Monday, 31 December 2012

Memories, Traditions and Realities

Memories may be beautiful and treasured but they invite us to be backward looking. Looking back life seems somehow better…..they days were longer, there was more to smile about, our bodies and minds were vigorous and some of us really had some good times.

These are the lucky few who can look back without anger and pain. Your memories may be scattered with smiles, laughter and general merriment but spare a thought for those whose memories are weighted down with negativity – frowns, admonishments, sharp words all reverberate around the hallowed hallways of their minds. 

Face it, your memory lane had a pneumatic drill in residence and more than a few potholes that you try to repair with each passing year. You want to remember the good stuff but sometimes you just can’t. Your light was snuffed out long before you were even conscious that you were in the business of memory making.

Traditions are usually the generator of memories. I consider myself a traditionalist but with a heavy dose of modernism. Take Christmas…I love the sentiments of the season but could do without the commercialism. Yes, it’s nice to get a little something wrapped up in paper and ribbon but only if it’s heartfelt. 

Most people give presents ritualistically but I like it best when you give and don’t get anything in return. At Christmas, I think most about people who don’t have loved ones to share it with and they are the people worthy of a little something or two. A great many people feel alone at Christmas but it’s all the hype that makes them feel that way. Aloneness is not confined to any season and we can experience it all throughout the year.

Some traditions serve; some do not. Are you the kind of person who has a house full of Christmas songs, miseltoe, wreaths, twinkling lights, wine and mince pies? That’s good…if you’re helping to make Christmas for others but what about the attitude you bring to your festivities? Are you of good cheer when you notice those tiny faces that were once aglow and looking forward to the arrival of Father Christmas are now all grown up. This is a time to remember that there’s a child in every heart and it comes out at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and any kind of celebration. We need to feed our hearts and minds, as much as our bodies.

At every table there’s a Grinch. Someone who doesn’t believe in creating a warm and loving atmosphere. Someone who's overdosed on some sad pills!! He or She is the person who wants to be a party pooper and rain on your parade. For a child, this is especially difficult, as their heart is naturally light and this figure is someone they love but it’s not a two way street. Love is withheld and withdrawn and, for a child, that’s devastating. It taints every memory and destroys traditions that may never be passed on. This is a reality that no child should ever have to witness but it’s the stuff of many a childhood memory.

Christmas realism
When we arrive at that mature place in our life’s journey, we sometimes turn a cold eye over our memories and traditions. In truth, they were less than joyful and there’s a dent in our hearts but we can’t risk passing it on to the next generation. Each person will face their realties associated with the important milestones. It’s easy to be judge and jury and call for capital punishment for those who’ve mistreated our memories and traditions. 

I don’t want to be the bringer of pain to anyone but, subconsciously, I act out my anguish and that’s torment for people around me. There’s a little Match Girl inside me that feels cold and hungry despite being surrounded by warmth and food. She’s the part of me that’s feels the hurt and rejection despite it all being in the past. My heart can sometimes feel a little frozen in places but I never freeze out the love.

We are the sum total of our memories, traditions and realities – we can’t escape. Losing the defective, emotional baggage should be on everyone’s new year list of resolutions and we must fight the good fight to restore balance. Staying in the moment is the goal though the past and the future will vy for our attention. Our souls always know the light and she must be the guide in 2013 and beyond.

I wish you good memories, healthy traditions and enlightening realism too for the year ahead.

Happy 2013 to you and yours!


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas is.....

Christmas is….the most wonderful time of the year – not! Christmas is the craziest season as far as I can see. My purse never seems to get a rest  and my budget takes a real battering. I can’t budget for Christmas since I don’t agree with it….at least the commercial aspects of it. Beyond commercialism, I can’t see the point of Christmas.

I know what Christmas should be but the peace and joy of the season has bypassed me. In my family I’m supposed to be the Christmas organizer extraordinaire. If I relax at all to sample the “peace and joy” then Christmas doesn’t happen. I am the giver of Christmas but not the enjoyer of it.

Christmas is for those who love shopping. Christmas is for the partakers, the ones who enjoy your Christmas whilst making you the poor relation at it. Don’t you love having family over? After a sumptuous feast, they’ll notice the stain on your curtains and the tear in your upholstery.

Christmas is not about love and I’m not exactly sure what it is about any more. I’d prefer to think of Christmas about being simplicity….the birth of a baby...but no gifts from three wise men please!
Christmas has developed into a complex, commercial decadence that has a lot of negative emotions attached to it. Thinking back on our Christmases past, what do we dwell on? The love or the abuse?

