The ramblings of a recovering misery – step 4. To be Frank

“So sing this song with me. And raise your hands and stamp your feet. If you have got what you believe is a life full of anxiety. And I’ll tell you that it’s okay. ‘Cause it doesn’t have to stay this way. And there’s a better place for you and me where we can be happy” – Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes

It’s a funny old world. It’s funny how your perception of yourself can be so different. Something which is a bit of cheeky fun to you could be seen as an act of immaturity to someone else. A love of any music, literally any music, to you is normal. To someone else, because you are in your 50’s, is an indication that you should grow up.

Welcome the a phew from the mound. To be Frank, it’s time to be Frank.

What’s going on in the world? We’ve got a group of men in Alabama deciding that abortion should be illegal. Hello? A group of men? Mmmm, something doesn’t seem right. I’m all for life but men dictating something that effects women, without a consideration of circumstances?

In the U.K. we’re still going through the European Union Hokey Cokey. Are we in, out, until then we’ll shake it all about? The leader of the Brexit Party has the kind of arrogance that makes you question his motivation, and then he opens his mouth and it all becomes apparent. The Prime Minister keeps going back to parliament to get them to agree to her ‘deal’. Parliament keeping saying no, so she asks again.

Anyway, as you can see, to be Frank I’m troubled. Troubled by too many things that seem wrong in our world. Our world that we seem hell bent on destroying. Destroying both materially and spiritually. Spiritually he says? Don’t worry, I’m not going to preach elevation to a new dimension that doesn’t even exist – other than in the minds of so many, and increasing, social media groups. Wake up people, we’re all in the sh!t storm together.

The use of the word ‘spiritually’ is purely a reference to how we think and how we act for the betterment of others. That’s not spirituality I here you scream. It’s all down to interpretation I say.

Anyway, let’s not fall out on semantics. As I said, I truly believe we should all just realise we are in this together.

I’m kind of obsessed. No sh!t Sherlock hardened View From The Ground blog readers will say. Slow down and let me continue. My obsession links to my other obsession which has always linked to my other ……………. Anyway, I’ll continue.

I’ve got this obsession about normalising things. Normalising things that some might feel need to be treated in isolation. But, I’d like to present the case for the Normality Party.

Let’s look at my comment above referencing spirituality. Now, I’ll freely put it out there that I try to live a life along the lines of a lot of spiritual behaviours – be a good person, help others, try and do the right thing and be very much focused on being a loyal, passionate good member of society. Does that make me better than someone else? No way. I’m the equal of someone else, that simple. I’m normal.

I read some wonderful things on social media, posted by some highly spiritual people – some of whom are friends – and I know it is being posted to help others. Beautiful stuff. So, I guess I’m saying to those who would like to position themselves as being above that, come on down and join the Normality Party. It’s liberating to reach out, normally.

And then there’s mental health and well being. My real passion. I could cry when I hear stories about the struggle many have to fight through. So many pushed by life to want to end their life. So many who feel that what they’re suffering is abnormal. That has got to stop. And stop now.

I’ve been to a couple of outstanding mental health meetings / seminars over the last couple of days – through work. Yes, I am lucky enough to be with an employer that sees mental health as a serious matter and wants to positively deal with it.

Inspirational presenters but I was stunned to hear that there are still people who are afraid to advise their employer that they have mental health issues for fear of losing their job. Unbelievable, in this day and age, this is a genuine issue and it has to stop – NOW!

There is so much about mental health and well-being that concerns me, but that this silent killer, yes killer, has to rise to the top of the list of government issues to invest hard money into – rather than funding the bank accounts of the legal people working through the bl00dy mess that is Brexit. And of course in the U.K. we are now faced with the nonsense of a new Prime Minister being forced upon us now that the previous one has accepted that she was useless. My worry is, I’d take useless every day rather than Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg. That’s the lunacy of it all.

Mental health is an illness lurking, ready to snare anyone. It’s affecting more and more people and those who say it’s a self created condition need to take a look at themselves.

There are ‘people’ out there who claim physical pain, and there’s a chance they could also mean mental pain, stems from thought or emotional causes. Anyone reading this who preaches such ill advised nonsense, my message is keep your thoughts to your own inner sanctum of like minded delusionists and leave humanity to get treated properly. We are all entitled to our own opinions – of course.

Raising awareness about mental health and helping people to improve their well being is a passion of mine and I just hope it can become a, genuine, passion of our government(s) and is not just a bunch of words and ignorant platitudes.

