Communication won’t let me down again. True!

C1F0A87C-D525-4F1B-8E1D-D050B8AEBDFB

“No one can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody” – unknown 

“All I know time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day. The clock ticks life away” – Linkin Park

Such beautiful words from an awesome band. So sad the loss of the inspirational Chester Bennington and, I guess, there’s the starting point for the latest View From The Ground.

I’ve just had 3 wonderful days at the Leeds Festival with Ben and Audrey (the plans are for Liv to come along, for at least part of it, next year). And, I’d better not forget that Gaby and her friend Emma made a welcome appearance. 

It’s such an amazing experience being at the Festival. A feast of music of the highest order.

It’s great to see the age range expanding at the Festival. It’s the 14th Ben and I have attended, and Audrey’s 4th, I think.

It’s incredible to be amongst over 70,000 people united by music – of so many genres. Rain or shine, and it did both, the crowds gather together to bounce along and around like nothing else matters. And for those few days it doesn’t.

It was very poignant this year as Sum 41 we’re playing. The very first band that I took an 8 year old Ben to see. 15 1/2 years ago, we still remember his excitement, tinged with slight nervousness about whether it was going to be too loud 😀. Still a beautiful memory.

And on the same day, Mike Shinoda was playing – of Linkin Park fame, the first headliner Ben and I saw at the Leeds Festival in 2003. 

As I’ve already referred to, the wonderful Chester Bennington was lost to his family, friends, band mates and the world of music in such sad circumstances. So, when Mike sang In The End, accompanied by the thousands in the crowd it was a highly emotional time. So, so sad.

However, an added bonus of the day, and Festival was when Mike joint Sun 41 for an energised version of Linkin Park’s classic, Faint.

But, it’s the loss of Chester Bennington that has prayed on my mind. A man with everything, but everything was not enough to stop him taking his own life.

Of course, Chester is one of too many who feel that they can not deal with their troubles and sadly decide to take the worse possible option – and one from which there is no second choice, unless the person is lucky and found before it is too late.

We all read of too many tragedies like this and I’m always left wondering what we can do to help people before it is too late.

I know I’ve written about it before but I really believe that talking is such an important release of the poison that can effect our minds. I’m not saying this is the solution to all ills, but I’m just throwing it out there was a possibility.

In the last blog I wrote about my concerns about 24 / 7 news. I really worry at how that poisons the mind. Just today, in the U.K. news there’s trouble brewing with Russia; The Trump was internal battles – I mean with his people, not his inability to be rational; a beautiful BBC presenter has lost her battle with the evil that is cancer at the age of 40; restaurants might have to put the calorie count on their menus (WHAT? We kind of know that a cream based dish is going to add a few pounds); and Brexit is just a pain in the ar5e. 

And then we wonder why people are perhaps struggling. Finances are tough, global warming is paraded before us, terrorism looms. And then, you walk throw your nearest city – there are more and more people sleeping on the streets; more high street shops are closing; security bollards are erected to stop the evil of terrorism and so on. 

It is enough to get you down, but let’s not forget. We woke up this morning – the greatest gift of all. That’s a starting point to celebrate. 

Everything else we see, read, feel, experience is secondary. But, where they become a threat to our daily life, we shouldn’t hide from them. We should talk them out.

In respect of many of what I have highlighted, in reality what can we do about them – individually. Yes, we should be vigilant against terrorism; we should be environmentally conscious in relation to the planet; we should try and help those on the street – starting with food, drink, conversation, inclusion, and moving on to speaking up and getting the government to do more (that’s more that what has recently been announced in the U.K.). 

But, what can we do about Russia? What can we do about The Trump? In the U.K., what can we do to stop Teresa May dancing?

And, let’s not forget, those bl00dy restaurants who put calories on the menu. Let’s compete with our dining companions and select the meal with the most calories. Stick it to them. Down with celery sticks and up with mozzarella sticks. Down with salad and up with steak with peppercorn sauce, triple cooked chips and lots and lots of lard!

Of course, I say the above with my tongue placed firmly in my food filled cheek.

Let’s talk talk and talk some more. As they say a problem shared is a problem ……………… shared. But, I guess we all worry. We all carry some concern for things. But let’s reach out and don’t let lack of communication let us down.

And, so, this is where I will in fact stop talking. For now. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I really appreciate that people take the time to drop in on the blogs. I hope you enjoy them. They always come with the disclaimer of never meaning to fend and apologies for the typos. This one is been finished on a train journey from London.

Take care.

Jon

A. Young. Mind. (Please read and share 😀)

A796524D-AFCD-4D58-BE39-0F746F40B038

“Together with open conversations and greater understanding, we can ensure that attitudes for mental health change and children receive the support they deserve.” – Kate Middleton

“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” – Adam Ant

And a great big welcome to another view from the ground. Another day, another bonkers news story. 

Imagine a world where your only exposure to news was TV news twice a day and / or your easy to read broadsheet newspaper. Imagine! 

Well that’s the world I grew up in. Three TV channels – news at 1 pm (when I was at school) and 9,00 pm on the BBC, at the legendary 10 o’clock news on ITV with the infamous chimes of Big Ben at the start.

