Blogging Dream Team

21 02 2011

Everybody needs somebody who says, ‘I believe in you.

 

Better still – get an entire group to believe in you and you cannot fail!

 

You’ll feel stronger and more capable. You’ll be far more ambitious. You’ll leap over hurdles. You’ll laugh off disappointments. You’ll risk more and try harder. And, you’ll celebrate your successes with people who are happy for you to succeed. – Anonymous.

Having someone truly believe in you is a beautiful experience. Someone who is there to help heal your wounds when things don’t always go exactly to plan and will help lift you back up, dust you down and get you back on track.

A few years ago I started a rather ambitious project and I knew that I needed a team of supporters to help me to succeed. I indentified the areas in which I needed the most help and guidance before approaching the right people in each of these areas to explain my mission and to ask for their support.

In a few weeks, I had assembled my ‘Dream Team’, all of whom were committed to helping facilitate my success. They each had unique qualities to bring to the project and most importantly, they all believed in me!

It was the most amazingly experience and taught me a great deal about the power of working in co-operation with others in pursuit of a common goal. Our experience and abilities complemented each other perfectly and the blend was just the right mix to ensure our success.

 

Most importantly, before I could expect others to believe in me…I had to first believe in myself. Without this self-belief, the project would have been doomed to failure from the outset, instead of becoming the huge success that it was.

Over the past couple of months we have attracted a wonderful group of fellow bloggers who are as committed to our success as they are to their own.

We have recognised something special in each other and we are generous in our encouragement of each other. With this belief we have in each other’s ability, we are practically guaranteed to succeed in our blogging challenges.

Bring on the Blogging Dream Team!

Day 52 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I will be celebrating the amazing spirit of the blogging community and the power of shared success.





Writing from the Heart

18 02 2011

Why do we blogand who exactly are we blogging for?

Do we write just to get something off our chestor do we write with our perceived audience in mind?

Are we looking to attract a large number of followersor do we just say whatever is on our mind – regardless of whether anyone wants to read what we have to say?

Does it matter if we stick to our original blog ‘theme’or is it an evolving process through which our ‘theme’ develops as our blog unfolds?

 Perhaps I should begin this post by answering some of the above questions with my own thoughts on this subject.

 **************************

I began writing this blog as a way of sharing my 50th birthday celebrations with my friends and family in the mistaken belief that they were possibly the only people who would take the time to read my posts.

After all, why would anyone else be interested in the random thoughts of an (almost) 50 year old!

 

As things have worked out, hardly any of my close friends and family have read more than a just few posts (apart from my loyal friend Liz – bless you) and until a few short weeks ago my current readers were strangers to me.

Now of course, they have become my lovely Blogging Buddies and these dear friends have brought so much unexpected joy, laughter and inspiration to the whole blogging experience.

So does this mean that I now write with my new friends in mind? I do try not to do this, but as I write I can’t help but wonder what my new friends will think of this latest post. So yes, in some ways, I suppose I am beginning to write with my ‘audience’ in mind.

I do write to get things off my chest, hence my constant references to my on-going battle of keeping up my blogging commitments and my dilemma over whether to switch to a weekly post instead of a daily one to lessen some of the pressure.

I have resisted this so far as I would feel that I had let myself down after promising to commit to doing this for the entire 365 days (which feels like a lifetime at this present moment in time!)

It wasn’t my original intention to create loads of followers; although I have to confess that I’ve loved watching the visitor stats slowly begin to climb and it was a truly amazing experience to see them shoot through the roof after being ‘Freshly Pressed’ a couple of weeks ago!

It was as a result of the positive feedback I had been receiving, combined with the numbers of visitors that I decided to add a page to my blog called ‘Dancing with Dystonia’ to help raise awareness of this little known and incurable condition that affects so many people throughout the world.

If by doing this, I can help one other person to recognise this condition…or to find the support they need…then this entire blogging process has been worth the commitment.

As for sticking to a ‘theme’, the only constant throughout my posts is my daily ‘reason for celebration’. Otherwise, I have used different formats with – or without – quotations or poems…and I have written about whatever is on my mind at the time.

Ultimately, we have to be true to ourselves and by…

 Writing from the heart…we will reach to the heart.

We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will have been worthwhile.
Deepak Chopra

 

Day 49 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am going to celebrate by taking a leaf out of Deepak’s book and enjoy every precious and transient moment.





