Hi, this is my first time blogging, well actually its my second. I started on a different site, but felt it wasn’t quite the right one, so here I am, beginning again with wordpress. Please be patient with me, it may take a while for me to get to grips with it. That is the thing about starting something new, it is both exciting, but also nerve wracking and can even be a little bit complicated. (I will seek professional advice….. I promise) but in the meantime, if you see stuff that shouldn’t be here (like instructions how to build the blog) remember, I’m a learner and have a bit of sympathy. Just think of a time when you had to start something new, like learning to drive a car. It’s kind of a bit like that for me now, trying to understand this format, but I will get there in the end. In the meantime, enjoy and have a great day!
volunteering in a charity shop feeds my addiction, but on the cheap. I’m a shopaholic….. apparently!
Photo – authors own…
Apparently I have an addiction. It is not really harming anyone. I don’t get violent or abusive. I don’t fall about the place, forget my name or sell my soul to the devil. I haven’t wanted to feed my addiction that badly……..yet!
I am a shopaholic, there, I have said it out loud. Well, I have merely repeated what my husband has said I am. Thankfully, he supports me in this addiction of mine, and often times, he joins me.
If anything, I am helping instead of harming. It all started with the little things, but predominantly, the pretty things.
I am a volunteer in my local Oxfam in Wexford town and proud of that. I have been there over 5 years now, sorting out the books and what a great book selection we have there – just saying, if you fancy popping in and picking up your next read!
At first, it started with the books, some for me, some for my children and others for my grandchildren. Fiction, non fiction, autobiographies, you name it i’ve bought it. Lots of them look great on my book cases. Lots of them I have not read yet, but will, one day, I promise.
At the end of my shift I then browse in the shop, or when I am taking photo’s for our instagram page (check it out @oxfamwexford). It is then that my addiction really kicks in and I can buy anything from a hair brooch, to a high end hand bag. Pottery to a pretty painting or a special vase to a sleek sari. You name it, if its pretty, I will most likely buy it. I am one of our best customers and no, I don’t get nor want a discount. It is for charity, after all!
It is not just in Oxfam that my addiction takes place, it is any shop at all. If I see something pretty I will get a ‘figary’ and buy it, whether I need it or not. I tell myself, it will look nice there, or I can use it for this or I can give it to so and so for a gift or I can paint this and use it as that.
I do it all, I buy it, use it, put it in a cupboard, give it away, upcycle it, sell it, replace it, donate it and so the cycle continues.
Everything in life is not black and white and thank god, but those colours are cetainly not ‘pretty’. They have their uses, of course they do, like a blackboard and a whiteboard are very useful, but they don’t have the word (board/bored) in there for no reason! I am not opposed to them at all, but sometimes a splash of colour, a shimmery sparkle, a sleek and soft texture, a hand painted or hand crafted piece of art, pottery or otherwise, is just something lovely to look at, admire or use. It can lift your spirits the same as a lovely colourful bouquet of flowers, freshly cut or shop bought, it doesn’t matter.
The point is, if something lifts your spirits, and no one comes to any harm in the process and in fact you are also helping a cause, can that really be a bad thing? I don’t think so.
The only time it becomes a bad thing is when I run out of places to store my stash because my other problem is hoarding stuff, not being able to let go easily, and I know I am not alone in this one. Most of my friends and family are the same. So in that case, isn’t hoarding like an addiction too?
Why do we get so emotionally attached to things? Its a strange cycle because we think, oh I can’t give that away, or, so and so gave it to me, or I wore it on our first date or it was a gift (but I hate it) so I must keep it. Like it is some sort of security blanket. Yet when we let go and give it away, clear it out, donate it, declutter, we feel better, not worse. I have some clothes in my wardrobe that are over 30 years old. I have college books and papers that are over 20 years old too, why do I keep them!
I am starting to get a little better at being ruthless and getting rid of, giving away or donating things and I always feel great when I do. But watch this space, because it won’t be empty for long, before I fill it up again.
My Book Club Prompts, which I have put together and decided to blog it too
Eating in eating out
How to grow roses
There are times when we have to decide exactly the type of person we are or hope to be. It can be a truly conscious decision, but we may not realise that until we are faced with something that can fundamentally affect us.
