Three wheels on my wagon



 

You never let anything get you down do you, you’re always so upbeat?

I’d never really been one to take much notice of other people’s perceptions of me until the above statement from a colleague made me pause and examine my own psyche. Long ago i ceased to care what other people thought of me and decided that they could like me or not but i wasn’t going to change who i am for anyone. I guess the truth is i lost myself for a while, forgot who i was and lived smothered under an alter ego created for me by others. I forgot how to have an opinion, i forgot how to have a voice, i forgot how to be me. Now i remember who i am and i shall not let anyone take that away from me again.  To this day whenever i see a bird in a cage i feel so sad, for i know very well how it feels and wonder where it would go were i to set it free. Would it know how to be anything but a bird in a cage? Probably not and i have seen instances when even were a cage door to be opened the bird makes to attempt to leave and make a bid for freedom. It simply does not know how.

It is said that a persons personality is set by the age of 7 years of age and that whatever traits we have gained by then will remain with us for life. How much truth there is in this i do not know but i do know that without doubt the experiences of childhood remain with us forever and invariably shape the people we become even if we are not aware of it. Having seen both first hand and in others the effects of a negative emotional upbringing versus a positive one there is no doubt the effects of both are lingering.  Life  experiences made me tough, i’m a survivor, a practicalist and an eternal optimist and if i ever feel down only one person should know it. I’m often told im a strong person and i guess i am, i have needed to be. There is very little that life can throw at me and i have been told i have a very pollyanna attitude to life (most of the time). But i have also seen the ill effects an emotionally damaging upbringing can have on an individual who is not as battle hardened as i and there is no doubt that however hidden those scars may be they are scars nonetheless. A lifetime affected by actions that were given little consequence at the time leaves me wondering how blind we are to the effect we have on others. Certainly it seems a lot more than we should be.

My childhood was rather contradictory. Whilst i was quite rightly taught that if i could not say anything nice then i should remain silent, this was not infact put into practise by those setting the rules. It however seems the ‘Do as i say, not as i do” rule was very much the number one when i was young and sadly this was simply taught to me and never followed. I thankfully to this day remain a firm advocate of remaining silent rather than say something unforgiveable and i try to be as mindful as i can, for something once said cannot be taken back. Some wounds, as i have seen for myself, run very deep and are very slow to heal and some just simply fester and may remain as wounds forever. The power of words has never been more in evidence for me than as of late as i have seen the suffering they have caused.

Yes i firmly believe childhood has more of an impact on us than at any other time in our lives. It is when we learn the most whether the good or the bad and follows a road that sets us upon a way of life we will barely waver from. Being a child is tough, being a damaged child is even tougher still. Childhood made me stubborn, strong, resilient and a dreamer. Yet it also made me caring and empathetic to the feelings of others in the most unlikely way possible.

Strangely and perhaps quite perversely a song popped into my head when i was musing over my colleagues remarks on my attitude to life. A song from my childhood that used to make me laugh until the very last verse when the poor man has no wheels left upon his wagon.  I used to get very upset imagining the grisly demise of the poor unfortunate fellow at the hands of the pursuing Indians. Today the song still makes me chuckle but i find it very fitting for me as i plod my merry way through life.

Two wheels on my wagon and i’m still rolling along…..

 

 

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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’ 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Aside

How are you today?

positive thinking

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?

Alternative Me

It should be blue not grey, it’s always blue in the movies. She turned her head looking away into the distance, ignoring the cry of the gulls around her. The faint horn of some sea bound trawler interrupting the rhythmic swish of the waves as they rolled into shore. The sea should be blue!

She paused as though in slow motion, face smooth and expressionless, lost in the horizon and the thoughts that floated on the very edges. A smile ghosted across her face, she could hear them murmuring away far behind her. She knew they were there but it did not matter and she dismissed them just as quickly. It did not change anything and she sensed that they knew that also and so they stayed away and watched, and muttered amongst themselves. Let them, she did not care for them or their little lives. 