I'm dreaming of a light Christmas
Oh yes, Christmas is so emotionally charged that people get abusive. They mistreat those who are closest to them. You can bet that  on this Christmas and many in bygone times, there are children who’ll be spending it sitting alone in their rooms. They are banned from the festivities as their parents (or one parent in particular) can’t stand the sight of them. There’s no love lost in these families at Christmas or any other time of the year. For an abused and neglected child, Christmas brings home to them exactly what they’re missing.....and most of them are things that money can’t buy.

Christmas is also a playground for the fantasist. They want to believe in the spirit of Christmas but that spirit comes with a hefty price tag. Putting on a lavish Christmas with chestnuts roasting on an open fire takes a heck of a lot of money. You might enjoy the season but you’ll be broke for six months after. Spiritual fantasy also comes home to roost at Christmas. We want to believe that our family is like those perfect families on every Christmas TV ad. Dad looking into Mom’s glistening eyes and then looking at each of his children with brimming eyes. All curled up on the sofa playing games and watching TV, laughter and merriment abound.

Mythical Christmas
In my heart, I know what Christmas is about as I’ve spent many of them discovering what it’s not. The harsh reality of Christmas is not lost on me and I’ve tried to cushion my children from some of those. I was brought up on the Christmas of hard knocks and I don’t ask for pity. There’s just not enough love to go around at Christmas I guess and there are many who have no idea what love is.

Christmas, like life, is what you make of it. When you’ve understood the true meaning of it and it flies far above the commercialism then maybe you’ll enjoy it. As I mature I remember Christmases past with people who are no more but I also remind myself to look forward. Christmas is about living in the moment and giving from your heart.

Christmas is whatever you are…. so find the glorious and triumphant inside of you.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

America...bite that bullet!

One more angel in heaven
Another gun tragedy and another wake-up call for America to review its gun laws. Trust me, they won’t. The gun lobby is one of the strongest and most vociferous. They can wax lyrical about why it’s important to carry a gun for protection; the right to defend themselves from attack. America still thinks of itself as gun slingers in the Wild West…..and that’s primitive thinking for the most powerful country in the world.

Let mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters weep but it will change nothing. America is resistant to change and to life enhancing strategies . America has problems…big ones….ones that they’ve created to which they can find no solution.

Take the parent of the shooter, Nancy Lanza. She’s reported to be a Doomsday prepper and is one of the devotees of survivialist propaganda. She was stockpiling for the end of the world…next week. What has happened to rational thinking? Why do a great many US citizens take these theories seriously? I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where scare-mongering like this works. Most of us in other parts of the world are grateful to have another day, even if it proves to be our last.

Tears for fears
I think it’s a big country mentality; the buildings, cars, roads, homes and food are bigger but the brain has not enlarged to match. Of course, it’s easy for me to talk….I live in a small-ish country where police don’t go on routine patrols with guns. Police here prefer to err on the side of caution and the law states that every man is innocent until proven guilty. The law is to be upheld not taken into our own hands.

Pro-life means being anti-gun – simple? Not so for our brothers across the pond. They need to protect themselves from “the enemy”!!? I thought it was every Christian’s duty to love their enemies or at least make peace with them. Perhaps there is a way to love someone after you’ve pumped them with a few bullets!

The gun culture is a smoke screen for savagery. The lobbyists in favour of holding on to dangerous weaponry will wear the biggest grin when talking about their private arsenal. If you ask me, they should stick it where the sun don’t shine. Those who live by the gun will die so….and Adam Lanza, was no doubt following his mother’s example in seeing guns as powerful.

Guns hurt people. 28 people from Sandy Hook , Connecticut will not be sharing Christmas with their families. There’ll be an empty space in those homes and in many a heart. This tragedy has touched the world. Many people are numb through grief but, around the world, people are also numb with disbelief….that America can’t work it out.

He can do it...with your help...yes he can!
If you want to reduce people’s exposure to crime, for both perpetrators and victims, then remove weapons of mass destruction. If you believe in life then defend it, minus a gun. No one needs a gun unless they’ve got mischief on their mind. I don’t believe it’s ever acceptable to have children and guns under the same roof.