I chose – or more a case, my mum and dad chose what I watched. And, once a TV channel was selected, that’s what you watched. To change it you had to get up and change the channel on the TV.

As for newspapers, any look at them was at the weekend AFTER dad had read them. And then, in the main, it was a quick look at the Sports news.

How did we fill our days? Not a 1,000 channels to wade through; no 24 / 7 news; no PS4 or whatever; NO social media or internet; no raving bonkers world leaders …………………….. well, let’s take a rain check on that one.

And, so, we walk unaided into what I want to explore in this wall of words. It’s something that I have written about before but, I’ve been inspired to raise this again. Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. 

Of even greater concern is 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

If you don’t believe me, have a look at www.mentalhealth.org.uk, the source for my information.

It’s incredibly worrying and it’s something which needs dealing with and, certainly, an issue where awareness needs raising. 

And this is where a brilliant group of young folk, including Audrey’s wonderful daughter, Eilidh, are looking to get involved. To raise awareness of the challenge that is faced by children and young people with facing up to the real life problems that they face every day.

Eilidh and her group have embarked on the NCS programme. For those that don’t know, NCS (National Citizen Service) is a phenomenal UK initiative aimed at 15 to 17 years-old to build skills for work and life. Over 400,000 young people have already signed up. Thanks to government backing (yes, the U.K. government have done something good), the maximum cost to participate is £50, depending on a person’s circumstances.

NCS exists to help tackle some of the biggest social challenges in the U.K. 

Social cohesion – to bring the U.K. together by building stronger, more integrated communities and fostering understanding between young people from different backgrounds. 

Social mobility – to build essential skills for life and work, investing in future talent.

Social engagement – to engage young people in social action in their communities and the democratic process, building their understanding of their responsibilities as citizens.

Yes all of the above information is courtesy of the NCS website – https://www.ncsyes.co.uk. If you’re interested, take a look. Liv did the programme a few years ago and I can’t speak highly enough about it – and those who work with the participants.

Anyhow, back to the purpose of the blog. Eilidh and her group. One of the pieces of work the participants need to complete, in their group, is to undertake a project which contributes to their community. They have selected to raise awareness about mental health issues faced by children and young people. They are planning to raise money to donate to the local MIND branch in Harrogate who do such magnificent work with those who need somewhere to go for support, guidance and understanding. 

When I heard what they were looking to do I could only look and admire.

As stated on the mental health website, the emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That’s probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up. Think back to my above observation about the ways I could access world news when I was young.

Mostly things that happen to children don’t lead to mental health problems on their own, but traumatic events can trigger problems for children and young people who are already vulnerable.

I have a real belief that the ability to access news 24 / 7 can contribute to the worry that then adds to a potentially vulnerable mind. Social media is a window to all kind of wonderful information and new friends but it can also be the edge of a precipice for someone who is low on confidence and open to on-line bullying, or worse.

Think about the nonsense that is being trotted out at the moment by Donald Trump in the USA and Boris Johnson in the U.K. Think about the poisonous effect that their words have on people. Their words are splashed over every possible media outlet, with the beliefs of the writer included. Hate, worry, hate, worry. It can eat at the mind if care and balance isn’t brought in. 

And then life changes can take effect – moving home or school. Some start school feeling excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but there may also be some who feel anxious about entering a new environment. 

Teenagers can also often experience emotional turmoil as their minds and bodies develop. An important part of growing up is working out and accepting who you are. Some young people find it hard to make this transition to adulthood and may experiment with alcohol, drugs or other substances that can affect mental health.

There is so much that children and young people see these days that just seems worse than I remember. It can breed true anxiety.

Homelessness – on the streets of every major city. Could it be me?

Terrorism – Manchester, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London to name just a few. Could that have been me?

Brexit – so little is understood. And that’s just by the idiots negotiating on our behalf!

Illness – everything we do, eat, drink could cause us harm?

That’s just a few things but we need to wake up, stand up, look and be ready to help. It’s real!

So, the call to arms by Eilidh and her NCS group (including the also wonderful, and smiley, Tash) is magnificent. 

But, they need you! If you want to help by sponsoring a walk they are doing in onesies, enter a raffle to win a rather nice prize, or fund other ways to contribute and in turn support MIND, read on.

The idea with the sponsored walk and raffle is to raise money to then hire Everyman cinema in Harrogate for 2 films and the profits go direct to the fund raising efforts, i.e. MIND.

I can hear the screams of ‘how can I donate?’. Bless you – you can either do this by their Instagram page – @harrogatecinemind, or drop me an email to jonlduke@icloud.com and I’ll put you in contact.

This is an inspirational initiative and I really hope it receives the support it deserves.

Thank you.

 

Jon

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

628B7683-0796-4193-98AB-D51A9E84476E

“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

Lemon meringue pie for your soul

3DEE0345-EB49-42EB-9503-A6EC923E6A97

“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

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

 

img_3407

‘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

 

 

 

Sing for the moment

IMG_2830

“How can you see into my eyes like open doors? Leading you down, into my core. Where I’ve become so numb, without a soul. My spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold. Until you find it there, and lead it, back, home.” – excerpt from Bring Me To Life, Evanescence.

