Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

I moved to this little nest on 28th December 2016. One evening something happened which made me feel positive about being here. Before then I had been very unsure whether I would be able to settle here.

Have you ever been through a crises in confidence?  Perhaps after a series of failures, you felt inadequate to face any more future challenges.  Or maybe trials had eroded your optimism and worry had started to gnaw at your outlook.  I am going to tell you how a complete stranger imparted encouragement to me at a time my confidence was failing. She probably had no idea what her words meant to me.cash

I was itching to be back in London. I had spent almost a year with friends and family after I was attacked and was hoping that now I was physically and emotionally ready to take on the Big Smoke.

My first situation when I returned to London turned out disastrously.   I will save the story for another post, because I am going have to think very carefully about the words I choose regarding the man who was my boss…hmm… I gave my notice in after a couple of weeks and moved to another part of London.  However, whilst I was in a better situation, I had a knockback when I was involved in an accident at work and had to be taken to hospital for a CT scan.  After being discharged, the hospital personnel told me I needed to rest rest rest before I thought about work again.  I admitted to my bosses that I would not be able to say when I would be safe to return to work and we agreed to end my temporary contract.  So I spent the next few weeks with family again.

Anyway… still determined to get back to my life and career as a full-time volunteer in London, I found lovely accommodation and another job and I moved down to London a couple of months later, 28th December, ready to start work the following week.

I was a tad anxious though.  My previous experiences had made me doubt my capabilities to be… what is that word that helps you to achieve your goals?  Oh yes, TENACIOUS!

failureIn all honesty, I didn’t really have much fight in me after everything I had been through. I was rather feeble emotionally and was almost expecting I was going to have yet another failure.

At times, we can be our own worst critic.  I was frustrated with myself, frustrated with my body for letting me down (as I perceived it).  It was gnawing at my confidence that I was still not fully “back on my feet”.  Was it me?  Was there something wrong with me that meant I was doomed for persistent failures?

What if I let down my new landlord and my new boss?  What if I failed again?

It was with thoughts like these swimming around my head that I moved back to London. There was a young woman sitting near me on the train journey down to London I have often wished I could thank.  I brought a large suitcase and a small suitcase when I moved.  She kindly helped me to get both cases all the way from the railway station and onto the underground train I needed to catch, even though she was going a different way.  I cannot remember her name.  I only know that she worked for St Georges Hospital and she was hoping one day to work in plastic surgery, treating those who have suffered from burns and injuries in war torn areas.

What would I do about my crises of confidence?

Cash-machineThe first night I arrived I went to a cash machine on the local high street.  As I approached and pulled my debit card out to insert into the machine, I noticed that a large amount of money was sticking out of the machine.  I did not touch it, but it looked to be around £200-£300 at least.

I was not sure what to do at first.  The machine would not allow me to insert my own card.  It was beeping and there was a prompt notice on the screen asking the user to take the cash.  A man drew up on a motorcycle and stood behind me waiting his turn to use the machine.  I looked up and down the high street wondering if there was anyone nearby who was running back for the cash they had forgotten, but there was nobody else around.  I was a bit worried that if I asked the man behind me, he might grab the cash himself and make a run for it.  I felt responsible to guard the money I had found.  The was a mini-supermarket nearby.  Maybe I should take the cash inside there for safe -keeping and report to them what had happened.  Then I remembered there is a police phone number for non-emergencies.  So I rang 101 and asked what I should do.  The administrator on the line asked me if there was anyone else around.  She was very kind and expressed her sympathy for me standing there bewildered because somebody else’s money was in jeopardy.

Suddenly I saw a woman (I would have guessed in her sixties) running back towards us. She was returning with the horror of realizing she had forgotten the money she had just withdrawn.  I reassured her it was still there.  She was so glad, so grateful.

It was this lady, this complete stranger who then said to me the words I used in the title of this post:

Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

The lady on the phone at 101 had heard everything.  She was also very kind.  She told me that some people would just have run off with the money without a thought.  She said “that lady is right, you should take her words to heart.”

I walked home with tears in my eyes.  Those words had such a powerful effect on me. They were desperately needed words that bolstered my courage.  I had a reminder that what defines success or failure, is not how much money you earn, the career you are striving within, the qualifications and accolades you may have been awarded.  Success is not having a perfect situation, a perfect body, perfect health, or being able to say you have never been bullied and you have never been the victim of a crime.

