Tag Archives: life

Be A Worker, Not A Shirker

window cleanerMy dad is a wonderful man. He has his faults, as do all men and women. He has even made one or two mistakes in the 36 years I have known him. But I have to take my hat off to him for his reliability, his faithfulness. Seven children to provide for. He just kept going up and down that ladder day after day. He never let himself get overwhelmed by his responsibilities, he may have had a grumble at times, but he kept doing what he needed to do and most of the time he did it with a friendly wink and a smile and a sweet little chuckle. I am sure I will share many wonderful stories about my incredible parents and how many lessons in life they have taught us.

Right now, I am going to tell you about one aspect of my childhood I am quite proud of as I look back. During our school holidays, we often had to go to work with Dad. Since I was born, Dad has been a window-cleaner. I have very fond memories. I remember having the job of carrying “the little ladder” and always had some “scrims” in my pockets (they were the cloths used for mopping up water from sills etc or for cleaning Georgian window panels). Dad gave us tasks so that we felt useful. During a day of window cleaning we might carry things, or wipe any sills we could reach, or hold back plants away from the window so Dad could clean them easily. Sometimes Dad would ask us to run ahead and ring the doorbell and when the house-holder opened the door we would politely tell them, “the window-cleaner has almost finished and he says it is £6.50 please”.

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Some of Dad’s customers have seen his little ones growing up. We were the most famous crew of window cleaners in the town – a father and three little girls invading neighbourhoods to leave windows sparkling. At the age of five or six, I used to wear red wellington boots and a green woolly bobble hat.  One day I lost my bobble hat and was very tearful about it. Dad allowed me to join him on the Friday evening when he visited any customers who had not been home that week to collect any payments they owed him. I asked every customer if they had seen my green bobble hat. Imagine my relief when one lady said she had found it in her garden and had recognized it immediately and had kept it safe until the window-cleaner came again.

ice-cream perfectionSome of Dad’s customers were very kind to us. They might invite us inside to play with their children, or sit us on their sofa and allow us to watch a cartoon film. We were well supplied by Dad’s customers with juice and biscuits.  They would even give us some money to buy sweets.  One lady gave me £1 and told me it was ice-cream money.  Dad crimsoned in embarrassment with my reply to his lovely customer.  I held out my hand and said to the lady “have you ever heard of a thing called inflation?”  Don’t worry…I now fully comprehend how cheeky I was!  At the time, I was just trying to communicate my frustration, because back then it cost £1.10 to buy a Mr Whippy ice-cream with a chocolate flake and raspberry sauce and sprinkles from the ice-cream van…which at the time was the highest form of ice-cream perfection!!!

I have known some friends and workmates who were from families who were clearly more comfortable financially than our own.  In some cases, a lot of emphasis had been placed by their parents on achieving educational results.  Some of my friends were never asked to lift a finger around the house, just to concentrate on their schoolwork.  Those are all fine things in a way.  It maybe that having more money, owning more possessions, accruing educational credits are gauges of “success” to many.  But my own definition of success has various other markers – learning to love, being a worker, not a shirker, qualities like kindness, respect, patience, loyalty, honesty being your qualifications, and very importantly…can you share?  Can you see that you are not the centre of the universe?  There is an amazing human family with an exciting array of things to teach you and who want to enjoy life and this planet with you.  The more you can share, I think the greater your potential for happiness.  It’s ok, it is never ever too late to learn.  Everyone can change their personality.

I am proud though that my Dad, and my Mum have taught all of us children to be workers, not shirkers. It is one of many valuable lessons in life I am deeply grateful for. We still gained excellent results at school, we were all in the top sets for all of our subjects and won the highest grades for our work.  I won several swimming trophies and medals.  I won a trophy for winning a maths competition for the school.  But school was just school.  Life was outside school.  We all had to help the house-hold run. Seven children! Lots of work.  I was an excellent dish-washer.  I also used to wash the family car each Saturday. As we grew older, more tasks were assigned according to our capability.

Almost everywhere I have worked, I have come across a diverse mix of workers and shirkers. It does often strike me that in some of the individuals I have met, there is such a sense of “entitlement” that has been fostered and sadly not a hard work ethic. An attitude of “the world owes me” and “I don’t need to get out of bed if I don’t feel like it”. And what on earth is going on with phones in the workplace? The workers are run off their feet trying to keep on top of the work that needs doing, the shirkers are unable to master their personal mobile phone addiction. I find it hard to understand. I wish everyone had the chance to go to work with my Dad during their school holidays and learn how to be useful. You see all sorts as a window-cleaner!!!

Life – some have had challenges and trials that have seriously marred their enjoyment of life.  But I do believe that for most people work should be enjoyable, working should bring some satisfaction. I love any kind of cleaning for that reason. Instant gratification, with very little stress. It also keeps you in great shape. I think I have become averse to certain types of work because I saw such rampant dishonesty practiced and such a mercenary spirit dictating culture. Sitting at a desk job is to be avoided because it will be bad for your physical health. I have done various types of work over the years. Each role gave me valuable experience and satisfaction.

