So much to do, so little time! It’s one of those months! It will pass! We are past halfway point already.
I have a big event on this weekend. For reasons I will write about in another post, I am daunted by it. I will be attending with Jack. It will be very public. I have picked out my dress. It is something I picked up in a charity shop a couple of years ago. Somebody else paid a higher price for it than I did and decided they weren’t going to wear it for some reason. Or at least, that’s what I presume, for I found it in a charity shop with the labels still on it.
It is nice to be wearing one of my favourite dresses when I am out with Jack. I hope it all goes well. It might be a good thing that I am so busy at the moment. It is probably preventing me from getting myself all worked up.
Busy I may be, but not too busy to work on my SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post…little-by-little. To see the original questions provided by Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, take a look at her original post below:
What’s something your brain tries to make you do, which you have to will yourself NOT to do? (could be a bad habit, a physical response to something…your interpretation is as good as mine! )
“Talking back” or “answering back” with some sharp witted remark. Especially the temptation to answer back to someone who has just been absurd.
I have to be careful at times. I have been trained to speak and conduct myself with grace, tact, diplomacy and discretion. But at times, I hear someone speaking abominably, and all I want to do is verbally put them in their place. My brain picks up on the absurdity of their statements, and instinctively wants to poke holes in their conclusions and to ridicule their attitude. I have to fight that impulse.
I have had to bite my lip so many times! For I have learnt that once you humiliate someone. it is hard to win over their heart. So even with people who make themselves idiots by their speech, it is wiser to find something about them or their opinions to commend and seek common ground. Then to express an alternative viewpoint with appealing words. Softening someone’s heart before you deliver clear irrefutable logic and reason.
I can’t tell you how many times, I have wanted to just let loose and tell someone they were a complete idiot. But what would that have accomplished? No, it has been something I have taken great pains over, to sensitively address the fault in some twisted warped mentality without raising a barrier to them taking any correction to their thinking at all.
When someone finds out what you do, or where you are from, what question do they always ask you?
I will be doing some meeting and greeting at the event I am going to with Jack. People may well ask me those questions.
If someone asks me what I do, they receive a very long answer. Sometimes the look of bafflement on their face is priceless. Their questions can be varied. I guess, mostly their questions fall along the lines of “How?” “How is that possible?” How can you afford to live? (Especially “how can I afford to live where I do?”)
Where I am from is easier. Where am I from? Originally, the north of England, near Liverpool. But moved down south thirteen years ago and have been in London for almost ten years. Questions vary. Some people express surprise that I hail from Liverpool. “But you don’t sound like a scouser.” Others ask, “Oh, so do you like football?”
What’s something terrifying that we’ve all come to accept as a fact of life?
Weapons and armies. I find it terrifying that governments have developed arsenals that could cause unimaginable harm on humans and animals.
TERRIFYING! While I have been alive, there have been no “world wars”, but violent conflict has never stopped. Everyone hates to think about the awfulness of war. Yet, look at the astronomical expenditure on the military. Some say that it is not enough funding for the military, they say more money needs to be spent on defences. That word “defences” makes it all sound so acceptable. “Defenses” means weapons that destroy.
I guess they are explained and “justified”, as it is hoped that they will be used for “legal”, “just” or some might dare say “righteous” reasons, to “defend” and “protect”. Governments have been allowed the authority to “bear the sword”, to render justice. But the military capabilities of many nations is quite terrifying.
But besides the physical training of men and women to carry out warfare, there is something else I find disturbing. Violent video games and movies. People are training their own brains for violence. So many people argue that these are only games, only entertainment, and that people who enjoy them would never do those things in real life. Really!
Are you telling me, that if our world becomes more turbulent, if people become desperate and despairing, as they lose their jobs and homes and cannot feed themselves, if they become angry with others who seem to be hoarding wealth and enjoying luxury – that they won’t carry out the scenes they have been watching over and over hundreds, perhaps thousands, or even tens of thousands of times?
This world is setting itself up for it’s own end.
Should governments make laws to protect people from harming themselves? Could that even work? (yes this one is deep, maybe too deep).
What are we talking about here? Are we suggesting banning smoking, overeating, abuse of alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle? Are we thinking about banning extreme sports, thrill seeking, reckless behavior and taking risks with sexual practices that spread disease? Or is this more focused on those who are experiencing chronic emotional pain or prolonged stress, who seek to either relief their stress through some form of deliberate self-injury or to actually cease their own life?
I guess this can be a very deep question. If we were perfect in mind and body, I don’t think we would want to do any of the above. We would be full of life. We would wake up eager to get out of bed and enjoy a day full of rewarding work, meaningful relationships and all the wonderful marvels of creation.
But we as a human race are not well. We do foolish things. We lose balance. We give into impulses and weaknesses. Some of them are on a small scale. We can often do something to undo the damage. All of us have perhaps harmed our bodies or our consciences to some extent. Many of us realize we ought to make an effort to change our thinking or habits.
However, many have tasted the overwhelming feelings of despair and deep pain that can cause a person to want to deliberately harm themselves. Some decisions cannot be undone now. Should a person who is minded to cause themselves permanent harm, be protected from themselves? I respect very much health support services that want to prevent someone from permanently harming themselves.
Of course all practices that show a disregard for the incredibly precious gift of life, from smoking, to speeding while driving, to inflicting injuries on ourselves, are obviously unhealthy. Of course they should be discouraged. A law makes it clear that something is wrong. Everything I mentioned above is wrong. Smoking is wrong. Surely everyone knows that, including smokers. To choose to put poison into their own body is baffling. But the law allows people to do that. I am not quite sure why that is.
Laws are one thing. But how do you enforce laws? I would be horrified at the thought of someone who is battling despair and completely broken being treated brashly and without compassion. I would have thought that most people who reach that kind of crises point when they want to harm themselves, need kindness and the kind of support that can help them start to thrive again.
Some police or law enforcers may be compassionate and empathetic, but I have also witnessed some shocking behaviour from police when it came to how they dealt with individuals who were clearly at crisis point. I dread to think what might happen if those of the law enforcement agencies who do not seem to understand despair, feel obliged to “lay down the law” and drive a hard line. It’s frightening.
It breaks my heart to think of how many people are crushed, and battling despair. I know of a beautiful youngster who just ended her life, and I know of the devastation that her loved ones and friends are experiencing. It’s incredibly painful for all involved. I am sure she felt overwhelmed by pain. Now, those who adored her are crushed with pain. But, nobody knew how much pain she carried.
I dread to think that someone who is carrying unbearable pain around with them being treated harshly by law enforcers. I would not like to think of any law enforcers crushing them any further by mishandling a situation or focusing more on “the letter of the law than the spirit of the law”.
Please share your gratitude for this past week in the form of a photo, a quote or a thought.
This week I would like to express gratitude for my legs, my wonderful legs!
My legs have always been great. They never seem to tire out. I have used them for swimming throughout my childhood years. They helped win many a race, many a trophy for our school and the county swimming club. At high school, it was hockey, netball, rounders, cross-country and athletics (middle distance was my preference).
Since school, it has mainly been hiking they have been used for, besides work of course. Also basketball and running. They are great legs.
But this month, I have had six twelve hour shifts so far, and I have six more before the month is over. Twelve hours on my feet. Well, I do have chance to sit down for fifteen minutes during my lunch break. It amazes me that my legs don’t get tired. One night, I had to go shopping after work because I had no food at home (I keep forgetting to buy groceries) and my legs finally felt some achy tiredness. I think I pushed them too far that day. Well it was also my third twelve hour shift in a row. But other than that night, my legs have been tremendous!
I am so grateful to have such powerful legs! And besides that, they are pretty gorgeous. Don’t ask me, ask Jack, or Goldfinch. I am sure they will tell you.
Anyway… I will keep on running, until my legs let me down. I must remember to go grocery shopping. My legs will be strutting the dance floor at the weekend, when Jack and I are just south of the Euston Road. Mayfair, here we come!
The week is nearly over, and I need to finish my post for this week’s SHARE-YOUR-WORD. I have had a lot of interesting conversations with colleagues and friends this week. There seems to be a lot to talk about in the world at the start of 2020. What amazes me is how varied the opinions I hear are. Varied and often completely divergent.
I guess that is one of aspects of SHARE-YOUR-WORLD that fascinates me. We all have a slightly different viewpoint. It is very interesting to read the variety of answers to situations we all might ponder at some point. Even if our viewpoints diverge, we all converge for SHARE-YOUR-WORLD!
