Tip tap, it’s The Wee One aka the retro lady

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“If someone is facing a difficult time, one of the kindest things you can do for him or her is to say, ‘I’m going to love you through this.’” — Molly Friedenfeld

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” — Mother Teresa

“All you need is love” – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

‘Unconditional love — in its most simplest form — means appreciating someone else for who they truly are. It means loving them when they are unlovable, and in spite of their imperfections and mistakes. At a deeper level, it means never, ever questioning whether you’ll feel any other way toward a person.’

I make no bones about it. I dedicate this to my awesome and beautiful partner, Audrey.  

A gush fest? I wouldn’t say so. More a few words about gratitude and how re-opening your heart can lead to unexpected joy.

So welcome to a clearer view of the ground ahead.

Clearer? Yep, I’d say so. 

I’m lucky, I’ve had a lot of love in my life. The road has been a bit bumpy but, I’d say I’ve been lucky. 

Of course, the love I get from Ben and Liv has been remarkable. I know we always say that about our family but they have been there for me – in the good times, and we are blessed to have had many, and the not so good. 

We have, of course, welcomed Gaby to into the family and for that I am grateful.

We have our wonderful family and friends. To quote the Beatles again ‘love, love love’.

But, for this blog, I want to look at unconditional love, as I see it through the eyes of The Wee One aka Audrey.

I am so fortunate to have Audrey in my life and to have such a beautiful soul as part of #TeamDurky.

This isn’t some declaration of love. I do that every day anyway. But, I guess, in celebrating the wonder of The Wee One, it’s a chance for us all to look and to rejoice when we find someone who is our true partner in life.

When looking at the definition of unconditional love, I see so much in there about Audrey.

First one ‘Appreciating someone else for who they truly are’. Liv describes Audrey as being pure. I know what she means, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the world in a way where you appreciate the people around you for who they are, not for what they can do to better you? Does that make sense? To be able to see the good in someone. To be able to enjoy the good and to enhance it by being such a good person as well.

But it’s not just about being able to appreciate someone else for who they truly are, it’s about appreciating the moment for what it is. And it’s being so excited about something, no matter what it is, where you tip tap your fingers with pure excitement. It’s infectious this happy excitedness thing (and that’s not even a word!).

Next up – ‘It means loving them when they are unlovable, and in spite of their imperfections and mistakes’. Now, some might find this a sure but, at times, I’m a grumpy old bu66er. I know, I cover it up really well. Sometimes, I drive and rant. I think it’s called road rage. There are occasions when I sulk. YES, SULK!!!! And, throughout it all, there is no judgement; no criticism; no ignoring. Just love, pure love, and a hug. Magic.

And then – ‘Never, ever questioning whether you’ll feel any other way toward a person’. Isn’t it nice to feel so comfortable in a relationship where you just know. It’s that simple.

I hope I’m making sense here, and I hope you can reflect on your own relationship and feel the same. It is magic – to have finally arrived at this place. 

As I said earlier, I’ve been lucky in life I have had love there. But, now, I am so grateful to have unconditional love looking right at me. I hope, over time, I learn to be the mirror reflection. I know what I feel, but I also know I have a lot to learn from The Wee One.

And there you have it. A short but sweet blog. Just like the subject.

Thank you Audrey. The Retro Lady will soon take centre stage for a rather special birthday. The next part of our awesome journey together.

Jon

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Lemon meringue pie for your soul

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“When life throws you lemons, make a lemon meringue pie.”

“Harnessing adversity is a discipline tailored to a world of unpredictable outcomes–a world where one can disturb, but not wholly direct, a living system. Because the unexpected – adversity – is guaranteed, this discipline is about routinely making lemons into lemon meringue pie.” – Richard Pascale

And, so we step from the View From The Ground into a great big dollop of lemon meringue pie. A few weeks away from the keyboard has whetted the appetite in more ways that one. The zest to share ideas has slowly risen. The energy has been whisked into a light but fluffy frenzy.

