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

 

 

 

 

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

 

The answer is – a) Poor me; b) Pour me; or c) Paw me aka Cleaning out my closet (#Team Duke – the series)

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“When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” – Osho

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analysing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.”
― Tupac Shakur

Oh no! A blog about ‘that’ subject again. Noooooooooo! Fear not, whilst I might reflect (but, so does a mirror. There’s a thought – mirror mirror on the wall, what do you see? Well, now that’s a good question. However, the more relevant question is, what do you see? Is it you or is it a clone? Are you a member of the clone roses brigade?), this is all about cleaning out my closet. Mmmm ‘n’ mmmmmmm.

Hello and welcome to my field of dreams, where I perch to observe and smile.

Following some recent blogs, I have been made aware that they may have been misinterpreted, as they appear to have caused the reader to go to Facebook to express their views – not directly, so maybe I’m being over sensitive. I do have a tendency to be a tad sensitive at times. With reason? You decide.

Anyway, the joys of social media also allow me to restate the purpose of the blogs. So, for the record, they are: –
* written from the heart and with love;
* a reflection of the journey that we have been on for the last 14 months and more;
* honest;
* an open expression of love for family and friends; and
* not written for the consumption of others who want to use the intent of the blogs to massage their guilt / ego / ‘beliefs’.

If the #TeamDuke blogs can inspire others in this world filled with ego, bring it on.

So, any deluded, shapeshifting, ‘we’re on a soul journey’ people out there, I suggest you don’t read on. I’m sure you’ll find 144,000 reasons to think this blog is about you. Don’t forget, save the cheerleader, save the world 😜. Although, as the worldly wise Tina Turner once observed from her view from the stage, ‘we don’t need another hero’. Yatta!

Is this playing out the poor me syndrome? The regular reader will know that I’ve mentioned previously ‘poor me’. It’s a concept from the Celestine Prophecy (excellent book) and it’s something I have had pointed at me in the past. You know what, I agree! I realise I could / can feel blood sorry for myself. Hello, I’m a man, that’s what we do best!! (Exclamation mark frenzy creeping in!!!!!!!!). However, the definition below, lifted from t’internet, is a different kind of person, I believe. A special kind of person. I’ll just leave the words, as below, hanging there as we pause for thought.

‘Poor me’s make us feel guilty and responsible for them. They complain and whinge about problems, offering no solutions. They make you feel guilty when you’re in their presence, even though you know there is no reason to feel that way. Everything they say and do puts you in a place where you have to defend against the idea that you’re not doing enough for them.’

No, please be assured, I’m not play the ‘poor me’ now. I’m celebrating the purpose of the blogs and am grateful for the support that the blogs, and #TeamDuke, continue to receive. Thank you, and similarly thank you from my heart for the beautiful feedback and comments received.

So, another blog in the world of #TeamDuke. In the words of M People, we continue to be moving on up through what has been a real year of progress. Our unity just goes from strength to strength, as we work together as a ……….. team. All for one and one for all! As the regular reader will know (note, I keep referring to ‘reader’ not ‘readers’, as I don’t want to make assumptions), our ‘team’ is a collective of all who want to join us, but the core unit expanded this year with the inclusion of the truly wonderful Audrey. Never has a person completely shown unconditional love – in my eyes – than Audrey. And, the magic is, she doesn’t realise it. So many could learn from her.

But one of my own personal learnings through the past few months, as previously written – #TeamDuke raise a glass and toast routine, is to break routine.

I’m a regular user of Facebook and, as had been pointed out, I did like to share posts about my love of red wine. And rose. And beer. And …… I think you get the picture. I do love a drink but, after my rude awakening last year, I started to thing – do I love a drink or does a drink love me? You know the pattern, a hard day at work, you get home and before you know it you’ve poured a glass of wine. It was a routine.

I’d have a glass of wine, maybe a glass and a half. It just happened. I won’t explore how having a glass and a half of shared bottle of wine always resulted in an empty bottle.

