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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So welcome to a clearer view of the ground ahead.

Clearer? Yep, I’d say so. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon

Lemon meringue pie for your soul

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

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

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

Enough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care.

Jon

See. Sea. Si!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care out there. It’s raining!

 

Jon

 

 

 

 

Simple mind(fulness). It’s rather great to be alive and kicking.

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

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

#Love is all around, as Marti Pellow once sung (yes, covering a song by the Troggs) and as each day goes by, I realise the importance of feeling that love – in an exact moment – and sharing that love – in the same moment. Making sense? Read on, please, as I look out from my perch.

Welcome to the first blog in a while. I’ve been thinking of taking the blogs offline for a while. Partly to think about a new direction for them. And partly to shape what has been written so far into some kind of book. Or, maybe I’ll just keep on blabbering on. Who knows 😀.

Anyway, enough of the future, let’s celebrate the present. How much time do we spend looking back and looking forward, rather than enjoying the moment. How often do we say ‘I can’t wait for ………..’, rather than ‘I #love the right here, right now’?

We were lucky enough to see The Architects play at Alexandra Palace in London a few days ago. Now, their music style might not be to everyone’s taste. We love them and I’m so grateful for Ben introducing them to me.

However, The Architects’s story is one of sadness, strength, love and hope. Their guitarist and songwriter, Tom Searle, died not too long ago after a brave battle with cancer. So young; so sad.

The band, including Tom’s twin brother, have bravely chosen to continue and every performance is a tribute to their love for and memory of Tom.

To be one of the 10,000 at Alexandra Palace to enjoy such a magnificent band and to celebrate the memory of such a talent man was nothing short of an honour and a privilege. To feel the emotion and unity between band and audience is something that will stay with me for a long time.

But, one of the many abiding emotions that I came away with was to live in the moment, to enjoy and love what life I / we have because you can never anticipate what tomorrow might bring.

We have a duty to enjoy each and every day that we are blessed with and to share that enjoyment with as many as we can.

And, if a like sImple mindfulness can help us focus on enjoying today, then even better.

I know I talk a lot about mindfulness but, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of an obsession. It’s something that I have to work on personally on a daily basis – as I walk across the greased floor that life sometimes feels like?

I am lucky to enjoy a daily early morning walk so that gives me a great chance to zone out and focus literally on what I can see in front of me, listen to the sounds around me, and intake deep lungs full of the fresh morning air.

The challenge, of course, is not allowing the mind to become cluttered with what I need to at work, things that are going on at home, or whether the Leeds Rhinos are going to win the next game.

To win the challenge though is magnificent and very grounding.

Practicing simple mindfulness in the car on the way to work is also magnificent – providing I keep an eye on the road in front and behind of course. It’s a great method for reducing road rage to start with – and that is a daily challenge. It’s also a super way of not overthinking. In fact, it’s a great way of not thinking.

It’s all good though. The passage that #TeamDurky walks remains strong. We are lucky to be just that – a team. As has been charted over the last few months #TeamDuke evolved into #TeamDurk with the arrival of Audrey, and then #TeamDurky with Gaby coming on board. We have the subdivision of #TeamRingKee, with the wonderful Zeekee and Ringo. That could be #TeamRingSuKee, with the inclusion of Audrey’s dog, Susie.

But, a team we are and I’m proud of the bond that we have. Let’s not forget Eilidh and Liam. They are equally important within the team.

Its good to reflect sometimes. Live for the day with a recognition of the strength you have drawn to help you through the day. Looking back on The Architects. Look at the strength and, as a band and as an entire collective – including their families a friends – the determination they have drawn from their true sadness. I have true admiration on how they appear to focus on today but also how they also share their emotions openly with their fans.

We need to be there for each other. And in these rather challenging times that is more important than ever. Look at the true horror of the latest school shooting in the USA. How long must this go on? Guns available freely. Evil peddled on the dark web. Maniacs apparently reported to the FBI who appear clueless. And more innocent people lose their lives. The killer is remorseful. Whoopy doo.

The issue is far greater than one maniac. But, let’s not focus on the issue right now. Let’s focus on the poor souls who went to school never to come home. Let’s focus on the family and friends who will never see their loved ones again. Let’s focus on those who had to witness the true horror that what was happening right in front of them. And let’s focus on the emergency services who has to deal with after math.

And, when I see such atrocities happening around the world I give thanks for every day that I am blessed with.

So, yes, it’s great to be alive and kicking. It really is. I hope the same applies to you. I hope your life is filled with #love, laughter, and unity. I hope you have family and friends who you can share your #love with.

Keep well. Keep smiling. Keep real.

Thank you.