So, as I close another step in the ramblings of a recovering misery, I suspect that some people who know me well may question whether I’m recovering or am still a fully fledged, fully paid up misery. All I’ll say is don’t confuse being grumpy with being a misery. I stand tall and proud as I truly feel my misery has dropped away. For sure, it’s a continuous process of being mindful of how I feel. However, am I still grumpy? Of course I am. I’m a grumpy old man. Sometimes, I would suggest my grumpy exterior masks a glowing light of happiness on the interior

The way I see it. The recovery from my previous misery is the mending of a damaged heart (metaphorically speaking). Being grumpy is a state of mind. It’s not a mental well-being issue – for me – it’s how I chose to feel. Can I chose not to be grumpy? Of course I can. Do I sometimes chose to be grumpy? Yep, I’d say I do. Why? It’s a self preservation thing sometimes. It gives me space.

Next time you feel less than happy, think whether your feeling miserable or grumpy. If the former, it might be a longer term piece of work to step up from. If the latter, you might just be able snap out of it immediately. But, equally, it might just help gets you some space.

Think about it.

So to close, if you’re feeling grumpy and you feel like the world is against. Look up a nice little tune from Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes- Crowbar. An anthem to set you free, to be yourself and not to let those who maybe want you to mould into a crazy society win.

Here’s a few words from Frank: –

“We all come from an explosion in the sky

One day there was nothing and the next there was life

And all the rivers and the mountains and the sun and the moon

And then all of a sudden there’s a cloud of doom.

It’s a trap. And there’s no comfort fitting in

A fake safety that no one believes in

And if it goes against who you think you are

It’s the death of happiness

Go and get the crowbar” – Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes

Take care and always be yourself.

Jon

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The ramblings of a recovering misery – step 3 (aka Cash? Ooooo! Nuts!!)

“You should know you’re not alone. And trouble comes, and trouble goes. How this ends, no one knows. So hold on tight when the wind blows” “Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind. Like a beacon reaching out. To you and yours from me and mine. Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind. In a world that has decided. That it’s going to lose its mind. Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind” – Be More Kind – Frank Turner

The words of one of my favourite lyricists, Frank Turner, are a shining light on these crazy times. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve. If you’re looking for some decent music, look no further.

Of course we should be more kind. But it sometimes feels like we have forgotten how to be kind, let alone be more kind.

So, my friends, welcome to another View From The Ground attempt at trying to be more kind. A barrages of words built around the ongoing recovery of a misery. Words formed with a look in the rear view mirror at what’s passed; at what’s in the past; a look at those things that have helped put me on the path of being a far more happy chap ………………. most of the time.

As I’ve said before, the mission with the blogs is to reach as many people possible and provide a smile and, hopefully through some honest reflections, a glimpse that if this recovering misery can get on the road to a happier future, we all can.

To quote from Demons by Frank Turner (again, I know but he is an inspiration) – “You’re not delivering a perfect body to the grave. Time is not there to be saved. Life is a holiday, a moment stolen from the black; Before the demons drag you back. You won’t get everything you wanted. But you will never be defeated. ………. At this truth we have arrived. God damn, it’s great to be alive”

A little play on the order of the lyrics, I love that line, “god damn, it’s great to be alive”. I’ve mentioned before my sadness at so many people ending their owns lives because, the way they see it, it’s not great to be alive. I can’t imagine how dark life must get for someone to want to end it, I’d never make out I could. But I just wish we could do something, do anything to show that there is hope. There are people ready and willing. People waiting and wanting to just be there. To be more kind.

Those who have read previous blogs will know my mind wanders. The whole process of the actual blog writing has formed a slight deviation in the overall mind wandering. I can sit or lie there for a long time jus reflecting and working through my life – my good life.

I know I’ve rambled on about wanting the blogs to lead to a book. But, really, write a book? Why? Ego? Just so can say I’ve published, self published probably, a book? Well, actually, no, none of the above. In fact, that is so wide of the mark. I had 60,000 words laid out before me about 3 1/2 years ago. With a bit more work, something could have gone out if this was an ego thing. But, the content? Looking back, it wasn’t a true reflection of the real me. It was written by the person I thought I needed to be to keep my life together at that time. I’m glad I didn’t do it.

The whole idea, for a few years now, has been to put something out there – be it as a good old fashioned paper book or digital – that could reach out to others and maybe, just maybe, help them. My original thinking of what that ‘help’ would look like 3 1/2 years ago versus what it looks like now is a world of difference.

But, looking at what I want to do now – could thinking I could help anyone be seen as an arrogant, self absorbed assumption? How could what I think, or what I’ve experienced, help someone else?Well, in reality, it’s difficult to know if these ramblings of a recovering misery could help people. We all lead different lives but my hope is, in amongst my sharing these things with people, it’s a case of something for everyone (well, most people).

Certainly, my life isn’t extraordinary. But, sometimes from the not so extraordinary something can be drawn.

