Life Is So Much Like A Box Of Chocolates

Our Melanie has had such a sad week. I am amazed she has been able to provide questions for this week’s SHARE-YOUR-WORLD and host this for us. Thank you so much Melanie!  ❤

https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com/2019/02/25/share-your-world-2-25-19/

There will be times when we feel quite lost. All of us will feel that way at some point. It turns out that writing is very helpful at those times, as I am sure many other bloggers will agree.

QUESTIONS:

What, in your opinion, is the point to life?

I have grown up in a very loving family. Our family were loved by many others. We had everything we needed and more. We were not well off financially. We were squeezed into a council house. But nonetheless, we never went without food or the things we needed. We had lots of fresh air. We had plenty of books from charity shops. We were rich in love. We thrived. We are still thriving as adults because of that childhood I am sure. For many years I have felt full of purpose.

The only time I found myself overwhelmed with the sad things in life, rather than the many joys, was three and a half years ago. I was going through the motions of eating and sleeping and showering and dressing…and feeling utterly lost. That was after over two, almost three, years of intense stress, mainly from what turned out to be bullying (although, at the time, I did not realize that was what was happening) and then just as I was reaching my breaking point, I was the victim of a very serious crime.

Those first few weeks afterwards I was rather numb to everything. I never doubted there being a purpose to life, but I was rather overwhelmed with pain and trauma. I could not think clearly, I could not feel – my emotional state was in some kind of spasm. But as I look back, that stage of feeling lost and grieving was a natural reaction to what had happened. I feel glad I was allowed to take my time to work my way through it. Nobody else was going to be able to force me through the emotions that came over the coming weeks. Even since I have returned to work and a busy life in London, I still have my wobbly moments. But the sense of purpose I have, and have had since I was a child, is a huge stabilising factor in dealing with any kind of pain.

Of course there is a point, a purpose to life. It’s not mysterious or unfathomable. Why did my parents decide to have children? Why did I spend so long pouring over recipe books, trying to find wonderful dishes to make and cakes to bake for Goldfinch? Why does a giver give a surprise gift to someone else?

ungrateful.jpgIf you don’t think it is possible that life is a gift from a giver, then I have no idea how you would ever answer the question above. But if you have any concept of a Creator who has a purpose, then it is not hard to answer that question. As soon as you start thinking about it from the giver’s point of view. The giver of a gift cannot force the person to whom it was given to enjoy the gift properly. The giver cannot force the recipient not to misuse it. The giver cannot force the receiver to be grateful and to show appreciation for how incredibly precious it is.

The question is why are there sad, bad, devastating things that can make life so hard today? He answers that question openly and honestly. It is not complicated. I have no idea why some people try to complicate it. It’s pretty clear that this beautiful earth should be the home of a very happy, healthy human family who thrive within loving relationships. A human family who live in harmony with the other amazing creatures on this planet. As any gardener knows, you can make a patch of earth a little pocket of paradise. The entire earth has the potential for that. However, something has gone wrong. It’s quite beyond us to fix all of the damage. So now the giver has promised to fix the damage.

Recently, I was walking into a tube station here in London, and I saw a lady, who looked about seventy years old, standing at one side of the entrance. On the other side of the entrance was a young woman who looked about twenty years old. Both looked very happy. I see people like them all over London. They both had a stack of little pamphlets they were holding out. So I automatically presumed I could take one. I chose to take one from the seventy year old lady, because I admired her and her beautiful smile. When I had a look at it, once I was sat down on the train, I was so glad I had taken it. It was called “Is Life Worth Living?” It’s long gone now, in my recycling box. But I looked for it online just now and found it.

Looking at the online version, I noticed a video link which took me to a little gem of a video. It touches on why we have this beautiful gift and why things are not all good today. If you don’t think it is possible that there is a Creator or God, you might want to give it a miss (I respect we all see things differently) but I thought it was very well made, and very clear and straightforward and frankly gorgeous. They nailed it! I think even a child could grasp the point.

What was your most recent lie?  You don’t have to get really specific obviously.

This is my last one.

Please do not ask me how many chocolates I ate at work. I don’t want to lie to you!

What country do you consider the strangest?   (it’s all In fun folks, ALL countries may seem strange to outsiders)

In my travels both within England and other lands near and far, I have come across some strange things and some strange people. I would not go as far as to say that made me think the entire country I was visiting was strange. I always remember strange bathrooms when I travel.

When we were in Romania, the apartment we stayed in had a padded toilet seat. Every-time you sat down on it, the air escaped and it made a noise like a whoopee cushion. We did not see any other padded toilet seats anywhere else in Romania, only that one – but it always makes us laugh when we recall  the strange noises that came from the bathroom every time anyone went in there to ease nature.

