Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy New Year Bloggers!

I'd like to take this opportunity to say Happy New Year to all the bloggers out there in cyberland.
 
I would also like to say a big heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to read this blog, leave valuable and much appreciated comments and all of those who have joined my blog via Google Friend Connect (there's still time to join if you haven't already, cheers).
 
This blog is what it is because of you. Without you it wouldn't be the same. I won't pretend I'm writing for myself, my aim is communication, discussion and friendship with fellow bloggers. Blogging has been very hard work and challenging on the best of days, but also hugely rewarding. You have all given me so much support/encouragement and I will continue to do the same with as many of you as I can get around to in 2014.

This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention BLOGCATALOG. This is one of the best blogging communities for people like me who enjoy interacting and debating on a wide variety of topics. A special thanks to the staff TonyB and AngieA who have helped to raise my profile, taking me to new heights. Their VIB status has sent me soaring through cyberland and put my name on the map. BlogCatalog is highly recommended and I'd love everyone to join and see for themselves as you won't be disappointed.


  • I'd love you to do me a big favour. When you leave a comment on this post, please leave me a link to your Best Post of 2013 - the one that you believe is your best piece of work.
  • I'd also love to know how you will be bringing in the New Year at midnight on 31st Dec 2013. Please share.
I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions. 
 
My next post will be on 10th January 2014... but it might offend, you have been warned.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Reflections

Well, not long to go now until 2014.
 
This is the time of year that I always reflect on my life, my thoughts, my decisions and most importantly -  ME. I look back on all the positives and negatives including what I've learned from them.
 
I ruthlessly assess my friendships/relationships and make uncomfortable decisions on who needs to go. Nobody wants to bring a back-stabber or someone who has no respect into their future do they?
 
I take a blunt look at myself, naked and aware. I look at my broken dreams and destructive habits and make conscious decisions to put them right.
I look at my attitudes to people and life. I checkout my forgiveness or lack of it on some days. I look at the things that caused me to stumble and why. I thoroughly go through the things that caused me to excel and how I can hold on to them. I look at what makes me unhappy and the ways I can change it for the better. I think about how I can make a difference to this world.

This year in particular I'm conscious of Nelson Mandela who did 27 years in prison. Look what he achieved afterwards! He could have caused a bloodbath to satisfy a lust for revenge but instead he didn't allow bitterness and anger to strangle his dream of equality. He made his freedom count. What am I doing with the time I have left? What are any of us doing? Our actions can have consequences, and some of them great.
 
For most of the past year... actually past several years... there has been something that has been suppressing my true identity and stifling who I really am. I don't want to go into it - the details may be for another post - but I've struggled enormously and only recently feel that I've been released and want to make the most of this freedom for the time I have left.

So my question to you is:
What old things would you like to leave behind as you head into the New Year?
What new things would you like to bring into your life?
Looking back over the past year what have been your greatest successes and/or failures?
 
I'd love to hear your views, comments or opinions.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Neighbours Behaving Badly

Neighbours, don't get me started on this one. I can talk for England about this subject but I'll keep it short. Ahem!
 
Bad neighbours are the bane of my life. They drive me nuts, they bring out things in me I didn't know existed. There were times when I contemplated doing prison time rather than live next door to them. Thankfully, the authorities got there before I did.
 
I've lived next door to a few bad apples in my day and mark my words, they almost put me in the pysch ward at the nut house. The constant thumping of the bass music which was played as if they were deaf. Banging late at night which made me want to kick their front door off it's hinges. 
    
I was forced to listen to in-depth relationship arguments every weekend after their boozy night out, always coupled with physical punch-ups, lengthy screams and the sound of smashing furniture. And it was me that had to get out of my warm bed to tell them to 'keep it down'. It was me that was verbally abused because I tried to reason with them and it was me that was left to call the police. My actions turned me into the bad guy. My good was being evil spoken of. Can anyone work that out?
Try living next door to Mr Psycho. I did for a time. Every window of the house coated in tin-foil. Construction site noises coming from his home during the day and visits from 'ladies of the night' through to the early morning, disturbing my much needed sleep in the process. Yes I complained politely... and he answers the door wearing a mask, rubber gloves and his house looks like a bomb has gone off inside. Every natural instinct told me to steer a mile clear of this one. He then goes on the 'defensive' accusing me of picking on him - flaming cheek. All I wanted was a little peace and quiet in my own home. But you can't argue with stupid. I saw Mr Psycho a year after I moved away. I smiled to say 'hello' and guess what? He wasn't happy. He followed me on his bike shouting harsh curse words, swearing for 20 minutes. He was on the attack mate. Once again I'm the bad guy.
 
Would I do it again? Hell yes. If you don't disturb me, then I won't disturb you.  I don't even have the time to deal with the neighbours who spew out babies and allow them to run rampant destroying the communal areas, increasing my service charges. Try having a reasonable conversation with their parents, just bring your shield because it always ends bad. And how about the ones who don't pick up after their dogs have deposited their stools outside your door? I pay good money for my shoes.
 
Love your neighbour? Boy, that's a big ask on the best of days!
 
So my question is:
Have you ever had neighbours behaving badly? Please share your story with us.
Are you comfortable reporting your neighbours to the authorities when they behave badly?
Has a neighbour ever complained about your behaviour? - C'mon, be honest now!

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Best Medicine

They say it's what separates us from the animals. We all do it but few of us can explain what it actually is. It's something commonplace, yet at the same time profoundly mysterious. 

I'm talking about laughter.

