Resistance Is Futile

resistence.jpgI have found the last few days a bit distressing reading about this Borg-like entity, apparently registered in India, that is assimilating all of our blogs. I am baffled by it all and very upset that it has caused some of my favourite bloggers to feel they need to close down their sites.

Blogging to me is just a bit of fun, a hobby, and it gives me the chance to think about my family and loved ones, and what I want them to remember if my head injuries wreak even more havoc on my life than they have already. But for those who are serious and talented writers and have works they need to protect, I understand the concern they have felt. It’s great to see Captain James T Fandango coming up with a way to wage battle against the borg-bots. Hold on wrong captain…I  mean Captain Jean-Luc Fandango don’t I?

bad reactionI am a bit late in response to lots of prompts, nominations for awards and writing challenges at the moment. But I am working on them. There is a lot going on in my drafts folder – I have fifty posts in progress!!! My philosophy is BETTER LATE THAN NEVER…but if you are looking out for my response to a nomination or tag, by all means give me a shout!

Some prompts I just cannot resist, like FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

What are the three biggest challenges your country (or, if you prefer, the world) is facing right now?

Well, I don’t think I can provide a detailed answer to that question, as it would cast a cloud over my otherwise sunny disposition. But amongst those challenges are these three:

  • more more.pngGREED
  • SELFISHNESS
  • HAUGHTINESS

I am going to spend a little longer considering the alternative question Fandango provided as this week’s FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

What are the three biggest challenges you are facing in your life right now?

Fandango asked us a similar question a few months ago and I appointed him as Doctor Fandango. If you would like to see how I answered back then, this was my post.

Dr Fandango Will See You Now

dr fandango.jpg

So what about now? What am I finding challenging now? Hmm…let me think about this. I have challenges like everyone else. Some little and some large. But I do find I have a great deal of resilience and pragmatism when it comes to my challenges. I don’t find myself overcome with anxiety about too many things on a personal level. What does get to me are things that I cannot control.

challengesONE OF MY CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS IS VERY ILL. Cancer. I am not writing in detail about it at the moment, because it would no doubt lead to a torrential outpouring of emotions, and it’s all a bit overwhelming right now.

What doesn’t help perhaps, is that so many of my family, myself included, have worked in the medical field for years. Doctors, nurses and carers. I worked with patients with terminal illness for five years. So we are all so clued up on cancer, it is hard to resist worry!

up sticks.jpgBut I have been making decisions and changes to my life that mean I can be there for my family member more often, and can literally up sticks and move at a moment’s notice. I will write about the changes I have made at a later date. I have been a busy lady since I came back from Australia.

IMG_20180722_123051 (2)I AM MISSING GOLDFINCH. Aaaaagh! Matters of the heart. It is not easy to be in love with a man that lives on the opposite side of the planet to you.

Well, the loving is easy. It’s the thought of how long will it be until I can be with him again? I had such an amazing time in Australia. And I have come back to England more in love than ever and completely baffled as to how I am going to face months ahead without him.

self control.jpgLong distance relationships bring challenges that can be hard to understand. Challenges that I don’t think I have faced before. For example…when you are feeling low, wishing you had someone to offer comfort and affection, but the person you know you were wishing was here, is not here, nowhere near, 10,100 miles away – then the temptation to respond to the friendliness of someone else who is attractive to you is huge. Sigh! Especially when the person nearer to you seems so lovely and so kind and excites you….and you have no idea if you will see the person you are attached to this year or not. It is a great test of your self-control.

I will say this – I honestly believe that married couples who decide that economically it would be best for one to work or study abroad are putting themselves and their marriage at great risk.

When you are separated by distance from the person who claims your heart, but there is someone right here right now who makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside – it is hard to resist. I have resisted.

vols.jpgI AM STILL NOT WHERE I BELONG. I am still unable to go back to my life and career because of my head injuries. That is a cloud that doesn’t seem to want to shift. So I am still just making my way in the world today with everything I’ve got. Having a break from all my worries sure would mean a lot. I am always wishing to be back where everyone knows my name, was always glad I came and they all felt the same.

I crave a sense of purpose in my life. Existing without a cause is not an option for me. The work I was involved in as a volunteer provided inspiration, satisfaction and prompted tremendous energy in me. Oh how I long to be back there – alongside other people who are not interested in financial gain but are devoted to making a difference to the lives of others.

eventsThere is one man who prevents me from moving back to the area I was living in and working with more of my former colleagues who have decision making power over my future as an international volunteer. Jack. And nothing has changed on the Jack front. He is still there, right in the middle of all the volunteer projects on that side of London. He is one of the most popular volunteers. He still has a crazy amount of fans and followers. He is still on television and at huge events (and small events). I am still being careful and am anxious in case I am at the same event and somebody connects the two of us or snaps a photograph of us near to each other. I can’t abide photos of me in reference to Jack being spread again. Can I trust Jack will be able to resist returning to his thoughtless ways of fuelling the media interest he had because of his connection with me? It forces me to hide away and take pains to avoid him. Many an evening has gone pear-shaped because I realized Jack was present at an event and I had to beat a hasty retreat.