Enough!

Thank you for joining me at my perch, to have a look at what is on my mind.

So, lemon meringue pie for your soul? What? Well, it’s a bit of a long story but that will become apparent as I walk you through my mind state. However, as I muster the creative will to commit to this damned book I continually bang on about, I have been searching for the kind of title that might appeal to a casual reader. Well, I may just have it ………… with a series of titles afterwards, such as ‘Practical Mindfulness with fudge cake and cream’. Work in progress.

It’s a funny old world. When I heard that Donald Trump wanted a new career, my euphoria was short lived when I realised my mis-spelling. Then I heard that Kim Jong-un had just topped trump. Bizarre world. 

The World Cup is just around the corner, and within days of it starting most of us will be round the bend due to the abject boredom after waiting 4 years since the last bout of abject boredom. Mad Vlad will put in (think about it) his profound thoughts on its success, as he wrestles with the idea of what a Trump and Jong-un baby would look like. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Boris Johnson.

And then, here in the U.K. we brace ourselves for waving goodbye to Europe and saying hello to ……………… hang on a minute, where’s Donald gone?? Shite, hello Europe, we were only joking. Honest, we thought the question was ‘what happens if you thrown a brick at a window in Leeds?’ – it Brexit! (Think about it 😀)

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. Or is it?

I know I’ve written this year about our memory jar – an awesome present from Ben and Gaby – but the more we fill it with memories the more I’ve truly appreciated the magic of those memories. As they say memories are made of this and, as I say, thank goodness for the memories.

It’s simple – create a memory; lock it into your mind, write it down, take loads of pictures, write a blog, whatever. But do it! Let’s start creating memories. I know since I’ve started on this path of creating as many memories as possible, I really appreciate the moment in which that memory is being created. It could be something small – but, it isn’t small really. Because it’s what you are creating. Does that make sense?

A meal with your family and / or friends; a weekend away; a holiday; a concert; some major work in the garden; a hug after a few days apart from a loved one. Whatever. Create it, bank it and, when you need a little ‘pick me up’ bring it back to mind and love the memory.l

I guess, expanding the point, if the chance to create a memory presents itself – take it. Plunge into the ‘live for the moment’ ocean and enjoy your chance to seize the opportunity. Create it, bank it, cherish it. If you let the moment pass you might regret it. It might be something as simple as a spur of the moment chance to do something when you would normally do your housework. The choice is simple. But how many times have we said “I’d love to but ………..”? 

Don’t look into your memory jar of life and see loads of blank pieces of paper because you let the chance to create a memory slip. 

I know I’m blessed and I have plenty of memories already in the 2018 jar. I know we have things lined up to create more memories. When I need reminders of the memories, the house is now full of photos, framed concert tickets and tour posters, and other such things to keep us all focussed on how lucky we are. These memories are not reliant on money – good job! They are reliant on seizing the moment and loving every minute of it.

Lemon meringue pie for your soul? Just think about it. How many of us see Lemon meringue pie and are immediately transformed back to a happy childhood? A Sunday afternoon tea treat? Or something to feast on at a cafe at a nearby seaside town?

I’m positive further opportunities will come along, some unexpected, and it’s just a case of being ready and willing to take them.

So, again, the View From The Ground fades until the next blog. As Vera warbled, who knows where who knows when.

However, my finally moment from the blog comes from taking a moment to listen. I was recently recommended a book – Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat. I’ve only just started the book, so I’m sure there will be references to it in a future blog. But I like to look into who the author is. In doing so, I became aware that he was started a crusade – #onebillionhappy (www.onebillionhappy.org). The objective is clear – make one billion people happy and then watch the impact and see how that grows. Interestingly, this has already grown from the original  objective of .#10millionhappy as planned in the book introduction.

The website shows there are 3 steps to being part of this growing movement: –

Step 1: Make happiness your first priority and recognise that happiness is your birthright.

