Life’s what you make it – verse 5 – give yourself a try

As the title suggests, life’s what you make it. I’d like to think the blogs that appear under the banner of ‘View From The Ground’ are a light read in what is, on occasion, a not so light time.

Of course, any opinions expressed are those of the writer. With that in mind, if these opinions are not those of the reader, that’s what makes life interesting. We are all different. We can see things differently. You might see something orange. I might see the same something red. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Does it matter? If it does, sorry. I’m not saying I’m right, but I am write(ing) as I see things.

Welcome back, or welcome for the first time, to my View From The Ground. 2020 has been set out to making the best out of life that we can. An opportunity to seize what ever chance we get to smile.

Now, I love irony, and I know I’m not gifted when it comes to being a smiler. Grimace – yes; scowl – yes; look downright grumpy – oh yes. Smile? Tough! Does that mean I’m not happy? Not at all. I am genuinely happier now than at any time in my life. So, why don’t I smile more?

Now, this could become a deep discussion around almost reflecting outwardly what people expect. ‘There’s Jon. I bet he’s grumpy!’ So, guess what …………. There is also the possibility of over many years of being told that we are, let’s just say, grumpy, we just take on that persona.

It’s a bit of a Pavlov’s dog scenario. We get trained to respond / act in a way, so it’s easier to be that person. Or, perhaps, a self fulfilling prophecy.

How many of us dread Monday?

Now, I accept that it is natural to not look forward to Monday, as it signifies the end of the weekend and the start of another working week for those of us who are lucky enough to have a job.

However, when you think about it – that means there are potentially 43 Mondays that fill us with dread, when you take off annual leave and public holidays. How scary is that? We spend 16.5% of the working year dreading Monday.

On the flip side – that means we spend about 18% of the working year being euphoric about Friday and the same percentage smirking that Wednesday is hump day (a higher percentage as less public holidays on Fridays and Wednesdays).

I’ve got to admit I do struggle with Mondays. But I don’t know why other than it’s just programmed into my psychological makeup. I like my job, I’m part of a great company, and work with people I genuinely like. I’m lucky that my drive to work is through some of the most beautiful scenery. And, yes, that scenery is on this little island called Great Britain – not Catalonia (see Life’s what you make it – verse 4 – Sister Europe to reference this comment).

So, what’s the problem? Yes, I love my weekends. Yes, I love staying in bed on a Sunday morning. But, that’s no excuse for having a face like a slapped bottom on Monday morning.

What is the problem, because so many people are the same? You see it. More’s the case, you feel it. Behaviours on the road are a more aggressive. You’ve chased the radio station in the car so many times because you’re sick of the constantly cheery voices reminding you that it’s Monday; everything is good; here’s another happy, smiley song, and then there’s the array of adverts for holidays , holidays and more holidays.

The walk from the car to the office is very much a case of head down, no eye contact, swear at the lift, swear at the door security card because you’ve actually tried to use the security card for the printer, head down through the office and then drop the bag on the desk with a huff, a gruff, and a loud exhalation of air.

I’m actually feeling tense writing this! Madness. In reality, it’s just another day. Another day into which we are lucky to wake up, to be alive. Another day when we can enjoy, if we put our minds to it. For sure, there’s always going to be days which are just total rubbish. In the main, those days are out of our control.

However, our feelings towards many other days are predetermined. I’m using Monday as an example. A quick health warning in that I don’t want to be accused of discrimination against Monday. A part-time worker who works Wednesday to Friday may feel the same about Wednesday. A weekend worker may feel the same about Saturday. I support Day Equality!

However, and it feels like I’m writing this blog to me, it would be interesting to apply the Friday feeling – or whatever day your ‘Friday’ is – to every day. A big ask? Of course it is. I’m writing this bit of the blog on Sunday afternoon and can feel the wash of pre-Monday blues rolling in like a winter storm crashing onto a previously sun bleached beach.

And this is my point. We are / I am pre-programmed to feel this way because it’s the start of another week. But, what is the difference between what we were / I was doing on Friday and what we / I will be doing tomorrow. The answer is simply nothing, apart from on Friday we / I had 2 days at home or doing whatever to look forward to.

