Back to School

For some it is a great sense of relief to get back to school after the long summer holidays of missing friends and routine. For others it is a sense of dread, angst and trepidation, knowing they are going back to face the bullies. So what can be done to ensure that our children are safe when they leave home to go to school?

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I remember when I was young thinking that the school summer holidays were way too long. I went to school in the UK until I was 14 and we had 6 weeks off in the summer. SIX weeks, wow that was such a long time. I loved school and I missed my friends and classmates over the holiday period. I couldn’t wait to go back to the ritual of the routine, and slot back in again to student life. It was a happy time. That was until I moved school because we moved to another country. I was made to feel unwelcome almost immediately, mainly by a particular teacher. I was different you see. I spoke with a different accent, an English one, a very unwelcome one, back in the ’70’s in rural Ireland. Even though my parents and grandparents and entire set of ancestors were Irish, I was an outcast from the offset.

I had a hard time a lot of the time. It was bad enough trying to readjust to my new surroundings, my new home, a new country, away from my friends and all that was familiar to me without the added dread of going to school to be ridiculed, ignored, picked on and verbally insulted. It was outright bullying. It gave me feelings that I didn’t care to have. It made me feel sad, bad, ostracised, unwelcome, angry. I went from loving school to dreading school. I went from thinking six weeks summer holidays was way too long to 3 months in Ireland being not nearly enough. Looking back, the only thing I am thankful for is that back then, when I got home, I was safe. Home was my sanctuary. Home was where I did not have to worry, I did not have to be on high alert, I would not be tormented there.

These days it is a different story for kids going back to school. This is the technocological age of progress and ‘all things can be done in an instant’. The sad thing is, that goes for bullying too, and there is no escape, there is no sanctuary of home anymore. Why, because these days most of the school age population (secondary school) have mobile phones, have some form of social media, whether it is snap chat, facebook, instagram and some other things I haven’t even a clue what they are! The bullying does not necessarily stop at the school gate, or the school bus stop. It follows you home. It doesn’t stop. It can be constant. It is exhausting. It is often SILENT. It is ALWAYS dangerous. It gets into the mind and can be so destructive that some victims cannot cope. They may appear to be ‘functioning’ on the outside, but what is going on, inside, inside their heads. Do they have regular tummy ache? are they distracted, quiet, forgetful, preoccupied,  depressed, hiding in their room with their phone. Are they asking for more money? are they irritable, aggressive, weepy, off their food, having sleeping problems. Do they have unexplained bruises and pass it off as, ‘it happened in P.E’. Are some of their belongings missing, pens, bag, purse, books etc.  Are they making excuses for skipping school, lessons, homework.

All to often the problem is that bullying has not gone away.  Despite everywhere having an anti bullying policy.   Despite the fact that there is more awareness and education about bullying in the education system, it is still very prevalent today.  So what can be done if your child is being bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied?  Talk.  Talk to them, talk to the school and if possible, talk to the person doing the bullying in a safe environment.  Often a bully has issues of their own, that they are finding difficult to deal with and so take it out on someone else – a ‘kick the cat’, sort of response and misplace their anger and frustration onto someone weaker, more vulnerable, an easy target  is the perfect option.

Monitor your child’s use on their phone.  Have strict rules around the phone and do not let it go into the bedroom with them.  Talk to them about keeping them safe and protected.  They are young and have young and immature and very impressionable minds.  You are their parent, you DO KNOW best.   If they need a phone to contact you, consider buying a handset that is NOT a smartphone.  Let home become their sanctuary.  Let home be their safe place.  Work on strategies that your child can use to help them protect themselves, to help them stand up for themselves and ultimately stand up to their bully.  A bully will soon tire,  if they are not getting anywhere with a someone they perceive to be weak, and leave them alone.

Out of all of the children I have had and looked after 2 were bullied at school and after school waiting for their bus.  Two children separated by  12 years in age, but both were 16 at the time of their bullying and assaults.  At the time of the first one, there was no such thing as social media, so she would come home and tell us what was happening and we dealt with it the best way we could and it was soon nipped in the bud.   Home was her safe place.     The second child that was bullied did have a phone at the time, but it was not a smart phone, so there was no social media bullying for her either.   We chatted about what happened.  We spoke about strategies and ways in dealing and coping with  the bullying and how to build up my child’s strength and resilience.  Not only to challenge herself but also to challenge her bully.  To stand up to her bully, no matter how scared she felt,  and let the bully know, in no uncertain terms,  that  the bullying behaviour was not acceptable and that there would be serious repercussions if it continued.  We were lucky,  in that it worked and the bullying stopped and my child’s confidence, resilience  and resolve grew stronger.