Step 2: Invest in your happiness (reading Solve for Happy is a good starting point).

Step 3: Tell two people about the message that you have learned, who will tell two people, who will tell two people.

Now the challenge is, on the basis that this blog will be read by at least 2 people (me and Audrey) for us the tell 2 people about #onebillionhappy. We owe it to the world – in my humble opinion.

Take care.

Jon

Many money moany

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“I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have pay. Ain’t it sad” – Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus 

“Top 15 Things Money Can’t Buy. Time. Happiness. Inner Peace. Integrity. Love. Character. Manners. Health. Respect. Morals. Trust. Patience. Class. Common sense. Dignity.” 

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

‘I need a dollar, a dollar is what I need’; ‘I need to spend a penny’; millionaire’s shortbread; Pound World; Cash Converter emblazoned as a sponsor on a sports shirt etc etc. Everywhere we go it’s all about money, money, money.

Welcome to the latest View From The Pound ……………………. sorry, View From The Ground!

Another subject that bounces around my minds lot – money. There’s the song ‘money makes the world go around’. Well, the blog is really my attempt to challenge this view.

We are obsessed with money. ‘Money’s too tight to mention’ said Mick Hucknell or however you spell his name. 

An interesting report from a Oxfam at the start of the year appeared on the BBC news pages: –

‘The gap between the super rich and the rest of the world widened last year as wealth continued to be owned by a small minority, Oxfam has claimed.

Some 82% of money generated last year went to the richest 1% of the global population while the poorest half saw no increase at all, the charity said.

Oxfam said its figures – which critics have queried – showed a failing system.

It blamed tax evasion, firms’ influence on policy, erosion of workers’ rights, and cost cutting for the widening gap.

Oxfam has produced similar reports for the past five years. In 2017 it calculated that the world’s eight richest individuals had as much wealth as the poorest half of the world.

This year, it said 42 people now had as much wealth as the poorest half, but it revised last year’s figure to 61. Oxfam said the revision was due to improved data and said the trend of “widening inequality” remained.’

Now, 2 things I realise need to be borne in mind. 1) This is the research from one organisation and, clearly, it is open to challenge; and 2) it was on the BBC news website which, in a previous blog, I have expressed concern about their reporting at times.

But, to have so few controlling so much of this thing we call ‘money’ is frightening. 

There is so much talk about world debt. But, in reality, who is the debt to? What is this debt? No, really, what is this debt? Think about it.

We are indebted to which ever God we worship or who ever the source was for this planet that we affectionally call home – Earth. We also owe an apology for the mess, the hatred, the greed, and the poverty that has been created.

Probably straying into areas that greater minds could debate so let me stick to my area of discussion.

‘In for a penny in for a pound’. 

Looking through the Oxfam report, it really is quite startling that we have a handful of mega wealthy, controlling the finances of the world – the grip of greed held of governments, corporates, other businesses and individuals alike.

Watch how the mega wealthy control our thinking through fear. Who owns the media outlets and influences the words we read? 

Anyway, my concern is more on the level that the majority of us operate in – from my view from the ground.

So many of us complain  about not having enough ‘money’, don’t we? Enough money to do what? Eat? If we have food on the table, surely we have enough money? Drink? If we have clean water, surely we have enough money. Of course, if we have tea, coffee, wine, beer etc etc, we have riches! A better house? If we have a roof over our heads and somewhere dry to rest, we must have enough money. And so I could go on.

But, we constantly want more ‘money’. We constantly look at those with more money than us and wish we were that person. But, is the person with more money richer than us? As is asked, what is money. I guess, simplistically, it is what allows us to acquire something which we want. The more money we have, the more, or the better, we can acquire. But does it buy happiness? Does it buy love? Does it buy peace? One thing for sure, money buys greed. With greed, we become self centred and through being self centred, how can someone be happy? If all we think about is ourself, how can we love? And, if we strive for more money, we fear it being taken away and we attack those who pose a threat.