It’s a mindset thing, in my mind that is. I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone else. I’m just trying to think out loud in the hope it provokes some thought.

So, why don’t you give yourself a try? When it works, reprogram to repeat the process. It could be life changing. If not life, at least Monday changing. I hope so because I’m going to give myself a try. Tomorrow? Let’s see. Hopefully I can surf the wave and ride to success. The alternative is crashing to the sand like a beached whale ……………. again.

Take care. Have fun. Repeat after me, I do like Mondays.


Life’s what you make it – verse 4 – Sister Europe

Wow! What a circus. My goodness what a show. Take a bow Bo. It’s time to ask – have you heard the news?

An excerpt from Funeral Blues by W H Auden feels appropriate to start the latest blog:-

“The stars are not wanted now; put out every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, 

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods; For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Not exactly a case of life’s what you make it? Don’t worry, this is not the start of a feast of doom. Just a reflection on the not so United Kingdom turning its back on the European Union and folding the EU stars flag away – for now.

However, as a proud European, I can’t help but reflect on my passion for Europe. I guess it’s also a love of travel. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many, many magnificent places to visit in a Great Britain. So many we are eager to visit. Be that the rolling hills of Scotland, the lush greenery of North Ireland, the diverse and dramatic coastline of England, or …………………. Wales.

But, as I’ve got older, my feeling of being part of a greater Europe has grown stronger. A feeling of pride at being a European has developed.

A lot of this, probably, has grown as Great Britain has taken on a much more diverse landscape with regards to our population. You either embrace things, or you just become a sad little islander.

That said, I’m in a space in life when I hear an English voice abroad, I’m kind of disappointed. There’s so many things about the British influence on mainland Europe that embarrass me. Great big boards outside bars advertising the long list of sporting events that they are going to show over the following days. That said, one bar we visited in Ibiza had at least 4 games on at the same time.

I’m not knocking what other people want when they visit the mainland, but sometimes holiday resorts in Europe resemble holiday resorts in England – apart from the weather, of course. And, I know, that’s the thing. The weather. We all love good, warm weather and, as I look out of the window right now, in Leeds, it’s grey, it’s cold, it’s raining. It’s Great Britain. But, I accept, it’s also winter.

I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I dream of walking the streets of one of my favourite places to visit – Girona in Catalonia. Looking at the classic architecture, feeling the warmth, whilst listening to the hum of local accents and local language, looking forward to the taste of local cuisine, and smelling the bursts of freshly brewed coffee as we amble passed the array of street cafes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my home city, Leeds. It’s where I’m from and has formed the person I am. I’m proud of Leeds and I love Yorkshire with a passion.

A walk around the centre of Leeds is highly recommended. There is classic, and modern architecture to relish. However, make sure you are prepared for any weather. At any time. Don’t assume sun means warm. The hum of local accents? More of a battering of noise. As for local cuisine and smell of freshly brewed coffee. There’s some of the latter, but probably more prominent is the smell from the multitude of takeaways. The cuisine is varied and, with good recommendations, there are some great places.

It’s all just different. And it should be different. That’s the magic, and that’s a reason why I embrace being European. It’s that feeling of experiencing different things. I guess that’s why I struggle when I see Little Britain on the coast of the mainland. Sure, let’s embrace a bit of a British influence – I don’t mean staggering around drunk at 1pm. I like some of the European influence we have over here.

I like my eyes being opened to the differences. The Wee One and I love walking the streets of the places we visit in Catalonia or Spain of France. It’s fascinating just wandering, looking, and literally feeling the culture. Letting your mind drift to the history of where we are. Listening to the voices of people walking by.

It’s all about being different but remembering we are all the same.

My travel has been limited to Europe and, to be honest, there are so many places still to visit, that may continue to be the case. But I see that we are lucky to be able to travel.

As I said, there are many places on our wonderful island to see but a major issue is our not so wonderful weather. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to at least have a semblance of predictability to our weather. We could then plan a trip. I’m saying this as we get blasted by Storm Bloody Annoying, in which the windows rattle, a newly formed stream flows past the house, and the garden resembles a quagmire from which Ringo trots bloody muddy foot prints around the house. Sorry for swearing.

