Negativity stopping the world from spinning

“In a world that has left you unspoken, with surprisingly little to say” – Wrest (from the beautiful song, Poetry)

I think I’ve listened to this song 15 or 20 times since I saw the outstanding Wrest, an up and coming band from Edinburgh. First gig the day after the easing of restrictions in England. The first time in a venue for 16 months and 1 week.

A beautiful celebration of the magic of live music. A moment to just be. A time to fall in love with being in the moment. For 80 minutes, an escape from the negativity that gets spewed out by the minute where ever you stand.

For 80 minutes, it felt like the world was back on its axis and spinning to the sound of the music. I truly didn’t want the music to stop. Another last song please.

So, welcome to the sounds from the ground. The view from the crowd.

I wish I was still there. Standing, watching, listening, dreaming. Sometimes, just closing my eyes and soaking in that moment. The moment that had been only a dream for 16 months and 1 week.

In the run up to England being released from most of the restrictions, we had the mind mess of hope and positivity getting mixed with the constant negative news. Of course, the number of people testing positive and being infected with this horrendous virus is a continuing worry. But, the government constant change of tactics as to which data they rely on only causes confusion. And, unfortunately, you end up asking what is their actual objective?

Now, I accept, I’m not a picture of smiles and optimism. Hard to believe? Ask my family and friends. Optimism is definitely a work in progress. Smiles? It’s not a natural thing. Some people have a wonderful way to just smile. I mentioned the band, Wrest. They just smiled all the way through their performance. It’s infectious. Come to think of it, if smiling is infectious, that must mean my expression of having a face like a slapped ar5e has a similar effect.

But negativity is getting in the way of getting on the way. Getting on the way to being happy. God help us, they don’t want that. I’ve just looked at the top 10 BBC news stories this morning. 6 of the 10 are negative. So, were the other 4 stories positive, moments of hope, opportunities to smiles? Of course not, this is the BBC we’re talking about. The happiness quota is not going to come from that source, unless you want to watch the likes of Gavin and Stacey. Always worth a watch!

So, I looked to Sky News for a glimmer of home. 7 out 10 news stories tell me I shouldn’t have bothered.

Now, I accept it’s a personal choice to look at the news; to look at anything. But, surely there’s some good stuff to report? Surely?? Or, are we just programmed to expect bad news, so, in fact, my brain is tuned into hunting out the negative, axis slowing, news.

Well, I took a new look at the BBC. Still seem to be wallowing in all that is bad. But, and it came in at number 7, I found something good. ‘An 11-year-old boy has begun a 200 mile (321km) walk from his home in Yorkshire to Westminster to raise awareness of climate change.’ Not only a positive story but also about something focussed on making sure the world keeps spinning.

However, of course, I’m looking at the responsibility that others have, such as the on-line news websites, for how we see things. How our day starts, by pumping constantly bad news.

There’s a great line in the magnificent song, Hereafter, by Architects – ‘I’ve been searching through the wreckage. But it’s like standing in the eye of a storm’.

I guess that’s how it feels wading through the quagmire that is the news. I know, there’s a lot of bad news! But there’s plenty of good news as well.

But, of course, we are masters of our own destiny. We are in charge of the filter that we apply to what we see and hear.

We have to create and find our own happiness. It’s that simple. We have to realise that there is bad stuff out there. We have sadness to deal with. We have anger to cope with. We have days which are garbage. But, we have the ability to filter the way we receive those things that we can’t affect – the daily news.

Of course, how we react to COVID, to preventing the spread, to social distancing, to being responsible is critical. Of course, we have to deal with the conspiracy theorists who claim it doesn’t exist or whatever other nonsense these pathetic people trot out.

But, 9 out of 10 news stories are just that, ‘news’. We have no control.

We have to create a state of positivity. A state of mind where we flip our mindset. Easier said than done? Yes and no. Yes – it’s perhaps a big ask to do it immediately. No – if we see it as a work in progress.

I’ve already said, maybe not in as many words, but my natural state of mind has been one of being Mr Grumpy. But, I’m trying. I’m trying to create a positive mindset – most of the time 😀.

It’s there for us all. We can choose. We have the chance to shake the axis and keep this amazing planet that we call home spinning.

It’s worth a go.

Right, with that I’m going to listen to some music and enjoy being in that moment.

Take care.