Think of a significant time in your life and, more often than not, a song or a piece of music can be associated with it. The magic of music. There are many times when I hear a song and it invokes a memory, and then there are other times when I think of a memory and it invokes the sound of a song.

And, so we start to rummage through another bag of words in the shopping trolley full of #TeamDuke goodies.

You will have noticed, I hope (if you’ve read previous blogs) I like to plough the fields and scatter the occasional seeds of songs from the past. Obsessed in music? Well it’s better than being lost in music. Although, don’t get caught in a trap as there will be no turning back and you, will then, be lost in music.

What in the name of Sister Sledge am I on about?

For the discerner ‘View From The Ground’ blog reader (note, the use of singular), you will have noticed a music connection with a lot of the recent ramblings that have been posted – in no specific order: –

Thinking back over the years with Ben and Liv, there are specific songs, or CDs, that invoke wonderful memories. For many, many years, Ben came with me to pick up our Friday night take away and 2 CDs stick in my mind – by Evanescence and Eminem. We listened to them endlessly – I can even pick certain parts of the journey – and that feeling of complete contentment – after all of these years (don’t get me wrong, Ben still comes with me for the take away when he’s at home. We just walk, talk, and take Ringo now as I we have local take away now). But, the power of music is incredible.

I know there are certain songs that, if we allow it, can bring through certain sad memories. It’s up to us whether we want to allow that. For some, it can be cathartic. For some, it may be an opportunity to release emotion and surely that can be good. However, I choose music as a route to remember happy events; to think about those who are special in my life; that just make me smile. I’ve now got a ‘Sing for the moment’ playlist. Maybe a compilation album to accompany the book.

But, it’s those specific songs that are just so perfect. I always remember a couple of years ago when Ben put a CD together for me for my birthday. A CD where all of the songs had a meaning. Bands such as Sum 41 – the first gig I took Ben to when he was 8 years old. He’s 23 now and been to over 100 gigs and 25+ festivals. There was Fire by Kasabian – that song brings back incredible memories of a Leeds Festival from a few years ago. Me and Ben, bouncing around in wellies like nothing else mattered. Magic! And, then there’s the song that reduced me to tears Hero by Foo Fighters. I’ll say no more.

And then there’s songs that always make me think of Liv. I remember the first time Liv saw Green Day live – at Wembley stadium. The look on her face when they hit the stage to 21st Century Breakdown. It will stay with me. Pure excitement.

Liv and I have done some concerts together. The Fray in Manchester. Liv has always said she feels uncomfortable in crowds and yet, for The Fray she pushed us towards the front. It’s the power of being able to escape; to feel part of something that music can bring. That a great band / artist can bring.

Music can also help with those ‘dark’ moments. Last year, Liv and I spent a lot of time in the car together and Biffy Clyro were a regular on the CD selection. The song ‘Medicine’ was played over and over again as we sang our hearts out. Some quite appropriate lyrics for the occasion – ‘I shouldn’t waste my time. Having you around. What was up’s gone down. You take your road and I’ll take mine. I was done talking but I still couldn’t sleep’. The singing was a real help, even though it was tinged with tears at times. No for me, for Liv and how she was at that time. We still sing it but, now, there’s a sparkle.

The music runs through us like blood. It’s very rare that there isn’t music being played. And, when the mood takes us, we sing for the moment.

And, since Audrey stepped on board #TeamDuke, more musical memories have been created.

I heard ‘Something just like this’ by Chainsmokers and Coldplay and I could immediately relate it to me and Audrey and what our relationship represented. I messaged Audrey about the song and I was overwhelmed by the underwhelming response. How could “Where do you wanna go. How much do you wanna risk? I’m not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts. Some superhero, Some fairytale bliss. Just something I can turn to. Somebody I can kiss. I want something just like this.” miss the spot.

But, the lightbulb moment struck and the same realisation swept in that struck me. What we have is just perfect ……….. for us. We’re perfectly matched in every way. What we have is special but, to someone else, it maybe looks like a case of ‘what’s all the fuss about’. And that’s just the point and so it us with all beautiful relationships – there’s no superhero involved but it’s perfect for it to be something just like this.

As #TeamDuke we have been blessed to enjoy some wonderful gigs and Festivals. Incredible memories have been created which can never be taken away. Those moments of balling out classic songs – Basket Case – Green Day; Gold – Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet); Don’t You Want Me – Human League; Mr Blue Sky, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone, etc – ELO; Wonderwall – Liam Gallagher; Fire – Kasabian; sing For The Moment – Eminem; Heaven – Psychedelic Furs. The list could go on. The other awesome bands. I think 70+ bands seen so far this year. So lucky.

One highlight in amongst was Green Day, when they sang Still Breathing. This is a song that became the #TeamDuke anthem at the start of the year – ‘’Cause I’m still breathing. ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way away. ‘Cause I’m still breathing. ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way, away’ (Green Day). Love it!