There are however, cases of bullying which have dire circumstances and ultimately very tragic ones.   I particularly remember the case of Phoebe Prince, the Irish girl who moved to America and was bullied so much she took her own life.    The only positive to come out of that tragic case is that the people who bullied her were held accountable and were charged and convicted of harassment and civil rights violations.  Stricter bullying laws were introduced also as a result.  Many more children, home and abroad, are victims of bullying and have also attempted or committed suicide.  Isn’t it time, we took stock, isn’t it time we did something more, especially as far as social media is concerned, to keep our children protected and safe.  They may look fine on the outside.  You may think they are just sullen, cranky teenagers, but maybe, there is something more going on.

It is very frustrating for parents who know something is going on but feel that they or their child is not being listened to or heard.  We have a crumbling and almost broken mental health service.  People are being left crippled with fear and anxiety over what can they do next.  They say it takes a whole village to raise a child, so we need to come together, as a community to help and support each other.  To help and support our vulnerable children.  To talk and keep talking to our children.  To reassure them, to empower them, to help them, even if it is they who are doing the bullying, understand why, get to the bottom of it.  Lets stop treating the symptoms of bullying, lets try to get to the root of it and eradicate it ….. for everyone’s sake.

 

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/victims-of-bullying/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/school-in-the-us-was-like-something-from-a-film-all-the-little-cliques-were-there-sister-of-bullying-victim-phoebe-prince-36068953.html

Hey You !

You don’t know it yet, but you are in for quite a ride and are going to hit a few bumps but…..

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I remember it well and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to be there again, it was an awful place to be, for me personally I mean. You have no choice, you have to go there too and you have to experience it for yourself to know how it will be for you, but let me tell you this. You will survive it, with the right set of skills, support, resources, stamina and true grit, you will get beyond it!

The first thing you will notice when you get there are the changes in your body, hairs sprouting out of places where they have no business being, spots appearing like they are in competition with the chicken pox, not to mention hair as greasy as fried chicken. The real killer, the mood swings. Anything ranging from sweet Shirley Temple to Cruella Deville in 0 to 60 seconds and to add insult to injury you will have no idea of who you are and will irrationally and radically search for your identity. A smooth ride it WILL NOT be. Attitude, Identity theft, extreme expression through clothes, music, rebellious behaviour, dieting, bingeing, smoking, drinking, sex and drugs, all there for the taking and risking. ‘Lead me not into temptation’ not for all of them anyway! It will get messy, it will noisy, it will get confusing, it will get depressing, it will be fun, it will be a complete contradiction and you will think you are IT at some stage and at some stage you will wish you could be a child again, or an adult and want to skip IT. IT is exhausting……. IT is THE TEENAGE YEARS….AHHHHH

Sure, there will be twists and turns, there will be bumps in the road, there will be times of pure exhilaration, there will be LOVE, there will be HEARTACHE, there will be moments of madness and moments of stillness, but you will have to go through it, so that you can come out the other side of it and find out who you are and what you are made of. The skills you will learn will be mind boggling. The skills your parents will learn will be eye opening…. who knew they could be so mean, strict, sarcastic, fierce BRAVE!

They have been there, seen it, done it, got the T Shirt. They rocked it. It was better in their day, simpler, kinder, cooler. The trouble now is, while they are battling with you and your tantrums, and your mood swings and your cheek and your pushing and prodding of their boundaries, they are most probably fighting their own battle and their own identity crises. The MENOPAUSE, (male and female). The changes in their body, the sweats, the forgetfulness – “sorry, who are you” they ask ” I have no idea” you reply. Mum’s boobs begin to droop causing her distress. Dads boobs begin to develop in a cruel twist to make mum feel less distressed. Muscle turns to flab and dad’s six pack inflates so he resembles buddha and mum has an uncanny resemblance to the michelin man.

