Take A (Second) Chance On Me

This week’s FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION caught my eye immediately:

Do you believe in giving people second chances?

If so, why? If not, why not?

Absolutely yes! Wow, yessssssssss! Of course! The main reason for giving people second chances is that surely we appreciate it when someone gives us a second chance.

bitI am imperfect. I make mistakes. People forgive me. They give me second chances, third chances, fourth chances and more! There are very very very few situations where I would refuse to give another imperfect human a second chance. Look at what happened with Jack and me! Goldfinch once said to me that he marvelled at my powers of forgiveness (in regards to Jack). I think later on in this post, I will recap the basic outline of the contact between Jack and I.

I am not saying this just because I am a softie. I see a legitimate basis for people being forgiving and extending second, third, fourth, fifth….chances to others. We are all imperfect. None of us have had a completely perfect start.

babbyEven if our parents were lovely and did their best to rear us well, they may have inclined us with mistaken thoughts and habits. It is hard to find the right balance in all things. Even the best make mistakes. Some people had a terrible start in life without love and kindness and patience. The cumulative effect of cruelty and abuse are impossible to measure.

I can think of a hundred, nay, a thousand reasons why someone might let you down, make a mistake, tell a lie, break their promise, take something that is not theirs, forget something important…and all manner of other mistakes. I can think of even more reasons to look over their mistake. Stress is a big cause of mistakes. People say and do things when they are stressed – it is so important that people are allowed second chances.

tifkuyI guess there is a balance to find. Some mistakes are minor, but others are more serious. If someone has deliberately done something wrong, it may be that we have to have some words with the person to make it clear that it is not something we can condone or approve of. But finding the balance is important. Quite rightly, we might despise certain wrong acts – but the truth is everybody makes mistakes. Most of us do wrong things due to weakness, not wickedness.

I know some people might not believe in a Creator, but if you do, you know that our Creator has arranged to give a second chance to almost the entire human race. At great cost to himself, he has bought back what Adam threw in His face. Adam was perfect. There was no basis to forgive the wicked decision he made. Yet he was allowed to have offspring. All of his offspring had an imperfect start.

paradise7But soon the human race will have a chance to work towards the purpose our Creator gave to Adam – fill the earth and make it a paradise…take care of it’s creatures. Mankind suffers because of Adam’s decision. The world system has damaged human health, our environment and other creatures. But soon disease will be eradicated and death will be undone. Mankind will have a clean slate, a fresh start, a second chance.

Eventually all mankind will be perfect. Then they will have to choose whether to be like Adam and choose to think they can rule themselves better than their Creator or whether to be like Jesus, the firstborn of all creation who has always been obedient to his Creator. Jesus has been given a special role. Effectively he becomes the adoptive father of the human family that Adam severely damaged. In his role, he will patiently teach and guide us to thrive and to care for our responsibility on this planet properly.

I mentioned earlier the relationship between Jack and I. I have written about it a lot, and I didn’t want it to dominate my post. But here is a basic outline of what happened:

2010 – I became an international volunteer.

2011 – Jack became an international volunteer.

People started to talk about Jack and me (we had worked on similar projects and been at the same social events). Over the next couple of years this went from mild teasing to people I did not know being fascinated about whether he and I were romantically involved.

2013 – Jack moved into our apartment.

Abstract, Amateur, Aperture, BodyThe rumours intensified. Photos of the two of us (still have no idea who took those pictures) spread online. People said whatever they wanted about us, there was no limit to their imagination and in some cases their depravity. People I hardly knew would joke with me about what they were sure was a sexual relationship. The worst of comments were on social media.

Meanwhile, inside the flat, Jack and I were hardly speaking. I asked him repeatedly to try to stop the gossip. He is used to being in the limelight and his response was to tell me to be more thick skinned and to assure me that people would get bored and move on to some other celebrity.

2014 – I couldn’t take anymore, I moved out of our apartment into another apartment in the same complex.

names.pngThe rumours became worse than ever. People said very cruel things about me specifically. Names like tart, slut, slag, whore and others were used about me…with all manner of prefixes and accusations.

