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

This is a blog

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has opened to us”. – courtesy of Denny Training

A quote that landed in my inbox a few weeks ago and once upon a time it would have had an impact. At the time, it kind of resonated. However, I’m one of the lucky ones. As a door closed, I was grateful to grasp the handle of the opened door and take the opportunity to explore inside. More on that later.

It’s been a tough few weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to experience a lot of what too many people been through. Disruption.

I’m not going to blab on in a ‘poor me’ way. We all know / knew people like that. I guess I just want to explore how we deal with disruption.

So, with that, let’s experiment with surrender and join me on the blue bench to take a reflective view from the ground.

It’s been a while. As was once sung, you say it best when you say nothing at all.

Disruption – “the act or process of disrupting something: a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity, process, etc.”

Obviously, disruption can come in many forms. Let’s face it, the last 14 months has seen significant disruption in global life. From the lockdown disruption, many thousands have had residual effects of the lockdown that have changed their lives for ever. It’s been tough.

But, out of the flames, we have learned to rise like the proverbial Phoenix. Or, in some cases, it may have felt like being out of the frying pan and into the flames.

All disruption. But, we learn. We seek to fix the break in our normal course, and find ways to move towards continuation, even when that continuation is a move towards a new normal. We find a way of life that suits our new circumstances. We learn a new sense of appreciation for all that we had, all that we now have, and all that we can gain.

Am I making sense or is this just a rambling outpouring of words? I hope it makes sense.

I saw a great line from the magnificent BrewDog empire – tomorrow starts today. Those are such great words.

I was presented with unexpected disruption. I didn’t like it. I got angry. I tried to better understand the reason for the disruption. I still didn’t like it but, ultimately, the choice was to remain angry or to find a solution.

Sometimes decisions made that are out of your control can move you to then make a decision that is within your control and that, in itself, can be as simple as seeing the open door in advance of the other door closing.

I guess a learning I took from reading The Surrender Experiment by Michael A Singer was to let go of my own fears; stopping listening to the little voice of doubt and control in my head – and just letting go to where life took me.

The learning helped me to see the disruption not as a problem but as an opportunity.

So, literally It was a case of one door opening as another door threatened to close. As a consequence, I can look back behind the closing door with fondness and pride, rather than anger. I can reflect on all that was good. I can also propel through my new, open, door with real enthusiasm and excitement.

The message the disruption provided was to just go with the flow, ride the wave, and land on 2 feet on the beach (in my case like a beached whale).

I hope we can all learn from Lockdown disruption about how we rose above the chaos it presented. I equally hope that when disruption presents itself to you, you can see an opportunity, not a problem.

And as a closing learning, I’ve sought to surrender to enjoying each and every day in the moment. Have I banged my head and gone a bit la la? Noooooooo. Hear me out – please. And this is just about my own wiring, not judging how others think.

Last week, I was lucky to have a wonderful day with Ben, and Ringo, on the East coast of Yorkshire. The sky was grey, the temperature was cold, the wind blew (that’s the weather), the waves crashed, and we had a magnificent day. It couldn’t have been better.

The follow day, when I was having my early morning walk, the sky was blue, the temperature was cool, the wind was still and, for a second, I thought ……………….. I thought how bloody lucky I’d been to have such a wonderful day with Ben. I knew no kind of weather could have made it any better.

So, there you have it – disruption = opportunity; every day = opportunity.

And, to close, another little gem of a thought – “If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room” – courtesy of Denny Training

Keep well and stay safe.

Jon

What is my age again?

“Life has a funny way of turning you into the one thing you don’t want to be.” – Jonathan Levine

Have you ever looked at a group of young people having the time of their lives and felt that pinch of envy? Obviously, I don’t mean right now as we’re all doing the same thing. I mean, when we’re out of lockdown and we’re not in tiers. Hopefully, we’ll be in tears of laughter.

Or is it just me?

Have you ever actually thought ‘I can do that’? Let’s explore my conundrum as I stumble towards the birthday before the birthday where it all falls apart. The up and coming birthday that signals there are 365 days before I have to accept there are some things that I really should withdraw from. Or, should I have arrived at that station already? Some would say yes.

I’m in a pickle. But then, I probably have been for a while. The view from the ground is a tad hazy.

The challenge is greater because post lockdown we will all feel like propelling ourselves out of the house and going just a little bit crazy. Won’t we?

I guess this is a bit personal but, hopefully, the conundrum is something others will relate to.