I have never been a plain “hello” person. I am more of a “Good Morning, good morning…it’s great to stay up late, good morning, good morning to you!” kind of a person.
I also like to make sure that the people I see and might be working with or socialising with are alright. I don’t like to take it for granted that the people in my life are not under stress. If they need some comfort, or extra consideration, I like to be alert to that. I am very people focused – caring for and entertaining others is my mentality.
I will admit, I find it very hard not to make a spectacular entrance pretty much everywhere I go. It is the extravert entertainer in my character. And life is a musical in the world of Melody Finch, so don’t be surprised if I sing “Hello” in some format, rather than say it.
Do you believe in Murphy? For those who aren’t familiar with Murphy, here’s a wee explanation: Murphy’s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.
Things do go wrong. At times. But mostly things go right. The definition of Murphy’s law sounds like somebody has a pessimistic streak. Murphy may have been a bit gloomy in his outlook. Well…I don’t think that way.
Who on earth is Murphy…or was Murphy…anyway? If he spent a day with me, I can’t see how he could possibly be pessimistic afterwards!
Murphy needs to understand that it never rains on my parade. When it does rain…well, you’ll find me singing in the rain.
Does evil come from within? If so, why?
This is an important question.
Firstly I would like to point out that the very fact that we acknowledge “evil” and that the vast majority of us are appalled and disturbed by “evil” shows that we were created with the tendency towards loving qualities. A human being thrives when they are able to love and feel loved.
Yet we also have free choice. So did the first two humans. They started life at a time when there was no evil around them. Everything was good. They used their free will to make a terrible decision. They have passed on to all of us a tendency to err in our thinking and decisions.
We may have wrong thoughts. What do we do with them? Do we resist them? Do we recognise they are wrong and shun them? Do we exert ourselves to push out those wrong thoughts? Or do we let those wrong thoughts breed? Do we feed them? Cultivate them? Imagine those wrong thoughts becoming wrong actions?
The choice is ours. We have the potential for wonderful! We can choose to cultivate loving qualities that will benefit both ourselves and all around us. Or we can choose to allow evil thoughts to flourish. I especially feel parents have an important responsibility in helping their children to identify and shun wrong thoughts. If parents leave their children alone with their thoughts, or allow school or television to shape their view of right and wrong – well, I dread to think what the results will be.
Do not be fooled. Thoughts lead to actions. We will all be judged.
When the first two humans were created, there had not yet been any evil acts committed throughout the universe. Yet an individual spirit creature (angel) had already started to dwell on his wrong thoughts. He committed the first evil. We humans have seen an abundance of evil.
Countless heinous acts have been committed, to the extent that we now live in a world where evil has become almost normal. But evil is only being allowed on a temporary basis, while human rulership is on trial.
In the near future, evil will be eradicated. We have free will. There will always be the potential for us to choose to do what is right, good and loving…or for us to pursue evil. But evil will not be allowed to exist. If we want to live forever, it is our choice. Choose good, choose life. Those who choose evil will not be allowed to enjoy the privilege of life if they refuse to change.
Are intelligent people more or less happy than others? What defines intelligence?
Another interesting question. I think perhaps I should start with the second half of the question, because that is probably the only way that I can answer the first question.
Generally, 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 riddle with inaccuracies – the collection 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.
The 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.
I 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.
I 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 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.
But having a clear grasp of basic truths is a huge aid to sorting through the never ending “information” overload that we are bombarded with.
Who is happiest? Those who are focused on the acquisition of more and more conflicting, confusing, and capricious information? Or those who have a tight hold of basic truths and who show they have developed discernment, understanding and wisdom?
I guess a good test is to ask a person – what brings true happiness? If you ask ten people you know how they would answer that question, I wonder what they would say? Ask a hundred people if you can. Would you be able to discern what has shaped their thinking? Is it the media and the entertainment world? I have asked over a hundred people that question. It is a question I have been asking people since I was a teenager and I have been amazed at the variety of answers.
Many 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.
I could go on discussing this subject for hours, but I don’t really want to make this a never-ending post!
Please feel free to share a quote, photo or thought about gratitude.
I am very grateful to Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life! It was Kim who supplied the writing prompt that lit a spark in me to tell an epic tale of love, life and mental health.
Thank you in fact to all of the bloggers who inspire us with writing prompts. I have neglected a lot of other prompts in order to concentrate on completing Annabelle’s story, but now I have more time so I hope to attempt more flash fiction.
I am very glad I saw Kim’s prompts. There was one that really did inspire me. It’s been a huge help to me to have this long project to work on. There has been a lot happening in my life that could have overwhelmed me, but I had a wonderful mission to complete. Writing the epic journey of Annabelle Riley – Leaner At Love!
I have gone to sleep at night dreaming about what might happen next to Annabelle. It’s been a lovely project to work on, and I am thrilled at how rewarding it has been!
I have started using my 2020 diary. It is a very beautiful diary from Paperchase. Every year I have an A5 magnetic clasp hardbound diary from Paperchase. It is my nerve center for the entire year. I am very dependent on my diary.
Every page of January is already scribbled all over. What a busy month it will be! But I really like how much of what I have noted in my diary is in connection with Jack. Such a lovely feeling!
It is time to SHARE-MY-WORLD. Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, has provided us with some questions which invite a little reflection I feel. At least I found that they made me think back on the events of the year. Have a peek at Melanie’s original post below to see all of the other bloggers who are taking part in SHARE-YOUR-WORLD:
What was the single best thing that happened in your life this past year?
There was a lot of joy really. It’s hard to choose one single best thing. Am I allowed to give you three please?
Discovering that there was a tiny life growing inside me? Incredible! I was in complete amazement by the miracle of life. I read so much about the development of a life from the moment of conception that I found deeply moving. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had in my life.
Spending the summer with Goldfinch in Australia (it was winter over there). Pure happiness.
Answering my phone and hearing Jack’s voice on the other end. Wow! Unexpected, but the answer to my prayers.
I have had experiences this past year that have deepened my appreciation for life, for my Creator and for the precious privilege of prayer.
The most challenging?
At the start of 2019, I honestly thought I would never see Goldfinch again. I was so pessimistic. But as it happened I was able to spend the summer with him (winter in Australia).
Losing my (our) apricot was very challenging. What an emotional roller coaster I was on at the start of the year. It was deeply sad to lose that child growing inside me. I am sure that I will never forget 2019’s momentous events.
After being sublimely happy throughout the time I spent in Australia with Goldfinch, realizing that my time with him was over and I was going back to England was hard. I did not want my time with him to end.
But challenges pass. They were hard, and they hurt, but enduring those challenges has built precious qualities in me.
One thing you learned in 2019?
Only one thing? Can I give you more please?
There are things that I already was convinced of, so I have not really learned them specifically in 2019, but they took on new meaning during the past year:
Never lose hope.
Don’t let anyone dampen your joy.
It is absolutely fine to cry when you need to cry and rest when you need to rest. Crying and resting can be very good for you.
Kind people will give you well meaning advice, but sometimes they are wrong.
It is possible to love beyond what you thought were your limits. Love should keep growing and keep expanding. Never limit your ability to love.
In fact, I came to appreciate LOVE as never before. I randomly met a stranger out in Australia, a young woman who gave me hours of her time to listen to the concerns of my heart. She answered my questions by turning to scriptures and asking me to read them. We have kept in touch since I returned to England, and at her recommendation I attended a conference in East London all about love. It made me realize that the world needs a much better education. People everywhere need to learn what real love means.
One thing that has also played on my mind is hearing in the summer a quite decisive statement about who the “King of the North” is. That has definitely stuck in my head. I am watching of course, wondering “what next?”
Given all your experiences, insights, and lessons learned in 2019, what’s the best advice you could give yourself for 2020?
A lot of littles add up to an enormous lot.
You don’t need to answer back or point out that someone else is wrong. Be careful how you make someone feel, because if you are too abrupt, you have lost their ear and the chance to touch their heart.
Protect your conscience.
Keep praying and reading God’s Word.
Be careful when people voice shocking opinions. There is a lot of diseased thinking around.
Don’t forget to be balanced and reasonable.
Jack is wonderful, but he needs loving advice at times.
There is one last piece of advice I have for myself. Goldfinch used to do it, Jack does it too. They keep me awake when I ought to be sleeping. I must make sure I get a good night’s sleep. They both have the same habit of wanting to engage in rather athletic activities when I need my sleep. And I do need my sleep. My poor head really suffers (more pain) when I don’t have enough sleep.
What’s the best meal/food you ate in 2019?