Anyway, time to change the routine. I’m certainly not preaching the virtues of not having a glass of wine. But, and I know to most this will sound obvious, but a nice cuppa tea hits the spot perfectly.

I guess I needed an awakening to realise I had to clean out the wine drinking closet and become me. Glass of wine? Not tonight, I’m have a cuppa. Never night, glass of wine? Don’t mind if I do. As Chicago sang, it’s been a hard habit to break but my new, vibrant, energised, happy, fun, positive (YES, WE GET THE PICTURE!!!! ENOUGH!!) life has opened my eyes. To paraphrase another song, you don’t have to have a drink to have a good time – oh no.

Having said all of the above, I’ve just spend 3 days travelling in and out of the Leeds Festival with Ben (who paid for me 😅) and have been polishing off a couple of drinks before midday. Hypocritical? Nah. Live for the moment, that’s all I’m getting at. It’s been a case of stopping pour me before it became poor me.

Again, as has been written, another welcome addition to #TeamDuke has been our beautiful dog, Ringo. Such a bundle of fun, energy, positivity, and love. When it feels like the weight of the world is falling onto your shoulders, the love of a dog is quite overwhelming (although the sound of him right now pacing and panting because he wants a walk is overwhelming for different reasons). He’s now taken to throw a front leg over me when I’m in bed in the morning to remind me to live in the moment and …….. feel the love. It’s his paw me moment. A damned sight better than poor me or pour me.

Have you chosen your answer to the question in the title?

As so, to close. Cleaning out my closet? As you can tell from this any recent blogs, there has been a lot of cleansing going on for #TeamDuke. A lot of cleaning. The local charity shop will soon benefit from some clothing. There’s still a few copies of the book – These Wings Can Fly. I wrote a blog last year about the 6 degrees of separation. Well I wonder if I, 6 people away from meeting the person who can turn that work of fiction, fabrication, and folly (3 F’s) into a film. I can already see the queue of actors wanting to join in – particularly the actor who plays Captain Obvious in the http://www.hotels.com advertisements in the UK. He would be perfect for the ‘male’ (note, not man) lead. Look the actor up.

I’m afraid some of the books have had to go. 50 Shades Of Purple was a bit of an odd one. I’m not sure I get the channeling of physical energy in the name of been twin souls will appeal to the right minded. Raven Bonkers Or Just Cuckoo is a sad read. Joking apart, I am not making light of mental health issues. As some who has flown in and out of depression for many years, and supported and being their for my daughter who has struggled on a much deeper basis, I know the seriousness of the illness. However, the key is recognising you are ill in the first place. But, with regards to the book title referred to – it helps to know the difference between a raven and a crow.

At that, I will close. As always, I’ve enjoyed writing this blog. I’ll leave you with a final concept I am working on – about how to change myself without changing me. I actually think I’m getting there. Think about it. Some people think they need a whole makeover when it’s just a bit of fine tuning.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these words. If you have, please spread the word. Together is far greater than apart.

 

Jon

Always on my mindful aka it’s not a sin

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“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

 

 

 

 

1 5 10

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“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens

Wonderful words from one of history’s greatest writers. Welcome to my latest view from the ground.

I don’t know about you but, what a month November has been. The USA elect a new President. I’ll say no more on that subject. The population has spoken and time will tell. A bit like in the UK where the electorate have chosen to leave the European Union. Time will tell. In South Korea there are protests against the President. Time will tell how that develops. What a wonderful world. That’s not a negative observation. Just my personal reflection on current affairs. I’m certainly not being judgemental. Perish the thought!

However, I find it interesting when people say you’re being judgemental. So, I thought I’d have a look at the definition, and I found “Judgmental is a negative word to describe someone who often rushes to judgment without reason. The adjective judgmental describes someone who forms lots of opinions — usually harsh or critical ones — about lots of people. Judgmental types are not open-minded or easygoing.”

Here’s a question though – if someone accuses you of being judgemental and are therefore suggesting the that you not being open-minded, are they in turn being judgemental? Are they in fact not being open-minded in not accepting your right of expression? Please think about it.