While you are on the crest of the wave splishing and splashing and tumbling and flying to a newer fitter more confident version of you, they are well and truly slam dunked into the ocean of ‘What the hell is going on’. The dawning of realisation that ‘youth’ is soon to be leaving you and ‘youthfulness’ has well and truly over spilleth from them and they are heading towards a newer disturbing version of them!

So, hey you, be kind, be good, be healthy and wise, gather those skills, they are worth more than any money buys.

Be kind to your daughters, sons, mum’s and dad’s. The changes you’re all facing, is just a fad.

A phase, a lapse of time in space, try get through it, with dignity and grace. But if you can’t, that’s OK too, after all, it’s just the rebel in you!

© carrie sherbourne and Relay shun sips – itsjustnoteasy.com Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carrie sherbourne and itsjustnoteasy.com Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

What’s your Talent?

Do you ever wonder what you are good at and if you don’t have a talent, does that mean that you are not good at anything? It was a thought that I pondered from a very young age.

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I remember being a small child at school and the teacher talking about having ‘A Talent’. Some people were putting their hands up, naming what they were good at, e.g. football, music, art, singing, dancing etc etc. I just sat there contemplating and wondering and finally, despairing that I didn’t in fact, have a talent.   I couldn’t have been any older than 7  or 8 years of age at the time.

For years it bugged me and nagged at me from somewhere in the back of my mind that I was talent – less!   Don’t get me wrong, I was OK at sport, particularly Hockey and Gymnastics.  I loved the latter but really disliked the former with a vengeance.  I was OK at Netball, but really liked the game and I was rubbish at music and art.  My art teacher in secondary school told me I was rubbish at painting but I did enjoy participating anyway.

Somewhere along the line, however, I had a belief that I could do anything.  I think by now I was much older, maybe in my 30’s or 40’s.  Not only did I believe I could do anything, I believed that everyone could do anything…… if they wanted to, really wanted to and were prepared to work hard for what it was, they wanted to achieve.

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Also as I got older I came to appreciate other things that were of no consequence to me when I was younger, like an appreciation for nice classical music, particularly the sound of the violin and composers like Mozart, Pachelbel, Bach and Vivaldi to name but a few.  When I was young, all I was interested in was Meatloaf, the Police, The Beetles and Elvis, to name but another few!

From one time frame to another something happened to me.  That something was called ‘life’.  Between childhood and adulthood I had experienced many different situations, and been exposed to lots of things, good, bad and indifferent.  The most profound of them all was becoming a mother.  This, after all, is the one thing, since being a child, that I always wanted to be.  This was and has remained, consistent.

Could  this have been my talent?  Was / am I any good at it?  Well my children would have to answer that, but I can confirm that I gave it all the time, all the effort, all the sacrifice, all the fight, all the love, including tough love and all the  part of me, that believed I was doing all the best for them.  I am still doing this and my efforts are looking pretty damn good on the grand scheme of things….. my children are fabulous, flawed, but fabulous and of them, I am proud.  I am proud because I watch them growing and developing and learning and doing and falling and getting up and going again, doing again, learning again, loving, forgiving and moving on and moving forward and succeeding and achieving.

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There are many famous artists out there, footballers, dancers, singers, musicians etc etc, but in my mind this is not what having a talent is.  Yes it is a skill, of course, but just because they are famous for it, doesn’t make our endeavours any less of a ‘talent’ and our eventual success at our ‘Talent’.

So for all those who think they don’t have a talent and wander this world wondering why you don’t have one, I have news for you.  You do have one, just look at what you do everyday, a lot, consistently, persistently and are good at it, even if you don’t really enjoy it, you have a ‘talent’ for sticking with it!

My husband goes to work, every day of his shift, week in week out to provide for us.  He comes home every night and gives me a kiss  and its not an empty kiss, its a kiss that shows he is pleased to see me and he is glad to be home.  His talent is that he is a great husband, father and provider and we are ‘enough’ for him.  Sure he has other interests and hobbies but his real talent is being great at taking care of us.

 

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I do not search for my talent anymore….. I got this far, successfully,  still believing that I can do anything and you too can do anything…….

 

 

Paintings all done by me……. I think even my art teacher wouldn’t be too disappointed!