Ooooh. I have had a lot of yummy food. The vegan chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry made with peanut butter was one memorable meal I had up in North Wales. It is a dish I have been telling everyone about for the past week.
Goldfinch took me to his favourite ramen restaurant in Adelaide. I think it was tucked away in Regent Arcade just off Rundle Mall. To be honest it was not the best ramen I have ever had. I think the meaty ramens are better than the vegetarian dishes. Even he was disappointed for me.
But what I remember most was being with him, and feeling so proud that he was taking me to his favourite ramen restaurant, a place he goes to with his friends and with his brother. I just wanted to be with him, in his favourite places, and for him to be proud that I was the woman gazing into his eyes.
There is another food I remember enjoying when I was a dinner guesst at a friend’s home. Well, it was one particular part of the meal they made us – it was creamed spinach. I had not had creamed spinach for years. It was so delicious. It brought back memories of the first time I ever tried creamed spinach on a family holiday (there were forty of us on that holiday) to Cala Bona in Mallorca.
What are three activities you plan to use in the coming year to relieve stress?
I am pretty good with not letting stress build up. If you live life simply in a material way, and live with a kind and forgiving spirit you avoid so much upset. Money and relationships can have a big effect on your peace of mind.
But I know there are activities that do a lot for the inner me:
Walking out in the countryside.
Lingering in prayer.
Curling up on the sofa with Jack.
Stressful times will come. This world is becoming rather turbulent, forgive me pointing that out in case you haven’t already noticed!
Live simply, contentedly; love kindness and goodness. Don’t make foolish decisions that leave you plagued by guilt, regret and anxiety. Don’t get swept up with propaganda.
What brought you the most joy and are you going to do more of that?
Forgiving I guess. Not that I have ever had any difficulty with forgiving in general. But when Jack called me…wow! That was a bolt out of the blue. Some of what he said in that initial conversation was hard to swallow.
Can you imagine if I had been resentful? Or proud? Or still nursing my bruises? Can you imagine what I may have missed out on? It has really emphasised to me that if you have had a disturbance in your relationship with someone who meant a lot to you, you should take restoring peace seriously.
Resolving any past hurt should not be about who is right and wrong, nor who should be blamed and shamed. To restore peace properly, your own mind and heart need preparation. You need to be humble and forgiving. Truly restoring peace requires great love and graciousness.
But restoring peace is a wonderful thing. A fountain of joy that you have been missing out on. I definitely feel that in the case of Jack. But even in other friendships, it’s those of us who have have had a challenge (a misunderstanding, or something more serious) but we have forgiven and chosen to let go of the hurt and apply love and kindness to the injury, they are the closest and most meaningful of my relationships.
Next time you have a falling out with a friend, try to see it as an opportunity to work on developing a more special friendship than you had before. For friends who have forgiven each other can become like family.
At this point, it was a choice between Bryan Adams and Leona Lewis – guess who won?
Lastly – Any resolutions you’d care to share?
I don’t make resolutions just because of the turning of the year. I think it is silly to make transitory resolutions on a casual basis, or to make extreme changes in an urgent effort to accomplish something you have not been bothered about in ages.
Every day we should be resolved to live well, enjoying life whilst showing a high regard for how precious life is.
I make resolutions in my life when I have given thought to a development in my life and feel I need to make a change and need to see that decision through.
I am going to keep on leading the balanced, healthy, content life my parents trained me to live. I am going to continue to imitate their kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, mildness, sweetness and joy.
I am going to be even more careful to be strictly neutral in politics, because it is clear that there is a lot of rage out there, the seething resentment that could explode at any time. I am going to be careful to keep my possessions to the bare minimum and not to get drawn in to the lifestyle the commercial world keeps trying to sell. I want to expand the work I do as a volunteer. I am going to be very careful not to be swept up in propaganda, because I hear more and more half-truths that are slanted in such a way to become extremely emotive and provocative.
But this is nothing new. It is just based on observing the way people are behaving and the conversations I overhear in the medical practice I work in. It’s heightened my awareness that this world is facing troublesome times. After the trouble, the best is yet to come.
Be resolved to show appreciation for life every day! There is no need to run and hide. Dreams hang in the air. Life is wonderful…wonderful!!! Life will be better than it is now, for in the future every creature on this planet will thrive.
I don’t know who is singing on the recording below, but I liked it a lot. I couldn’t choose Katie Melua or the unknown singer.
I am hoping to find time to watch all three episodes of the Masterchef Professionals Final this week. So, I started this post on Monday evening, knowing I would want the next three evenings for Masterchef. I hardly watch television, but Masterchef and Bake Off, I do enjoy.
The wonderful Melanie, creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, has given us this week’s SHARE-YOUR-WORLD questions, as you can see from her post below:
Do you enjoy receiving Christmas cards through snail mail?
I love writing real letters to friends and family. Most of my friends choose to respond by email, but those who like handwritten letters have my parent’s address. I have been careful not to give out my address to many people.
Sometimes I have been given a greetings card by someone I hardly know. It tends to have my name on it, the printed greeting in the card, and the sender’s name. There is not much else. I never know what to do with it. I normally put it back in the envelope and leave in my in-tray until it is recycling day.
Do you like the taste and/or smell of peppermint?
So, when I lived out in the countryside, there were mice everywhere. There are surely mice all over London too. But in the countryside, mice seemed to rule. We had to put all of our food into tins, rather than tupperware, because mice could chew through plastic. Searching the kitchen cupboards for evidence of mice was a regular task.
The mice were persistent though. We had to put down humane traps one year. (The mice would be taken several miles away to be released.)
Anyway, everyone told me that mice don’t like peppermint. I had noticed at the homes of a number of my friends, there was a minty smell. It made sense once I realized they were using peppermint oil to deter the mice. I have no idea how effective it is at repelling them, but I started to do the same.
Anyway, the answer is yes, I like peppermint. But apparently mice don’t. I have no idea if that is true of just an “old wives tale”. But, out in the sticks, peppermint is all the rage!
What is your least favorite holiday side dish?
I start to feel sick by mid December when all the chocolates and biscuits from patients start pouring in. It is very sweet of them, but we receive enough thank you gifts in December to make us all very fat and very sick for the entire year to come. So, my manager had a chat with us and it was agreed, we would donate all the chocolates and biscuits to local food banks etc.
I feel sick just thinking about food at this time of year. It’s all so rich. It doesn’t suit me at all. Mince pies, rich fruity puddings, stolen – I want to heave. But give me a dish of sprouts and I would be happy. I love vegetables.
What is the coolest (best) gift you ever gave someone?
It was a treasure chest.
We have always had a thing for handmade gifts. It feels so meaningless to buy a prepackaged gift from a department store.
We found an antique wooden casket and we filled it with gold coins and foil wrapped chocolates (which were supposed to look like gemstones). When you opened up the lid, there was an orange net (from a bag of tangerines) and a cute little toy fish caught in the net.
There were also shells we had picked up from Llandudno in North Wales. The main feature was the old glass bottle stuffed with a scroll that we had aged with tea and coffee and burnt around the edges to make it look old. We had written a message (using calligraphy) to our friends who were moving from England to Florida.
We were so sad we were losing them, and we wanted to do something that told them how much we treasured them. It might sound a bit childish, but we were teenagers. Our friends absolutely loved it!!!!
As I have mentioned before, I have been working as a volunteer since I was sixteen (around twenty hours every week) and living on a part-time wage. So, mostly I have found inexpensive ways to give. When I have ended up with more money than I needed in my bank account, I seem to be in a rush to spend it on other people. My needs are so few. But when I see someone else I love has a need, I seize the chance. I bought a washing machine for some great friends of mine (a married couple who helped me a lot after I broke up with Jammy).
I gave over half of my savings to Jack a few months after I was attacked. It was a weird thing to do, as I thought he hated me, and I did in anonymously too. I did it because I was devastated by what had happened between us and desperate for peace with him. Jack has confirmed the money was spent on the car he is still driving.
What is a holiday song that makes you cringe?
Well…the thing is, this is not a time of year that seems right to me. There’s something very suspicious about it all. I love family. I love generosity. I love kindness. But I feel strongly that they should be embraced every single day, by everyone, in every nation and culture.
I see Christmas is a huge celebration of materialism. (Although I understand it originated as a pagan sun worship festival.) Teaching children that happiness comes from things, from getting the gifts they wanted, is setting them up for disaster. I remember every year back at school in January, the question everyone was asking was “what did you get for Christmas?” It had nothing to do with giving, it was all about getting. Kids would do a lot of boasting about their new possessions.
