The first quarter

As I sit here listening to gentle music and seeing the last bit of the sun setting on the hottest April day in 70 years and it also being the 108th day in the year, I’m reflecting on this first quarter of the year, which has been eventful, as on my previous reflections there have been ups and downs, but what has struck me about this quarter is of what I’ve learnt and what also what I’ve been reminded of,

What I’ve learnt..

Some of the things we learn are not from the most pleasant of things but are worth mentioning and this is what I’ll start with

1   About  loss

Not too long ago someone I knew from the age of 8 died from an illness.  The relationship I had with this person wasn’t always good, although there was a period where we weren’t at odds our relationship did not end on good terms, that saddened me, for in spite of their faults, I didn’t dislike them and I didn’t hold any ill will over our last contact.  Whilst others can mourn freely I can’t in the same way for the same reasons, I can’t shout their praise from the hilltops but neither do I want to tear strips off their life or pretend I was their best friend.  So my learning was to to how to navigate this loss, respecting others memories of this person but also allowing my own experiences of them to surface privately yet freely.  The other the thing that struck me was that knowing that I’m not immortal is one thing but being reminded that someone you’ve known a long time is not immortal either and this is something I have to remember.

2     Dealing with Danger

I recently found myself in a dangerous situation, the details of which I won’t go into for all sorts of reasons.  The thing I learnt about myself in that position is how my resilience kicked in  and even though at one point I knew I had no control about what would happen next, I still had control inwardly and how I responded to what was taking place and was surprised at my clarity of thinking and decision making processes were and in spite of the situation how very little emotion reaction at the time.

3   War and Peace

Read a book called Cross vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus makes sense of Old Testament Violence by Gregory A. Boyd.  It was mostly a really a good book, it made me think over my non pacifist position, see my blog post called War and Peace. It hasn’t made me a 100% pacifist but certainly explains alot of the reasons in the way I can relate to for the reasons for the violence, and one great thing was he doesn’t blame God.  I learnt a great deal about some beliefs around the times of writing the old testament and it was a very well researched book. You’ll just have to read the book to find out more.  The timing was pretty apt with just last week or two of more raids from the British and US forces on Syria, the more I know about the situation the less I want to hear, just because of the possible propaganda/misinformation surrounding it all and the fact again we might be at war based on lies.  What I have learnt history certainly teaches us much about war and governments seeming to do more to go to war rather than to prevent it from happening.

4     When not to use the word “You”

I attended a marriage/relationship seminar for a day and one thing I learnt was in a conflict situation not to use the word “You” as it is often used in terms of accusations which causes people to be defensive, very useful, instead  say when this happens…or I heard …. being said.

Now to the lighter moments

5   To say Yes to invitations and opportunities

Life is to be lived to the full and that means not saying no to opportunities or invites and that’s what I’ve been doing this year, I met up with people I’d never met before through social media which was a wonderful adventure, invited to meetings and day conferences, now attend a book club run by one of our church leaders and possibly attending a bible course in September.  Saying no means closing the door on experiences whether they be good or bad, for me the only reason to say no now is either I just can’t do something as it clashes or I have a strong sense not to do it.  Otherwise any door that’s open I’ll walk through it.

Reminded of…

6  Being ordinary

Being comfortable with being just an ordinary human being, merging with the rest of the world and how freeing that is,  not having to keep up with the somebody people think you are or might be or you might want to be.  That doesn’t mean we humans are not valuable or having nothing to offer the world at large, its just accepting your ordinary and normal and that really is OK, you don’t have to be somebody to make a difference, and that was my lesson

7   Simple fun

Being reminded that fun doesn’t have to be complicated gave me a great deal of pleasure.  In January I purchased a google home.  On this device I discovered a quiz which I played on my own but you can also play with others.  So on an evening in March two of my nieces and I played the quiz together, the game gives us nicknames to play which made us all laugh for some reason I was mushroom for some strange reason it reminded me of my childhood with pictures of red toadstools with white spots on.  I loved the fact my nieces really enjoyed the quiz which happened completely by accident, simple and spontaneous fun make people happy.

8    A change is as good as a rest

In March I attended an interview for a job which unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending for a couple of weeks it certainly got me down and it was a job I felt I really wanted too.  One Friday one of my friends invited me to an impromptu drive to Sheffield with another mutual friend to visit family.  It was beautiful scenery with all weathers and good company.  I came home feeling a ton better and is if everything had completely changed  certainly  a reminder to me if I’m really down to just do something completely different or go somewhere on the spur and I’ll feel alot better.