Jon

Well-being from the ground – a view of the sea

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, as the old song goes.

Obviously, we have all lived through a lockdowned world for the last 16 months or so. In the U.K., we’re lucky in that the travel restrictions were eased a few weeks ago for travelling in the country, and now some relaxation for going abroad . Sensible travel. The ability to travel in the U.K. started at a time when I’d been lucky enough to enjoy a month between changing jobs.

With well-being at front of mind – following the last blog (that seems a long time ago) – welcome to my take on the magic of sea air, sea views, and sea sounds. Seeing as that’s 3 of the senses ticked off, let’s not ignore the taste of seaside fish and chips, and the touch, the feel of the sand.

It’s a bit of a mish mash of a blog, as I started it during my month off; left it; came back; left it, and so on. Just like a good cup of Yorkshire tea, it’s nice to spend time allowing time for the ‘flavour’ to come through. Hopefully I haven’t over-brewed it.

Well-being has been front of mind this year. To be fair, anyone who has joined me with the blogs will know well-being is a passion.

I’ve always being obsessed with the coast. Time spent near the sea awakens all 5 senses, every time. And it’s always so important to fuel the 5 sense; to excite them.

I’m sure it’s the same for many of us, just the sight of the sea awakens memories of the past but, equally, stirred hope for a beautiful day.

I’m focussing on Whitby because I was lucky enough to visit twice during my month off. It’s also a place with special memories.

These recent visits though have really sparked something beyond that normal love of the seaside. It’s invoked a real appreciation of the therapeutic benefits of it.

Just thinking about those visits now makes me want to jump in the car.

The excitement of the drive (traffic permitting); perhaps stopping for some breakfast on the journey; some well chosen music in the car; some beautiful scenery; and then the first glimpse of the sea on the distant horizon. Your mind tells you that you can smell the sea – from miles away.

A memory of my wonderful father convincing us all that we could taste the salt on our lips. All those years ago.

And then the arrival in the car park and the day ahead. That feeling of the worries that you’re carrying slowly rising out of your body and disappearing towards the distant horizon.

The deep inhalation and smell of fresh, sea air. The sounds of the seagulls. The feel, hopefully, of some warmth on your face. The sight of the waves rolling in. And the taste of the salt 😀.

I’ll avoid this evolving into a tourist information blog for Whitby. All I will say is, if you haven’t been – go there. If you have been – go back.

It’s beyond beautiful. The Abbey. The harbour. The beaches. The cliff top walks. The promenade. The town. And, now, Whitby Brewery. Obviously, the multitude of fish and chips restaurants and ice cream parlours is a given.

It’s heaven on earth.

Whitby captures everything that is magnificent about a British coastal resort, and more.

As you can, I hope, tell I love being at the coast. The well-being qualities, for me, are like nothing else.

To just sit, and watch the swelling sea, or the gentle waves, whichever, is the best wide awake meditation I can think of.

The chance to rip off the shoes and socks and feel the sand on the feet. What a shame we can’t just rip everything off and enjoy the feel of the sea on our bodies. Too far! From a personal perspective a passing whaling fleet would enjoy the opportunity to harpoon me. And, well, it’s not a good thought so replace the image with the sight of looking at the beach, with people having fun, and just being at peace.

The seaside is where we can embrace our love for life and, when we return home, have locked in our hearts and minds all of those memories. I always have loads of pictures which I return to daily.

It’s where we can always be grateful for life. But, then, we should always be grateful for the life we have been gifted.

As i say regularly, we have been gifted this life so let’s seize the moment. If you haven’t found that place of happiness. Don’t give up looking. It’s there. It’s not hiding but you might not see it so just focus.

When you find that place, Embrace it and always remember that moment.

For me, it will always be by the sea or with a view of the sea.

I hope you find yours. Whitby is a good starting point.

Just as a footnote, apologies for typos etc. It’s just me.

Take care.

Jon

View from the ground -well-being

“Well just beyond the blue horizon. We see the clouds begin to form. Don’t be afraid. We must keep fighting. And cling to courage in the storm” – Ides Of March – Myles Kennedy

I’ve just been reading the news. Reading about the new variant of the Covid-19 virus that is unleashing itself in the U.K. Reading about the impact on the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions – particularly in England. Reading the panic that is being instilled into the exhausted population.