Jack and I were estranged. I did not trust him anymore. He was hurt by my decision to move out. The tension became worse and worse. I thought he was openly hostile towards me. He thought I blamed him for everything.

Rumours began that I was having an affair with a married man, whose wife was one of my close colleagues. I suspected Jack as being the origin of these lies.

2015 – One night I was so overcome with despair after being the subject of cruel taunts and damaging slander for several years, which had affected my work and social life, and eroded my self-confidence, I didn’t want to go home incase I bumped into Jack (I had seen him four times that day). I went to a park. I was the victim of a serious crime that night. The following morning a security guard found me and called an ambulance. I received serious head injuries that night which still cause me challenges five years later.

My sudden departure from London sparked more cruel rumours. I got rid of my smartphone because my heart was so utterly broken at what people were saying.

2016 – After a year of recovering from my physical injuries and the emotional trauma of my attack, I returned to London. My first boss was more than inappropriate on several occasions. I had to leave. My second boss was better. But the part time job (20 hours) I signed up for turned out to be 60+ hours each week. I was exhausted. One day I had an accident at work (my head!) and they had to take me to a local A&E. I was told I was not fit for work.

I had to go back up north to be with family for a couple of months.

2017 – flat1.jpgI returned to London. I found a safe little nest, hidden away behind two huge security gates. I found suitable work nearby. I was able to resume my voluntary work activities and have expanded them so that I work for charities on an unpaid basis for more hours than I am engaged in paid work.

At the end of 2017 I met Goldfinch ❤ He returned to Australia 14 months after I met him.

2019 – I lost my little apricot. I visited Australia to visit Goldfinch.

In August, Jack and I just happened to be on the same road in London. Within two weeks he called me. He called again a few days later. Within a week, me met up to talk…twice. We talked a lot about the past. There was a lot of forgiveness and letting go of hurt and making peace. The next time we met, he told me his feelings for me.

In December, we told our families that we were now a couple.

jas2020 – In January, we started letting close friends know and socialising with our friends. We went to a couple of big events together. We walked through local streets and had coffee in cafes without feeling we had to hide from the world.

In March, when many people were desperately trying to get back to the UK because of travel disruption, Jack left the UK for Africa where he is working with international charities. (I am currently cross with him…but at the same time proud of him.)

JACK AND I WOULD NOT BE TOGETHER IF IT WAS NOT FOR SECOND CHANCES. I AM SO GLAD THAT HE GAVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE AND I AM VERY GLAD I GAVE HIM ANOTHER CHANCE.

decisionsMy mind and heart are at peace about the past. Despite all the damage, despite it seeming like an impossible situation that could never be resolved…Jack and I are together (obviously not physically at the moment) and he and I make an amazing team. I treasure him all the more for knowing that we both blew our first shot, so we are both prizing the second chance we have extended to each other. I am thrilled that Jack and I have each other despite all that went before. In fact, the pain of the past has faded completely. I still remember what happened, but it no longer hurts like it used to. When Jack puts his arms around me…I feel joy that we beat all the odds!

You knew this was coming, surely!

_____________________

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

Fandango’s Provocative Question #66

FPQ

Education For Life

At the beginning of March, Fandango asked us a very interesting question. Since then, the world has gone to war. A war against an invisible enemy. Life has changed for many people, and will soon affect even more of us. I wanted to republish this post, specifically for all those who are anxious about their schools and colleges closing down and wondering what will happen now they cannot sit the exams they have been studying for:

Fandango has asked such a very interesting question…I don’t know where to begin with it! So while I collect my thoughts, I will let you know the question which has captured my attention:

What does it mean to you in the 21st century to be well educated?

colaWell…I think I will begin by mentioning something a colleague of mine said around three years ago. My colleague said that “only educated people should be allowed to vote”. Now, this statement didn’t provoke me too much because I deliberately choose to stay neutral in politics, as I work as a volunteer for international charities that are strictly neutral in politics. However, the statement my colleague made was in the midst of a speech from them decrying the results of recent democratic elections and votes in a number of western lands.