Life is all about learning. We learn everyday. But, in my humble opinion, it’s a matter of whether, and how, we chose to use that learning. And, if we do chose to use the learning, it’s then a case of whether the learning is of a self absorbed nature and purely for our own benefit. Or, whether we decide to offer that learning out into the wider world in the hope that it might benefit others.

In essence, I guess that’s where I’m coming from with the idea of writing the blogs and, as part of the bigger project, complete ‘A View From The Ground – the ramblings of a recovering misery’ book.

I’ve already documented how I’ve got to this great place that I’ve arrived at.

The blogs have always being written from the heart but, perhaps, some were interjected with a dose of, what I’d call frustration and bewilderment. Some may suggest anger. To be honest, anger does not provide learning – in my humble opinion. In fact, quite the opposite. So, the idea of a book, let’s say two years ago, could have been quite dark; using the wrong kind of energy. It might have been a black comedy and maybe I’ll still do something based on some of the things I learned and experienced a few years ago. A book – And So The Door Closed – is still there but I’d need a skilled author to guide what’s in my head towards something that could be quite funny. A combination of Harry Potter meets Wilt is still a possibility.

However, for now, the ramblings of a recovering misery feels the correct route to travel on. Again, to some, what I’ve got to write about is no big deal and that’s just fine. But, who knows. As I’ve always said, if I can have a positive impact on 1 person, and they then do the same to someone else and so one, things can only improve.

I’d love to reach out to more people and the concept of the 6 degrees of separation still resonates – in a roundabout sort of way. The possibility that that 6th person in the chain is the one who opens the flood gates to the blogs and whatever being read by a wider audience and helping thousands – a dream. Let’s face it, we should all want to heal the world.

It would be great if I could actually meet someone who is a proper writer and they can form my ramblings into actual crafted words. I know, at the moment, I’m literally throwing down on to electronic paper what ever falls out of my brain.

Maybe the blog titles need some work for them to be picked up as a serious read. My problem is, whilst they are aimed at helping they are also aimed at putting a smile of the face of the reader. A quandary.

And I’m sure there’s a raised eyebrow to ‘Cash? Oooo! Nuts!!’. Perhaps a title like that has stopped someone reading the blog. I hope not.

I guess these are titles of chapters of the dream book. Each section has a serious subject matter but, with a play on words, the chapter titles have a twist. There’s nothing new there. So many people do it.

This title is actually reference to something else that is close to my heart and part of my recovery from a place of misery. The reliance on money.

When I say reliance, I’m meaning situations such as when we say ‘I wish I had more money’ – how much is more do we need?

Or, ‘I can’t afford that’ – what does afford mean? Is it a case of literally we don’t have the money, or that we are just not willing to sacrifice something else so that we can buy that sought after item. Are we blinding ourselves to actual possibilities?

That’s just two examples but, having being in that place where I was crying because I didn’t have any money, I guess this is a raw subject.

The time where I literally no money in my account to pay for the taxi I was in (being the only available transport to get me to the train station. I stopped at a money machine to withdraw cash only to have that heart sinking message of ‘insufficient funds’). I was blessed to be bailed out by Ben, transferring me half of what he had left in his bank account.

And the times of not having money for the weekly food shop, so Aud stepped in and put food in our mouths. I guess I’ve learned my interpretation of what I see as the value of this thing that we call money.

Please be assured, I know my plight bears no comparison to the true poverty that so many thousands experience on a daily basis. Again, I’ve written before about the responsibility of our governments to remove this unnecessary poverty. We here about world debt? Who do we owe this money to? Surely, somewhere it is the responsibility of governments to say ‘sod repaying the debt, let’s deal with poverty’. And the wealthy few should get their heads out of their arses and help the many.

I’ve worked hard to rebuild my life. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, loving partner in Aud. Ben and Liv bring me happiness, pride, love and fun every day. Gaby has come on board and is a wonderful addition to the family. I’m so proud of the life Ben and Gaby are building. Of course, I need to brace myself for Liv disappearing to France for a few months later in the year. Wow! What an achievement! Again, I’m so proud.

Family, friends and others who have surrounded us all during these times can never be truly thanked sufficiently. Their being there is something that can never be understated or underestimated. Thank you all.

Cash? Ooooo! Nuts!! It’s not always about the focus of money. Yes, to get to where I am now, money has been necessary to right a lot of wrong and to repay those kind souls who supported us. Ben and Gaby have needed money to establish their world together, but in doing so have made many sacrifices. And, Liv going to France will need some planning but, with sensible work, it can be achieved without undue worry. Planning and sacrifice. Not I wish or I can’t afford it.

There have been so many financial learnings in the last 3 years. Over spend, hiding from reality and many other similarly poisonous boils have needed to be lanced. But, we’re getting there. And, we’re still learning.

