#TeamRingo – my view from the ground

 

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👁❤️2🐝 in #TeamDuke

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” – Robert Wagner

Never true words have been uttered from someone’s mouth. It’s incredible that so many people still look at me with those strange expressions. Don’t you dare come near me; I came to the park for a quiet walk, not to have to dodge you and that group of yours throwing that ball; and so on.

But then, in fairness, what do I know from my view from the ground? Well, I’ll let you decide.

Come with me for a walk. WALK?????? Did you just say walk? Oh boy, oh boy. I love walks. I love playing. I love life. Oh yes, I do.

Has the recent sun done something to me? Not really. What isn’t there to like about walking. I just walk, look at the houses and gardens as we walk by, stopping occasionally so that I can make sure the next time we walk this way, I’ll know where I am going.

I use my eyes first, my nose second, and my ears third. Love what you see; savour what you smell; and rejoice in what you here.

We occasionally bump into people on our walks. The talk is always centred on what has just been on the news. Well, I’ll just keep seeing, smelling, and hearing (what I want). The TV is on but unless it involves a round or oval ball I don’t watch it. I just wait until the next time I have a walk.

A lot of people tell me I smile a lot these days, which always makes me feel good. But I am lucky so what isn’t there to smile about? And when I get told, I just smile some more.

I’m lucky for so many reasons. My life changed 2 months ago and it’s just got better. I’ve got a roof over my head, a warm bed, food, water, along with Ben, Livia, Zeekee, and someone whose name changes so I don’t know whether he’s called Dad, Jon, Grumpy, Fatty, or what. But, if I fall on the floor, and roll on my back, he’ll tickle me. I just need to work on stopping my back leg involuntarily kicking as I worry he will pass out from laughing. For the purpose of this dlog (🙈) I’ll call him Jon.

And then, there’s the one who they seem to also give a few names to – dwarf seems to be popular but I’ll call her Audrey, because she gives me treats every time she comes to my house. She’s even there when I go to Susie’s house. Susie is my little friend. It’s funny how I’ve got a little friend, like Jon has. Susie is cute, and runs round in crazy circles while I sit there and just laugh. She’s older than me, so whilst I do think she’s a bit of a babe, if I get any ‘urges’, she let’s me use a cushion to deal with it. For some reasons, Audrey’s children, Eilidh and Liam (my new friends) always laugh at me, and they seem to invite friends to watch. I might start demanding food for these performances. Or they can take me for a walk. WALK? Did you say walk?

So, this is where I reveal my true identity. Yes, it’s a dog blog. I figured it was time to give you a break from #TeamDuke, so welcome to #TeamRingo. It feels to appropriate to give me View From The Ground. I listen to the conversation at home about what they all worry about – terrorism; a horrendous fire in London; poverty; famine; delusional governments; money; Ben and Liv talk about missing their mum. There’s a lot but as soon as I hear the words ‘walk’ or ‘where’s your lead?’ I give them a tilt of the head, a goofy smile, and everything they have worried about seems to disappear because we all jump around. If that doesn’t work, I grab my harness and throw it on the floor. That always works.

You see, I love them. Simple as that. I love them unconditionally. And that’s the magic. I see them and I smile because they are my world. WALK??? Did you say walk? Oh, yes, world. My world is what I see, what I smell, and what I hear. Well ……….. what I want to hear. I believe it’s called living in the day. I see magic in what I see, and that’s what matters. Isn’t it? I see the magic in what I can effect. I smile, I get a stroke or a treat. I bark near the kitchen door, I’m let out for a poo. I sit next to my family when they are eating, they share their food. After they have eaten, they give me what’s left to eat and then I trot round the house until I hear those words, ‘do you want a walk?’. WALK!!!!!!

I love life because, what else is there to do. I love living, I love smiling, I love walking, and I love loving. I want to be everyone’s friend. I want everyone to love like I love. And, if you all tried to see through my eyes, see what I see, you would love life a whole lot better. And Jon tells me, if you all learned how to love like I do, you would be able to change the world.

WALK? He’s just said walk, so I’d better finish. Oh boy, I’m amazed at my typing skills and I bet there’s less typos that he makes.