Qualities of the heart…that’s what my parents aimed to cultivate in us.   They wanted to be sure that where-ever life took us, whether we were in company or all alone, we would live by the values they had sounded down into our little hearts.  There would be times when we might not know exactly what to do.  We might meet challenges that bamboozled us!  But so long as we stayed within the beautiful lessons for life that we had been taught we would be successful.

What a wonderful thing to say to someone, and a complete stranger at that!  I would love that lady to know how much I appreciated her expression of thanks on my first night back in London.

Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

Men Who Were Born In The Seventies

I was born in the early eighties. Since I left school, every man I have ever developed a crush on was born in the seventies. Every man I have ever had a meaningful relationship with has been born in the seventies.

They have all been men who wore suits in their day jobs. But all of them have had hobbies that were different from mine, but fascinating. They all liked music, science-fiction and some form of art.

Jammy (my teenage sweetheart) liked photography. Goldfinch liked to draw and paint. And in between Jammy and Goldfinch, every man I have been out with for any length of time was into something creative. I am including the men who had so many models of Starship Enterprise and other space-craft models in their bedrooms.

They have all been groovers. Real groovers. They liked dancing. None of them claimed to be great dancers, but it was never difficult to get them up on the dance floor.

Now I am in a bit of a pickle. Goldfinch has gone…he is on the other side of the planet. My next date with him might never even happen. Who knows? We have talked about this and I have given it thought. Eventually I may find I am drawn to someone here. But I suspect that will be a man born in the seventies. This Saturday I may be (still undecided) going to a party with a male friend, who is in his seventies – (HOLD ON, THAT IS A SERIOUS TYPO!) – nope, sorry, he is not in his seventies, he was born in the seventies! Not that I wouldn’t go to a party with a man in his seventies – in many respects that would be less complicated.

However, there are two men, both of whom I have known for some time, who have both asked me out several times and made very clear overtones to me that they like something about me. One is much older than me. Twenty years older. He was born in the early sixties. The other, is ten years younger than me. He is a nineties kid!

And to tell you the truth…it feels a bit weird. I don’t want to sound judgemental. I don’t have a problem with age gaps. I have some friends who are married to someone with a large age gap – even women married to much younger men. They seem very happy.

It’s just not something I have ever experienced myself. The biggest age gap I have experienced myself was fourteen years. That was Jack who was like a big teenager! I get on with the two men who have asked me out. I get on with people of all ages. It’s just the whole physical, romantic side that I have no desire of sharing with either of them.

I don’t think it is just their age. It’s also their characters I guess. The younger man, well, he makes me feel old. He things he does, the way he speaks – I feel like a granny because he seems so immature. The older man – well, I think I would find it easier to spend time with him. He makes me feel young – which is a nice feeling. With him, I think the main issue is height. I am five foot eight. He is at least an inch shorter than I am. I think that may be why it always seems as if he is looking at my bosom.

Aaaaaah sigh!

What I really want is a six foot one Australian who is ten years older than I am, but has such a great lust for life that he has the energy of a twenty year old, but all the wisdom of a mature man. I want Goldfinch. Aaaaah sigh!

The First Time I Read The Word Exquisite

I actually remember the first time I ever read the word “exquisite”. It sent shivers up and down my spine and filled me with excitement. There was something special about that word, it was incredibly alluring. I have included the verse I read when I was just a little girl that filled me with anticipation.

Around this time of year, I am longing for bleak, grey winter to be over and longing for spring. Every day I feel excited as I anticipate the colour and warmth and life returning.

Sometimes it is hard to wait for the good times ahead. But I know they are coming. Nothing will stop the march of the seasons. I am full of hope, no matter how bitterly cold and dismal it is right now.

Whenever I turn on the news or read a newspaper it seems obvious that this world is quite lost, in need of a great rescue and recovery operation.

I am reminded of that seem feeling. I am full of hope. No matter how bitterly cold and ghastly this world becomes (and I am sure it will get worse before change comes), I am full of conviction that this winter will end and much brighter times are ahead.

I have solid reason for hope. Whatever source gives you hope, I am sure you too feel that same anticipation and longing for an exquisite era ahead.

“right hearted people will possess the earth

and find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace”

The Expenses Policy Expert

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The weekly writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore has stumped me this week, because nowadays, I am essentially a “jack of all trades, master of none”!

That may be obvious after my recent post which gave you an idea of all the different types of work I have immersed myself in in order to earn my “bread and butter”:

There was a time when I was an expert. During the eight years I worked in finance, there was one particular area where I really was the expert. The company had a policy on the expense claims that could be submitted by employees for travel and other business expenses. It was a long policy, a very long policy. According to the long document, it was originally put together by the directors of the company. But realistically, it was probably not them, but someone who worked in the accounts department or personnel department. Nobody seemed to want to claim responsibility for the contents of the expenses policy. They all said it was drawn up before their time.