Certainly these last 16 weeks have been intense at times, but I’ve also had time to be creative with another poem or two and another attempt at songwriting and more flapjack making.  I could add more but as I need to be up at 5:30am I need to finish.

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My creativity bug

As a child attending shcool I wrote essays, poetry and other forms of writing rather dutifully, there was no particular love or hate for writing.  The feedback I got from teachers wasn’t exactly encouraging, in comparison I hated maths and loved the bit of chemistry and biology I did and learnt some German which I revelled in for other reasons.  History I found stimulating and absorbing, but the general chore of writing to task was dull.  The end result was that although my spelling was excellent at the time I came out with a D for my GCSE English, which didn’t inspire me to think that I had any talent for writing or any particular spark of creativity.

However strangely as an adult things changed.  I worked as a proof reader for a while and the company I worked for decided to produce a newsletter I felt to write something I wasn’t sure why but went down very well, and it encouraged me to write more.

When my mother was terminally ill I felt inspired to write a story for her which she loved and others who saw I since enjoyed it.  To some degree this blog came  out of all that.

Now one of the creative tasks I found difficult was poetry and song writing, but lately something rather odd has been happening.  I’ve been writing little bits of poetry and possible song writing material, how did that come about.  It all started when I visited a man known for his poetry and I really enjoyed listening to his creativity, really appreciated the depth coming out of him, not long afterwards one of my friends embarked on a creative spurt of song writing, after conversing with her and a couple of other friends words started coming to me inspired by the conversations.

I’ve been wondering why now, some of the stuff coming out is quite emotive and personal which I’ve been surprised by.  I’m  generally not been a big fan of poetry, but what I’m doing now I’m really enjoying it’s stimulating and fun.

I feel as I’m writing I seem to be drawing stuff out of me or attempting to get to the bottom of something, either way the conclusion I’ve come to is that this is exactly it’s purpose to either draw something out or find something deep.  whichever way I’m happy to go with the flow and I feel whilst that inspiration is there to grab it with both hands and run with it.  So I’ll end with a little bit of inspiration.

Now I’m alert to this creativity spurt, I’ve got so much pleasure by this written treasure, I’ll continue to dig deep, for the words which will speak through this season of time, for I don’t want to bypass this gold mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review, Reflections and Resolutions

Well 2016 has begun, already we are on day 4 and I already have a few plans, but first a summary and  reflection on 2015.

A year of firsts

In April  and May I had 3 firsts, my first visit to Scotland not cold weather at the time either, I attended my first political hustlings which apparently was the most lively one in my area and I started my work at the hospital. June I baked banana bread for the first time and August baked Chocolate Caramel shortbread with two of the Bubble family whilst they visited me

A year of outings and events

Three visits to Middlesbrough, one to Manchester and a trip to Blackpool, and visits from my friends in Middlesbrough, a friend form Yorkshire, and a  visit from my friend in Scotland.  A trip to the theatre with my friends Mr and Mrs Bubble, several trips to cafe’s, restaurants and pubs with friends.  I didn’t have 4 weddings and a funeral rather it was one of each, both were impacting for different reasons.

Old and new

Bumping into friends I hadn’t seen for years and meeting new people, also creating a couple of groups one that had been in the planning for a long time, another almost done on the fly.

That was my review of 2015 now my reflections, in particular what I’ve learnt.

1  A year of firsts

A realisation that I still enjoy learning new things and experiencing new places and meeting new people. Scotland wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be and letting the Scots know I’m not anti Scottish.  I can still try new things when baking even if it doesn’t taste quite as nice as you think.  Some of the people I have met have been lovely.

2 It’s still ok to be vulnerable

When I was ill I lay thinking that I felt vulnerable but I also knew that it’s ok to feel that way.  I will write a post on vulnerability in the future. The fact is vulnerability isn’t something to be feared rather it is something to be embraced.

3 Surprised by reacquainting with others

Surprised because Two people I hadn’t seen for a while had been through some bad times which was saddening to see and hear about, one other person I hadn’t seen for years I hardly new and was pleased to find that although when I first knew them I didn’t think I  had much in common with I found they had more in common with me than I originally thought at the time, they also were informative and fascinating.

4 I can enjoy weddings or rather the receptions

I learnt at weddings or wedding receptions Joy has a way of spreading, people meeting in happy circumstances can create a great atmosphere and openness with others, it’s a bit like those who get drunk their inhibitions come down and they become more extrovert or feel relaxed and happy, that’s what an atmosphere at a wedding can do.

5 Getting more comfortable being myself

Embracing more and more of who I am, still more work there but I’m making progress. Celebrating my overall introverted nature but at the same time knowing that at times I do have an outgoing streak which I’m comfortable with too.  Knowing I’m a  peacemaker and the one that keeps going when things are tough.