I guess, my message here is, it is easy to get trapped by this thing we know as money. We risk starting to believe it’s the solution to everything. Believing it can provide whatever you need. But if you don’t respect it, it can provide a hell that you really don’t need.

To paraphrase a song, you could get to a position where money’s too sh!te to mention.

When there’s no money 8n your pocket, you can guarantee that the first song you’ll hear on the radio is ABBA singing about money, money money. Then you put on TV, and there’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, interspersed with advertisers trying to give you a payday loan at 100,000% interest.

I’ve certainly learned that if you treat money with respect you may be lucky enough to enjoy a little bit of it. But, if you think it is your god given right to have money, watch out for the thunder flash from the sky to take it all away.

Cash? Ooooo! Nuts!! Get it wrong, it could drive you up the walnuts. Don’t take the pistachio out of it. Don’t take the pea(nuts) out of money. It might send you coco(nuts). Point made? Alm(ond) sure it is. Think about it.

So, with a fond wave and a raised eyebrow I will close another blog with the reader wondered what they’ve just read. Don’t worry, by step 15 it will all make sense. I promise.

Until then, to come back to where I started, in the words of Frank Turner again: –

“Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.

Like a beacon reaching out.

To you and yours from me and mine.

Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.

In a world that has decided.

That it’s going to lose its mind.

Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind”

Jon

Cat Shoe – the ramblings of a recovering misery – step 2

“Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.” – Dave G. Llewelyn

“Never be so busy as not to think of others.” ― Mother Teresa

‘Living the dream’ and ‘another day in paradise’ are lines that those around me will be used to hearing. Usually they are used with a strong flavour of irony. Well, at least on certain days not associated with the weekend, and not in hours associated with being social time. But, then as I committed those words to text, it got my wandering mind wondering.

And, with that, off we go viewing from the ground what we can do with our way of thinking and supporting other.

Let’s paws for thought as we contemplate what, in the name of moggy, ‘cat shoe’ as a title is all about? It will, I promise, make sense at the end. It always does. Well, it does in my mind.

As I said in the last blog, I’m on a mission. It kind of forms as the ramblings of a recovering misery. But, not as in what caused the misery. More a case of the learning that came from realising how lucky I am and am not in fact miserable.

It’s funny, even when I think about the cause. It’s more a case of causes and, let’s be honest, some of those causes will always be there. They just never go away. Things such as inadequate drivers, late buses, Amazon parcels not turning up on time, late or nonexistent buses, Indian take aways not spicy enough or too spicy, a hole in the socks, odd socks, no socks, socks rolling down when you’re walking, sweaty socks, other peoples’ socks, cheap socks, people talking about socks, designer socks, cats socks in cat shoes …………. ENOUGH!

And that’s the thing, our life path will always be blighted by bumps (for Aud, that’s literal. Every path seems to have a bump, bearing in mind the number of ‘ouch’ she screeches as she trips (again, literally) along). We can focus on the big bumps and hopefully they will fade away; be flattened as it were. But, we have to accept that other bumps will always be there. It’s how we deal with, or accept, those bumps. Making sense or are you wishing I’d put a sock in it?

Now, for me, it is still a case of dealing with those little bumps that is the challenge. Most days, it’s all good. But some days, or as I would observe and call them, Mondays’, those bumps, no matter how small, can cause an almighty trip. I could even fall over a cat shoe such is might state of mind.

As you can see, a recovering misery can still be challenged. And, there’s the propensity to ramble on when trying to deal with it.

It’s challenging on a Monday morning – holy socks, mixed socks, rain pouring just as I take Ringo for his walk; forgot to buy the salad dressing for lunch; slow drivers and HGV drivers on narrow country roads; Brexit on the radio; Theresa May on the radio; weather forecast on the radio; roadworks everywhere on the drive to work; low petrol light pings in the car. Aud singing to Keane who suddenly appear on the radio (you should listen to hear sing. You’d want to shove cat shoes in your ears). And this is all before 8.30 am. It’s may sound like a slower recovery than I’m claiming. But, believe me, all of these things are in control. Well, maybe apart from Aud’s singing.

I think the message is one of getting wound up or frustrated with some stuff is just normal. And, accepting the moments of grumpiness is fine. My journey, though, once I’ve realised all of the above is okay, has been learning to let go, move on, and enjoy the great stuff that life has brought to me.

I guess I’m stating the obvious but I know I’ve had times of worrying about the small stuff and probably letting that then effect my way of dealing with the bigger ticket challenges that had been placed before me.