I respect my parents for steering us away from that attitude. My parents instilled in us a love for helping others. Mum would normally be working during the holidays, usually in mental health wards. Dad would take us to visit people he knew where alone and lonely.
When it comes to songs, I am a mix of cringing and wanting to run and scream when they play the same songs over and over on the radio. I love variety, and so to hear to same music being played is agonising. Of course it doesn’t help that at this time of year some of the worst cheesiest pop music ever written is blasting out everywhere you go.
The more traditional holiday songs, I find the words interesting. They often refer to Jesus as a King, not a baby. A King who will bring peace. I find it interesting, because the theme of the scriptures is how our Creator’s name will be sanctified by means of His Kingdom. But I wonder how many people singing these songs think about what they are actually singing. These songs are about the Messiah’s rule replacing human governments.
There are some contradictory attitudes that stand out at this time of year. I know some people who don’t believe in a Creator nor in Christ, who seem to dive right into this time of year. I also see that some, who claim to be followers of Christ, seem more interested in human politics, and supporting dishonest human rulers, than living by the law of Christ (including not bearing weapons and loving your neighbour as yourself).
I find the season ironic in so many ways. It’s not just the music that makes me cringe. It’s the commercialism. The overeating and over drinking. The attitude towards gifts. The stress and debt people burden themselves with.
I am glad to have some time off work and to be with my family, most of whom will be very busy working as volunteers next week. (I am on on duty cooking and entertaining the kids this year.) My family is a gorgeous multicultural mix (marriages), and we will make sure that everyone feels comfortable spending time together. We will have a great time with each other though. At any opportunity it is nice to be together, and everyone being off paid work at the same time means exactly that.
But I am very mindful, that there are many who do not have a warm loving family to spend time with during these cold winter months. Some people will be all alone in the moonlight. This time of year seems to perpetuate loneliness and depression for so many. I have worked in healthcare for many years, as have many of my family.
My family have all been saddened at cases of suicide we have become aware of while we have been at work over the holiday period. Yeah, to be honest, we know so many people who have ended their lives at this time of year, it’s something we look forward to being over. Spring sunshine and flowers are needed.
I don’t know, for me this time of year sums up the world humans have fashioned. A world based on commercialism. Greed seems to rule. Businesses employ clever marketing to promote desires and sell a dream. They hope consumers will embrace the cosy image they are selling – yummy food, fine wine, warmth, sparkles, glitter, bright lights, cheery songs…the retailers celebrating all the way to the bank.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying life. But the way this system runs, leading to economic extremes, a few people with a preposterous amount of money, and many becoming impoverished. It’s a system that breaks people, leaves them disillusioned, in debt, stressed out or ever conscious they are not truly happy.
I am genuinely looking forward to the rule of the Messiah benefiting every breathing creature on the planet. I cannot wait to see the day when all truly thrive, happy and healthy – all year round! Everyone should have warmth and love, purpose and pleasure every day. I will not miss these commercial crazes.
Please share some of your favorite music around this time of year
Oh there is only one song we are all singing at the moment:
Jack is going to see the film version before me and my friends! I know how excited he is. I am looking forward to hearing his account of the film.
I know Cats is perhaps the kind of musical that can divide a crowd. I was a teenager when I saw it. I thought it was fabulous back then. But I understand why some would not enjoy it.
A lot of my friends have also seen Cats on stage. Some of my friends are arranging a group trip to the cinema at the weekend, but I will already be in North Wales when they want to go. I think it very unlikely that I see it before the new year.
Years ago I sang Memories on stage at a charity show. I wasn’t very good, well good enough for them to stick me out there on my own. The audience were very kind. They clapped and cheered. But I remember realizing how pitchy I was when I was singing.
While I have had a horrible cold/chest infection type thing…I have discovered the delicious habit of daytime napping. It’s such a hard habit to break now! I have long days at work though so I won’t be able to have an afternoon snooze. Then a weekend ahead with Jack 🙂
But enough of the updates with my sniffling and coughing…it is is time for SHARE-YOUR-WORLD! Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, has given us some wonderful questions this week, as you can see from her original post blow:
Can we ever experience anything objectively? Why or why not? (Now for the people who may not understand that idea, this is what objective means (definition wise): Something that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions).
We are all unique. We have all seen things through our own eyes, heard things through our own ears, and they have helped us form opinions, ideals and values. We have an individual outlook. Our heart or inner person is made up of our thoughts and feelings and reasonings. In fact, each week when bloggers answer Melanie’s SHARE-YOUR-WORLD questions, it’s interesting to see each of us reveal the secret person of the heart.
We have been shaped by our life experience and by millions upon millions of images and sounds we have taken in and a vast amount of information. When we form an opinion or make a decision, we are usually doing so because of previous experience we have on that subject or issue.
It can be challenging at times not to be ruled over by our own heart. In fact some people say “you should listen to your heart”. It can take effort and humility to recognise that often our own hearts are not to be trusted. They may veer us off onto a path that leads nowhere, or into quicksand.
If I followed my heart… I would be in huge trouble! We humans generally need help (and it’s wise to be selective in who to turn to for help) from those with experience, understanding and a balanced view of many issues and areas of life.
It is absolutely fine that we have our own natural (or learnt) inclinations. We may be inclined to think, feel, view things a certain way. But it is beneficial to seek the views of others who have proved wise by their lifecourse. It is to our advantage to listen humbly to others who present clear reasoning and evidence.
Not everyone believes in a Creator, but for those that do, it is wise to seek His view of matters.
Do humans have a soul? Do animals have a soul?
Oh I know this one. It’s a bit of a trick question isn’t it? There’s a lot of ancient Greek philosophy that you have to reject for the scriptures to read clearly. A lot of modern Christian denominations still try to interpret the scriptures through those ancient Greek teachings which result in what can seem very confusing and contradictory.
The answer is no…because the Hebrew and Greek words within the scriptures rendered “soul” in English refers to a breathing creature or a living being. In other words humans and animals are actually souls. They do not have souls. They are in themselves souls. The soul refers to the whole creature, not something separate from the body. The soul is the entire creature.
According to the scriptures a soul can eat, desire food, work and die. In the account of the creation of the first human, Adam, the scriptures state that he became a soul, not that he came to have a soul. He became a living breathing creature – a soul.
There is the potential to make this answer very very long. I shall move along to the next question.
At this point I have that T’Pau song going round my head:
Why are people told to respect the dead? (example: “Don’t speak ill of the dead”)
I am not sure how this saying originated. Possibly in some false idea that the dead were conscious and aware of what was said about them. But I like to think of the subject this way:
Suppose one of your workmate is absent from work due to illness or an accident. While your colleague is away, other members of the team speak badly about them. They insinuate bad motives to the person who is absent, they recollect all of the mistakes that person has made, and assert that they are a neglectful, sloppy, and don’t contribute to the team. Then it gets even more personal. Someone accuses the absent member of staff of stealing from the petty cash, flirting with the boss and bullying junior members of staff. Maybe some of that information is true, maybe it is false. The person is absent, so they cannot defend themselves or clear up any accusations.
So when your colleague is back at work – what if someone tells them what others had to say about them in their absence? How would they feel?
Those who have died, they are absent at the moment. They are asleep. Our Creator remembers every intricate detail about them and is keeping them safe in His memory. Those who have died are not breathing at the moment, they are not conscious of anything at all. But that state is not permanent. Our Creator has promised that He will resurrect humans who have suffered the consequences of Adam’s rebellion.
Thanks to our Creator, death (as a consequence of our inheritance from Adam) is only a temporary state. Those who have died will soon be back with us, strong and healthy again. While it may be true that they made mistakes and did things that were wrong while they were alive, they died. Some in fact may have made very serious mistakes. But they wake up with a clean slate. A second chance to make better decisions under a truly just and fair rulership. A chance to live a better life. Of course they will have to choose to do good in order to thrive in the future, for under God’s Kingdom, only those who want to do good are going to flourish.
That leads nicely into the next question.
Without using the names of specific people, discuss “the ideal” President or other world leader.
I am going to stay out of politics…but let’s put some rose tinted spectacles on and presume that some politicians are genuinely motivated. The truth is that even if there was an imperfect human ruler who seemed sincere, who seemed to care, who wanted to bring changes – they simply do not have the power.
There is no human ruler, no human government that can care for all subjects fairly. There are thousands of years of human history to confirm that man is not qualified to rule himself – all sorts of governments, all sorts of rulers. Human rulership is grossly inadequate.