SheepI have worked in finance, as a receptionist, administrator, legal secretary, gardener, cleaner, laundry, cook, driver, painter/decorator, I have cared for terminally ill patients and those with dementia. I have cared for ponies, chickens, pets, I have walked dogs – (£15 per hour for each dog in case you were wondering – and that was what the clients offered, I didn’t suggest that rate). My favourite job…we had to chase some sheep around a field and gather them into an enclosure. Then we had to turn them upside down on their backs so we could cut their toenails. Poor sheep! Although, it is important for their health apparently.

Then there is an even longer list of different skills I have acquired and tasks I have been assigned as a volunteer on various projects. The unpaid work I have done has brought me immense joy and has enriched my life.

I love variety. I love being outdoors. The thought of being chained to a desk all day frankly terrifies me. I love work. I am so glad my parents taught me to enjoy work, to be a worker, not a shirker.

Life Is Not Always A Bed Of Roses

From the sweet but confused comment I have been receiving of late I can see that it may be wise of me to remind you that because work is very busy, I am republishing some of my older posts. Enjoy…

Roses in St Mary's Garden, Regent's Park. Janna SchreierHowever, today that is all that life was.  Many beds of beautiful roses!

I have spent the day with some friends from abroad who are visiting London.  Those of us who live in London, often avoid the tourist traps, unless we have time to be idle and a lot of patience with visitors wandering around taking photographs of phone boxes, buses, and monuments to people who are from the minds of every day Londoners.  But I had booked the day off so that I could join my visitors and be a helpful tour-guide for them.  That meant I would be in the midst of throngs of tourists (accept I knew where I was going, and knew the short-cuts to avoid being slowed down too much).

My friends had a list of places they wanted to visit and take many photographs of.  You can imagine…the Her Majesty The Queen’s digs, Big Ben…which does not chime at the moment and has scaffolding all over it, the big Ferris Wheel that moves so slowly and yet charges a rate of over £1 per minute (cheaper to take an Uber I am sure), the tall pointy sky-scarper they put up a few years ago near London Bridge, and finally, Covent Garden (I was pleased about that because my favourite ice-cream parlour happens to be there).  I have also agreed to take them down to Wimbledon as they want to take lots of photos of the tennis club, and they want to go to Grenwich.  I am not sure if I will have the time to take them to Grenwich, but they can’t get themselves into too much of a pickle on their own in Grenwich…it is perfect for tourists and visitors to London.

My friends were also happy to take me up on a couple of my suggestions I offered to them.  How pleased they were when they saw this feast for the eyes.

Suggestion Number One:  If you are in London this glorious month of June – please make the time to visit Queen Mary’s Gardens in the middle of Regents Park.  Little pocket of paradise that it is – you need to see it! 

If you like roses…you cannot be disappointed.  Just don’t wait too long.  The rose season never lasts long enough for my liking.

I have told Goldfinch that next time he visits me, I want to take him.  I can hardly imagine a more perfect day than walking hand in hand around this little pocket of delight…and I will take a pic-nic for us too.

Keep SmilingI don’t think I want to clutter this post with too many words that will distract you from these lovely photos.  But please allow me to recommend that you look for my favourite rose.  It is a big fat bold joyful yellow one named “Keep Smiling”.

I will confess to you something that you may have already picked up on if you have being paying close attention to my posts.  June… aaaaah… my favourite month of the year since childhood.  However, it was a very hot June night that I went to the park on my own…and woke up the next morning on my way to hospital in an ambulance.  It was not Regents Park…it was another famous London Park nearer to my accommodation.

BluesI am already finding it hard…but I am keeping my chin up and keeping my head busy and my heart full of things that make me smile…like roses…and Goldfinch!

It will be alright… it will pass.  We shall bear it on our chin, with a grin…like any true Northerner.  We will get through this!

For the last two Junes I have found I had to work at not letting “flash-backs” from that night cause me distress.  Usually I go away…but this time I will be delaying my vacation by a day or two.  So the anniversary of the day I went to the park…I will be at work.  We will find out if that is a good idea.  Then the next day, the anniversary of my first day in hospital – I will be travelling across the country in a train.  I hope it will be a journey unlike the one in my post “One Epic Day On The British Rail Network.”

Then I have two weeks of touring the country, seeing family and friends…I shall take photos and share with you wonderful tales of my adventure with you.

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moreroses

I have more photos from the day out with my visitors.  Rather than one huge post…I will break up our sight-seeing trip around the “big smoke”.

You might not really like scrolling through other people’s “holiday spam”…so I will be kind to you!

Catrina And Catbells

I would like to introduce you to a very special lady, quite inspirational in truth.  Her story is now one of the most memorable periods of my life and as I look back I know I had a very special privilege that will stay with me forever.

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She was so special, that I have been almost afraid to tell you about her, in case I cannot find the words to do her justice!  Let me try to portray her in the light of those who had the privilege to know her.