 

 

International Women’s Day

celebrating women’s achievements……. Acknowledging and aspiring to effect gender equality?

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Today, all over the world women are celebrating ‘International Women’s day’.  It has only been 109 years, since the first one, and at that time it was for better pay and voting rights, more parity with the men of this world.  Indeed there are many many women, celebrating and protesting all over the world about many inequalities or injustices that are still going on.

I, for one, thank god that I was born on this side of the world (in the west), rather than being born in  the East.   Not that injustices only happen in the Eastern part of the world, but the fact that you are born female there, can definitely have a severe disadvantage and detriment to rights and equality, more so than just equal pay.

I am not going to go through individual cases or scenarios of what ‘women, girls, females’ have to ‘put up with’.  We all know, too well the injustices and fights that we have to endure because of the fact that we are indeed ‘female’.

In a previous  blog I have spoken about  Emmeline Pankhurst and her movement, the Suffragettes, Vera Twomey and her quest as a mother to fight for the right for her child to have medicinal cannabis, to reduce her seizures and enhance her quality of life.  There are many great women whom I admire for their sheer determination to overcome the injustices and powers of men.  What about Malalal Yousafzai, the courage that girl had, to fight for the rights of girls to have an education.  Edith Eger, an Auschwitz survivor who held on to the words her mother had said to her,  minutes prior to their separation,  ‘They can never take what is in your mind’.  She chose to use her ‘mind’ to escape from the horrors she was subjected to.

Joan of Arc, a crusader, a woman who was key in turning the tide in the 100 years war and was later canonized as a saint.  Mother Theresa, Erin Brokovich, , Rosa Parks, to name but a few more – strong women who despite adversity, effected change.

I am a mother, and have been to a total of 14 children  (biological and non biological).  Some of them were with me for a short time, others a much longer time.  I have been consistently parenting 5 girls for the past 28 years to the present day.  My message to them, and my parenting to them, has been to try to make them strong independent women.  Why?  Because they have to leave home and go into the world and stand on their own two feet.   They have to form relationships, outside of the home, whether it is at school or at work.  They will meet  partners  and may be become mothers themselves (2 already have).  They will face challenges, up’s,  down’s and injustices along the way and when they do, I want them to be able to face their challenge, to deal with it and to move on from it, whatever it may be.  I also want them to be able to stand up for them selves and for others who are been treated unjustly.  I want them to have a good sense of self and a good sense of right and wrong and fight for it and do whatever it takes, to make a difference.  I want them to value themselves, to demonstrate and role model  that value, that self worth to their own off spring or to others.  Ultimately, I want them to be happy.

At the end of the day there is one thing women can do which men cannot and that is to carry a baby, and no matter what, that primal bond is unique and unbreakable.  Yes we can love equally, care for a child equally, but whether the parenting is good, bad or indifferent, something more is created in the carrying of the child that only a mother can feel, but not adequately explain.  We give birth to both male and female, and me personally, I want them to be equal, in their rights.  No question about it and if they are being treated ‘differently’ I absolutely would want them to stand up and shout out and be proud of the fact that they are doing so.  They need to Relay what they want, Shun and ship what they don’t….  It may not be easy, it may seem impossible, but nothing will be done if you do not try!

To all the females out there who are striving to achieve and to ‘do’, keep achieving and keep doing, because  at the end of the day you are absolutely worth it!

 

Sent to Coventry!

There is a term ‘ SENT to Coventry’ which ultimatey means to ostracise, ignore and shun them….

My relationship with Coventry however, is a positive one. Even though I don’t live there anymore, and haven’t for 20 years, I hold it dear in my heart.

Famous people you may have heard of are The specials who sang ghost town, Paul king who sang love and pride, Mo molam grew up here and was an integral part of the good Friday agreement and peace process in northern Ireland and of course good old Lady Godiva who rode around the streets of Coventry, naked on a horse, in protest against an oppressive tax imposed by her husband… what a noble woman she was !

Well I’m here on a visit at the moment as I have a daughter who lives nearby. It was planned months ago, before the beast from the east was a turn of phrase, synonymous with something awful !!

As I boarded my Ryan air flight on Tuesday, it was cold but sunny, no snow. As we landed in Birmingham, it was cold but sunny and no snow…. it’s now Friday and though there is a bit of snow, and it’s still cold, I’m having a great time being served food, including bread, in the comfort of my Hotel.