This world is infested with problems and issues – complicated issues that take up countless hours and hours in judicial rulings and political debates. When issues are thrown out to democratic votes or referendums – even more division and anger can result. Currently we live in a fragile unstable political climate with some minority governments struggling to get anything done. But that is no surprise. That is exactly how three thousand years ago the scriptures described human rulerships just before they are gone for good. How human rulership will end is also described in the scriptures.
We need a ruler who is strong, incorruptible, impartial and trustworthy. A ruler who deeply loves humans, loves our planet and it’s beautiful creatures. A ruler with the wisdom and power to rule mankind.
In his days the righteous will flourish, And peace will abound until the moon is no more… For he will rescue the poor who cry for help, Also the lowly one and whoever has no helper. He will have pity on the lowly and the poor, And the lives of the poor he will save. From oppression and from violence he will rescue them, And their blood will be precious in his eyes. – PSALM 72:7, 12-14
The spirit of wisdom and of understanding, The spirit of counsel and of mightiness… He will not judge by what appears to his eyes, Nor reprove simply according to what his ears hear. He will judge the lowly with fairness, And with uprightness he will give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth… Righteousness will be the belt around his waist, And faithfulness the belt of his hips. – ISAIAH 11:2-5
Back at the beginning of human history, the goodness of our Creator’s rulership was questioned. Note that the challenge to our Creator’s rulership was not whether He had the power to rule, but the righteousness of His rule. So, when human governments end, it’s not just going to be a matter of our Creator “flexing his muscles”. He will act because of the serious act of injustice that human rulers will try to commit. He will act because it will be right and just and loving to. There will be no question over the legality of His actions.
The accusation back in Eden was made that intelligent creatures were better off ruling themselves. His enemy accused our Creator of withholding good from humans. What do you think? Can humans successfully rule themselves without causing injury and harm to many people, animals and our environment?
Since Adam’s rebellion, the entire theme of the scriptures was how the accusations against our Creator would be proved false, how the damage would be undone by means of a government He would establish.
After wisely allowing the issue of whether humans could rule themselves to be answered, our Creator’s original purpose would be fulfilled, by means of His own government, with His own son as the appointed King of God’s Kingdom. That government will undo all of the damage and allow all to heal. Billions have prayed in harmony with the model prayer that Jesus taught:
Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth. – MATTHEW 6:10
Soon our earth and all of its inhabitants will thrive – under the righteous, loving and unfailing rulership that has been provided by our Creator.
Share your gratitude! Stories, images or thoughts all welcome.
Well…right now, I am feeling very grateful to the many courageous men and women like William Tyndale. Men and women who risked their lives and worked so hard to make it possible for you and I to pick up the scriptures and read them for ourselves in our mother tongue. Men like him were viciously opposed, particularly by powerful clergy. Why? Because if people could read the scriptures in their own language, they would see that the clergy were not teaching God’s Word at all.
There are many many millions of books that have been printed or published electronically, there are millions of blogs I believe, but all of them are vastly inferior to the scriptures. There is nowhere else that you will learn the truth about the meaning of the term “soul”, about what hope there is for those who have died, about why humans suffer so much now, and about how our Creator will repair all of this damage by means of a truly righteous rulership. The scriptures are a very personal letter to you from your Creator. Read it in your own language. Your Creator has made sure that His word has survived despite huge opposition and has been translated into thousands of languages.
Times are changing rapidly. Soon all of mankind will face an issue far more important than any general election. There will be a lot of manifestos and political propaganda floating around. You will hear politicians making a lot of promises which you likely realize are empty. Contrast that with the manifesto for God’s Kingdom. Read the scriptures objectively and find out how our Creator views this earth and all of it’s creatures. Learn what He will do to solve the problems that human rulers will never be able to.
Well…it has been quite a marathon to finish this post. I should perhaps check, but it feels like one of the longest I have ever attempted (that’s a warning by the way!) I know what a pain in the neck long posts are, so I will not be upset by you skipping this one.
Every week bloggers eagerly participate in the weekly SHARE-YOUR-WORLD challenge, telling us all about their views on the world and experiences in life. The SHARE-YOUR-WORLD questions originate with Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, and here is the link so you can take a peek at her original post below:
This is my SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post…and it is really really long! I have been ill with a stinking cold all week, still coughing and sniffling. It seems to be going on and on! I had to go into work because there was noone who could cover my shirts (I was covering holidays for other staff.)
I can’t go to Wales to see my family member who has cancer until I am better. Jack wants to risk seeing me tomorrow, but I am not so sure that is a good idea.
I have had to spend longer resting at home than I enjoy. So little by little I have been working on this post…and it grew longer and longer and longer! I have rejiggled the order of the questions because my answer to one of the questions was even longer than this cold of mine is lasting.
Do you let sleeping dogs lie?
I suspect I do for the most part. I just read an interesting article about the origin of this idiom, and the helpful citation of some modern equivalents of this phrase spoke more to me, I must admit.
I think I have come to see that there are often so many different ways to “skin a cat” (sorry Taylor Swift and all cat lovers generally) that I don’t need to stir up controversy over the vast majority of things. Often there is no one “right” way to do things, or a “black and white” viewpoint. Often there lots of different ways of handling a situation or an issue, that are acceptable. When somebody insists that there is only one way to view a situation, I am cautious of them. It seems a tad immature to think that way. I like to see an issue from other people’s point of view, to understand where they are coming from, even if I don’t necessarily agree.
I don’t want to stir controversy or provoke arguments. I don’t want to cause upset and incense those with strong feelings or opinions. For the most part I am diplomatic and tactful, and try not to disturb others or incite anyone to annoyance, aggression or rage. On many matters, I would conclude that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
But occasionally, I speak my mind, I never know when it is going to happen – I think the last time was when I got all choked up about the subject of gambling in a comment on a blogger’s post. I don’t like to be forceful with my opinions, but when you have personally been affected by an issue, I can see how easy it is to “throw coals onto the fire”.
What’s the strangest pet name (for adults) that you’ve ever heard someone called?
I mentioned to another blogger, in a comment on her fabulous post, that there are a few funny pet names that are commonly used in various parts of the UK.
Where I grew up (that’s Liverpool, in case you did not lnow), I heard the name “luv” or “la” all the time. Man, woman, child – there was no differentiating.
In Stoke, near to where I have some family – everyone seems to use the pet name “duck”. Again, your age or sex matter not.
In Plymouth, we heard folk calling us “lover”. Yup, people we had only just me were greeting us “alright me lover?”
In Aberdeenshire, we heard men called “loons”.
…and I am sure there are more.
On a more personal note, I call Jack, “Shrek” and “Gru”. I also call him “Dumpling”, “Blue Eyes” and “Judge”. I may explain some of those more one day (we’ll see). Still not ready to share the names he calls me.
One of my bosses calls me “Dimitri” and my workmate “Sergei” (think Meerkats – although I think it is Sergei and Alexander really – I have no idea how I became Dimitri).
I can think of such a long long list of interesting pet names my friends have for their spouses, siblings, or friends…I will stop now, because this post could end up going on indefinitely. But I love it when a couple let slip their pet names for each other!
Do you like to dance? If yes, what’s your favorite and if no, why not?
Yes I do! I like dancing at parties. But I kind of do my own thing.
I struggle at salsa parties. Yes…that’s the word, I “struggle”, which kind of takes the enjoyment out of it. I have danced with so many brilliant dancers, men from Columbia, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, who have been very patient with me, but I am still kind of rubbish.
I just like having a good time with friends with great dance songs. There are some tracks that I absolutely love dancing to. But I will dance to pretty much anything with a beat.
I am not great at “proper dancing” though. I did have some dance lessons at stage school, but I preferred singing lessons by far.
What to I like to dance to? Oh so many songs!!! I will give you two songs that always get me up on the dance floor doing my thing!
When Jack and I go public…I need to be careful, because I know how much he wants to film me doing my Beyonce moves. I have danced for him (no, not that kind of dancing!), I mean my Beyonce routine. But I would not let him film me.
Is copying and pasting images or information off the Internet plagiarism? Do you credit those whose work you ‘borrow freely’ or do you think the idea is repugnant?
“Repugnant” is a word I would rarely use for anyone except those who commit heinous callas acts that show a disregard for life and dignity.
When I was at school, I first came across the term “plagiarism.” It took me a while to understand what it meant. My best friends and I were in Set One for everything. I remember in Year Seven, Sadie and I were assigned to produce a project about Kenya for our Geography class. It was gorgeous! I let Sadie keep it because she was the creative one. Coloured paper and glitter and sequins. It was a technovisual delight! I did more of the research. I read all sorts about Kenya. We didn’t use the internet back then. But I do remember going to the library and reading a lot of books.