As a young woman, Catrina had left school and gone on to study and then attained a full-time job with a generous salary within a local business.  She had achieved all of this and yet she felt her life was in vain.  She did not feel that her career was rewarding.  She knew of others who had been involved in voluntary projects and saw the fulfilment and satisfaction that they manifested.

So Catrina gave up her job and began to get involved with voluntary projects.  She met her husband Darren and together they became immersed in volunteer activity.  They received extensive training and then moved to Africa, where they have lived and worked in several countries.

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They lived a life of giving…and were joyful for it.  They touched many people.  Many new babies born in the areas they worked in were named Darren and Catrina.

I have visited one African country, Ghana. But I have family and friends who have lived in various African lands.  Those who have lived there do say that their way of life is quite different in many respects.  They have had to get used to a different climate, different food, a different language in some cases, to frequent visits from local wildlife, numerous bouts of malaria and other unpleasant illnesses, power-cuts, difficulty in obtaining needed equipment.  They love Africa and say it is in their bones now, but, they have found themselves facing challenges which they never imagined.

There were occasions that were overwhelmingly challenging.  The roads in places are almost impassable especially after weather damage.  One of the hardships they experienced was when a team of workmates, who were travelling by bus, were involved in an incident.  Fifteen of their friends were killed.  Darren had to go and identify the bodies and make arrangements for informing their families.

For years they would come over to England for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends and were emanating joy and purpose in life.  I met them when I was seventeen.  They made a profound impression on me.  I wanted to have a smile like that!  For the next fifteen years, I eagerly read every letter and e-mail that was circulated detailing the adventures of Darren and Catrina and accounts of the inspirational people they met out in Africa.

I have mentioned before that I worked as a full-time volunteer in an infirmary caring for patients who were terminally ill or had dementia or were now dependant on nursing care.  However, we also had occasional temporary patients who were volunteers working overseas who had come back to England for some surgery or specialist medical treatment.  I noticed Catrina’s name on the list of scheduled visitors.

At first, I was just very excited at the thought of seeing her again.  I could never have imagined what was ahead for Catrina.  She was coming to England for some tests.  She had still been working full-time as a volunteer the week before their flight to London.  But for about a year she had noticed something was not quite right.  I could fill pages detailing the drama that unfolded over the next few days.

St BartsI am going to fast-forward to the afternoon I was with Darren and Catrina in hospital and they had just been told the news that essentially nothing could be done.  Catrina had cancer pretty much everywhere you can imagine.  That is the only time I saw Catrina cry.  I am going to step outside of the room and retain her privacy.

For the next six weeks Catrina was a resident of our own infirmary.  A room was adapted for her needs and she had the best possible care from our team of volunteer nurses and care assistants.  I told the girls before they even met her,  “This one is really special.  You are all going to fall in love with her very quickly and it is going to be very hard to see her go”.  How right I was!

Catrina was full of life right up to the end.  She was full of joy and full of giving.  The girls who cared for her were completely bowled over by Catrina’s ways.  As soon as the carers walked into her room, Catrina would turn around any enquiries as to how she was that morning into an opportunity to get to know everything about the carer.  She would find ways to get to their inner heart very quickly.  Everybody has memories of the personal advice and encouragement Catrina gave them during her last few weeks.  She busied herself with writing letters and e-mails to people she knew and loved, many of whom were back in Africa.  It think it must have grieved her to think she would not be able to go back to her home in Africa one last time.  She would not dwell on it.  She was going to use every precious moment to keep giving.  Her beautiful words to others will I am sure be treasured for many years to come.

She was one incredibly popular lady.  Many phone-calls came through switchboard for Catrina.  She had scores of gifts posted and a constant queue of visitors, some of whom traveled for hours to be able too see her.  As Catrina started to weaken and tire out more easily we had to limit the numbers of visitors so she could rest and be on her own with her husband Darren.

There was a large team of girls involved in the shifts in the infirmary.  Due to the support we had, I was still able to go away with my family on a trip we had arranged to the Lake District.  We stayed in Penrith and one day walked across a large range during which thick cloud descended and made us become quite lost.  It ended up being a rather long walk and we were all rather achy that evening.  So the next day we wanted an easier walk and I suggested a trip to Keswick and Derwentwater.  The first fell I ever walked up was Catbells  I have always been extremely fond of it.  It is a lovely friendly introduction to the Lake District and fell-walking for those who are not used to it.

I have been over that fell many times.  I like that you ascend rather quickly and are rewarded with stunning views over the lake below.

 view from catbells

When I returned to London, Catrina wanted to hear all about my family and my weekend away in the Lake District.  She asked me many questions about Keswick and about Catbells.  She seemed to be fascinated by it.  She made me go over and over the route to get to the base of Catbells and how the path climbs quickly.  I told her of the little island I always look out for where we have had adventures on holidays as a child.  She seemed deeply curious about Catbells and Keswick.