Some people even ask 'what use is it?' but science tells us that laughter actually does bring physical and psychological benefits to humans. It's supposed to make us happy, feel good and bond relationships. And making someone laugh can help get them through difficult situations.  

So what makes you laugh? I've been severely scolded because of my weird sense of humour. I admit it. If you fall down the stairs, bump into a shop door, get stuck in the train doors - I'm the one who's laughing uncontrollably in the corner until I can regain my composure to help, and I don't even know why. I just find things like that funny - when it's happening to someone else! My practical jokes are worse, and they've back-fired a few times, so I'm very careful what I do now.


People say I have a contagious laugh. Once I start, bit by bit everyone around me will join in and they don't even have a clue why I'm laughing! Some people have a nervous laugh. If you catch them out in conversation or something doesn't seem quite what it is, they laugh it off in an unconvincing way. 

I've even seen people laugh and cry at the same time when faced with terrible adversity. Perhaps it's a coping strategy. 

So look at how complex and mysterious laughter is. It can be hysterical, evil, laughing insultingly in someone's face or a joyous expression of laughing together.

So the next time you're laughing, ask yourself, why am I laughing, what kind of laughter is it, and what is laughter anyway?

So, my question is:
What makes you laugh?
Have you ever played a joke on someone and it back-fired?
Where do your draw the line between what's funny and what is 'sick' humour?

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Can Discrimination Ever Be Positive?

Ever heard of 'Positive Discrimination' or 'Affirmative Action'? Well, I've just found out that it's no myth! 

The term was coined by President JFK in America. The basic idea was that certain groups in society - in this case African Americans - had suffered such massive historical disadvantages and discrimination based on race, that they did not realistically have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else. So therefore active steps needed to be taken to ensure that such minority groups were represented and hired in organizations, government and businesses. It's led to the adoption of hiring quotas (in some countries) in which a certain number must come from previously under-represented groups.

It covers a lot of areas from employment decisions, admission to educational institutions and even public health to name but a few. 
The claim is that 'reverse discrimination' - at least for a period of time - is the only way to restore complete equality in the long term. But is this the case?


On the surface it sounds simple, but in reality it actually means that if there is a lack of black people, for example, in a workplace, then in the event of 2 equally qualified people going for the same job, one black and one white, the employer opts to give the post to the black person from the underrepresented group in order to correct the balance.

No wonder many countries refuse it, as it seems tantamount to unequal treatment to many. They simply choose to treat all people the same.

How can people be preferred purely on ethnicity or origin? Doesn't this actually devalue the person's real accomplishments? I mean, isn't it a bit patronising? This policy could actually end up damaging the people it seeks to help because others will assume 'she only got the job because she was black or a woman etc, not because she was the strongest candidate'.

It also keeps people constantly aware of the barriers that divide us, creating more resentment between different groups, increasing rather than reducing racial tension. 

Perhaps you only agree with it when it is focused on one particular area and not another. For example - you may agree that more women should be seen in top positions, but not necessarily more disabled or ethnic minorities?

So I ask:

  • Is Positive Discrimination a good or bad thing?
  • Should employers in a multicultural society be forced to have a balance of different ethnicity or equal numbers of men and women in the workplace? 
  • Have you ever been chosen over someone else based on your race, culture, ethnicity or sex?

I'd love you to share your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Author of Your Own Destruction

'Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn' they say. But this was a clear case of cutting one's own throat, without seeing it coming. 

Boy meets girl, they fall in love and get married. All seems well for a season until he is forced to tell his unsuspecting wife he's been having an affair during their 26 years of marriage. He then abandons wife for a new life with his mistress. Gulp...
Well, I'm sure she would have felt like any other woman. Shocked by the sudden announcement, betrayed because she knew nothing about it. Hurt because the affair was with someone she knew. Humiliated, angry and bitter that her private life was about to go viral as 'news' in the media for all to see. I guess she might have felt a little revengeful. Who wouldn't?

Now, the estranged wife had plans, but she had no idea of the price she would pay.


She waits a while then states to reporters that a few years ago, to avoid her then husband being prosecuted for a speeding offence, she falsely told police that she was driving the car that had been caught by the speeding cameras. In other-words, she accepting driving licence penalty points incurred by her husband. Well, let me tell you this in a nutshell and to cut a long story short. 

ALL hell breaks loose, everything goes public. Both herself and husband get arrested. She now needs a defence and states she was coerced by him. The jury doesn't accept it, they both get charged with perverting the course of justice and end up with an 8 month prison sentence. She was recently released after serving 2 months and has to wear an electronic tag on her ankle and abide by a curfew until the end of her sentence. 

This actually happened. He was the high profile UK politician Chris Huhne who was married to Vicky Pryce. 

Now, I'm not here to discuss their case, but was rather making a point about being the Author Of Your Own Destruction. I can't imagine for one minute that she would have spoken out in this way knowing what the consequences would have been. Nobody in their right mind would set themselves up to be shamed so openly, then end up in prison. 

So my question to you is -
Have you ever done anything in an act of revenge that backfired in your face?
Have you ever willfully divulged secret information because your relationship with a person turned bad?
Have you ever set someone up in revenge and then sat back and watched your plans unfold with a smile on your face? 

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Blogger's Plague

What the heck have I got in common with F. Scott Fitzgerald (Of Great Gatsby fame) and Charles M. Schulz, author of Charlie Brown and Snoopy? I call it the bloggers plague. In other words - Writers Block!

