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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So welcome to a clearer view of the ground ahead.

Clearer? Yep, I’d say so. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon

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Lemon meringue pie for your soul

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

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

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

Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care.

Jon

See. Sea. Si!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care out there. It’s raining!

 

Jon

 

 

 

 

Love to listen aka taxi for #Duke

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

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

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

Welcome to an inspired blog from the passenger seat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jon

Where is the love. The love? The love! ❤️

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“What’s wrong with the world, mama. People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas. I think the whole world addicted to the drama. Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma.” – Where is the love. The Black Eyed Peas

“And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” – Backroads – Lonely The Brave

Welcome to Top Of The Pops; A View From The Ground style. Welcome to 2018. Welcome to an uncontrollably energetic launch into the New Year.

In the charts today, we’ve got a look at why the blog has started with not one, but 2 excerpts from songs (including one of my all time favourite lines). We’ll look at why View From The Ground will carry on reGarDLess (typo!). And we will look at what we want to focus on in 2018.

Okay, I’m knackered now after a quick burst of energy. Let’s sit back in our favourite chair and breathe. It’s January; it’s windy (the weather) and we have a magnificent year ahead. Well I am keen to launch into the year with a focus on making it the best year yet. Are you?

Do you know that feeling when you’re just about ready to start afresh. You’re excited, you’re ready to go and then whoosh, someone starts a drama. An attempt to have the spotlight firmly fixed on them. Do you know that feeling? So, how do we respond? At the end of the day, we have a choice. Accept a role in the drama, forgetting our own storyline. Or, remain in our own story and to ignore the drama as it’s not our’s to act out.

Surely we should choose the latter. I believe as a general statement we should all choose to remain in our own stories, unless stepping into someone else’s will enhance their story and, in turn, our own. Does that make sense?

Throughout society there are situations that are being created where our natural instinct is to get involved in something we don’t need to. Something where we forget what page we are at in our own story. And, by actually getting involved in this separate drama, can we actually effect its outcome anyway? Probably not.

For 2018, I choose to leave the drama to those who seek it. Leave it to those whose life is perhaps so empty the way they can fill it is by creating drama. Good luck to them. I hope it brings fulfilment and happiness.

Homemade soup – that brings me fulfilment and happiness.

So, back to the Top Of The Pops. Two song lyrics referenced. Why, oh why? 2 reasons – I like the songs, and they have relevance to the blog. Actually, as I’ve said above “And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” is one of my favourite ever lines from a song. An awesome song anyway but such a simply wonderful lyric.

Where is the love? I have actually written a blog previously with those words in the title but it feels so appropriate again. So much anger in the world; so much blame in society; so much nonsense spoken. Surely, the start of a new year gives a chance for us all to concentrate on our own lives and, where possible, enhance – truly enhance – other people’s lives, but only in the context of their own story.

All of a sudden, by doing the right thing, we’ll find there is the love. The love!

And at Number 2 on Top Of The Pops – the future state of View From The Ground. I certainly intend to carry on publishing blogs, even for 1 reader. This isn’t an ego thing. It’s a passion to lift people and hopefully bring a smile. As I said in a recent blog, perhaps some blogs had become a little, let’s say, pointed. Always for good reason and not written with the intent of being ‘personal’. The blogs were a reflection of circumstances and to help the reader to understand the journey that #TeamDuke, now #TeamDurky, had been on.

However, I want to use the blogs to bring that smile and to hopefully help others. As I said, if that is one person, then I see that as a result. I will be a rich man emotionally. Well, I am anyway, emotionally, as part of #TeamDurky.

Just one word of advice, if you access the blogs from Facebook, they will only be available in the View From The Ground page and my own page (and those I tag). It would appear other options have taken flight for View From The Ground. I guess the blogs aren’t cryptic enough.

And, the top of the Pops for 2018 is where the blogs will go this year and what the focus will be. To be honest, the blogs will be as they were last year – when something pops into my head, which can be committed to writing, it appears as a blog. I’m not sure what regularity they will be and I can’t predict the content.

Aside from the blogs, these bl00dy books need doing. They are both works in progress. I’m really excited about them both but I need to sit in a darkened room, or on a sunny balcony, to get the work moving. The fictional book keeps changing shape and needs to be committed to an initial storyboard. The characters are pretty much mapped out. The finish and start and finish (when it comes out that will make sense) are committed. Let’s see where it goes.

