Saturday, 26 March 2011

Once Upon a Time......fairy tales at my mother's knee

My mother always believed in bible and fairy stories. She brought me up to believe the same and, for many years, I never questioned it. After all, every fairy / bible story has a happy or meaningful ending - what's the harm in that?

Problem was that I took them all to heart and stopped living in the real world. These stories fuelled my passion for fantasy but there was a hidden danger.

An apple a day means the prince is on his way!
As a result of having a powerful imagination I became a storybook character stuck in the real world. I sat and dreamt that my prince would come on a great, white steed. I slaved in a kitchen for two, ugly sisters until a fairy godmother gave me a magical make-over. I've spun hay into gold whilst trying to remember the name of a funny, little man. 

"No matter how many kisses I get, I'm not turning into a prince!"
I've been locked in towers, eaten poisoned apples, slept on a pea, lost more than a few slippers and even kissed one or two frogs along the way. Instead of them materialising into Prince Charming I ended up with Prince Charmless!
I thought I'd be checking out castle decor with a happy brood in tow. 

My humble castle
Well, I do have a brood (happily hormonal at the present time) and I live in a castle of sorts with a moat ....sorry..... mortgage around it! But it's my castle and I reign as Queen here. "The King" was royally banished  and is seeking fame and fortune in a far off land. Hope he doesn't meet anyone selling him a handful of beans..."Fee, Fi, Fo Fum...I smell the blood of an Englishman...." oh dear ...and that he doesn't climb any beanstalks and meet that giant. I'm living proof that life does imitate art!

What I didn't learn at my mother's knee was that, firstly, I had to save myself instead of just waiting.
Secondly, I had to find something charming within myself before I could see it in the world. 
Thirdly and most importantly, I had to have grand ambitions and courage to slay the dragons that would come to terrorise me. I had to be David who took on the Goliath of life challenges. 

I'm not giving you my shampoo...why?....because I'm worth it!
I thank my mother for telling me those stories but it's taken me awhile (as I've been lost in the woods) to find my way out of.."once upon a time..."and maybe....just that I'm on my'll be happily ever after!


A Dictator in my soup

"Waiter....waiter...there's a dictator in my soup!"
"Oh yes, it's our special flavouring of the order of the chef."
"I'm allergic to them; they bring out a nasty rash in my soul and leave a bitter taste on the tongue."
"Madam, you are the only customer who's complained so far......the rest of our clientele can't get enough!"
"Who is your chef?"
Fascist soup!
"The former head of CNN."               

What an insatiable appetite there is for the unpalatable. The recent media coverage of the crisis in Libya is a perfect illustration of how a heady diet of carnage (or military action) keeps us on the edge of our seats and with not an indigestion tablet in sight!
After a hard day's work there's nothing better than curling up in front of the box that's spewing up....minute by minute...the bloody scenes of battle....the casualties....the death toll...the reportage keeps us on the edge of our seats.
This is not my idea of relaxation....but I know so many who are so fixated that they have given up on their extra-curricular activities until the dictator has been ousted.

Thankfully, I have no need of a daily fix of "international news". In my youth and beyond, my father drove us children to despair by insisting that he watches every news bulletin that was broadcast....before the days of CNN. My father and people of that ilk look outwards. Media coverage of any international crisis holds them in a their minds they still playcowboys and indians, cops and robbers....and thanks to Sky and CNN...they've got every corner of the globe covered. It's marvellous that we now know what's going on in all the hotspots across the world but we're not sure what's going on in our own homes!

 When I watch the news or get caught up in newsworthy stories I feel as if I've been plunged into the world of crazies.The developing (and developed) world is awash with dictators.....many created with the assistance of Western Democratic governments...oh yes....dictators are created not born.
Dictatorships are recipes for disaster and the potent ingredients of power and greed do not produce a satisfying and heartwarming dish for the masses.

My perspective is inward looking.The media serves its purpose but it over-stimulates and distorts. Enlightened beings avoid coverage that contaminates the soul. In fact, enlightened beings make news but with the intention to uplift and spread a message of light to our news darkened world.

If the cap're it!
 I live in my own that's free from dictators. I immerse myself in the daily triumphs and tribulations of mine and my children's. I stare into their eyes and share their joy and pain. I read books, watch glorious sunsets, rain tumbling down on the earth and boughs weighed down with pink blossoms. This is my sustenance and  all the news I need.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Happily Never After!