I'm not putting myself on a pedestal as some professional writing expert but I've been racking my brains for something to write since 02.00am last night and still a big fat nothing. Zero Inspiration. I don't have a post for today. 

So, as I'm not the only one to stand in front of this obstacle, what do you do to climb over it?
C'mon, throw this dog a bone. Has this ever happened to you?
If so, how do you deal with it?

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Don't Be Shy

Pride, they say it comes before a fall. Fair enough I say, but what if it comes after an achievement? 

Us Brits are famous for our understatement but perhaps modesty and self-effacement can be taken too far. After all, how can we be encouraged to move forwards if we don't recognise what we have achieved in the first place? Is it so bad to be extremely pleased or overjoyed with what you have accomplished in life? Is that being proud in a negative sense?

I'm not asking you to make yourselves the centre of attention every single day. Or in every situation to constantly and forceably brag about your lifetime achievements. All I'm asking is, that you give yourself a good pat on the back, and not feel afraid to say what you're good at, or what you succeeded in doing in life against all the odds.


Let's not be ashamed to celebrate positive pride. Grab a beer or your favorite tipple, take the load of your feet, and tell me all about it. Don't be shy.  

So, what are your proudest moments or achievements in life?
What is the most successful thing you have done against all the odds?

Or feel free to leave a link if it's something you've already written about.

I love to hear your comments, views and opinions. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Abusive Church - Part 2

Busy doing Nothing
Before you knew it, and regardless to your day-job, every spare minute was being taken up with evening church activities. Mondays were ordained as a free day, Tuesdays was choir practice for those who wanted to be tormented by the Pastor's rude, authoritarian son. Wednesdays was bible study where you were constantly bombarded with information and any poignant questions would be danced around until the lesson had finished. Thursdays was Cell Group where the church folk met in each other's homes on a rota basis. Fridays was youth meeting, followed by cleaning the church and then all-night prayers until 3am. Saturdays was street evangelism and Sundays was church from 8.30am to 10pm. 

Non-attendance of these meetings was frowned upon. People were exhausted and tired. You were discouraged from attending private family functions or events not related to church or having associations with unsaved friends. 'God' had to be put first. Any complaint would result in you being labeled as a weak and lukewarm Christian.

Warning 3
The key tactic here is to keep people constantly occupied and distracted. You don't have any time to think, decipher information or do any research for yourself. If your ability to think is taken away, you are more likely to accept information given to you. 

Money money money
We gave money constantly. At every meeting, at every church service, sometimes 2 or 3 times in one day. We tithed 10% of our gross income and there were additional times when we were told to give a 'sacrificial' offering, even if we didn't have it, so that you could be 'blessed by God'. I saw that offering basket more times than I saw my own family. We were told that if we did not give our money it was as if you were robbing God. Now, the bible has a lot to say about giving to the poor but I never heard the leader breathe a word about that. What was actually going on with hindsight, was that he was accepting money from a load of people with far less than him. The opposite of what the bible says. 

That church was freezing in the winter and the roof was always leaking. But I guess that's what happens when bad money mismanagement comes into play. Or was it?

Warning 4
People should be free to give. The minute there is an element of pressure, guilt, blackmail or even bribery ie: 'give so that God will bless you', alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear in your head. God doesn't work that way.

Behind the Mask
This pastor was one hell of a force to be reckoned with. He was extremely charismatic and well known within the community. He was liked by many people who were not part of that church and he played the Jekyll and Hyde game very well. One of his tricks was to suddenly and openly tell the congregation on a Sunday morning that God has spoken to him, and some unlucky bastard was to be ordained as a leader ie: missionary, evangelist, elder, teacher, deacon etc. In reality he was falsely giving you a formal position within the church by name only. You actually had no authority, influence or power at all. Obviously you were not allowed to refuse that position because it came from God. I was unfortunate enough to be given a title which meant more meetings and more of an insight into the politics going on behind the scenes. 


Shunning  
I remember the case of a very well respected and extremely popular leader who got on very well with the Pastor and his family. 

At a certain point they wanted to step down from one aspect of their duties after a few years. The Pastor tried to persuade them not to and refused to give his blessing. When this leader politely stuck to their guns the Pastor ominously said 'OK... we'll deal with this on Sunday'. He actually waited several days to publicly denounce this person in front of the whole church, as though they had done something seriously wrong! They were now silenced, gagged - in other words, not allowed to speak as a leader.

This well-liked leader was immediately ignored by most people after the service ended. People simply turned their heads and walked away. People were too afraid to ring them at home or make contact. This leader was shunned for weeks until the Pastor reinstated their position. 

Warning 5
The power that social isolation can have on people who have cut off their family/friends, not to mention the outside world and made their whole social life revolve around a church like this can have devastating psychological and emotional effects. Yes, you can leave at anytime but where would you go? Who would you turn to? And remember what I said in:
The Abusive Church - Part 1
it was drummed into you that God had put you in that church. 