However, if we cherish what we have – every penny / cent; if we use what we have sensibly and for the betterment of ourselves, and others, then this thing called money can be good. And, people are fortunate enough to have sufficient money to eat and drink well, to live well, and to enjoy their own lives, then surely as their cup overflows, monetary wise, sure they can use that to help those who don’t have food, drink, or a roof over their heads? Rather than always looking to the next person who has more money than them and striving for better wealth.

Does that make any sense? I guess, having seen days, over the last couple of years, where money hasn’t been there. Having gone to the money machine, when part way on a taxi journey, to find there wasn’t enough money in the bank account to pay, resulting in a panicked phone call to Ben for help, you realise the power of money.

But, then, as you walk the streets of all city centres these days to see the increasing number of homeless people, you start to see the disproportionate spread of money – or lack of it.

But, ultimately, the richest people are those surrounded by love. And, as the song goes ‘money can’t buy me love’.

So, my commitment, the next time I think ‘I wish I had more money’, to remember just what wealth I have – that is, true wealth. Not the smug, arrogant, glint of an apparent ‘moneyed’ wealth. Keep it. Actually, no, invest it in homes for the homeless; food banks for the hungry; clean water being made available to the thirsty. Then, sit back, and realise the love that you have just shared.

And, there we are. Time to stop the many money moany. Lets be happy with what we have, and don’t let it be the winner takes it all. Better to be a dancing queen or a super trouper!

Take care.

Jon

The time of the season, not seasonal thyme

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“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” – Robert H. Schuller

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

Have you seen the size of my clock? No? You’re more than welcome to. I’m rather proud of it. I look after it, and make sure it remains in working order for everyone to enjoy. If you’re ever near the #TeamDurky home please call in. My clock is on open display, it’s big and shiney, and is seen in the kitchen – hanging on the wall, on proud display. I like to know what time it is.

And so, another View From The Ground unfolds so shortly after a quick dip in the sea.

Another obsession of mine – time.

Although to be fair, thyme has been an obsession for a while. The number of times (or is that thymes) I have picked out a great recipe to create a magnificent meal. I then trot (well, wobble) to the local, friendly supermarket to look for the key ingredient- thyme. Fresh thyme that is, not the dry stuff. I have that as a fall back. And you can guarantee that I’ll need it. As I scan the shelves – yet again, no thyme like the present, They are thymed out! Yet again, fall back saves the day.

Time is fascinating. So many wish time away – particularly until 5.00 pm on Friday and then it’s STOP!! If only it were that easy. If only we all realised it is that easy.

I know I can be one of the worse for not respecting time. I have been heard, at 5:00 pm on Monday to exclaim ‘nearly the weekend!’.

But, time is fascinating. An hour is an hour. 60 minutes; 3,600 seconds etc. But, how do we use that hour? I guess the circumstances vary.

Just think, at work, so many look at that hour and want it to pass quickly, but, by watching the clock, it just drags. But, then, when we’re busy (and, it is great to be busy!), the hour goes in a blink and we want it back to have time to deal with the work we needed to complete.

But, then, laying in bed, we want that hour to go on forever but, then we snooze and, it’s gone in a flash – or a dream.

But then, the varied emotions that we experience can have an effect on how we see time. In those moments of incredible sadness, time seems forever. The opposite, of course, when we are incredibly happy, time flies.

So, I guess, my thinking is how to harness the mind into ensuring I get the most out of time. At the ripe old age of 56 I think a lot about slowing down time. Lots to do; lots to enjoy; maximise #TeamDurky time.

My mission – connected with striving for a better state of mindfulness, is looking for a place where the focus is on the good, not the bad; looking to live in the here and now.

Simple – live for the moment. Not looking back; not reaching forward, thinking what’s next (too many times at concerts, wondering what the band will play next rather that enjoying what they are playing at that moment). Enjoy that exact moment.

Now, there’s a challenge that I’m setting myself. There are so many times when I’m having a wonderful time but thinking about what’s happening next.