Of course, it’s important that everyone knows the need to respect and abide by the guidelines set by the government. However, it is absolutely exhausting that for about 14 months now, it’s being all about what we can’t do. Obviously, it’s all for the right reason. This virus is deadly. But, just when there’s hope, this latest variant and the worry it’s causing feels like a serious blow.

I worry for people’s well-being. I was listening to the new album by Myles Kennedy and particularly the stand out track, Ides Of March. The lyrics at the start of the blog stood out as particularly relevant at this time. We must remain courageous at what feels like a storm just as the blue horizon was within sight. We will get there. But, whilst we wait, a real focus needs to be maintained on our own well-being and that of others. We need to reach out to those who may just need to know we are there for them. I’m committed to do that – today.

Welcome to the latest View From The Ground blog.

We have just had Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s great to have a week focussed on all matters mental health awareness related. However, this has to be a daily focus. The more I see, read, and hear, the great the issue is and the more important it is for everyone to appreciate the depth of the issue.

I was looking for a definition of well-being online. I found this, which is a reasonable start.

“Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It’s a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.”

I hear too many times, still, that people. With well-being challenges are told to get a grip. I remember a ‘person’ saying someone close to them was attention seeking. I’ve heard some many dismissive comments about mental health and well-being.

The above words sum up well-being perfectly by referring to it as a ‘complex combination’. There are so many component parts to an individual’s well-being.

I’m no expert and I am certainly not medically qualified on the subject. I look at it from a heart centric perspective. And I’m worried.

I hear too many times about people struggling. The news is littered with sad stories related to the effects of mental health. And they are just the stories that make the news. They are the tip of the iceberg.

It’s an issue that is not going away. Quite the opposite. So, we have to face up to it.

I’m very conscious of my own well-being pressure points and, like many others, have to have them front and centre of my mind everyday.

The above description states ‘wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life’.

Interesting, I am fortunate enough to be preparing to launch into the next chapter of my working life. Something needed to change and, through various circumstances, the change became a possibility and subsequently a reality. So, it could be said I became aware of how I felt about life and, with a little help, took control. We can all do it.

But, how we feel about ourself and our life has to be a daily process. A daily exercise regime on our well-being – both mentally and physically. As is well publicised, mental and physical well-being come as a partnership. They are a marriage made in heaven. That’s a rarity in itself! That said, for a marriage to work it also needs a daily focus – from both parties. Just like mental health and well-being.

It could be said I’m not the right person to comment on either subject 😀😀😀😀😀.

However, let’s stick to well-being. Obviously, as I said at the start, the current concerns about the new Covid-19 variant is a concern. Other than sticking to Government guidelines, there’s not much more we can do about that. But worry about the possible impact on the easing of lockdown restrictions is a real threat to mental health and well-being.

However, maintaining both physical and mental well-being is something we can continue to work on. I’m grateful to have my regular walks. The target is between 500,000 and 600,000 steps per month. Dependent on the time of day for the walk, it’s a combination of fresh air (always), music or conversation, and great scenery. To be fair, for the year to the end of April, I’ve covered just short of 2.5 million steps. I’m pleased with that after 4 months.

I mention this to try and emphasise this is something that we can all do. I’ve found it helps my well-being significantly, both from a physical and mental perspective. It’s a release from the walls that surround me and it helps with the appreciation of all that is around.

Just a thought 😀. It’s that simple. It’s just what I do. Thousands of others have thousands of better ideas. I hope they can share them. We can all learn about better ways to preserve and improve of well-being. The walking certainly helps my perspective of myself.

And with that, it will be time for a walk soon, so I’ll close.

Take care.

Jon

Running up that hill

“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken. Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools” – Rudyard Kipling

Only a short piece from a most beautiful poem. The words feel very appropriate, at many levels. Words that draw out that reflective side of me.

Thanks for opening up the blog. Welcome to my view from the ground. If you get chance, why not have a look back on previous blogs. I think I’ve been writing for over 5 years now, although maybe start at 2019 and work forwards from there.

So far in recent weeks I’ve thrown those curtains wide and then asked not to stop me now. All with the dream of making every second count.

The blog are always written with the right intentions and I hope that’s how they are seen. I write from the heart but, perhaps, my head sometimes gets in the way.

As I said, I’ve been writing these blogs for over 5 years. It all started as a contribution to a book and grew from there. It’s been a bit of a journey. There have been some dark times when, in hindsight, the blogs became too focussed on the past.