Child’s Play

17 02 2011

Over the past couple of days I’ve talked about connecting with my ‘inner child’ and today is the day I have promised that I would let her out to play.

When I awoke this morning, I asked my ‘child’ what she would like to do today.

Her answer was that she just wanted to ‘go with the flow’ – to chill – and take things easy for a change.

She said that she wanted my undivided attention and that I was to ignore the ‘chattering gremlin’ who sits on my shoulder all day long, shouting instructions about what I ‘should’ be doing if I want to be…

•          Loved

•          Respected

•          Noticed

•          Fulfilled

•          Accepted

She knows that I am constantly bombarded by his never ending fear based demands – all adding constant pressure to my days and restlessness to my nights. With her encouragement, it feels great to tell him to ‘shut up’ and take the day off – leaving us free to enjoy our day together without his constant interruptions.

Being with my ‘inner child’ is like spending time with a new friend. Step by tiny step – she is taking me by the hand and leading me back to myself. A beautiful friendship is beginning to develop as we begin to get to know and understand each other.

This morning she has taken me to a ‘flow yoga’ class – because she loves the freedom of movement and the sense of well-being it brings. She also likes listening to the inspirational teacher who makes her smile and encourages her to feel good about herself.

Leading me back home she encourages me to put on a long forgotten CD called ‘Charka Dancing’ – buried at the bottom of the music pile. Turning it up to full volume we are dancing together around the house and suddenly housework seems like a fun thing to do!

Food is next on her list and she encourages me to raid the fridge for a ‘ready, steady, cook’ challenge of creating a colourful and healthy meal out of the bits and pieces of food found lurking in farthest recesses of the (almost) empty shelves.

Needing a little rest after helping to prepare our lunch, she sits me down and shows me how to focus on enjoying a TV programme without trying to do half a dozen other tasks at the same time.

Having recharged her batteries, she wants to go back out to play and leads me down to the riverbank to say ‘hello’ to the swans – my beautiful ‘Angels of the River’.

Sitting on the steps of the house – we hold hands to watch the sun go down and together we offer our grateful thanks to the universe for giving us such a beautiful day to spend together.

Day 48 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am celebrating the delights of becoming reacquainted with my inner child…my best friend…it is so good to meet you again.





I Used to be Decisive – But Now I’m Not so Sure!

15 02 2011

“Procrastination usually results in sorrowful regret. Today’s duties put off tomorrow give us a double burden to bear; the best way is to do them in their proper time.” ~Ida Scott Taylor

I used to be decisive – but now I’m not so sure!

When I was younger, I was very impulsive. If something fired up my imagination I would just go for it…with no thought of any possible consequences of my actions.

I always had a great time and never regretted any of my decisions. With hindsight, they weren’t always the best decisions…but hey…at least I’d had a ball and learnt a few lessons along the way.

Now I’m rapidly heading towards my big 50, I just can’t seem to make the simplest of decisions without procrastinating for days…or weeks…before finally taking action.

What happened to the girl who always followed her heart wherever it may lead?

Now every choice is examined from every conceivable angle. Pros and cons are weighed up. Friends and family are consulted for their opinion and needless to say, their opinions vary hugely – resulting in more confusion than ever!

The incessant chatter inside my head goes round in circles until I am unable to think straight…let alone make any important decisions.

Eventually I will decide on a course of action – only to start worrying about whether this really was the right decision – before checking to see if there is a ‘get out clause’ in case I change my mind!

All this procrastination is very tiring…and so I usually end up doing nothing and putting off making decisions until tomorrow – always tomorrow – and one day there will be no tomorrow.

What happened to the trusting girl who had such faith in the universe that even if she made a mistake – it didn’t really matter – as she knew that everything would always work out for the best?

As I get older, I worry more about becoming the proverbial ‘bag lady’ – living on the streets if all my ventures fail and I can no longer afford to pay the rent.

This prospect scares me more now than it did in my younger days when all things seemed possible and I felt immortal.

Maybe it is because there is now more time behind me than there is in front of me – and less time for my mistakes to work themselves out…so I try to avoid making mistakes…by avoiding making decisions in the first place!

I recognise this pattern of procrastination in my mother who is the Queen of Worry. I used to listen to her talk herself into something one minute…and talk herself out of it the next. I understand her fear of failure and the frustration of not finding the courage to ‘feel the fear – and do it anyway’.