There a long list of things I enjoy doing where I think, perhaps it’s time to grow up. But, then, in equal measures, is that a problem? Is that they problem? Society places this expectation that by a certain point in our lives we should all behave in a certain way. We should all act responsibly. Or, is that pressure actually something we place on ourselves because we think that is what society expects?

Let’s give an example. Now, as I blab on about, I love music. I love attending concerts. I love the energy of concerts, and I equally love watching the crowd erupt into a swaying mass of energy and pure excitement. I’ve always stood on the periphery of this bedlam (I’m referring to a certain kind of concert – of course). Watching bands demand a circle pit opens, or just instilling the kind of enthusiasm where the crowd bounces – off each other. The collective spirit of being together.

So, why, as I’ve been moving towards respectful old age am I drawn closer to this mass of enthusiasm? Why 3 1/2 years ago was I towards the front for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, being shunted in every direction, and loving every minute? Why, 2 years ago, was I drawn into the crowd for the same band and bouncing with unbounded energy whilst Frank told us all to get a f@£king crowbar? Why, 3 months later did I join a circle pit with Liv (daughter) fir some fun with Bring Me Horizon? Why, at most concerts, with Ben (son), Aud (The Wee One), and Liv have we edged further into the crowd? (Note: Gaby (Ben’s partner) does come to some concerts, just (in the main) not the chaotic ones).

What is my age again?

And there’s the problem. Am I regressing? Should I give in to pressure and start going to middle of the road, sit down and nod (off) concerts? Don’t get me wrong, mu musical tastes stretch all over place. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, sit and sing. Yes! Bear’s Den, stand and marvel at wonderful music. Yes! Evanescence with an orchestra, sit and cry. Yes! I could go on. To do go on, sorry.

But, it’s the draw to being involved in those incredible experiences of loud, bouncing rock music. Seeing the whites of the eyes of the band, and the passion from the crowd.

I worry. I worry that maybe now is the time to retire from these shows. Or at least from being in the midst of it (or close). Just as I’ve started. Just when I’d shaken off the disguise of who I was pretending to be and become the person I wanted to be.

And, then that raises a question for us all? Who decides who we are and what we do? Is it society? Is it peer group pressure? Is it our perception of how we see others within our age group behaving so that how we think we should behave? Or can we decide to think, let’s just do it?

My problem is, I try and imagine people within my age range who are a lot more successful than me (not difficult) throwing themselves into some of the concerts I enjoy. No way. So, is that one of the many reasons why success as evaded me? I haven’t grown up? What is my age again?

I could list the things where I think – is it time to press reset and accept old age with a grunt of resentful grace? Can you even have resentful grace?

Time to quite social media and those daily updates? Time to stop the 100s of selfies? (Note: surely these are a record of today to share with yet to be born family members tomorrow?) Time to step out from behind the door before leaping out on an unsuspecting Aud (The Shrieking Wee One)? Time to be oh so sensible? Time to watch documentaries rather than another comedy? Time to stop shouting at the referee for another appalling decision? Time to stop????

And all of these decisions to be made in the midst of another lockdown?

Or is it time to stop overthinking? Is the problem that we can just get caught up in a worry about who we perceive people expect us to be, rather than thinking ‘who do I want to be’?

Do we get wrapped up in remembering how our parents were when they were our age and worry that we should be like that? Reality is, the world was a very different place and I do remember my mum listening to the music that made her happy on the radio. Well, I do that, it’s just different music.

Do we always the expectation of others to cloud our own fun loving self so that we morph into an android of so many grey people? I’m not judging others here, insofar as to asking not to be judged.

The world is very different. How we live our lives – out of lockdown – is a different world. A more open world – in the free world, that is. So, am I worrying too much?

It’s a tough one and I’m sure I’m not the only person with this challenge. However, in 376 days from now, the line is there? The question is – will it be the finish line, will it be the start line, or will it be just the completion of another lap and off we go on the next lap? Time to be brave, perhaps.

What is my age again? Should I care? Only time will tell.

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

The Beautiful Ewe (57 varieties but the inter galactic beings ain’t one)

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“Be stupid, be dumb, be funny, if that’s who you are. Don’t try to be someone that society wants you to be; that’s stupid. So be yourself.” – Christina Grimmie

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve realised, I’m not very good at starting these blogs. How do I make them interesting enough to secure a broader audience. I could go political, but that’s old news. Brexit is broken, but everyone knows that. Trump is an imbecile but opinion is divided and I don’t really have the right to comment. Teresa May is the most ineffective Prime Minister since ……………… her predecessor. But, that is quite clearly because Brexit is broken.