A week later I was caring for Catrina.  Darren had been invited to go for dinner with some friends.  Catrina wanted him to accept the invitation because she was sure they would be good for him.  He was glad I was there and Catrina kept reassuring him that she was very pleased to have my company.  Catrina asked me to put some music on selecting specific songs from her laptop.  She also asked me to shave her legs.  She told me they were really getting on her nerves.   I remember the first song on her playlist.  She told me Africa was in her bones and she considered it her true home.  True enough, she was sad at the thought of all those she loved so dearly and the shock news they had received of how ill she was.

Whenever I hear the soundtrack to Out Of Africa I remember Catrina.  Another song that was on her playlist….

….well, I cannot listen to that song at all anymore without ending up sobbing on account of Catrina.

The next day was the first time I saw Catrina was struggling.  I had helped her wash and dress.  She was expecting some important visitors who had lived out in the same area of Africa years before.  They had helped to arrange for Catrina to be cared for within the infirmary.  Catrina always used to apply her own cosmetics or make-up.  She had not had any difficulties until that day.  I left her room for a moment to put the towels we had used away and make something for her to drink.  When I came back poor Catrina had completely missed her eye-lids with her eyeliner.  She had drawn thick brown lines a centimeter or so below her eyes.  She seemed a bit confused.  I helped her to adjust her make-up before her guests arrived.  When they asked how she was, she told them that she was starting to find it really hard to concentrate which was frustrating because she had so many letters to write.

The next day Catrina took her last breaths.

After the Doctor issued a death certificate, I helped to prepare her body before the undertakers took her away.  Catrina had told us what to dress her in.  We tried to comfort Darren who was distraught.  To see Catrina who had been so full of life and joy and unselfish giving lying there completely lifeless was very odd.

Hundreds attended Catrina’s funeral.  Many others who were unable to travel linked in from other countries using an internet service.  Hundreds in their home town in Africa gathered to watch a broadcast of the funeral service.

After the funeral, Darren spoke to me and my best friend Marta.  He had a letter from Catrina.  Inside there was a photograph of the two of them from years ago.  It was a photograph they had taken during their honeymoon.  Darren asked me if I knew where the location was.  As soon as my eyes settled on the photograph I was startled with surprise.  Why, it was Catbells!!  The two of them were together on the top of Catbells looking down over Derwentwater.  I knew that view immediately.  Sure enough their honeymoon had been up in the Lake District and they had walked up one and only one fell, Catbells.

In the letter were specific instructions from Catrina about what she wished Darren to do with her ashes.  She had written him one of the most beautiful love letters I have ever seen.  She thanked him for the life-time they had shared.  She had lived, she had really lived.  She could not imagine any other life than the adventure they had shared.  Her expressions of love for him were deeply moving and as you may well imagine, Darren, Marta and I were all sobbing as we poured over Catrina’s letter.

Darren carried out all of Catrina’s wishes.  He returned to Africa which is just what she had hoped.  He still lives the same life of joy and giving.  When he returns to London he makes sure he comes to see the little team of carers who he says are like his sisters.  We certainly did keep an eye on him for many months before he left England and we have kept in touch since.

Catrina is very much alive in our minds and hearts.  She was a trail-blazer.  A life full of life, full of joy and full of giving.  She wasted none of it.  She kept on loving and kept on giving right to the end.  She is remarkably memorable for every good reason.  And whenever I have been to Catbells or even see a photograph… I see Catrina.  I see Catrina smiling and laughing.  There she is in our hearts, inspiring those who had the privilege of knowing her.  Her ashes…floated off in a breeze over Catbells… her honeymoon memory of the man she had shared her life with.

That is just a few pages of the story of Catrina…whose life could fill many thousands of pages.  That is just a short shapter on Catrina and Catbells.

 

Sleep tight Catrina…xx  You are unforgettable and inspirational.

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via WORD PROMPT: INTRODUCE

Would You Like To Meet The In-Laws?

JUST TO EXPLAIN – THIS IS A POST I WROTE THREE YEARS AGO, AND AM NOW RE-PUBLISHING…OF COURSE I AM NOT SPENDING ANY TIME WITH MY FAMILY – WE ARE IN A NATIONAL LOCKDOWN!!!

Salted Caramel

Tomorrow, I am spending all day with my little sisters and their husbands.  I bought one of my brothers-in-law a very naughty gift.  My sister is going to tell me off.  He loves caramel, as do I.  So, I bought him a jar of Bonne Maman Caramel Spread – which is pure utter naughtiness.

©GIIC sarl, Pol Guillard, Tunis 2007

For my other brother-in-law I have bought a Sundried Tomato Spread – which is also yummy – I am quite addicted to it at the moment.  I am finding it incredibly hard to find though.  I used to buy it in the local “Le Pain Quotidien”, but they have stopped ordering it for their shelves.  The only other branch I know that still stock it is on the other side of London!

There are so many fantastic artisan delis, patisseries and artisan bakeries around here, I will be forever finding gifts and forever at risk of spending more than my budget dictates.  I have bought some other foodie goodies…cakes, posh crackers, jars and bottles of this and that and the other…all yummy gifts for my younger family members.