I think I copied information word for word out of those books with my own hand-writing and then stuck the information into our project. I cannot remember writing down a list of all the books that information I had copied had come from. But we were twelve. Neither of us had ever been to Kenya. I don’t thing either of us had been beyond Manchester actually. When it came to images… well, the two of us visited local travel agents and asked for brochures on Kenya or Africa. At home, we wielded scissors and glue and decorated our project. Our geography teacher loved the project. A* and we were sent to the Headmaster with our project to be given the illustrious “Gold Star”. Nobody ever assumed that the two of us had ever stepped foot in Kenya. Technically none of it was our work.
But the teachers were awarding us for our effort to learn, research, compile the information we had found noteworthy, and present it beautifully. Of course, we were made to feel good about our efforts by being given top grades, but we were not paid a penny for the hours we spent on our project. I would presume that the original photographers whose images were used in those brochures were paid at some point, as were the authors of the books and articles I read about Kenya. Although my friend and I called it “our project”…we deserved very little credit for it in truth. We were just made to feel good for our enthusiasm on learning, researching and presenting information. That’s what the teachers were trying to accomplish afterall – to stir a love of learning in us children.
When I was in my Year Eleven English class we were asked to write an original poem, which we would then read to the class. My poem was rubbish – so I thought. I don’t remember the poem actually. But it was about gossip. I didn’t like the poem one bit. I was trying to do what out teacher had told us, count the syllables and try to make it rhyme. Poetry has never been my cup of tea, so I did not feel connected to my poem. I remember it as a perfunctory exercise. My teacher loved it though. She went on and on about it to the class. Another A* and another Gold Star.
One of my classmates stood up and read his poem. It was long, it rhymed, and was very funny. The class all loved it. But my teacher was not impressed. Apparently, it was a popular poem by a famous poet. That was the first time I heard the word “plagiarism”.
I didn’t understand what was wrong at first. His poem was by far the best of the day – it was the highlight of the lesson. We were all thoroughly entertained (whereas all the other poems read that day were kind of forgettable). I loved him for picking such a great poem, even if he didn’t write it. It took a long time for me to understand the implications of his actions. Our poems would make up part of the coursework submitted for our English GCSEs. They would go towards our eventual grade. I never cared about grades, all I cared about was escaping school! It was a very bizarre experience, one I would not wish upon any child. Although no money was involved, to stand there and claim he had written that poem and that it was his work, his idea that he had cleverly developed – later it dawned on me why that was not good. I still loved him as my friend though.
I sometimes wonder if the reason why I struggled, was because for years I had done my friend’s homework for them. I found the work easy (maths, science, geography, history in particular, trusting me with your French or Spanish homework was a risk. I could not help with music or art, or anything like poetry). I thought I was being helpful. I thought it was a lovely thing to do. I thought I was helping my school friends, who did not seem to find the work, nor the tests, as easy as I did. I just wanted to help them survive this necessary evil called “school”. It took me a long to time to realize it was not really in their best interests to do their work for them.
Throughout school, it never ever crossed my mind that it could be considered cheating. Even during exams, I have finished the test really quickly and then noticing my friend was struggling, I would tip my test paper up so they could see my answers. I only thought kind thoughts. I had no idea what I was doing was not a good thing.
I kind of understand a bit more now. I keep telling my friend to stop doing her son’s homework for him. She wants him to qualify to get into a posh private school nearby. At the end of the day, he has to pass tests to have a chance of getting into this school. She can’t take those tests for him. Even if he achieves a good result, it all depends on the results of the other kids sitting those tests.
When I was younger I didn’t understand because school was just a necessary evil. I was achieving A grades and high percentage results in everything (except music and art). But I was not there for credit, or recognition or praise. I was there because apparently, my parents would be sent to prison if I did not go to school. I hated the segregation of children into “sets”. It ended up with the kids in Set One thinking they were something special, better than others. Which we weren’t. It is the qualities of the heart that add value to a human – not whether they can write a 22 page essay on MacBeth. My parents gave us balanced praise for acts of kindness and generosity – not for our achievements in academic or sporting pursuits. They wanted to cultivate in us beautiful qualities, not a desire for glory.
I hated my teachers giving me praise. They were wrong in some of the comments they were making, I was not special, or gifted, or exceptionally talented. I just had an awesome advantage not every child has – I had a huge amount of time with my parents, who read with me, did maths with me, taught me many practical skills and took me to work with them – before I ever started school. I had been trained to sit and learn. I had a lot of experience in thinking about information I had read and expressing it my own words. It made school a doddle. Where I had no training or experience was music and art – and those were the subjects I struggled with. I hated any hint of competition or rivalry. I was not interested in that. I just wanted to be lovely, like my mum and dad. I would see the other kids getting all stressed about their work, so I thought I would help them out. It seemed like a kind thing to do. But apparently it was bad. Lesson learned I suppose.
Or was it?
Fast Forward to work – first of all paid work. I had one scary boss. She was a competitive, ruthless, critical person. And I knew there was only one way I was going to ensure she did not make my life misery. I was going to make her look good. I had my own area within the finance department. I knew the company policies and the work inside out. I was superfast. I was super accurate. I produced all sorts of reports on areas where there had been issues, of my own initiative, and I presented them to her. I made sure she understood the report. I suggested that as my manager, she should be the one who should approach the directors of the company for a decision on the issue. I set her up for praise and recognition and promotion.
She loved me for it. I got what I wanted…no pressure in appraisals to apply for promotions (I wasn’t interested) and full flexi-time so that I could be available for all of the voluntary projects I wanted to work on. I could do my paid work in my spare time. So, I was doing an enormous amount of work, and letting her take credit for it. Did I care? Nope. The work was easy to me, it was no big deal. It cost me time, but giving her reports and letting her take credit for them, well that enabled me to have what I wanted – “flexi-time”! I deliberately did it to keep her sweet and to be able to make sure she didn’t try to control me like a tyrant (I had seen what she had done to other staff).
Contrast that with the voluntary projects I was involved in. Nobody was paid a penny for their work. Highly skilled tradesmen (and women) would train younger, inexperienced volunteers freely. They gave their time, skills, expertise and patiently trained others. Why? Nobody was interested in receiving credit or glory. As a huge team, we were working together to build something lasting.
And it was not just the construction of a building. We were often training people who had been victims of abuse and violence. People who had serious illness and depression. People who had recovered from addiction. People who were from all walks of life, all backgrounds. I think there was more building up done in the hearts and minds of the volunteers than with bricks and mortar. I have seen some amazing transformations in the personalities of people who stepped onto one of our projects.
One of the assignments I had when I first became a full-time volunteer was to train a huge group of part-time volunteers. I developed a training brochure and got others involved in live demonstrations. I asked other volunteers to deliver part of the training in areas where they were delivering excellent service. So we as a team provided the training. A year later another woman qualified to be an international volunteer. I remember she did something really odd. She put her name in the footer of every single page she typed. It was quickly brought to her attention that nobody does that. Nobody puts their name of any of their work and says “I did this.” No volunteer was there for glory.
That’s usually the spirit with the charities I have worked with. All donations are anonymous. We have had some celebrities and big companies ask if, in return for a large some of money, they could have a mention on some paperwork or in videos. The answer is always no. No, no, no. It kind of beats the whole spirit of giving. To want praise or credit for it, is not truly volunteering. There are billions of hours given by volunteers, sharing their experience and skills freely, without any remuneration and without receiving acclaim or special recognition. We do it because we ought to.
I love talking about my life as a volunteer. But in this environment, I can talk freely, because I am an anonymous blogger. In real life, I have to be careful. If I were to go on about what I am involved in too much, although it could encourage others to get involved, it could also be taken as some kind of gloating or win some kind of glory. That is not at all what being a volunteer is supposed to be about.
Most projects are accomplished by a large number of volunteers who give whatever time they have. It’s supposed to be genuine sharing of yourself for free, not looking for a reward. It is the most rewarding kind of work, by nature of the joy you get to see on other people’s faces. But it is not supposed to be about getting credit for the part you played. The results of a selfless team of volunteers working together in unity is remarkable.
I have been writing letters for years. Long letters. I could no longer afford to buy cards and nice writing paper. So I would buy a great big stack of coloured A4 paper and cut it into A5 pages. Then I would cut up pictures from travel brochures, free magazines and stick it onto the paper to decorate it. Up at my parents house, I still have a box with thousands of little pictures that I had cut out of brochures and magazines. and also lots of my “home-made” writing paper. I am sure none of my friends thought I had bought that writing paper. It was obviously my budget way of making my letters colourful and more exciting to read, than plain A4 lined paper.