"I'm looking for a dishwasher...." said the prince
Why in childhood were we bombarded with "happily ever afters"? Most of the stories we read had a hero / heroine, a villain and a happily ever after and we came to believe that our lives would follow the same pattern. For many of us it does....but for some of us..... our lives have been awash with villains and we're still waiting for the hero to show up!

Fiction addiction
The Brothers Grimm and Mr Anderson (of Copenhagen) have done us a disservice. They made us believe that we were going to be rescued, romanced and turned into beautiful swans....and have a happy ending. It's certainly been one of my grand, childhood delusions, one that I'm still trying to get over.

Childhood is a time of innocence and no one wants to disturb it with a touch of reality. Sadly, too often, this trend of avoiding reality continues throughout adolescence and full adulthood. Far better to believe less in knights in shining armour or damsels in distress and start to believe in yourself.

Isn't he gorgeous?
When we eventually mature (and this has less to do with age than the challenges we've overcome) we realise that we either make heroes or villains of ourselves in our very own life story. As we do battle with our enemies - either with success of failure - we experience the dawn of understanding that we have created these monsters ourselves.

If we hadn't been so "nice and easy-going" then we wouldn't have been so easily taken advantage of. If we had been more loyal to our personal truths then we would never have disappointed ourrselves and lost self-respect. Sometimes we should have just kept our mouths shut and listened to the voice within.

To live happily ever after is no fairy tale but it takes hard work and a dedication  to doing what matters.
Take a good look in the mirror first
Being happy is a conscious decision that we can make with a little courage and fortitude.
So be a hero.....and be happy now and..... ever afterwards!


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Patience....not so virtuous!

Virtue or vice?
You've  heard the saying that "Patience is a virtue" well.....that's highly debatable. In the wake of the "instant gratification" era of the 21st century, patience has never been so compromised.
Where is patience? Who is she? Is she a feminist? I suspect she is but a tad old-fashioned.

Patience is a woman because she waits. She waits for her prince to come, she waits until he slips a ring on her finger, she waits 9 months for a bundle of joy, she waits for the bundles when they return from school, she waits until the casserole cooks and the laundry dries and for the flowers to bloom.
Waiting is what she does best and so it's endless.......and all the while her dreams are slipping away.

I have known patience. We used to be friends. Patience and I played the waiting game.
I waited and waited for something to happen; something that would release me from my self-made prison.
Waiting is a dangerous game. It is often lethargy and cowardice in disguise. I know - because they were unwelcome guests in my home.  When I decided to take control and make better choices they were evicted.

Patience in the form of a vestal virgin , humble and servile, is the reason we stay in jobs that we don't enjoy and relationships that do not fulfil. Patience makes martyrs of us as we take the easy option of doing nothing. 

Patience models herself as a  paragon of virtue, a quality many strive to cultivate but she is a false friend. She has her uses but be careful....... she may allow you to dig yourself a hole and stay there! 
Patience is a jailor;  she may lock you up and throw away the key. But she is kind and will allow you to look out of the bars of your cell and gaze up at the sky. She will listen to your wistful sighs and lend her shoulder to cry on. Patience has taught me a few hard lessons and a few that I wish I could have dropped.

Patient people are usually waiting for other people to change or the world to change for them.
They sometimes wake up (after a lifetime of patience) and find that a great many opportunities have passed them by. Patience's companion is Caution and the best thing to do with that is throw it to the wind.

Patience can make you a patient


Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Vulture Culture

Birds of a feather flock together. This is true of saints, sinners, wise men and fools.
This trend is most prominent in people from other cultures who have migrated to new lands. In their adopted countries they form communities that either increase or decrease with each passing generation. Often it proves to be an effective support system when kith and kin are physically and emotionally close but, when dealing with people of any culture, there are hazards too.
When ethnic comminities are good, they are very good BUT when they are bad, they're worse than horrid!
Why's he looking so smug?

Jealousy is rife in most communities. Everyone looks to see which of their compatriots is more upwardly mobile i.e. who has the biggest house, the latest car / techno gadget and the best looking wife and children?
Yes, there is rabid competiton regarding all things material. Even education is an arena for one upmanship and great debates ensure about which school / university is more superior to the next. Naturally the house they live in, the car they drive, the gizmo they buy, the wife they acquired and children brought forth are by far the best! The ethnic Jones' are unashamed braggarts - anything you can do they can do better!

Ethnic communities have attitude (by the truck load) and they believe that the host country (their country of domicile) is lacking in comparison to the land of their birth. Die hard patriots will wax lyrical about how they have been forced to leave their undeveloped shores for better, economic opportunities. 
And are they grateful for their entry into the land of socio-economic milk and honey? Not a jot!