Just 2 examples: –

1) As said above, at the concert. I like to know what the set list looks like beforehand but, as a result, I’m always thinking ahead to the next song, or a favourite to be played a lot later. Why? Why not enjoy the moment! We are so looking to experience a lot of live music. That’s where we invest any spare leisure money. It’s what we all love, so I / we should enjoy each and every song. Embrace each word sung and note played.
2)  On holiday. Lying on the beach, relaxing, enjoying some sun …………………. thinking about lunch, or what we’re going to eat that night, or what we need to buy at the supermarket on the way back to the apartment. Or whatever. But, crazy. We get so little sunshine in the UK I should relishing that moment of pure relaxation. Just imagine, by enjoying each second of soaking up the sun, feeling the sand against my fingers, and listening to the roll of the sea, how much time in the here and now that will give me back.

As I said, this is just 2 examples. But we all know many more times when time is wasted or just not respected.

And, now, as we have started the most wonderful season of the year – spring. When new life opens right in front of our eyes. When the colours around us take on a vibrant appearance – if we look. When the sound of the birds singing wraps itself around us – if we listen. When the smells of the season enter us – if we breathe.

We just need to take time.

And, so to close, with a little request to that broadcasting institution we have in the U.K. – the BBC. I read on their depressive news website that, in a few months, North Korea could develop a nuclear weapon that could repack the UK. Thanks BBC for adding that snippet of ‘no news’ of your mind numbing news reporting. Thanks for worrying people just a little bit more than you worried them yesterday. The BBC have a role to keep us updated with real news. But, of late, they seem to have followed the recent tradition of most of the UK tabloid reporting – mind numbing nonsense. Thanks! Maybe it’s just a British Bullshit Crisis.

I think, I’ll just take time to enjoy time and to stop watching time and take time out. Now, must run, I need some thyme. Bye for now.

 

Jon

See. Sea. Si!

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“Land is the secure ground of home, the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.” – Stephen Gardiner

“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.” – Robert Henri

Or, as the song goes, ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do love to be beside the sea …..’.

Welcome back to the View From The Ground. It’s been a while since my taxi drive up in Aberdeen. I await receipt of the book recommended by my friendly driver – ‘The Mind is Flat: The Illusion of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind’ by Nick Chater. I suspect it will be a reference point for future writing.

All things mind related fascinate me, so the idea of reading someone’s take on what he terms as the illusion of mental depth should be thought provoking. The illusion of mental depth? Are we who we think we are, or are we what we have created to be the person we want people to think we are.

Interesting? How many people do we know change because they want to be ‘free’ of what or who the world wants them to be? But, in fact, they create a persona that they think is the person society doesn’t want them to be but, in fact, it is just that – a persona not the person. Deep? As deep as the sea. Si!

A lot of times we build the person we are, almost as a protection from things or people that have hurt us. Again, just thinking about it, how many times has a life event caused someone to build themselves into the person they think they need to be to be able to deal with what they fear might happen again. Deep as the si (sic).

The mind is a wonderful thing to explore. But, who has the answers to how the mind work? Who can unlock why we are who we are? Why we act the way we do? And, let’s just stop right there and think about the phrase – ‘act the way we do’. ‘Act’.

The definition of ‘act’ – as a verb – ‘behave in the way specified‘; as a noun – ‘a pretence’.

So, do we change the question to ‘why do we behave in the way specified’? Or, ‘why do we perform a pretence’? Why are we being the person we think we should be? We are right back at the start of this one man debate. And, notice – in that last question I used ‘perform’ and ‘pretence’.

I suspect I will be tossing and turning this debate in my mind for some time. Trying to, I guess, work out who I am, why I am, and is that what I am meant to be – or can / should I change and, if so, would that change be to a better version of who I think I am.

Try applying the above to yourself. I hope it makes enough sense for you to give it a go.