Have a walk, see the beauty, smell the magic, and rejoice in all of the sounds of nature. Beautiful.

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Ringo

#TeamDuke It’s a family affair

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👁❤️2 …………………… keeping loving #TeamDuke

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” – John Wooden

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” – Alex Haley

3 quotes for the price of 1. You’re very welcome.

Here we are skipping towards the summer, and here I am, reflecting – AGAIN – on life from my rather grounded view of the world.

I consider myself lucky to be able to observe from this grounded position, as I try and look at what is in front of me. I guess it’s what makes me the person that I am.

Today, I want to celebrate the family. Simple as that. Family again, I hear you ask? Yes, my dear friend, family.

I am lucky when I look out at my family. I was extremely lucky to have been raised by a wonderful mum and dad. They are the reason for me being who I am today. Beyond that, I am grateful to have 2 brothers, who are great friends, and then there are my wonderful sisters in law and nephews, aunt and cousin. And then, there are the great brothers and sisters in law and nephews and nieces on my ex wife’s side of this awesome family. And then, her aunts, uncles, cousins etc etc. And then, my incredible friends, who are as much family as friends.

But, of course, I then look at the family who provide the shield of love at home. Ben, Liv, Ringo, Zeekee, and now Audrey. The unconditional love that they bring can never be under estimated.

And, I guess, that’s where this blog kicks in.

As any discerning reader will know, Ben and Liv’s mum walked out of the family home nearly a year ago. Yes, she walked away from her family – including all of the above wonderful souls. I understand that she believes that she followed her path. No, she walked out and now suggests that her husband, son, and daughter did not support her on her quest. I’ll leave it there, as the purpose of the blog is not to throw mud. However, I think a little humanistic honesty is required. Clearly, I am happy to debate this point – off-line.

So, the last year has been a hell of a ride for #TeamDuke, but the above is where the story started.

As those who have followed the story of #TeamDuke through this year’s blogs, I have looked to celebrate. Yes, celebrate. You can never under estimate the lowest of the low point from where we started. Ben was away at Camp America when he heard what had happened. Liv was suffering from her own challenges. Me? This isn’t about me. This, as I’ve said is a celebration. Of course there has been bitterness. I’m human. I believe I’m loving, caring and loyal. So, the starting point was low.

But, in the last year, the power of the family has been immense. However, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on the wonderment of who I am honoured to call my son and daughter. I want to raise a glass to them, and celebrate our life together.

Ben – for so many years, we have been close. We share a love of music and rugby league. But, it’s so much more than that. He described me as being more like a brother. How awesome is that! I always thought I would get to the point where I would be fading out pottering along behind him at the Leeds Festival. Well, how wrong could I be! This year, Ben will be 23 and HE’S paying for me to go with him. Words fail me.

Ben is such a steadying influence on his sister. Obviously they have spats. But they are so close and, at times of frustration about their absent mother, they support each other.

I don’t think Ben truly understands what a wonderful, loving, funny, charming young man he is. Sorry if I’m being a tad gushing but, it is a family affair and as #TeamDuke we want to inspire others to realise all hope has not gone. Hope is really as long as there is love.

Liv – well, where do I start. A more beautiful, understated soul I am yet to meet. Liv constantly talks about lacking confidence, but when the going gets tough, Liv rises above all others and defeats whatever is placed in front of her.

The last year has been tough for Liv, perhaps longer. It has been suggested Liv is dramatic. No, she’s honest!

Liv was there for me in the early days of ‘well, I didn’t see that coming’; days of feeling rejected.

Liv has some much love in her heart and has grown with such strength.

As a collective, I didn’t think #TeamDuke could be any closer. Through the sharing of love, support, laughter, and a few tears, we have and will continue to do so.

Ben and Liv know I’m there for them 24 / 7, but I know they are for me – although I’m not sure how Liv would react if I woke her at 4 am to tell her there was a moth in my room. Or how Ben would react if I woke him up at 4 am to tell him I’m home from a night out clubbing, and then lay with him for 15 minutes for a chat.

I love it!

And, let’s not forget Ringo (dog) and Zeekee (cat). The positive energy, the unconditional love, and the fun that they bring to our home. 18 months ago I would not have wanted another animal in the house – the latest hamster going to the great wheel in the sky some months before. However, I was so wrong. We are very lucky and I am grateful for the day I woke up.