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therapyThank you Doctor Fandango for my blogging therapy session. I hope you received the cheque in the post for my last therapy session and look forward to receiving your invoice this time round.

I hope I am not giving you a headache reading all about my challenges. Challenges can be good for us, or not – depending on the challenge. But they sure do make you realize what really counts in life.

Whatever challenges you are dealing with currently, keep going! Keep positive, we are rooting for you. We all long for a world where the most painful challenges are removed, and instead we can get back to making this beautiful planet the paradise it should be. Roll on the good times ahead, when the greatest challenge will be: how on earth are we going to keep in touch with so many wonderful friends???

snoops

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This post was my response to this week’s FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #34

FPQ

Fear Of Failing

I know this is a very late post. But I did want to complete it as it was a question that certainly did provoke my thoughts.

Back in May, Fandango asked us the following two questions as part of FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

“Have you ever been so afraid of failing at something that you decided not to try it at all? What’s one thing would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

shy.jpgWhen I was younger I think I had a fear that I would identify as nerves or shyness. At a very young age, maybe I was five years of age, mum took me to some kind of children’s activity day at a local community centre. When we arrived and I saw all of these exuberant children running round wildly shrieking, I became gripped with fear. My eyes welled up with tears and I clung to my mum’s hand tightly. She tried to persuade me to join the children and enjoy myself, but I ended up bawling my eyes out. Mum had to walk home with me. That is the first event in my life when I can remember what it is to feel fear and decide not to do something.

me at 9I remembered that day for a long time (I still remember it now), but the memory of it had a positive effect on me. I didn’t want to feel that way again so I pushed myself to do what I was afraid of or nervous about. I don’t remember being gripped by that kind of fear through the rest of school. I was secure and content at school. I was not bothered about being popular, and I ended up having a fairly easy passage through school on the whole. I excelled at school work. I was good at sports (because of the stamina that swimming had built in us) and I got on with people. I was in a popular group.

construction clothesAfter school I became involved in voluntary projects, including construction projects, which I loved. I became close to two girls who lived in my town and for the next couple of years we travelled together all over England and Wales to work on various projects. We usually shared accommodation too. But then both of the girls dropped out for various reasons…paid work was becoming more important to them. They both had boyfriends and were preparing for the future I guess (they both married before they were twenty-one). The first time I was invited to a project miles away from where I lived, I felt that fear again. Going on my own made me nervous. I would be staying with a family I had never met, and would not have the other two girls to help me be chatty with them. I would be arriving on the construction site on my own and hoping I would see other volunteers I recognised so that I did not end up standing alone looking like a lost little lamb.

Why on earth did I feel nervous? It was wonderful. I was emerging from my shell and becoming more of my own person. It was so good for me to do things like that on my own and not rely on my familiar friends. I have rarely looked back since then. I have seized all sorts of opportunities that came my way and I have realized fear should not hold me back from all life has to offer.  I have realized that meeting new people, having new experiences, visiting new places are all wonderfully enriching and exciting. How happy I am that I have not held back. I have acquired an amazing treasure chest of friends and life experiences that make me me!

HOWEVER…

I guess the only area where I do hold back is when it comes to love. Maybe it’s because I am such a realist. I know that whereas there could be many things that could make me a blessing and a bonus to someone I love, I could also become a burden (especially after my head injuries). I do have a fear I suppose that holds me back. I would not want the man I love to resent making a commitment to me, making sacrifices for me and making changes to his life to have me be a part of it. I can’t bear the thought of the man I love slowly starting to despise me because I cost more than I contribute to his life – I don’t just mean financially.

distraught.jpgThere are other fears. I fear making the man I love angry because I won’t compromise on certain issues. It’s not just a matter of being stubborn, it is my conscience I cannot deliberately go against. It has happened before. It’s not easy when the man you love asks you to do something that is so much the opposite to who you are as a person. It has caused at least one of my meaningful relationships (my courtship with Jammy), and many of the fledgling relationships with men I had started dating, to crumble. If a man pushes me to do something that makes me miserable, my fondness for him, respect and trust for him fade, as I find it harder and harder to feel secure. I disconnect and an impenetrable wall goes up inside me.

leaving1.jpgIt’s not so easy to find a loving relationship that makes me thrive. I love giving. I love loving. But if I realize that the person I am is shrivelling up and finding it harder to breathe because of the unhappy cloud that has descended upon me, all I can think of is how to escape. I can overlook a lot. I can endure a lot. But I have a silent breaking point. “Silent” because I don’t become enraged, no, instead I just vanish.  I don’t want to hurt any man. In some ways…it is better to be in love with a man who lives on the opposite side of the planet, because hopefully those situations when I would either stand up for my conscience and disappoint him, or else give in out of a desire to please him, and then suffer the misery of a pained conscience, will not arise too often.