I also hear / over hear the expression ‘unconditional love’. It seems like a buzz expression in certain circles. A bit like ‘blue sky thinking’ in the 90s. What is ‘unconditional love’?. Some will come up with wonderful words in support of such thinking. But they are just their opinions. So, in fact, by challenging this question are they being judgemental. Or, am I being judgemental by questioning ‘unconditional love’? Surely to love unconditionally is to love without condition. Not, on the condition that you agree with the other persons interpretation of unconditional love.

Alternatively, am I just trying to say we all have different interpretations of many things, so please don’t judge me. If we can agree on that, I love you. Unconditionally? Yes – on the condition that you agree with my judgement.

Anyway, moving on. It’s been a while still that last blog. I’ve reposted some previous blogs, as I felt their messages were important. Having read the opening of this blog, you must be wondering why you were lured to read this one. Sorry, those who have been with me for some time will know I like to wander off in different directions.

This brings me onto the title for this blog – ‘1 5 10’. I’ve been thinking – a lot – about what we as the masses can do to take hold of the negative changes in the world and start making positive inroads – a step at a time. Changes that we can make from our grounded position. Changes in our thinking. I’m not coming at this from a preachy, let’s heal the world sort of way. I’ll leave that to those handing out leaflets to commuters on the busy streets, or those who go on personal crusades, fuelled by ego.

No, I’m coming at this from the perspective of looking to our right or our left and seeing if the person right next to us is struggling and needed a hand or a few kind words. I’m talking about being there, in the moment, and being available to help our fellow human beings.

I still think of the Dalai Lama quote – If every 8 year old in the world is taught to meditate, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation”.
What difference could we make to the community / the world by starting with a 1 percent shift in how we think; how we behave; how we treat each other? Clearly, teaching 8 year olds to meditate is next generational stuff, but why can’t schools do this? Think about it.

But, until then we all have a magnificent chance to make a difference. If tomorrow, you smiled at everyone you see. Accepting that there will be a small group of people who will think you are weird (definition – very strange and unusual, unexpected, or not natural), but the majority of people will walk away feeling a little bit happier. They in turn may then smile at people they see and, within minutes your act of happiness spreads throughout your community. That one act by you may cause a one percent shift in your community.

Now, those who know me will question when I last smiled at someone randomly. Well sceptics- a) stop judging me and give me unconditional love, because b) it was yesterday. Was she attractive? Well, okay, yes. Did I get her phone number? No! It was a random act because she looked down (and I don’t mean to avoid me looking at her). And, yes, she smiled in return. So, hopefully she felt a little better.

Joking apart, it’s all about taking progressive steps – start at a one percent shift, move to five percent (accepting that is a 500% increase in effort), and then step up to a ten percent short (and that is only a 200% increase).

It might sound fanciful – but think, in the next week you committed to just 2 acts of kindness a day – that could effect 14 people. If, through feeling good about your example, they then carried out 1 act of kindness a day the following week – that would be another 98 + your next 14 = 112 in week 2.

By the end of month 1 that could multiply to over 5,000 acts of kindness. And that is just from your own actions. If everyone who reads or shares this blog, that could mean …………… over 10,000. Okay, it could mean multiple thousand acts of kindness in just 1 month.

As the title suggests 1 to 5 to 10 and so on. I am a passionate believe that together we can be amazing. We need to be strong, resolute, and committed to making this planet better. But, this must, absolutely must, be together. In my humble opinion.

And, so, to close. Thank you for spending some time will me. I hope these words resonate with you. I wish you a happy and healthy rest of the day and beyond. If you need a hand, please let me know.
Jon

One step beyond aka please don’t call it madness

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“It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.” ― Aisha Mirza.

Welcome to the latest view from the ground blog. If this is the first time you have visited my place here, seated under a beautiful tree, observing the world, thank you for joining me as I watch the madness ensue. But, I don’t want to call it madness as that’s quite a rude expression and it is important that we go one step beyond and find better descriptions for the way we view things and observe people.