One of my favourite sights, sounds and smells is the sea. It is a blessing to be able to enjoy all three senses and recently Audrey and I had a brief chance to enjoy a walk in the sun, on the beach, next to the sea.

That experience brought memories flooding back about the sea – holidays, fun, relaxation / meditation, moments of mindfulness, all sea related. Just think of the therapeutic beauties that the sea holds.

Just to see the sea, this force of nature. To watch the waves lapping on the shore and then drifting back, only to be replaced by another and another and another wave. The calm and then the crash. Hypnotic at the very least.

If only we could all live close to the sea. I’m not tempting a Day After Tomorrow scenario, just thinking about how magnificent it would be to be able to ‘just be’ for a set time every day. To sit, or stand, or lie, and watch the sea.
There’s a small cove that I love to visit when we are lucky enough to holiday in Catalonia. It’s beautiful and has featured as the picture for a previous blog. But, at times, when life events are just a bit tough, I picture myself back there – at night, staring up at the dark sky with its beautiful tapestry of bright, gleaming diamond like stars; with the sound of the sea, gently lapping onto the pebbled shore. It’s probably the most beautiful, therapeutic image I have.

The sea holds such power and, of course, has the ability to cause disaster. But, then, many things that create such hypnotic mindsets are equally dangerous. Think about the beauty of watch flames dance on an open fire or on a bonfire. Yet, then, the abject cruelty that fire can bring when unleashed is mind numbing.

The sea, for me, is my paradise. My go to – either physically or in my mind – to create a place of peace, of happiness, and of calm. Just the thought, as I write, of lying on a towel, with the sun beaming it’s warming smile down, listening to the roll of my friend, the sea, creeping along then wet sand, and then sliding back from whence it came – just beautiful. The best meditative state I can create. The key to the door towards the creation of perfect peace.

And so, like the rolling waves of the sea, I will slide back into my normality – and work on whether the person I think am is the person I am. It’s going to be a bit of a ride as I work The the countless possibilities. But, if it gets a bit confusing, I’ll just have do what I can to see the sea. Si!

Until the next time, when ever that maybe, I wish all readers who have followed the View From The Ground peace and happiness. The words that are published are just the thought tumbling from the random mind of a middle aged grump. At no time are they intended to offend or disturb.

Take care out there. It’s raining!

 

Jon

 

 

 

 

Love to listen aka taxi for #Duke

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“The value of oneself is the cornerstone of mental health” – quote provided by the most inspirational taxi driver I have had the pleasure of sharing a journey with (Aberdeen)

“Our sense of our own inner character is just an illusion” – unknown, but source as above

You know you’re going to have a phenomenal conversation with someone when, within 2 minutes of getting into their taxi, cognitive behaviour has been thrown in as a discussion point.

Welcome to an inspired blog from the passenger seat.

I love taxi journeys, particularly in Scotland. There is never a boring journey and there is never a repeat conversation.

It’s strange because, put me on the train to London and I can’t get my headphones in quick enough. Even if they’re not plugged into my iPod. The facial expression and body language say ‘conversation forbidden’.

But taxis are different. You can learn so much about people. If, of course, you are ready to listen.

So many people get into the back seat of the taxi and attach themselves to their mobile phone to talk to someone they have spoken to a thousand times. In my humble opinion, that is a wasted opportunity to learn. Jump in the front passenger seat and get ready to learn.

In this crazy world that we inhabit, we seem to allow ourselves to live in this bubble of chaos. Certainly in the UK, we make ourselves work – both through employment and what we do at home – what feels like 24 / 7. No rest; little break in routine. And little consideration to just listen.

Having said that, as #TeamDurky we have our meals at the dining room table so do take time to talk. But what I’m getting at is, when we get chance to hear a different perspective on life, we sometimes fail to take the opportunity to listen.

It’s not just on a taxi journey. How many of us take time to talk to and listen to the person on the check out at the supermarket? When we drop into the local take away for our Friday night dinner, do we chat to the person dealing with our order? Over the years, I’ve learned so much by listening.