When I took over the expenses ledger and was dealing with hundreds of claims each week from employees up and down the country, it became apparent that nobody really understood the policy. My manager did not understand it, the finance controller did not understand it, the finance director did not understand it, none of the directors understood it.

So I read it all, and re-read it, and circled parts that did not make sense and brought them to the attention of my manager. After the contradictions had been clarified, the full expenses policy was published on the company intranet. For the following few years I had four different supervisors, all of whom I had to train and explain the expenses policy to. I was the expert. I just made sure that if there were any issues, I presented them to my supervisor so that they could take the issue to the manager or director. If you ever have a boss – the key to good relations is to try to make your boss look good. Believe me, it makes your working life much more pleasant. Don’t be a glory hunter. Your boss will make your life miserable.

I realized that I am quite good at reading, absorbing, applying policies and explaining them to others. I know it sounds rather boring, but I was receiving scores of phone-calls a day asking me to explain areas of the expenses policy. Nobody else seemed able to answer those questions. Everyone knew to ring Mel – she will answer all of your questions.

Even though it is something I was very good at, I don’t want to go back to a job where I am tied to a desk and staring at a screen all day and talking on the phone. I prefer to work with people, in a role in which I feel I am really helping people, or to be a “jack of all trades”, doing all sorts of physical work and wherever possibly working outside in the fresh air.

 

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What about you? What are you truly an expert at? Write a post and tell us and please link back to Sarah’s writing prompt:

Writing Prompt #4

Panic After A Pickle With A Portuguese Man

It was not only in the accommodation I was living in that I was having challenges that came from men who did not seem to realize how uncomfortable they made me. I published this post a while ago, but it describes an incident that occurred during the time I was in my first “tied-accommodation” post and facing almost daily harassment:

I had a little incident with a man today.  I was in a bit of a pickle and I panicked.  Now, I am wondering if I over-reacted, and I feel bad.  You can judge me…it’s alright.  I am aware that I did not handle the situation perfectly.

I had just jumped off the tube when a stranger brushed against me and then immediately apologized.  I replied, “No problem”.  As we came down the steps he was looking at me and smiling.  When we reached the end of the steps, he put his arm forward and touched my arm and said “this way”.  I was just a tiny bit freaked out.  He would not know why I have reason to react awkwardly to a stranger touching me.  I looked at him and clearly told him “no thanks”.  I very deliberately walked the opposite way straight into the newsagents within the station, WHSmith, even though I didn’t need to buy anything.

WHSmith

Once I was in WHSmith, I looked at a few items I sometimes pick up on my travels.  I decided there was no point buying anything right there and hoped now I could just carry on with my journey.  As I was leaving the shop, he was standing there in front of me.  I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be watching me.  He smiled at me and said “Hi”.  I said “Hi” and walked out with a very quick pace.  He had not done anything terribly invasive, but for some reason, he had triggered my panic buttons.

I walked through the barriers and then did a U-turn to head up to the busiest part of the street even though that is not where I was headed.  I just needed to know there were other people around.  I had panic running up and down my spine telling me not to go anywhere isolated.  I was walking so quickly that my silly little shoes kept sliding off my feet.  He ran up beside me and he asked me if he could have some shelter under my umbrella.  I gave him a look which I thought said “not on your nelly!” which he did not seem to interpret correctly.  (Now I was starting to feel trapped).  He asked me to walk with him towards the bus station.  I told him I was going the opposite way.  He said that was fine, but he carried on walking with me.

portuguese tartsHe told me he is from Portugal and asked me if I had ever been and would I like to go.  (I have many Portuguese friends and know a few Portuguese expressions but did not tell him anything.  Even my sister Mandy has learnt enough Portuguese to have conversations about art and order a few pastéis de nata when we are in town together.  We even have Portuguese connections through marriage.  Our Helen married a very handsome Portuguese man and then when his best friend came over from Portugal for the wedding he met one of my best friends Laura…and it was happily ever after for them too.)  I was not liking the attention from a complete stranger so I did not respond to his questions.

He decided to ask me where I was from.  I said Liverpool – that is where I amUmbrella from, although I have not lived there for over ten years.  He then put one of his hands on my umbrella very firmly.  He asked my name.  I was starting to feel very threatened.  His grip on the handle of my umbrella was so strong.  (Maybe he wanted the umbrella and was not really interested in me.)