flower quote.jpgI think at times I should carry a sign on my head that says “DO NOT TRY TO MAKE ME YOURS, BECAUSE IT IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THAT I CAN BE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO BE”. I met my match. My match was Jack. Jack and I were on the same page with regards to all sorts of issues. We both knew it. We felt the same way about how to spend life, time, money. We both danced to the same beat. It is one thing that saddens me at times to know that there are many nice men out there, but men who I would make miserable and/or who would make me miserable because we would not be on the same page with certain issues.

cryingI am afraid of being in a situation that is desperately miserable for both me and the man I love. These days I like to be realistic and make it clear to the man I love that I can be his best friend and there are a million things I can do for him out of love, but there are things I cannot do without destroying myself. I will love him the best I possibly can. I will be there to hold on tight through thick and thin, but there are issues I will not compromise on. It’s harder than it sounds to find someone who really understands that and does not resent you for being uncompromising on matters that are no big deal to them.

I don’t like the thought of a loving relationship as something that is doomed to failure. I am afraid of hurting someone I love. And then there is a fear, a morbid dread, of a repeat of the situation that occurred with Jack. I cannot bear the thought of someone I love becoming my enemy.

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This was my very late response to FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #24

FPQ

Stress-Busters

Fandango, the creator of This, That, and The Other, has asked us another superb question this week:

“How do you manage or deal with stress? Is there a specific strategy or approach that you’ve found to be particularly effective?”

GREAT QUESTION FANDANGO! My short answer is…I need a little time to think clearly and decide whether the causes of my stress are real or just imagined/perceived…and then, I need a combination of taking practical steps to alleviate some of the causes of the stress, and I need to make sure I enjoy simple things rather than letting the pressure I am under take all the pleasure out of life.

I don’t mind a bit of stress. Some stress seems to be good for me. I am fairly easy-going by nature. But when things become intense at work, I become like a machine. A little stress moves me to be more organised and I find my stamina (I have terrific stamina) kicks in and I just don’t stop. The kind of stress that comes from being busy makes me thrive.

However, there is another kind of stress that rarely, but occasionally, grips me. It is when I feel absolutely overwhelmed. Just over four years ago I felt that way. For almost five years I had worked between 40-60 hours a week (I did not have one day off sick in all of that time) on a rota of early shifts, late shifts, night shifts and normal day shifts. I had a very busy social life. I thrived on the packed schedule and the wonderful work I was involved in. The problem started when people started to talk about Jack and I…it started tame, but after a couple of years, it was nasty. The worst was what people posted about me and Jack online. I was very upset. In addition, everyday for months I was confronted in person by both friends and strangers who had something to say about Jack and me. I was taunted by people daily about Jack and called names like “slapper”, “slut” or “slag”. People made comments suggesting Jack and I were suppressing sexual desires for one another. Then they clearly became bored and started to say that sexual acts were taking place between Jack and I. Later they talked about arguments we were supposed to have had. Then they said I was sleeping with other men to make Jack jealous. It was all rubbish – but boy did it hurt. I didn’t see it at the time, but the thousands of comments I received did amount to taunting or a kind of bullying.

distressed…Anyway, I do not want to think about that stress right now. But what I would say is, stress that is because of a situation that goes on for a long time, and becomes more intense, and despite all of your efforts, nothing changes – that kind of stress, is very challenging to see a way out of. You become accustomed to the way you are being treated. You accept it as normal, but inside are crumbling. You start to feel yourself drowning and you cannot see an escape. I knew the situation was “stressing me out”. I did a lot more exercise – started running more, swimming more, playing basketball and going to a boot-camp style fitness class. I did the things I loved and spent time with great friends. There were some wonderful events I went to and great days – but the pain and stress were always there. That night that I did not go home – I was overwhelmed by despair. That’s how much the stress had accumulated. I lost sight of my own safety. I don’t know how long I sat there on the bench in the dark next to my attacker. I was in a world of my own. And I know the consequences of that were awful, but it certainly broke the cycle of despair. It brought a host of different challenges with their own stress.

stressedThat was a very bad case of stress of course. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with stress. This huge amount of money disappeared from my bank account in order to buy my ticket for Australia which was scary. In addition, I have felt as if I was “burning the candle at both ends” for some time and I will be doing so right up until my holiday. The combination of tiredness, worrying about my close family member who has cancer, money concerns, the sheer amount of people depending on me not to let them down…it just seemed such a heavy weight and I found myself becoming emotional and irrational. Symptoms that I was STRESSED!

What did I do about it? A number of things. I had to calm myself down and think about what I had to do one step at a time. I made lists of all the tasks I have to squeeze into my schedule. I made a start on doing what I could, so that  could reduce that list and feel a little relief. I had to reason with myself that my financial situation was not as dire as it may seem. After all, I carry no debt. Living a debt free life is a brilliant way to avoid stress. I might have wiped out my savings, however, I do not owe anybody or any bank, or organisation a penny. It will just take time to build my bank account back up again. Sometimes being able to think clearly and reason with your anxieties – is this a real problem or a perceived one? Is this level of stress justified? I really do need that time to think and reason to get control of my thoughts.