Headless Chicken
There came a point where myself and my partner no longer believed in the Pastor's version of scriptural interpretation. We presented him with a small document of our findings and handed it out within one of the hierarchy meetings just like we were supposed to do. The Pastor agreed in front of all the ministers and their wives to discuss our concerns at another meeting. 2 weeks later he obviously changed his mind. We received a damning letter which I can only say sounded like it came from a demented man. He stated the following which I have put in quotes:

"I take it to be an act of gross misconduct to me and anyone of intelligence in the meeting" furthermore "without submitting it to me for approval or disapproval", "I think you should have asked for them back and re-presented them in the proper manner if approved". This Pastor continued by stating 'I do not take it lightly, anyone trying to embarrass me in front of the people that God gave me to lead', "was it a try to pull a fast one" 'I do hope that this was a genuine mistake" and 'you are setting up trouble for yourself in your local church and may the Lord help you". 
We of course responded in a godly way to all letters BUT this Pastor wanted blood.  He sent a second letter commenting "disrespect is and will always be discouraged" and "there is a way of doing things which shows respect for leadership and in turn will promote those in "followship" and "I have already informed those present at that meeting this would not be discussed on any level, therefore no need for you to trouble yourself further". 

Now, I have not written 1/5 of what this Pastor said but wanted to give you a gist of his mindset when someone disagrees with him. In the Pastor's third letter he stated "You owe me an apology, not just to me but to all who were present in that meeting", and "you have offended me, you did not cause division because I stopped it in time" AND "you having to leave on issues as these do hurt me in the guts". It was also confirmed and made very clear that he had stopped people contacting us.

All those wicked words spoken ONLY because we had a different point of view over scriptural interpretation.  

My Experience of Pentecostalism
I've seen marriage forced upon couples who were not ready for it, they only wanted to date to see if they were compatible, but are now divorced or separated especially when re-marriage was deemed as sin. I've seen many people suffer with mental illness due to the emotional abuse they suffered. Many have cast God aside and dare not venture into any type of religion. One particular woman died because she refused to take her medication on the premise that God would heal her.  I've seen many false prophets claim God told them to do this or that, but it's ironic how nobody never claimed to do a miracle or raise the dead, simply because they couldn't produce the evidence. I've seen fearless men from the rough and tough streets of London turned into whimpering fools. I am disgusted to my stomach to have been in a private meeting when it was announced due to rumours, that another Pastor from another congregation had made a woman pregnant, and this was being hushed up by the hierarchy.  Nobody was to say anything. I'll never forget it as long as I live. And I will never have anything to do with that church or Pastor again. Shame on every Pastor, for every evil they have done. GOD IS NOT MOCKED. 

Warning 6
Places like this and people like this Pastor can only exist because people like YOU or ME fund it with our tithes, money, offerings and most importantly, our time. Do you think autocratic or authoritarian leaders would exist if none of us ever showed up? You can't manipulate, control or abuse nothing, so to speak.  
Vote with your feet. Hit the floor running. Trust your gut instinct. And don't be afraid to challenge things that you feel is not right. 
I hope I was able to help someone. 

If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here:
The Abusive Church - Part 1 

It would be great to hear your views, comments and opinions on anything regarding this topic. And feel free to express your views. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Abusive Church - Part 1

Part 1
This is a true story of my personal experiences within an abusive church. I apologize for such a long post but there are things that needed to be said. 

This post is not intended to mock or criticise the many Church Leaders that promote the sound teachings of God and have a real duty of care and love for their congregation, but rather to expose some of the toxic features within a church that almost destroyed my relationship with God. I feel compelled that this is the right time to share my experiences and to warn others in advance. 

Seeking Hope
One of the things that most people search for is a spiritual source to fill the gap that nothing else seems to plug. A creator, a God, a being of some sort. After all, we have a longing to know who we are and where we came from. One of the many paths we take is the road that leads to God. 

At a young age I had already exhausted the nightclubs, lock-in pubs, underground raves, and designer clothes. I'd had my fair share of expensive dinners, holidays abroad and meeting people you wouldn't want to be associated with. I indulged in way too many deadly sins to mention.  

I began to have an intense inner feeling that I needed God and to find him I needed to find a place of worship.  

I eliminated the Jehovah Witnesses, Baptists, Catholics and Mormons because throughout my early life I had already spent time studying with them and their teachings just weren't my cup of tea.  I then remembered my relative telling me about this local Pentecostal church they went to and how different it was regarding worship, plus the preaching/teaching was very bible-based.  I decided to go along and take a look for myself. It was that decision which almost put me 'smack bang' into the gates of hell.

No Way Out
Within a matter of weeks of my being there, I was being taught in the Sunday school lessons that the reason I, as a new convert had chosen that particular church was because 'it was the place where God had sent me' and 'those that leave that church were never meant to be there in the first place'. People who left were being referred to as 'wolves in sheep's clothing' according to Matthew 7:15 in the bible. We were constantly being fed stories of how people came into the church and tried to cause havoc but when they didn't succeed they left and that was due to them not being a child of God in the first place, but of the devil. We were warned against associating ourselves with them. After all, those people had rejected the truth about God so what could we possibly have in common with them? We were light and they were darkness.
I had no reason to challenge this based on what I had seen so far, so I lapped it up like a thirsty dog. The noose was being tightened, but so slowly that I didn't notice it.

Warning 1
This is vitally important because they were quickly laying the foundations in your mind that the Almighty God had put you in their church. And to leave would be to defy God. 
It was also teaching you not to associate yourself with anyone who had left the group regardless to their reasons. They would be labeled as rebellious and/or backsliders - in other words, they walked out on God and wanted to return to the society that was on it's way to a fiery hell. 
Seem like simple statements don't they? But, in the long run, those words would plant guilt, fear and shame, and haunt you whenever you thought of leaving. 


Shut Up and Obey
As the months ticked by we were taught that we should obey God rather than man - Acts 5:29. It's a brilliant scripture if used in the right way, but it was constantly drummed into us that the Pastor and his ministers had been ordained by God, and they were the mouth-piece of God, so in essence, you were obeying what God wanted through them. You were taught that if you wanted to do certain things then you would have to ask the Pastor for 'permission' first. There would be serious consequences if you failed to adhere to this. 