Back home there is a blizzard. The rest of my family are snowed in. The pipes have froze over. The shops are closed. There is no bread and they are in lockdown!!

I have met up with friends, had some laughs, shopped, swam in the pool and enjoyed the heat of the sauna…..

I have face time with my family snowed in at home and feel awful for them but, I’m also delighted I’m not there in the cold with no water to shower or flush the toilet !! It’s seems the beast of being ‘sent to Coventry’ is no way near as bad as the best from the east that has landed in my home in Ireland…

There it really does look like a ghost town. Here I still have love and pride for my roots…. I’m enjoying the peace but have no intention of riding on a horse naked…… not in this weather anyway !!

Stay warm, stay safe and do yourself a favour….. get sent to Coventry next time 😁😁😁

#coventry #ladygodiva # thespecials # Paulking # beastfromtheeast #bread #snow #peace #momolam #staysafe

Friends and Frenemies and those inbetween

20180122_0619391938561942.pngI must admit, I am a bit fussy when it comes to friends.  i like to suss them out first, you know, just observe, then maybe ‘try them out’  A bit like when I am deciding what colour to paint the wall.  I slap on a few different shades/colours and live with it for a few days.  I then pick which one I feel most happy with.  At first I love it and am so please with myself that I definitely make the right choice.  It goes so well with all of the furnishings in the room.  Except does it,  really go with everything.  Is it fighting with the colours in the rug.  Friends are a bit like that.  What I mean is, for the most part we generally get on very well with our ‘Best Friends’, but there will be some aspects about them and us that we don’t necessarily ‘get on’ with.

My first friends came as a duo.  They were sisters and I have known them forever.  However, we were only babies when we first met.  Our parents were neighbours, not next door neighbours, but around the corner neighbours.  It was through them that our little trio was formed.  You could say we were thrown together due to a set of circumstances that we had no control over.  Our parents’ were not necessarily close friends, but in those days, some 50 odd years ago, there was a close community type of friendship among neighbours.

Anyway, thanks to them, our friendship was born and I am happy to say I would consider them as the ‘sisters I never had’, especially as I don’t have any ‘real sisters’, but I do have 2 brothers.  I would therefore consider them ‘Kenzoku’, which is Japanese for Family, (not that I speak Japanese).  I just thought I would educate myself and some of you with a new term from a different language!  You are welcome ‘Vous etes les bienvenue’ (you are welcome in French).  I am sad to say, I do not speak French either 😦

So what is a true friend?  Well to me, it is a shared interest in some things, but not all things, having similar values and respecting each others points of view.  You may not agree with all of their points of view, but respecting, accepting and supporting them is a good start.  It is someone who will have your back when the chips are down and someone who will help you in your hour of need.  It is honesty, loyalty and integrity.  Someone to tell you the truth….If my bum does indeed look big in this, tell me.  I can then decide whether to still wear it.  In this RELAY SHUN SHIP relationship scenario, I can decide whether to wear it anyway, ditch it, or wear a longer jacket, but thank you for your honesty.

I think a true friend has no trouble being honest, but in a kind way, unless they are drunk, then they might insult you, in an endearing way…. hopefully….. The Sex and the City girls are a classic example of true friends.  Yes I know I could have used  the example of Friends the sitcom either, but I am biased and those 4 women were my once a week friends and I loved them and their friendship.

My next ‘true friend’ friendship came when I was 11 and at secondary school.  I consider her Kenzoku too.  We were so similar in many ways and even looked similar.  Once our paths collided, in a natural way at school, that was it and to this day, we are still ‘besties’.  The best thing about these type of friends is that, even though we hardly see each other anymore, because we don’t even live in the same country, we would be there for each other at the drop of a hot, literally.  That is what family do isn’t it, they would drop everything for you if they needed you or you needed them.  The years spent building the foundations, sharing experiences, laughs, tears, trouble, fights, time and space is enough to sustain the absences of the physical day to day contact.  I love these friends like I do my children…… unconditionally.

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Other friends we meet along the way of life or through our Best Friends.  We are not exclusively each others, we may branch out and have more friends.  There are some times though, that we may not necessarily ‘get on’ with our friends, friends.  There may be nothing obviously wrong, you simply don’t connect and that is OK!