It would be remiss not to say a few words about Audrey. For so long, friends with a common interest in music and the regular chat around mindfulness, basic spiritual stuff, books on positive thinking, and a bit of psychology. However, here we are, a few months in and going strong. Apart from the happiness that Audrey has ignited within me, she has also provided incredible support and companionship already that Ben and Liv.

Finally, I know I refer to how lucky I am to have such incredible friends. In this blog, I want to name check the phenomenal Ramsdens. I have been close to Steve and Susan for many years, but the support that they have given me / #TeamDuke has been beyond words. I could never find the words to express my gratitude to them. At those darker times, they would appear with a bottle of wine, a home made cake, a smile, and plenty of hugs. Thank you ❤️.

In essence, it is a family affair. Be that blood family or members who have joined along the way.

Sorry if the blog has been a bit indulgent. Also, sorry if I have embarrassed anyone through being overly emotional.

And sorry if I have offended my ex-wife.

Vivienne – this is not the intention. I know you won’t be reading this but I am just saying it as it is – let’s say in the 3rd dimension. In fact, I have so much to be grateful to you for, and for that I thank you. #TeamDuke are strong; we are alive and kicking. Ben and Liv have some of your positive characteristics from when you were there for them, as their mum. We do not judge. We observe. We do not carry self pity. We carry emotions and, thankfully, those emotions are intact. Ben and Liv love you from their hearts. I’ll leave it there. I hope as your 50th birthday passes, you can reach inside and remember what role a mum has to play in their children’s lives. You had one of the best role models I can think of.

God bless. It is a family affair.

 

Jon

 

 

Daddy’s source

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👁❤️2 …………………………..be part of #TeamDuke
“Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.” – Naveen Jain

So, here we are. In the northern hemisphere we are moving towards summer and that always brings hope of a little sunshine and a lot of good times.

For us in #TeamDuke, this summer brings with it a slightly different twist, as we will see the first year pass since Ben and Liv’s mum decided to quit the role she had done so magnificently for many years and felt she had a bigger task – to save the world. Interestingly, since this quest started we have seen Donald Trump elected as the president of the United States, terrorist attacks have continued at an alarming rate around the world, famine is on the rise, thousands are leaving their war torn homelands, and I could continue. However, we in #TeamDuke can sleep easy, as the lands in the microcosm of Portugal where the departed one now resides are well cared for.

But, the tone of this blog is not a negative one, as we have worked hard on not looking back. The tone is very much positive and we celebrate where we are now and we continue to share our lives in the hope it provides some hope, inspiration, fun and, if nothing else, a bit of entertainment.

Welcome, then, to another observation from here at ground level – my view from the ground.

My aim is to reflect honestly and from the heart. Yes, perhaps at times, I digress a tad to look at the reasons for my taking up temporary residence in a dark place. But, as the Rag N Bone Man so accurately put it, “I’m only human”. I’m certainly nothing special. With a twinkle toed side step like Joel Moon (only rugby league – best sport in the world – fans will understand that one), as Chris Martin warbled “I’ve been reading books of old. The legends and the myths. Achilles and his gold. Hercules and his gifts. Spiderman’s control. And Batman with his fists. And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list.”.

As 2017 has rolled on, I have sought to share how #TeamDuke has moved from a state of adversity to a place of happiness. How we have brought our house back to being the home base to which we return for our collective fun and family love. How we look at and are grateful for everything last thing we have, and not be angry at what we don’t. And, so on. The blogs have reached out to people in various ways. Some, perhaps, more relevant to the reader than others. But, as I’ve said before, if one blog helps one people, giving that one person inspiration and hope, then I am a very, very happy soul. Apart from anything else, if that one person then takes that message to help someone else, the multiply effect kicks in.

I remember, in my days of – let’s say – taking this spirituality lark a bit too seriously, being challenged as to what my life purpose was. Basically, why was I on this planet. Well, apart from to eat Indian food, drink red wine, say inappropriate things, and to be the butt of others’ humour I was a bit stuck for an answer.