6 Losing and finding your way and letting go

It’s ok to lose your way and you can find your way back whatever situation you maybe in from losing my way in Manchester to losing a sense of direction in my work situation. Letting go of not knowing, and to some degree of control again of outcomes.

Now to the resolutions.  Well I’m no fan of those, instead I have a few aims.

1 Walk more

I started walking yesterday so I aim to walk everyday, weather and whereabouts permitting.

2 Hone in on my communication skills and seek to widen their sphere of influence.

I want to write more expand on what I’m doing, my dream is to expand in the oral side of communication too not just the written, but it’s finding the vehicle to hone those skills  is the difficult one.

3 My relationships

I hope to see more of my friends this year and allow those relationships to grow or diminish just let go of what’s not important to be able to hold on to what is.  I hope some reading this will stay in touch.  I saw a good quote stop thinking more about personal ends rather than personal friends. I hope to see more of my family too.

4 Still visit more places

I want to visit more places both old and new, I hope if I get work to go on a proper holiday.

5 Try and get work.

I got something rolling towards the end of last year but with my health hiccup it has got put back lets hope that isn’t stalled for long.

6 Continue to be grateful for what I do have in life.

The gratitude project was a good plan but I didn’t keep it up as I’d wanted to much more important is to have a grateful heart and when the chips are down  to focus on what is good.

Well we’ll see how that goes in the meantime Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

War and Peace

Like most people I was shocked at the events in Paris recently and some of the response from around the world.  After various conversations and reading it got me thinking about our notion of war and our notion of peace.

What is peace? Is peace always the absence of war?  What is the purpose of war? If people describe themselves involved in a faith as peaceful what does that mean?

Peace as a noun can mean freedom from disturbance: tranquillity

War as a noun is defined as a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.

Those are what I call strict definitions.  But there larger uses to these words, peaceful resolution, war on want, warlike, peacemaker amongst many other uses.

I think most people want and believe in peace, but how do we get it and maintain it.  For those who believe in peace, is there a possibility of having peace without conflict or any kind of disturbance to it? Can we really have peace without experiencing war in order to appreciate peace?

After considering pacifism I have problems with the notion of it.  One of which is that we can have peace without conflict, another is that communication and negotiation prevent war, hmm well I disagree for various reasons.

1 Peace without conflict

How realistic is this notion, in everyday life we can find ourselves in a form of conflict or disagreement, whether it’s ideas, beliefs, opinions and that’s just in human conversation.  How can we avoid conflict, the fact is we simply can’t.  Interestingly marriages that never have conflict tend to break down more than those that do.  They bury their issues and they fester.  I can think of a country that’s a bit like that apparently there is peace, but more like an uneasy or fragile one where there’s been a huge compromises so that certain groups don’t pick up arms again, suspicion still reigns and the power is really in the hands of people who may well have bloody hands and never been brought to justice.  To me that’s not peace that’s intimidation and manipulation how is that peace.

I’m the kind of person that hates conflicts and arguments, and I would avoid it as much as possible even though I could have an argumentative mind and could argue.  Many years ago I remember confronting someone over an issue something that they had done behind my back, this person received what I had to say with good grace and it really improved the relationship, I learnt a valuable lesson, a relationship without conflict or confrontation is not a secure relationship, but one where there is that level of honesty is secure, I gained respect as a result of that confrontation.  Over the years I had many conflicts with that person to this day although I have no contact with them anymore (not for any bad reason) there’s still respect and ultimately trust.

2  Communication and negotiation prevent war

If pacifists believe this notion then why are some of them the most difficult to have dialogue with, they don’t practice what they preach with words.  I have found they tend to win an argument rather than a relationship.  If they really believe in pacifism they would handle discussions, debates differently, they may not use guns or believe in the use of them but their mouths are pretty good ammo.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Much destruction and pain can be caused by words.

Does this mean I’m a proponent of war? , yes but only in some conditions.  First I will address some causes of war.

I get irritated that people will say religion causes wars, well yes some, but many are caused by other things, land, tribal issues, greed, resources.  The Falkland islands was over territory, something like 98% of them wanted to remain in the UK.  The conga, conflict there was over gold, Rwanda, tribal issues.