Music and the importance of singing for the moment, getting lost in that music. It can never be under estimated. I have imprinted on my mind such stunning memories. I also have songs that I can listen to which can invoke great memories.

I hope it is the same for you. I hope this blog gives the opportunity to sit back and think about, and then to find that song and you can then just drift away, for the moment.

 

And, so there we have it. Time to the close another trip with the good people onboard the #TeamDuke ship. Or, have we being doing the equivalent of runnin’ down the avenue? If we have, I hope the sun has being shining brightly (sorry, had to close with a final song reference).

Strangely, during a recent morning walk with Ringo, I managed to change the title of the planned book 3 times. I think I have now landed where I want to be, which, ironically (and I love a bit of irny bru), is right back with a previous title idea. Watch this space. I am kind of buzzing about the book process. Having got the title locked in, that has lead on to a few structural changes. One thing I would love to do is use some of the wonderful comments about the #TeamDuke blogs. Of course, I will need permission to use them – so, if you get a request through, please be kind 😀.

Take care in these days of world leaders name calling. Bizarre. Maybe they need to just sit down and put on some good music.

For now,

 

Jon

#TeamDuke, the journey aka don’t stop believing

IMG_2795.JPG

“Let’s make this the best year yet” – Me and then Ben, and then Liv!!!! – 01 January 2017 and beyond.

Hold on to that feeling, indeed.

Welcome to #TeamDuke taking a view from the 2017 ground to date. This follows on from the latest blog. Well, I wouldn’t call it a blog. ‘Ben speaks’ was so much more. Truly heartfelt words which, in reality, should never have needed to be written.

“Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family”.

You know what, I’ve started nearly all of this year’s blogs with a quote. So, let’s shake it up.

“Where do animals go when their tails fall off? ………………………. The retail store”

Perhaps, I’ll stick to the quotes.

As those close to me, I like to reflect. In fact, anyone who has the misfortune to enter into any kind of conversation with me will know I like to reflect. Perhaps I should do a blog – Mirror Man. Hold that thought.

But, for a whole host of reasons, I have been reflecting on 2017, and unlike my reflection in the mirror, it made me smile.

Strangely enough, Ben was commenting about how good things are and how we are now at a point where, if we look back over, let’s say, a year, we can see development. We are also at a place of enjoying the day and looking forward. Such words are music to my ears and emphasised why it is important that you don’t stop believing and that you certainly should hold on to that feeling.

I know I have already charted the course of #TeamDuke through the waters of the year so far. But, in reflecting through my rear view mirror, it has been so heart lifting to understand the changes that have occurred. And through that understanding, then to be able to see clearly through the windscreen to the road ahead. There’s no doubt that there will be unexpected turns in the road, a few unwanted bumps. But, I feel we can see where we are going as we head forwards.

From a person perspective, to see how Ben and Liv have grown throughout the year. To see how they have been strong, for themselves, for each other, for us as #TeamDuke, and for others when they falter.

To see Ben, with a new job which has given him confidence in himself and gives him real opportunity to develop in a media related role. I’m so proud of him. As he starts a relationship with the wonderful Gaby. He’s a tower of strength and a beacon of love. Always there for others, always there for a chat, always there with that twinkle in his eye as he lines up the latest wind up. There’s no doubt that the year has brought its challenges for Ben, but he’s faced them and won. Ben brings a smile into any room!

And, then there’s Liv and her development. Getting ready to relaunch her university life. The way that Liv has grown throughout the year is an inspiration to anyone. Her bounce back ability has been incredible. I have provided a backdrop of the challenges that Liv has faced – but have wanted to maintain privacy on the true pain she has suffered – but this blog is a celebration of where we are now. Liv has been surrounded by some awesome friends and she has shown incredible strength and maturity and I am proud of her.

Ben and Liv have been my inspiration and light through this journey that we have been on. There’s no doubt I have lost my way on occasion, but Ben and Liv have taken my hand to bring me back onto the right path.

And then there has been the welcoming of Audrey into #TeamDuke. I know I have said it before, but Audrey wears the term ‘unconditional love’ like an invisible badge. She’s there for everyone and anyone who needs her. A real quality of Audrey is that she doesn’t know how special she is – and fen though I try to remind her every day. I am blessed – yes, blessed – to have her in my life. And #TeamDuke is all the better for her been with us (not forgetting her priorities are Eilidh and Liam).

I’ve already written about our animal house. The house bossed by a cat – Zeekee – and cared for by a dog – Ringo. When I say cared for, I mean the ‘spiritual’ care that only an animal could bring.

When one of us is getting wound up, upset, or angry about something, Ringo, without any prompting, just wanders over and plonks his head on your leg giving you those eyes that say ‘what’s up buddy?’. Awesome.

Over the last few days, I’ve come up with the phrase ‘be like Ringo’ – to be applied when things feel a little crazy, a little frustrating. If you’d have told me this time last year that I would have such love for and such understanding of a dog, I’d have barked myself silly. And let’s not forget bum wiggling Susie – Audrey’s dog. Again, the love she gives is incredible.