I told him that I knew he was just being friendly, but that I was not comfortable sharing any more information about myself, because he was a complete stranger.  When he objected, I just confirmed it was a no saying, “I don’t mean to be rude and please don’t take it personally, but this is the world we live in today”.  He told me that although we were strangers he would like to get to know me.  He asked if he could take me for something to drink or eat.  I cried “no thank you, I am headed to meet friends”.

He asked me if I was going shopping.  I was starting to get a bit frazzled.  He offered to hold my umbrella for us so I could rest my arm.  Again, I declined, “thank you but I am going inside now anyway.”  My umbrella has a button in the handle that pulls it in, so I clicked it.  He said he would like to talk to me until I met my friends and maybe we could go for a drink another time.  He then asked me my name again.  I felt like crying, “I am sorry, but I have told you I don’t feel comfortable simply because you are a stranger.”

I saw two security guards in big hi-vis yellow coats and ran towards them.  I didn’t say anything to them.  I just stood beside them until the man who had been walking with me backed off.

I know I have a very good reason to be nervous around men I don’t know…but do you think I was rude???  Do you think I over-reacted?

There is not much I can do about it now…I am just feeling a bit unkind.  Yet at the time I really wanted to get away from him and he did not seem to pick up on the vibes I was sending out.  I thought I was making it very clear that it was a no!  I was saying no and he was not listening.  He just made me feel more and more uncomfortable.

I know some women would not have minded, they perhaps would not have felt as threatened as I did.  It’s just after that night in the park, I have panic buttons I did not have before.  He triggered them all.  I ended up feeling like a hedgehog or porcupine with all my sharp needles bristling!  It is funny because my lovely Goldfinch was a complete stranger when I met him, but he did not make me feel uncomfortable.  He certainly did not trigger any of my panic buttons.  Aaaah, Goldfinch…I forgot I was going to tell you about the lovely day we had together on Wednesday.

I am not going to let myself brew on this one.  Perhaps the Portuguese stranger was a lovely man.  I did not feel comfortable though.  For whatever reason, I had every right to say “No thank you!”, just as I did with my workmate in “Icky Sticky”.

Hi-Vis

What a shame this is the world we live in.  I really don’t like feeling as if I have been rude to someone, but in this world, there are times when you have to be on the defence, cautious and you have to flee to a point of safety.  When you are in a pickle that makes you panic…just run to safety.  That is one of the reasons hi-vis jackets were created…for moments when a stranger crosses the line and we turn into damsels in distress.

(Thanks hi-vis jacket designers…these are my go-to whenever I have a panic moment!)

If I Could Make It Here I Could Make It Anywhere

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: FIX/MAKE

Empire State Building, New York City, Skyscraper

There are lots of songs that came to mind, but I picked the one I never get tired of. There is something uplifting and exciting about this song when I hear it, even though I have no connection with New York. But I still felt I had to send my main character Annabelle Riley to New York where she met her ex-boyfriend and of course her family. In fact I think that the interactions with Dean were some of my favourite passages to write. All my friends say they fall in love with Chris early on in the story, but of all the characters they like Dean the best because he can be so obnoxious and at the same time so caring. How confusing is that for a writer to hear?!!!

Researching New York sites, hotels and restaurants, checking the subway routes that Annabelle would have taken – it was so absorbing. It made me want to visit for myself and trace her steps around the city. There are so many films and television series that have been set in New York, so many of us are familiar with this famous city even if we have never been there ourselves. So it was easy for me to imagine Annabelle and Chris on the Brooklyn Bridge and high up on the Empire State Building.

For Annabelle, New York is not an easy place to be. But in a surprise twist – the answer to some of her problems actually lays waiting for her in New York.

Well….if you did not have chance to follow Annabelle’s story when I published it on my blog it is now all recorded in the first part of the LEARNERS AT LOVE series “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves” which is down there in the footer of my blog. I had to remove the Annabelle posts from my blog before I published her story with Amazon, which is a shame, but the joy of holding my first paperback and seeing my family and friends with their own copy is so worthwhile!

Meanwhile….this is the song that inspired Annabelle’s story when she ventures outside of Wisconsin. It is Alicia Keys singing “Empire State Of Mind”.

Oooh oooh, New York
Oooh oooh, New York

Grew up in a town
That is famous as a place of movie scenes
Noise is always loud
There are sirens all around
And the streets are mean
If I could make it here
I could make it anywhere
That’s what they say
Seeing my face in lights
Or my name in marquees found down on Broadway

Even if it ain’t all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York!