There were some physical things that quickly brought me relief. Trying to get more sleep helped. Trying to do a bit of extra walking, although I did not have time for as much as I would have liked. I love walking out in the woods and through parks. One evening I arrived in an area where I do some work once a week, and found I was too early; they don’t want me to arrive before 6:30pm. I have a friend who lives round the corner, so sometimes, if I arrive early, I will pop by to see her and have a cuppa and a chat. But she was not in that evening. It was very sunny, so I headed down to the local common and I discovered a park I had no idea was there. It was lovely – a little pocket of paradise. Sitting down on a bench with warm evening sunshine bathing me and listening to birdsong and the rustle of the leaves in the light breeze, breathing in the fragrance of the flowers around me – I closed my eyes and said a little prayer of thanks for all the wonderful in my life.

When I am rushing around, I sometimes forget to enjoy life. So when I can tell stress is creeping in, I deliberately slow down events like meals. Rather than gulping down my food, I take my time eating it and absorbing the flavours so that I can have the full enjoyment. Silly little things that bring pleasure like pressing my nose to my fresh bed linen and smelling the lovely fragrance of the linen spray I use. Closing my eyes in the shower and enjoying the sensations of the water streaming down my back. Moisturising my skin with coconut body butter. Little pleasures that help me not to be in such a crazy rush but to make the most of each moment.

cuupaAnd…very importantly, I make sure I spend time talking with the people I love and who love me the most. My family and close friends. Just knowing that you are not alone. There is a team around you rooting for you. Just knowing that you are loved is sometimes such an invigorating impetus that stress seems to melt away. And making sure you communicate openly with lots of people, helps you to realize that everyone has their load to carry. Stress is common. And talking helps you realize that others have also had times when they have been overwhelmed with stress. They often have great advice and experience to share. If there was one huge mistake I made with the situation regarding Jack, it was not talking to my nearest and dearest about how it was effecting me. I hid it from them because I did not want them to be upset by the awful things that were being said about me. Keeping that stress to myself, isolated me emotionally. I did not know who to turn to and despair crept in.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress and it is having a detrimental effect, it is wise to take some practical measures so that it doesn’t develop into severe distress or despair. Do not be afraid, a little stress can be healthy, but too much stress can be harmful. Many other people will be able to relate to you. But not all people are kind or empathetic, so make sure you seek out those who do want to help. There are some tried and tested recommendations on how to deal with stress at the links below:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/reduce-stress/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/understanding-stress/

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201405/

https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/mental-health/stress

Anyway…as soon as I decided to call this post “Stress-Busters”, I started to hum a certain tune, and it was stuck in my head until I re-wrote some of the lyrics:

Your problems mount up
There seems no way out
What you gonna use?
Stress-busters!

If life’s getting tough
You’re feeling tired
What you gonna use?
Stress-busters!

I ain’t ‘fraid of no stress
I ain’t ‘fraid of no stress
What you gonna use?
Stress-busters!

You’ve got bills to pay
But you ain’t got cash
What can you use?
Stress-busters!

If life’s getting hard
And you don’t look good
Ow, what you gonna use?
Stress-busters!

I ain’t ‘fraid of no stress
I ain’t ‘fraid of no stress
What you gonna use?
Stress-busters!

Fandango’s Provocative Question #23

FPQ

Who Makes My Decisions?

I was determined to work on this post before it is too late as I thought this was a subject I could really wrap myself up in. There have been a lot of cake posts to work on…but I have been adding little by little to this post all week!

Last Wednesday, Fandango, the creator of This, That, and The Other published a fascinating “provocative” question, as you can see in his post below:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #19

  • “Do you believe in fate and/or predestination? If so, what or who is the source? If you do believe in predestination, is there anything anyone can do to change their predestined fate?”

  • And bonus: “If you believe God is the source, and God has already determined the future for each of us, why should people bother to pray?”

I don’t think that Fandango, who has supplied these questions, will mind me mentioning that he says that he is an atheist. And as far as I understand he does not believe in either the existence of a God or Creator, nor in predestination or fate. I think this is what Fandango does not believe in. I am a little sketchy as to what he does believe in, but I am presuming he has some ideas as to how the matter in the universe came to be formed and how life began. Please correct me if I have misunderstood some of your posts Fandango.

At the opposite end of the beliefs spectrum there are those who do believe in fate or predestination and may believe that it is God or our Creator who has determined what will happen, including the timing and manner of our death. Some feel that certain key events in their life are inevitable. Some who do believe in a Creator do not believe in predestination. Some who believe in Fate, do not believe in a personal God.