Of course, Zeekee has been with us for nearly 2 years now and she’s seen her share of ups and downs and ups again. A beautiful cat, and a perfect pal for Ringo. She’s definitely the boss – but then I’m bound to say that. As we do with all females in our lives, we let them feel like they’re the boss. 😀😱

Love, love, love. Yes, as Messrs Lennon and McCartney said, ‘all you need is love’. A subject that I have covered many times before and will cover many times again. Love can pick you up, and it can help you to understand how totally lucky you are. Love is the touchstone of life.

And love has been the feast upon which #TeamDuke has fed at a time when it could have felt that we were starved of it. When you’ve had love and then it turns out that the love was a lie, at least in the way you believed it was shared, that hits you in the pit of your soul.

But, when true love, unconditional love, is fed to you, the taste stays with you even when you are feeling uncertain about your situation.

Emotionally, there have still being times when this year has felt like riding a stormy sea but, in the main, it’s been a river cruise (all these water references are effecting my bladder). I’ve chartered our well navigated journey over the course of the blogs this year and to all of the many, many stars of our show, thank you, thank you, thank you (last year, 3 was a concept introduced to me as being significant. Nah, I just like repeating myself).

‘Ben Speaks’ gave thanks to our family / families and friends. There’s also The Ramsden family who I have name checked before. But I will always be indebted to the light that they brought in the dark times of #TeamDuke. And now our lives are full of light Steve and Susan join in with our good times.

There are the many, many people who have reached out to us on Facebook. We are so lucky to have such support.

I should also mention Liv’s gaming friends – in Belgium, in Denmark, in the USA and everywhere else in between. You will never know just how grateful I am for the belief that you showed Liv. You are truly wonderful people.

And, so, there it is. Our journey so far. As we sit here and look in awe at where we are, one of our learnings has been to always, always accept offers of support and love. That support and love is the water that helps our roots and strength to grow and flourish. With that growth and that strength, we can the, always be willing and able to give.

Never doubt it, love will find you. Let it happen, and when it does don’t forget to share it.

So, as I bring another humble blog to a close, I have to admit to being in awe of Liv and Ben for their recent postings – ‘An open letter from Liv’ and ‘Ben speaks’. The responses have been quite overwhelming. Both postings were written with love, not anger. They were written from the heart. They were written with the intention of reconciliation, not to divide or isolate. These are 2 young adults who had their worlds ripped apart through an act purely self focussed, self absorbed, and with no thought for their feelings. An act which continues to hit them in the pit of their emotional make up. And yet, no response or acknowledgement from the person they are appealing to. The person who out poured on Facebook due to something read that caused reflection, and who then records a message criticising those who challenge her and her soulless partner. If that sounds harsh, sorry. As I said, the posts from a Liv and Ben were filled with love, but the response to their attempts to reach out – nothing. Whilst I understand she is not now on Facebook, perhaps if one of her ‘followers’ read this (and, yes thank you, my emotional well being is still intact – although that may be questioned if they know where I’m writing this. Please learn to differentiate between parental frustration and irrational comments), please let Ben and Liv’s mum know they say ‘hi, how about getting in touch, we love you’.

Having said all of the above paragraph , we don’t stop believing in #TeamDuke, we continue to hold on to that feeling because all you need is love. And we have an abundance of love, love, love.

 

Jon

 

Ice cream, double cream, sun cream, #CreamDuke

IMG_2710

“Sun is shinin’ in the sky. There ain’t a cloud in sight. It’s stopped rainin’ everybody’s in a play. And don’t you know.It’s a beautiful new day, hey hey” – Jeff Lynne

Hey hey indeed and welcome to a quote free start to another View From The Ground. I like a good song and Mr. Blue Sky is one of my favourites. I can’t help but smile because it, bizarrely, makes me think of sunshine and a beautiful blue sky. And, from a spiritual and overall emotional perspective, that sums up this year – sunny.

It’s been a funny old few weeks. I’ve felt a rush of words, thus why so many blogs. I’m grateful for the feedback I receive – what ever the shape of the feedback. It’s nice to know they are having an impact.

However, one particularly response I do want to address is concern raised relating to my emotional wellbeing – I think this is due to some references made to circumstances over the last few months, and the causes of those circumstances. I feel it important to reflect a little on past circumstances to afford the reader insight into the starting point for the #TeamDuke growth.

I am grateful for any concern but, rest assured, I have never been better. I think, sometimes, people read too much into words without understanding the writer’s perspective. I try to write with a smile, and sometimes that helps me to address difficult situations with a sense of dark humour, perhaps. So, thank you. #TeamDuke is on top form and very grateful for that. I am feeling incredibly happy. How couldn’t I be. If in doubt, there’s a few blogs to have a look at.

Finally, thank you to everyone who took time to read the last post – An open letter from Liv. The comments have been beautiful and we are very grateful for the support received.