On the avenue, there ain’t never a curfew
Ladies work so hard
Such a melting pot on the corner selling rock
Preachers pray to God
Hail a gypsy cab
Takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge
Someone sleeps tonight with a hunger
For more than an empty fridge

I’m making by any means
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York!

One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams, all looking pretty
No place in the world that can compare
Put your lighters in the air
Everybody say yeah, yeah yeah

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!

Writers: Alicia J Augello Cook, and Shawn Carter

Avoid Super-Sillyness (That’s What My Dad Taught Me)

This week’s provocative (or thought-provoking) question from Fandango, is asking us our opinion on a statement ascribed to Bertrand Russell.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #15

Do you concur with Mr. Russell’s perspective?

Why or why not?

At first I wondered what is “the trouble” he is referring to? I have also read a similar quote, apparently from Charles Bukowski, and another one ascribed to Bertrand Russell, that is perhaps a bit more strongly worded: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts.”

I think that is a bit of an unbalanced assertion. It’s a rather sweeping statement! But I am not going to take exception to it, because there is every possibility Mr Russell may have been misquoted, or his words used out of context. Perhaps the statement jarred with me a little because it points to a perceived problem or cause of trouble. I am one of those people who prefers to listen to those who have solutions to offer, rather than taking a critical tone and adding to the list of problems and issues that already divide people. The blame and shame game rarely provides a real solution, but often causes more division.

I do not generally seek controversy or to be argumentative. So I am not going to start disputing what Mr Russell had to say. However, the statement above did convey a hint of superciliousness. My Dad taught me that word when I was around seven years old, and of course, I struggled to pronounce it. But super-sillyness was so close, I was perfectly content with that. Even today, I often deliberately mispronounce it just to cause a reaction!

Well…I do have a few thoughts on this question…although I am struggling to structure them in a coherant order. I will try to divide my thoughts into sections to make them easier to read.

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My thoughts turned immediately to the quality of humility. Not that insidious Uriah Heap humility!

I have heard it said that the more you learn, the more humble you should become. Because the more you learn, the more you should realize how much more there is to learn. A lack of humility does tend to indicate a lack of wisdom.

So in some respects those who are are intelligent may appear to have doubts – are these “self-doubts”? Or do they realize that there are times when humans learn something new, or gain a fresh understanding, that completely undermines what had been accepted as fact previously?

Having a humble attitude and a modest awareness of one’s limitations, or limited perspective, is a sign of wisdom and intelligence. And it is always a fine thing to show respect for others and learn to express yourself (even on divisive issues) with grace and diplomacy. These are super qualities!

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I think most recognize the way a person without understanding and insight expresses themselves may sound rather “cocksure”, as manifest by big bold generalisations, black and white terms that polarise an audience, immature, illogical arguments, using great gusto to make their point, but completely missing “the point”. There is nothing wrong with having deep convictions. But if they cannot be expressed in a way that conveys soundness of mind, then others will question the validity a person’s testimony. Super-sillyness!

Personally, there are some I would just discontinue any discussion with, due to the insulting terms they use about any who do not share their opinion! Their super-sillyness makes them seem rather “stupid”!!!

Whereas when you listen to someone who seems to have real understanding, they are often more fluent in thought, they do not alienate their audience, but seek to establish common understanding, and then perhaps to probe any areas that seem to be open to interpretation. They can consider different angles on an issue with empathy, they often have a more marked air of mildness and reasonableness. They invite others to express themselves, rather than shutting them down. Super!

In discussing any issue, it is appreciated when a person shows respect for the views of others in the way they express their own. Those who abandon reason in favour of insulting terms make themselves appear rather more “stupid” than “intelligent” – wouldn’t you agree? I have been at plenty of dinner parties and charity events were there were both the “cocksure” and the more humble personalities – I know who I would rather be placed next to at the dinner table!

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My other thought was something that a colleague within the medical profession said to me and others. My colleague (whether they realized it or not) was making a rather politically charged judgment. In their disgust at the outcome of a democratic vote, my colleague said that only “the educated” should be allowed to vote.

I asked my colleague how they would define “the educated”? They replied that it is those who have attended university and obtained a degree. Now how is that for a provocative statement or question!