As children we ‘just are’ until we are moulded and then we mimic. We have our own nature and then we may or may not be nurtured, depending on the family that we grow up in. As we continue to develop and mimic we then begin to make our own decisions and our nature may become more prevalent.
What if we have a nature that is bad or evil can we decide to change that and decide to be or do good.
What if our nature is good and saint like, can we do things which are bad even murderous?
Like most things in life, whether to eat in or eat out, it’s a choice but depends on motivation, money and desire. It depends on circumstance and context.
When I was younger, living at home as a teenager, I would do any amount of housework, but I hated gardening, with a passion.
Fast forward a few years later to buying and owning my own home and I suddenly want to learn how to grow roses and fill my garden with pretty things. I buy books and I educate myself how to do things I never thought I had any interest in.
As we grow, we build. We build ourselves, our opinions, our knowledge, our wants and desires. Sometimes though, we just conform to the social rules. Conformity is good as it gives us social rules and so avoids chaos in a lot of situations, like traffic lights. We know when to stop and when to go, otherwise we would be all crashing into each other, and that would not be good.
We conform to the rules at home, at school, at work, but what about conforming to orders? What if conforming to orders goes against your beliefs. Should a person’s sense of self and their beliefs matter more than conforming to orders?
If you were told you had to go to war and kill another person would you do it because you have been told to? If it went against everything you believed in, would you do it?
Desmond Doss was such a man whose belief and faith in God was to not harm another person. He was conscripted during world war II, but refused to kill anyone. He was a conscientious objector and he was taunted and badly treated by his superiors and his peers, but still, he held true to his beliefs.
He went into battle with not a gun or grenade, but a bible in his hand and faith in his heart. He was awarded medals of Honour for his bravery for saving over 75 soldiers, who would have otherwise died. Laying wounded on the battlefield he ran and picked them up, carried them and carried them down a ridge to safety. Hacksaw Ride is a movie made about this man. Some may say he was foolish, some may have called him a coward, but he was a hero. He was an extreme pacifist and because of it, he saved many lives instead of taking them.
I guess we all have to choose how we live our lives the best we can, without denying our true beliefs, whilst at the same time, not causing any harm to others. I am not saying we can go through life unharmed or without ever feeling hurt, or indeed without ever hurting anyone. That is inevitable on a small scale, but the big fundamental things, we must hold true, so long as we are not wilfully or maliciously hurting anyone.
Sometimes, especially in youth, things seem so big that they are insurmountable, but then you often realise that it is the little things that really matter and that anything can be achieved. Every day is a new day to start again, regardless of the big or the little thing. As we age and mature, what was the ‘big thing’ will often pale into insignificance and what was the ‘little thing’ is often the most important thing. Its called perspective.
Surrounded by her family, yet feeling so alone
all is safe and peaceful, in this happy family home
but as she sat at the table, concealing how she feels
the hurt and desperation are really very real
she doesn’t want to burden them, or tell them they were right
instead she’ll keep it with her and end it all tonight
she wants to say she loves them, but her throat begins to close
the words are trapped and stuck there, of the secret no one knows
growing up is difficult, but then to be betrayed
of the love in a relationship, how could she possibly stay?
for when the drink was taken, a monster he became
no one could control him, or even make him tame
so as much as he said he loved her, his fists said otherwise
no more could she bare the agony of the beatings or the lies
not yet even twenty, yet she felt life had no meaning
ashamed of what she’d put up with, had left her true self reeling
so as she went to bed that night, she studied all the pills
they only way to stop the pain – it had been a a battle of the wills
she thought about her family, and she began to cry
deep down inside, within her heart, she didn’t want to die
she knew no other way to stop the hurt and pain
and so she took all the pills and on her bed she lay
sometimes without explanation, an intervention occurs
for when she woke the next morning a ‘voice’ had spoke to her
it’s not your time to go now, don’t be so alarmed
the tablets that you’ve taken, have left you quite unharmed
go and live your life, you are stronger than you think
and then the voice disappeared as quick as she could blink
she felt a little groggy, astounded and so shocked
but soon she felt the strength enough, but her secret would stay locked
she swore she would do something, and make her life worthwhile
no more being trod upon and soon she would smile
now when she looks back on that time, oh so long ago
she’s thankful for that ‘intervention’, that helped to make her grow
and realised that a mind so young, can be easily disturbed
and loose sight of what can be achieved, if we share and we observe
so when around the table, at family dinner time
be sure to check with your young ones, that they are doing fine
and if they appear distant or even a little aloof
sometimes that is just enough to offer you some proof
that maybe all is not so well, so tread kindly and be open
let them know you’re there for them, and would help if they feel broken
it may must be the start, that they feel that they can tell
when all that’s going on in their life, is really not going so well.