In essence, life’s what you make it. But, it’s up to us to make it the best we life that we can. If we choose to remain within the boundaries that we set ourselves then that’s just fine. That’s the choice we make.

However, I personally love being part of sister Europe. Being part of this great continent. Being proud to explore the history of the whole of Europe, and feeling part of it.

That’s the life I’m enjoying making. And next time I’m on the mainland, I’ll be proud to feel included as part of the European community.

And, so, let’s crack on with 2020. Let’s stay safe and healthy. It’s a tough time in Great Britain at the moment with various storms and floods. So many people suffering. It’s a sad day today as we mourn the loss of another soul who could no longer cope with her life. Rest In Peace Caroline Flack.

And, we have the global worry as the Coronavirus takes more lives. A worrying time.

Let’s be kind. Let’s be compassionate. Let’s unite and be strong together.


Life’s what you make it – verse 3 – Take the lead (off)

Just imagine. Every time you went for a walk, someone fastened a collar around your neck and clipped a lead to it. You stand, nose pressed to the door, because you want to go out but, to be fair, you’re wondering where the hell the lead came from. The collar? Well, let’s not talk about that. It was just there, okay. Why is it studded? Leave it!

Just imagine. You have a lead on but all you want to do is take the lead, not that lead, I mean to lead the way. But the lead attached to your studded collar stops you taking the lead.

Just imagine, all the people, living life in peace. Sorry, I went off there. I took the lead with another song. It will be a theme this year. Something to watch out for. Watch out for any secret messages.

The door is locked. Go on, open the door. Open the right door, and we’re ready for a walk. Through the door? Have a read of Life’s What you make it – verse 2. It will all become apparent.

Another bizarre opening to another blog.

What’s your view from the ground, right here right now? Mine? Thank you for asking and welcome to my View From The Ground.

It’s a cold night right now. Probably, by the time I finish the blog, it will a mild, sunny afternoon. But, just now it’s that kind of damp cold that gets into your bones. Or is that because I’m getting old(er)?

I’m grateful for the cold, damp weather right now. Now, that’s a change – I usually curse the weather in the U.K.- but reading the horror stories from Australia, yes, I’m grateful for the cold and damp.

Leaving the house whilst the veil of the night is wrestling with a grim morning, it’s hard to feel anything but gloom but, as the car radio tells its tales of fires raging across an area the equivalent of a good chuck of England, it’s hard not to be grateful for the greyness of the early hours.

So, I’m making sure my View From The Ground is a grateful one. Alive and kicking and ready to let the day begin.

The morning always starts with a walk with Ringo. I’m always amazed by his shear excitement for his morning walk. His look of absolute anticipation as I sit glumly on the settee arguing with shoe laces. As Ringo sidewalks passed with another toy I mumble unexcited words of ‘not another toy’ as another toy drops at my feet.

He loves his walk, Brewdog collar, not studded, lead attached. Off he goes, but he’s at his happiest when the lead is unclipped and off he scarpers in a whirl of energy. But, wouldn’t we all. Just imagine.

But if you take the idea of allowing life to attach a great big lead to your collar and then let it drag you around, does that sound like how things can feel sometimes? No control over your direction? No chance to let go and run. To run Forrest run. Something just keeps pulling us back. Or, more a case, someone is stopping you from that big step forward. Someone, holding you from just unleashing yourself into that brave direction you want to go in. One step forward, two steps yanked back.

Breathless with frustration, who is it that is holding you back? Who is taking your lead? Or more the case, who is stopping you taking the lead?

In reality, there is only one person. It’s you! Or, in my case, it’s me.

Now, there’s a thought and a bit of a mind mess. You are holding your lead, stopping you from taking the lead whilst leading you in a different direction. But, think about it. Surely it’s safer for you to hold your lead and pull you down the path of least resistance. To walk you safely from the front door, down that familiar path, where it’s oh so safe. It’s oh so quiet. And, before it your back. The back door this time – as it were. Once your back inside, the lead is taken off. However, why is the studded collar left on? Let’s move on.