As you read through, I apologise for any typos. I don’t have the luxury of a prof reader anymore so I wing it. Write and right from the heart. Don’t worry, when the book, ‘Round the bend or turning a corner?’, is published it will be proof read and probably rewritten. The original purpose of the book was to be a self help book for anyone who could feel a change happening in their lives but couldn’t quite understand what. The first publication will still follow that footprint. The second version may be more of a personal reflection. Watch this pace, but don’t call it madness.

I read that the World Mental Health Day is next week. I day to highlight a growing illness, but still an illness that many, too many, hide from due to a perceived idea that others see it as a weakness, not an illness .

In looking into things in advance of putting some words together for this blog I read a quote from David Levithan with interest: –

“I think the idea of a ‘mental health day’ is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it’s like to have bad mental health. The idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. Mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying ‘I don’t want to deal with things today’ and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.”

I was really interested in this view and can really see what David means. Those who suffer with mental illness are in that condition 24/7, it’s not a badge, it’s an illness. I know those who suffer from on mental health issues may see the World Mental Health Day as quite patronising. If that’s the case, it must be some difficult.

However, I personally see the World Mental Health Day as a really important chance for people to say that we care. But, and it’s another big but, we have to carry that care into the every other day of the year.

I see this year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress. This has to be taken up by every government in every country and action MUST be taken. Stop bitch fighting, stop dropping bombs, stop talking about building walls and start taking action to help cure this hidden but growing illness.

Here’s a revelation – 12 years ago I walked into se my doctor in tears and proclaimed I couldn’t cope any more. I wasn’t suicidal, that’s not what I’m saying. But, I was ill. I had a stress related illness and I needed help. It was the best thing I every did. I needed a bit of time away from my day to day routine and I was subscribed medication. At first, I didn’t want the medication but I was pursued to take it and over a period of time, things improved and here I am writing blogs.

I wouldn’t say I am completed cured. It’s always there and some things have happened that could trigger the condition again. But, the key things for me are 1) recognising it is an illness; 2) being honest to me and others; and 3) talking (and writing) about it. I am not ashamed, I am not embarrassed about it and if I can help others I will – 24/7.

For those who are told medication is bad and that you are falling into the hands of the pharmaceutical giants. Make your own decisions. Ask yourself, if it fixed the illness, why deprive yourself of the cure just because some say otherwise. I’ll stop at that to avoid insulting anyone, as we are all, of course, entitled to our own opinions.

So, I for one will be supporting the World Mental Health Day. But at the same time I will always be aware of David Levithan’s views. He has a strong point and we should all be supporting and highlighting mental health every day.

To conclude, and to refer back to the title of the blog – the next time you hear someone talk about mental health or if you see someone suffering, please don’t say ‘are they mad’. It’s an illness and to give it such a badge is cruel and hurtful. Please think about the words. Please go one step beyond and please don’t call it madness.

And to close. I’d like to end with a song. Ta Dah! But, this time it’s personal.

Following a significant change in my life recently, times have been / are quite tough. But, when I look a what is going on in the world – particularly in Haiti – what have I got to complain about? And, at some stage, I’ll finish the book, although it will have a different conclusion. Anyway, I just wanted to say, in the words of Green Day, I’m “still breathing”. Take care and enjoy every minute and don’t even think about what the next minute will bring.

“I’m like a child looking off in the horizon
I’m like an ambulance that’s turning on the sirens
Oh, I’m still alive
I’m like a soldier coming home for the first time
I dodged a bullet and I walked across a landmind
Oh, I’m still alive

Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding from the storm?
Just shine a line into the wreckage, so far away, 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, my way
Cause I’m still breathing
Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way, my way
My way to you

I’m like a junkie tying off for the last time
I’m like a loser that’s betting on his last dime
Oh, I’m still alive
I’m like a son that was raised without a father
I’m like a mother barely keeping it together
Oh, I’m still alive

Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding from the storm?
Just shine a line into the wreckage, so far away, 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, my way
Cause I’m still breathing
Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way, my way, my way…

As I walked out on the ledge
Are you scared to dance to live?
I been running all my life
Just to find a home that’s for the restless
And the truth that’s in the message
Making my way, away, 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, my way
Cause I’m still breathing
Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way, my way, my way…
Cause I’m still breathing
Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way, my way
My way to you”
Jon

I don’t like you

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“It is remarkable by how much a pinch of malice enhances the penetrating power of an idea or an opinion. Our ears, it seems, are wonderfully attuned to sneers and evil reports about our fellow men.” – Eric Hoffer.