I would like to tell you about my younger brothers-in-law.  (Sadly, the older ones are not worth a mention having negated their marriage vows, but the younger ones are super. Both of my sisters will celebrate eleven years of marriage this year.)  Yet my two younger brothers-in-law are oh so different.

One I must admit I have a super soft spot for – thus the caramel spread I bought for him. If he was ten years older, then I would have grabbed him before my sister Milly had a chance!!!  He is very down to earth and fun.  A hard-worker.  I love that he married Milly because he is just the type of person I get on with and I know my whole family adore him.

At first, he seemed to have a bit of a shy streak.  I remember years back when he came a-visiting, there were a few occasions when he seemed relaxed on his arrival, but then something odd happened.  I think as he saw us girls chattering away ten to the dozen, sometimes he seemed to feel the need to escape.  And escape he would!  Quite literally, he would step into the kitchen or outside the house for a moment to himself.  I was not sure at the time whether he found our family’s noisy chatter and laughing a bit over-whelming.

My opinion changed when we went to a get-together with his family.  I started to doubt that he was overwhelmed by our noisy chatter because his family were incredibly loud.  So, I started to wonder what was it that he found challenging about us. I drew the conclusion his family are very male dominated – lots of very loud and lively blokes always laughing and singing and play fighting.  We were female dominated (six girls and one boy) so we chatted non-stop and laughed and sang but I guess we were just so different.  He was not used to so many lively girls.

His family are amazing….it will take me too long to tell you about them now.  I will tell you more in other posts.  When he and my sister first married, I went to stay for a weekend with them.  I was amazed that she had kind of been thrown in the deep end with doing all the house-work and cooking.  He did help with the house-work, but Milly seemed to be determined to be a domestic diva.  In addition, all these boys who were used to my brother-in-law being their best mate, would just turn up at the house, without ringing ahead to ask if that was convenient.  My sister would suddenly be making dinner for 12.  Milly just got on with it.  She is the same now, she just gets on with whatever work there is to do.  One by one his mates stopped just dropping in without an invitation, once they were getting married.  In that fairly remote corner of the countryside, it does seem that people get married and start having children at quite a tender age.  Now most of them have children.  They all appreciate that it is easier to plan in advance rather than turning up at the home of your friends, expecting to be fed.

My brother-in-law is a typical member of his family.  The entire clan seem to be made up of builders, window cleaners, farmers…they are all hard-working, down-to-earth and very jolly and gregarious.  Love them, truly truly…they have an infectious love of life and laughter of heart.  The countryside were where they all live…it is simply stunning…healing for the heart!

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My other younger brother-in-law is super too.  But a very different kettle of fish.  He had a crush on my sister from the age of thirteen.  Mandy was not sure about him for a long time, but I think she found that being adored by someone was irresistible.

He also comes from a close-knit family who liked to do a lot of socialising and holidaying.  They are a town family like our own.  He had a super-mum.  Now I think most mums do a lot…but when I say super-mum.  You know what I mean by the phrase “Super-mum” don’t you? –Screenshot_2018-05-29-22-33-57-1 However this Supermum probably did too much…and not necessarily wisely.  It is a risk.  He and his brother were wearing pretty much identical clothing well into their twenties.  Always smart and pristine. Why?  Because their super-mum would shop for them.  She was incredible at cleaning and washing and ironing and cooking.  She kept both her home and family looking immaculate.  Not saying there is anything wrong with that.  But it may have caused some challenges for my sister.  When Mandy was first married it seemed her husband expected her to be just like his mum…just like his Supermum!

Well, Mandy is one tough lady, she is not like Milly and I at all.  Milly and I get on with everyone and would rather someone walked all over us than pick a fight.  Mandy has a streak of fire than runs through her bones.  You are wise not to cross her!  Don’t borrow her clothes without asking permission! She soon made sure my brother-in-law understood that she was not his mother!

Mandy found it hard to get used to my brother-in-law’s family at first.  They are a lovely family, but she was a bit overwhelmed at first that his mum wanted her to be part of the family immediately and to get all close and cosy.  My brother-in-law’s mum and my sister are not alike.  However, all that changed when my sister realized that every Sunday his mum would cook a giant roast dinner with two different types of meat and always a scrummy dessert.  Mandy loves her meat!

It is true though, they have very different personalities and have certainly had times when they did not see each other’s point of view.  But they both love my brother-in-law.  My sister finds it odd that his mum buys them both thermal underwear each winter…but she accepts that these are habits that are unlikely to ever change.  I would love someone to buy me thermal underwear every winter!