I hope you get my meaning. But, life really is what you make it. Today could be your day. Today could be the day to take the lead off. To go through the door of adventure. The door of possibilities. To walk, to run. Bollocks. To skip, yes, skip. If that’s what you want. I’ll give the skipping a miss as I’ll look like an ungainly elephant from a Walt Disney movie. I’ll walk. But, I will walk. Free from those restraints.

It’s time for us all to take that lead off. It’s time to live life. Let’s face it, there are enough challenges in life. Enough things to make us feel restricted. So, why add to that by restricting ourselves. Just think what could be achieved if we all just unleashed ourselves. Now, I accept I’ve used Ringo as an analogy here. But I’m not suggesting that we unleash ourselves like a pack of dogs having their leads taken off. Oh no! That amount of unleashed ‘activity’ could be a little too much.

However, let’s be brave. Let’s stop doing the predictable. Obviously, all within reason. Let’s not go too crazy. But, life is short. It’s too short to restrain yourself. Most of us work, and we work hard. That, of course, includes education. Most of those who don’t work, exert a lot of energy looking for work. So, when we’ve got free time, let’s be free. Truly free. I’m just stay.

Of course, every word of this and all View From The Ground blogs are mine. It’s just my way of looking at life and of trying to find that light. The light outside. The light to guide us. So, in my humble opinion, life’s what you make it, so go on, open that door, take the lead – off, and lead yourself into the awesome life you deserve.



Life’s what you make it – verse 2 – go on, open the door

Hurtling into this new decade and already thinking “WTF?”. So many of us are. So many of us wondering what the hell is going on. Many of us wonder too much.

Welcome to the room with 2 doors. The room? It’s just a room. It’s a room you have just woken up in. It’s your choice which door to go through.

The doors are identical. Made of fashioned mid-brown oak, with that beautiful smell of freshly applied varnish. They are heavy, grand looking doors. The kind of doors it takes time to take in just how grand they are.

Ornate handles adorn the doors and each door will omit that gentle squeak when opened, as you are welcomed through, to look only forwards to see the choice you have made, not looking back. Remember, you have just woken.

Whatever the choice, you cannot look back. You can only be embraced the choice you made.

What do you do as you stand in the empty room with 2 doors? You only get one chance, one choice. The decision is yours and only yours.

The room you’ve woken in is bright, the walls are white. It’s light. There are no pictures. It’s just a room. It could be any room, but at that moment it’s your room. You have a decision to make. You have to move forward from where you are standing. In fact, you might even be sitting or, as you have woken in the room, lying. You have to choose a door.

Welcome to A View From The Ground blog 2 of 2020, as we move to the 2nd verse of Life’s What You Make It. The choice is yours. Choose you door. It’s time to make that move.

Confused or intrigued? In reality, it’s not confusing in that every morning when we are lucky enough to wake up, we have to choose which door to open to create our day and our attitude to the day. For some there may be more than 2 doors, but for most it’s 2 doors.

Now, close your eyes and think about when you woke up this morning and imagine that you had the choice of 2 doors? Think about what those doors looked like. Think about the design. Think about what they were made of. Take time to really picture the doors.

Was it a vintage oak door, or a plain, plywood door? Does your imagine include that lovely varnish smell, does it conjure a feeling of wanting to just admire the door, to touch the surface? Or is it just a plain door, a functional door that you just want to open?

Keep your eyes closed as you imagine opening the door. Do you feel excited in anticipation of what is beyond the door? Are you picturing what it could be? Could it be the best thing ever?

Or, are you just thinking – l just want to open the bl00dy door so I can get out of this room, and why has it taken over 500 words to the point of opening the damned imaginary door??

Okay, go on, open the door. Your door. The door that you have chosen.

What you you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you, will you, taste?

As I’m sure you have guessed, all of these things are your choice. Life’s what you make it.

How we deal with life, how we deal with the day ahead, is dictated – in the main – by our choice of which door we open when we wake up.

Do we choose the door which leads us to a day of our own creation? A day of fulfilment. A day of enjoying those special moments. A day which includes laughter. Of course, the day can involve challenges but we have a choice as to whether those challenges spoil our day or are just taken as part of life’s rich tapestry.