But, I know, it’s not that easy for everyone. There are many others when the small stuff is actually the big stuff. Not having to get wound up about socks, because there are no socks. Not getting wound up with other drivers because there is no car. Not having the debate over whether the take away is spicy enough because there is no take away. And not getting blasted by a tone deaf partner’s singing along to Keane because there is no radio, there is no partner.

So many people are struggling and it feels like it is getting worse. You read it every day about the struggles people are going through. The famous – too many escaping their plight too soon. The not famous – just the same but the difference is we don’t read about them. Another sad statistic.

Too many people are lost and, whilst we all feel truly saddened, we still lose too made people. I really feel that we all have a strong responsibility to shout out to our neighbour, to our friend, to our colleague, to our family, who ever it may be. But we should shout out loud, we are here and we are ready and want to listen.

Just think, and I know I’ve said it before, be there to listen. Not give option, not judge, not ‘be disappointed’, not even empathise. Just listen. And when you’ve listened, be ready with a hug, a box of tissues, a drink, whatever is required. It may in fact be, the person you’re helping does want you to pass on wise words or whatever. But, we should wait to be invited.

I hope and believe there is always someone to catch you when you fall; catch you when you’re down; catch you when you feel hope slipping away. There is always hope. It’s just sometimes difficult to see when all around you is darkness. But, those arms ready to catch you are the shining beacon of hope. Believe me, I was caught at my time of falling and the light that was provided shines around me now and I just hope I can share it with others.

And, with that, I will move on through another day.

Cat shoe as a title a bit light? Not in the slightest. In fact, the opposite. I’d truly love to see Cat Shoe as being a group of guardian angels who are ready to catch you when you fall. You never know but, for now, let us all be ready to catch a falling person. It’s not about catching a falling star, it’s about catching a falling person who needs you. For us to be there, for who ever it may be. To be there, at the end of the phone, to be there online, to be there at the bar, to be there behind the door. Where ever, just be there.

Don’t get me wrong, the likes of The Samaritans are awesome. I am truly in awe of the support they give those in need. But, the more support that can be available, surely that’s for the better?

Ultimately, we all need someone. We all do.

I wish you well. It you need someone to catch you, jonlduke@sky.com.

Take care.

Jon

The ramblings of a recovering misery – step 1

“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour. But heaven knows I’m miserable now. I was looking for a job, and then I found a job. And heaven knows I’m miserable now” – The Smiths

And those lyrics were the opening chimes from my ringtone for many a year. So, welcome to the view from my chair. Welcome to a slight change in the ramblings that I occasionally put out in the guise of a blog.

I love those films which start at the end. Do you know what mean? A shot of the main character, smiling and walking into the sunset, hand in hand with the love of their life. Or, as was the case of my favourite musical, Blood Brothers, a quite different start show the end.

But, I guess, this is almost what I seem to try and live to – kind of. If I was to shoot a film – or get the book done – the start would be the end. It would be ‘hello’, welcome to today. Now, let me show you what things have taken place to help me arrive at this great day’.

Live and celebrate the day, but never forget how you got here.

I know I’ve rambled on about a book for too long but I have had to wait until I could ensure the content would be in the right context. Clearly, my circumstances following events nearly 3 years ago left me angry, bitter, confused and negative.

I’ve mapped out in the blogs the massive life rebuild that has been enabled by Aud, Ben, Liv, and then Gaby, when she came on board to add to the fun. I’ve talked countless times of my gratitude to family and friends who provided love, light and support during those challenging times.

I do, sometime, want to write a fictional book. Somewhere between J K Rowling’s stunning Harry Potter works and the excellent Wilt books by the late, great Tom Sharpe. The title? ‘And so the door closed’. Let’s see.

But, until then, my plan is to use the blogs of the last 15 months as a structure for something. Probably, something that will be put out online as a self published ebook.

What gives me the write (do you like the play on words?) to put out a book? I have no right. I have the desire to write it. Why? Because, like so many, I have something to share. Yes, so many have something to share but they don’t get, or seize, the chance.

Share you say? Yes, I’d like to think I have something to share.

Oh no, not self righteous nonsense you cry? I’d like to believe the opposite but that’s down to opinion.

But, you’ve talked about being angry, bitter, confused and negative you question? Any book, kind reader, will be based on the good stuff not the bad things. That’s in the past and my learning has in part enabled me to appreciate even more how good life is now.

What I want to share are the situations, circumstances if you like, which helped me to realise just how great things are. Situations that help to focus on the present.

Every sunny day is preceded somewhere along the line by a storm and it is only experiencing that storm that you can really appreciate that sunshine. The warmth; the vibrant colours; the smell; the beauty.

But, hey, everyday can’t be sunny – I wish! Isn’t that most people’s happy place, a sunny day? Either climate wise or spiritually, it’s a joy to feel bloody good!

