‘Words don’t come easy to me’, wrote F. R David in his classic song now synonymous to me with Bob Mills Goes Postal on Colin Murray’s Friday show on Talksport. Events over the past week got me thinking about the importance of words; words said and those left unsaid. With the deafening silence of so many who filled our screens with rhetoric for weeks and the realisation that there were those who deliberately kept their counsel, I have been drawn to the power of speech and who can or cannot say the words that help. Politicians have an agenda. The agenda is set from those around them, as are most of what they deliver in speeches. It is calculated to create an energy, a buzz and often targeted to a particular audience. Understandable.
Working with children allows me to listen to real honesty in their words. They just say whatever they feel, they have not been conditioned to filter what will wound. Over the first few school years, that filter is put in place. Their true selves will never again speak totally from the heart unabashed. In some ways that saddens me. What would life be like if we could literally speak how we felt even as adults? Instead, we look for clues as to the delivery in body language, eye contact and subtleties that give away the truth.
There are those who have a gift. Who can say exactly the right thing at the right time. These are people who speak from a place of love. In times of turmoil, we turn to those people. When all around us is in chaos, we need someone to say exactly what we may or may not need to hear, to help declutter all the mish-mash of thoughts whirring around in our heads. These people are our go-to people. You know who they are. They do not give platitudes. They are realistic, without wounding. They pull you back down to earth with the chosen language when you are way out in the ether struggling to hold on for dear life.
To be this person, you have had to experience life in all its forms. But more than that, you need to have the wonderful skill of empathy. At the age I am now, my world is constantly shifting; births, illnesses, deaths, shocks. If I can reach out to someone with a few chosen words, I will. They will be taken or ignored, but I have tried. I appreciated so much those few people who made the difference to me through my living hell two years ago. We all need to give back. But some of us maybe should retune the filter first!.
‘Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.’ Maya Angelou Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY
Father’s Day! A fairly new accepted tradition in the wider world. A century of fathers having gained parity in recognition with the more established Christian concept of Mothering Sunday.
For me as a child, it was a day to pass on school-made cards and beer (not made at school!). I do not recall the day being a special family event in any way. A day constructed to celebrate, but more hijacked by card companies and shops as a way of increasing footfall and income.
In latter years presents became more thoughtful. As dad became a pensioner and his world shrunk, I liked to check out what events were on locally and often booked tickets for a talks with people he found interesting. We turned the present into things to do together, rather than tat that cluttered up the home. Dad was never materialistic, so I know that the time spent going out to the shows was more precious to him than anything.
When you no longer have a living dad, today takes on an entirely different meaning. It heightens the feelings that live with you day to day. Of loss, of grief, of a vacuum that will never be filled. This is my second vacuum. Easier than the first, yet hard in itself. Being of a more spiritual nature, I feel his presence with me all the time, I am not abandoned to my fate! Early evening, when the crowds have gone home, I shall take myself off to to stunningly beautiful place he was scattered and sit for a while. Thoughts of conversations past, jokes shared, angry clashes and moments of clarity will occur. He shaped who I am, and for that I will always be thankful that he wa my dad.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person – He believed in me.” Jim Valvano Dream Big, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY
In the news this week has been the debate between what makes you happier – time or money?
As someone not brought up with a wealthy background, money has always been something to work extremely hard for, to obtain and sustain a standard of living that has become my norm. I was brought up to believe that life should not be lived via credit; if you can afford it, you have it otherwise you do not! I have stood by those values instilled in me by my father. Perhaps at times being more frugal than need be, but money for me is security and security has always been my top priority.
So does having time make you happier than having money? I had to think about this quite carefully. Money has allowed me to make choices and has given me the chance to continue to follow my football team each season. This has given me untold happiness (as well as stress!) over the years. Do I value time? I think at the age I write this, life experiences have definitely changed the value I place on time. When you are told that your loved one has a life-limiting illness with a small amount of time left alive it makes you appreciate every moment. Time becomes less of an expanse and more finite. Each moment is a chance for memories. That in itself is special. That in itself almost stops time and creates happiness in the mundane. Since that event my view of time in a work / life balance has shifted. We have all had deaths that have caused us to stop and take stock. Often we promise life will be different, we will change our bad habits, sort out our unhappiness, but realistically we revert back to the old tried and tested world because it is easier. Having time to be me, to do what I wish is now very important. I am fortunate enough to be able to earn money as and when through my experience and expertise. I know that and appreciate that not everyone has that capacity. Working oneself so hard that life becomes all about eat, sleep, work is not happiness. It is the hamster wheel and I do not wish to be on it 24/7.
Happiness to me is being at one with my core. Knowing who I am and surrounding myself with those who nurture and appreciate me for who I am. People come into life and go from life. The external happiness they can exert can be very intense, very passionate and all-consuming. Ultimately, they cannot provide you with your happiness; that has to come from within. To allow yourself to grow as a person, you need time to grow, to grieve, to think and just to be.
Money or time? Time or money? An easy choice for me.
“The moment you realise how important time is, your entire perspective will change.”
How to spot a Brit in a crowd of people? Either inappropriately dressed for the weather or…talking about said weather. If there was an Olympic medal in weather chat, we would be reigning champions since time immemorial.
At last, we have seen a return to the higher temperatures of June, as opposed to the freezing, rain-choked days of last week – of course, it was half term! There is something magical that occurs when the sun adorns the ground with its rays of warmth; hope sets in, stress levels drop and the supermarket shelves are devoid of anything related to salad, bbq food and alcohol deals!
Migrations of people flock to the coastal towns, including my own. The population almost doubles. But, everyone is in good spirits – the sunshine really does stimulate endorphins. The sun has given me the kickstart to sort out the many hours of weeding and planting that was required in my back garden. Now with aching neck and knees, I can admire a job well done. Whilst sitting on the bench earlier, I closed my eyes and tried to engage with all of my senses. The chirping of the birds, the fluttering of the pear tree leaves, the gentle breeze on my face were welcome distractions from the usual frenetic pace of life. Walking barefoot on the soft, cool grass is a lovely feeling and helps me connect back to Mother Nature. The shrill laughter of children playing outside alongside the whir of the lawn-mower are all wonderful sounds to behold on a sunny summer Sunday.
Transfixed to the weather forecast, the next question is, will it last? It is as if our happiness depends on it. Rain equates misery, sunshine gives us something to bask in, a feel-good factor where we can tackle our daily rituals and make sense of our problems with more of a positive attitude. Being British means an inherent acceptance of cold, wet and damp. A wrapped-up approach to facing the world. Our smallest chance of a glimpse of summer sees us shed our clothing (not always a good thing!) and shed our inhibitions (same applies!).
Happiness for many, is as fleeting as the weather. Happiness for me is my core, enriched by the fleeting moments where the seasons stimulate my being and I appreciate my surroundings twofold. “Sometimes you have to create your own sunshine.” You can do it!