I only abandoned the writing paper when email became popular. It seemed so boring. Just white background and black type face. Not even my own personal handwriting with my curly appendiages to letters. So I tried to make my personal emails more lively by adding videos and images I found online to decorate my messages. My emails were just like my letters, and just like my posts are – accounts of what had been going on in my life. Never would any of my friends think I had produced those videos or taken those photos. In addition to decorating writing paper, I also decorated my notepads with the pictures I cut out of magazines. I made collages for the front covers. Here are some of them.
Looking at those notebooks would remind me of everything I loved about being alive! But every single image was on my notepad because somewhere, a photographer had patiently waited for just the right moment, just the right lighting, to take it.
It don’t think I ever thought about the photographer though in all honesty. It was creation itself, and our Creator, that made my heart leap. But I am grateful that people have gone out with their cameras and captured so much stunning beauty. The exquisite colours and displays – it’s just so wonderful isn’t it! Truly inspirational The power of those photographs is enormous.
Eighteen months ago, my friend helped me set up a WordPress account. For the most part, I have been writing in the same style as the letters and emails I have written to friends and family. I am sharing me, my life, my highs and lows. It is helpful to me. Some lovely bloggers seem to have enjoyed some of my posts. That is a lovely bonus.
Occasionally, I have tackled a thought provoking question another blogger has raised. My answers usually come from thinking over previous experience I have on the subject or information I have acquired at some point in my life – I can’t always be sure when and where. Those head injuries I received four and half years ago have scrambled a lot of what happened in my twenties. So much of what is in my brain, I can’t be sure if I learnt it at school or on the back of a box of cornflakes. If I wanted to quote from another resource, I would naturally say. For example at times, I have mentioned I was reading an article on Wikipedia, or NHS Choices. I usually explain what I have read in my own words, rather than quote verbatim.
I would hope that somebody reading my post would not come to the conclusion it was a 100% my work. I have written about physics, relativity, energy to matter conversion – but surely others would realize that Einstein seems to be credited with most of that information (I think I have cited him when I have discussed relativity).
Just to clear it up, in case anyone wasn’t sure. I had nothing to do with the discovery of these principles of physics. When I choose to write about them, I don’t deserve any credit. But often I would assume you know who is credited with the “discovery” of these equations and I may have at times have neglected to mention Einstein. I have read a lot of physics books, and I may express my understanding of what I have read. But I am not trying to claim that I was the originator of any of that information.
While we are on this subject, I happen to find it absolutely baffling how someone can refuse to give credit to an intelligent designer, an incredible mind, a Creator, who has wielded colossal amounts of energy in a controlled and highly choreographed fashion. It is kind of comical to hear a physics professor arguing over receiving credit for his research, when he won’t acknowledge or give credit to somebody far superior as responsible for the awe-inspiring mathematical order and orderliness in our universe. If we are going to pretend the entire universe appeared “by accident”, “by random chance”…then why are we all hot and bothered about credit for anything. It would make everything seem like a roll of the dice.
If you believe in a Creator, it is humbling that the beautiful sky a skillful photographer can capture in an image, the intricate wings of a butterfly or patterns in a flower, the stunning mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests that you could gaze at forever and still would find they make your heart leap – it is all given, shared freely. No issue over the royalties. No charge to watch the sunset in your backyard tonight. Personally, I think credit is the least He deserves. But clearly, there are a lot of people who still prefer to think He does not exist and it was all an accident.
Back to blogging…if I am responding to a writing prompt, award nomination or tag to participate in a blogging challenge – it seems logical to provide a link to the post from the blogger who tagged me, or if possible the originator of the blogging prompt or challenge. Often they provide an image or award logo that they seem happy for other bloggers to use to identify the post.
Very rarely do I reblog or link to other blogger’s posts for other reasons. I do it, just not often. Too many reblogs in my WP Reader, I don’t want to add to the reblog cascade. When I have done it (I think only two or three times in eighteen months), it was because I just loved another blogger’s post so much, and wanted to share my enthusiasm. But, I decided long ago, that other bloggers might be annoyed if I made a regular habit of this.
Most of my posts are personal. They are about me and my life. But I have some poems (rubbish poems – but thanks to everyone who says otherwise) and some short stories and one very long story. When it comes to the creative posts. Most of them have felt like I was doing some kind of English homework. My own personal enjoyment of creative writing has been limited. I have one poem of my own creation that I love. It is called “River“. I wrote it in my late teens and I love it. The notion of anyone else claiming any of my poems were written by them is odd. I have no particular attachment to most of my “creative work”.. Some of my poems and short stories are a bit embarrassing because they are so awful.
But yes, I think I would be gutted if someone claimed “River” was their work. That is because it is so personal, so from my heart when I was a teenager. It perfectly expressed the way I was feeling back then. It wasn’t homework. I had left school. It just welled up from my heart and came out in the form of a poem. I love it. I shared it with family and friends and had very little positive feedback. But it mattered not. It was me expressing my inner thoughts at that age. It will always be special no matter what anyone else thinks of it. If anybody else claimed it as their creative work, I would be surprised because it comes from my heart. How would they explain where I was in life and the experiences that had made me feel that way? It would just be very strange.
The other “creative” work I have become very attached to is my “Annabelle Riley” series. I have loved writing it. It have put a lot of very personal experiences into it (that’s not for you to know) and it has actually been a deeply satisfying process.
My intention now is to correct all the spelling and grammar mistakes, edit it, include a lot more descriptive passages setting the scene and remove all the pictures, and possibly stick it in a proper paperback codex version. We will see. Jack is such a distraction, I don’t know how much time I am going to be able to set aside for seeing Annabelle with a ISBN number. I have no interest in money (and I glean from other writers than realistically I would only expect to sell three copies – one for my parents, and the others to share with my siblings), and I would have to publish the book anonymously to make sure it couldn’t be used to identify me or Jack – there are reasons why I am cautious. But again, if someone took Annabelle and claimed that the story was their book – I would shed some tears I think.
The rest of my posts are usually typical of my letters and emails. Mostly just waffle. To make my nonsense more bearable to readers, I have been decorating them with pictures from Pixabay and Shutterstock etc. Which is exactly what I did with my emails to friends. How would it go down, if had published this post without any images to make it easier to read? I always presumed that everyone would think they were just free images I had found to fit around the subject I was writing about. I have never claimed any images were my own (except the occasional ones that were).
But some of the answers to Melanie’s question in the many SHARE-YOUR-WORLD posts I have read this week… ay karumba! It was all so scary. Which is probably why I have written an enormously long answer myself to the question.
I understand that the main upset is the idea of another blogger harvesting passages or an entire post from another blogger and claiming it as their own. To do that blatantly is bound to upset people. I think most agreed that if you read something of interest from another blogger, it is fine to say, “I read this great post written by so-and-so…go and check out their blog, here is a link” etc. If a blogger is taking photos with their own camera and featuring them as their work on their site, then to use them on your own site without permission, without crediting the photographer, or claiming that you take the picture could all understandably cause upset.
But when it comes to these huge hosts that say they have millions of free images that you can download, I thought there were different vibes about that area. I always thought they were a great way to liven up your post. I love the splash of colour they add. I just thought it would make it easier for others to bear reading my waffle. I have seen images I used from Pixabay or Shutterstock on lots of other bloggers sites. I just presumed that most people would realize that those of us bloggers who use Pixabay, Getty, Alamy, Shutterstock – did not take the original photograph, and would never be so stupid as to claim it as our “work”.
I don’t usually say under each picture where it is from. I have a section in my profile (has anyone ever read my profile?) about the fact I don’t own a camera, except the one on my tablet, that doesn’t work properly. I mention there that I decorate my posts with images from Pixabay etc. I also mention that if anyone saw an image of theirs and was unhappy with the way I had used it please let me know. I would be gutted if anyone thought I was claiming their work was mine. Since I saw all the scary SHARE-YOUR-WORLD posts this week, any new posts I have put together I have been trying to make sure there is a source in the caption, because maybe bloggers have not read my profile and think I took all these photos.