Okay, on we go with the ramblings – and still not a quote quote in sight (I guess using some words from a song is a quote, but it isn’t a quote quote). This actually brings me on to a debate I am having with Audrey about toffee. Now, the immediate thought must be ‘that relationship ain’t going to last’. I accept my track record of late hasn’t been good with relationships and it does look like Audrey and I are travelling down different roads on this subject, and once you disagree about toffee, what next, potatoes (don’t get me started on potatoes!!!!!! (there he goes again with exclamation marks)), and ‘you really talk about toffee’ (don’t get me started about what else is there to talk about. YES I READ THE NEWS!!!!!!!!! (‘exclamation marks again and he’s shouting. He’s an emotional wreck’).

Yes, we talk about toffee. We talk about music. We talk about rugby league (Leeds Leeds Leeds (‘now he’s saying the same word 3 times!!!!!!!!!! And using more exclamation marks. He needs help. Now, quickly. Hey Jon, hold up the mirror. What do you see?’ I SEE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!! (‘aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhj’)). We talk about our life together and our lives past, present, and future. We talk about our families. We talk about our friends. We talk about spirituality. We talk about ………….. I’m sure you get the picture.

But, at the moment we talk about toffee. Well, we talk about when does toffee become toffee toffee. According to Audrey, it’s when it’s not treacle toffee – i.e. not toffee toffee!!!!!! (exclamation marks justified). Surely, if it’s not treacle toffee it’s just toffee. Mmmm, now there’s a debate, call it ‘just toffee’. What about peanut toffee? What about rum flavoured toffee? This has even been debated around the table during a meal and I had to concede. So, now I will order toffee toffee in the shop. When I want a certain type of topping for my ice cream it will be ………………, yes, toffee toffee sauce.

Now, there’s a wonderful link to the title for this blast of words – ice cream. Ice cream? Yes, ice cream. That hidden pleasure from childhood which, when rediscovered, smashes you right in the face before you realise it. Actually, I think I’m referring to an altercation in a restaurant years ago when someone’s ice cream dish actually smashed them in the face.

Anyway, yes, ice cream, a pleasure that has been rediscovered of late, aided by the wonderful selection of flavours now on offer. Audrey is completely to blame for the recent growth of my already expanding waistline. Imagine, having being treated to a rather wonderful meal to be asked if I’m interested in some rhubarb and ginger ice cream? WHAT????????? Rhubarb AND ginger. Can life get any better? And, then I was asked if I wanted any cream on it. Not just cream, but DOUBLE CREAM (S T O P S H O U T I N G!!!!!!!!). The bliss was so good, I went into a state of denial and, as I was in denial and therefore didn’t believe I’d had it, I needed a second serving.

As many will recognise, sometimes in life after a high a low might follow. So, I’m sure you can guess my disappointment that we have not been able to find the rhubarb and ginger ice cream again. Was it a gift from another force as a reward for taking Ringo out for a walk? I don’t know, but I’m grateful for that moment.

However, as the life of #TeamDuke has shown, any low is short lived and a replacement taste sensation was discovered – strawberry and clotted cream ice cream with scone bits.OMG!!!!!!!(!!!!!!!). So, there we are – said ice cream, with double cream and, yes and my friend, toffee toffee sauce. Try it and then try and tell me I’m wrong.

Ice cream of course is a perfect treat on a day when the sun is shining in the sky, and there isn’t a cloud in sight. You know what I mean, when it’s stopped raining everybody’s in a play. As well you know, it’s a beautiful new day. Hey hey indeed.

Since 2003 Ben and I have been going to the Leeds Festival – probably the best music festival in the world. We share this glory with our sister site, Reading (😀). It’s 3 days of music magic. It’s always been just me and Ben but, in the world of #TeamDuke, we were delighted to share it with Audrey and her wonderful daughter and son, Gaby (welcome to our awesome world), Phil (brother-in-law) and Michael (nephew). Oh, and 90,000 others.

The norm for the Leeds Festival is the quagmire of mud created by the customary rain. Clarty as Susan would call it.

Not this year. We were blessed (definition of ‘blessed’ for this blog is lucky mingled with a dash of gratitude, kissed with a rush of joy!!!!!) with sunshine and dry fields. So sunny, that a covering of sun cream was needed to protect my extremely large forehead. Wonderful music, awesome company, beautiful weather. What more could I ask for? Rhubarb and ginger ice cream, with double cream and toffee toffee sauce.

With all of that, maybe we should become #CreamDuke. Or maybe even #TeamCreamDukeToffeeToffee.

I’ll close the blog on that thought. It’s good to feel happy. In fact, I might have an ice cream.

Take care,

 

Jon

 

A game of clones

IMG_2546.JPG

‘I’m not ashamed to be me. More than anyone else I know, I love my life and accept myself. What’s wrong with being unique? I am proud of everything that I am and will become.’ – Johnny Weir

‘Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they’re driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you.’ – Jenna Morasca

‘Finding and realising who the unique you is, by yourself, without being distracted by the voices of those filled with self interest and self doubt, is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Through that discovery, your eyes and mind are opened to the incredible possibilities that are available to you.’ – Jon Duke

Uniqueness – ‘the embodiment of unique characteristics; the only specimen of a given kind’ or ‘having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable’ or ‘not typical; unusual’.