Again that smile flickered as she became aware of me, so close i could reach out and touch her but i did not. She didn’t turn her head, she had no need to for she had always been aware of me as i had of her. She remained as she was contemplating the ocean as i in turn considered her. We stood there for a while, she and i, neither moving both thinking and inscrutable. She closed her eyes and smiled, tipping her face upwards to the sun drinking it in slowly, spreading her arms wide arresting in her serenity. Still i watched and as i did so she turned to look at me, eyes meeting mine, blue locking onto blue yet without the smile within them that still so faintly touched her lips. She had no need to speak for i knew her as well as i know myself and i understood what she needed to say as clearly as if she had spoken the words aloud. ”Be happy” they said simply ”be glad you chose as you did”

In one fluid motion she turned, almost dancer like in movement and in one abandoned moment leapt forward arching towards the sun, suspended there as though frozen in time. I could have stopped her, i had only to put out my hand and make her stay but curiously i did not want to. Briefly silhouetted against the sky, smile as bright as the light behind her and then she was gone.Yes i knew her, this alternative me, the one who didn’t make the choices, the one who wasn’t so strong. As i gaze across the ocean i watch the gulls wheeling their merry dance across the sky and i smile, for it doesn’t matter if it isn’t blue i know that even if she did not. It can be blue if i make it so for it is my picture and i am the one painting it. My turn now to smile and as i leave the ocean behind i turn one last time lingering for just a moment ”Thankyou” i whisper softly ” Goodbye” 

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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Rowing a small boat in a big ocean

Crisis, breakdown, issues, problems….

Call them what you will but we all have them at some point in our lives often when we least expect them. We may be merrily ambling along the path of life when suddenly we are knocked off our feet and left down in the dirt trying to find a foothold to get ourselves back upright again. For some of us this may be easy but for others even such a short ascent  may seem like facing the tallest mountain when they know they are no mountaineer.

Ultimately there is just no tried and tested way to deal with all these things, we are all so very different and what may be an effective coping mechanism for one may leave another floundering.Good advice whilst kindly meant may often result in an adverse effect to the one intended, for none of us can say how another may react to any given situation.But does this mean we should not offer for fear of doing the wrong thing? Encountering a rebuff whilst hard to accept is inevitably better than failing to act at all then regretting the fact you did not.

Call me whimsical if you will but i rather like to picture life itself as a small boat on an ocean.

We start our voyage of existence sailing solo but along the way we may invite people to share the journey with us and at various ports along the way we will pick up and drop them off, sometimes just one or sometimes a few. Fate will bring along its share of both calms and storms but struggle begins when you choose to either ask someone to row along with you or whether you choose to weather the onslaught and battle along alone.

After much practise i find i have become rather adept at rowing my boat, rather skillfully weathering the storms and if at times i get a little seasick, well at least i know it will pass. Even so there are times when rowing this boat alone gets a little lonely and then sometimes you wish that you had someone else along to share the ride. This is when i wish i had not put into port so often and cast ashore my shipmates. Hindsight most truly is a wonderful thing.

Perhaps there was something to be said for press ganging after all!

So as we cruise along on our various odysseys perhaps we should all keep an eye for those boats adrift or battling the storm and as we pass by hold out a hand and offer to help row. For when life’s tempest rears its ugly head we should like to hope someone will sail by our side and battle us into calmer seas. 

And since i can profess no claim to being any kind of mariner I know i would.