America, I urge you to big up on compassion, take this bull by the horns and stop the slaughter of more innocents. This is not the first school massacre and it won’t be the last. Fear is the evil in your society and it’s senseless to point a gun at it.  America has to bite the bullet in reducing public access to guns.

Land of the brave; be brave. It takes more courage to lay down a weapon than squeeze the trigger. It’s not macho; it’s sick……. to count bodies instead of blessings.












Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Empire Strikes Back!

A leading British historian has stated that he no longer recognizes the country he was born in. Neither do I and I wasn’t born here!I am an immigrant sandwiched between the first and second generation. My parents were economic migrants but their heritage was intricately and uniquely intertwined with the British culture long before they ever stepped onto these shores.

The race I belong to is an offshoot of the British Empire. We are the beige- skinned products of the British colonies. The light skinned rulers were attracted to their darker skinned subjects so a new breed was born through inter-marriage and more than a few rolls in the hay. Wild oats were sown and grew into a mixed-race of English speaking wannabees. Not only did they speak English but the also looked English and had English surnames to boot.

These were the aspirational minority almost crushed under the weight of the majority’s traditionalism that were committed to throwing out the regime. The resented their authority and pledged to dis-continue the good work (that had been started) in establishing roads and railways. True, the British feathered their own nests but they left behind a grand legacy that the indigenous folk were unable to live up to.

An English country garden
When “civilization” comes to the village; it’s not always allowed to stay. This is a small island whose inhabitants have gargantuan egos and their politics speak for themselves:

·        - a 25 year war with a minority of hard-working migrants, whose only crime is to be more hard-working than   the natives (who feel shown up)
  th -  harassment of the English-speaking minority by prohibiting their language from their schools

·       -   human rights record……what human rights? If you’re a woman or child you’re seriously disadvantaged and …..if you believe in free speech….forget it!!

This is a place that my parents escaped from with their 20 month old daughter and 3 month old son. In the 60’s they travelled by ship and were embraced by the Empire where the climate was cold but the welcome warm.With hardly any money and only the clothes on their back, enduring hardship and trampling snow underfoot for the first time, they marched bravely through the years to make their tiny mark on the Empire. 

At home with the English
They were proud to be British, speak English, integrate and adopt British customs. It felt special to come into the bosom of the motherland and be part of a great nation that conquered (and sometimes divided). The Empire was not perfect but no government ever is.

Forty-five years has passed since my parents arrived and the new immigrants of today are a far cry from the ones of the last century.

New immigrants have not left much behind at all. In fact, too many have brought their chattels, weak minds, mean spirits and satellite dishes with them. They can’t (or don’t want to integrate) so they pour scorn over the Empire. They look for the negatives and finding them, latch onto any like-minded no hoper who will listen and agree with them.

The fact that they remain in the country, enjoy the generous benefits of the welfare system whilst dissing the rulers is totally lost on them. They are the cultural ignorami who value their own twisted values above those that were established with life and liberty in mind.

A game from the paddy fields?
The British Empire has put up with a lot since they gave independence to its colonies. You might think that these patriots, who were struggling for independence, could enjoy it but, the educated classes were the first to flee. It’s far better having a developed foreigner making laws rather than have your less educated contemporaries pushing you around and lining their own pockets.

Gandhi is a famous freedom fighter who wanted the British out of India. Was self-government a wise move? Historians are divided. Gandhi wanted a return to traditional values. He believed in the power of the spinning wheel and the right for every villager to earn a living from his Craft. He championed the removal of the caste system but, as his life was cut short, so were his objectives.

Who lives in a house like this?
You can’t teach the unteachables and the block heads who can’t see the wood for the trees. If wisdom comes quietly then so does progress. We cannot force a good thing until the corresponding party changes perspective and sees it as a good thing. However we must protect the legacy of freedom and justice; even if it’s not deemed profitable to the short termists.

I love the British Empire and all that it stands for. I see colonization as a positive thing; in fact we still need “caretakers” for certain developing countries in the grip of war and famine. I am thankful that my parents chose to come here and I believe I chose my parents for this reason. I was not destined to grow up in the country of my birth – thank God!

The Brits are OK

Some say that the Empire is dead or dying. Of course, those are the very people who are trying to kill it. 
As long as there is a British heritage and culture, Royal weddings and babies (that have the world agog), Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and telephone boxes…the Empire will live on… get over it!