So, the political angle doesn’t work.

I could preach spirituality, but that could lose as many people / person as gain anybody. What do I know about spirituality anyway. Or about ‘special ‘ signs of being a chosen one. I see 14:44 on the clock a lot, but I also see 13:40 as often. I read about the fifth dimension and clearly I am not an ascended grand master flash of the overload brethren from the outer galactic reincarnated version of an angel with a dirty face. I know my mission, it’s written in the bars.

So, a spiritual route might not work. Joking apart, I have a real respect for those who follow a genuine spiritual path for the betterment of themselves and to create a better planet. I understand the place of peace that they create and seek to share to help others.

There’s always music. Now I could write about the joy of music. Regular visitors know my love of music. This year has seen many music related highlights for #TeamDurky. We are lucky. I guess the love of music is part of what makes me the person I am. 

Mmmmmmm, now, is this the start of the plot to the blog? Follow me as we open the lid of my mind and find out.

It’s strange how the blogs have morphed from their starting point of analysing why white feathers are scattered before us as we walk. A moulting bird to you might be a guardian angel to someone else. Who am I to question either perspective? For a while, I deeply wanted to believe a guardian angel was with me but no angel would have walked me into the hell that followed. And, well, now #TeamDurky provide my angelic protection.

The blogs then moved into shamanic journeying and wise words from the big chief. Again, who am I to question people’s desire to believe in such things? I now question my own reasons for following that thinking for a time. Reality or desperation? I like my reality now and the closest I get to sham………… is a shami kebab as part of my Friday Night Dinner. That does mean I disrespect others’ views.

We then went a bit dark and a bit bitter. I make no apologies for some of the anger. At that time in our lives there was good reason for anger. But, that was then and this is now. As easy as ABC. Am I angry now? Hell, yes! Leeds Utd lost yesterday, I’m trying to find money to see AHa when they play Leeds, Leeds Rhinos haven’t made any announcements recently, and the weather looks naff. And, that’s the size of it. Talking about size, my 4 foot 11 inch beautiful partner is humming to Mumford and Sons in the background (as in ‘musically’ – very loose definition – not stinking). That makes me very happy.

And, then, I suddenly got it. I realised I have all I could ever dream about – I have #TeamDurky. I have the foundations to build blogs to, hopefully, share our joy and bring a smile to the face of any reader. To help to show that, I pray, everyone has something to be happy about.

Anger isn’t me. I know I’m a grumpy old git, I have a face like a slapped bottom half the time, and I need to turn that frown upside down. But, I’m not angry. I just need to be me. Be the me that I know I am. I spent so much wasted time trying to ‘fit in’ to a belief system that wasn’t me. The Devine was an 80s singer – in my world, and I know I walk like a man and I certainly think I’m a man. But, I also appreciate the Devine means something to others.

As the song goes, I’m a family man and I love being just that. Family extends beyond the house, family extends so much further. It was awesome to see just that at The Wee (4 11) One’s party in the summer. Such a wonderful day and to see the family in all of its glory. It was a joy to step back and just revel in what we have around us, but to also realise this is me.

And, that’s the point; the reason for these words is to celebrate that we can enjoy just being ourselves, and the need not to try and change into what others want you to be. Or is that what you think they want you to be? 

We are all born to be ewenique. Surely? Maybe it takes time to see the true ewe. Let’s face it, at school we try to blend in. At work we seek to be accepted. As we develop friend groups, we want to be liked. But you are ewe are u are you. That’s got to be cause for celebration.

So are you going to be your unique self? Are you going to say no to following the sheep around the field of life and decide to be the beautiful ewe. 

It’s so good to realise that you can be the bewetiful you, not to be the person you’re being told to be. As Hootie And The Blowfish once sang, ‘Cause they don’t look like you’.

We are all different, after all. It’s good to realise there are 57 varieties – and more – and you don’t have to be any. Be ewe, be you, be u. Be an inter galactic being? That’s your choice. I’m sure there’s space out there if you take that option.

As I’ve said earlier, and in many blogs, I / we in #TeamDurky love music and I want to close with possibly the most powerful lyric I have heard for a long time – “Can you live a life worth dying for?” (Tom Searle / Dan Searle / The Architects). Think about it.