Most of them believe they got a raw deal. They traded in blue skies and sunshine for grey skies and bitter winters, warring extended families for a relatively peaceful (uninspiring) lifestyle. In addition, a life free from responsibility (in developing countries) where you can blame everything on corrupt governments.
Living in a developed society means you have to take responsibility for your own progress and that's a bitter pill for ethnic minorities. They are used to an insular pushing boundaries or room for intellectual growth.....slow is the deferred setting on their mental streams. No.....these are the people of the siesta / afternoon nap.....why work when you can sleep??

Like vultures lined up on wire their main focus is watching and waiting....for victims. 
Those who have acquired possessions far greater and success in their chosen field. They feign interest in their achievements and practise an inverted kindness but it is well rehearsed subterfuge. Once there is  a fall from grace, a brother/sister down on their luck, their friends suffer a disaster... they gloat. Like vultures picking at the flesh of a fresh kill they indulge in self-righteous tittle tattle and innunendos dripping with contempt. When the feathers are flying these like (ethnic) minds will take a great deal of pleasure in bringing you down.

I'm a pretty, ugly duckling!

I myself have fallen foul of their eccentric, ethnic ethos:  "To always mind another's business...."
For that reason (and several others) I avoid the vultures and, if by chance, they fly into my path....I smile my sweetest smile......because there's nothing worse for them than seeing a member of their clan happy and content.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Debt Set

Debt is an easy thing to get into but awfully hard to get out of. Why? Mostly because managing  budgets is linked to our emotional psyche. Som of us have been born or raised with extravangant or modest tastes. Me? I fall into the former category; I've always believed in simple luxuries and that having it all was an achievable goal. BUT the price tags never fitted my budget.

 We all know the golden rule is to spend less than you earn but how easy is that to practise in the consumeristic 21st century? How could we afford all the little necessities (mobile phones, cable TV and those to-die-for-slingbacks) that were formerly luxuries if we stick to budgets? Politicians, bankers and money market dealers who are responsible for more intricate budgets appear to be making a hash of it too ( if the global financial crisis is anything to go by).

Money talks
No one really knows what their financial limits are when credit is so easy. It's the current generation of teens that I feel sympathy for. The X-Box / IPod / generation of gamers and web surfers do not have much idea about hardship or tightening their belts. Mummy and Daddy have operated a revolving credit facility whereby their every material wish has been granted (in compensation for the hard times parents themselves have endured). Frugality and simplicity are old-fashioned concepts and our children in adulthood will struggle to see this as a satisfying way to live.

I enjoy spending. Books, more than clothes, are my weakness. If I haven't bought a book (two or three a month) I feel withdrawal symptoms coming on. I also love to upgrade my home with a few well chosen items that won't break the bank (and some that will).  I love to treat my children and surprise loved ones with little, customised gifts. I love to travel and broaden my mind (and that costs) sometimes more than is affordable. I don't like to feel held back by budget restrictions so debt is a reality and necessity.
 To have money and spend it on others is to share a little of the richness of your heart. Sadly, if you are big hearted, this scale of generosity will land you in debt. Miserliness is not for me. Scrooges don't have any debts themselves but they are fond of assisting people into debt (and charging exorbitant interest).

Debt is a fact of life. The best things in life may be free but the next best things are not. Credit allows for a certain kind of spending freedom but it can become a yoke around your neck.
Show off your assets
 Post univeristy, students have to face up to  alot of debt for want of pursuing an education and that doesn't seem fair. Why should you spend time educating and refining your mind in order to have to sell your soul later in life to pay for it? Debt is unavoidable but learning how to manage it is the key so that it doesn't destroy the most precious thing - you!  Debt is a cruel master so it's best not to attract too much of his attention!

Debt damages relationships and can lead us down roads we'd rather not travel. The honourable way is to pay them off before it takes a hold of you. Debts should not suck your life energy and rob you of joyous living. Having a large debt is sometimes a way of forcing you to be more creative in overcoming it. Use your money wisely but always take the high road to financial security. Don't get drawn into the dramas of debt - you may have to live with some of the spoils of your over-spending but don't fraternise with the extended family: depression and worry.

Debtful but never doubtful!