It’s interesting, the blog ‘Throw those curtains wide’ started with the quote ‘Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.’ from Buddha. If only I’d read that 4 years ago.

We can get caught up in anger. In betrayal. That then becomes a focus. The focus. Before we know it, we’re lashing out and spilling forth our vitriol. In the end, the person that effects the most is us. We are damaging ourselves. By dwelling on what was we are preventing ourselves from seeing what is and eventually what can be.

That’s where I was, that to #TeamDurky (there’s a blog about #TeamDurky).

As Martin Fry sang, that was then, this is now. It’s as simple as ABC. Good job I didn’t use a line from Andy McCluskey, that would have been as simple as OMD. And thankfully I didn’t look to Andy Partridge, who was making plans for Nigel. That would have been a more complex XTC. Sorry, I’m off on an 80s music tangent and as I keep saying, I love 80s music.

It is important, sometimes, to express anger. To lance a boil, to release the poison. But, then, it’s time to allow the healing process. If you dwell on a wound for too long, it can easily develop into an unnecessary scar.

That’s why in, at least the last 2 years, I’d say more, the blogs have been purely focussed on the present, to then provide a helping hand to the future. Buddha suggested we don’t dream of the future. For me, that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for the most magnificent future we can create. But, let’s build a strong foundation right now.

And concentrating the mind on the present moment continues to be essential. Here we are, still locked down, still unable to socialise, still asked not to travel.

Sometimes, it feels like we’re somewhere towards the foot of a hill and the top is shrouded in a strange kind of mist. Oddly, where we are standing, in the present, feels very familiar. We’ve been here before. In fact, it was only yesterday. In fact, it could be any day from late March 2020. However, maybe we should ask ourselves why are we still standing here. Yes, we’re in lockdown but that doesn’t restrict our movement from a self help perspective. I know there were a few weeks of movement. Those joyful days. But, we were still looking up the hill.

I hope I’m making sense. I guess life in general is like a hill. We can walk up it. We can run up it. But we have to make sure our purpose is to ascend it. To always strive for the summit. Don’t stay in the valley, because it looks a long way up – especially with the lockdown shroud of mist hiding the top.

To be absolutely honest, maybe in the past, I’ve spent too much time looking at the hill, knowing what needed to be done. But, looking back into the valley I’m trying to leave, need to leave, was easier than starting the climb.

Right now, for so many people, moving one step forward is a challenge when the question might be – what’s the point? Where is there to go?

I’d like to share more words from Buddha. “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most”. Every morning it is critical that we try to stay focussed, regardless, and know what we do today is what matters most. Yes, right now, our ability to physically leave the house are restricted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t move forward. It doesn’t mean we can’t run up the hill – forget walking it!

I’ll be straight here. When I woke up this morning, I really felt like I couldn’t be bothered. I can’t see Aud – apart from our twice daily FaceTime, which includes a Sunday morning FaceTime breakfast. However, coping mechanisms kicked in. 1) Mug of Yorkshire tea; 2) meditation. In that order. Winner winner. Today is a new day. It might feel like every other day, but it isn’t. To start with, it’s a gift. Then, it’s an opportunity. How many poor souls are having that opportunity taken from them every day? Equally, how many heartbreaking times do we read or hear about someone deciding they can’t cope anymore. Thinking about it, we don’t read about this. For some reason, it doesn’t get reported.

So, let’s look at today and make it matter the most, because that IS what matters most. Coming back to our hill, every step we take forward is a step towards the top. If we focus on each step we take forward, rather than what’s behind, surely that’s got to be good. Of course, the past is a learning – but we / I should use that learning as a source of energy to propel ahead, not an anchor to hold back?

Let’s run up the hill. Let’s get to the top and enjoy the view. To take in deep gulps of positivity to solely focus on achieving our goal. But let’s do this every day. By running up the hill imagine the view. The view from the hill, ironic as I write about a view from the ground. So, come and sit on the blue bench at the top of the hill and enjoy the view.

Every day, let’s just do it. Some days it might feel every so difficult but it’s worth it. We can create our day with the view from the summit that we chose. Let’s not look into the valley but look out at Mr Blue Sky, to use just 2 more song references.