These are the conditions to go to war, defence of territory from an invasion, protecting people around you from threat of attack from outside territory which should be proven obviously, defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Does this mean I’m a war monger, far from it, there are stupid reasons for war, some based on ridiculous ideologies, some based on, the idea we bomb the hell out of a place then rebuild it, no they are not good reasons.  There has to be a valid reason for war but also an objective once war is over. I do believe in peace as far as possible, yes I believe in negotiation, but remember even saying the wrong thing could create conflict anyway, I believe war should be a last resort when other options have been exhausted.  As I write this discussion about bombing Syria is being discussed, I don’t like the idea of bombing the place, I think it plays into the wrong hands at the same time there are know threats to this countries security, does that mean we sit back and do nothing and have another July 7th? Well I’ll leave that with you to make up your own mind. In the meantime I purse peace not war. Peace everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing my way

I haven’t written a blog for a while here’s why, I feel lost, well more accurately I’ve lost my way.

I had one of those weeks last week where I felt let down and blocked at any progress I was trying to make.  So I come to a full stop.  How do I proceed and where the hell am I going?

As a child I would get lost, who wouldn’t, my solution find an adult or more accurately I would have lost an adult and try to proceed finding them, it would result of tapping someone on the shoulder or shouting Dad or mum at somebody only discover it was someone else, embarrassing.  Sometimes I’d be looking for a vehicle only to get into the wrong car that would look very similar, that’s happened to me about three times.  I’ve lost my reading glasses a million times or more I’m sure.

In times past I felt I’d lost my faith born out of dryness, disappointment or doubt, the truth there is God knew about the feeling of being lost when he shared the parable about the woman who had lost the coin, the interesting thing about the other two parables and that one is that the people had lost something that belonged to them, something that was already in their possession I’ll let folks think about that one.

The thing is I’ve lost my way, my direction in life, but I’ve not only lost my way or direction, I’ve lost my destination, what is my destination? Is it true that having lost my way I’ve lost my destination?

Destination determines something way off in the future, as human beings we are programmed to think ahead, destination determines outcome or achievement.  That notion of achievement is thought provoking,  should achievement be the end game of everything we do?

My problem has always been I may have a destination but my strategy in getting there is poor, I’m not really a strategist, it’s not really my strong point.  In some situations your destination can seem like an agenda and not a good one.  How many of us for instance in order to arrive at our destination we try and manipulate people or circumstances in order to arrive at the most beneficial outcome to us?   We may not be the only ones on that particular course of direction or destination.  Athletes compete in a race for the prize  they are heading the same way, their approach and strategy determines who wins, but it also determines who loses.  Is life about winning and losing, or rather should life be about winning or losing?

Believe me I’ve thought a lot about some of the things I’ve wanted to do, my motives for doing them are they pure, justifiable.  My search for work is difficult because I’m not the only one wanting work, so do many others, Is it arrogant to think I could be better than someone else to do a job?  To be fair having a dual disability means I’m further down the food chain of desirables from an employers perspective as being the best choice.

For all the advice people give me in my life, there are no simple answers.  and my problems can’t just be fixed.  There’s nothing worse coming away from a conversation feeling as though that person has it all worked out and you feeling as though you don’t measure up to those standards they are inadvertently setting.  To be fair I’ve done it too , come up with solutions for people when it’s not what they need at that time, when they have lost their way, or they don’t know what to do, in those circumstances all people need is empathy,  a listening ear and most of all encouragement, not solutions, pat answers or questioning.

In the meantime what do I do?  Well the only answer I have right now is rest, I don’t mean do nothing but not strive for answers, let go of trying to come up with solutions that are depressing which a lot of them are.  Just let go of trying  to work it all out.

I have to trust that somehow, somewhere or someone, will bring some light into my pathway, so I can move forward.  In the meantime I stay lost.

The Audience

During the time I’ve been writing my blog, I’ve realised it’s not been entirely easy.  Coming up with ideas is one thing but when to post them and how to write them is another.  Throughout my blog posts one thing that is continuously at the back of my mind which is actually quite crucial is my audience or readership.  Part of my audience who read my blog posts are people that I know including some family members and a few of my friends.  I am conscious of the fact I don’t want to write anything that would cause offence to them particularly if a post may contain stuff with any of them involved or in mind,  it might just be an event which I relate which involves someone who reads my posts, if I relate it incorrectly or inaccurately, it could be deemed inappropriate and I might unwittingly cause offence which could even be due to misinterpretation.

I also have a wider audience of people I don’t know, I don’t know their backgrounds outlooks on life their beliefs or persuasions.  Can I write with them in mind?

