Tag Archives: coping with life

Bad News Days !

As one bad news story piles on top of another, from every corner of the world, it is easy to give into despair for plight of human-kind.

After listening to the reports of the mass shooting in Tunisia something starts to pierce my shock and horror at this latest demonstration of man’s ability to inflict murder and mayhem on their fellow-man.

The constant reference to “Brits among the dead”, “?? British dead out of 37”; STOP , please!

Of course I understand that for a locally reporting news organisation company the local take is important, but for news companies reporting world-wide can we accept that each one of those 37 people counts. Each one had their own back story, family, friends and hopes and dreams; part of which was getting away for a while to lie on a beach and forget the stresses of life.

Anyone I speak to is aware these random acts of terrorism can happen anywhere, anytime. It is a global issue, affecting every race and religion ( or lack of), every sexual orientation and every age group.

The problem belongs to all of us and so do its victims.

I’m Confused

I’m reading an article in “The Telegraph” about the Canadian court that has ordered British American Tobacco to pay £5.5bn to one million smokers who are either unable to stop smoking or are now suffering from throat or lung cancer, or emphysema.

“The plaintiffs argued that the companies neglected to properly warn their customers about the dangers of smoking, and failed in their general duty “not to cause injury to another person”, according to the Quebec Superior Court.”

The article points out these actions were originally lodged in 1998 but only went to court recently.

Let me first of all say I am very sorry for anyone suffering from any of the above illnesses, but…… I am genuinely at a loss as to who would NOT have been aware of the links to cancer with smoking , or of the other dangers from this habit.

I am fifty-one and have always been told, since a very young age, to never start smoking and the issues around it. My father was a very heavy smoker and, long before I was born, wound up in hospital with breathing difficulties. The doctor told him then, in the 1950’s, either he quit smoking or his lungs would pack in within six months.

For people of my parents’ generation I can understand, folk now in their 80’s and 90’s, and perhaps some in their 70’s. But younger than that; how could anyone be unaware?

Back in the day, before the links to cancer were confirmed, smoking was promoted as a glamorous and sophisticated pastime with Hollywood leading the way; the images of its movie stars, cigarette in hand and a halo of smoke surrounding them, being the de-rigeur.

In my younger days I used to enjoy the odd cigarette myself, usually on a night out and having had a few drinks. But it was always one bad habit I knew I could never take up. There were just too many scare stories, too much evidence of the dangers, to justify the imagined benefits.

But my confusion continues on the point, “failed in their general duty, “not to cause injury to another person.”

If this is the case then why are cigarettes still being sold? Are the fast food giants going to be charged with this? Are the companies producing and selling alcohol going to be charged with this?

I do not smoke and I am no supporter of B.A.T or any other tobacco company, but every time I eat a burger, a bar of chocolate or drink a vodka and lime, I am absolutely aware of the health implications in continuing to be overweight and taking substances into my body with the potential to do me harm. This is my responsibility and I am not about to sue the various companies for my life choices.

It is all a game of russian roulette, but it’s my finger on the trigger for me.

I Love You Harriette Thompson !!

I love this woman, even though all my excuses for not getting off my backside were blown away as the news reports of her crossing the line on her latest marathon were flashed up on the TV screen.

Not only is she 91 ( or 92 depending on which report you listen to) but she has survived cancer and did not start running until she was 76 years old.

Technically, I could wait another 24 years before starting a whole other aspect of my life! Wow, what an amazing notion.

She is bright, generous and self-effacing; a true inspiration, but I suspect she might tell me not to wait until I am 76. I think she might tell me to do something, anything, now.

Whatever she might say, I love you Harriette.

Life’s Compensations

Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who waxed lyrical about “Youth being wasted on the young.” He sounds embittered whereas I feel sorry for young people; not just todays young’uns, but for the youth of every generation.

I know all stages of life have that double-edged sword aspect, but the angst and self-doubt of my teens, twenties and even thirties blinded me to the opportunities and energy that were within my grasp. Is that what nature does; she gives you the wisdom and self-awareness of middle age and saps your drive to maximise their benefits. We grow into ourselves just as our bodies start to creek and groan with the passing years.