Unbelievable as it may seem some of us with debts do sleep well. We dream about hearts, flowers and enough money to shower on ourselves, our family, on those less fortunate (and even pay off our debtors).  Those figures on your bank statements are just numbers on a sheet of paper - they are not a statement of your self esteem. Your true worth is the currency of your soul and that is limitless and boundless as the ocean.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Absent fathers

Psychologists claim that the rise in teenage drinking and other such maladies is mostly due ot the fact that there are no male members (i.e fathers) in the average household any more. Absent fathers apparently influence vulnerable teens into a whole heap of trouble. I don't believe the answer is so simplistic and errant fathers are not wholly blameworthy. 

From my own experience, fathers are usually absent. In fact, I don't know of many who want to be present and involved. Parental responsibilities interfere with many a male activity - sports / video games / internet / couch surfing / tinkering with the car / drinking / socialising etc. Very few of these actually contribute to being a positive role model (especially if the children don't have similar interests). Long after progeny is produced , the male ego massaged (from begetting a minature look-alike) and the cooing stage has subsided it's a different picture.
Men just don't know how to be fathers and some are too stubborn to learn!

My father was a male presence (he never left us and many times I wish that he had!) but he was rarely emotionally present. I was the only daughter in a family of four and I barely warranted much attention. - never the proverbial Daddy's girl!  Daddy was engaged in cussing his "burdens" to spare a thought for nurturing.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Emotional neglect leaves far greater scars.....from the tears on your pillow every night to the wanton search for a man to love. I spent a lifetime looking for a father's love and, in my maturity, I can safely say that I did not find it.

 I did marry but, over time, my significant other started to display many of the negative traits common to my father (and other abusers). I refused to live in this state of disaffection, as my mother had, and divorce was inevitable.

Others in a similar situation empathise. My cousin  (now a grandmother) once told me that her father only showed her any affection whenever she made him a cup of  tea (and that was with a little emotional coercion: "be a good girl and....".

A girl with an absent father (before she becomes womanly wise) fantasises about a male figure who will worship and adore her. This  train of thought only serves to set her up for men who see her as a soft target. A boy with an absent father develops an inner rage, often manifested in his own realtionships as cruelty and indifference. Poor parenting (as a giver and receipient) is at the heart of the problem and it takes a strong person to fight against their inner conditioning.

Absent fathers are a depressing statistic. Abusive and neglectful fathers, who are present, fare no better.

Society has not addressed the issue of helping fathers be present. Parenting is a tough job and many (of both sexes) are just not up to the mark. Daughters and sons need different types of fathering. Each of your children has a unique personality and individual emotional / psychological needs. To be a parent takes a variety of skills -counsellor, mentor and critical friend - but who counsels the counsellor? Who supports the parent when the parent is taking care of business?

An absent father is no bad thing. It's far better to leave a relationship / family out of honesty  than remain dishonestly. Children just want love and, for some fathers, love is leaving them with the truth.

Just like a flower, I'm growing wild


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Multi-coloured Multi-culturalism

Cooking up a storm
Multiculturalism isn't working -that's the current, hot topic being debated about in UK political circles. 
My thinking on this is...has it ever do you get it to work....and what secret ingredient could be added to the pungent ethnic melting  pot?
My fear is that there are no solutions (and it is I who has famously claimed that...every problem has a solution). God knows, of course, but he's not sharing it with any one of us!

  As a seasoned immigrant I feel the need to speak up. Surely God did not paint us a certain colour, give us different tongues and plant us in a particular place in the world for us to remain there forever? If God made the world for us then we are free to roam it? Apparently not. Humans, in their wisdom, created laws to keep some of us out and devised a "points" system to ensure that only the "best" are allowed in. Furthermore, it's all legislated so that we are protected and indeed we must be.

I, as an immigrant, need protection from these new arrivals. 
Why? The simple answer is that immigrants bring with them a range of ingrained behaviours and psychologies that are damaging. Immigrants are supposed to be close knit and have strong family ties. They have to be since they have no one else.
Integration or disintegration?
Often there are a whole host of negative, indigenous behaviours being played out behind closed doors - the worse being the inequality of the sexes. Older members of a newly arrived family cannot communicate in the mainstream language of the country - another restricting factor. They are from less developed societies and have existed harsh conditions with little material comforts. Moreover they have low or no aspirations and feel maladjusted in an environment that encourages progress. 
These are the people playing out a B movie in their minds, feeling like:"Dirty, pretty things".

Here I dwell on the misfortune of the immigrant's lot; but there is an upside. Some of them rebel against this slumdog label and go on to become millionaires. Some of them break down the cultural barriers and rise to great heights......that kind of multiculturalism works!

We are the world