We saw some very funny things in West Africa. I am still working on posts about my time out in Ghana and all we saw. There were some toilets there which were kind of rustically built for use by volunteers who were working on a large project. A large bench with holes in – a bit medievil style. For modesty they had put a partition between each hole, creating separate cubicles. However the cubicles had no doors. Anyone queuing could see someone sitting over the hole. During our time there, some of the British women said it would be appreciated if the cubicles could be made a little more private. So someone had the idea of putting some netting up instead of a door. However, they only hung a short amount of netting. We realized that although the netting obscured the head and shoulders of whoever was inside the cubicle, everything waist down was still exposed.

What’s your funniest story involving a car?

I have a long story for another post about when we hired a car on our last family holiday.

There was a time I promised to drive somebody else’s car over two hundred and fifty miles across the country. Only it broke down after I was around fifteen minutes into the journey. I called the motor recovery agency the owner was registered with. I ended up being transported across the country with the car on the back of flat back trucks. But because they are not allowed to drive more than one hundred miles, it was three trucks, three different drivers who relayed the car and me back to the owner. What a night!

There was also the time in the Isle Of Man when a man (who I presumed had been drinking all afternoon) wearing a tartan hat and orange wig and a mini-kilt jumped on our car and revealed what he was not wearing when he sat on the window screen.

The nutcase!

GRATITUDE

Do you have something you’re very thankful for or that showed immense kindness toward yourself or someone?

I have had a bit of a rough week, and now I have this hospital appointment looming over me. But when I was feeling a tad overwhelmed, I found something that made me laugh. It just made me forget my worries for a while.

I have many things to be grateful for, but this week I am grateful for British comedy and especially the Two Ronnies.

 

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You Caught My Eye

Of all the stars in all the sky

You are the one that caught my eye

No matter how bright others shine

You’re the one I want to be mine

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Photo credit: NASA and JPL

It is late on Sunday night and I should be in bed, but logging into WordPress I find tantalizing writing prompts that are going to keep me away from sweet sleep for a few minutes while I try to produce a post that will not be too much of a disappointment.

I have been away for the weekend visiting Goldfinch and I have some photos and things to share with you…but after I have had a good sleep!  But on the whole, it was a weekend of leisure and pleasure.

My appreciation for the value of sleep is tearing me away from my laptop…but may I promise you I have been working on posts that I have been dreading for some time…posts about Caramel the events that bamboozled her and led to her being crushed.

Goldfinch gave me his very frank opinion of my ex-flatmate this evening.  My head is still reeling a little.  But when I was walking through the restaurant in search of the ladies to go and wipe my tear- stained eyes, I heard this song playing from the speakers.  I thought it was a lovely thought to end my weekend on.

Goodnight for now…

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/worth-a-thousand-words-30/

FOWC with Fandango — Tantalizing

via Leisure — Word of the Day Challenge

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/your-daily-word-prompt-appreciation-september-2nd-2018/

Expect Nothing…Appreciate Everything

My Aunt Anne was a special lady…for a long time I was scared of her.  Who wouldn’t be when you saw her appearance?  She was a tall lady with flaming red hair and an eagle eye.  Intimidating through and through.  Aunt Anne had a habit of telling people off.  Not just children, adults too…grown men could be reduced to tears once they came under the scathing tongue of Aunt Anne..  She always knew best…and in all honesty I think we all knew that she really did know best.  Aunt Anne was a very special lady, one of the wisest, shrewdest and most prudent people I have ever known.

Aunt Anne took a close interest in my sisters and I during our teenage years.  I am so glad she did!  She seemed to know, I don’t know how, but she knew all of our deepest thoughts and feelings.  Such a discerning lady.  She took an interest in our plans and goals, our friends and the boys we had crushes on, she noticed what we talked about, what we spent our pocket money on. She could have run an intelligence agency because she picked up on all these details and came to frighteningly accurate conclusions (which of course she made sure she drew to the attention of our parents).

While I was a teenager, Aunt Anne saw something lurking inside me, something weighing my heart down.  She detected an unusual level of anxiety.  She probed me over it.  I was frightened.  It might sound silly but I was frightened by the cost of life in this world.  The cost of housing, the cost of utility bills, the cost of transport, the cost of clothing and food – it all seemed overwhelming.  I was a teenager and I did not have to bear those costs yet.  But I was looking ahead, worrying about tomorrow.  I looked ahead and thought I had no choice but to become enslaved to a company, chained to a desk, trapped in a job I despised…all just to be able to afford to be alive.