Now…my site is generally a lighthearted and joyful site. I don’t mind expressing my own understanding of the universe and of fascinating questions akin to the ones Fandango raised this week. I have contemplated these very questions myself. In fact as a teenager this is something I grappled with a lot and I was hungry to understand this subject. However, I have absolutely no intention of offending anyone else. So I do hope nobody feels I am in any way mocking their faith or beliefs. I would never want to hurt anyone. I respect that we do not all think, feel or believe the same things. I would not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable when I write about what I have contemplated and read.

But these questions are truly fascinating. I have asked them myself. My background is maths and physics – and due to what I have learnt in those areas, I find it natural to accept there is an intelligent Creator who is powerful enough to wield mindbogglingly colossal amounts of energy and turn such into matter. I don’t really doubt what our Creator is able to do, what it is possible for Him to do.

Maths and physics give insights into the power and intelligence of a Creator. But they don’t seem to be the source to look to for the answer to other questions. Whereas the scriptures, which are still the number one publication in any language (in many languages, still the only publication available), do claim to tell us much more about the mind and personality of our Creator. That includes other core qualities that are a fundamental part of His character including love and justice. I am going to come back to the subject of His qualities or His personality later in this post.

But first of all, what do the scriptures indicate about the subject of fate or predestination? Because to be frank, my opinion means diddlysquat – yes?

Fandango’s question was actually quite logical, and I would add to it anther question:

  • If there is nothing we can do to change our destiny, if God or fate has already determined the outcome of a matter, what is the point of praying?
  • And if our destiny is already determined, why take any measures to protect our safety? Why buckle your seat belt when travelling in a car? Or even why should you avoid drinking and driving?’

There are health and safety laws within the law given to the nation of Israel through Moses over 3,500 years ago. Why would the Creator give those laws if people were destined to die in an tragic incident?

What about those who die due to horrific natural disasters, terrorist attacks, traffic  accident fatalities or other tragic events beyond their control? Has God, or fate, predetermined an “appointment with death” for these people? The scriptures indicate that this is not so. The Bible writer King Solomon assures us that “time and unforeseen occurrence befall all.”  in the book of Ecclesiastes 9:11. Tragic events are not predestined. A very important question that the scriptures answer, is why does a powerful Creator not prevent these incidents occurring? Why does He allow suffering? Maybe Fandango will raise this question during one of his future “provocative” questions? That is a question that is of vital concern.

In our general life, rather than teaching that our future is determined by fate, the scriptures make it clear that our own choices, attitudes, habits, and actions have an impact on our future. That actually we have some accountability in some respects, and a degree of control in some areas.

Coming back to what the scriptures say about our Creator’s fundamental qualities. One quality the scriptures highlight is incomparable wisdom. This is portrayed in various ways. One aspect of His wisdom is repeatedly referred to – His ability to look ahead and foresee what will occur in the future.

This is no small matter. The scriptures are packed with forecasts or prophecies. We may say history written in advance. The outcome of wars, the rise and fall of world powers, and even the specific battle strategies of famous military  commanders were all penned within the scriptures in advance – in some instances, hundreds of years in advance. I have been to the British Museum many times, and enjoyed the fascinating tours given there showing what how detailed accounts in the books of Isaiah and Daniel were fulfilled.

Of great interest are the forecasts and prophecies recorded in the scriptures about the time we are living in. There are many of faith whose hope is tied up in those monumental events that the scriptures state will certainly happen, no matter who may try to interfere with the fulfilment of our Creator’s purpose for this earth.

Does this mean that our Creator has already foreseen the choices we will make in life? Now, this is not a question of whether our Creator has the ability to see ahead and predict what an individual will do. But whether He actually does so.

I had a workmate who gave me something to think about on this subject. She explained to me and showed me scriptures that proved that we have free will to make choices. We do have control over many of our own choices. She reasoned that our Creator has the ability to foreknow the future, but he does not use it all the time. To do so might infringe upon our own free will. Neither has our Creator chosen to make us like robots, but He has chosen to give us the gift of free will. He won’t revoke that gift that by programming our individual future in a way that revokes our free will.

The idea that our Creator is unable to control his ability to look into the future is flawed. For example, imagine a singer with a singing voice of unparalleled beauty – would that singer have no choice but to sing all of the time? They would use their ability when it was appropriate would they not?

However, whilst allowing humans free will, including Adam, He has not abandoned His original purpose for this earth. The scriptures highlight that He is just and fair. The question of whether the Creator had a right to rule, whether His rule was best for his creatures was raised. Although he has allowed time to settle the issues raised when the first humans chose to reject His guidance, He has been working towards that purpose since. He has been preparing His own government. In the future, after that government has supervised the healing of people and the planet so that our Creator’s original purpose of a happy healthy human family on earth which is as paradasaic as He intended, then the choice will really matter. At that time every human will have a choice to make. But that choice is not predetermined.