For many years I was determined not to be like my mother – so frozen with fear and worry that she chose to walk away from so many of life’s wonderful opportunities. I became the explorer of the family-  always chasing after the next exciting adventure.

I am a firm believer than we teach what we most need to learn. And when I started writing this blog at the beginning of the year, I talked about our DASH  (the line between our date of birth and date of passing from this world)…and how we owe it to ourselves to make our DASH count.

I have a neighbour whose mantra is…‘Yeah…whatever’…

ExactlyWhatever…! 

Life is a risky business and whatever our choices…we will all end up at the same destination!

So thank you dear neighbour – for reminding me to stop worrying about the future…to live in the ‘Now’…and focus on making every day a cause of celebration!

Day 46 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am going to celebrate by making the decisions I keep putting off and trusting that there is no such thing as a ‘wrong decision’.





I Shall Wear Sweatpants

14 02 2011

In my recent post ‘I Shall Wear Purple’, I quoted a well known verse by Jenny Joseph called, ‘When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple’.

When fellow Blogging Buddy, Papa Joe, read the post he responded with a  verse written from his own perspective.

I loved it so much that I asked him if I could re-post it on my blog to share with anyone who may have missed it the first time around. Enjoy!

When I Am An Old Man I Shall Wear Sweatpants

With a T-shirt only partly tucked in, and stains more than vaguely visible.

And I shall spend my pension on coffee and donuts with friends in restaurants where they don’t care how I look.

I shall shave when I want to and shop for groceries regardless of the stubble.

I will take long walks and peer in all the windows making the shop keepers nervous.

“Will he come in?!” they’ll think.  And just to make them sweat I’ll reach for the door before deciding to move along.

I will pat strange dogs and sit with them on the sidewalk until their owners come out of the store. 

I will tell overly long stories and fain deafness when someone tries to interrupt. 

I will eat Macaroni and Cheese – with Hot Dogs for a treat, not because I can’t afford differently.  Because I CAN.

I will make huge pots of macaroni and re-heat meals until the little green spots on the lot start to move on their own. 

I will live and love and most of all remember.  Remember when I looked forward to the freedom of being old. 

And I will regret having spent my youth looking forward to retirement only to learn that in retirement I miss my youth.

I think I’ll bring out the youthful me to play for a day.  Eat chili with extra red-hot peppers.  Stay up ’till 3:00 in the morning and pretend I have to get up the next day.  Drink like it was still a new and novel privilege.  And glory in the heartburn and acid reflux for the next three days.

Yes, when I am old, I will do many things.  I probably just won’t remember them.  😉

Papa Joe

Day 45 – 365 Days of Celebration

I will celebrating this Valentine’s Day by raising a glass – or two – to all the people I love…to say thank you for all the joy you bring into my life. I am truly blessed.





A Trailer Trash Life

13 02 2011

When I first set my intention to attract the opportunity to live in my dream home by the river, I had no idea that this would include living in what my Dad lovingly refers to as my ‘Caravan-on-Thames’!

The correct term to describe my humble abode is ‘residential park home’. It is often described as a ‘mobile home’ – or in the case of a local reporter – a ‘90210 Winnebago’!  

My friends all thought I was crazy to want to take on a property that required so much work to make habitable again. They wanted to know what had possessed me to join a ‘trailer trash’ community, when I could have chosen to live in ‘civilisation’!

Dining Area - Before

Dining Area – After

‘Trailer Trash’ was a term that I was unfamiliar with and I don’t think it has quite the same connotations here in the UK that it does in the US, where I understand it is a term used to describe a stereotype of poor people (especially in the Midwestern United States) who live in trailer-homes.

My neighbours are mainly hard working folks, or happily living out their retirement in a peaceful environment. There are couples and single people – young and old. It is a lovely mix of different people with a multitude of backgrounds.

In fairness to my friends comments; the term ‘trailer trash’ may have been accurate at one time as the place had seen its share of unemployed layabouts, drug addicts, drunks and wife beaters – but at the first sign of any problems – Paddy (my landlord) and his henchmen ensured that the trouble makers were unceremoniously thrown back out on the streets.