Aunt Anne subtly helped me to realize that I did have choices.  My habits and decisions would effect the cost of my lifestyle.  She taught me many practical tips.  She sat with me and trained me in developing a budget and how to decide what was really important to me.  She showed me how I could stretch my pennies and to make what I owned last longer.  She taught me about free fun…so rather than spending my leisure time visiting restaurants and cinemas and theatres, as often as I may have liked…I made those things very occasional treats and instead learnt to love the great outdoors, learnt to bake and invite friends over to my home instead of us all going out to eat.  I always ended up with a huge drinks collection when I hosted an evening for friends.

She taught me to glean enjoyment in life and creation.  From even the smallest delights…dewdrops on a spider’s web, the appearance of the first spring flowers…to revering the grandeur and majesty of mountains and sunsets.  She showed me their worth is immensely greater than anything money can buy.

I am grateful to Aunt Anne for helping me see that if I wanted to live within a balanced budget and avoid being enslaved by years of debt, I needed to change my attitude, my aspirations, my ambitions and to cultivate contentment.  (My parents were caring for seven children. There was no way they could supply our every whim and wish, so I think we had been helped to realize we could not always have what we wanted.  My parents also helped us see that we needed to be willing to share and to see that everyone of the family was important and none should be demanding more than the rest.  Life is so much sweeter when you are able to share and think about what you can do for others.)

Sharing sweets

One very practical piece of advice she passed on to me was “Expect Nothing…Appreciate Everything”.

Now Aunt Anne used that advice in reference to things, possessions.  But as soon as she uttered those words, they rang true to me in so many other avenues.  Perhaps they do with you also.

Her words have swum around my mind on many occasions…especially when I was involved in a new project with a new group of people or making a new start…everywhere I have been I have told myself:

  • Expect Nothing….don’t be disappointed by having unrealistic expectations.  Work and give without thinking of what you want to get out of it.  Show the kind of love that does not require reciprocation.
  • Appreciate Everything…every time someone does something nice, even the littlest  kind gesture, make sure you show gratitude.  Look after what and who is in your life, show how much they mean to you.  Count your bounteous blessings!

I have found that by heeding the sage advice of Aunt Anne I have never really had worries.  I have felt richer than I ever imagined.  I have avoided debt.  I have travelled to many countries because people I met and worked with asked me to go and visit them, I have had adequate accommodation in some very beautiful locations which I have cared for and kept clean. I truly have had far more than I have ever needed.

As for people…well, I have found that life is rich – rich with people whom I love and who love me.  I am convinced that my treasure of life experiences, memories and friends has been accrued partly because I followed Aunt Anne’s wise words: EXPECT NOTHING…APPRECIATE EVERYTHING.

Thank you

_______________________

Many of us are very sad at the news that First Fridays, Daily Prompt and The Community More are no more to be…We are all hoping there will be ways to keep the connections going.  Well one way appears to be challenges bloggers can nominate each other for.  So this post is Day One of the Three Day Challenge.

I was nominated for this audacious challenge by Mr Mark Anthony, as you can see from his post.  Mark has recently completed this challenge himself.  Thank you Mark Anthony…the nomination gave me some ideas regarding more lessons in life that Caramel has indeed learned.  I am pleased to be able to share them on the Crushed Caramel site.

https://markanthonysthings.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/3-days-3-quote-challenge-day-1-1st-tag-be-inspire/?wref=pil&wref=pil

THE RULES:

• Thank the person who nominated you.

• Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

• Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

“ Expect Nothing….Appreciate Everything” 

CRUSHED CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) – DAY TWO OF THE THREE DAY – THREE QUOTE CHALLENGE

My nominees are:

https://bahmanmalwan.wordpress.com

https://havinganatter320629379.wordpress.com

http://www.eseness.com/

I love looking at your posts and appreciate all of your support and encouragement.

I hope you enjoy this challenge as much as I have.  Have fun!

I have one more day of the challenge to complete, one more post, one more quote…I have been working on it…one more to come…it is another weepie.

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/your-daily-word-prompt-expect-august-9th-2018/

Lime & Lemongrass My Way Through This Summer

Summer started at the end of April here in London.  We had something miraculous: a sensational bank holiday weekend, during which we all rushed out in shorts and flip-flops and came back sun-burnt.  I think the British are renowned for talking about the weather.  It is hard to not pass a comment on the changes in weather.  It doesn’t seem long ago since we had the most snow we have seen in about eight years.  Apparently there are scientific, geological, meteorological reasons why the weather in Britain swings one way to the next some times even within a 24 hour period.  I am one of those shrewd types that took a brolly in my bag even on those blistering hot days we have recently enjoyed.  We like having a bit of a chitchat about the weather…it is an equalizer.  Rich or poor we are all effected by it.  We don’t even have the extremes of weather many other lands seem to face.  We are too small and seem to be in a location that keeps our weather reasonably mild on the whole.  We never feel we receive quite as much sunshine as we would like.  But still…we should not complain.  We should count our blessings – should we not!