I hope that all makes sense. I write live, so if I’ve veered off track a bit, sorry. It’s difficult writing when you’re running up that hill. That said, If the paths are icy again, I might need to reimagine my run in the garage.

Take care.

Jon

Don’t stop me now

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama

Beautiful words from a beautiful human being. I was tempted to start with ‘oh what a circus, oh what a show’, but I don’t want to go there. I’m not qualified to give opinion on such world events. So, let’s move on and breathe in the wise words from Michelle Obama. And don’t forget, hope + health = happy.

Thank you to everyone who had a look at the last blog, Throw Those Curtains Wide, and for the kind comments. I try and look at everything from the heart and with a passion. If a blog can put a smile on someone else’s face or life their spirits, job done. I still plan the book, but all in good time and there’s the little thing of getting a publisher to believe in my ramblings.

Anyway, welcome, or welcome back, to another view from the ground. I’m on a bit of a roll, so please don’t stop me now.

2021 starts with the U.K. in lockdown and other parts of the globe being in various degrees of similar restrictions. Scary times. Our capital city is in a state of emergency and yet I read of another anti-lockdown protest in London. How can such a minority of the population, these deluded idiots, put the majority at risk? Don’t they see the hell that is unfolding? Do they not understand the incredible work the NHS staff are doing everyday?

This lockdown feels different. I think part of that is we almost know what to expect. Another aspect is the concern at the number of people contracting the virus or, worse still, losing their lives. This new strain is a massive worry but the roll out of the vaccine keeps the hope alive.

However, I’ve found having coping strategies is a fundamental key. Doing things to occupy the times when socialising or attending something would be the norm. Doing things that keep that hope alive.

Those who have been with me on this View From The Ground journey for a few years will know I’m a music obsessive. As I’ve said before, not being able to attend concerts over the last year has been tough. They are an escape. They are a gathering of like minded souls. They provide a collective release.

I was lucky enough to see one of my musical heroes pre Lockdown 1 2020 – Pete Wylie – at my favourite venue in Leeds, the Brudenell Social Club. One man, a guitar, a bag full of songs and a lifetime of stories.

When performing as the Mighty Wah, Pete wrote one of my all time favourite songs, The Story Of The Blues.

Another of my passions, is walking – as will be referred later -particularly early morning walks with Ringo. Perfect peace, apart from the music I’m listening to. Again, I’ll come back to this.

My I-Pod tends to be on shuffle, so every morning is filled with an eclectic mix of current stuff (note: not chart nonsense, but decent music recommended by Ben), hard rock, 80s classics, dance, through to classical guitar.

Anyway, enough rambling. On a walk last week, Story Of The Blues Part 2 came on. This is a spoken word passage by Pete Wylie. I’d say it was a reflection of how he felt back in the early 80s.

I wanted to share a couple of parts of this track as I, personally, can relate to the words, to the emotion, and to their spirit. I hope they strike a cord with you.

1) “Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to that. So let’s have another drink and let’s talk about the blues. Blues is about dignity, it’s about self-respect, and no matter what they take away from you – that’s yours for keeps.”

2) “There’s a solution, it’s not easy, but it’s a matter of coming to terms in your heart with situation you’re in, a matter of choosing how things go for you and not having things forced upon you.”

I’ll just leave those words there. I would recommend listening to the track. Listen to the passion with which they are said. Feel them. And once you’ve done that, listen to the original Story Of The Blues. A classic and one I’m sure I’ll be singing to, very loudly, today.

I’ve talked before about my morning walks, which since lockdown have been a work day feature. A minimum of an hour, usually more, music plugged in, and off we go. Ringo loves it. When I was going to the office the most he’d get was 20 minutes, so it’s great for both of us.

Walking really is good for the mind and the body. The music is good to raise the spirits. Anything to just get a positive focus in these days of having to expect the unexpected. Or is it unexpect the expected?

It’s not just the early morning walks. Whilst working at home, a lunch time walk has become a feature. Not only that, I’m lucky to work with a company who introduced Well-being Wednesday, where every colleague is gifted 30 minutes every Wednesday to do something which helps their well-being. Brilliant! A company that truly cares. Brilliant again!

More often than not, Ringo and I are joined by Ben and Gaby. A time to catch up on the day so far (just in case there’s a concern over breach of lockdown rules – Ben (son) and Gaby (son’s partner) live with me, as does Liv (daughter). This only one who doesn’t is Aud (my partner), thus why she’s not on the walk. Complicated? I’d recommend scrolling through previous blogs. There’s a bit of a story 😀).