Even so, my friends were unable to see past the fact that I had just agreed to take on a wreck of a ‘caravan’, on a  site owned by the infamous Paddy – a beer swilling, fist wielding, Irish traveller ‘made good’ – who ruled the place according to ‘Paddy’s Law’.

Irish gypsies live within their own culture and live by their own rules – so I had to suppress a giggle when Paddy said, “I want to make this place more up-market and I’m looking to attract more quality tenants like your good self. If I wanted to, I could just fill the site with travellers who would lower the tone of the place!”

Rich – coming from one of their own!

Having spent a good few hours negotiating a deal on the rent based upon the work I agreed to carry out, we sealed the deal – with a good old fashioned handshake – preceded by Paddy having spat on his hand to show that the deal was unbreakable!

Paddy is a multi-millionaire land and property owner who could afford to live anywhere in the world. But once a gypsy…always a gypsy…and he prefers to live in his own mobile home situated next to the security gate…rather than live on the river front…so he can spend his time policing the comings and goings on his property.

 

The site consists of 38 units and is run by a couple in their 80’s who have been working for Paddy for years. Gordon is a dear soul who will do anything for an easy life. Whereas his wife Jessie, is a real fireball and shoots from the hip, bawling you out before you’ve even opened your mouth. Her bark is worse than her bite although she is a terrible gossip.

If she’s not yelling at you…or disclosing details that someone had shared with her in ‘confidence’ …she is quite a character with loads of interesting stories to tell. You just have to learn to listen without telling her more than she needs to know!

Once you understand the rules and agree to honour these, it is a great place to live, within a caring and supportive community. I love my little home, painstakingly created after months of hard graft and numerous setbacks along the way.

Now the work is complete I have the pleasure of enjoying the fruits of my labour and every day I give thanks for finding the courage to follow my gut feeling that this was going to be a good place for me to live, despite initial signs to the contrary.

My home is situated on the curve of the river with water views in both directions.

I knocked down a wall to open up the vista and now have an open plan living space with a separate bedroom and bathroom – all condensed into a lovingly crafted 36 sq metres.

My friends had to eat their doubting words when they returned to visit last summer.

Driving through the site, past tiny gardens vibrant with colour and lovingly tended by the residents, they all agreed that the place had a ‘holiday feeling’ about it. I am just so lucky to live somewhere that feels like being on holiday every day!

When I lie in my bed watching the sun breaking through the early morning mist over the river and listen to the birds greeting the new day by calling out ‘good morning’ to each other, I couldn’t be further removed from living a ‘trailer trash life’!

Day 44 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am going to celebrate successfully completing my mission to make ‘Trailer Trash – Trendy!’





I Shall Wear Purple

12 02 2011

When I began writing this blog, I imagined that I would be checking in briefly each day just to say ‘hello’ to my new friends and to post a few short words about what I was planning to do that day in celebration of my 50th birthday year.

My posts were intended to just be a light hearted look at my life and loves…and so I’m still somewhat bemused at how they seem to have evolved into a sharing of my thoughts on life, love and the universe!

I had thought that once I’d got a basic understanding of the mechanics of how to write and publish a post, the rest would be a breeze and my blog would only take a few minutes a day to manage.

Wrong!

Over the past couple of months, I’ve come to love – and resent – my blog…in equal measure.

Much to my surprise, I love having the opportunity to share some of my deepest thoughts and reflections on life. My blog has become very special to me and I treasure it dearly.

However, I also resent the amount of time it takes to look after and nurture it in the way it deserves. Time that I had imagined I would be spending out and about having ‘fun’ and painting the town red every night…not tied to my laptop until 3am every morning!

In an effort to lighten my mood a little this evening, I came across a photo I had taken outside Windsor Castle last year, of a group of fun loving ladies, determined to enjoy every minute living out the words contained in the well known verse below.

The photo and this poem reminded me to lighten up a little and to stop taking myself so seriously. After all, this year is meant to be all about celebration and the more uplifting things in life.

It is lovely to be able to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way…but it is also a time to be having fun and letting my hair down once in a while.

So, thank you lovely ladies of Windsor, for putting a smile on my face and reminding me that we are never too young…or old…to put on our red hats and purple dresses for a day of light hearted fun and laughter!

 

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Day 43 – 365 Days of Celebration

Today I am going to celebrate by inviting my inner child to lead the way by reminding me of how to have fun…just for the sake of it!