The book based around the blogs needs developing. I keep changing its format, so watch this space. It’s looking like ‘a year of in the life of’ meets ‘rebuilding your life’ type of thing. Positive thinking and other such cliches 😀.

So, there is the love. Where is your love? Why? Find your love first and everything grows from there.

I started with some song lyrics and I’ll finish with a Swedish proverb – “Those who wish to sing always find a song”.

More from the #TeamDurky Centre as it comes through. You never know when that might be.

Take care and enjoy your story. It will make a good read.

 

Jon

 

A memory jar (and a Happy New Year from #TeamDurky)

 

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‘Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live’ – Anne Sweeney

And so it came to pass, another year draws to a close and the anticipation of a new year swoops in. Anticipation and excitement for another year. A new year. A year to start again? Hopefully, more a case of a year to build on what you have achieved so far. But, also with ‘new’ comes a chance to move on from the old stuff which you have, perhaps, allowed to hold you back?

Welcome to the final view from the ground of 2017. What a roller coaster of a year for blogs 2017 has been. From dark to light. From light to murky. From murky to shining to dark and, now, the brightest of light.

I saw a great quote from the magnificent book by John C Parkin and Gaia Pollini – F**k It Therapy – ‘If you accepted that life is a rollercoaster, could you enjoy the whole ride’.

I kind of wish I’d seen that quote at the start of 2017 as I could have buckled up and given all to enjoying the whole ride. The daft thing is, I will have seen the quote at some point as I’ve read the book. It’s brilliant – f**k it!

But, as 2018 gets ready to unleash it’s morning glory on us, we can decide – do we want to have a year of living in an oasis of the highs, or a year of just sitting there, on the rollercoaster, loving the highs but, also, as the ride goes into a dip preparing for the next exciting rise because the next one will be even better than those already ridden. Does that make sense?

Now, here’s a thought. How about capturing those highs but writing them down. What was the high? Why was it a high? Who were you with? How did you feel?

That idea comes from a wonderful present to me and the Wee One, from Gaby. A memory jar, which is to be used throughout the year to capture those wonderful moments. The idea is, at the end of the year, open the jar and relive those memories. Our intention is that the jar will pop open like a bottle of champagne as it will be so full.

What a wonderful, thoughtful gift and one that already has memories placed in it.

It made me wish I had a memory jar for 2017. As I’ve written before, it’s been a year of magnificent change. Well, let’s face it, #TeamDuke has transformed into #TeamDurky with a detour into #TeamRingo. It could be termed as an emotional and spiritual revolution. The relationships, concerts, laughter, work, University, laughter, BrewDog discovery, finding a love for Scotland, Rugby League, dog, laughter, and so on.

What about your year? As you reflect, has it been everything you wanted it to be?

I find Facebook fascinating, as so many of us tell all about our significant life events. So, I guess that can also feel like an on-line memory jar. I love reading other people’s good news stories or looking at celebratory pictures. I know there are some that find Facebook over the top. Well, we all have 2 choices in life – embrace it or walk away from it. Simple. I accept, perhaps, I share more than the average bear (Yogi) but it’s fun. And,I suppose I have found real enjoyment in celebrating so many wonderful memories.

Here’s a challenge for 2018 – let’s start a revolution from our beds. Let’s take that look from our faces, and stop looking back in anger. Let’s not look back in anger, but instead celebrate the present and look forward to the future.

Again, just think about life being a rollercoaster ride. The one caveat of course is, if you are scared of rollercoaster rides perhaps find another ride – or even, think of a swing. There’s ups; there’s downs. But you can guarantee, if you enjoy your time on the swing equally you’ll be a lot happier.

So, here we go, here we go into 2018. Let’s open the door to a new year. A year which is an even number – YEY! A year in which one of #TeamDurky has a significant birthday. We all have a responsibility to make it the best year yet. Is that a big challenge? I’d say it’s up to us. Do we want to rise to the challenge? Come on!

So, there you go. The last blog of a quite beautiful year. The cast has been immense and certainly too many to mention. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been there with #TeamDurky. I hope you know who you are. We are very lucky to have such wonderful family and friends and we will never take that for granted.

We would like to wish you all a massive Happy New Year. May 2018 bring you love, laughter, peace, happiness and fulfilment.

 

Love

 

#TeamDurky aka Jon, Audrey, Ben, Liv, Gaby, Ringo, Zeekee

 

 

 

FORK IT! THE CHOICE IS YOURS

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“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” – George Orwell

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

Happy – ‘delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.’