Is it all just a see-saw of gains and losses?  Yes, on all levels.

New technology gives us speed and ease of access in communication and yet so many more of us report feeling isolated. Air travel is common place for most and yet the flight is usually a fraction of the time it takes to get to the airport, get through security, and cope with the delays etc. Our houses have every labour-saving device our grandmothers could have hoped for and every gadget to prepare a healthy and nutritious diet, but we have less time for friends and family and, for most of us, eat less home prepared food than ever before.

So, are we ever any further on than of predecessors? No.

Until time travel is invented future generations will go through the same growing pains me, my parents and their parents did. The scenery and specifics may morph but they will remain centered around those insecurities that haunted us all.

But what about the upside of youth; the energy, strength and enthusiasm. They don’t know the limits, so why are we imposing ours on them?

Would You Believe It?

The news is full of stories illustrating “mans inhumanity to man”, but rarely do we get to hear about those moments of inspiration that so perfectly show what the power of many can do.

Last week approximately one hundred passers-by rushed to the aid of a cyclist trapped under a double-decker bus in Walthamstow, London. Together, they lifted the bus enough to allow the injured man to be pulled clear. Their behaviour flies in the face of the theorists that say, when we become part of a crowd we are slow to react, electing to stand back and wait for “someone else” to take charge.

I doubt anyone there stopped to check out the person on either side of them, to assess whether they would ask them round to theirs for tea on Sunday; they just took a place beside them and, together, their joint strength and will moved, not mountains on this occasion, but a huge, heavy bus and for the benefit of one.

This happened three days ago and I have been wishing ever since we could work like this on a larger scale, politically and socially.

Well, to-day it is wonderful to find that we have.

The news of the breakthrough in the treatment of cancer is nothing short of spectacular. This result is not only the amazing work of the scientists involved, but of every charity collector in the street, every mini-marathon runner, every patient that has taken part in clinical trials and every man, woman and child that has donated time, money and energy to find and fund a cure.

Our own future health is a mixture of good diet, reasonable exercise, genetics and luck, but the vast majority of people I know have invested, in some shape or form, in this research, without waiting to see if they are going to benefit from it personally and without wishing to monitor those that may benefit from it.

We have the power to do wonderful things when we focus on the hope that unites us instead of the despair that divides.

Just Doing What Comes Naturally

How many times have you heard this? Does it usually spring up at the very moment someone is about to attempt to justify the unjustifiable?

Mmm, me too.

“It’s only natural,” is as bogus an excuse for bad behaviour as it is in the labelling of a lot of snacks and convenience foods. In a civilised society we are supposed to temper our “natural” inclinations, to take into account the feelings of others and the impact of our actions on our environment.

Pity then our children trying to make sense of a world where the media makes much of those that shout loudest, stomp on the weak and celebrate/revere the rude, crude and thoroughly undignified.

I feel bombarded by media showing the monetary success this kind of celebrity can bring and, even at my age, have problems processing the quantity and quality of the information, so how on earth can we expect young people to make sense of it, or to be able to filter the myth from the reality.

Unfortunately, and very sadly for all of us, when they try to emulate their modern-day role-models aren’t they then,

“Just doing what comes naturally?”

Be Your Own Best Friend

Throughout my various blogs I have referred many times to the quote,

“Love thy neighbour, as you would love thyself.”

I have also gone over how I did not “get it”, for years, that you need to start with the second part of this before you can understand loving others.

The veracity and truth of this comes back to me so many times, that, each time it does I feel I get a better understanding than that first light-bulb moment.

Friends are wonderful and I am very blessed with mine, but until you learn to listen and respect your inner voice, your inner self, you will continue looking for answers to your problems from others. And no-one can fulfill that role, can know what is truly best for you, better than you.

The act of talking an issue over with a friend is great; quite often allowing you to hear the solution and the sense of it. It can provide a clarity and a comfort that comes with sharing and their loving support.But, ultimately, the answer was within your grasp all the time.

In being your own best friend you need the honesty that comes with this kind of relationship and also the same generosity of spirit you would show to that friend when needed.

