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.


Further ramblings of a recovering misery. No. 6 – #TeamDurky and other things that make me happy

“Family is the most important thing in the world.” – Princess Diana

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” – Walt Disney

Before I launch into another blog – so soon since the last one – let me just correct Mr. Disney and say a man or woman should never neglect their family for business. Things were a bit different when the original quote was given. I hope that deals with any raised eyebrows.

I enjoyed writing the last blog. It took a while to get the words out, but that’s how it rolls. I’m always hopeful that those who stumble on the blogs enjoy reading them. As I said in the last one, the reason for the blogs has changed significantly since their beginnings. I have to laugh that ‘View From The Ground ‘ started from a place where I didn’t belong. I’m a realist. I’m honest. But for a time I seemed to be caught in a fantasy world. But, thankfully, I found my wings and flew to safer ground – and, here I am.

So, welcome to another view from my grounded place. My chair. The place where I do reflect. I reflect a lot. Reflect on so many things. Reflect on the good, the bad, and the downright craziness of the world. Reflect on how the hell is BoJo Prime Minister of the U.K. This isn’t a political rambling because, in a reality, every leader of every political party in the U.K. is a complete muppet. But, BoJo? OMG!!!! Laughable in such a scary way.

Anyway, enough of that reflection because the mirror might crack so that bad luck may extend beyond the 5 years term of a U.K. government to 7 years. Maybe the foretelling of doom to the world by some may be true. I’d best get a taste for wild berries and strange mushrooms.

Now, as previous readers will know, I love my family. Really love my family. #TeamDurky. My everything. My reason to still be here. My reason to rise from the darkness and find my chair to soak up my view from the ground. I think those of us who are lucky enough to have family appreciate the importance of them.

We’re lucky to have each other. And there is rarely a day that goes by when I don’t give thanks to being with #TeamDurky. I’m lucky that The Wee One landed in Yorkshire and circumstances brought us together. A concentrated 4ft 11in of pure love. Unconditional love. Real unconditional love. No expectations. Help anyone.

Ben aka Big Lad. Not just a son. A best friend. Not just a best friend. So much more to #TeamDurky. And now complete, in a wonderful relationship with the equally wonderful Gaby. It’s great to see them together and it’s a joy to spend time in their company.

And, then there’s Liv. 4 months in Bordeaux, growing and developing with such strength. In the same way as Ben, not just a daughter. A best friend.

Those of us who have close family know the strength that brings. Of course, the family extends beyond those named above. For Aud, she has Eilidh and Liam.

There are the parents, brothers, the in-laws, the friends, the wider relatives. A celebration of the collective spirit. Did I say spirit? You know what I mean. It’s meant holistically.

I guess, the reflections here are about remembering that whilst strength comes from within, growth comes from realising that you can’t do it alone. Not always. You need to see and feel the strength that others bring.

Now, this is where I admit that I’m bloody minded. I’m the kind of person I criticise. Me? Criticise? I also admit to having a tendency to feel sorry for myself. Surely not? Surely, through the course of these blogs I’m just portraying myself as a gathering blast of growing positivity. Well, whilst that’s the direction I’m heading in, unfortunately poor me; impatient me; grumpy me still pops up and the recovering misery has to look up and accept he needs help.

Ben and Liv particularly have seen the poor me being exposed to the world. The stomping around the house, collecting dishes to wash, clothes to throw in the washing machine etc. Aud sees the grumpy me, in the car, in the kitchen over breakfast and so on.

And of course, it’s all about me, me, me.

Thankfully, slowly, the dawning of that blessed miracle of ‘just speak up and ask for help’ has started to seep through. But it’s a slow process. I could talk about why but that’s long gone.

That’s reason to be happy. I’m lucky. I hope you are too. I’m not bragging, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful that there is the collective of family and friends who are all there for each other. One person goes down, someone in the group gathers to sweep them up. So many examples of this beautiful spirit being shown.

You see, whilst #TeamDurky is those initially stated at its core, in reality it is all of us. Well, at least so, so many people have effectively connected with us. Family and friends are there. But also, I have seen and experienced wonderful contact through social media. People reaching out and just being their. Genuinely wonderful people.

I’m grateful to all of the genuine people who want to help and support others when their wings can’t fly. Those times when darkness reaches out in an effort to inflict injury to fuel its onwards misguided ego. But, thankfully, the strength of good will always win over and ensure the vulnerable are protected.

A bit deep? Sorry, some of #TeamDurky have had a hard time and I guess I’m angry. Move on!!!!! That’s as much a message to me as it is those who seek to keep on hurting.

I’d better close for now. It’s all good. In fact, it’s all phenomenal. In fact, it’s all phenomenally phenomenal. Just sometimes my grinch appears. And with that, I’m off. Run Forest, run!


The ramblings of a recovering misery – step 5. (Wishing) well being (happy)

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr. Seuss

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

There’s the old expression about if you’ve got nothing to say, say nothing at all. Well, I guess that’s been my last 4 months. The mine of words faceless. The wishing well with not one drop of inspiration, let alone perspiration.