 

Jon

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Love

 

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

 

 

 

And I’ve been sleeping like a dog (#TeamDuke move on from yesterday)

 

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Have you been losing sleep? Have you been losing sleep over where the term ‘blog’ originates from? No? Me neither, however it dates back to the 1990s and is an abbreviation of weblog. Sleep well my friends.

Sleep? A state of rest where, before descending into that beautiful state of nothing, many wonder whether they will experience a dream.

Dream? ‘A state of mind in which someone is or seems to be unaware of their immediate surroundings.’

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

‘Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.’ – Khalil Gibran

And, there you have it in 110 words, a pretty amazing start to the latest View From The Ground blog …………… not! But then, my dream is to ensure no blog starts identically to a previous one. Yes, there’s a couple of quotes. Yes, it’s already rambling more that an over excited hiker.

However, it’s different and, for once, it has an indirectly directly indirect link to the title of the blog – sleep!

How can a blog be formed out of talking about sleep? Interesting question, so bear with me.

From the offset of the journey for #TeamDuke, the context of sleep has taken on a different meaning. You read the studies about the importance of uninterrupted sleep. About sleep been important for the mind and body. So on and so forth.

What the studies don’t seem to analyse is when does sleep take on less importance. When do you have to be available to those endless waking hours? When do you learn that it’s not ‘all about me?’.

And, of course, the answer is when some else’s waking challenges outweigh your need for sleep. When someone needs to talk.

I learned, very quickly, last year about the importance of talking. And, I guess, although not linked to the title – maybe I should have called it ‘Help’ – that’s a bit of a theme I want to explore – talking.

I wrote a blog a while ago – ‘Talk Talk – its my life with #TeamDuke – so I know it’s a subject already trodden. However, as events unfold I want to return to the importance of being honest through talking and, hopefully, through the blog, can inspire someone who has been a closed book to open up and trill like a bird.

As previous readers know, my dream, through sharing some very personal experiences in the #TeamDuke blogs, is to inspire others to take action and to understand there is hope. And, there is always hope.

I believe some people read my words and think I’m having a meltdown; that I’m bitter towards the root cause of the starting point of the #TeamDuke; that my emotional state is of concern. I use the expression ‘he protesteth too much’ a lot and it would be a fair challenge to suggest this applies here. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s no doubt, last year, when the darkness still hung over the house, I was angry. I was upset. And, I was on meds. Worse, though, is the effect it all had on Ben and Liv. You can’t imagine! But, during our growth this year, under the banner of #TeamDuke life is good thank you very much.

So, any reference to the past is just that, a reference. It might be a reference with a tongue firmly in the cheek – that’s just me playing.

I’ve just had to read back into the blog to remind myself what I am talking about and, ironically, it’s about talking. In Britain, I believe, we are too willing to bottle things up. Certainly men are. Talk? It’s not what men do. Not real men. Real men talk about women, and sport, and flatulence (is that how you spell it?) and beer! No, my friend, real men talk and listen and are open and are proud of who they are.

So, getting right back to the subject – when someone wants to talk, the need, the real need, is not for sleep but it’s to make sure that person knows you want to listen.

This is something me, Ben, and Liv have learned and something we practice. There have been times when my bedroom door would creek open for me to be joined by Ben or Liv. They need to talk! I need, no I want, to listen. It has been so important for us all to listen. And, now, there’s Audrey. Always, unconditionally, willing to listen. Of course, my challenge is ensuring that Audrey also talks. We all have the need to talk – don’t we?

So, the morale is – speak up and don’t hold back. By doing so, it will help you to forget about yesterday, to enjoy today, and to plan for tomorrow. And to, over time, let it be.

Then, of course, there are those nights when sleep is available to you and it wants to embrace you. But, our mind is working overtime. Strangely enough, for me, the cure came when I stepped into helping Ringo cure from a rather horrific ear infection. I decided to let him sleep in my room so I could monitor him. Great idea at the time. However, not being an expert in the mind of a dog, I did not appreciate the routine that would be built into Ringo’s thinking so, weeks later, guess who thunders upstairs when I say I’m going to bed? Audrey?????? If only. She’s so mini Ringo sweeps her out of the way when she’s here, in his excitement to claim his spot on the bed. Well, actually, just to claim the bed.

And, the wonderful thing is, since Ringo has been joining me on the bed, I really have been sleeping like a dog. Blissful, restful sleep (apart from last night, when my ageing bladder wound me up). He’s very calming and always willing for a morning hug without wanting a coffee (😀). Who’d have thought it.

So, at that happy point, I will bring another blog to a random end. I hope, at the very least, these words have caused a smile, so thought and, hopefully, you won’t be thinking that was a minute of your time to that you’ll never get back.

 

Jon