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Any sex marriage

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has gone on record saying that he will pass laws to allow same sex marriage as he doesn’t want to exclude anyone from “a great institution” – oh really? What planet is Mr Cameron living on: “ Planet Happy-Ever-After”? Mr Cameron like many “happily” marrieds are living in a false reality and think that because they have achieved some degree of conviviality with their spouses, it’s the same for the rest of us.

Marriage is a minefield. It’s a dangerous pleasure and if you indulge in it with Mr/Ms Wrong you’ll find yourself jousting with them  all the way to the divorce courts. Marriage does not change or become “great” just because the two people in it are of the same sex or not. The fears, foibles, virtues and vices of each party will be thrown into the arena and the battle begins.

When two brides go to war
Marriage can be a gladitorial arena and the strongest may survive it. In marriage you will find the controlled and the controllable, the serial bride and groom, the dreamer and the doer, the pragmatist and the fantasist, the yin and the yang. Opposites do not attract and are not attractive. 

It is far better to live with your “similar”  than your “dissimilar”. Anyone who married their opposite suffers in silence and becomes passive/aggressive archetypes. They turn their frustrations (wrought by their spouses) inwards and inflict considerable psychological damage to themselves. They under-eat or overeat, they lose self-confidence and feel worthless, they stay in jobs that damage them in some way, they avoid conflict rather than face up to it, they smile even when the pain is acute, they are afraid of their own shadow.

Loved up on camera
If the PM really cares about the institution of marriage then he’ll be mindful that, if our cars need an annual service to keep them healthy, then what about our relationships? Does the PM only care for “the institution” rather than the body of people who make up the establishment? I suspect he does. This is political rhetoric at its best.

I expect it will be left to the courts to pick up the pieces of the “great institution”. Warring partners and parents bring a whole new meaning to Cameron’s “Big Society”;  a euphemism for “big problems”. I guess it’s more than a little apparent that politicians are out of touch with the electorate and I’m sure that one of Cameron’s spin doctors told him that "same sex" was a vote winner.

Politicians and clerics alike need to leave marriage alone. It is an institution in crisis. It needs some tender loving care from who-knows-where? But where there’s no political will to make significant changes then marriage will muddle through as it has done. The obvious antidote to a poisonous marriage is separation or divorce but this seems to leave a bad taste in the mouth of societal big wigs. 
A loveless marriage is fine as long as you don’t come out and show it......or worse shout about it!?

Happiest day of her life?
When we think of certain developing societies that force marriage on their teenage daughters then what is there to crow about? As long as negative ideas about girls prevail then marriage, in its current state, will be preserved. As we move towards enlightenment then we’ll see marriage as neither  positive or negative.

Marriage is dying, thank God. Many couples choose to be together for love rather than for the formalities of putting a ring on it and throwing a party. Superficiality is so last century and I’m always relieved when I hear that a relationship has failed before the two parties have entered into unholy wedlock. 

We’ve come a long way from the “Miss Havisham” syndrome where a jilted bride or groom waits forlornly for their lover to return. People are just too busy to mourn and, anyway, they’ll get plenty of sympathy and support from their Facebook friends.

No love....then eat cake
Marriage is what it is…..often a mess. Matrimony is a rocky road. Beware of the pretentious tripe that is spewed at wedding fairs by fashion designers, florists and cake makers. It’s a hideous farce and not at all what marriage is about.

Marriage is more than “great” Mr Cameron; it’s a grand and glorious illusion. I don’t blame anyone for indulging in a little slice of it but when bolts of lightning reveal the cracks then be prepared to spread some filler. If filler’s not enough then it may call for your house of cards to come down…and let it come down with dignity and grace. Yes we can all be married but, not many of us happily, and  gender doesn’t matter in the least.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Respect for the living

 Memories are both happy and painful. Remembrance allows us to indulge in the happy times and also to wallow in self-pity. Our memories seem to store the bad stuff more than the good. When we fill our minds  with negative images from our past then our vision becomes clouded and we withdraw from the joy of life.
Humans have got it wrong when we revere the dead. People who die become glorified and rightly so in some heroic cases but what about the glory of life? How do we celebrate it if we heap pressure upon pressure on ourselves when we should be enjoying the whole breathing experience?

When men go to war, it’s seen as courageous so we remember their sacrifice. The returnees come back to their families with damaged bodies and minds. The latter is the hardest to cure and poses a serious threat to healthy family life.

Memoriam to life
I don’t dwell on my past too much as there’s pain and very few pleasures. When I was young I threw away much of my opportunities as the adults around me didn’t show me any respect so I came to treat myself in disrespectful ways. I courted bad company, married and divorced it. I don’t look back because I prefer to look forwards.