A walk and a talk is great to clear the head but also to allow others to do the same. If you can’t walk together physically, a FaceTime walk is equally therapeutic.

And then it’s the same at night. Now, I realise that the new lockdown rules restrict the number of times that we can exercise, I.e. do something good for our mental and physical health, so we have be creative. I’m grateful that we have a reasonable sized garden, so 1000 laps of that should do the rich, or walking on the spot in the garage. Just something.

Running had become a feature, so I can now be seen running on the spot in the dining room. Needs must.

I hope there is a more flexible approach allowed to exercise. We just need to ensure full social distancing rules are followed and respected. By everyone.

I could go on. I’ll keep that for another day. On the basis I can’t be with Aud at the moment, I need to prepare for our FaceTime breakfast. Poached eggs on crumpets + a strong Spanish coffee. Today mine are teddy bear crumpets. I might be an old man but it’s nice to release that inner child. Please don’t stop me now.

Don’t forget = Hope + healthy = happy.

Take care.

Jon

Beard – tick; #TeamDurky – tick; Pictures of me and you – tick. Who the hell wants to be a millionaire?

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“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” – Satchel Paige

Wealth  – ‘A plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing.’

If you were asked a killer question and your life could change if you got the answer correct would you phone a friend to help you answer it? What if you got it wrong, would you ditch that friend because that promised change won’t happen? What if that change would have made your life worse – but that wasn’t explained when you were asked the question? How bad would you feel for ditching that friend? Would you go grovelling back? Tough one because, let’s face it, you blamed them for getting your question wrong. The question which, as it happens, could have dropped your life right on its head.

Welcome to a phew from the ground – because, hopefully, the above scenario has not happened to you.

However, how many of us are continually striving for that golden ticket, without knowing where that golden ticket will lead you.

As Audrey knows too well, I’m in a very reflective state of mind at the moment. Why? Well, in all honesty, I can’t remember being this happy. Looking back on the last couple of weeks – 3 gigs (Jeff Lynne’s ELO, and The Editors + Talos twice – get on I-Tunes and start downloading – or via other music outlets), and plenty of time with Aud, Ben, Liv and Gaby. Marvellous!

As I’ve talked about in previous blogs I’m lucky and I know I am. And for that I’m grateful. To define lucky would be a blog in itself and, to be fair, everyone’s definition is a personal thing and it’s relative to where your head is and to what your ideal state of happiness is.

If you’d asked me 3 years or so ago to define lucky it would probably have involved winning the lottery, buying a place in Spain and living ‘happily ‘ every after. Probably whilst drinking myself into an early grave. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still dream of spending a lot more time in Spain but the journey to get there  (pardon the pun) won’t involve a bag of cash landing in front of me. And, it won’t involve living like every day is a holiday. It will involve achieving the dream through my own endeavours, and then celebrating every day as a gift. And it will involve new discoveries every day and creating wonderful memories. 

And, so, reflections abound and I’m learning it’s good just to sit back, be in the moment, and take time to tick the list of what’s good in life. 

I’m lucky, I’m surrounded by talkers. Get #TeamDurky around a table and the talking never stops. Of late, a lot of that talk has been around the great things we have experienced in the year. As I’ve said before, it’s good to talk.

As the song goes, all the small things. The small memories, they’re the things of the greater value for me. In this state of reflection, the walks and talks with Ben, the evening meals at the table with Liv, standing in the sea with Aud. the many memories making up a life, as it is right now.

Just think about the food that we are lucky enough to enjoy. But, if you looked back on your best memory of the year, would it be – for want of a better expression – a posh blow out or something like a smorgasbord of cheeses to nibble on with others? My memories are certainly in the latter camp. Cheese and assorted biscuits- tick; family / friends – tick; conversation – tick. Perfect! Aided, of course, by a cheeky red wine or beer.

And that’s the trick, we do strive for the perfect happiness. The level of happiness which is good for our health, and the health of everyone we come into contact with. When we achieve that level of happiness, it bounces out of us to others. It radiates, without going all weird.

But, does achieving that level of happiness have to be gained from winning the lottery or can it be achieved from appreciating what you’ve got? From looking at what you’ve got and realising how rich you are. As I’ve said, wealth is a plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing.