Anyone who dared to challenge the pastor would be knocked back sometimes privately but more so publicly. They were made to look as if they were being disobedient to God's ordained authority. 

There was a situation where an elderly woman wanted to visit another church. She told us beforehand what she wanted to do but when the Leader refused 'permission' she decided not to go. We had been taught that to go without his express 'blessing' was to go against the will of God. As time moved on, I'd realise that 'permission' was sought for many things: dating, marriages, visiting other churches, social events and suchlike. 

Anyone who did not abide by these rules was privileged enough to be the topic of the next Sunday sermon in front of the whole congregation. Can you imagine, for example, how you would feel if you wanted to get married and because you didn't ask the pastor's 'permission' the next service would be about disobedient people marrying the wrong kind or that it wasn't ordained by God and that their marriages would fail etc?

Warning 2
Public humiliation was a way of telling the whole congregation to 'hear and fear'. The pastor did not take kindly to anyone who disobeyed him. Bit by bit, grown adults (many who I personally know) who were once very strong and independent minded were being turned into people who conformed to whatever this autocratic pastor wanted. Members were regressing to childlike vulnerability, they were no longer thinking for themselves. They were only interested in whether the pastor would approve or disapprove. In order for any cult to work you need total obedience. It was no longer about Jesus.  

But the worst was yet to come.
Part 2 will be posted on 6th September 2013.

Questions
Have you or do you know anyone who has experienced autocratic leadership?
Have you encountered these dynamics in other places apart from a religious setting?

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 9 August 2013

To the Grave - Old Age

Who says old age is nothing but a number? As a society we seem to be terrified of it. We run from it like the plague and we'll do anything to keep it at bay. 

Look at the millions spent buying products to hide or cover our naturally aging bodies. Creams to iron out the wrinkles of time, creams to disguise those liver spots, which we fondly refer to as 'death spots'. Chemical peels in an attempt to force the skin to rejuvenate itself. We endure sucks and tucks for that shameful over-stretched sagging skin. And what about the pain of undergoing surgery to pull the face north when the body is gravitating south? Need I mention the excess bags that accumulate under the eyes? If products can't shift it, surgery will.  But I thought age was nothing but a number.

Some say 'you're as old as you feel' but the fact is, even if you feel 21, you're still and old 71 - ouch!

I say - what's all the fuss about? What are we so afraid of?


I mean, why can't we just view it in a positive light and accept it? 

Those bags under your eyes, you worked damn hard to get those and anyone who can survive on earth with all it's pollutants for that long, will produce those telling signs. 

That hoary head, is proof that you've lived enough to be full of wisdom and are capable of giving sound advice.

Those old weary bones might be frail now but they once built homes, fixed cars, and went to war. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Those liver spots serve as reminders to others, to give up their seat, hold open that door or to usher you to the front of the queue. Not bad at all. You can turn your selective hearing on whenever you please and dress crazy without anyone batting an eyelid, it's all wrapped up in being old aged. You can speak your mind with less offence and guzzle the wine more easily - everyone will pass it off as being elderly. 

The whole package is a badge of honour! So what's so wrong with growing old gracefully?

What's all the trouble I hear about one being old
Your face folds into wrinkles and your room smells of mould
Your hair changes colour whether you like it or not
The smell of your body, gently tells you 'it's rot'!

Why should we care, cos we've had all our time
we've lived and we've loved and we've spent our last dime

Are you doing anything to keep old age at bay?
Do you relish being old or do you hate it?
Do you make allowances for old people?

I'd love to hear your views, comments, experiences and opinions.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Smiling Assassin

Trust me, they walk amongst us and we ought to take heed and be careful. 

These people are calm and docile. They are not in-your-face aggressors. They are experts in knowing how to adopt a placid persona to carry out their under-handed aggressive attacks. A classic case of wolf-in-sheep's clothing. They have a way of channelling all their anger and frustration in a passive way. It all looks so good on the surface but underneath they are mere backstabbers looking to retaliate in the most subtle and cunning ways.  It's a kind of undercover abuse. They are called Passive Aggressives. 

Passive Aggressives procastrinate even if they have agreed to do something for you. You can remind them countless times but they'll find a way to either do it in their own time or maybe not at all.  They have intentional inefficiency - that's when you ask them to wash the dishes, and they do it with a smile but will deliberately leave food bits on the plates stating they did their best. Their mission was sabotage. Their smile is really a smirk that says 'I'll teach you a lesson'. They'll refuse to deal with arising problems and will allow things to escalate. 

Passive aggressives won't tell you you're wrong, they'll make subtle sarcastic comments hoping you won't pick up on it, and if you do, you may find it very difficult to pin-point the offensive comment whilst they go all wide-eyed and innocent saying 'what....me? Oh nooo, I didn't mean it that way'. And if you insist on challenging them, they can make you look as if you're the one causing the problem. 


Passive Aggressives, don't take responsibility or blame. They are masters at what they do and know how to manipulate others. You usually find out who they are by their behaviour. 

Does anybody know what I'm talking about?

Have you ever been the victim of Passive Aggressive tactics?
How would you deal with someone who is a Passive Aggressive?

I'd love to hear your comments, views, opinions or experiences.