Hello and welcome. Join me here on my seat, as I take another view from the ground. And what a strange view it is at the moment. Really, I hear you ask. Thank you for asking. Let me explain. Are you sitting comfortably? Then, let me begin.

I’m never going to use my blogs to express any form of political opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I am not arrogant enough to try and impose my views in this forum.

However, politics is a key aspect of world news at the moment and the biggest show at the moment seems to be the USA presidential campaign.

I was intrigued last week to watch the TV debate Trump and Clinton. I’d be lying if I said I watched it in full. I have a life! But, intriguing the debate was. “Oh what a circus, oh what a show” – as the song goes. But those words, to me, ring true.

My hope that there would be some true sparring on really political points of interest were some extinguished. The show, the circus, all seemed to pivot around the importance of attacking your opponent rather than talking about what you are going to do to improve things.

In the U.K., we recently saw a similar situation when the Labour Party had a leadership campaign. It got to the point where they might as well have appeared in clown outfits on their TV debates. It was school yard insult throwing. What about the homeless? What about the unemployed? What about, what about, what about?

But watching Trump Vs Clinton just left me cold. Personal insult after personal insult. One of them will very soon be the chief of the most powerful nation in the world. Please note, I did not say in charge of the most powerful nation, as we all know that the money men are in charge. The president is a figurehead. Although, that said, it could be argued that one of the Presidential contestants is also a money man. But let’s not go there.

This all got me thinking and, as those who read my blogs will know, it is dangerous when I think. But, how many times do we hear debates and hear of situations where the focus is on negative observation – they might as well say ‘I don’t like you’ – rather than about what positive action can be taken.

And, there is the problem – in my humble opinion – leadership appears to revolve around criticism of your opposition rather than an ability to say ‘this is what I am going to do, this is the added value I am going to bring’.

I know I have quoted the song ‘Where is the love’ before, but the opening lines just keep coming to mind – “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”.

The focus from the top is negativism. That filters through and all of a sudden we are all at it – as it were. A collective I DON’T LIKE YOU. Absolute nonsense, if you don’t mind me saying.

In my last blog, Meditation Mayhem, I talked about ………. meditation. Imagine if the whole world meditated or practised mindfulness. Just think, what a beautiful world it would be. That said, and I don’t want to make any assumptions or pass any judgment (perish the thought), I am struggling to picture one of the USA presidential candidates zoning out in a beautiful state of meditative bliss. But, it is an amusing image.

I just wish we could all get into that space where we can concentrate on what difference we can make, rather than what is wrong. Picture the scene – your favourite, all singing all dancing, political leader standing up and stating what difference they are going to make rather than accusing their predecessors of all ills in the country, the world, Jupiter etc.

Move that down into what ever industry, working environment, you operate in. How many times do business leaders focus on what their competitors are doing, rather than saying what they are going to do.

You could almost then take that into any life situation. Let’s use the example of trying to attract a life partner (chat someone up). Do we spend too mischief energy focusing on what is wrong with someone we see as a competitor rather than saying how we can make the person we are trying to attract happy.

Just a thought. Rather than saying ‘I don’t like you’, just focus on ‘this is me, and this is what o can do to make your life / this company / this country / the world’ a whole lot better. And, if there is a competitor, let’s show some respect. Should we say ‘I like you’? I’ll let you decide.

I’d like to close with a few words from The Beatles: –

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy

Nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy

All you need is love”

Beautiful words, and a beautiful sentiment. Let’s try it. Oh, and by the way, I do like you.