 

Austen-tatious

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I know myself to be far from alone this weekend being totally immersed in the screening of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, sighing wistfully as the knee weakening Mr Darcy bestows on the most beautiful Elizabeth Bennet ‘THE look’  A tale much loved by me in both literary form and the visual adaptations which duly followed, i find myself drawn once again into the romance and propriety of Austen’s world with all the ease of donning a favourite cosy cardigan. I am a most old fashioned girl in all things pertaining to matters of the heart but also find great appeal in such decorum and wealth of manners and believe i should have felt most at home in this earlier period of time. Oh how very wonderful to be wooed by some dashingly handsome man emanating respect and to be duly afforded such correct behaviour as was my right. So very far removed from most gentlemen of my acquaintance today, and i hesitate to call them gentlemen, who are more likely with great ribaldry to request that i display some area of my anatomy for the entertainment of all present. So appealing too, those so articulate and eloquent, an art which these days i find is very much on the decline and the talent of conversation and wit is severely lacking in all but a few. Perhaps i move in the wrong circles having neither connection nor fortune to move in a society above my own but this does not prevent me from longing for the stimulation of intelligence and decorum that seems doomed to be lost in a bygone age. Little wonder women the world around sigh disconsolately and  take solace in a world so very far removed from our own. And forgive me if, just for a short while, i  join the ranks and submit to the smoulderingly charismatic charms of the irrepressible Mr Darcy.

who do you think you are

We spend our lives surrounded by people, everywhere all around us interacting yet solitary, dimly aware yet so absorbed in our own lives we take little notice of those around us. I like to people watch, i have a strange curiosity about the people around me and i often wonder who they are and where they are going as they rush along oblivious in their own daily lives. The old lady, face screwed up, bent almost double as she battles the wind and rain clutching a battered old shopping bag to her chest. You can see she doesn’t like the rain, her very haste and whole aura of distaste make it very plain as she forges on and tries to hurry just that little bit faster. Where is she going? does she have a doting husband waiting patiently for her return,missing his companion, glancing now and then at the clock to anticipate her return  or does she return to a home silent but for the cries of a ragged looking tabby pacing anxiously by the door. The workman, lunchbox under one arm walking rapidly and purposefully towards his destination, glancing neither left or right in his desire to get out of the cold. He’s less obvious in his distaste but nonetheless you can tell he wishes he was somewhere else. Is there a wife bustling around making dinner whilst children watch with noses pressed to window, waiting to hurl themselves at him as he crosses the threshold or does he return to a darkened house and a meal for one, to take early to his bed unable to bear the solitude for too long a time. The child, oblivious to anything but the pure glee of splashing with reckless abandon through puddles of muddy rain, pulled along by a mother desperate to get home and not inclined to linger like the child. Does he go home to be smothered in a warm towel before perching on a chair, heels swinging, to await the return of rain sodden family members complaining loudly in a clamorous throng about the weather and the journey home or maybe its is not his mother after all and he will not infact see a parent until long after he has retired for the night, greeted only by a perfunctory kiss on the sleeping childs forehead.

And then i wonder if someone else is watching in me and wondering who i am and where i’m going. I try to see myself from the outside and wonder what i would think of me if i were them. Do they see me? Do they know that i dont mind the rain and am in no hurry to get to my destination. Do they notice that i watch them and wonder at their daily likes or maybe notice the small skip around a puddle and think that some recent event has made me want to share a happiness with the world. Do they know that im the one that goes home to the meal for one but later greeted by the family members bewailing the english weather. I wonder what they see when they look at me, do they even see me at all??

When its all just down to Mr Benn

I remember back when i was small ( yes trust me i can remember back that far) and one thing i always remember is a childrens tv show called Mr Benn. Short little cartoons where an ordinary unassuming little man in his ordinary little bowler hat would take a trip to a fancy dress shop and try on a different outfit every time and disappear on a wonderful adventure to be an astronaut, a wizard or even a roman gladiator. Back then i imagined it to be so very wonderful to magically be someone else just by putting on another hat and yes i wanted to go to that little fancy dress shop and be a princess or a ballerina or perhaps something even more wonderful than that. I wanted to be Mr Benn…..