More than any other quality, the scriptures magnify the Creator’s love. It is expressed in empathy and compassion and patience. When you think of some of the horrific things that have befallen humans since Adam’s choice to reject His Creators guidance, why would a loving Creator cause, or predetermine the specific tragic incidents and horrendous suffering that humans have experienced? But He knew that the result of humans ruling themselves would be great pain and suffering. He provided a forecast thousands of years in advance of just how bad things would get. Yet He allowed this question of WHO IS RIGHT TO RULE? to be answered knowing that He would be able to relieve all that pain and suffering and undo the damage.

Just to repeat that…it was Adam’s choice. Our Creator did not predetermine Adam’s actions. Nor, did our Creator violate Adam’s free-will by foreseeing his decision. Of course He would have realized that in giving humans free will, there was a possibility they would make poor decisions as well as wise choices. Immediately after Adam’s choice, our Creator set in motion His method of fixing the consequences of Adam’s decision. Our Creator did predict there would be a lot of suffering, but in no way has He caused those events. Rather our Creator repeatedly makes it clear that He has the power to undo the damage that has been caused as a result of Adam’s choice. His promise to undo death and suffering are precious to many.

4e0bd-EdynRUBYEaster12Casting my eyes back at Fandango’s questions…I think I have touched on most of the issues he raised – accept perhaps “Why pray?” Well…many would answer that question differently. But amongst other reasons, I think that praying for guidance to make wise choices that would please Him and result in joy seems appropriate. Why pray to your Creator? Well, unless you have been raised in an abusive household, or been abandoned by those who should have been there for you, it should be easy to answer why would a child talk to their parents?

I sometimes feel I am privileged to have such a great Dad. I talk to him, I ask his advice. He knows me extremely well, he knows my habits, he often reminds me of silly decisions I made in the past and asks me not to make the same mistakes. He has lots of words of wisdom and lessons in life to share with me. I have never had any doubt of his love for me, even when he allowed me to carry the consequences of poor decisions I made. I find it easy to approach a Creator in a similar frame of mind. Although the Creator behind the incredible things I have discovered in my study of physics is powerful beyond comprehension, it is the scriptures that tell me that when I pray I am to address Him as Father.

only youFor me…I take great pride in knowing that He has not predetermined what I will think, say or do. He knows me well, much better than my human father, and knows what I am likely to do. But He has not decided ahead of time what I will do. He has given me a beautiful gift – free will. Free will is an honour, a trust. As for me, I take huge pride in using this gift with care and appreciation, in a way that says to my Creator, “I am in awe of you, and I want to use my free will to make choices that will make You very glad that you created me.”

gardeningThat is my choice, all my choice. It dignifies me. Nobody has made that choice for me or programmed me like a robot. When I make my decisions, I know they are my decisions, nobody else has made them for me. I have chosen to learn about this amazing universe – especially through the field of physics, and have come to the conclusion that the gift of life is extraordinary, and the gift of free will is extremely precious. I intend to show my appreciation for them and making wise decisions is a fundamental way of doing so.

 

FPQ

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!

 

I Am So Glad To Live On A Planet That Is Adorned With Embellishments

I was interested in the questions raised by Fandango, the creator of This, That, and The Other, in FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #12

  • How do you feel about people who always seem to exaggerate when relating a story?

  • Do you equate embellishment with lying?

  • As a blogger, when, if ever, is stretching the truth, other than when writing fiction, permissible?

Interesting questions indeed. My immediate thought was how embellishments are often used to adorn, make pretty, add sparkle, bring a wow factor. The word “embellishments” I use regularly in a work context, because I currently deal with a lot of high-fashion items. I see some exquisite embellishments that draw the eye and make a garment a lot more attractive.

I also thought about this planet. It could be black and white, it could be boring and and without variety – can you imagine what life would be like if we only had the basics essential for survival? – BORING!!! I am so glad that this planet is full of embellishments and life is so colourful and exciting.

There are some delightful quotes from astronauts describing what they have seen through their eyes, their view of Planet Earth from outer space. I, of course, have never seen this planet from outer space. Even if I detect their descriptions are rather poetic and perhaps they have employed embellishments, I do not question their integrity when they describe this planet as a magnificent jewel. Here is one of my favourite astronaut quotes:

Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth . . . home. 
– Edgar Mitchell, USA

I guess the question is, when is that appropriate and when is it not appropriate to use embellishments in a written context? Is there a risk that a reader might be misled, deceived, duped, fooled and have a reason to take offence?

I thought I would try to tackle each one at a time – but I am tired after three very long days at work, so I think instead I will throw a few examples and thoughts around and see if it makes up a sensible reply to this question:

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IMG_20180722_123051 (2)The first example I am going to cite was part of a comment I sent to Fandango himself on Wednesday. If I write in one of my posts that Goldfinch is THE most gorgeous man on the planet – how do you feel about that? Am I exaggerating?

Well…in my eyes, there is no other man who elicits the kind of inner reaction I feel on beholding Goldfinch. There is no other man that makes me feel the way he does – so in many respects, Goldfinch may as well be THE most gorgeous man on the planet.