That is a joke of course. My purpose always has been and always will be to be here for my family and friends. But, I was always challenged that there must be more. Surely, the love that I have for my family and friends could be better used through a greater, a higher, calling. Looking back, it felt like the suggestion that I dare place family and friends above anything else was wrong.

But, no, wait a minute there! How can having your life purpose as being there for your family and friends not be enough? To be there to provide stability, love, comfort, support, to be a rock, and, in essence, to actually BE THERE!

Surely, by providing all of this, by having the sole purpose to be that rock is actually the ground from which life can then grow. It gives that knowledge to those who grow from that base that they can always return to that person when love, support and so on is needed to aid their continued growth. Am I making sense?

I love being a dad! I love being here for Ben and Liv. Simple as that. I love the fact that they know that I am here – always. I may need to travel for work but I return to our home. I love being grateful to have such an awesome, loving son and daughter. I love that we are friends as much as anything else. I love what we all share together. I love that we can inspire others through our love for each other, and that may, just may, help others with their life journey. Is that wrong?

From well watered soil life can grow. That soil needs to have continued watering and tendering to ensure that good life can grow. It needs a constant source of water. I’d say daddy’s source. I’m grateful for being given the opportunity of being that source for #TeamDuke.

Without going too much over the top, but I truly believe that we are bloody awesome. Just saying. And, I am proud that my life purpose is being fulfilled, right here right now. I’m available 24 / 7, where ever I am. That’s the commitment I have made, and I will stick to it. I love my son and daughter with my whole heart. That love does then expand beyond our home, because I know what has been created here is stunning. I am grateful for the family and friends I have in my life, and I am grateful that #TeamDuke has welcomed Audrey as a new team member. We may have to change to #TeamDuke+ARatherSmallPerson. Something to think about.

Okay, time to wind my neck in. Thanks for reading my latest blast of energy. I hope life is good and you can be there for those who need you. Your presence can never be more important than it is today.

Peace and love. Stay safe. Just be careful out there. As I finish this blog, my heart goes to those affected by the latest terrorist attack, this time in London. My heart also goes to those recently affected by terrorist attacks in Manchester and the atrocities in Kabul.

Jon

Happy Song – #TeamDuke bring (me) the (musical) horizon

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👁❤️2 ……………………………. love music

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” – Billy Joel

Song from Pinocchio – “When you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong, give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong, give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow. And if your whistle’s weak, yell “Juminy Cricket!” Take the straight and narrow path and if you start to slide, give a little whistle! Give a little whistle! And always let your conscience be your guide.”

I accept one of the more random starts to one of the ground based views of 2017. But the quote and the song are, well, an indication as to focus of the blog. Last year I wrote a blog about my love of music. And, I must admit, I do love music. Listening to it, not playing it or singing. I can do neither play or sing.

I wish I could but the world’s not ready. I have a real admiration of those who have the ability to sing and play, and then can stand in front of an audience. Living the dream. A good friend, Ryan Askew (as featured in the book, These Wings Can Fly), does just that. Awesome! It’s great to see the joy it brings him, as part of the excellent duo, Mild Junk. And, of course, the joy it brings their audience. Magic!

As Billy Joel said, music is healing and #TeamDuke can confirm that. Interestingly, well for me anyway, I’ve just been listening to a track by Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes. I think that’s the title for a future blog, because I will do whatever it takes in life. We all should, it just takes something to happen to slap you round the face to realise that.

So, happy song? Where an I going with this. Bear with me, please, my mind is awash with lots of garbled things. I suppose, thinking about how the blogs have developed this year, I am just looking to express the ingredients to the happy mix that has been the development of #TeamDuke in 2017.

Music has been a significant contributor to our development- both as #TeamDuke but also individually. I’ve been lucky that both Ben and Liv have shared my love of music and we have experienced some truly magical moments together – be that: –

  • Ben seeing Sum 41 when he was 8 at Manchester Arena (my heart goes out to those who perished in the recent terrorist attack. #ILoveManchester.
  • Ben going to the Leeds Festival for the first time when he was 9
  • Liv’s first concert – My Chemical Romance, when she fell asleep
  • Green Day at Wembley where Liv experienced the incredible magic of one of the best bands in the world
  • ……… and so one.