As we all know, there’s a whole lot of anger in the world today. Be it incited by certain world leaders; be it provoked by the inabilities of our elected governments to recognise and respond to inequality and misappropriation of wealth; be it through intolerance of our fellow human being and an unwillingness to accept that we are all beautifully different (although, I accept I am just different) – we are in the depths of angry times. But, we can change it. Can’t we?

But, a chat with, and a listen to, your taxi driver is a starting point to learning. A recent drive through the chaos of London was a prime example. A tube train delay, caused by some poor soul deciding they’d had enough of what life had dealt them, meant a panicked stride outside Aldgate tube station. Poor me! Sometimes I need to think more about that. Poor me my ar5e. I should think more about the cause of the tube delay and less about me.

Anyway, up drove a taxi and I still had time to catch my train. Within minutes, I had heard about and discussed the magic of the architecture in London, York, Cambridge, and a few other places. I love architecture and there’s not many people better placed to discuss the local structures than your friendly taxi driver.

As many will know, my home base is Leeds (Yorkshire, England, Europe, the world). The taxi rides there and discussions have been many and varied. From the drunken ‘When you do finish?’; ‘Busy tonight?’; ‘What’s this cr@p music?’ type questions, to talks of holiday and, well, holidays. There are early morning drives – usually to the airport with sedate conversations, and later – back home – drives when there could be a bit of religious diversity thrown in.

It’s all good for learning. It’s good for understanding the wider community and the breadth of knowledge that can be gained. If we just listened.

This year, I would have to say my most interesting journeys have been centred on Aberdeen. I’d never been before but have always been intrigued by the city. So, my first taxi ride was built on snippets of information I had gleaned from the web, therefore I had a few questions and then the magic starts. The conversation weaves around the oil industry, football, the local economy and so forth. That information then meant I could connect better with the people I was meeting – just through a bit on interest, talking, and listening.

Since then I’ve learned more about the oil industry, about the local wealth, the tobacco industry, the decline of the paper mill industry and which school Annie Lennox went to.

But, then, as mentioned right at the start of the blog, the most recent taxi ride from Aberdeen Airport was the game changer.

My flight was delayed by an hour and, when I arrived, there was an unusually long queue for taxis. So, when I fell into my eventual ride, I was focussed on getting to the office. But fate tapped me on the shoulder and the next 30 minutes, including sitting outside the office for 10 minutes, was thought provoking and inspiring. The end result including me scrambling onto Amazon to preorder Nick Chater’s book – The Mind Is Flat: The Illusion Of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind. Reading the review blurb, it should be a thought provoking read.

However, the conversation that morning really was fascinating – based around what we do and who we think we are is not necessarily who we actually are. What we are is not a creation from the depths of our consciousness or subconsciousness. We become who were are through life experiences and, sometimes, as a protection due to life events. However, by opening our minds through discussion and listening we can become who ever or whatever we want to be.

It was also interesting to share my thoughts on certain matters with a stranger and to find we were aligned in our thinking around things that have disturbed me for some time.

An incredible person to meet and I truly believe I will take a lot of our discussion and use it in my continued quest to learn.

Sometimes, fate does give you the opportunity to learn. It’s our responsibility take the chances we are given. We can then take that learning and share it. Let’s spread the knowledge and allow others to decide whether that knowledge will help them to grow.

And, so, the taxi ride for #Duke has reached its destination………….. for now. I hope you enjoyed the journey. I paid a tip. It was worth it.

 

Jon

Simple mind(fulness). It’s rather great to be alive and kicking.

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“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

#Love is all around, as Marti Pellow once sung (yes, covering a song by the Troggs) and as each day goes by, I realise the importance of feeling that love – in an exact moment – and sharing that love – in the same moment. Making sense? Read on, please, as I look out from my perch.

Welcome to the first blog in a while. I’ve been thinking of taking the blogs offline for a while. Partly to think about a new direction for them. And partly to shape what has been written so far into some kind of book. Or, maybe I’ll just keep on blabbering on. Who knows 😀.