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

It wasn’t me (although could also be – Still Breathing Part 2)

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“At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.” – Erin Cummings

“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.” – Joseph Campbell

Shaggy put it all perfectly when he said ‘it wasn’t me’. Well, it wasn’t, was it? It never is. Is it? It certainly wasn’t me.

And, so, we begin to view my grounded mind in the hope of finding who it was.

Life’s a blast, isn’t it? We’re lucky to be gifted the first breath of the morning, and to continue to breathe throughout the day until it we allow ourselves to close out the world at the end of the day, in the hope that we will awake the following day to celebrate we are still breathing.

As Billie Joe Armstrong wrote and sings, “’Cause I’m still breathing, ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way away. ‘Cause I’m still breathing, ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way away, My way to you”

One of my favourite Green Day songs, and a moment from their show in Leeds in 2017 that I’ll never forget. Singing loudly to the song, and meaning every last word. I’m still breathing. But, breathing on my own? Not so much, but it would make the song very long and hard to get each line to link if I listed the cast of many that help me to breathe everyday. To start with, yes I can find words to rhyme with Ben and Liv, but …………… Audrey?

It’s strange how my head works. This blog looks like it’s going to be a sandwich – 2 slices of It Wasn’t Me, with a Still Breathing filling. Maybe something on the side? That would be very nice thank you, but perhaps not in public.

So, the filling. Still breathing. A subject explored before but, in reality, do we celebrate breathing as much as we should. Let’s face it, if it’s taken away you’ll never be able to celebrate again ………… celebrate anything, that is.

On a recent trip to Ibiza to celebrate the most incredibly stunning marriage of my awesome nephew, Matthew, to the beautiful Sarah, Audrey and I practiced an exercise of celebrating the use of our 5 senses in specific instances – normally on an early morning walk. We never quite got onto the sixth sense. I think we’d left that on the fifth dimension somewhere, which we had visited at 14:44 or was it at 11:11? By the way, how do you spell epiphany?

Do we really appreciate how we can enjoy the 5 senses in almost everything we do. If we just appreciated the joy that they all bring us. So many sadly can not enjoy the sight of trees turning colour in autumn (or the Fall); too many can not hear the sound of birds singing. Then, there are those who can not enjoy taste, smell or touch. Just think, do we really understand how lucky we are when we can experience all five. 

So, on our Ibizan walks, Audrey and I loved the view of the boats bobbing on the Mediterranean, enjoyed the sound of the waves lapping on the sand, relished the feel of the same sand on our feet, whilst smelling the fresh sea air and tasting a romantic, dream filled kiss under the sun risen sky. And that’s just one example. We are so lucky!

Still breathing! So, that’s the filling but we haven’t even explored the slices of It Wasn’t Me. 

Well, here’s a subject – denial, and I’m not talking about jumping into an Egyptian river. Denial – the definition (as in failure to admit) – ‘a state in which someone will not admit that they have knowledge, responsibility, or feelings’.

It wasn’t me. Or, it was your fault, actually. Aka the act of denying responsibility for an action that was wrong, because you were never challenged about it. 

I guess we are in a world going through a monumental shift towards denial. Look at our world leaders. Putin denying sending secret services to the U.K.; May denying she has messed up Brexit; Trump ……………. well, where do you start.

But, we shouldn’t take their examples as the way to behave. So, when you hear someone say ‘it wasn’t me’ when challenged about something, and the blame is laid at your door, tell them to grow some balls and just accept they were wrong.

I feel like starting a Honesty Movement. Let’s face up to our truth in a way o ur truth is not morphed through a process of instilling a feeling of wrongdoing in another person. Let’s stand up and be counted. It could start by accepting you were the one who left the fridge door open, rather than asking who the last person was to go in it. 

Think about it. Think about a time when someone has suggested you were in the wrong for something they were responsible for. Now, next time you see that person, promise yourself you’ll tell them ‘it was you’. I know I will, that’s a promise 😀.

So, there you have it. A bizarre sandwich of some floppy it wasn’t me, with a substantial filling of still breathing.

I hope you enjoyed the read. I place 2 disclaimers on my blogs – 1) I take all responsibility for the typos, it was me. I just type out what I’m thinking but sometimes makes mistakes; and 2) the blogs are written from the heart and, yes, tinged with personal experience. They’re not meant to offend but, hey, if any words offend anyone – sorry. As I said, life experiences have shaped the words. So, I guess, if the words offend, then perhaps ask why.

Have a great life. See it. Hear it. Smell it. Feel it. Taste it. And, when you do, remember, it was you.

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