And that was before our life changing event (although, rumour has it, the world hasn’t ended or ascended to the 99th dimension or something like that anyway).

Music – a common bond that brings people together, be that in a venue holding 10 or a stadium holding 90,000.

As I have referenced above, we are all aware of the tragic events at Manchester Arena. 18,000 brought together through their love of music. 18,000 people able to experience a possibly a once in a lifetime event. Only for that life to be ripped apart through an act of pure evil. An act intended to create a divide in society. An act intended to draw others to the extreme views of so few.

However, this was an act that must be used to bring us together. To bring society even closer together. For the collective to rise and say no to any form of extremism. Together we will be stronger. That way, extremism will fade into that place it needs to be. And then we need to learn what fuels extremism and to educate appropriately.

We must have just as a reason to celebrate, and we must continue to join together in that celebration of music.

I make no secret of my personal love of music. It’s a celebration; it’s a relaxant; it’s a joy; it’s a healer; it provides words that help you to express an emotion. And so on. I can think of tracks that Ben, Liv and I have discussed that tell the story of our development over the last few months. I always remember Liv telling me that Medicine by Biffy Clyro perfectly summed up how she felt about her mum walking out of the family home. For weeks we sang it together in the car and, more often that that, I would become a tad teary.

I then played it to Ben, suggesting he listened to the lyrics, as we were driving to the Leeds festival to see …….. Biffy Clyro, and I became teary. That’s music for you.

But it is such a a way to escape, to express, to join together, to sit alone, to laugh, to become teary, to be yourself. It’s magic.

We are lucky to have that bond as #TeamDuke. Music is always there and it’s there as I type this (on a train back from London).

And if you can’t listen to it, don’t forget when you get in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong, give a little whistle. Just use music as that release.

So, when you started ready this blog, I’m sure you wondered where it was going. Well, here you are wondering where you’ve arrived. Regard this like a trip to the shop but you ended up in the pub. Life is full of surprises and this blog is just another one.

I was going to finish the blog with a song. But I’ll throw out a question – what is your happy song? Just think. I hope it puts a smile on your face.

I wish you well.

Jon

Animal house. #TeamDuke – a year to remember

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👁❤️2 ……………………….. pick up the poo from the ground………. not a nice view
And so another View From The Ground blog starts with a quote. Not one; not two; yes, threes quotes. Why? Well, in truth, I tried to copy / paste one quote but seemed to collect three. However, in reality I love these quotes as the capture the theme of the latest, all singing and dancing, #TeamDuke update. So, welcome again to regular readers, new readers, and those who are just curious at what may unfold before their eyes.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

“Two roads diverged in the road and I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Please bear with me as I unwind what is whirling around in my head. The title of the blog captures three themes, whereas as the sub-title captures what I capture from one of those themes. Mmmmm, now that’s something to behold.

So, I hope life is treating you well and that you are treating life well. Now, there’s a thought straight away – how many of us expect life to be good to us rather than us being good to life? Confused? Let me expand, as this idea has just dropped in.

When we wake up, do we a) groan; or b) express gratitude for a new day? Now, if the answer is a), there’s work to do. If the answer is b) you’re in a brilliant place and can stand up and take a round of applause. Me? I’m an a) and b) kind of guy these days and am proud to have developed away from just being an almighty a++) person.

Once we are up and about, do we a) dread the day; or b) enjoy the moment and work on making the best out of the day ahead. Now, if the answer is a), there’s work to do. If the answer is b) you’re in a brilliant place and can stand up and take a round of applause. Me? I’m less a) and more b) and, again, am proud to have developed away from just being an almighty a++) person.

I hope you get the picture. It’s useful exercise and one I personally try to do regularly to switch my old, natural, pessimistic self, into a more positive focussed person. As those who know me well will confirm, it’s a road I still travel daily and I do have occasional slips along the way.

The core at the #TeamDuke base – as featured in the last blog – Our House – is now, an old man (me), a young man (Ben), a young lady (Liv), a cat – the boss (The Zeek), and a dog – a doofus (Ringo).

If someone has said that our home would be made up of 3 humans, a cat and a dog a year ago I’d have thought they were thinking about another home. However, here we are! A veritable animal house and loving it.