All grown up now and i had to smile when recently i stumbled across a reference to the adventurous Mr Benn but then as i sat and looked at the pictures a thought occurred to me that never would have as a child. Mr Benn went into that shop so often and came out as someone, but never once did he go through that magical door choosing to be just himself. In my own way i am my very own Mr Benn, the very person my childhood self  had always wanted to be but somehow it doesnt seem as magical as i thought it would. A lifetime spent wearing different hats, mother, daughter, sister, wife and in all of them im somebody else and limited by the dictates that the outfit provides. Somehow as time went by i realised i was so busy being what everyone else expected me to be i forgot about the most important character of all…ME. 

How often in our lives do we strive to impress others, those who actually really do not matter at all since they are not an essential part of our lives but merely passing through. Yet we change ourselves to impress when in reality what we should say is ..this is me accept me. Strange how we feel the need to be perceived in such a positive light by people who do not know us, mostly never will and who at the end of the day will not give us another passing thought as they go about their own busy lives. Why should they? We are nothing to them beyond those brief points in which we interact, once over resuming to as it was before.  Ultimately when doors are closed and we are all alone the only thing we see looking back at us is our own face in the mirror, but are we really looking at ourselves or have we tried so hard to be what we think will impress that we have lost all sense of what makes us who we are. Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

I used to be that way, so desperate to please and to be liked. Strange that i wanted to be liked for someone who did not exist rather than the one who was there all along. Now….this is me, accept me for i shall not change. And if you like me i shall know you like me just for myself and nothing more than that.

Mr Benn? No i don’t want to be Mr Benn. Do you?

I am Panda, and Panda is me. 

The rule of 7

There is a theory i found whilst browsing our online world that we re-invent ourselves in cycles of every 7 years. Perhaps this is mostly an unconscious change but i think most will agree that they are not the same person they were prior to today. I mulled on this for some time for i can well remember the person i was that number of years ago but then the question came to me was i actually myself back then or indeed in prior years?

The answer after some thought was actually a resounding NO. Not entirely, although with the exception of this present point in time it was the period in my life when i was closest to actually being myself. Of course barring for the unlikely explanation of alien abduction or body snatching it would seem logical to assume that of course i was me.

Who else was i likely to be?

Well i guess on further examination the truth is you are only the product of what other people and yourself allow you to be. Consciously or not we change and adapt ourselves to suit those around us sometimes so much so that we lose sight of who we really are. One thing i find most amusing is the meeting of two people, initially attracted by the other person they set about forming a relationship as is natural. Curiously then they seek to set about changing that person into some pre-conceived ideal that they have but in essence destroying all that appealed to them about the other in the first place.

Why?? 

This, for me personally, is something i cannot abhor having been victim to it on many occasions and thus i am a firm believer in not trying to change someone to suit yourself. After all you liked them in the first place and everything that they were drew you to them so why set about trying to fix that which is already right? Yet in honesty this is where i failed so dismally on the 7 year change for looking back i could not fail to admit that in all previous cycles i was more often the product of what other people had wanted me to be or forced me to be rather than being myself. Whether by manipulation or pure design i was actually guilty of being less my own person and more some other whom for the most part i did not recognise. 

Some cycles this was more evident and in hindsight i cringe when i think of the person i was and admonish myself for being so susceptible to domination and manipulation and yet i was.Such a contradiction considering the strong minded person i really am and i wonder whether this says more about me or those in my life at the time. Reasonably and logically i know that this was more to do with external forces than anything within myself for if i am honest i was always there but buried away where nobody could see. Only when in the company of the right person do you finally get to be only that which you really are.

How sad then that so very few would be able to step forward when i am departed from this world and say ”yes i knew her”. Oh yes many may think it to be so and i know those who would like to be able to make that claim but in truth those who actually did or do are only two in number at this point in time. Whilst this may seem to many be a pitiful number i find that it pleases me greatly. A woman of mystery and intrigue perhaps? No not really, i find instead that it is just a little more special when you do meet those persons with whom you can be everything that you are, without restraint. And if then you are told that those persons like you just the way you are it is all worth it and you know those are the right ones for you.