Take care.
Jon

Meditation mayhem

 

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“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.” – Hugh Jackman

Well, come to my view from the ground. See that play on words? Don’t you just love the English language! Anyway, welcome to, well, come on in to my little place on this wonderful planet.

It’s been a few months now since the stand alone View From The Ground blog site was launched. I would like to thank everyone for joining me on my path through the chaos better known as life. I would be truly delighted if you could recommend the site to people who you know that might enjoy reading my rambling but heart felt words.

Anyway, onwards and word wards. Strange expression ‘words wards’. I don’t know if it is an expression but, given there should be no rules when creating words, I chose to designate it as an expression from this day on. In fact, I hereby crash a bottle of champagne against the expression ‘words wards’ and wish it well as it sets sail through this blog and onwards into the ocean of words.

Sorry, I’m rambling. So, meditation and mayhem – 2 words which you would not expect alongside each other. Let’s look at the definition of both before I expand on what is going through my mind as I form this blog.

Meditation is a nice easy definition – “the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed”.

Mayhem becomes more interesting – “a situation in which there is little or no order or control”. To be fair, there were many definitions but this one feels quite ‘calm’ when compared to some.

Okay – the big question is, how am I going to link ‘calm and relaxed ‘ with ‘no order or control’? It’s a good question and, by the end of the blog, I hope I find the answer.

Meditation is still a great mystery to many and, as a result, there is a misconception that those who meditate are either hippies or weirdos. Wrong! I suspect may who read this blog so, to an extent, I am preaching to the converted.

However, I am looking to this blog as a request to all to spread the word. I remain worried / concerned at the state of the world. As a resident of the U.K. I am seriously worried. The number of people suffering from stress and depression continues to rise. And this rise is not confined to one age group – it’s right across all ages and all parts of society. So I am worried.

However, meditation undoubtedly offers a route to look for inner peace and relaxation and if more people just gave it a go, imagine the possibilities.

Anyone who has read the View From The Ground blogs since the started over 2 years ago will know that I been interested in the power of meditation for some time. Before I gave it a go though I was one of those who thought it was a practice confined to hippy tree huggers, who sat on the ground, crossed legs, chanted ‘omm omm omm’ – or a sound similar to that.

For 2 years I have meditated – not prescriptively but in a way when I need to ‘rest’ my mind and just zone, meditate is the answer. And this is the challenge that those of us who understand the power of meditation must take up. To talk to others who may be struggling with life – be it at work or in their personal life, and just advise on how meditation may help them.

But, then, their us the challenge someone may ask – ‘how do I meditate’. This is where the mayhem can creep in because, as we know, there are so many different methods of achieving a meditative state. And if you listen to everyone, it can feel like there’s no order and you’re out of control.
I found that you can look too deeply into the different ways to meditate – guided, to music, in silence, as a group, and so on. But, I believe, once we have opened up someone’s mind to the idea of meditation it is then you them to decide what form of meditation works best for them.

Nobody could or should tell you what is the best method and we should think about how we landed at the way we meditate. My preference? Guided meditation works for me. It helps maintain that focus on achieving the right state as it were. But, that might not be for everyone.

What we should do, though, is avoid creating that meditation mayhem. Let us guide those who might be helped by it to the power of meditation. But once they want to go for it, let them find what works best for them.

Am I making sense? I thought not. I think I need to meditate – omm, omm, omm.

I hope you enjoyed my last ramblings. I’ll finish with a quote and a song. I sound like a 70’s entertainment show.

The quote – “Consider how hard it is to change oneself and you will understand why it is so hard to change others.” One to think about and may be the subject of a future blog.

And, the song. It’s just one that has meaning and I hope you’ll look up the video on You Tube.

“One day it’s here and then it’s gone
How are you still holding on?
How are you still holding on?
You’ve felt this way for far too long
Waiting for a change to come
You know you’re not the only one
And life passes you by
Don’t be wasting your time
On your own
You always try to see yourself
Through the eyes of someone else
Through the eyes of someone else
Too shy to say that you need help
You and everybody else
You and everybody else
Oh, life passes you by
Don’t waste your time
On your own
Yeah life passes you by
Don’t be wasting your time
All alone
As your heart gets bigger
And you try to figure out
What’s it all about
And your skin gets thicker
As you try to figure out
What’s it all about
Yeah life passes you by
Don’t waste your time
On your own
One day it’s here and then it’s gone
How are you still holding on?
How are you still holding on?”