My best friend at school had other friends but they were not really my  cup of tea. If she wanted to hang out with them, I would just go play, quite happily, two ball on the wall.  By that I mean I would bounce two balls off a wall (tennis balls).   I am digging myself a hole here, in case you thought I meant I played with two other type of balls….. certainly not – I went to an all girls catholic school 🙂

I really enjoyed playing two ball and it was a great game for co-ordination and memory.  As you would hit a ball off the wall, in quick succession with the other one you would sing a tune e.g.  ’10 boys names I really must know, so wish me luck and away I go’.  A ball must hit the wall per word sang, so that was the rhythm.  The next part was to sing then sing 9 girls names, 8 types of animals, 7 countries…… you get the drift.  The skill of the ball throwing also got more difficult.  At 9 girls names you would throw the ball up in the air (upsies).  At 8 types of animals, you would throw them over arm at the wall, and as per each decending number of  ‘topics’ you would throw the balls, underarm, slam the balls from the floor but it then must hit the wall (slamzies), under one leg, then the other, slamzies under one let then the other, straddle front ways and slam off the ground to the wall then straddle back ways and slam off the ground to the wall.  You MUST catch the ball each time or you were out.  If you were playing on your own like me, just start again from the beginning!

Being a contortionist would also have been a great help with some of the moves! I did manage to perfect the game as I had a lot of practice!  So there are in fact, advantages as well as disadvantages in every relay shun ship, in that I still had fun, didn’t have to pretend to like the other girls and learned a few new skills along the way.  I wasn’t mean about the other girls.  I would just say I felt like playing two ball.   They probably thought I was an odd ball, but that’s OK too!

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Other friends I have now, I have met through my varied studies, groups I have joined or jobs.  I have a few circle of friends.    It is amazing how you can meet one person though and through that friendship, grow a bigger circle.  I met a really nice girl when I decided to  study Beauty Therapy.  I was  fast approaching 40, which I know, seems a bit old to be studying beauty and there is a back story, but that is for another time – maybe.

Anyway looking around the class at all the (mainly) young, school leavers, there was  a girl who caught my eye.  Not a school leaver but not an almost 40 year old either, but nearer to my age than theirs.    The usual ice breaker at the beginning of a new ‘adventure’ had begun and it was the usual, ‘ Hi my name is X and I have always wanted to be a beauty therapist’ routine.  When it came to me I said, ‘Hi, my name is Carrie and I have NEVER wanted to be a beauty therapist’.    (I completed the course, as I am no beauty school drop out)!  The girl who caught my eye,  impressed me with  pursuing her dream of becoming a beauty therapist.  She had given up her life, lock stock and barrel and left a good job to do it.  She was my kind of woman.  I had, on a few occasions walked away from my life, lock stock and barrel too and jumped in feet first to things.  That too is another story!

We both found employment at the same world renowned spa and it was there that we met another girl and befriended her.  She was funny and the most laid back person I had ever met.  Younger than both of us, but we were young at heart.  They decided to look to house share and it was during that time, we met another girl who knew ‘our friend’ from  a previous work place.  The three of them moved in together.  When I first met her, she was very wary of me as she thought I was ‘abrupt’ and was a little scared of me.   Fear not, I am not really that scary, but I can be direct and yes, I suppose abrupt, but only when the need arises!   I wasn’t too sure about her either.  I felt we had nothing much in common, except my other two friends.  I could see she was professional, focused, driven and a go getter, but there just did not seem to be a shared connection.

Fast forward a few years and lots of events and parties later, we became more connected and realised that we  were not as bad or scary as we first thought.  It was through her I met another another couple of her friends, one she used to work with and went to school with and the other was her current work colleague and friend.    She and I had much in common, like we were both born and had lived in the UK.  Both had our own children and step children and both knew the challenges of fitting in to a new Country.  We hit it off straight away.  As she puts it herself ‘she would love to have a friend like herself’ and she is absolutely right.  She is funny, warm open minded and isn’t afraid to open her heart.    Aren’t these the qualities we look for in a friend.  A bit of give and take,  some consideration and an acceptance to value the things we do like in each other and  ignore the things we don’t!