Desirable thing? So, if we have the ability to have perfect happiness by appreciating what we have,  surely that means we are wealthy.

I hope that makes sense. 

It’s taken me a long, long time to get to this place of realising what true wealth is. I guess I’ve lived for so many years in that dumb place of believing a stack of money was the source required to be happy – build that extension, get that car, buy that property in Spain, do this and do that, blah, blah, blah. If you can imagine it, you’ll achieve it. Well, what I achieved in that state of mind was abject unhappiness and the opposite of a stack of money!

However, through #TeamDurky (and that includes all of the family and friends who I have mentioned before), I know better and, to paraphrase another song, what a wonderful world.

Thank you for being with me as I’ve reflected like a man in a mirror (another song). Maybe sometimes, to quote one of the best bands around at the moment, “believe enough to lose control” (Slow Readers Club – get downloading, you’ll be glad you did. Incredible band).

Take care,

Jon

What’s my age again aka 56 not out

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“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.” – Don Miguel Ruiz 

“It takes a long time to become young.” –  Pablo Picasso

As the song goes, “Now I’ve had the time of my life. No, I never felt like this before.”

No disrespect but, that’s the truth. Living for the day. Living in the present. Living, loving, laughing likes there’s no tomorrow. 

So, here we go on another view from my park bench at the world. The world I live in; the world I watch; and the world I wish it could be. 

Welcome. Thank you for taking a seat with me. I hope you join me in fine form, and that your life is good. I hope you have found your place of peace, happiness, love and that positivity surrounds you. 

As I have said in many blogs before, my reasoning for write these periodic blasts of words is to share a journey that I have been on for over 2 years now. A journey I am lucky enough to travel as part of #TeamDurky.

What is #TeamDurky? Who are #TeamDurky? Well, if you take a wee peak at www.viewfromtheground.co.uk, you’ll learn about us and, if your personal journey has shades of darkness and some sadness and confusion, hopefully the blogs will bring some happiness to you.

In brief, the core is me, Ben (son), Liv (daughter), Audrey (aka The Wee One, partner), Gaby (Ben’s better half), Ringo (dog), Zeekee (cat), and a wonderful cast of family, friends, and other pets. The blog could easily be a roll call of the incredible people who are always there for us and, I hope they know, that we are there for them.

A rather scatter gun start to the blog but then, there’s not real structure to the blogs. I write from the heart and basically the words flow once I get started. And there’s nothing like been in the flow once you get started. 

A blog title is usually plucked out of thin air and I always try and start and finish the blog around the title. However, the bit / or lot in between is whatever springs out of my head.

Over the last 12 months I’ve endeavoured to focus on the positive thoughts rather than those which I guess weighed me down for so long – culminating in, perhaps, some blogs that I look back at and think they could have been …………………………… a whole lot worse had I not had the love of #TeamDurky.

Life’s a blast really, when you peel away the restrictive forces such as the need to work to live. But, thankfully, I work with good people and I’m lucky.

It’s the bit when you’re in your own space that’s the real blast and I am truly lucky that I now get the opportunity to spend that time with people who want me to be me. 

Surely that’s what life should be about? Being the person that you truly are? Not a person that others want you to be? Equally, not a person created in your mind. Just the true good old you.

Thankfully, and that’s a big thankfully, Audrey has ripped the real me out of the shadows and unleashed the middle aged child on the world. Ben and Liv have always encouraged the dafter side of my personality and that has been a wonderful distraction from other stuff.

It’s now truly beautiful to be with Audrey, who is such a good soul. Liv likes to describe Audrey as being pure. I know what she means. Audrey wants to see the good in as much as possible. What a wonderful way to look at things.

Audrey also likes to laugh …………………. at everything. Say ‘cheese’ to her in an unsuspecting moment – hysterics. Random comments with no relevance to anyone else, 5 minutes of laughter.

This just releases that inner child from the old grump (that’s me, by the way. Just in case you were confused).

So, now, that inner child relishes applying spray deodorant just as Audrey walks by. 99 out of 100 contestants would shove a red hot poker from where my sun doesn’t shine. The Wee One? Doubled up laughing!