Those of us who are old enough will remember a TV programme (yes, my American friends, that is how you spell it 🤣) called Stars In Their Eyes. It was hosted by Matthew Kelly, and contestants would basically be what we call these days a tribute act / impressionist of a famous singer.

So, tonight Matthew I’m going to be Tony Hadley. ‘Thank you for coming home, I’m sorry that the chairs are all worn. I left them here I could have sworn.These are my salad days. Slowly being eaten away. Just another play for today.Oh but I’m proud of you, but I’m proud of you. Nothing left to make me feel small. Luck has left me standing so tall. Gold!’ (Gold – written by Gary Kemp)

I think you get the picture.

Welcome to my view from the ground. It’s been a funny old week. Why Jon? Thank you for asking. Well, it’s the first week back at work after 2 weeks off. I’m lucky, as I enjoy my job and am grateful to work with such a committed group of people. But, it’s hard to recondition to 6 am starts rather than lolloping about in bed until we’re even bothered to get up.

Then there’s things that Ben and Liv are having to deal with, which such an awesome and inspirational son and daughter shouldn’t have to. Imagine, wanting with all your heart to see and speak to a parent (who is ‘alive’) only for said parent to withdraw contact. Apparently, after being ‘guided’ to read my recent blogs and having ‘reflected’, believes she should cease online contact for now. I’m truly saddened that my words are alleged to be the cause. I’m sure you can guess how Ben and Liv feel. I’m trying to work out if this is a control drama or a poor me situation.

I’d like to set the record straight once and for all. I write my blogs from the heart. I write my blogs with the purpose of trying to help others through sharing the journey, yes, journey, that #TeamDuke have been on over the last 14 months – and more to be fair. We’re in a bloody good place now and we want others to be in a similar place of happiness.

Yes, I have been angry at the circumstances that caused us to set sail on this journey but we are bigger (my waist), better, and stronger as a result. Our love for each other is quite unbelievable and we now have Audrey and her wonderful family as part of our group. We are blessed, yes, blessed!, to still be part of the Waller family. What is wrong with that?

Okay, the Dark Side Of The Moonie raised questions. But these were my questions, not from Ben and Liv. And, that’s all they were, questions!

As I said, my blogs are written to help others and, hopefully, put a smile on the reader’s face. I reflect on what I write before I publish it so I stand by every word I’ve written. However, for Ben and Liv to apparently be cast aside by their mother is upsetting and I must question the damaging effect that a person / people around her have had on a woman who was such a wonderfully inspirational mother.

Ok, so what else. Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve watched the reader numbers of the blog grow quite incredibly. I really want to reach out further and would ask if you could share these blogs please. Some are currently been updated ready to be shaped into book 1 – working title now ‘Yes, you can call me Dum’.

As those who know me well, I like to use Facebook – a lot! Sometimes, I will read something that I don’t quite agree with, and sometimes I will respond raising a question to such a post. However, that all it is – a question. I’m not saying the other person is wrong or that I am right. I usually am ………. JOKE! What I don’t intend though is for the writer of the post to be upset and withdraw from a specific Facebook group as a result. We are all entitled to an opinion and we are all unique and should celebrate our uniqueness (well, unless your mind has been bombarded with the warped views of the deluded). So, if I offend anyone by my questioning their posts, sorry. That’s just the unique me.

None of us should be a clone. There are too many people willing to look at someone, read something, be preached to and then hold up a mirror and say ’that’s me, that is’. Really? Is it you or are you a clone? Are you Dolly the sheep? I can hear it now, ‘baa, off he goes!’

Come on world, stand in your own truth. Be you, be unique, and be proud.

And, so, I’d like to finish with some lyrics from a song I heard a couple of days ago. It’s a young Welsh band, Neck Deep, and I found the words quite incredible so I want to share them. I’d recommend looking them up. The new album contains some very personal words.

Don’t Wait” – Neck Deep (feat. Sam Carter)

“Disrupted they keep dividing

The government is lying

I’m not going to be a Pharisee of this society

Turn off your TV station

That’s not real information

Trying to define the human mind

It’s like puppetry

And they’ve got you by your strings

Playing God for money

A sorry sad charade

You can see right through it

Don’t wait for anyone

Say it for you

Say it for yourself

What if God was the beggar in disguise

Would it make any difference

Would you open your eyes?

Suspend your disbelief

Are you paying close attention

If you blink than you might miss their tricks and their deception

Destruct and disobey their laws

They say cause all the world is dark

And if you choose to read the news

Than you must question everything

And they’ve got you on your knees

They’ve got your milk and honey

And then we put them on the parade

And celebrate what’s coming

Don’t wait for anyone

Say it for you

Say it for yourself

What if God was the beggar in disguise

Would it make any difference

Would you open your eyes?

No path
 No grave 
No justice
 No peace
 The deep parade
 The truth will set you free
 No path 
No grave 
No justice 
No peace

Dig deep and see

The government is lying

Don’t wait for anyone

Say it for you

Say it for yourself

What if God was the beggar in disguise

Would it make any difference

Would you open your eyes?

No path
 No grave
 No justice
 No peace

The deep parade

The truth will set you free

No path
 No grave
 No justice
 No peace

Would it make any difference

Would you open your eyes?”

