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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Where’s Tony?

On Maundy Thursday I headed out with my companion Tony to my local supermarket, whilst there I bumped into my sister, or rather she bumped into me, Tony as usual remained quiet, my sister invited me to hers for tea.  So paid up and made a quick exit to my sister’s car, rushed into my house packed up a few things and promptly came back to hers for tea.  After a lovely evening I returned home only to discover Tony had disappeared, Tony who doesn’t make much noise, apart from a few gravelly ones had vanished from sight or hearing.

I was low, Tony who guides me through many obstacles on a daily basis helping me avoid bollards, and helping me find edges to pavements so I don’t walk into the road (how gallant of him).  Tony with his bright red and white suit lets motorists know when I’m wanting to make my journey across the road and to drive with caution.  I go into shop and he doesn’t have to say anything as his non verbal communication lets people know that I may need a little extra help or just to talk a little louder too me.  He isn’t heavy he’s good at waiting for me in shops he stands against a counter whilst I hunt for cash as I’m normally holding on to him.  At home he may stand for hours before we head out together and sometimes he likes to sleep in a folding position in my bag, yes indeed the importance of being Earnest does spring to mind.

I know people who have similar partners sometimes we meet and clash from time to time.  Tony has a habit of knocking people if they get in the way, some can even skip over his feet, some ignore him not realising who he is or why I have him in my life. Sometimes people avoid him when they see him or move so Tony and I can get past.  Oh I did miss him his familiar feel and constancy.  Whilst still on the hunt for him I had another companion Claire who isn’t like Tony she isn’t as tall for one and her feet don’t make as much noise, she doesn’t wear red either which is a hassle.

Well  I asked my sister if Tony had either been sleeping in her car or had been staying at her house, rather odd really as my sister really doesn’t need Tony in her life, well I hope she never has too anyway.

So yesterday Claire and I headed up to my local supermarket just on the off chance he may have stayed there, well I asked if they had Tony, oh well they thought Tony may have belonged to another chap who also has a similar companion (shock, horror).  Well there he was the staff treated him well, he is still in fine fettle.  Oh by the way his surname isn’t Blair even though he wears red and the fact that I found him on the day of the UK snap election is no coincidence is it?  Well just to let you know Tony wears red because he supports deaf people.  So now Tony my trusted red and white cane is sticking with me and is currently safely standing in a corner of my lounge waiting for my next trip out 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day to remember

A few months ago I was invited to a wedding reception by a couple of friends from my school days who were getting married, it was totally unexpected but rather nice.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not, due to a number of reasons but particularly down to concerns regarding my recent health issues.  Nearing the time of the wedding reception although I was feeling better, I wasn’t sure about going as I was concerned about travelling alone.  Amazingly one of my friends was coming to my area on some business and said they would come with me all the way there and some of the way back on Sunday, so I accepted.  He got a good deal on a hotel too.

The day before we travelled to Blackpool I met my friend with mutual friends and their daughter in a local café where we put all our plans together, the couple offered to give me a lift to the station which was great too.  That evening I booked my assistance they said they couldn’t guarantee the help as it wasn’t 24 hours in advance which rattled me a bit as it’s not always possible to book ahead, plus I had done some last minute Christmas shopping which delayed my call.  The people I ring up at Journey care are fantastic though.

Our lift got us to the train on time and the assistance turned up, so that was a relief.  Although our train was on time it didn’t arrive on time at our change over stop which meant we missed the train we were to catch but fortunately there were more trains to Blackpool from that stop than I originally thought, so we hopped on the train and arrived in time to do a quick call in at our hotel to drop our things off and head straight to the wedding reception.

My friends daughter spotted me if I remember rightly and found a table with my friend Mrs Bubbles and her husband Benedict Bubbles, we were all rather hungry, I hadn’t eaten till early that morning, fortunately I had a few flapjacks with me which I had baked a couple of days earlier! I managed to go and see the bride who looked lovely in purple and white.

I looked around and spotted a woman from my school year and her husband who I spoke to for a while, when I was at school we had little to do with each other really, however,  we then had a great conversation, which is probably the first proper conversation I ever remember us having. Eventually they came over to join us.

Mrs Bubble, Una Stubbs  (the one I had a great convo with) and I ended up having a picture taken when Mrs Bubble suggested we all said pooh and wee. Mr Benn the groom came over to chat as well later.  Mr DJ came over to get messages to record for Mr and Mrs Benn which I thought was a lovely idea.

At around 5 we ate buffet food we all managed quite well considering there were many people who were visually impaired and some of them had guide dogs, as far as I know there were no crashes and bangs oh  sorrys said which can happen in those sort of situations.  I stayed with a friend sometime ago, who had other friends staying too, we all kept saying sorry to each other because of bumps and crashes, they named it the sorry house. Anyway there was a meat feast and some pizzas and quiche and desert to fill our bellys, I personally found the sweets a bit too rich for me but the rest of the food was great.

There was much laughter, people buying one another drinks (I don’t think I got opportunity to buy drinks) and  discussions varying from books to school and music.  The in house entertainment was a woman who could play various instruments  and sing which was quite good, I wasn’t sure whether it was all completely live or not but I certainly saw the instruments but it was very loud.  I think it was around 8 we had a meal I had lasagne, which was tasty.

The disco got going just towards the end, there was what I call a group karaoke going on, first with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, earlier on we had Oliver’s army by Elvis Costello. I joined in with the singing but not the dancing till the last track came on.  Apart from being grabbed by one person to dance with me, which I found rather uncomfortable, it was enjoyable both the singing and the dancing.  After saying goodbye to those I could Father Ted and I returned to our hotel.

I surprisingly slept quite well but it took a while to get comfortable as the duvet didn’t quite reach my shoulders.  The bizarre thing about my hotel room was that there was no window. There was also a lot of banging, however I have the beauty of lying on my hearing ear to block out the noise.

The following morning Father Ted and I had a delicious breakfast which was well worth the money, ahhs and oos could be heard when we had entered the restaurant because of Father Ted’s dog who is a gorgeous black Labrador who is a force to be reckoned with. After breakfast  we  headed straight off to the station to catch the train home.  At the station we met up with several of the guests at the previous nights do, and travelled home with one of them, who I will call Dougal, I don’t know why that name, a nice man who had few words but gentle ones.  Father Ted and I went our separate ways and I caught the last leg of the journey home, I was pleased to find I didn’t have to wait long for the bus either.

I want to thank Mr and Mrs Benn for inviting me and everyone who I spent time with over that period of time, it was fun and a privilege to be with such lovely people and certainly a day to remember.