One Day – Kodaline

I’ll leave that with you. Enjoy life and live and love the day, because you never know what is round the corner. And if you’re feeling the pressure, meditation is a solution but watch out for the mayhem.

Until the next time.
Jon

 

From the heart

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I would like to share a blog that I posted earlier in the year when View From The Ground was published on a separate blog site. I have been in a reflective mood of Kate and this blog means a lot to me. I hope you enjoy it.

From the heart

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

A quote I love, and something I feel we could all learn from.

I always write from the heart and my hope / desire / mission is to reach out to as many people as possible. As I’ve already talked about in earlier blogs, I am exploring self love and self belief this year and I would love as many people as possible to join me on this mission.

Part of this work though is looking at where I feel we as a collective need to focus effort to help as many as we can. The last blog followed an article I saw about how too many young people are being prescribed anti-depressants. It could be argued that too many people are being prescribed them – full stop! Who benefits? Clearly, the medication numbs the depression of the person. This isn’t an ill informed comment. Having being prescribed anti-depressants 12 years ago, I am fully aware of their effects, have used them for a period of time. I talk about this in more detail in the book, View From The Ground, which continues to take shape.

But, who else benefits? The global pharmaceutical industry of course. I’ll avoid going off on a rant, on this occasion at least.

Of course, there are alternative solutions. But where will the money come from the implement a fully effect, alternative solution? Will a government be brave enough? I’ll let you decide.

Anyway, I’ve been reading, again. I saw an article advising that there have been calls for mindfulness training to be introduced in schools in the UK. In October, a Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group said the practice should be made more widely available and recommended the Department for Education designate three schools to “pioneer mindfulness teaching and disseminate best practice”. Only three? Surely this rather important initiative warrants being ‘pioneered’ in a broader range of schools – a selection of schools spanning the whole of the U.K., and a selection of schools spanning the different socio economic groups + ensuring that it touches the incredible range of our diverse cultures.

Political author and former head of Wellington College Anthony Seldon has called for daily “stillness sessions” in schools.

I’m not sure the name,”stillness sessions” will necessarily grab the attention of the desired audience, but in theory this could be awesome.

The Dalai Lama was absolutely right when he said “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”

So can mindfulness meditation really help pupils concentrate amid the distractions of 21st Century living?

In my humble opinion, it absolutely could. If delivered correctly, and with appropriate time being given to the programme (or program to our American friends). We are blessed to have in our midst some friends who are already working with young children on such a concept, but if that could be taken into schools and colleges to older students, it could be incredible.

Now, considering the concerns raised in my last blog – as detailed above – if mindfulness was rolled out, and given the attention that it deserves, this could really help young people clear their heads, even if it is just a bit at a time. Just image the effect. In this crazy world that we have created, with 24/7 news blasting people with negativity – war, debt, death, Trump, Cameron, North Korea, bombs, etc – it’s no wonder people are fed up.

In all honesty, mindfulness to the corporate world would be a massive step forwards. I hear, see, read about so many people struggling with the pressures that they face in life (including when I look in the mirror), if businesses allowed time for employees to attend mindfulness sessions, or meditation groups, the results could be amazing. I know some companies already do this, but with a bit of encouragement from the governments, surely this could be launched on a much bigger scale. I would certainly attend!

These, of course, are just my observations but it feels like we could all benefit from a bit of mindfulness. It could be good for the heart, for the age of the heart.

And talking of the heart, I would like to end this short blog with a story from the weekend.

As is my Saturday routine, I undertake the weekly grocery shop at our local supermarket. Being a creature of habit, I always look to see if my favourite person is working the checkout. She is a beautiful soul, so friendly, and always willing to talk and help me to understand about her Sikh religion. I love learning about other cultures and we are blessed in the UK to have such a diverse population.