Fork it! You’re at the point in your world, that a new road must be sought. What do you? Collapse in a heap at the road from which you have been force? Or bravely step onto the new, unknown road ahead. Fork it!

Welcome again to the continued progression of #TeamDuke alternatively recognised as their 2018 rebirth, #TeamDurky.

Yes, given the development of #TeamDuke in 2017, as we prepare for the next year I think it only appropriate, like the good Dr. Who, to gently close the door on the year and to then fling it open for the New Year in our new guise.

As I always say, I write these blogs with a positive heart and with the intention to motive, raise a smile and give some hope. Some blogs hit the right note. The last, Sixteen Minutes To Three, missed the target so apologies for that. It’s a learning and something I will monitor. Perhaps too many blogs (he says whilst writing another). As we get close to the end of the year, I guess they will slow down naturally.

Anyway, thank you for joining me and the team. Lots of talk about Christmas at the moment. How different (hopefully) things look this year. We are hopeful not to be joined by the police this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Not of our making may I add. Let’s leave it there. I’m sure those responsible will neither be reading this or care how truly damaging their actions were. And, that comment is not restricted to the main characters either. And, before there is any accusations of bitterness or being emotionally damaged, really????? Just think about it.

But, then I’d better be careful what I wish for. Life is good and I’m ever so grateful for that.

This week is a hell of a music week. Between me, Ben, Audrey, Eilidh and Liam we are seeing The Killers, Enter Shikari, Royal Blood, and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. If I’m to be honest, I am lucky enough to see all of these bands.

We all love our music – including Liv and Gaby (although, a bit of work is needed about Craig David 😀).

Music is the ‘luxury’ we allow ourselves. No posh meals; extravagant label clothing; £400 million pictures. But, a few belting concerts – yes. I call it creating memories. I look back on my life and some of my best memories revolve around music. And, that is definitely the case this year.

I know I’ve talked about the beauty of music in previous blogs, but it is such a key part of our lives. I guess we all have memories where we can instantly relate a piece of music to it – good memories and not so good. But mainly good. There are some songs that come to the radio and we instantly change to another channel. I can think of a few.

It’s nice that Audrey and I are already creating a playlist when we talk – with songs that have become special to us in our first year together. Songs like Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, and Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. Listen to the lyrics. They are effectively my thank you to Audrey for what she means to me. Simple as that.

I know we are lucky to see so many amazing artists and bands, and we are all truly grateful.

But this week has also re-emphasised the strength of #TeamDuke / Durky. With this highs there come the balancing lows which, this time last year, would have sent us into a bit of a spiral. Nothing significant, but our usual reminder of the Poor Me concept in play. However, I am so proud of Ben and Liv in their resilience and strength to rise above the challenges.

So, just fork it. Do you choose the path of being happy, or at least trying to be, or the path of feeling sorry for yourself?

As I hope you know, when #TeamDuke arrived at the fork – without asking to be there – but we chose the road, the path, of being happy. Some days are a challenge but or key wish is to be happy. And to share that happiness.

I think another of our learnings – as I have spoken about before – is to talk. Talk about the good, the bad, and the downright ugly (no, not me!). We get it all out so that we can then celebrate the good, plan how to work through the bad and, when appropriate, hope the mirror up to the ugly.

Now, when I say ‘hold the mirror up to the ugly’ I don’t say that with humour. However, sometimes the best way to deal with someone who creates an ugly situation is to hold the mirror up, to let them see what is reflected back at them.

Just think about it. Rather than reacting with anger, to respond by responding by allowing the source of the ‘ugly’ to see what their actions or comments look like. Let them stand in your shoes. Let them reflect on the effects of their actions and, hopefully, see why those actions are wrong.

Ultimately, the choice is theirs and I would hope they would choose to fork it and do the right thing.

Thankfully the good outweighs the bad and the ugly by a long way. We celebrate everyday having each other. We are grateful for the opportunity that life has given us. We are thankful to wake up every morning and for being us.

So, as the songs go: –

Thank you for the music
We are family
You’ve got a friend
Talk talk
Something just like this
Love is all around us
I wish it could be Christmas every day

Now, that last one is a lead into what will be the last blog ………………. of the year. Or maybe, who knows?

Anyway, that’s due mid-December. So watch out for #TeamDurky; feeling perky, acting quirky and looking forward to turkey (with vegetarian options available).

Take care and don’t forget – when you have to make that choice – FORK IT!

 

Jon