Now…the purpose of my post is certainly not to dive into politics, but I remember my colleague’s statement because in essence it reflected their (perhaps unconscious) opinion that anyone who disagreed with their political leanings was “uneducated”.

igsaI pressed my colleague on the statement they had made. I asked what they meant by “educated”. My colleague thought the answer was obvious, “only people who have been through university”. So I asked, if only university graduates were allowed to vote, would that change the results of elections and votes? My colleague indicated they thought it likely. I thought that was interesting. How many people think that anyone who does not share their political views (or their religious views) is “uneducated”?

I avoided any comment on politics and replied “I chose not to go to university”. My colleague was shocked. I explained to my colleague why despite leaving school with A grades I chose to reject a university education, in favour of what I perceived as a better education. I still prize the education I received as I worked along with hundreds of other volunteers, being trained in a host of skills by charities who needed people to work on projects to benefit communities.

Nature, Human, A, Lid, Basket, PortraitI then asked her about people who have lived their lives without a university education but have lived by the best of principles and consistently showed beautiful qualities such as kindness, honesty, loyalty, humility, cleanliness, modesty, hospitality….etc. Are such people somehow “lesser” simply for not attending an establishment of higher education? Well I know many people who did not go to university whom I respect enormously for their wisdom and the wonderful name they have made for themselves as good people, loving parents and are much loved by members of their community.

What of those who have been through university and graduated with degrees? I know many who have been through university and graduated with a degree. Some have done just fine. Others not so well.

Graduation, Man, Cap, Gown, EducationI know of some who despite their “education” at a renowned university are still in enormous debt. Then I personally know some who have been through university and yet have fallen into the traps of ambition and greed. I know of someone who started using recreational drugs as a university student. Once they had reached the top of their profession they ended up on the front page of national newspapers due to their escapades with Class A drugs. I know of another university graduate who has worked in business and politics, whose name was sullied due to corruption charges.

On the whole, a university education involves academic challenges, sometimes with a leaning towards a future vocation. That may be a useful tool opening up the door to a higher salary perhaps, or making it easier to apply for a visa to live and work in another country.

Student, Library, Books, Book, Learn

I think all people should be given the opportunity to learn to read. Reading is one of the most wonderfully empowering aspects of education. I remember starting to feel uncomfortable at high school with the way my teachers approached our lessons. I could see some wanted us to remember what they told us in order to pass an exam. When I look back, I appreciate those of my teachers who encouraged us to contemplate fascinating subjects and use our reasoning abilities, the teachers who asked provoking questions – just like our very own Fandango!

Child, Black, Black And White, PortraitFor 21st century living – what kind of education is most useful? I have strong opinions I suppose on this subject. I fear that in some ways a significant amount of people need to go right back to basics when it comes to education.

  • How to look after our bodies, our homes, our neighbourhoods, our planet
  • How to look after our emotional health, how to care for our family members, how to build strong communities
  • How to be balanced with our use of time and money
  • How to be content, generous, unselfish and how to brighten not just the day for other people, but lighten their load and quieten their fears
  • How to resolve misunderstandings peaceably
  • How to give more than we take
  • How to discern between propaganda and accurate reports
  • How to endure when challenges come along
  • How to be prepared for the failure and collapse of a corrupt and greedy world system that is soon going to turn on itself

Family, Child, Forest, Happy, Fun, LoveNot all have a loving family to provide a great start in life, the kind of education that lasts for a lifetime. For many family life has crumbled. In some cases family members have passed on some very harmful attitudes and habits. Others are more influenced by friends and peers, or even their favourite “role-models” in the media or entertainment world. Some may adopt a certain outlook or manner of conduct to fit in with a social group, a club or a certain faith.

Who is responsible to provide a real education? You know A REAL EDUCATION! One that teaches people how to love their fellow human as themselves. A real education teaches people that there is no such thing as superiority of race, that regardless of where we are born or our appearance, what matters most and what is truly deserving of commendation is unselfish love. Real love for ourselves, our fellow humans and for all creatures we share our beautiful planet with should guide our every step.