Or have we chosen the door which is the easiest to open? The door which looks like every other door? The door that we just go for because that’s just the way it is. When I say ‘we’ I include ‘me’ in there.

It’s easy isn’t it? Let’s go through the door. It’s just another day. The weather is naff. The dog needs walking in the naff weather. The traffic will be rubbish. Even if it isn’t rubbish, it will be. Work? (Note to any work colleagues reading this, I love my job. Great company, great people – so this please bear with me). Another day at work. Another day of a naff sandwich at work. And then, another drive home in naff weather in naff traffic. Get home, feed the cat and dog. Feed yourself. Walk the dog. Watch naff TV. Have a bath, or shower – if only the naff shower would work. Go to bed. Struggle to sleep. Get woken by the alarm and lay there wondering where those 2 bl00dy doors in your room have come from.

It’s about making the right choices isn’t it? The easy choice is to drudge through another day, or whether to bravely go into a day you can create.

I can think of both types of people and I know my natural leaning is not the way I want to be. It’s easy to go for default. But then I think of people I know who are a force of nature. One person, I don’t think sleeps and only has one door and that door leads through to a day of self creation. A day that will be fantastic. A day that allows for constant positive energy to flow, regardless of what obstacles are thrown in the way. A real role model.

Now, as a Yorkshire man, perhaps that kind of change would be a step too far. However, there are 2 doors.

Just think if the vintage oak door was the door of choice. It’s raining outside. Invigorating walk ahead with Ringo. A bit of traffic on the way to work. More time to listen to music and chat to my beautiful partner, all 4 foot 11 inches of her. Be grateful for the working day ahead and for the food you are able to eat. But opt for a salad not a sandwich. Drive home, same as the morning drive. Feed Ringo, Zeekee, and who ever happens to be at home with the food that we are all lucky to have. Walk Ringo, enjoying the surroundings, and then plonk in front of the TV to relax and watch whatever is on. How great is it to have 4,441 channels to choose from? A beautiful bath and back to bed.

Now, just think. If we could programme (yes, that’s how it’s spelt!!) ourselves to choice this door, within no time, there will only be 1 door to go through, the other will be removed overnight.

In essence, life is what you make it. It’s up to us. Programme that mindset of ‘it’s MY life’. Before tomorrow starts, let’s deal with today. Go on, open the door.


Life’s what you make it – 1st verse – what’s my age again?

Two song titles in one blog title. It’s the start of a decade and I feel fine. A play on another song title? What! That’s another one but let’s move on and let it be. Stop!!

Welcome, welcome to a new blog series from a View From The Ground. A new decade. A new start. A new, I’d like to think, positive spin on life as I see it. When I say positive, bear with me as I flip through some things that may touch on a sensitive nerve every now and again. But I hope you enjoy my look at life as I get ready to take another step closer to another significant birthday (a couple of years away yet but one that some serious preparation will be required).

Life is definitely what you make it. Let’s face it, we control our own destiny. We just don’t always recognise that we do. We allow something to control what we are doing or where we are going. It’s all in our mind. Does that make sense?

Let’s have a look. It’s obvious really. We worry about our family, our health, finance, employment, having somewhere to live, food, transport, clothes to wear, do I look fat in that – our in my case, what will make me look less fat, the weather, what do people think of me, why hasn’t someone significant to you made contact recently, when will the next series of Peaky Blinders be on, and so on.

We let important and not really important things control what we make of life. But, are we letting these things control us to the extend when we’re breathing our last breath thinking, what’s my age again?

Ultimately, we’re awake for about 17 hours a day. Or, as is my case 17 hours out of bed and another 2 hours in bed. What we do with that time is of our making, even the more worrying stuff.

Now, as is known, I’m a recovering misery. It’s funny when I reflect on the concept of being a recovering misery because, in reality, there are aspects of my personality that just portray me as being miserable. I’d actually call it more grumpy than miserable. Am I grumpy? Of course I am am! I get out of bed naturally grumpy. I’m grumpy about those people who can get out of bed not grumpy.

I’ll tell you one thing that makes me grumpy – spell check. Spell check? Spill cheque my aR53.