Now, people may look at me and think I’ve got a face like a slapped backside. Some may take it further and say that I have a face that just needs to be slapped. Harsh I feel but then I’m the master of my own slapped face or slapped backside. With regards to the latter, I’ll leave it just hanging there – just like my enormous backside.

But, as is established above, I tend to ramble and through those ramblings I sort of wind back to the theme of the blog.

As I said at the start I kind of want to take a slightly diverted direction with the blogs. I expect I’ll know what that is as they develop but let’s start with the take that, yes, I’m a recovering misery.

I enjoy playing the straight faced, some may think unsmiling, role. Yes, to you I may look thoroughly miserable but I’m creased up laughing my absolute socks off inside. If you cut me in two the loudest laugh would escape from my severed body. Well, to be fair, if you cut me in two I’d scream and die but I hope you know what I mean.

I guess, over time, for my own reasons I’ve just got used to this lived in, saggy expression of grumpiness and it has stayed with me like a curry stain on a white shirt. But, the blogs, from now, are meant to be a chat through my recovery programme which, I hope will in part entertain, and in part inform.

As I’ve said before, if my words can help one person – job done. If the words can entertain one person – job done. Although, clearly my aim is to reach out to so many, many more. But, in a gentle, friendly sort of way.

And so, the scene is set for a series of blogs that will form the ramblings of a recovering misery. I could argue that I’m a recoverers misery but, like a lot of things in life, I don’t think I can assume I am recovered. One thing happens and it’s back a few steps so I’ll be happy to be recovering.

My mind is already set on what step 2 of the series will look like. At some stage, I’m keen to form a group for people to go to when they’re not having a good day. One of those ‘it’s okay to be not okay’ days and where you want to reach out to someone. In the group I would see there are people ready and waiting to help, to stop you falling. There to catch you if you like. Now, I rarely do things simply, so perhaps the group name and the next blog will be ‘Cat Shoe’. Think about it.

Another day in the life of a recovering misery. Recovering? Oh yes, definitely recovering but done read that as recovered. Not yet.

Take care. And be ready. What size cat shoe are you?

Jon

Teach me how to see the way you see me

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who the hell is that looking at me? It’s me? Nooooooo! Surely not.

Look in a mirror, what do we see? We see what we expect to see. First thing in the morning, tired face staring back. Feeling grumpy, we see a grumpier face. How often do we honestly like, no -love, what see? Very seldom I would guess.

So, welcome from a view from the ground floor mirror. As they say, it’s been a while. I’ve always thought that if you have nothing to say, say nothing. So, there you go. But when I’m quiet, I think, maybe too much. It could be called reflecting. Mmmmm, looking into my psychic mirror?

Or, maybe I’ve been looking in the mirror and have been rendered speechless.

Anyone who has read previous blogs will know I like to start with a quote. Maybe, after reflecting in the mirror a change of style is called upon.

Life’s full of changes and, from a personal point of view, I’ve had a few. But, it’s been able to then look at what those changes have done to you and trying to ensure they put you into a better position. One where you look and realise everything happens for a reason.

You’ll probably find, if you make it to the end of the blog, it’s a scatter gun of thoughts. But the theme is my thinking around how we view ourselves and then trying, from a personal point of view, see ourselves through the eyes of someone else. Someone who sees us in their own way.

Making sense? No? Don’t worry, as I said I’m on a bit of a scattering journey of random thinking.

I’ve mentioned a book before which explores the thinking that we are not who we think we are. It’s a fascinating subject and one I kind of subscribe to. In essence, we are who we want to be; the person that we create.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you think about it. The trick is to ensure that the person that you want ‘you’ to be is the best person you can be. Of course, if you’re creating a homicidal manic, that’s not a good thing.

But, who are we? The million euro question. Who are we supposed to be, and would that person be better than the one we have created?

Strangely, I feel that I was put on this planet to be a family man. To care, protect, and help grow my family. But, perhaps the family man is just a person I have created. Regardless, that’s what I am.

I wouldn’t say my role is any different from any good parent. When we are blessed to be parents – be that biological parent or adopting or as a ‘step’ parent – we have a role to follow. To be there for our ‘children’ throughout their lives. Not to control but to nurture, guide, support and, absolutely, to love.

To guess when I look in the mirror, from a parental perspective, I’m happy with what reflects back at me.

But the theme of looking in a mirror is, of course, metaphorical.

“Won’t you teach me how to see. The way you see me.” are words borrowed from a wonderful song by the equally wonderful Talos.

I’d love to see me through the eyes of my loved ones. Just to understand me better and then become the person they see, as in that I feel like I’m the person they see. Is that making any sense at all?