The Zeek joined us 16 months ago and is a beautiful , majestic animal. She’s the boss and we all know that.

However, welcoming Ringo into the home has been a completely different experience. Liv has wanted a dog for years but I steadfastly held out that it just wouldn’t work. Recent times have softened me and here we are, With a great big doofus of a border collie.

It’s also being a big thing for Ben, who has always felt uncomfortable around dogs. But, Ben recognised that bringing a dog into the home would be good for Liv, so he gracefully agreed.

And, here we are, Ringo joined us and introduced me to having to deal with the poo from the ground. Nice! However, the many, many wonderful things he has brought to our home have, at times, being overwhelming.

I’ve seen on Facebook a picture of a man and a dog, sitting by a lake with thought bubbles over their heads. The man’s is full of work, money, news, relationships, anger, etc. The dog’s just has an image of the lake, as that is all he sees. I’ve always liked this image, but never really understood it.

But with Ringo, I fully get it now. I know all dog owners will understand this but please bear with me, as this is new experience for #TeamDuke.

The morning is the best example. I roll out of bed, feeling the gratitude for doing so of course. I stumble around the house, doing my best to be positive but remembering the things I need to do in the day, growling at a slightly loose tap (faucet), grumbling that Liv has left the bathroom light on …………. again, reminding myself I need to put some fuel in the day, and so on.

The Zeek wanders around close by, looking at her food bowl and wondering how Donald Trump is the most powerful person in the world. She’s very intelligent. And then, I open the downstairs door to Ringo. Does he leap with delight at seeing me? Does he run around looking for food? Does he ask me whether I’m worried that Theresa May has called at election and she won’t have any dogs standing to be elected for parliament? Nope! He looks at the door and telepathically tells me he’s got a gift for me. Another poo from the ground.

After that, and breakfast, the magic begins. My head is still awash with the day (positively of course), but it’s time to ask the question – “where’s your lead?”. This is where the perspective kicks in and I tune into Ringo’s frequency. Those words trigger unbelievable excitement as he Runs in circles. I can’t help but be swept up by his enthusiasm. No work, money, news, anger issues can break into this bubble of fun. He leaps trying to get into his harness and we end up leaping around together. Yes, dear folk who are used to my scowling, grumpy face, I leap about. It’s impossible not to.

And, that the magic. All of us in #TeamDuke have been effected by the joy for life that Ringo has injected into our home – even The Zeek.

As I said, all dog owners will resonate with this but, for me, this has been such an awakening. My dream for these blogs is to share our learnings and to, hopefully, bring a smile and even some hope when it’s needed. I want people to feel our happiness and, in turn, feel happy.

So, 2017, a year to remember. That was the plan at the start of the year and that continues to be the #TeamDuke mission. So far, so good. As we look at our achievements so far, Ben is doing great at work and is looking forward to a summer of music festivals; Liv has been to Belgium and Denmark this year, going on her own. Such a step forward; me? Well, as I have alluded I have someone in my life now – Audrey. It’s early days but the magic is there to be seen and felt. Im truly grateful for the joy Audrey has brought to me, but also, in turn, to #TeamDuke.

Ben and Liv are such wonderful people and, in the last 10 months, we have really learned about the strength of #TeamDuke. I am so blessed to have such an awesome son and daughter.

Life for #TeamDuke is on an upward trajectory. But we will never take what we have for granted. We are grateful for every day and for everything we have.

And, at this point, I will wrap up another #TeamDuke update. Ringo needs a walk and I’m looking forward to letting the dog out, and having a jump around.

I wish you peace, happiness and that you also have a year to remember.

Jon

Our house – #TeamDuke

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❤️2 ……………………. return home
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” – Mother Teresa

I’m at it again, 2 quotes; 1 blog. However, as ever, there’s a message to share, so please bear with me as we open another window in the house of #TeamDuke.

Welcome to this View From The Ground blog. I hope you are enjoying the sharing of our experiences. To be honest, it’s almost like keep a journal – well, sort of. Please bear with me whilst I expand (just like my stomach) on that point.

Before I do, that you for the great response to the last blog – Talk Talk – It’s my life with #TeamDuke. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who peeked through the curtains into our world. I hope you will stay with us and continue to share, celebrate, hopefully be inspired by our ongoing development as the beautiful #TeamDuke.