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Love / Hate Relationship


I have a love/hate relationship in my life. What makes it important is that this person is around me all the time. The difficult thing is that this person has some traits that I really can't stand. It's just irritating. Worst of all, this person is... ME.

Could I even be a self-abuser? I have no trouble encouraging and supporting others to feel good about themselves and celebrating their differences and uniqueness. But I also think it's delusional for a person to just assume they're perfect. And there seems to be a lot of them about nowadays.

But what if you have the opposite problem?
Here's my dilemma. I want to be 'comfortable in my own skin'. I want to accept myself 'warts and all'. Some people even tell me that until I learn to love myself that way, I won't really be able to love others fully - can this be true? But how can I accept things about myself that are just plain wrong? Can I afford to be complacent?


Surely I should try and strive to change them. I don't want to be one of those many people I know who are so full of love for themselves that they don't seem to listen to their own conscience when they do blatantly wrong and selfish things.

But then again, what if I can't change? What if this is simply the way I am? Does me beating myself up really achieve anything?

Dear readers, I'm confused.

Can any of you relate to my confusion?
Does anybody out there have any advice for me?
In all seriousness - Do you truly like everything about your character?

I'd love to hear your comments, advice, views and opinions.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Mystery of Inspiration

Inspiration, friend or foe. It seems to be an enemy if you ain't got it. What the heck is it anyway? Usually when I come to write a blog post there is something that triggers me. 

When it comes to blogging I don't actually know where inspiration comes from. Is it really from all those conversations I had down the pub? Or maybe the many family functions where we debated issues all night? Maybe it's the regurgitation of my daily diet of news? Crikey knows. 

All I can say is that, like a bolt of lightning, something happens and the words just flow and I feel complete in the sense that I have something to say.


But when searching for inspiration, it proves very elusive. I try and go back to the source. I replay the moment of inspiration in my mind trying to work out what happened but it's like looking for the end of the rainbow.

It's almost as though, instead of me finding inspiration, it's inspiration that finds me. In a quick minute it's all there and if you don't try to capture it, it's gone. I recognise it when it happens but I don't have a clue where it comes from. So my questions to you readers and fellow bloggers is:

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Come to think of it, what is inspiration?

I would love to hear your comments, views and opinions on this.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Father's Day Heroes

This Sunday 16th June is Father's Day here in the UK. So, I'm not going to waste my time on dead beat dads who couldn't care less. No. This post is for the many fathers around the world who did their best with what life presented them with. 
 
To all those fathers who work many hours in low paid jobs just to bring in a decent wage, and to the increasing many that work 2 jobs just to make ends meet. You have supported your family well.
 
To all those that take time out of their busy work schedules so they can attend their children's school plays, parents evenings and sporting events. Your children will always remember it.
 
To all the 'stay at home dads' who look after the children, do the laundry, shopping, cooking and cleaning without complaint whilst mum earns a crust.  Nothing wrong in that and it's good you shared the load.
 
To all the fathers who continue to pay child maintenance despite a divorce, separation or relationship breakdown. We're proud you supported your own.
 
To the many fathers in the armed forces. We can only imagine how hard it must be for them to be away from their families. Thank you for the sacrifice and for risking your lives to keep all of us safe.

To the dads who have shown their daughters how a man should treat a woman in all circumstances of life. And taught their sons what it is to be a real man. Thank you for raising your children into responsible, caring, respectful adults of today.
 
To the unfortunate dads who found themselves incarcerated but after doing 'time' for their crime, they made a complete U turn and completely changed their life for the better. What a bitter pill you swallowed. But, well done, you deserve a second chance.
 
And I mustn't forget to mention all those men who took on the full responsibility of raising children that were not theirs, but supported, nurtured, loved and cared for the kids as if they were their own. And for those who will move heaven and earth (legally!) to get access to see their children. You deserve a medal for sure.
 
Anyone can have a child but not everyone can be a good father, male role model or mentor.
 
If you have a message of encouragement you would like to send out to fathers, please feel free to leave a message here.

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Metamorphosis

Take a regular guy, unassuming and liked by all. His friends portray him as friendly, respectful and polite, far from the angry troublemaker, hotheaded rebel or sinister outsider. The kind of person who is from a good family, did well at school and held down a decent job for years. We all know someone like that.
 
Along the way 'something' happens to those young people that produces adults that I find absolutely chilling.
 
'Something' that turned the guy those people knew into a man with blood-soaked hands, holding a meat-cleaver and knife in the headlines last week. I'm talking, of course, about Michael Adebowale, alleged murderer of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, whose body had to be identifed by dental records. People say that Michael Adebowale was 'radicalised' - but what does that actually mean?
 
So how about Ariel Castro - the man responsible for keeping captive, Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight for over 10 years? Was he radicalised too? He was another normal member of his community even having the audacity to invite friends over for a beer claiming the noises they heard were dogs in the attic, when in fact it was the victims trying to escape. Ariel Castro gave money towards the search for one of the girls he himself had kidnapped. On another occasion he attended a vigil for a girl and stood with the grieving family knowing that a few hundred yards away she was huddled up and chained in his own basement. Those who knew him also gave him a glowing report. 
Many times there is nothing in a person's past that raises alarm bells as to what they might do in the future.
 
Is there some sort of a metamorphoses that takes place, or is it just the matter of them revealing who they really were all along, flashing their true colours after many years?
 
Sometimes we are so busy being focused on the bad guys that we're not concentrating on the so-called 'good guys'.
 