Finding peace in being alone should not isolate you, but provide you with a strength of self-awareness and allows you to be a better friend to those you love.

I Am Choosing A Great Day To-Day

Having had some pretty stressful times lately, and with more just around the corner, I have felt a bit battered and bruised, or, more accurately, knocked down and trampled. Things that normally come as second nature to me have taken huge efforts and I have just let others slide completely.

But a couple of days ago I started to get fed up with myself. And it came down to something as simple as this. With my first cup of tea in my hand I asked myself what kind of day I WANT; not hope for or expect, but want.

On the first day all I wanted was a better day than the one before, and so it was. The next I wanted a good day, and so it was. It’s Saturday to-day and I want a great day and I will have it.

There was no fairy godmother involved in any of this and shit still happened on those days, but I also found times of happiness and contentment. The only thing different was me. I chose to be.

My head is full of “I can” and “I will”. Perhaps silly things to some, but they are the things I can control and achieve easily; quick wins.

“I will spend extra time on my hair and I will put my make-up on”

“I will wear something I love to-day.”

“I will eat something yummie and then something healthy.”  (These two don’t often have common ground for me)

I haven’t been able to change the people around me or my circumstances, but I will get back up again and get on with my life, my projects and my loving those close to me.

Being Thankful

This is going to sound a bit odd, but my husband and I are just back from visiting a very good friend, of many, many years, in hospital where he was recovering from a severe and acute illness, one that very nearly killed him, and we had the best nights craic ( that’s Northern Irish for fun and laughs).

We had both been concerned at his appearance at his mother’s funeral two weeks earlier, but did not expect to get the phone call we did from his distraught wife on Sunday morning.

We drove up to the hospital with knots in our stomachs, fearing the worst. But it was great to see him sitting up and back to his grouchy ( in a good way) form, giving us the low-down on his dramatic escape.

And maybe that’s what it was. Maybe we all (his wife, her friend, my husband and I) felt like we had escaped that gaping black hole of grief at the loss of someone we love.

It was a time to laugh at the old times, go over those old stories, when we were ALL there to enjoy them once again. It was a time to let these wonderful people know we love them and our lives have been enriched by them being part of it all. And we did.

My youngest daughter phoned while we were still there to ask about our friend and to give him her love. This guy normally pretends to be oblivious to sentiment, but not now. He lowered his head and nodded, “Oh, that’s nice”, he muttered, still looking down.

Don’t wait to tell those that are important to you how much you love them.

I am so thankful our friend is still here, so grateful of the lesson in this.

Justice For Children

I have just finished reading an article from The Independent regarding the reduction in sentence of the convicted abuser of a six year old boy, from six years to thirty-eight months. To be honest I had to read it twice as I thought I must be making a mistake; but no!

These two judges reckon this SIX YEAR OLD BOY was “making a precocious choice of his sexuality” and therefore the abuser’s behaviour could NOT be considered, in legal terms, “gravely outrageous”.

WTF!

Apologies to James Rush from The Independent for lifting so much straight from his article, but I am still going back and re-reading it to make sure.

Oh, and another brilliant nugget from these two “Judges” (I’ll use that term for the moment); one of them has claimed in a radio interview that, prior to the childs molestation by the convicted abuser, the boy had been subjected to,

“the initiation by his father into the worst of worlds, leading him to deprivation.” ( From interview with Judge Horacio Piombo )

Is this how far we have come in protecting our children from sexual predators? Are we as a society going to allow an adult to claim that a child is in any way to blame for the abuse they have suffered?

This case took place in Argentina, but as we all know, this lack of justice for children is a world-wide issue and no country can wag its judgemental finger at another.

In an era where we examine whether children are fatter than they should be, how they have so much more “stuff” than is good for them, it would surely behold us to make sure they are safer than ever before from the vile attentions of perverts and, if the worst does happen to them, that they are heard and then shielded from further harm.

Activist groups in Argentina are rightly outraged and are calling for the removal of both judges from the bench.

However, we desperately need to understand how any interpretation of law anywhere allows a six year old child to be portrayed as the villain.