Any education that inflates egos, fosters ambition and greed and makes a person feel they are superior to their fellow humans is an utter failure.

PEOPLE DON’T USUALLY

CARE

HOW MUCH YOU

KNOW

THEY WANT TO

KNOW

HOW MUCH YOU

CARE!

I have had the privilege of travelling and working with people who live in areas where university educations have not reached yet. Travel has been a huge education to me.

asaIf I had my way, everyone born in a western country would go and live for at least year in an area where plumbing and central heating are a rare commodity, where noone has ever seen a refrigerator or a washing machine, nor a flat screen TV, a supermarket, an i-pad or a thousand other things that people here seem to think are necessary for life. I hear people complaining about stuff here in England, and I often think, “Go and live over there for a year…and when you come back, I am not sure you will be the same person.” I would love for education to include being moved to a different part of the planet with a very different set of economic circumstances from your own.

I learnt more from those beautiful smiling, hospitable, joyful, hard working people about contentment and what matters most than any of the university educated colleagues I have been stuck with in paid jobs. Paid jobs which seem to reward those who can make the most profit out of others and sell them things they don’t actually need. Paid jobs that sometimes leave employees so stressed and exhausted they hardly know what to do with themselves outside work and so just switch on Netflix or football.

Businessman, Businessmen, Business

In the 21st century, we see mankind still circulating the same strange ideas about greatness that have existed for thousands of years. People amassing wealth for themselves – far far more than they need, yet wanting to be honoured for their greatness and their goodness. Wanting glory and praise from others.

Men Holding Green GrassesAlongside them the millions of quiet people who go about their life in a modest way, time and time again displaying an unselfish attitude, often unnoticed by human eyes. Each one of them precious, incredibly precious, but hardly ever receiving a well done from any source accept their own conscience.

I am all for learning. I love the process of learning in the various forms it takes. I have never stopped being sent for training to learn new skills that are useful to the charities I work for. I have training and experiences in many fields. In addition I love reading about history and science, especially physics. I love people. I love learning from friends of many different cultures – especially when it comes to food! I have friends teach me to cook dishes from other European lands, West Africa, India, Pakistan and China.

No matter where a person is from, we all have the potential for beautiful unselfish qualities that build others up, or selfish, self important traits that build noone up accept ourselves.

Silhouette of Man Throwing Fishing Net into Body of WaterOne last point….I have mentioned this before but there is a story I have heard told in a number of cultures. I love it! In some ways it highlights the stupidity of the western way of life and western education. Rather than repeating it again, I am going to include a link to another post where I explained why I think it is so significant:

There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Fish

Even now, there are people who are receiving a superior education. They are learning the ways of love, the ways of peace. They are learning to work together with others as a team without seeking their own glory. They are being trained for the future. There is a lot of work ahead. A lot of work. This planet is going to need help to become the paradise that it is supposed to be. But first we have to wait peaceably while the current corrupt greedy state of affairs plays out it’s own downfall.

Love goodness, love peace, love creation, love people, love yourself,

love the Giver of Life!

________________

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

Fandango’s Provocative Question #59

FPQ

Nice To Meet You!

Fandango has asked a question that I just could not resist replying to:

How did you meet your spouse, boyfriend, or significant other?

I remember the first morning I met Jack vividly. For me it was a routine morning. I had woken at 5am and showered and dressed. I was having breakfast with some friends that morning, but I had to travel to meet them.

Unbeknownst to me, Jack had a rather chaotic morning that day. He was late for some filming he was supposed to be doing. The studio were on the phone to him asking him where on earth he was. He turned up late and caused general havoc with the filming schedule. Jack still sometimes confuses the many arrangements in his schedule. (He needs help to be organized!)

Anyway…after a director had strong words with him, Jack was in a foul mood! But one of his friends tried to make him lighten up and invited him to tag along as he was meeting up with a group of friends for breakfast. (The same group of friends I was having breakfast with!)