Now I ask you:
•    Can someone explain what radicalisation really is?
•    Have you ever been horrified to find out a person you thought you knew for years was something completely different? If so, can you share what happened?
•    Do you think it's possible to prevent this sort of thing happening if you intervene at an early enough stage?

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions on this.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Better Off Alone!

Loner. Unsociable. Recluse. Just some of the labels society slaps on a person who prefers their own company to that of others.

But what's so wrong about a person being more comfortable on their own? We constantly encourage people to love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin, but as soon as you take time out on your own, you are labeled as if you are a freak. 

Isn't there something wrong with the person who has to continually be around other people? There are some people who just can't sit still for 5 minutes. Their phones are always engaged, they are never home and every time you try to contact them they are busy. Why isn't that seen as unhealthy?

Isn't it possible to have too many friends and be socially addicted? I'm talking about the person who can't hold down a decent conversation because they're constantly texting, tweeting or checking their emails. The person who has spread themselves so thinly that they are too busy to truly form a strong relationship with anyone. I don't know about you, but I find it more lonely in a crowd of acquaintances than being by myself in my room. 

Over the years I've wondered if there is something wrong with me. I can spend days on end by myself without the slightest urge to see anyone or pick up the phone. I feel peaceful, content, and stress-free. Chaos and confusion is left outside whilst I'm serene in my bubble. Where's the crime in that?


There are also many famous people who were deemed to have reclusive tendencies such as John Swartzwelder - comedy writer of 'The Simpsons'. Johnny Carson - NBC host of The Tonight Show. Daniel-Day Lewis - Actor of My Left Foot and Stanley Kubrick director of A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Space Odyssey to mention a few. It just goes to show that even if you don't crave the company of others, you can still achieve your goals.

Do you prefer to spend most of your time alone or in the company of others?

Do you think it's unhealthy to spend vast amounts of time on your own?

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Positive Affirmation - Really?

Okay, so I'm a bit stuck with this one and I'm struggling.  You see, I understand that we should aim to have a positive outlook on life and even when we endure hard times we should try to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, find that silver lining in the dark clouds or encourage ourselves if possible. 

I'm coming across more and more people who believe in this thing called 'Positive Affirmation'. It goes far deeper than looking on the bright side when all around you is in chaos. And it's very different from someone having a naturally positive attitude. 

I mean, people actually believe that if you continue to speak repetitive positive things 'into your life' then it will happen. Furthermore, if you write positive affirmations around your home or work then these affirmations will come true.  So in essence, if you continuously say or chant the words 'I love myself' or 'I will be successful' for a long enough period of time, then you WILL love yourself and become successful. 

Really?


Whatever floats your boat. But I get frustrated when I'm trying to have a conversation with someone who keeps constantly correcting me. I'm just trying to accurately describe what's going on and how I feel but they insist on me editing out the parts that they don't think are 'positive'. 

Here's an example. If you say ' I hate this job, I find it so boring". Mr Positive Affirmation says " Don't say that! It sounds like self pity to me. Instead you need to declare this "I love my job and find it enjoying and fulfilling". 

It's as though they believe that acknowledging that you're not happy about something actually makes it go wrong. There seems to be a modern superstition that every word casts some kind of spell, like speaking something into being. 

But what's so wrong with being real? Thinking positive in bad circumstances is one thing, but can it, by itself, get you out of the situation? And by the way, at what point do we acknowledge that all is not well? At what point does this wishful thinking become a person actually lying, to others and to themselves? 

Does all this 'Positive Affirmation' force people to walk around with a false smile on their face living in denial?

Does anyone actually know what I'm talking about? 
Have you encountered 'Positive Affirmation' yourself?
Doesn't creating such a gap between reality and what you admit impact on mental health?


I would love to hear your views, opinions or comments.

Friday, 19 April 2013

No-Nonsense Women

"I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England at that!" The words spoken by a great woman who had power, authority and strength. Queen Elisabeth the First.
 
"If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman". Words spoken by one of the most powerful and divisive leaders that Great Britain has ever seen. Baroness Margaret Thatcher, ex Prime Minister who passed away last week.
 
Regardless to what you personally think about these women or their politics they had common traits. Determination, resilience, boldness, courage, strength of character, a willingness to take risks and a fearless heart. They stood up against strong minded men who tried to oppose and challenge them. They persisted with their aim and got the program done. These women knew what they wanted and didn't allow anyone to stop them.
 
Dare I neglect to mention all the other unsung heroines who bring the same qualities to everyday life. Women who are the backbone of their families, that successful business, that international industry. Without them it would not work. But wait, isn't that the problem? Their contribution is only valued so long as they stay in the background, the moment they try to step into leadership, they get shot down.
 
So are women still facing cultural, male dominated, obstacles today? Even Thatcher was trained to lower and deepen her voice!

They say you have to be strong and hard to get on and achieve. But if a woman acts too tough, they say she is no longer feminine. Come on and be honest now - If a woman behaves daintily, or presents herself too attractively, is she really taken seriously?
 
While men can just get down to business, women have to walk this tightrope and in some cases, still get the same job done, if not to a higher standard.
 
So, can a woman be strong and powerful without being manly? I mean, is there a type of strength that is better suited to women than to men?
 
What actually makes a woman powerful?
Who are the powerful women in your life and how did they influence you?
Are powerful women viewed or portrayed as negative?
Do men fear a powerful woman?

I'd love to hear your comments, views, and opinions.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Snitch

Now, this is a real tough one as nobody wants to be known as a 'squealer', 'snitch' or 'grass' and everyone's heard of some of the deadly consequences associated with people who reveal secrets, especially within the criminal world. 