Not one to be drawn in to political debates, I merely cited a few examples from my own family and acquaintance of some who achieved very high accolades within education and careers which rewarded them with a high salary and much recognition. However, some of them have shown not only a lack of honesty and integrity, but have even been prosecuted and served crimes.

window cleanerWhereas, my own dear, salt-of-the-earth, window-cleaning father who left school at the age of 14 without passing any exams, is in my view one of the most clear-sighted, honest, insightful, genuine and wise men I have known! (Yes, I acknowledge, I may be biased.) My father is a very respectful and humble man. He loves people. He has never stopped learning and studying and he has taught all of his children to do the same.

My point was, my colleague was presuming that those who went to university and obtained a degree would share their own political stance. They insinuated that any who disagreed with them, were uneducated, ignorant, stupid! Therefore whether others are intelligent or stupid, full of conviction or showing a level of doubt and uncertainty – is there not the tendency to judge those who do not share our view as “stupid”, especially if they express their views in bold terms, contradicting our own sentiments!

If it’s only whether people share the same opinion as us that makes us label them as stupid or intelligent – well, isn’t that super-sillyness at it’s worst?!!

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There are some issues that deeply divide people. They may be political issues, ethical or moral issues, religious issues. But on any issue – is it not being “cocksure” that makes one appear rather stupid? However, is it not those who are willing to humbly listen and understand the point of view of others (whether they agree or not) and reason logically and without bias that show signs of being “intelligent”?

Girl (4-5) jumping in puddle, woodland park, winter, blue sky, fairy dressThere are times when it is wholly appropriate to make an uncompromising stand on an issue. And it is wise if you can express your deep conviction for doing so in respectful and reasonable terms.

However, in most cases, having a humble reasonable approach and trying to make sure you understand all aspects of an issue, before jumping all over it with your muddy boots, is probably a wiser course. For how can you be sure that you are correct, that you are free from bias and that you may not later change your view?

Is it concerning today that many people are easily swayed by others who may be considered as “cocksure”? How many people are taught to reason and evaluate issues from all angles? The times we live in seem to be becoming more volatile and explosive. Some don’t want to consider all angles of an issue. They don’t want to humbly listen to the opinions of others. They seem to prefer sweeping generalisations, forceful statements that polarise listeners. There seems more of an atmosphere for divisions, deep divisions. Does this indicate a concerning level of “stupidity” and an alarming lack of “intelligence”? A whole load of super-sillyness!!

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What does superciliousness mean? Here is one definition:

haughtily disdainful or contemptuous attitude or expression

  • It’s not clever to judge other people as intelligent or stupid based on whether they agree with you or not. That would be super-sillyness!
  • It’s not clever to be cocksure. That would be super-sillyness!
  • It’s not clever to be swayed by people who are “cocksure”, making big sweeping assertions and unbalanced generalisations. That would be super-sillyness!
  • It’s not clever to jump into a debate with your big muddy boots on before you understand all angles of the issue and can give an unbiased empathetic opinion. That would be super-sillyness!

Having said all that – a little sillyness is not a bad thing – but super-sillyness is definitely something to avoid at all costs!

Caramel’s Third Anniversary!

despicable me minions GIF

Well….I logged in a couple of hours ago to see a little note from WordPress to say it is three years since I started this blogging malarkey!!! April 29th 2018!

Three years!!!!!!!!!! Where does the time go? But what a time we have had hey!!! We are talking THREE NOVELS and ONE POETRY BOOK in that time! We are talking TWO GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFFS! We are talking about more than ONE HUNDRED SONG LYRIC SUNDAY POSTS. We are talking about a lot of SHARE YOUR WORLD POSTS (sorry I had to take a break when working for the NHS started to heat up!), FANDANDO’S FICTION CHALLENGE or FANDANGO’S PROVACATIVE QUESTION posts, and when I used to have more time boy did I love taking part in the amazing blogging challenges from RORY – AKA A GUY CALLED BLOKE!!! Amazing fun!!!

What else has happened in three years? Well….when I started this blog, Goldfinch was romancing me and I was so head over heels in love. What a joy it was to write about my gorgeous Goldfinch. How happy I am to have those posts to bring back all the memories. But of course Goldfinch went back home to Australia. Who could forget that I went to Australia to visit him back in the summer of 2019? But then amazingly….miraculously….I crossed paths with Jack at the end of August 2019 and not long afterwards he called me. The pain I had felt for the previous four and half years was a topic I had previously written about. I know it confused some of you….but Jack and I started spending more time together and it was not long before he told me how he felt.

Then there was 2020….and I know it was not such a great year. But one of the highlights has to be – Jack asking me to marry him! What an amazing three years it has been!!!