Berries, Pancakes, Breakfast, FoodThey arrived later than the rest of us. The guy who brought Jack along told him to sit opposite me. I knew who Jack was because he was famous. But it turns out that Jack also knew who I was. People had said very nice things about me to him.

It appeared that the way I tucked into my stack of pancakes had the ability to captivate him. My friends always said they had noticed the way he was looking at me and knew he was going to chase me.

What happened after that day…well, if you have been reading my posts for a while – it has been a very bumpy ride! But eventually, we got our act together. Jack still loves (well he loves to try) to make pancakes for us.

Would you like to know how I met Goldfinch? I know I have mentioned it before.

It was the night the clocks fall back an hour – tha last Saturday of October in 2017. I was away visiting friends. I had a bit of a disappointment that weekend. Some bad news about a male friend who was, well, he was bad news himself really. Sometimes, I wonder why I didn’t see how much of a negative impact he was having on me before that night. That night ended the connection I had with him. He has a lot to think about before he makes promises to anyone else. I tried so hard to make it work with him, but he was such a disappointment. I realized how terribly wrong we were for each other. Terribly terribly wrong for each other. It was like the Princess and the Peahead!…Anyway, moving on swiftly from that miserable page in the life of Caramel….

ouasNot to be put off enjoying my break from work I was still determined to enjoy myself. On the Saturday I was shopping and site-seeing with friends and then we went out for dinner and drinks afterwards. As the night was still young, there was a big discussion over whether to explore the nightlife in that part of the Midlands or to opt for a more relaxing end to the evening at the cinema. I remember the only film that caught anyone’s eyes was called “Breathe”. I was tired. I had been working for over fifty hours a week all year and this was the first time I had been able to take any holiday from work. To be honest, I was not eager to explore Midlands nightlife. However, that was the night I met Goldfinch.

It took less than five minutes for me to feel comfortable with him. He was the brave one, approaching a stranger. He said hello and asked me some perfectly appropriate formal/friendly questions. He gave me plenty of space. I think he understood that I had my guard up. I answered his questions without imparting any information about myself and I was not particularly friendly, more matter-of-fact, nonchalant. I thought he was just some bloke who was out to enjoy himself (I was not interested in that) but I humoured him because he was not guilty of anything inappropriate or offensive. In fact he was effortlessly gentlemanlike. He naturally knew how to behave, how to conduct himself, how to make a woman feel at ease with him.

What made me warm to him was when two young men who were being boisterous and inconsiderate were nearby, Goldfinch was gracious and considerate with me and he kind of shielded me from them. He sat a little nearer to me, but still allowed enough space for probably two people to have sat down in between us. We were having this conversation with plenty of physical space between us, so I did not feel uncomfortable for one minute. Then he sat a little closer, but he asked me first if that was alright. By that point I would have been happy sitting on his lap. I was utterly smitten by him.

As we talked, I realized there was a lot to talk about, things we had in common, points that were of great interest to me. Because it became so noisy, he moved a little closer. I felt so glad that he did. I started to feel excited. I don’t know whether it was me or him, but suddenly we were holding hands while we were talking. Before I could tell what was happening, I was completely enchanted by a complete stranger. I am surprised to be honest that I clicked so quickly with Goldfinch. Never before have I found myself holding hands with a complete stranger. But if felt so right. I have never had a moment’s regret that I fell for him so quickly.

We spent hours together talking. It was so exciting to me. I was holding hands with a man I had only just met and I felt so incredibly comfortable with him. I loved how easy it was to talk to him. It was hours, but the time flew and it felt like minutes. It is amazing to me that we had an extra hour that night because the clocks had gone back one hour.  My extra hour was spent holding Goldfinch’s hand and getting to know him. That has to be the best and most memorable way I have ever spent my “extra hour”!

_________________

This was my response to FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION:

Fandango’s Provocative Question #60

FPQ

Wisdom Is Better Than Gold

Books, Ink, Light, Golden, Reader

This is a recycled FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION, so…because I have to work all afternoon, I thought I might recycle and slightly tweak my response to a similar question another blogger asked recently.