Anyway, enough of the future, let’s celebrate the present. How much time do we spend looking back and looking forward, rather than enjoying the moment. How often do we say ‘I can’t wait for ………..’, rather than ‘I #love the right here, right now’?

We were lucky enough to see The Architects play at Alexandra Palace in London a few days ago. Now, their music style might not be to everyone’s taste. We love them and I’m so grateful for Ben introducing them to me.

However, The Architects’s story is one of sadness, strength, love and hope. Their guitarist and songwriter, Tom Searle, died not too long ago after a brave battle with cancer. So young; so sad.

The band, including Tom’s twin brother, have bravely chosen to continue and every performance is a tribute to their love for and memory of Tom.

To be one of the 10,000 at Alexandra Palace to enjoy such a magnificent band and to celebrate the memory of such a talent man was nothing short of an honour and a privilege. To feel the emotion and unity between band and audience is something that will stay with me for a long time.

But, one of the many abiding emotions that I came away with was to live in the moment, to enjoy and love what life I / we have because you can never anticipate what tomorrow might bring.

We have a duty to enjoy each and every day that we are blessed with and to share that enjoyment with as many as we can.

And, if a like sImple mindfulness can help us focus on enjoying today, then even better.

I know I talk a lot about mindfulness but, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of an obsession. It’s something that I have to work on personally on a daily basis – as I walk across the greased floor that life sometimes feels like?

I am lucky to enjoy a daily early morning walk so that gives me a great chance to zone out and focus literally on what I can see in front of me, listen to the sounds around me, and intake deep lungs full of the fresh morning air.

The challenge, of course, is not allowing the mind to become cluttered with what I need to at work, things that are going on at home, or whether the Leeds Rhinos are going to win the next game.

To win the challenge though is magnificent and very grounding.

Practicing simple mindfulness in the car on the way to work is also magnificent – providing I keep an eye on the road in front and behind of course. It’s a great method for reducing road rage to start with – and that is a daily challenge. It’s also a super way of not overthinking. In fact, it’s a great way of not thinking.

It’s all good though. The passage that #TeamDurky walks remains strong. We are lucky to be just that – a team. As has been charted over the last few months #TeamDuke evolved into #TeamDurk with the arrival of Audrey, and then #TeamDurky with Gaby coming on board. We have the subdivision of #TeamRingKee, with the wonderful Zeekee and Ringo. That could be #TeamRingSuKee, with the inclusion of Audrey’s dog, Susie.

But, a team we are and I’m proud of the bond that we have. Let’s not forget Eilidh and Liam. They are equally important within the team.

Its good to reflect sometimes. Live for the day with a recognition of the strength you have drawn to help you through the day. Looking back on The Architects. Look at the strength and, as a band and as an entire collective – including their families a friends – the determination they have drawn from their true sadness. I have true admiration on how they appear to focus on today but also how they also share their emotions openly with their fans.

We need to be there for each other. And in these rather challenging times that is more important than ever. Look at the true horror of the latest school shooting in the USA. How long must this go on? Guns available freely. Evil peddled on the dark web. Maniacs apparently reported to the FBI who appear clueless. And more innocent people lose their lives. The killer is remorseful. Whoopy doo.

The issue is far greater than one maniac. But, let’s not focus on the issue right now. Let’s focus on the poor souls who went to school never to come home. Let’s focus on the family and friends who will never see their loved ones again. Let’s focus on those who had to witness the true horror that what was happening right in front of them. And let’s focus on the emergency services who has to deal with after math.

And, when I see such atrocities happening around the world I give thanks for every day that I am blessed with.

So, yes, it’s great to be alive and kicking. It really is. I hope the same applies to you. I hope your life is filled with #love, laughter, and unity. I hope you have family and friends who you can share your #love with.

Keep well. Keep smiling. Keep real.

Thank you.

 

Jon