Thank you so much for all the fun, all the encouragement, and all that you do to contribute to a super lovely blogging community and….all you do to making this world kinder. Because at the end of the day – this platform WordPress is a great place to share kindness!!!

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One Epic Day on The British Rail Network

I mentioned in another post that whilst working in Notting Hill I had caught my head on the underside of a sink and subsequently, bruises had appeared all down one side of my face. When I was attacked most of the injuries I had received were from blows directed at the same side of my head as the bruising. The incident at work aggravated my injuries. I was taken to hospital where I had a CT scan and was told I should rest for several weeks. So I had to go back up north to stay with family and recover. I wrote an e-mail to Stuart telling him about my journey:

I had to travel across the country after being told by staff in hospital that I needed to rest up. What a journey! I made my way up north and my sister Milly and her husband travelled down to London to collect my belongings from the house in Notting Hill where  had been living. I am so glad I did not have to drag a suitcase across the country with me. I was in a bad way. I made the journey confidant that if anything happened to me train staff or members of the public would call emergency services. Hours of wondering in my head “Are we nearly there yet?”

The most memorable events I will tell you of – read them at your leisure – this is just me prattling about people I crossed paths with.  The good, the not so good, and those I kind of hope I will never be stuck in a train carriage with again.  I will start with the worse and it will get better.

So starting with the tube journey on the way to catch a national train that would take me up to a hospital in the north.  I was sitting in a corner of the carriage.  A man boarded, he must have been in his forties.  He headed towards me and had the audacity to wink at me and blow me a kiss.  I turned away.  He plonked himself next to me.  Maybe ignoring him was a mistake because he then whispered into my ear “sexy”.  I just shook my head and turned away again.  He was quiet for a couple of minutes, but then nudged me and said ” sexy ” again.  I put my hand up and said “do you mind!” There were plenty of passengers so I felt safe.  But then a couple of minutes later he put his hand on my lap and said “sexy” again.  This time I jumped up and went to stand near the area for prams / wheelchairs.

coat.jpgAnnoying!!!!  Was he mocking me?  The thing is, I was wearing a knee length pencil skirt, woolly tights, flat court shoes, coat, scarf – all proper and modest nothing about my appearance suggesting I would be open to attention from a man on the prowl or an utter fruitcake.  Or maybe he just wanted my seat and was trying to get rid of me?

Annoying!  Maybe you are one of the many who have been made to feel super uncomfortable by a complete stranger presuming to behave inappropriately in a public setting.

Now I had to face the train journey across the country.  I had insisted I could undertake the train journey alone.  Several family members had kept insisting they would prefer to drive all the way down south and then take me up north in their car.  That seemed such a waste!

7.08am I boarded the train with a large flask of super strong coffee.  But a group of seven, all men accept for one brave girlfriend sat near me.  They were on their way to a footie match.  I overheard that they were planning sightseeing beforehand.  From the moment they sat down it was apparent that they were breakfasting on Foster’s lager.  One of them!!!!   In his twenties, vibrant ginger head, beard, very loud and prolific with his use of the most colourful language imaginable.  Sometimes I am shocked by the language people use in public, even when little children or the vintage generation who surely are deserving of more respect are present.

I was already nauseous, groggy and exhausted.  I knew he could make the journey a nightmare.  The conductor came to check our tickets.  I went over and said to this lad “excuse me, I really don’t mean to be rude, but would you be so kind as to make your language less colourful as it is still a bit early in the morning.” He asked me what I meant.  I said that if it had been evening and there were crowds heading out for a drink I would expect bad language but to hear so much swearing so early when I didn’t feel awake yet was exhausting.  Well he was very nice about it and apologised and his mates were lovely too.

It turned out he had been out drinking all night and had not even gone home to shower or change his clothes.  Nice!!!

So, he decided to include me in their chatter / banter for the rest of the journey.  Things improved slightly when a very cheery woman, who turned out to have been a police woman for almost ten years, sat next to me.

There was a very long queue for the toilet who were listening to the conversation between me and the police woman and the man who had not been home all night. The three of us seemed to be giving them some laughs.  Can you imagine?  Me…only conscious / remotely coherent due to the copious quantities of espresso I was pouring into myself.  He…giddy and running on adrenaline with hangover delirium and believing himself to be the on-board entertainment.  And our PC who was just ecstatic to be off-duty and determined to have a great day and chuckling at everything.

I don’t remember all of our conversations now.

I do remember him telling us he was single but open to meeting the woman of his dreams. Then he remarked maybe fate had lead us to being on the same train.