But I’m not miserable. No, I’m lucky. #TeamDurky make me feel incredibly lucky. Getting out of bed is a mind mess. Monday to Friday I’m out of bed at about 5.30am so that equates to grumpy. That I can get out of bed at all equates to lucky. Mind mess but life’s what you make it so you have to feel lucky. Surely?

I know when we start a new year people make resolutions which usual last days. However, I would have thought it better to have daily objectives. Create a situation where you commit to yourself to make the most of the day, even if it’s a day when you know the core part of it will be a sh!t storm of graft. If that’s the case, set an objective to do something good at the end of the day. Think of it as it being things that make you go hmmm. Look, another song title.

And, then there’s the things that make you laugh. Things that allow you to realise that inner child. Or things that just are plain daft. I’m lucky, it’s a requirement in #TeamDurky to be daft. There are days when I wonder if I need to grow up. Then, I think what’s my age again as I run down the road having grabbed the hat from Aud’s head.

We should all embrace the chance to be young again.

As many will know, I’m a keen Leeds Rhinos supporter. We have an awesome Tongan player, Conrad Hurrell. Every time you see him, he’s smiling. He posts videos of him leaping out on people, they walk away in shock whilst he collapses laughing. It’s brilliant to watch and fantastic to hear this big unit of a man laughing uncontrollably. Surely that is how we should all lead our lives.

What’s my age again? I don’t care. Most of the time.

I think we should make 2020 the year to let loose that concept of being ageless. Of being ourselves. Of taking control and truly believing that life is what you make it. Live for today, believing it’s my life, and when someone needs us then be there to talk talk.

The above paragraph is a heartfelt message whilst maintaining the theme in this blog of throwing in song titles.

And with that, I’ll close the first blog of the year and the decade. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and likes the new subject for 2020. I’m moving onwards and upwards. What’s being was yesterday. It’s time to let it be. I still dream of doing the book, of being a paperback writer. Until then we should all come together and treat this as a day in the life. A day in our life.

See you again.


The ramblings of a recovering misery – chapter 8 – Life’s just a smorgasbord

Smorgasbord – “A number of different things that are combined together as a whole.”

Or – “a type of Scandinavian meal, originating in Sweden, served buffet-style with multiple hot and cold dishes of various foods on a table.”

Things that make you go mmmmmmmm? Well, any blog that starts with some definitions of a smorgasbord should make you wonder what’s to follow. Will it be hot or cold? Will it be sweet or savoury? What will it be? Well, pop on the blindfold and take a leap of faith into the latest, unsuspecting, view from the ground.

And in view today is definitely a smorgasbord of the past, the present and a vision of the future.

It’s great to be alive. But, I know, for some, life is a real challenge. There’s a desire to feel that it’s a wonderful life but a great darkness descents that doesn’t allow the light of happiness to shine.

2020 really has to be the year when those who can light the torch to show the way for those who are absorbed in darkness do just that. We have a responsibility to reach out and hold the hands of those in need. It’s a tough life. At times, it’s a bloody tough life. But we should all stand alongside each other and be strong.

Easier said than done? Of course but, if one by one we believe that we can, we will succeed. Just start by thinking of a family member or friend who hasn’t been in touch. Give them a call. Check in with them. Start the process. Please.

Divorce. Now there’s an interesting subject. Don’t worry, this isn’t where I unleash the unleashable. That’s not for this communication channel, as I want this to be a happy place. But, is divorce the end of something, or permission to start something new? I choose the latter. Clearly, divorce means something wasn’t right in the past or someone wasn’t right. However, that being the case, divorce means the chance to start afresh – provided someone hadn’t already started that process whilst still married.

So, with a hop, a skip, and a jump, since separation I have been lucky enough to start my new relationship with The Wee One and the new life started then. And with the blessing of divorce comes the continuation of that new life.

That’s it. Over. Happy. And as 2019 comes to a close, the final reference in the blogs to that past life does so as well. Very appropriate that as the decade closes in which a smorgasbord of emotions have been experienced, I can close the book on the person who gifted me such a wonderful son and daughter – both blessings I am lucky to have in my life – and yet cause so much pain, anger and so many other emotions. Enough said.