I would presume that anyone who read my claim would be able to determine that I am not being dishonest or deceptive in my claim. There is no other man as gorgeous in my eyes. I don’t expect bloggers to be queuing up to question my integrity as a writer when expressing my adoration of my Goldfinch.

Sometimes a blogger is telling us honestly how they feel, or how they see a situation or the world at large. We don’t all see things the same way. I wouldn’t presume they are trying to mislead anyone. They are opening up a bit of their heart and sharing the way they see things. I have the common sense to realize that their view could be slightly biased, but in most cases I find it endearing and charming.

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My second thought is simply a repetition of something other bloggers have stated. If I log on to the BBC news website I hope very much to trust that the reports are factual and that facts and figures are not exaggerated. If I look at the NHS Choices website to find out about my symptoms and the course of action to take, I would hope they would not exaggerate any information causing me to become alarmed.

But a blogger who makes their writing colourful and animated – well in all honesty, I enjoy their posts far more than I do reading a news website or a technical site.

If a blogger is claiming that their posts are authoritative, then they clearly should make sure none of their information is exaggerated. Otherwise, people will lose confidence in their claims.

I personally don’t read posts from bloggers to find out about the news and I don’t put all my trust into any bloggers posts endorsing any particular diet, pills, potions, lotions and I steer very clear of advice on financial matters. However, I might still enjoy their style of writing, the efforts they put into making their posts attractive. But I just feel more confidant referring to more well-established sources for any kind of information on lifestyle and health matters and a balanced representation of what is happening in the news.

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Creative writing I expect to be delicious to read. I welcome elaborate metaphors and descriptions that paint a vivid scene in my head. The more embellishments, the more likely I am going to keep reading.

In fact sometimes, I find myself feasting on the elaborate way a writer uses language to conjour up fantastic scenes. I prefer to read in vivid technicolour rather than a plain black and white cold factual style – the kind of writing that belongs in the booklet that came with the new microwave my landlady bought me.

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When someone is relating a real-life experience, I use my common sense the same way I do in daily conversation.

I have worked with teenagers and young adults who describe something with unbridled enthusiasm. “The band they went to see perform put on the best concert EVER!”  “He is soooooooo cool – even the teachers are nervous around him.” “Everyone drinks this new softdrink – like the whole world drinks it.”

That’s alright. I remember being exactly that excitable when I was a teenager. I am little bit older than they are, so I have toned down the way I try to impress a point on others. But I think only someone on the cynical side would start to question the motives in someone’s eagerness to convey a point in perhaps “over-animated” terms. I don’t equate those kind of embellishments as them being deceitful or “lying”. I have the common sense not to pick up on their obvious excitement about what they are telling me.

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Another thing about exaggerations or embellishments is that sometimes they make for fantastic comedy posts. I love that personally. Here are a couple of examples I found:

exaggeration

I enjoy it when I read a post from a blogger who paints absolutely hilarious scenes. I have the common sense to understand the writer is not lying or being deceptive.

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One more thing that I will add (this post is becoming much too long) is that the real life experiences of some people may seem hard to believe at times if we have never had a similar experience. But if you have lived a lot, and not stayed at home for most of your life, I don’t think you find it as hard to believe other people’s experiences at all.

When we came back from Africa, we were describing things that some of our friends found hard to believe. Those who had been to Africa did not find them hard to believe. For example, I remember telling people about the tro-tros (a bit like mini-buses that are used as public transport). We saw tro-tros that were packed. Every seat was taken, and in some cases people were sharing seats. There were passengers sitting on top of the roof of some tro-tros. We even saw some passengers clinging to the back door. It’s hard to imagine if you have never seen it. I am sure some of our friends thought that we were exaggerating when we told them what we saw. But all of our friends who had been to Africa nodded because the had seen it tOo.

Often I will read another bloggers experiences and perhaps find them hard to relate to. For example, I have never been a mother before, and when I read posts from parents who are all “ga-ga” over their younglings, I may wonder if they are slightly intoxicated? But I still enjoy their passion and enthusiasm.

So there may be times you are reading a blogger’s post and you find it hard to believe or relate to. But you may be reading a very accurate report. If you are overly cynical because you have never had a similar experience, or have had less opportunity to travel then you might be missing out.

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On that note, I would recommend not becoming too sensitive about what you read on other blogs. If you are becoming provoked, my advice would be:

GET A LIFE!

I mean it, get up off the sofa or wherever else you blog from, and get out into the big wide exciting world and live a bit. Have a few adventures. See things you have never seen before, try food you have never tasted before. Hey, you may even have the chance to go and see this planet from outer space – who knows? Live life more fully and then come back and please do write about it.

I would love to read your colourful, animated posts and would not take offence at any perceived embellishments of your adventures, knowing that much of what I read may well be very accurate. Life is full of beauty, sparkle, wow-factor, embellishments that are not necessary for our survival but yet they fill our hearts with joy and wonder.