At first I was quite looking forward to the lock down. For me, personally, it mean just having to stay home and, well, potter. My other half is looking forward to retirement so that we can just go about our days, as we please and just potter. He is still working, so lock down for him is different than my lock down, but we do enjoy our walks on his days off and potter in the garden!
Getting a new sky box and Netflix coincided with lock down and boy, am I glad about that! For the first two weeks of lock down, I feel the most productive I was each day, was to actually get washed and dressed, albeit in very comfy lounge wear. I basically sat and watched t.v soooo much that the hours just flew by and before I knew it, it was time to make the dinner! I very, very, very rarely ever watched t.v during the day, so this was a new venture for me and I must admit, I quite liked it and soon became accustomed to it. I ‘blame’ Netflix or should I say I ‘thank’ Netflix, because not only does it produce great series, it was also a great distraction from what was going on.
I admit that I over indulged on sky news too in the beginning, so much so that all I was talking about or thinking about was Covid- 19, risks, social distancing, cocooning, deaths, front line workers, PPE, contagion, hand washing and staying isolated. Of course I was worried, nervous and fearful that any of my loved ones may contract the virus and though I missed them, I was glad they were safe in their homes with their children and that my parents were safely cocooning in their home.
I missed them of course and the children but so long as I knew they were safe I began to settle and watch less sky news and more Netflix. Distracting the mind is very liberating and a new focus gives a new perspective. I consider myself blessed to be able to sit in the comfort of my home, have a garden to enjoy and be able to stay in contact with family with technology, like face time and also window visits.
With all this time on my hands, I thought I would get through the contents of my book cases in my reading room and read all my unread books, but in fact I have only read a few. I love to have my books around me, even the unread ones, especially the unread ones, because it leaves something still to be discovered. My reading room is my quiet space, to sit and relax to read and to write, to be quiet, by myself and to just ‘be’.
I finally decided enough day time t.v and tackled an outbuilding, once used as my business of a beauty salon and once used as a little pre school, ran by my daughter, which then got relegated to be a dumping ground for all things bright and beautiful…..not!
So the decluttering began, the stuff for charity to one side, the stuff to give away to another side and the stuff to throw out, in the skip. It is very cathartic to have a good clear out. Because of social distancing I left the free stuff at the front of my drive, for people nearby, to take for free, if they so wished. I am happy to say the stuff was taken and is now someone else’s pleasure. The stuff for charity is still awaiting the shops to open, but is neatly stored. Now my outbuilding has finally become my studio, to paint, to upcycle, to sew, to use the treadmill, to potter.
I may sound greedy having a reading room and now a studio too, but what this lock down has really highlighted for me is that we need time for ourselves, to be able to get lost in a project or hobby or just to ‘be’. To discover and shift our focus. To be content with what we have and to see a potential of what we can achieve .
I read about people tik toking, baking, cooking, sewing, all kinds of creative ideas have come from those in lock down. Two of my own children at home with their children, instead of rushing out the door to work or chasing their tail with all the chores and errands that need to be done, it has given them quality time together, which is priceless. Another daughter working on the front line with the NHS and happy to do so, to do her part in these very strange times, and without grumbling, she is a treasure.
So I am still enjoying the lock down and embrace it for the good of myself, my sanity and freedom to express, for my family and of course, the front line workers who do not enjoy the same sense of freedom that I have at the moment. I applaud their hard work, tenacity and their sacrifice, so the least the rest of us can do is embrace the lock down and find a way to shift the focus.
The smell of sulphur filled the room and woke her up. It was pitch black. She hurriedly turned on the bedside lamp, knocking over the famed naked photo of herself washing a car.
The stench was putrid now. She moved tentatively towards the closet, goosebumps pricked her skin. An ice cold breeze swept by her face. ‘Ahhh’ she screamed as the door flung open slamming her to the floor. Scrambling to get up, screaming and punching the air, she was silenced. Cold hands around her throat, eyes bulging.