 

I just love it. Take care and, remember, be unique. It’s not a game of clones.

 

Jon

 

 

 

Always on my mindful aka it’s not a sin

img_2373

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh. – AA Milne.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

Throw those curtains wide, sang Guy Garvey, one day like this a year would see me right. Well, I’d quite like a day like this every day. Is today that good? As Pooh said, today is my favourite day.

Hello again. A few days break from the corporate world and the words are flowing. The Dark Side Of The Moonie blog reaction was rather overwhelming. It was based on a subject that has caused me some concern for a while and I’m glad I managed to get the blog completed. Thank you for your support. Anyway, that was then and this is now. It’s all a matter of ABC (an 80s song reference).

What’s so good about today? Well, it’s good because it’s Something Just Like This (a recent blog reference).

Okay, let’s crack on with the blog. Thanks for joining me on this latest View From The Ground. I thought I might be distracted as serious words have started on a Book 2. Book 2? What about Book 1? Was that These Wings Can Fly? Noooooo! As the the main author found her crow like wings and flew off in search of the Fifth Dimension (not a boy band reference), that book is confined to history as one of the greatest books of fiction ever written (apart from my bit). If you want a copy, let me know. Any money raised through the sale of the books will be donated to an appropriate charity.

I have several boxes of the book to off-load as the flown crow left them behind in her haste to convert to Archangel status before becoming an end of year celebrity by featuring on the police missing list. If you see her, perhaps mention the books might be useful in the coming colder weather to light the cult (duly spellchecked) camp fires. At the same time, let her know Ben and Liv say ‘hi’. They’re her son and daughter. I think she’s forgotten. She’ll be with a rather tall and glum looking fella. I won’t speak on behalf of his wonderful family. I’m proud to know his wife and sons and her friends. Truly awesome people.

And, before anyone says ‘ooo, that all sounds a bit harsh’, don’t worry, it’s my bizarre sense of humour. I’m just throwing back the curtains and embracing another awesome day in the world of #TeamDuke. I’m in the middle of a 2 week break from work and am loving every day of it. Lots of time with Ben, Liv and Audrey. Lots of walking the dogs. Lots of laughs. Lots of hugs. Lots of living in the moment. Bliss! And, that’s just it, as Buddha said, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

My above words are not dwelling in the past. I have learned to flip the past anger into present humour. And that brings me back to Book 2 – now provisionally titled ‘And so, the door closed. Archangel De-light’. It’s a fictional work, and I’m having fun writing it. Let’s just say, it’s a great release for my unique look on life.

Book 1? That’s going to be a rewrite of the #TeamDuke blogs, in the hope of providing hope, humour, and humility. Title – You Can Call Me Dummy. Maybe? Work that one out. I guess I have circa 50,000 words to work on so watch this space. I just need to become more mindful rather than having a mind full.

Which, miraculously brings me on to topic for this latest blog (spell check just suggested lasagna, which reminds me I need some bread).

Mindfulness – ‘the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilised to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering.’

Okay, that’s the intelligent description of mindfulness. However, the key bit for me is ‘bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.’

And it’s the focussing on the present moment that is helping to project #TeamDuke forwards.

I guess a lot of the latter half of 2016 was spent dwelling on the past, almost trying to reach backwards and pull forwards all of the good memories in the hope that they could return. Does that make sense?

However, events had occurred which meant closing that book, and allowing a new book to start writing itself.

In reality, and this is where mindfulness has really helped, I am now understanding the need to just focus on today and by doing that, it can truly be my favourite day. Think about it. Try waking up and just focussing on that exact moment. The first positive is – you woke up!

As those who have read previous blogs will know, we now have a dog – Ringo. He was poorly recently, so I let him sleep with me. He’s well again but, he still sleeps with me. However, he is great for practicing mindfulness because the minute he sees I’m awake, he wants a hug, to be stroked, and to be loved. That’s it. No worries about work, money, news, traffic etc. His only thought is that present moment. Bang! Mindfulness captured on 4 legs.

I’ve already written about my walks with Ringo but, again, it’s mindfulness personified – walk, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, look at the greenery and flowers, enjoy the exercise. Bang! Mindfulness on the end of an extendable lead.

Mindfulness is a daily challenge, so I’m not saying it’s easy. Of course my mind / our minds drift backwards but I that’s becoming more manageable. Of course, the wee Scottish person in my life, Audrey, helps more that she realises. Audrey is a gem beyond words. As I’ve told her, she captures unconditional love in action without trying. She’s there for me, and for Ben and Liv. That’s whilst been an awesome mum to Eilidh and Liam. A true blessing that we are together to enjoy today. Tomorrow? When today is my / our favourite day I / we don’t need to think about tomorrow.

So, there you have in. Always being mindful isn’t a sin. Quite the opposite, it’s the thing!

Let’s follow Pooh and Piglet and make sure we make today our favourite day. Live, laugh, love. Breathe in the joy, look at the beauty, and listen to the magic. It’s the only way.

Throw those curtains wide, today being my favourite day will see me right.

 

Jon