as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and the timelessly sexy Bettie Page. Yet it is a true indicator of todays media influence when many questioned nowadays truly consider those afore mentioned sex symbols to be overweight. Indeed on more than one occasion this writer has seen the beautiful Marilyn described as ‘Fat’.

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But how accurate is this media bandwagon and are those ideals of perfection really so perfect after all? Well on camera it seems so. Glossy celebrities smile those perfect smiles and flaunt those flaw free bodies across magazine covers the world over. Enviously we admire everything about them and hurl ourselves desperately in the direction of anything we believe will make us like our idols. Billions each year are spent on diet, cosmetics and now on an increasing trend of cosmetic surgery as industry cashes in on our need to be perfect. The ‘quick fix’ surgery solution has rocketed in the last few years with millions of us opting for an invasive procedure as a way to give us that which we desire so badly. There is no doubt that this growing trend will not be seeing a decline anytime soon and the industry sees set to boom to massive proportions. 

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Sadly many recent media revelations reveal that perhaps the perfection we yearn for so badly may not be such a reality after all. Articles galore adorn the internet screaming the reality of an illusion we are all to ready to buy into. It seems there is a route to perfection after all but it does not lie at the end of a surgeons scalpel, nor indeed as the result of any super hyped diet program. To achieve the body of your dreams it seems all you need to do today is get yourself airbrushed. Stars have been no doubt cringing in shame as the internet buzzes with before and after photographs showing the reality of alleged perfection. With a few clicks of a computer mouse the pounds are shed, cellulite banished and perfect wrinkle free skin glows with health. Not such hard work after all then and certainly a look we can all manage with ease. Amusing then that men are among those most easily taken in by the images fed to us. I have encountered shock and surprise from more than one gentleman when i explained the wonders of airbrushing to them for they really did believe such flawless beauty existed. There is no doubt that there are indeed many beautiful people out there but nobody is perfect. So as we embark upon yet another diet in our efforts to be thin and spend billions on anything we are led to believe will get us there, perhaps we need to be a little more realistic in our efforts. Maybe one day the media will step up to the mark and take responsibility for the monster that it has created. But in the meantime we will all try just that little bit harder and spend just that little bit more. 

Because you can be perfect……can’t you?

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(1) source – google finance

Who wants to live forever

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It has been a long standing joke in my house that i am going to live to be a very aged cantankerous recluse, with a spooky house full of cats that children dare each other to knock upon the door. Quite blase i would airily announce that i was going to live to the ripe old age of 103. I have no idea where this number came from or why i settled upon it, but 103 has always been my mantra. 

I cannot for one minute imagine what quality of life i should have at this age and being in my early 40s, which i consider very young in the scheme of things, i do not ponder it too much as to me it is a terribly long way away. Imagine the things i will have seen if i reach such a ripe old age!! Croakily announcing to the younger generation that i remember a time before computers were invented will no doubt make me seem incredibly old indeed. Much in the way that i regard with awe those older persons who were around in those historical times and witnessed the birth of monumental discoveries we nowadays take for granted. So i tell myself i shall be regarded for those changes having taken place in my own lifetime.

Perhaps, like many, i have been guilty of thinking too little about my own mortality and just taking for granted that i should be here for quite some considerable time….until recently. Being a member of an online fitness group brings me into contact with a diverse range of people and within this community i have made many likeminded friends. All of us dedicated to fitness and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Gradually as you converse you learn the stories behind the people and those things that motivate them and in turn relate your own. 

Meeting a new friend recently of a similar age we happily swapped tales and when she declared herself impressed and inspired by my own success i volunteered to help her in any way i could. As she related her tale to me i was horrified and catapulted into a reality that, i for one, had not even thought of considering. This particular lady, although a year younger than myself, had suffered a heart attack only a year before. Granted her size had much to do with this but, as i reminded myself, i had also been considerably overweight myself and only luck and perhaps good genes had prevented me from being in her place. To say i was shocked was an understatement for i had not for one moment considered the fact that people at so young an age can, and indeed do, suffer from such devastating health scares. Thankfully this lovely lady did recover and is very dedicated to redressing all those factors that led her to suffer as she did. For myself i sat and thought for a while, for this really had made me think quite seriously about my life. one cannot deny that it is all too easy just to sail along complacently, imagining that we shall always be here and putting off until tomorrow those things which we should do today.

Life is a gift and we really should treat it as such. I have long realised that, were we to waste the time we are given ,you do not get sent back to have another try. We none of us know when our time will come and for some of us it may be far sooner than for others. I guess all in all its a case of living every day like it could be your last. No regrets and no what ifs. Reach out and grab those things you can while you can, and do not waste time being afraid or complacent. 

So easily i could have been her, but thankfully i changed my life in time to save myself….this time.

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