Anyway….back to my brother-in-law.  I remember the days when he was courting our Mandy.  There he was with his brother, both of them looking like catalogue models wearing smart jeans, polo-necks, cashmere sweaters, smart loafers – and we were all off to the beach.  They knew we were going to the beach.  My sisters and our friends and I were all wearing shorts and T-shirts and flip-flops.  The beach meant fun!  We were all running through the waves and sand and screaming and singing.  Naturally, more than a little water was splashed around…and those boys were freaking out because we splashed their beautiful clothes.  Well, I did feel sorry for their super-mum having more work to do.  But in all honesty, we wondered why on earth they would wear those clothes for a day out at the beach.

My sister has worked on him.  She has helped him to see that rather than always looking as if you are a catalogue model, it is best to wear clothes appropriate for the occasion.  He is a great lad.  Most importantly he loves my sister – which makes him wonderful – ha!

I am very pleased with both of my younger brothers-in-law.  Not only do we feel delighted that they are a part of our family, but we love that we are an addition to their families.  Before any of my siblings married, we did feel a bit unconnected, not sure how the rest of the world regarded us.  Having in-laws is super.  We are no longer a family, more like an empire.  All workers who love life, love family, love laughter and love food.  Nothing special really…just what we humans were designed for.  I know not everyone has this now…I do know it.  It is not right.

I read in history class once that strong families make strong communities and ultimately make strong empires.  I also read that often the fall of empires is once they acquire great wealth, moral depravity and family breakdown has eroded the structure of their society.  Their very foundations have crumbled.

In my mind…the whole human family should be exactly that…a family where every single person can thrive…working hard, and having good food and loved ones to share life with and to sing, dance and laugh with.  One glorious day hey!!

Remembering Retrospectively Reaps Rich Rewards

How do a window-cleaner and a nurse manage to feed and clothe seven children?  There were so many of us.  In our family everybody had little jobs to do.  We all had to help out from a young age.  Money was always going to be tight.  But what Mamma and Dadda could not provide in a material way, they more than made up for in imparting lessons for life…wise and healthy habits for a life-time.

pound coin

I still remember Dad training me to wash the car for the first time.  When he told me he wanted me to do it…I was chewing gum, I put one hand on my left hip and held out my right hand and demanded “fifty pence should do it!”  Dad glared at me.  He said, “this time you won’t receive a penny, partly because you have been cheeky and partly because I am going to help you so you know how to do it.  But from now it will be your job to do it every weekend and I will give you £1.”

Dadda managed to teach us some vital lessons about money.  Dad would buy chocolate and if we wanted to eat it, we had to buy it off him (paying a bit extra than the price he had bought it for).  Dad reasoned that if we wanted to buy it at a cheaper price, we would walk to the fifteen minutes to the local newsagents, which would go a long way undoing the damage of the chocolate we bought.  Without taking away our choices, he decided to make it a bit more difficult for us to eat rubbish.  Clever Dad – just one of his many clever little ways.

My sister did so much better than I did.  Mandy saved her pocket money and bought clothes and she looked after them very well.  I went through a stage of spending my pocket money on music and sweets.  Eventually I learn to do the same as Mandy (partly because she refused to lend me her lovely clothes!)…but it took me much longer to learn to be prudent with my pennies.  With guidance and training, I also learnt to look after what I owned because I would have to replace my own clothes when I ruined them.

Then there a lesson I will never forget…and looking back retrospectively, it makes me marvel at my Dad for being such a wise man.  It was my first summer with my own radio.  I loved listening to music.  Before I had my own radio, I used to take Dad’s car keys, climb into the car and turn the key just enough for the radio and electric items to work, without starting the engine.  I sat there listening to music for hours…and ran the car battery flat…I did it twice before Dad realized I would be better off with my own little radio.

radioOh how I loved my radio!  There was a daily competition which captured my youthful excitement and enthusiasm.  I think if you heard three specific songs in a row you had to call the number advertised and if you were caller 252 you won.  You would win £1000.  They gave away £1000 everyday.  I never did win, but when the phone bill came…OUCH OUCH OUCH!

Dad showed me the phone bill…I could not believe my eyes.  Pages and pages of me ringing the same phone number at a premium rate over and over.  I spent a lot of money on trying to win…around £400.  What did Dadda do?  What do you think he did?  I had to pay it back effectively by not receiving my pocket money for many many months.

This experience taught me never to gamble.  I still pull a face when anyone talks to me about buying lottery tickets, or playing bingo, or having a flutter…Nooooope!!!  Never liked the taste of any form of gambling since my bitter experience as a 13 year old.

Which is what Dad wanted.  He had big money troubles as a young man.  He became engrossed in horse-racing and other sports.  Lost a lot…won next to nothing.  He stopped gambling before he married my mum, but he still found it difficult to be strict with his pennies.  However, he managed, and I take my hat off to him for how well he did.

I wonder whether he was partly motivated by wanting to teach his children how to view money and what it can buy.  All his kids are fit and healthy and able to earn a living – and appreciate the lessons in life we received.  Retrospectively looking back on my childhoood…aaaaaah!…

Treasure Chest

…all of the lessons in life from my parents…I feel rich…I feel so immensely wealthy.  They have set me up for happiness on a vast scale.  I have a treasure chest of lessons from Mumma and Dadda that keep helping me take wise steps.