This is Fandango’s question:

“What do you think is more useful:

intelligence or wisdom, and why do you feel that way?”

It might be fair to say that you can’t really have the latter without having at least a little bit of the former. But as for which is more useful, I would have thought most would agree that wisdom is finer and more useful.

Laptop, Woman, Education, Study, YoungGenerally, I associate intelligence as the accumulation of information or knowledge. Computers and machines are said to possess a form of “intelligence”. However, since there is an abundance of false information, false knowledge riddled with inaccuracies – the amassing of information and knowledge is not necessarily a positive thing.

A person can have little knowledge of the trillions of subjects out there, but they may have a little true and accurate knowledge that is far more empowering and enriching than the abundance of nonsense that has been published.

Book, Live, Knowledge, Secret, WisdomThe acquisition of knowledge is the start of learning, I suppose. Yet the ability to discern between true and false is of vital import. Understanding the information one has acquired and how it relates to the foundation of true and eternal principles is the next key step to learning. This ability helps one to reject information that clearly does not fit the pattern of truth.

But beyond that is what could be termed the end of learning: wisdom. Correctly applying the knowledge and understanding one now possesses. It is wisdom that shows true evidence of superior learning, not the possession of a vast amount of information.

Student, Professor, Uni, Books, StudyI was talking to a colleague recently. I think my colleague is curious about some of my decisions in life. I explained that I had choices. I was achieving A grades throughout school. I come from an academic family. My older siblings and cousins had been to renowned universities and were immersed in lucrative careers. I was the rebel perhaps, although I did not have a rebellious spirit.

I chose to prioritise unpaid volunteer work over the opportunities within the commercial world. I have rejected all sorts of notions this “world” promotes. I have no wish to get on to the property ladder. The concept of a mortgage is baffling to me. Why would I enslave myself like that? I have no wish to become a slave to a business intent on making profit.

Adventure, Blonde Hair, Exploring, GirlI have lived a rich and rewarding life on a shoestring budget. Working as a volunteer has opened up opportunities to me that I would not have had if I had pursued my own material comforts.

Some people make a snap judgement when they learn that I rejected higher education. But this is a decision I have never regretted. I saw what higher education did to some of my family members. Those who pursued academia have not ended up with the more balanced education and practical training that the rest of our family opted for. I have never stopped learning. I am a long term student who is fascinated by many subjects. I read a huge amount of material and I exercise discernment as I read. There are so many opposing theories and philosophies, many of them a mix of half-truths and conjecture.

bitBut having a clear grasp of basic truths is a huge aid to sorting through the never ending “information” overload that we are bombarded with.

I think wisdom today includes a knowledge and experience in how people behave. Wisdom is reflected in how you react to the way others treat you. If someone had poor relationships with others, I would tend to question their “wisdom”.

I believe wisdom is also manifest by the choices and decisions someone makes, their habits and lifestyle. When someone appears to be unable to look after themselves properly, I find it hard to credit them with wisdom no matter how many “qualifications” and “certificates” they may profess to have.

There are so many other areas that show whether someone is wise: how we use time, how we spend money, our attitude to debt, how we view and treat our possessions, how easily swayed we are by sensationalism and propaganda, our abilities to reason and consider what may contradict some of our treasured beliefs.

Some seem to be focused on the acquisition of more and more conflicting, confusing, and capricious information. Others appear to have a tight hold of basic truths and show they have developed discernment, understanding and wisdom.

Girls, Woman, Blowing, Stars, GlitterMany people are pursuing things that do not bring true happiness. In fact, this world is designed to encourage people to pursue vain, empty goals. Is it wise to conform to a system that pats you on the back if you pass it’s tests? Follow it’s goals? Define success by it’s standards? It is alarming how many people are seeking things that will soon be gone forever!

All that glitters is not gold. So much of what this world promotes as “success” is vain and empty. Many find that out too late. Wisdom is better than gold! It is better than the goals of this world.

I could go on discussing this subject for hours, but I don’t really want to make this a never-ending post!

__________________

Fandango’s Provocative Question #2 — Revisited

FPQ

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.

____________

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.