And so, here we are in the now; the present. I sit here, hitting the keyboard to the sound of water dripping through my dining room ceiling.

Some would say it’s a message. To be fair, I have to agree. Things that happen in life give us messages that we need to see; to read. We shouldn’t ignore them. These messages are there for us all. We should be open to them.

So, I accept the message of water dripping through the dining room ceiling. Yes my friends. Let’s all stand and worship the message. Repeat after me – “Jon. You have a leaking pipe which should have been fixed. Jon, you need to call a plumber urgently to get it sorted”.

I feel better for accepting the message. But, sorry, I lost myself for a moment there. I almost went back to my old self.

But living in the present is so important. Looking around and being grateful for what we have – apart from a leaking ceiling. But, then, gratitude extends to that leaking ceiling being in the house which provides me with shelter. And the present does present (isn’t the English language weird. A word spelt the same but different meanings) itself in a smorgasbord of situations. And it’s a platter that is wonderful to enjoy every-time and anytime.

You could ask, is the present pre-sent? In other words, what has been planned in the past effects the course of what is happening in the here and now. Of course there are many occasions when that is the case. The list would be endless – a bit like my blogs.

But, let’s say, looking at your significant other and in that moment grabbing a hug and a kiss is more a case of celebrating the present. Celebrating how lucky and loved you feel in the moment. Releasing the feeling of love.

I know as I trip through the door out of 2019 into 2020 I will be looking at how I can ensure I celebrate the gift that the present is, and releasing the burden that dwelling on the past has been. Move on, move in, and move forward.

And then there’s the future. As a song goes, the future is ours. The future is certainly shaped by us. Accept the past for what it was. The wonderful memories. Many captured in pictures. Many captured in our hearts. Many the cause for countless conversations as we recall the fun, the love, the loving fun, the funny love, the moments that truly mattered.

With those memories that aren’t so good, accept that they happened. Many were out of your control. Many happened before you even knew they had happened. But, I for one, need to cease the opportunity that 2020 brings to stop dwelling on them. That said, as I’ve said before, I’m not a member of the forgive and forget club. Quite the opposite. So, whilst I will stop dwelling I won’t forget. Just saying.

The future is also shaped by how we embrace our present. I’d like to think this is something to focus on in 2020. The decade of reset, reboot, relaunch, and reenergise. What’s gone has gone, be it the good, the bad or the downright ex. The present gives us new opportunities, and the chance to remember what we also have around us and to truly love it. The future is ours. Let’s make it the best that we possibly can.

So, I close 2019 with heartfelt gratitude to each and every person in my life right here right now. Thank you for standing by me, particularly when the recovery from being a misery takes a dip. #TeamDurky and all that sail with us, my love is beyond words.

Take care. Here comes 2020 (or, on the basis I’ll keep reposting this, welcome to 2020).


The festive brambles of a recovering mistletoe (7) – peace is for life not just for Christmas

“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows.” – Edwin Osgood Grover

“As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.” – David Grayson

If there’s been one thing that has been a constant with the blogs and that is that I love a quote or two. Others are far better with words than I am. I thought I’d start this wall of words with a festive theme but accept not everyone celebrates at this time of year, so I hope you’ll read on anyway ………… please.

Welcome to brew from a round. Well I guess a few of us will partake in a couple of drinks to recognise the time of the year and those of us who are lucky enough, spend some time with family and friends. And, if you’re not drinking and just eating welcome to a stew from the round (pan). Sorry, I was struggling as I took a view from around. Enough! Let’s move on. I’ve been mirror man again.

Yes indeed, strangely reflective again with my mind wandering to wondering what me of, say, 5 years ago would make of me now.

Now, clearly I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve in the blogs so it’s clear there have been changes in my life. And then, as I reflected a song I was listening to – Only Son Of The Falling Snow by the magnificent Bears Den suddenly burst out with the lyrics – “Oh, the man that I was. And the boy that I have become” and BANG. Perfectly put even if I say so myself.