I remember telling him I was sure the vast majority of women would be attracted to a man with mud all over his trousers (hope it was mud) and who hadn’t washed or brushed his teeth and had Foster’s for breakfast.

His mates just laughed the whole journey.

Track Crisscross, Prior To CourseIncreasing my agonies was the severe delay to our train journey.  Someone had been throwing things at the trains from an overhead bridge.  There was some damage to one of the trains but also the overhead cables.  So, they had to remove the damaged train and turn the overhead wires off so that it was safe for some engineers could repair them.  No trains were able to move until the work was completed.  Everything was repaired within three hours, but that is a very long time to be trapped with someone who is totally repellent to you!

He was alright really, just ever so loud!  I was so grateful to get off the train.  Only I was horrified when he kissed me.  I told him to get off me.  Only he carried on kissing my hair.  I was pushing him away with my hands, but the fool tried to kiss me. I was outraged. His mates grabbed him.

Ay ay ay!!!!!

Gloves, Wool, Warm, Winter, FingerThen came another shorter train journey to my final destination. On the local little train there was an older lady, she was probably well into her eighties. She was wrapped up  well, but had no gloves and as I chatted with her I saw her rubbing and blowing into her red hands. Well, co-incidentally….I had forgotten my own gloves when I had left the house. When I was at the station waiting for the train and noticed how bitterly cold it was, I bought some gloves.  Only, the only pair I liked had a second pair attached. Two pairs for the price of one. So I pulled the brand new gloves out of my bag and handed them to her.  She was so pleased. She seemed to be crying tears of joy. It was lovely to end my journey chatting with a sweet gentle soul after all of the other trials of dealing with challenging passengers during my epic day on the British Rail Network.

I love having a little opportunity to be kind. Being kind is a wonderful way to achieve instant happiness. Whether you are on the bus, or train, or any other mode of transport, please be kind, be considerate, be patient and be lovely. Try not to harass or offend your fellow passengers.

More Of A Purpose Than A Plan

I found a post in my drafts folder that I started last August and didn’t finish. I remember loving the question. In fact I love it so much that it has given me ideas for a series of posts to develop the subject of PURPOSE. Especially my purpose in life! When things suddenly threaten our lifestyle, our happiness (like bereavement, economic uncertainty, Pandemics!) what will help us not to give up?

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Have you ever set off on a journey and then a few minutes after starting out found that the route you selected was closed?

It used to happen to us when we were children. Dad would be driving us on a family holiday. Half an hour onto the motorway, and all of the traffic would come to a standstill. Now my Dad could not bear to be stuck in traffic! So whenever he had the first opportunity he would turn off the motorway.

Did that mean that we were going to give up? Were we going to abandon our family holiday because our planned route had failed? Not on your nelly!

Instead Dad would ask us to shout directions, using the road atlas, with roads that would take us in the same general direction but avoiding the motorway. The destination had not changed, but our route certainly had! Nothing was going to stop us from reaching our destination! We would find a way to get there no matter what cropped up along the way!

There have been moments in my life when the course I was on abruptly changed. At those times, I had to fight discouragement. I have often thought about those occasions when it comes to my life-course. I am not sure that I ever had a definite plan to begin with. But I did have a purpose. I had a destination in mind, a direction to head towards.

I realized that it is not really possible to be tied to a set plan when it comes to living your life. Rather, you have to be prepared for pretty much anything. All sorts of challenges, obstacles may appear. How determined are you to stick to your destination, your purpose?

All manner of obstacles and challenges can occur at any point along the way. Plans fail! However, if you still have your end destination in view then you will find another way to get there.

So I personally would not recommend having a rigid detailed plan that is likely to fail. But having a purpose is a very fine thing.

Even when things go wrong, you find a way round. Nothing can permanently shake you. Not being bullied, not being attacked, not having head injuries, not being parted from the man you love. Nothing will deter you from finding another route and making your way head held high towards a very wonderful destination.

A purpose, a sense of purpose can be a source of motivation, inspiration and strength. It can help you endure all manner of challenges and to grow in ways you may never have expected.

I can’t imagine living life without a purpose. Having a purpose has shaped me. It has helped me to make decisions in life – will this help me to get where I am going or will this slow me down? Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere? Do I need to find my bearings and adjust the direction I which I am heading?

My purpose has kept me living! Absolutely confident that no matter what challenges come along, no matter how many plans go wrong, there will be other ways to get there – we are going to reach that wonderful destination!