People die….it’s a natural law. It’s hard to lose someone you love but it’s even harder to be a good loser. You always hurt the people closest to you but you immortalize them in your heart at death. It’s easy to dwell on the good points of a dead person but more challenging to dwell on them whilst their walking around.

People mess up during their lives…that’s natural law too. Who can live a completely virtuous and wholesome life? Perhaps a saint but most of them have feet of clay too. Many a saint has led a debauched lifestyle before turning to piety.

When I see people lighting candles for the dead, it makes me uncomfortable. The hypocrisy hits me more than anything else when I recall how these people were thought of when they were in living…..sometimes hardly at all.

The relationship between dead parents and their living children is a fragile one. When parents are ailing, they seem to want to their children around but, in their youth, children were dismissed – seen but not heard. There are a minority of parents who have got this parenting thing right and they accept that their children cannot be around for them.

I am life
“Life does not tarry with yesterday,” Kahlil Gibran reminds us and our children are like “ living arrows”. That clearly implies that once, as parental archers we take aim, then we can’t guarantee seeing where the arrow lands. Children are not boomerangs so don’t expect to see them once they start chasing their dreams.

This is a call to respect life, while it is with us. Respect each person, plant, flower even when you don’t agree with them. It’s hard but it’s the way of peace and if want some in your heart then you’ll have to swallow your baggage.

To respect life is to leave it alone.  To respect yourself, say “no” – many times, over and over, as there are people who don’t accept that word from you. Life goes on and life is what you make of it…in each moment. Honour the pain of your past and look towards a bright future. Draw a line under your past and renew yourself and others.

You can’t make life good for another person when they don’t want it. The veil of ignorance cannot be torn down by you. Let them that haters hate but you will not share that death.
Life and me are one!
Respect yourself above all since your life is about you and no one sees it as you do.


My Nanowrimo adventure

If anyone’s been wondering what I’ve been up in the month of November…wonder no more….I’ve been doing NANOWRIMO! This is the annual challenge for budding authors to  complete a 50k word novel in 30 days.

My first Nano adventure was in November 2001 and I wrote 30k words….and stopped….long before the end. I gave up  completely and started again a few years later in November 2004….this time, I also gave up at around the 15th of the month.  Also had a stab at it in November 2006 but failure yet again. This time in 2012, I found a buddy and we got writing…and guess what? I wrote until the 30th and got up to 41k words….and I’m claiming a victory. I didn’t  reach the allotted word count nor have I finished the my novel but I’m on the way…and will be finishing this baby before the end of the year.

To complete Nanowrimo takes courage and self-belief and I know I have some….quite a lot of it….that I don’t dig deep enough for. You can bet that whenever you start a project of this magnitude, the world starts to crash around you. This is what has happened since 1st November:
·        - Our pet rabbit got sick
·       -  My Dad was in hospital with a head injury
·       -  The toilet cistern sprung a leak
·        - The overflow of water from the cistern gushing out onto the roof of my utility room caused the part of the ceiling to cave in
·       -  My car needed some urgent repairs
-All of the regular chores, work and writing a 50k word novel too…phew!!

Doing Nano brought out some of my demons. When you have dig to deep into your psyche for inspiration, it can be like opening a can of worms....some of the ugly stuff comes to the surface. You have to be constructive and find a home for the dark side. Fiction allows you to do that; you can pour vengeance and redemption into your characters. You can let them walk in your shoes and you in theirs.You can live out your fantasies and phobias. 

Post-Nano, I have big respect for writers. They're stoic, talented, finger tapping, reclusive geniuses.  If you can't shut yourself away from distraction and the human race then you'll never be a good writer. Luckily for me I enjoy my own company so the writing life is for me.

So what if your writing never sees the light of day. Self-expression is more important than self-aggrandisement. I've been writing stuff for years that the world has never seen. Validation is good but not if you have chase after it. Writers are right to write, right?

 I’ve done the best I can do and I can’t ask anymore of myself. I’m proud of my achievement.
So what’s my novel about? A romantic comedy entwined with a mystery suspense: ANIMAL ATTRACTION. When I complete it, I’m going to post it on my new soon-to-be-launched website for all my readers to take a look.

So that’s November out of way but the writing goes on.
Thank you Carolyn buddying up with me….I’ll show you mine… if you show me yours!