It’s all metaphorical to an extent. Aud would probably argue it’s not metaphorical as I wind Ringo’s extended lead around her. Or other such boisterous fun. The boy I’ve become.

It’s funny. I exchange notes with Ben. He’s worse than me. But he can be, he’s young.

Hang on, that’s the exact point I’m trying to make. As the song says, ‘the man that I was’.

There’s a time and a place to be a man. At work. When parental or partner duties are called upon. When I cut myself and I try not to yell. Then I have to be that man.

But, come on, release that young spirit. Be that boy (or girl). Maybe I’ve not taken the lyrics in the spirit as meant by Bears Den (you really do need to listen to them) but they fitted where by reflection was going.

I’d like to think old me would see new me and be impressed. Certainly me from 35 years ago would be incredibly impressed.

A learning has been to embrace the chances life throws at you. Grab the brick that has been thrown and use it to build your life – rather than see it as the destructive missile that was intended.

Learn to feel the love around you. To look into the eyes of those who are there for you and see their desire to be there for you, always. Take the key that has been gifted to you and unlocked the truly honest you.

Now some may get that chance and take a different path to the one I’ve chosen.

My wonderful family and friends have allowed me, when the chance arrives, to be that boy again. Bollocks to the man. He can put his suit on the next day.

This blog seems to have wandered off again. But I guess I’m just looking at how we need to let that child out every now and again. It’s ironic, as I am the grumpiest man I know but that does mean I don’t enjoy being daft. Come on, let’s be daft. It’s been a tough year.

And that swings me into what the purpose of the blog is – peace is for life not just for Christmas.

As regular visitors will know, I get angry. Injustice, inequality, needless poverty, these things get me angry and, other that bang on about them. There’s not a great deal I can do about them on an individual basis (now, I’m typing this section on the train and listening to Passing Strangers by Ultravox. Most people won’t know the track. I love it and there’s a particular piano bit where I hit by keyboard in a rather extravagant way and someone sitting near wondered what I was doing).

However, I get angry when I drive; at idiots in the local supermarket with their idiot trollies; at a takeaway not being ready on time; at loads of things. And it’s these things I can change. We all can. Think about what gets you similarly angry.

There are people who have made me angry. Now, I don’t subscribe to The ‘forgive and forget’ club. Nuts to that. Hurt my family. You’re in a different club. Or something to do with a club anyway. Those people are weak beyond words.

But, the learning here is not to give into anger. In reality the only person that it affects is you – and those around you. At Christmas we try and take a rain check from this anger. But just think if you could – and can – apply the philosophy of not letting that anger get to you. Just think how much better you would feel.

A few years ago I did a blog about overcoming road rage and for a while my strategy worked. Then, like any bad habit, it came back and like that proverbial brick, it smacked me right in the face and my hopes of building a life free of road rage swerved and turned my dreams over on their head.

So, let’s start again. My mission to wind my neck in and realise the only person getting wound up is me. And Aud, as she sits there cringing at the apparently recovering misery reckoning every other driver is stupid. And, if they’re not stupid they’re women. Actually, thinking about it ………………….. only joking.

But, again, it’s remembering peace is for life not just for Christmas.

It’s all those things that you try to remember at Christmas and then forget for the rest of the year.

Being friendly to strangers. Okay, I accept, I don’t do friendly to strangers very well and I think this needs to be a 2020 objective. I need to try and stop sitting on a train with my headphones in but no music on to avoid the random person sitting next to me striking up a conversation. I need to look up, not at the ground – a view of the ground, if you like – when walking passed people. Say hello, how are you, whatever. That might be the only friendly interaction that person has all day.

Toughest one is walking into working, smiling. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and I like the people I work with. I like walking into work. I’m just not a natural smiler – apart from at Christmas, just before I go on holiday, or at 5pm on Friday. So, here’s a challenge for 2020, smile on Monday. It’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life.

I could go on. I think we should all write a list of those things, those behaviours we try and change at Christmas. Then, as soon as the festivities are done, we revert to the old ways.

If we can do it at Christmas, we can do it at any time.

And, so I close again. I wish you peace and happiness at this time of year. In fact, no, peace is for life not just for Christmas. Have a happy life, please.