Well, my tastes change entirely from winter to summer.  I like my warm comforting treats throughout the winter.  A steaming bowl of soup, a traditional favourite (vegetarian version in my case) cottage pie, hot pot, stew and dumplings, roast dinners, hot chocolate and yummy sticky gooey naughty puddings…(bad, bad, bad – we must keep reminding me!!!)

But now it is summer, I couldn’t touch any of that.  With the increase of temperature, the winter duvet goes to the dry cleaners and then into storage and the summer duvet appears, I unpack my vacuum packed summer clothes and put them into my wardrobe and the winter woollies are packed away.  My taste-buds are transformed entirely.  Salad, lots and lots of salad, with the occasional new potato salad creeping onto my plate.  Fruit…I like to mix red fruits together…strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries….and then I don’t seem to tire of lemon and lime, and also tropical fruits, mango, pineapples, kiwi.  I don’t enjoy them anywhere near as much during the winter months.  But now, I crave them.  I drink litres of water each day.  My occasional treat has changed from hot chocolate (last winter I went through a whole tub of white hot chocolate flakes) to fruit cordials or pressé.  This year I have a favourite.  I may have given it away in the title of this post.  If in doubt, please see the photo below.

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So refreshing.  I have it with chilled water a lot.  Or this evening, I diluted it with zero sugar lemonade.  My treat for these summery days when I have had an excess of water already.

I finished one bottle last night so I have just been to the supermarket on the way home to buy some more.  I had my tablet with me… (Do you know I have never bought a phone or a tablet in my life?  Every phone I have had was someone else’s hand-me-down and the tablet I have I won.  I filled out some test-your-knowledge cards relating to training booklets I had to complete at work in order to obtain some certificates for our staff training folder.  I waited and waited for certificates and none came.  I sent an e-mail to the course providers asking them about certificates and then I received an e-mail to say I had won the monthly prize drawer and they would send me a tablet.  Bizarre.  It took three more months for those certificates to arrive.)  …anyway, I used my tablet to take some photos of the cordials I buy for a summer treat.

When I came upon the shelves all the bottles were out of order, so I spent a few minutes straightening them to be able to take a pretty picture for your benefit.  They must have wondered what I was doing.  I did go through a bottle of ginger cordial during the winter actually.  I usually have elderflower cordial every summer.  The lime and lemongrass is a new choice for me and I am very happy.  I think I may try the elderflower and rose soon though.

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Now on the subject of treats.  These are treats for me.  They are a bit pricey compared to some of the other cordials on the supermarket shelves.  But please don’t judge my indulgence until you know a little more about me.  I have never owned a house, though I have always had somewhere to live.  I have never owned a car, though I am a driver and have driven various vehicles many thousands of miles for work purposes.  Most of my clothes have been hand-me-downs or I have bought them from charity shops.  I do buy new shoes and new underwear though.  I have never spent money on buying a phone, though I do pay for my own credit – £10 per month means I have hundreds of free text messages.  The tablet, I mentioned I won.  I am on my fifth hand-me-down laptop in seven years.  Before then I didn’t have one.

Essentially, my life is extraordinarily simple.  My belongings would fit into a suitcase.  I am only mentioning it because I feel a twinge of guilt buying cordial that is twice the price of some of the other cordials on the shelf.  But it is my treat.  I am on the whole very prudent with my pennies and I hope I am not too heavily under the influence of the commercial system…but hey, we all have to drink and eat and we all need a few pennies to buy the things we need.  I am disgusted by the economic extremes this world allows for.  Of course it will fail.  Any economic system that allows for shocking monopolies and shocking poverty is utterly doomed.

I grew up thinking we were poor, but then I travelled.  I saw the world through new eyes.  I had no idea that so many millions had no access to the things we consider as basic, an electric shower, a flushing toilet, a refrigerator.  Ever since I had the opportunity to do some travelling, I have tried not to be sucked into the treadmill of consumerism.  I have remembered the beautiful men and women I met who lived on one dollar a day and knew more about life than many with far more possessions than they have.

That is one good reason why every teenager should travel to a country with a very different economic make-up to the one they grew up in…(I mean a country where there is not such an abundance) it is a huge education in reality.  An education in what really matters.  An education in appreciation.

I wish that everyone was able to have equal enjoyment of this beautiful planet.  Equal responsibility to look after it and preserve it, but also equal enjoyment of it’s richness.  When I am enjoying some pleasure – and there are such an abundance of delicious food and drinks available, I remember not all have these pleasures.  I can’t wait for the day when this earth is how it should be and the human family – every single one – are happy and healthy and have everything they need and some extra treats too!

Imperfect I am indeed, please don’t judge me too harshly in my choice of a treat.  I truly tell you lime and lemongrass cordial will be my indulgence this summer.