I was sad to learn that the lady’s sister had recently passed away, but she talked about how she praises and still talks to her sister. She also told be that her sister had left her the words for several songs, that she now sings so that she feels that her sister is with her.

At that point, whilst helping to pack my bags, she started to sing to me – holding regular eye contact, and it was as if she was in another world. That’s when it sunk in, she probably was. In a serene place where her sister’s spirit exists, whilst also being with me, and the hundreds of others in the supermarket. Incredible, beautiful, magically, inspirational. A lesion in love and true belief. A lesson in having unconditional belief that her sister was in her heart.

As I said, I love to learn.

And, so another short blog draws to an end. A slightly different format but, as always, written from the heart. I hope it resonates. In this messed up world, we all need to feel some love. Apologies for any occasional typos. It makes the blogs real. Not editorial support at this stage.

Take care. Keep the faith, and spread the word.
Jon

The journey ………. so far

View From The Ground

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“I try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.”
― Johnny Depp

Welcome to the latest view from the ground. I hope you don’t mind, but this is personal.

There’s a lot of horrible stuff going on around us at the moment. War – senseless; murder – senseless; starvation – senseless; homeless refugees – senseless; homeless people on the streets – senseless. And that’s just the start. The world’s a mess, and it’s a mess created by the human race.

Why?

There’s a lot of people awakening to this mess and there is an awareness that something must be done. There’s a collective of people rising, and as a collective what we have is special. But I’m troubled. Deeply troubled. Something on a personal level is stuck.

I was lucky to have started my journey something like 2 1/2 years ago with Viv. As those who have read my blogs – probably 30+ blogs now – I was lucky enough to contribute to Viv’s book, These Wings Can Fly, and that’s where View From The Ground started.

Viv and I have always had a different view on our road of discovery – Viv from a deeper perspective, whereas I see things, as the blog page suggested, from the ground. It works.

Over the last 2 1/2 years, Viv has developed a strong understanding of her development and has grown incredibly – as a Shaman, a Reiki Master, and a healer, to name just a few. I’m proud of her and I know she will continue to grow.

My development is different. I know I have my own role to play, as an interpreter of what I see and hear. To seek to encourage others to find answers as to how we / they can heal our/themselves and in turn, heal each other, our communities, and the world.

I know that part of my role in life is to come out from behind the shadows of others and to make my own steps forward.

Through my blogs, I seek to connect with others, so that we can join hands and walk together. Through the blogs, I seek to reach out to as many as possible and encourage people to share their experiences and thus show we are not on our own. This is why I ask for the blogs to be shared. I would love to read posts from others.

For certain, as a collective, what we have – or is it, what we could have? – is special.

But, I am troubled. Maybe by the need to hear from others? Maybe by the question – is it just me? Maybe, and this is literally coming to me as I write, is it by the fact that I am looking to others? Maybe that’s just it, my belief that I need others.

In reality, I should be seeking to inspire others. To encourage others to find each other; to join hands with each other. Whereas I need to keep moving forward, interpreting what I see and hear, sharing that information and then moving on again. Not waiting for others to join me.

Maybe, that is the role of View From The Ground.

I’ve used this analogy with Viv. I need to see it that I’m in my boat on a river. There are people on the river bank. But I need to allow them to find their own boat and decide whether they want to follow me. Not wait to see if they want to get in my boat. We can all sail on the same river but we need to have the ability to sail at our own pace and maybe take a break every now and again.

And, again, this is coming to me as I type this blog and it is proving to be therapeutic, this is why I maybe shouldn’t be troubled. People have found their boats, and are sailing along. And that’s just great!

Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t be troubled. I should just celebrate that, as we all sail along in our own little boats, what we have really is special. And, at times maybe I just need to rest from my development. Maybe I expect too much of myself. Maybe I should just let it flow.

And there ends a rather personal blog. Thanks for bearing with me. I hope it makes a bit of sense. Just a confusing time for a lot of us.

Take care.

Jon