But let's take away the death aspect of it all - although you can never be sure that someone won't commit suicide or take a life!

What if you were confidentially given unequivocal information that would affect the life of a colleague, friend or family member? What if you revealing that information meant they could avoid severe consequences such as prison, personal injury or loss of livelihood? Remember, it's not just about helping a friend. By doing so you would also be betraying the person or organisation who gave you that information and jeapordising your own reputation. In other words, you can't play both sides. Would you squeal? 


Or on the other hand, take the opposite case. What kind of wrongdoing would push you so far as to pass information about a friend or loved one to the authorities?

What if they were cheating on their taxes or insurance?
What if they were defrauding innocent members of the public?
What if they were smuggling drugs or people into the country?
Would that make you squeal? If not what would it take?

What's the difference between revealing 'secret' information to a friend and revealing 'secret' information to the authorities? Either way, isn't it the same thing? Please enlighten me. 

Sometimes in life, taking sides becomes inevitable. One man's hero is another man's traitor.

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Rep to Protect

"It's not your job to like me, it's mine" - I've chosen to open with this quote by Byron Katie but... isn't it an impossible dream?

C'mon now, let's be honest - when your feelings get hurt and you say "I don't give a monkey's what anyone thinks of me" out of sheer bravado, are you really being honest?

I believe that deep down all of you out there care much more about the opinions of others than you would like to let on.

I'm ready to admit that I have a rep (reputation) to protect if you know what I mean. It's important to me that I do all I can to uphold my good name. My reputation is what identifies me. A bad reputation equals a bad name and can lead to serious repercussions.  

Aesop's fable about the 'boy who cried wolf' brings this point home powerfully. The boy undermines his own reputation to the point that when he does have something of vital importance to say, no-one believes him, with tragic consequences. To not care in 'anyway' what people think about us, is in a sense, an act of self-sabotage.


As for real life, who believes a liar, trusts a thief or shakes hands with a dodgy builder? 

Your reputation can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Have you ever thought that your reputation could be what's standing in the way of you moving forward.

So when you walk out into society, make your voice hold weight in public, make your opinion count, let your judgement change lives - your reaction may cause a stir for the better or worse and all of this based on your reputation. 

Let's take a moment to carefully consider our reputations...

Do you think reputation is important? 

What is your respect for others based on - ie. what makes it grow or lessen?

Is there anything worth sacrificing your reputation for?

I love to hear your comments, opinions and views on this.

Friday, 15 March 2013

An Evil Presence

I've been thinking about this topic for quite some time now simply because I have found it very hard to put into explainable words my experience of what I call an evil spirit or presence.

We can all let our imagination run wild with fairy tales, fables, or horror films but I'm talking about having a very real strong overwhelming feeling that something, someone or wherever you are, you can sense an evil spirt or presence around you. I'm not the kind of person to easily jump to spiritual conclusions if I hear a noise in the middle of the night, can't find my keys or keep losing things around the house AND neither am I the type to casually blame every wicked deed on an evil spirit, but if anyone has ever had an experience with anything of an evil nature then you'll know what I'm talking about. And I'm sure I'm not going crazy, or am I?

To cut a long story short, I have seen a woman whom I knew for some time completely change character within seconds and speak in what I could only call a demonic voice. The tone, the snarl, the sound, her eyes totally glazed over as if nobody was home and something just took control of her for what seemed to be minutes. I will never ever forget it and there were independent witnesses present who saw and heard the exact same thing.


On another occasion, there was a building that I used to go to every week. Whenever I came within at least 30 yards of the door, I felt as if a darkness fell over me, the blood was draining from my body, I felt scared with an over powering sense not to go in there. I just knew that that building was surrounded by something very real and very evil. I just can't explain it enough. It is one thing to believe that evil spirits exist and it's another thing to have experienced it. 

Lastly, another experience I've had when sleeping is an evil presence sitting on my chest like a heavy weight, pulling me. I feel paralysed but can't wake up to get it off me. It's a horrible evil feeling. 

Do you believe in evil spirits or even demonic possession?
Is there any connection between mental illness and demonic possession?
Have you ever experienced what I call an evil spirit or presence? Can you share them with us. 

I'd love to hear your views, opinions and comments.


Friday, 8 March 2013

The Meaning of Motherhood

It's Mother's Day this Sunday, here in the UK. Like Christmas and birthdays, it's a time of joy, appreciation, the giving of gifts, treats and much pampering for some, and of bittersweet reflection for others. An occasion to celebrate motherhood, which for some people is a reminder of what they didn't have. 

So last year I had no shame in writing a Mothers Day post which spelt out the genuine acknowledgments I gave to my mother, despite our relationship being somewhat non-existent. I will hold on to those same words this year whilst I watch others have a more entertaining time. 

Those who haven't read my post can find the link here:


This year, I would like to ask a few questions regarding your experiences and feelings about your own mother or the woman who raised you - be it a grandmother, foster-parent etc:

1. What are the key qualities of a mother?
2. What was the most important thing that you mother said, that left the deepest impression on you - whether good or bad?
3. How will you be honouring your mother on Mother's Day?
4. Single Dads - do you feel the need to fill a motherly role with your children? If so, in what way?
4. What was the best or worst moment that you had with your mother?
5. If you are a mother, do you expect recognition for what you have done for your children over the years? 

Please feel free to answer any/all of these questions, or just share your experiences. I would love to hear your comments, views and opinions. 
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