It was scary because this is supposed to be a bit of fun, and a helpful bit of fun at that. I don’t take it seriously. I don’t make a penny from blogging. I am not interested in credit or praise, or recognition. I am not interested in statistics. I just find writing about “stuff” has turned out to be helpful. It feels like I sit down and write a letter or a page in a journal. It’s not something I do for acclaim. Rather than having posts full of typed paragraphs alone, that are personal to me, but perhaps have no appeal to others, I have decorated my post with an eye-catching image that matches the subject.
I asked a friend of mine, who is what I would call a serious photographer and a serious blogger, about this. She set up her blog a few months after me. In just over a year, she has around 40,000 followers already. But it’s obvious why. Her photographs are amazing. I appreciate that some people put great effort into capturing incredible images. I respect that they may wish to be recognised for the talent and efforts they have put into those photographs. I have never been a camera person, nor can I draw or paint, so perhaps it is an area where I don’t always comprehend how remarkable the image they captured is. I just see the sunset, or the mountain, and the Creator of those. I think I may have a tendency to forget the photographer.
She has been offered work by companies and has photographed their products. She has a wonderful creative flare and is a true talent. I asked her about this issue. She said that when people have “borrowed” her photos without asking permission and have not credited her, she has made it very clear to them that is unacceptable to her and she has asked them to remove the images. Her reason is they seem to be presenting the photo as one that they have taken, when it is clearly not. She feels strongly about it. But she has a huge following, she is receiving a lot of recognition for her style and she is also making a respectable amount of money from the work that has come her way because of the photographs on her blog.
I think I understand that when we have worked on something, a poem, a story, a photograph and then after publishing it in some format, someone else claims that it is their own work…well, I understand the upset that would cause.
I also think that if you are amassing large numbers of readers, and are making money out of your blogging, you would perhaps be wise to make sure nobody else would feel disgruntled. What if content original to them is not attracting the same numbers of viewers> Or if they feel they are missing out on potential earnings that they feel they are more entitled to than you?
I am scared of all the scary comments I have seen when it comes to images. So if it wasn’t obvious to others. I don’t have a camera. (Except the one that doesn’t work properly on my tablet.) I am not a photographer. I write personal posts and a small number of creative posts. I don’t consider them as “work”. Just a chance to process what goes on in my head. I have sent thousands of emails to friends which I have decorated with images from sites like Pixabay and Shutterstock. I have used the same kind of style in my posts, just to make them easier to read to the bloggers that kindly check out my posts.
I am not interested in money or credit for anything I have written, but if anyone saw an image on my site that originated with them and was not happy with the way I used it, I would not want to upset them. Nobody has ever been in touch with me in eighteen months of blogging about this.
I don’t know if it’s “a sleeping dog” or a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” situation, But after reading so many opinions from other bloggers, I am scared of upsetting anyone. So if I use a new image that is not already lingering in my huge collection of emails, I am wondering if I should be looking for a source to cite in the caption. Perhaps people have not picked up on the mentions in other posts that I don’t have a camera, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I have tried in this post to use all new images and note in the caption where they came from. But I have lots of images in emails from years back – I don’t know where they came from.
I am going to conclude with this thought. I am not a “creative” person. I have always fitted neatly into the academic box – my brain veers to maths, physics and information. “Creating” fictional stories and poems is new to me. However, I recognise that for a long time there have been artists, poets, writers, musicians who have produced creative works. The issue of someone else copying their work, especially another person claiming that work as their own, has sometimes involved a lot of money and a lot of respect or credit. Even your favourite artists and musicians – who may have been recognised as very talented, and have therefore received a great deal of acclaim and remuneration – have been accused of plagiarising.
Here is one of the examples in recent years of how big an issue it can be. Listen to these two songs and decide what you think. But in the end the latter musician apparently felt it was possible he had heard the former’s song and it had stuck in his head. I believe a large outer court settlement was agreed upon.
My plans have changed three times for this weekend. Now we are actually here…I have been out all day…and this evening I am going to be in my little nest resting. Jack is at an event. I will see him again tomorrow 🙂
I am looking forward to an early night. I need to do a lot of catching up with reading your posts in my WP Reader. But first I think I shall have a shower and put on some PJs.
Meanwhile…this is my SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post. I think most of you know already that wonderful Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind, very kindly provides questions for each week for bloggers to answer in a post of their own. This is Melanie’s original SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post for this week:
To me, true love is motivated by warm feelings and based on the noblest of principles. It’s not just sentiment. It’s certainly more than hormones and physical attraction. It is expressed in words, acts and deeds.
We are all learners at love. Love is the reason we are alive. Our Creator first loved us. If we want to understand true love and imitate it, He provides the best possible example.
Do acts of kindness have a motive?
Most actions have some sort of motive, including acts of kindness. Usually that motive is a good one. I think about how I can make people smile, make them feel appreciated, good about themselves, needed and loved. Why? Because I know that so many others have been kind to me and made me feel better about being alive. So I am highly motivated to be liberal in acts of kindness.
In fact, it’s a very good idea to spend time thinking about the people you know and asking what you could do to show a little more kindness to them. Is there something you could thank or commend them for? Could you spend some time with them, offer a little gift, take them out for tea and cake? There are countless ways to show kindness, but to become richer in acts of kindness, think about people and be motivated.
If you just leave kindness to chance and spontaneity – well, those acts of kindness are unlikely to be as frequent as those you plan. Kindness can become your default setting. Standing up for someone on the bus or train, opening a door for them, remembering to say thank you…let kindness overflow in everything you do. Unkindness is pants!
Sometimes people use kindness to win trust and affection, but then take advantage of that. That is a bad motive! Their kindness proves false when those selfish sinister motives are manifest.
If we live in a civilized world why do we see so many distinctions between rich and poor?
The love of many has grown cold. Greed for more and more has driven economies. This world’s economic system is severely flawed, grossly inadequate. The extremes in poverty and wealth indicate it is completely unsustainable.
I googled the definition of “civilised” and this was the result:
an advanced stage of social and cultural development
There are so many shocking acts committed than indicate that whatever this world might aspire to and claim to be, it is riddled with barbaric, immoral, cruel abuses. Over here in England recently, a lorry was found containing people who had come from Vietnam to seek “a better life”. Within the lorry’s refrigerated unit all of them had died. I found it too horrific to watch the news reports in detail. It was so disturbing.
I had to do some training for work about human slavery. It was so very upsetting.
I find it hard to understand why some people take so much pride in human advancements in technology and industry, when so many millions of people’s lives have been devastated by the greed of others.
It is not good enough that there are some people who are ok, live comfortably (a small minority with absurd amounts of money) and for others to be going to bed hungry every day despite working for hours. I long for the day when everyone on earth will be cared for with love.
Do we love ourselves more in the virtual world than in the real world?
“The virtual world”? Is this supposed to be our online persona?
I think I am careful in real life and online when it comes to my security. As for loving myself…well, I think I have a balanced view of myself on the whole. I am aware of my good points and my not so good points, my strengths and weaknesses, my mistakes and the things I am proud of. I am fairly candid both in real life and online.
I think that in general I have a balanced view of myself. I don’t put myself down. But neither do I take myself too seriously. I have no pretensions per se. I’m just one of the billions of people living on this beautiful planet, trying to contribute what I can to goodness and peace. I think you would get that in real life and online.
I think the only difference that I can perceive is that online, I can take my time to explain something. I can go back to a subject and write about it as often as I feel I need to. That has been good for me. So I guess it is rather self-indulgent. In real life, I can’t do that to people. Sometimes they don’t have time for a deep conversation, sometimes I worry that I might depress the person I am talking to, sometimes I can’t make sense of my own thoughts. It is one of the reasons why I started writing about personal matters on this blog.
It has been a huge release for pent up emotions that I didn’t seem to be able to deal with effectively before.
Are you grateful?
Yes. Mainly for everything that our Creator has done, is doing and will do. I love creation so much. What a home we have! What amazing creatures we share this planet with. Skies. I have been gazing at skies quite a bit recently with Jack. Skies are just incredible.
I am extremely grateful for and to my family, wonderful friends, Goldfinch and my lovely Jack.
I am grateful for my small but pretty little nest, with affordable rent. I am grateful for a comfortable bed and good food. I am grateful for all of these things, yet it is so so sad that when I climb into bed there are millions and millions who will go to bed with very little comfort. They may be lacking clean water, or food. They may live in fear of crime, diseases, warfare, or a family member who abuses them.
I am so grateful to know that our Creator will not allow this to go on much longer. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not going to last much longer! Soon this world will be governed by love – true love!
I googled songs about a happy life…and this came up. It’s just piano music, but as I was reading the words on the screen, it made me feel such enormous happiness. I am living for the day when every human and every creature on this planet is thriving!