As I’ve said, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved as a parent but I would love just to see me the way I’m seen. For sure, my work colleagues see me as a grumpy, over weight, dower, old man whose mood lifts somewhat on Friday. Is that a disguise? Nah, I’m all of those things and I guess that’s why I’m intrigued to learn the way the likes of Aud, Ben, and Liv see me.

Just imagine if we had the ability to see ourselves through the eyes of others. If we could then take that person and to become it – for ourselves. If we could do that we could then transform our inner being and become that person to everyone that we come into contact with.

I hope I’m making sense. I’m just wrestling with the concept that we could all become better people if we believed we were the person others see – as long as it’s a good person.

So, there you go. The confused ramblings of someone edging towards mid-second half of his 6th decade on the messed up planet. Let’s see what happens in the next few week, as The Trump fights to get his wall; The May fights to get the U.K. out of Europe, whilst staying in Europe without being part of Europe but keeping our European identity. Will a yellow jacket shortage hit France? Will the USA and Canada send some their snow and ice to Australia to help them cool down. Who knows.

I’m going to finish with something I saw on Facebook. A lot of what’s on there is nonsense, but this really struck a cord with me – if an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If an egg is broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside.

A nice thought.

Take care and believe you can achieve whatever you believe you can achieve.

Jon

Wake up. It’s just another day

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson

“A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

Welcome to a review from the ground. A brief glance at 2018 before we leap into 2019 with enthusiasm, hope, and new dreams.

I never fail to wonder what the heck New Year’s Resolutions are all about. We’ve all done them. Lose weight is the best, but then there’s to exercise more, eat healthier, be kinder, see someone more often, get a new job, so on and so forth.

We wait until one specific day to make that change which, for the previous 365 days, a whole year, we have been unable to do. Or more often the case, something like 360 days since we realised we couldn’t stick to the resolution made 365 days ago. So, in essence, for 360 days we have considered ourselves a failure.

In reality, we set ourselves a dream which, by classing it as a New Year’s resolution, we already know we’re not going to achieve it. I’ve been as bad as the rest. But, I’m still fat, I still enjoy the wrong food, I do exercise but I should exercise better.

Yes, a new year is just that, the start of another year. In the northern hemisphere, the weather is cold, wet and grey. But, those of us who are lucky enough to wake up should celebrate the chance of living another year. Another year where we should commit to be our best, and to give our best.

We should carry on the good work we have been doing as been a good citizen of our beautiful planet.

We should love with every last bit of energy and give that love without condition and without the believe that by doing so we are a greater person than others.

We should strive to enjoy the moment. To be grateful for that moment. And to have no regrets. Live. Laugh. Love.

We should share our love and to lift those who have fallen and to give them the chance to see the world from the same level as others. Here’s where I accept that if someone is lifted by Audrey, as she is 4ft 11 inches, they won’t see the world at the same height as many others.

We should replace hate with tolerance. We can’t all think the same but that doesn’t mean we should hate the person with the opposing view. Now, I accept in the cases of the likes of Donald Trump and Theresa May, right now, it is difficult to feel any tolerance towards them. But, hopefully you know what I mean.

Let’s hug a lot. A good hug can be transformational. If you’d have said that to be a couple of years ago I’d have done a Forest Gump, but a good hug is magic.

Now, in reality, everything I have said above is not stuff that should be committed to New Year’s Resolutions. This is life stuff. This should just be happening everyday. Think about it.

We wake up on 01 January and it is just another day. It’s another chance to get things right. It’s another chance to be hat person that you want to be. Yes, you could say it’s a new chance. But it’s not a 1 in 365 chance, it’s a 1 in 1 chance.

So, let’s stop limiting ourselves. Every day is another chance to do it.so, just do it. Do it with every bit of energy you can. Do it like you mean it. Do it like you want it. And do t because it matters.

And that my friends is where, for who knows how long, is where I clamber off my soap box and get on with the day.

I do wish you all a truly beautiful 2019. Please keep on believing. Life is good and we are lucky to have it.

Take care!

Jon

The greatest gift

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha

“The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” – Brian Tracy

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” – Kenneth Branagh

‘‘Tis the season of good cheer. Well, it is for those who celebrate at this time of year. Well, it is for those who celebrate at this time of year and are fortunate enough to celebrate it. Well, it is ………………………

Welcome to a bumper packed eye ball induced collection of grounded words. Thankfully, grounded not due to some stupid person (please note, gender neutral) taking the idea to fly a drone near an airport.

As we gallop like a slightly exhausted reindeer searching for an elusive carrot, this last few weeks feel like the world has truly gone crazy.

In the U.K. we continue to do the Brexit Hokey Cokey. The left leg wants to stay in, the right leg wants to come out. Well, my knees are bent – in despair; my arms are raised in frustration. Rah, rah, bl00dy rah!