I have to admit, the more I put my retro-spectacles on and bring back into my mind the lessons in life Dadda and other family members taught me…I am full-up of love and appreciation and respect for the loveliest window-cleaner in England!  My  Dadda.

Wisdom is priceless.  Far more value than gold!

Retrospective

Never Stop Longing For A Better World

Emotions – powerful things aren’t they! I will confess, I am rather busy at the moment, however, I am taking a little time out (at the same time as I watch Masterchef: The Professionals) to write about emotional health.

Now I am no expert in the field of mental and emotional health – but I am human (sorry, was that a snigger?) and I have been through challenges (slandered, trolled by online bullies, shunned by friends, despair, violent sexual attack by a stranger in which I was left for dead, resultant issues due to head injuries sustained during attack, years of silence and estrangement from the man that had sparked all the gossip and slander – who happened to be the man I thought more wonderful than any other single man on the planet) and so I have a little useful perspective on what is involved in recognising emotional challenges and “dealing” with them. (If you are facing mental and emotional health challenges you may benefit significantly from availing yourself of the many avenues of treatment and support, so do not hesitate to ask for assistance in caring for your mental and emotional health.)

Don’t worry – this is not going to be too long a post – I simply do not have the time before bedtime!

I was invited to link one of my previous posts to a prompt on the theme of LONGING. That is such a provocative word and if I had the time I am sure I could say a lot more about it. Jack loves music even more than I do and recently he had a song on one of his many playlists that I found intriguing, When I googled the lyrics and saw the video on YouTube, I was not sure what to make of it. Partly it was very depressing. The key line is that the singer is longing for someone to die for.

I did not get it. I did not get it at all. The song is about loneliness and heartbreak. (I chose the picture due to the pink lemonade lyrics – when life gives you pink lemons – make pink lemonade or pink gin and tonic?) I do understand heartbreak and loneliness. I really do. But shouldn’t it be that we long for someone to live for? The song, though very touching, has perplexed me. There is something ghastly and immature about the lyrics (it is a nice song, just rather disturbing!)

Life can be challenging. When I was heartbroken and lonely there were moments when I did not want to wake up the next day. But there was something within me that was much much more powerful – it was a LONGING. I longed to see the universe at peace. I longed to see a clean earth. I longed to see a happy healthy human family. I longed for so many wonderful things, and although I had been crushed by mistreatment and being the victim of one of the worst of crimes, I was not going to let anyone take away from me the chance to see all that I was longing for!

It’s been over five years since the most intense of my challenges. I am still longing for a universe at peace, a clean earth and a happy healthy family – however, my life, my health, my self-esteem, and of course my relationship with Jack have all improved steadily. I am soon to marry the man of my dreams! The man I have longed for! That is super smashing great!!!

Woman, Sit, Boardwalk, Jetty, Pier, Sea

But you know what….I am living a full life on my own two feet and I was before Jack made peace with me. My joy in life is enhanced by Jack – yes, but not dependant on him. He is one of the greatest blessings I could ever have hoped for though!

I am living and I am longing for the things that contribute the greatest joy to my life – love, peace , joy, creation, smiles. There is so much to live for! There is so much you can contribute to making life wonderful for yourself and others. In fact, it is so often when you focus on contributing to making life wonderful for others and yourself (notice I switched the order there!) that someone comes along and notices your smile and notices your joy and realizes your are just the sort of person that they have been longing for. Keep working on being the kind of person you long to be (so long as that is a kind person!) and keep contributing to the lives of others around you. Even a little kindness can make a huge difference to another person. Work towards the kind of world you long to live in!

Whatever you do – CHOOSE LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOVE, or whatever you are LONGING for, will come along, but you will only recognize and appreciate it if you are ready for it.

4thoughts

Parklife

Well…I have been managing to publish at least one post a day for a long time. But this year, a lot of those posts were ones I already had in my drafts folder. I am not finding time to do more new writing. So…you will see a few posts that I wrote and published in 2018 that I am re-publishing (including the infamous STORM IN A TEACUP SERIES!)

I do have a blessed life here.  Despite being the other side of a trial that has turned my life upside down…I find myself here in this beautiful part of London, in a beautiful little abode, with interesting and satisfying work, and lots of lovely people in my life, not the least of whom is my beloved Goldfinch.  I rise early and have a leisurely breakfast and my coffee.  Then I shower and dress and then I climb three steps and I start work.  Three steps!!!  What a terrible commute to work – and they are all uphill!!!

Adult, Breakfast, Bedroom, Blanket, Bed

This part of London is completely new to me. I have been exploring whenever I have free time. Spring and summer are giving me more daylight hours to go venturing out to discover. Last week I found a pretty park.  I went there tonight with the book I wanted to finish and my fleecy picnic rug.  It is about a 40-45 minute walk from the house.  It is not the best park in London. But with beautiful trees and grass you can’t really go wrong. Lots of families, joggers, cyclists, people chatting on benches, drinking coffee or eating ice-cream at one of the little cafes.