Over the course of the year, I have tried to share the experiences of #TeamDuke. We are nothing remarkable, when compared to millions of others. However, we are proud of who we are and where we are in relation to our on-going well being. I’m not going to rehash previous blogs on which I have discussed matters relating to the starting point of our journey. If you want to have a look, the #TeamDuke blog is a good starting point.

However, over the course of this year’s blog, I have shared what I would describe as the building blocks which have helped us grow even stronger as a family of 3 – + Zeekee the cat, Ringo the dog, and, well, the new person in my life.

The building blocks – or as I have just mistyped, ‘building blogs’ (an accidental play on words, but actually quite good, so I’m going to use that) – have been based around love, gratitude for what we have (not what / who we’ve lost), the power of family and friends, open communication, helping others, and so on. But the key has been the building blogs (😀) have been shared in the hope that our experiences will help as many people as possible; maybe even inspire action. I certainly hope they put a smile on the reader’s face.

So, what’s the latest building blog (I really do like this term!) about? Well, you might have guessed it’s about the magic of being at home and the incredible place home is / should.

Our house is nothing outstanding. It’s a nice semi-detached. Our house, in the middle of our street. Sounds like Madness? Not really, but I don’t want to become an embarrassment by going on about the house. But, the magic happens because our house is our home.

I guess my point here is the emphasis being on it being a home, not just a house. A place where we gather to talk, to laugh, maybe to cry, to dance like no one is watching, to sit in perfect peace and to be just so.

Ben reminded me recently in those challenging times last year, there were days when I would come home from work and, within minutes, be exclaiming that I should have stopped at the office. Sadly, the home was suddenly a house. It was soulless. I’m sure those who know me will understand the irony – and, as I seem to say a lot, I do love a bit of irony. Now, this is not a dig; it’s a fact and something for which I accept my fair share of responsibility. I didn’t at the time but, upon reflection, I’ll hold my hand up.

However, the commitment we have made as #TeamDuke is to recreate what this wonderful building was for many years – a beautiful home, where we could welcome family, friends, and basically everyone who wanted to join us.

As I discussed in the previous blog, Talk Talk – It’s my life with #TeamDuke, communication is so very important. In equal measures, having a place where we can talk openly is critical – home!

I love that over the last few months we have returned to having a home where people can and will turn up unannounced – wonderful. Where friends will appear at the door, a bottle of wine in hand, ready to have fun. To many people, I’m sure this is no big deal. I understand that, but for us it has been so important because we had lost that.

So, what’s the message? Having now read nearly 800 words I’m sure this is a question that is whirling around your mind. Sorry. I suppose the message is hidden as another exclamation of gratitude. I’m grateful for my house in the middle of our street. It’s our home; it’s our roots; it’s our little piece of heaven; it’s our place to continue creating those bricks of growth and they, in turn, can become future building blogs.

I think I’ll close there. As I sit at home; in my place of quiet reflection and quiet gratitude for everyone and everything in my life. I am blessed and I hereby place on record my love and gratitude to all who have brush passed me through life. Those who have been and gone, thanks for the memories. This who have come and stayed – watch this space as the ride could get interesting. For now, the door of our home is open to you.
Jon xxx

Talk Talk – It’s My Life with #TeamDuke

I’m totally inspired by the #headstogether campaign an the more that we can do to raise mental health awareness the better. Talking about it is critical.

View From The Ground

IMG_2059View From The Ground- ❤ 2 …………………….. communicate
“It’s my life. It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever.I just want to live while I’m alive.” – the wise words of Jon Bon Jovi.

Now, those with any form of musical bent would have derived from the title of the blog I would have quoted from Mark Hollis’s classic song (there’s No Doubt those across the pond will know the song by another band). I also thought that, but then the anthemic (is that a word?) tones of Mr BJ (ooo er missus) rang out in my head.

Hello again. It’s been a while. Strangely, the words ‘if you have nothing to say, say nothing’ are whirling round my head. Ironic really (and I do love my irony. I hate ironing, but love irony) – when you consider the theme of the blog. But, I try to write meaningfully…

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