And in the USA, everything has gone into close down mode, with thousands of people not being able to attend work whilst The Trump sulks and rolls around in his multimillion dollar presidential residence because he can’t have his money to build his wall.

Whilst all of that is going on, in the UK, the issue of homelessness gets worse and in the USA a greater divide continues to grow.

Oh, and let’s not forget France. Several weekends of yellow jacketed protestors taking to the streets, burning cars and basically reeking havoc as they try and take their message to the French government.

Now, forgive me for a view from the ground but have the above 3 examples got a theme? Government and world leadership driving their agenda of chaos?

Sorry, I’m not been mean spirited or bah humbug but it all feels terribly orchestrated. Almost a distraction from other things. I watch Theresa May with a blend of anger and sympathy. The chaos all started with the bottle-less David Cameron thinking how wonderful it would be to give the country the opportunity to decide whether we wanted to be part of the European Community or not – never realising that the dross trotted out by the likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage would be believed. Well 54% of those who voted (note: not 54% of those eligible to vote, a key point forgotten) believed we would have a Greater Britain. At the moment it feels more like a Grate Britain as we get shredded by the continued political jousting.

Oh, oh. I forgot. The Drone Gate scandal of 2018 in the UK. Thousands of people unable to leave or arrive at Gatwick airport as an errant drone caused all flights to stop. How can that be? So say this has been an identified risk for a long time but apparently the 2nd largest airport in the U.K. could do nothing about it? Could they have installed a system to help prevent this? Well, I understand for a sum far less than the money they will have lost, a deterrent is available. So why was this not in place?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist but something stinks here. For just a few days the headlines gave Theresa May and Brexit a break; a distraction. Interesting!

Well, of course, Jeremy Corbyn did try to add to the distraction by throwing a mumbled insult – at Theresa May? At the Cabinet? Who knows but the media was falling over itself to speak to the wise and the wonderful. Mr Corbyn denied it being aimed at Ms May. Really? This was a waste of time, money, energy, and many minutes of many, many people’s lives. Ultimately, we shouldn’t throw an insult which is gender specific. That’s pretty straight forward. Perhaps, we shouldn’t throw an insult. Perhaps, particularly when you are in the glare, you should think before for mumble.

Wow, what a wonderful few weeks at a time when surely we should try and be NICE! We should look in the mirror and try a smile, practice it and get ready to unleash it on a desperate public (I’m actually talking to myself here because, for reasons well known, I’m grumpy. No, my home life is better than it has ever being. Other distractions are, well, not really distractions; just an irritating itch that I’m struggling to scratch. I’ve had the best year ever. So, why grumpy? Well, I’m not really grumpy, it’s been a thin disguise to distract people.

Okay, so, the greatest gift? Nearly 800 words and I’ve just remembered the reason for the blog. And, I hope you have stayed with me to get here. It’s that time of year for many when we can kick back, and join together with family and friends to celebrate. It’s also a time of year when we exchange gifts. Like many, I love to give gifts and to see the expression of the recipient. Not from a self gratification perspective. Nooooo! It’s that oooooooo socks look. Or the embarrassment of opening up underwear in from of everyone.

More than anything though, it’s just nice to be able to give a gift as a thank you for someone special in my life.

I always tease Audrey about not buying tat. But, every gift received is appreciated.

It’s interesting though when you look at the definition of ‘gift’, as they are all horribly pompous. The nearest to what I thought was ‘An act of giving something as a present’.

Not quite where my head was when I thought of the blog, but then it is kind of. You see I am looking at the greatest gift not being a present but being the present. In other words, the gift is The here and now. Who we are; what we are; who we have with us; the love that we give and the love that we receive. The greatest gift, to me, is life.

Buddha sees the greatest gift as health. Well that must be right and good health helps to lead towards a good life.

I’ve heard of 3 people I knew passing away in the last 2 weeks. So sad, particularly when 1 was a similar age to me and another younger. It’s a wake up call to all of us who are gifted another day of life. The greatest gift.

Just think, when you wake up tomorrow. How about making your first two words “thank you”. In fact, just as you close your eyes, try it as well.

It’s just a thought. I’ve had my rant about those charged with running our countries but, ultimately, there’s nothing individually we can do. So, let’s celebrate what we can do and enjoy the greatest gift.

and, so, my friends, another blog draws to a close. Thank you for joining. I’m not sure what form future blogs will take. Obviously, my drive towards completing a book has stalled. The day will come but for now, let’s see what happens.

If you celebrate Christmas, May your celebrations be full of magic.

To everyone, stay safe and please enjoy the greatest gift.

Take care.

Jon