Who will i be in another 7 years?? Actually this is where i hope the 7 year change ends for i like this person that i am now. I find i like her very well. She has taken so very long to break free that i would be loathe to part with her again and i for one hope she sticks around for a little while longer. 

My life without me

Today i was shocked and saddened by the news that an ex colleague and friend had suffered a cardiac arrest. Thankfully due to some twist of fate he was in the right place at the right time and was very swiftly aided and ultimately it seems he is going to be fine. i guess the shock really is that by todays standards this gentleman in question is not particularly old, having not long since taken retirement and settled down to a long earned life of leisure and although it happens this was really not expected.

The loveliest of men always smiling and jolly and such a kind caring nature that my daughter and i long ago christened him ‘Papa Smurf’

It seems we none of us really face up to the fact that we are after all merely limited beings and that eventually whether sooner or later we shall all in the end shuffle off this mortal coil towards whichever end our beliefs may lead us to. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that this failure to recognise our mortality means many of us just forget to live while we have the chance to do so. It may be that we are afraid or just that have we have forgotten how.

I, like everyone else, simply do not wish to imagine my life without me in it but reality bites and i have to accept the fact that i shall not always be here and life will continue to go on without me as inevitably it always does. Perhaps we all need to learn to live a little more like each day is our last, actually living the life we have rather than drifting with such total complacency and taking it all for granted.

I know Papa Smurf is so thankful he was saved, indeed he said so to all of us and for our part we know the world is far better a place with him in it. Get well papa smurf xxxxx

W. H. Davies

Leisure

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

On dating and being a muse

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I like to hope i am reasonably intelligent and articulate and i freely admit i am drawn to those similar to myself. I personally find intelligence a very appealing quality and will inevitably be drawn to this rather than looks although admittedly finding someone who is also aesthetically pleasing is a bonus in dating circles.  Alas the world i live in brings me into contact with such people most infrequently and most often my only source of intelligent conversation is one of my marathon phone calls with my gorgeously handsome best friend. 

As you can imagine it was rather refreshing to strike up a conversation with a gentleman of looks, wit and intelligence and unusually i found him rather interesting to talk to. Importantly also he could spell which after the text talk or badly spelt missives i usually receive was rather a pleasant change. Such a change also not to have to go through the rigmarole of 

”hi hows you, what do you do”

When you have replied to this kind of message for about the hundredth time believe me it gets wearing and it is very tempting to have some prewritten response that you just send to everyone who asks it. No this particular gentleman was different for he had taken time to read my profile and consequently had far more interesting things to say and also the talent of conversation.  Suffice it to say i was rather surprised when, having messaged to say he had to log off, he dropped me a short message that said i had inspired him and was his muse and as a result he had written a diary entry.

ME?? A Muse???? 

Oh how wonderfully, artistically romantic is that?? Hmmmm but then the small thought appeared that i had not seen this piece yet and it could possibly not be favourable as i was anticipating. Well wouldn’t you know it the wheels of dating were moving incredibly slowly as i awaited the required review by the powers that be and i drummed my fingers for quite some time. What if it was terrible and he had named me in it? I would have to emigrate and go and live in some remote outpost of the world!! Okay so im being dramatic but still it would mean a lot of keeping my head down and hiding from obvious censure. 

At last!! The text in question appeared on the screen and i have to admit i was impressed and i could see from which point in our conversation his observations had stemmed. Was i flattered? Well yes, of course, for far more appealing than being told you are gorgeous is the realisation that someone has listened to something you have said and it has made an impact upon them. Of course i am not so unwomanly as to not be flattered when someone tells me i am attractive, indeed far from it but i much prefer more substance to someones interactions with me. 

Fancy that, me a muse!!

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Whilst i highly doubt this will rank me up there with the Mona Lisa and yes i shall probably never speak to this particular gentleman again i have to admit i am rather tickled that i should inspire anyone at all. 

Me a muse? How Amusing!!!

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