I guess at the moment, it’s that place of being ready to step forward further with the sharing of this recovering misery but doing this whilst trying to format it in my jumbled mind so that it creates something worthy of reading and, in time, will create the bl00dy book I keep rambling on about.

So, I’m coming at this from a different perspective. I’ve written before about my perception of how our handsome dog, Ringo, sees the mess that we have created on the beautiful planet Earth. However, I want to explore in this blog how Ringo would interpret my efforts along this wonderful path of recovery.

And, with that, and a woof and a bark, welcome to the view from the hound. And, as if to speak on behalf of Ringo – the following quote sums up his and every dog’s outlook on life. “Live everyday like it’s your last day on earth” – Unknown

So, let’s let Ringo take the lead, harness his energy, and take a paws for his reflections.

Woof, growls, bark, pant, pant, pant, bark.

Or, as an alternative, here’s my interpretation of how Ringo sees it all.

Ringo worries. I see it in his eyes. He worries about a lot. Although that, of course, is my interpretation of what his eyes are saying. What he might be thinking is ‘food?’ Or ‘walk?’ Or better still, ‘food and walk?’

But, I think he worries.

Ringo likes to watch TV. It’s mainly football that he likes, but he’ll watch anything. The good news is, he doesn’t understand a word of the clap trap that he hears unless, somewhere in the clap trap, food or walk is mentioned. Then he gets happy at the prospect. But, if he hears Brexit he doesn’t flinch. He does worry when he hears NHS when spoken by Boris Nonsense, sorry, Johnson. He recognises the lies that spout forth from his mouth, as he looks at him in the same way he does me when I tell him anything I’m eating is too spicy. You see, dogs are wiser than anyone of us.

But, when he sees the news, his filter stays on food, walk, and love. Yes, love is, of course, his biggest thing. And, of course, something that feels missing from this toxic planet that we have created.

Imagine a world governed by dogs. There would be food for everyone. There would be endless walks. And there would be continuous love. The only bit that would need some control is licking, bottom sniffing and boundless humping. That’s something to deal with. Or, come to think of it, maybe not. Although bottom sniffing should be banned. But the idea of being able to pee everywhere is great!

Anyway, back to love. That’s what Ringo wants to see and it’s certainly what he gives.

When you think about the way any dog looks at life, it’s to give and receive love. That’s it – love. If it was a dog government, the sole manifesto objective would be to have a world full of love. To create a world of positive well being. Just imagine.

However, just imagine a world full of egotistic creatures who want only one thing and that is to further their own agenda at the detriment of the many. And I’m not referring to a government of cats. No, my friend, that is the world we live in. Whilst Ringo sits looking at the TV, he hears me ranting in the background about how people are being mugged off by the lies that our politicians throw out time and time again.

However, Ringo knows. He knows I’m trying to learn from him.

When I started writing blogs a few years ago, I was in a strange place. A place where I didn’t belong. I know that now, but I had to try it to understand I didn’t belong there. There are those who live in that place who I have utmost respect as I see they dream of creating a better world for everyone. Then, there are others in that place who use it for darker means and are driven by the ego they claim to be against.

My blogs then turned a bit dark – sorry. I look back and realise, as I wear my heart on my sleeve, I unleashed a side of me that is a continuing battle. I struggle with lies and deceit. I wish Ringo had been around at the time to teach me to live for the day and love what I have, and not reveal any anger or bitterness.

Thankfully, I have since tried to move into a place of sharing my learning and telling a story that reveals something simple. We can all do it. We can all just revel in the day that we have just woken up to. We can take ownership for that day – probably more the way a cat would – “Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown. That’s how I see a cat working. Certainly our cat, Zeekee, does.

But, do this with the unconditional love that a dog does – in my / our case, Ringo. And when I watch Ringo, and other dogs such as Aud’s dog, Susie, I have real envy. They see the world in a very straight way. But, to an extent, that takes me back to my childhood, when I guess I had to see the world in a very straight way. My world was uncluttered. Is it dry outside – go out and make my own entertainment (with friends). Is it too late to go out? Sit with my parents and watch TV with 3 channels to choose from, and the news was restricted to twice a night, not 24 / 7.

And, so the blogs I have written over the last couple of years have been to try and present an uncluttered world and one which we can try and live for the day. I have tried to look at ways of raising happiness from the wishing well of your life. Sounds a bit gushy? I hope not, I’d just like to raise a smile.

I think Ringo approves, although maybe that’s because I gave him a treat – and, no, it’s not sniffing my bottom.

With that, let’s close this blog. I hope it made for a good, slightly surreal, read. I’m not sure when I’ll be back. It could be days, it could be weeks. I hope you don’t mind.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it.

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

Here’s a few words from Frank: –

“We all come from an explosion in the sky

One day there was nothing and the next there was life

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

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

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

A fake safety that no one believes in

And if it goes against who you think you are

It’s the death of happiness

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

Take care and always be yourself.