I arrived at about 5.30pm this evening.  I had to finish the book I borrowed from the  local library…I read it in that beautiful park, the sun warming my back and the gentle breeze caressing my hair. I let tears roll down my cheeks as I read slowly every emotion packed sentence.  What a story.

Then once I had finished it, I sat up and did a little “people-watching”. When I was bored I lay down on my back and looked up at the blue sky, the branches heavy with verdant green towering over me.

Park sky

It’s nice to be snugly warm and yet to be able to detect that lovely faint breeze. I realized the sun was sinking and was now behind a very impressive cedar tree. I felt tears in my eyes again. There was a huge cedar tree outside the building I went into every morning at 6.45am for breakfast….and there was a huge cedar in the private park in front of the apartment I lived in with two flatmates for my first two years there. Before I moved into the flat where the trouble started. The trouble that led to a life-changing event.

My sister was in Lebanon for three months at the start of last year.  She told me all about the cedars there and showed me lots of pictures. Then two of my best friends went over there for two months and came back just as enthusiastic as my sister about the scenery and the food.

I want to go to Lebanon.

There are a hundred places I would like to visit…ideally to have several weeks in each location, maybe longer. There are a thousand things I would like to do.

But this word BALANCE and another word PATIENCE and what else?  Oh yes, SELF-CONTROL. There is no way all these places would exist if I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to see them all and enjoy them all at some point! I am sure. It would be too cruel. This earth is there to explore and discover. I am sure one day…we will set out on a voyage together and spend one or two thousand years  I would like to be with Goldfinch, discovering new places, new foods, new scenery, new cultures and music and experiences. I would like to do a lot of exploring with him and then at the end of each day find somewhere we could sit back and I could hold his hand and rest my head on his shoulder and we can talk about everything we saw that day.

River, Embankment, Tree, Water, Lake

I have a lovely balanced life here…which is what I have needed, starting over again. I have needed to do this gently. Right now, I have the ideal situation for building up my stamina (especially with work spread over five storeys of the building – I am getting plenty of chance to run up and down stairs), pushing my body a little bit more each day, always with the knowledge I will be able to rest up after work…getting back into routine.  Growing stronger every day.  I am enjoying my work very much…and I am loving my rest/relaxation time very much. I can see I will be spending more late afternoons in the pretty park I found.

There was a point when I could not have imagined I would be able to come to a park on my own and feel so peaceful, so full of blissful content and feel safe.  So many memories would be triggered of that night.  That summer evening when I went to a park on my own and sat on a bench and allowed hot spicy tears roll down my cheeks.  So many memories of the security guard who found me the following morning and called an ambulance.   So many memories of everything that happened that night.

But look at how far I have come.  I can go to the park on my own and feel happiness down to my toes.  I can hold my head up knowing I have not just survived, I have thrived…with the support of my family and friends.  I even have a Goldfinch who makes me feel as if I could fly.

Despite the cruel events which shattered my world…I am in one piece…I am in a safe place and I have  a balanced healthy and happy life. I enjoy my work, I enjoy my rest/relaxation time.  I enjoy Parklife.

Park

I Want To Live Forever

I am back at work today. Jack went home yesterday. There is a limit to how many vegan Magnum ice-creams you can eat without feeling sick. But there is no limit to how much enjoyment I gain from my home…your home too.

I don’t understand why anyone thinks that living forever would be boring? Are you kidding me! Once wickedness and injustice and corruption have been removed…I am going to start to live – I mean really live!!!!!!!!!!!!

Real Life

Nature, Waters, Lake, Landscape, Evening

It’s supposed to be another scorcher here in England today. I have a long old day ahead with work. I am going to try to think nice cool thoughts, and imagine myself relaxing somewhere that stress cannot find me. I am going to protect my peace of mind. I am going to keep my eyes on what is real, and not the insane way of doing things that has been developed by successive generations.

Because we were designed for so much better than this…I’m going to keep my mind fixed on the real life.

The Restoration

The night is well along. The darkness is giving way to the first signs of dawn. The sky becomes murky. Many begin to awake from slumber as the sky brightens.

Paradise, Landscape, Holiday, Water

Morning is taking hold, banishing the darkness. The rays of the sun warmth all the earth breathing life and colour into our world. Birds sing in jubilant chorus to welcome the sunrise. Creatures everywhere busy as they start to gather their food for this day.

The healing continues. Broken hearts are healing. The earth is cleaner than we ever knew it. Our air and water are pure. Our senses seem to be heightened as we gain the full enjoyment of life.

But of all that we have witnessed, of all we have celebrated, it was seeing our dear ones wake up. To see life restored to those who had lost it is going to be the most thrilling and joyful time in all human history.

I saw five deaths with my own eyes in as many days. I watched people go to sleep. They stopped breathing. Remember them. Treasure every detail of who they are and all they are – every thought, feeling and memory within them. Keep those details safe in your limitless memory. I want to be there when they wake up.