If you are becoming cranky at what other bloggers write about…perhaps you have been staring at screens for too long. Stop existing and start living. The internet is not life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Fandango Will See You Now

 

For weeks I have been reading the many posts other bloggers have published in response to one of the Provocative Questions posed by Fandango, the creator of This, That, and The Other. Some of the questions have really captured my interest. I have started posts and never finished them before the next Provocative Question appeared. But this week, I was touched by the thought of Fandango asking his fellow bloggers such a caring question:

“What are you struggling with the most right now?”

therapyas you can see in his original post below:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #9

How kind! Our favourite naked skier is all warm and fuzzy inside and wants to know all about our personal struggles! We are all queuing up so we can sprawl on Fandango’s sofa and tell him all our problems. I am hoping he will not regret asking by the time I have finished this post!

Now I don’t like to complain. I am not a whinger. I look for the good in my life. But I have to get my money’s worth out of this question. It’s like therapy for bloggers. I am just afraid we are all going to get a bill in the post after our therapy session with Fandango.

Here are my current struggles right now!

Right at this moment, I feel like Mr Magoo.

I will be honest with you. I don’t have a problem with the pink WordPress have thrust upon us. I liked the old style. But I have never been a big fan of orange. I know exactly why. My Dad thought that colours would influence our personalities when we were little ones. So, he went a bit wild when he painted the bedroom I shared with my sister Mandy when we were very little.  Can you guess the colour that he painted the ceiling? Bright orange! The only way it influenced me was to give me a loathing of the colour. I don’t have the same strong feelings towards pink.

My struggle though, is that it is hard to see which posts from other bloggers I have read and liked. It is so much harder to see the “like” stars. I am sure I have missed posts. Please forgive me if you think I have ignored posts. I keep scrolling up and down the WP Reader to see what I may have missed, but it is hard to see. I feel like Mr Magoo. I am staring at the screen with my eyes all screwed up!

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IMG_20180722_123051 (2)I miss Goldfinch. A lot!

Sigh! I always knew I would. But still…it is hard carrying a heavy heart around with me each day. I find it hard at night. I spent a long time sobbing last night in bed. I texted him at two o’clock in the morning because I was struggling to sleep with the upset I felt. He replied within moments and then sent me another lovely message five minutes later. This hole in my heart is going to take a long time to heal.

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headacheThe pain in my head is getting worse.

I think most bloggers who have read my posts know that I received severe head injuries when I was the victim of a crime three and a half years ago. Before that day, I had never had a head ache in my life. I didn’t understand the concept of a head ache. Since that day – woah! Head pain is ludicrously awful. It makes you virtually dysfunctional. My CT scans are still causing concerns to the consultant I am under, but so far they cannot identify why there is still swelling after all this time. During 2018, I was still having black-outs, and episodes when I stopped breathing. I am frightened by the thought of more surgery. I am a very tough cookie, I have a lot of endurance. But I am not sure how much more I can cope with being incapacitated each mornings.

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construction clothesI miss my life as an international volunteer.

I sometimes feel so lost and purposeless here. I have a comfortable and pretty little nest. I have everything I need. But there are many days when I feel as if everything is in vain. My life seems hollow and empty even though I am busy. Until I have an all clear from my consultant and until I can face Jack, my ex-flatmate, I cannot go back to my life on the other side of London. Here is fine. There is nothing wrong with here. But it is just an existence. I do not feel fully alive here. I feel as if I am just going along with the motions of life. Here is not bad, but it is not my life. It is not mine. Which reminds me – there is a post in my drafts folder on this very subject. It’s a subject I probably need to explain more.

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I really struggle to understand why my ex-flatmate Jack has still not comprehended how much hurt has been caused. There are lots of things I struggle with when it comes to Jack to be honest. The only reason I endure it, is that I love him. Silly boy.

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I was reading a post frombereavedandbeingasingleparent bereavedandbeingasingleparent:

Countries gone mad

…and I discovered news that excited me very much! Greggs – a popular high street bakery here in the UK, has launched a new vegan sausage roll. I was very pleased. Can I find one? Every Greggs bakery I have been into (well, I have only been into four branches so far) told me that they had sold out! I was gutted! What time in the morning do I have to arrive at Greggs to have the chance to sample a vegan sausage roll? I am struggling in my quest for the latest vegan indulgence.

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Well…I have to admit, now that I think about it, my troubles are so small and insignificant compared to my multitudinous blessings!

Looking on the bright side … maybe WP have helped me realize I just need to go and have my eyes tested. With regards to Goldfinch – well, at least I have tasted sweet love and because of technology I can speak to him despite a distance of over ten thousand miles! The pain – well, at least I am alive and fully functional in other ways. I should count my blessings and enjoy the health and strength I have. Being away from my life and career is hard, but as I mentioned, I am in a great place. I have a beautiful home and a great job with lovely colleagues. There is an enormous green park at the end of my road and five artisan bakeries on my high street.

HOWEVER. NONE OF THEM SELL VEGAN SAUSAGE ROLLS!!!!