Another area where audience is something that rumbles on in the background is in the realm of social media,  in some groups I’m in you don’t know your audience or you may know some, I find that it can be easy to forget that it isn’t just you and a few of your mates reading your posts it’s people from all walks of life, cultures and systems.  With that in mind you find you have to think carefully before you post or comment on a post  because you really don’t know your audience.  Sometimes you see people come out with statements which are purely black and white without any thought to the people reading them.  A thought is stated without much filter.  People feel they can get away with saying what they want  because they don’t see or know their audience, I mean it doesn’t matter, I mean the audience and the person messaging or posting may never meet.  That appears to be the mentality from some I’ve seen.  I’m not saying that anyone who posts comments things in this way are deliberately setting out to upset people or shock people, but maybe a small proportion need the attention of an unfiltered remark to get the acceptance or attention they need.

I’ve also seen this where public speaking is taking place, the person speaking has no thought about how to address their audience, who they are speaking too, for instance I know there have been several occasions where a speaker has made unkind comments about people who live in a particular area of the country and it wasn’t in jest either, fine if that is a comedy event that sets out its about knocking the area your living in, but not in general meetings or conferences.  I sometimes wonder if people who are involved in public speaking in any way are trained to think about their audience.

Filtering is normally necessary in social media, blogging or public speaking or in most forms of communication because by its very nature it’s public.  In private you have the freedom to say what you want, in public that’s a different matter.  Does that mean that we have to censor everything we say, no of course not, it’s purely about thinking about how those who do these things deliver what they are going to say to the audience or readers they are dealing with at the time.  I’m not suggesting here you always have to  walk on eggshells all the time,  but you have to test the temperature of  the people your addressing,before running headlong into saying or writing something that hits between the eyes or ears.  Believe me when I say at times I wish I had applied wisdom to something I’ve either said or written  and thought I wish I hadn’t of said or wrote that.  So first consider whether they would be ready to read or hear that or not, as the old saying goes there’s a time to speak and a time not too.  Remember though that no matter how much thought you put in what you are going to say or write you can’t guarantee that you won’t offend or hurt someone sometimes.  Well with all that in mind and so much to ponder I think it’s time for me to sign off before I write anything that might offend anybody 😀

Three words

There’s a statement I’ve been thinking about that contains three words that I don’t think we use enough, it’s not the phrase that most people think of, I bet your thinking it’s that phrase I love you.  No it’s not that one.  Speaking of that phrase I’ve noticed that most people will say love you and miss out the I, is that because they don’t really love the person they are speaking too or is it just laziness, it’s more likely the latter rather than the former in my view  and it depends on context I suppose.  Anyway those three little words aren’t the words I’m thinking of.

I’m thinking of a statement or phrase I should use more than I do, and I know why I don’t.  Anyway , here’s  examples of where it might be used, or more likely when I should use it. You ask yourself what your response would be to these questions.

Do you think the Conservatives will get in again at the next General Election?

What do you think of penal substitution?

Should milk or water be put in a cup of tea first when making it?

What most of us tend to do when answering a question is come up with a positive or negative opinion on these kind of questions, but there is a third option that many of us rarely use because we are expected to have an opinion on anything and everything yes you’ve guessed it I’m sure, the phrase I was referring to earlier was I DON’T KNOW.

How many times people have asked you something expecting an answer of some description from you and rather than saying I don’t know you come back with a yes or no, or some convoluted answer that’s meant to sound intelligent when in reality you simply have no answer, you  haven’t thought about the question long enough, not had the experience or never really thought the questions was necessary.  I certainly have been in that position.

We as human beings thirst for knowledge, knowledge means power and to a large extent gives us a sense of security.  None of us want to look stupid in front of our friends or family when we simply don’t have an answer or an opinion to something.  Our problem with our thirst for knowledge though is that it can lead to pride.  Ever come across someone who seems to have an opinion about everything, do they get on your nerves, it’s happened to me, mind you when I was in my early 20’s I could be just as bad.  I’m more careful now not to get into arguments where the need to be right all the time is the goal.  Because at the end of the day none of us know everything.  It’s freeing to sometimes say I don’t know, yes it’s disconcerting to others, leaves you with a sense of uncertainty but that’s ok.

Over the last few years I’ve learnt that it’s ok to not know everything, I’ve found it very liberating personally.  Does it really matter that I don’t have the answers or that people don’t look to me for an answer or be the answer.  The truth is that sometimes there is no right or wrong answer there is the unknown, we can’t possibly know everything about anything or anyone for that matter. So don’t be afraid of using that phrase no matter what others might think.

Regarding the questions I listed above the first question is speculative, the second question involves some theological knowledge and the third question I ask is it really that important whether the milk is put in before the water for a cuppa?

OK I suppose you want to know what my answer would be to the three questions I listed above.

Well, the answer to all 3 is I just don’t know.