And, thus we come to the blog title. I keep questioning some of my pranks / tomfoolery as in should I really be doing this at my ripe old age. I’ll let you guess what that is 😀. But, ultimately, why the hell not. Life’s way, way too serious. Now, I know I have a face like a slapped ar5e but, inside, I’m like a human bottle of Moët just waiting to pop …………….. as it were.

The world is a serious place. Every time you look at the news; the 24 / 7 news, it’s bad news. People being killed – natural disasters, genocide, terrorism, you name it. Delusional world leaders – the whole lot of them, Canada excluded. Plenty of stuff to distract us from our life purpose – to enjoy life!

So, the decision is made – with the encouragement of #TeamDurky – unleash that child. Inner child? Probably more the caged child, left in the wilderness through past sadness.

Jump in the sea and splash the sea? It might look daft to some but it’s liberating to me. Hide round the corner at the supermarket and leap out on Aud using my newly acquired air horn app on my phone. Childish? Young at heart and fun to me. There are so many, some a bit personal for a blog but they all just point towards having fun and allowing that young spirit to soar like a liberated bird.

I’d strongly recommend trying this. Although, sorry, Audrey isn’t available as a child unleasher. I need her but I’m sure everyone can find their own way of being able to look in the mirror and say – what’s my age again?

To finish, I saw the following anonymous quote which really resonated- “The smallest light shines in the darkest night”.

I would like to think that the blogs can be a small light on a dark night when you need something to shine.

Take care.

Jon

Living

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“We have to allow ourselves to be loved by the people who really love us, the people who really matter. Too much of the time, we are blinded by our own pursuits of people to love us, people that don’t even matter, while all that time we waste and the people who do love us have to stand on the sidewalk and watch us beg in the streets! It’s time to put an end to this. It’s time for us to let ourselves be loved.” ― C. JoyBell C.

You know that feeling when you wake up and your first thought is “what the f**k?”.

Welcome to this morning’s View From The Bed. 

As is usual, I wake up – and for that I am extremely grateful. The sky is grey, the breeze a few degrees less than it was a month ago, the bed contains just me. Audrey’s back in Harrogate, being a wonderful mum, and Ringo is downstairs. Zeekee is somewhere else. So, I’m just laying here thinking “what the f**k?”. 

My routine walk through social media has posed more questions than answers. 

  • Are Leeds Rhinos going to win today? That’s anybody’s guess, the way the team are playing.
  • Does Boris Johnson want to be the next PM, as he pitches in with his post Brexit doomed mongering again? Make you own mind up. If he dies and he succeeds, god help the U.K. We’ll just move to Scotland, vote for independence and live happily ever after.
  • Will the U.K. government ever wake up and realise we need to throw money at the police force to help tackle the worsening crime rate? Of course not. Their leader is far happier rigidly dancing like some smiling freak.
  • Empaths are a very special type of human… (from a Facebook group) What’s an empath??? Definition of an empath – ‘(chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual’. Hello! It says science fiction. 
  • “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond them.” – Alan Watts. 

AT LAST! An answer to a question. In fact the answer to my waking question – “what the f**k?” And it certainly answers the questions raised by everything else I’ve read on social media. 

We wake up and, most of us, worry. What’s today going to be like? Have I enough money? During the week, what hell will work bring? Is it going to rain? In Manchester, they don’t need to ask because it will. What shall I eat tonight? Are empaths a very special type of human?

Rather than being alive we almost suffocate ourselves with questions. Some answerable but nothing to worry about, and some unanswerable so, what is there to worry about. We certainly shouldn’t worry about science fiction.

Wait – how do you spell epiphany? 

I think we can easily worry about unanswerable stuff, try to achieve what doesn’t need to be achieved and forget to just be alive. 

So, my quest today is to breathe, to open my eyes, to hug those who I can hug, and to be alive. I don’t need to worry about the other stuff. Boris will do want Boris wants because he’s a first class, deluded fool (and we all know one or two who fall into that category don’t we); the U.K. government will do what it wants because it is littered with deluded fools (and we all know more than one or two of those don’t we); empaths? And, will the Rhinos win? I think I’ll just go along with the idea of being alive.

And, so my dear reader to this Sunday morning blast of words. My mantra today ‘What The f**k. Just be alive’. Perhaps imagine being stood on a beach. But, let’s not lose the plot.

That’s all.

Happy Sunday 😀😀😀😀

Take care

Jon

Communication won’t let me down again. True!

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“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

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