Pretty things….

volunteering in a charity shop feeds my addiction, but on the cheap. I’m a shopaholic….. apparently!

birds of a feather, flock together……

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.

Back to work tomorrow…. Oxfam, brace yourself!

When…

all we are certain of is now….

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When the buds unravel and unfurl in their splendour

it’s time

when a heart skips a beat and you get lost in loves wonder

it’s time

when a mother first sees you and holds you in her arms

it’s time

when a loved one takes their last earthly mortal breath

it’s time

when the moon and stars shines light in the darkness

it’s time

when the sun’s warm embrace soothes and rests on your face

it’s time

when sadness, hurt and despair are choking and squeezing you

it’s time

and when faith and hope and love collide, and give reason and understanding, it gives power in the now, this hour, this second, this moment in time

it’s time to embrace and endure to look and to listen, to feel and to heal, respect and accept

it’s time

The Oscars…..

Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.

I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights.  I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar.  One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win.  So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones

We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world.  When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now.  I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.

This time it is a different story.  This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion.  This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.

We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean.   It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary.  My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again.  How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug.  I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can.   Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.

What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it. 

From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying.  It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers.  Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs?  Others, not so lucky to survive.

This brings me to the Oscars.  What if you get it?  You don’t know if you will survive it.   You have to be prepared.  You have to have your ‘speech’ ready.  You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them. 

Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end.  Whether that is to be cremated or buried.  Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in.  Is this morbid, no I don’t think so.  It is necessary.  Not everyone has made a Will.  Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one. 

Write your closing speech.  Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you.  Write it in a letter.   Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends.  Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech.  Be prepared.  You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win.  You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.

In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve.  Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home.  Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE.   Give them some respect.  If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own.  They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis.  Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.

Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes. 

Press Pause

in these uncertain times we have enough to worry about. The most important thing to worry about it staying safe and well and keeping others safe and well. Worrying about rent, mortgages, businesses etc should not be part of our burden now. I think the governments, around the world should just press pause, from the beginning of march and reboot, when this is all over, so no more debt accumulates, adding to people’s already enormous burden of keeping well.

press pause
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com




It didn’t seem so serious, not really

Not at first

Everyone carried on as normal engaging with life

Wrapped up in it, in work or family, despair, debt

The rat race

December, a month of mixed emotions

Full of demands, from excitement to dread

Christmas

A new unexpected trend was banded about this year

It was ‘Corona Virus’

We heard it mentioned, but it was ‘over there’

We carried on as normal, in the rat race

Wrapped up in work, in family, in despair and debt

Beware the ides of March!

Now we began to listen to take notice

It was here, it was everywhere

Stockpile, panic buy, carry on

With daily life, with family, work, despair and debt

Spreading, dying, ignorance and fear

Lockdown

Essential, frontline, social distancing, cocoon

Wash, wash wash your hands

Don’t touch your face

Stay safe at home

Get out of the rat race

Press pause

Flatten the curve, it will save lives

Don’t be a fool, ignorance is not bliss

It is fatal

The world is broke, full of despair, fear and debt

Press pause

Take time to reflect.

Connect

With fresh eyes, find a way

It’s about people and love and life

Humanity

The rat race, dead in the water

It’s a boulder, laying heavy on your shoulder

The graves are the same depth

Press pause

When it’s over, when it’s been contained

Let a new contagion begin

A kind one, a helpful one, a fair one

Not one full of ignorance, hate, debt or regret

Press play and begin anew

Wipe the slate clean

Let families flourish and businesses carryon

Without the noose

We are all in the same boat

Let’s not accumulate the entire ocean in it and sink

A new world, a new world game

The human race

Let’s heal the world, play your part

Let our leaders play theirs

Let them lead, honourably, wisely, honestly and fairly

Press pause

So that we can embrace the pause

So we may cocoon and stay safe at home

So we may slow the spread

So that we may flatten the curve

So that we may not put our essential frontline staff at risk

So that our frontline staff may be rewarded for their bravery

Tenacity and courage

So that when we un-press pause

The new world looks like a brighter place

Not full of despair, like in the rat race

want to break free ?

from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?

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We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships.  We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to.  Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest.  Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied.  We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends.  We learn from each other.  We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing.  We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat.  To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open.  To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations.  After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.

Sometimes though, it can all become too much.  We are but one person.  In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED  relationships.  We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value.   We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete.  This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed.  As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’.  One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’.  It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed.  We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves.   It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.

Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo,  it can adapt to his new surroundings.  He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time.  Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured.  He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence.    His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct.  They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out.  Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.

We are the same.  We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met.  We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society.   We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own.  Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive.  However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’.   Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours.  We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be.  For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose.  We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to.  We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy,  our peace, our inner calm and ourselves.  If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!

 

Picture authors own taken at Fota Wildlife Park.

 

 

That’s me in the Corner

When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……

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I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.

As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.

Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.

It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!

At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!

Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-

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Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.

So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.

Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!

When it rains…..

Is it too much to ask for sunshine everyday? Is it too much to be ‘happy’ every day? If it never rained, then the grass would never be green and if it wasn’t green, we wouldn’t try to get to the otherside…. right?

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It’s raining outside, in fact there has been another weather warning! Status yellow, gusty wind and heavy rain. No hurricanes, no real structural damage predicted, just drive with caution, take it easy, keep your distance from the cars in front, for to be too close you will surely skid into them if you need to suddenly break!

A similar warning could be or perhaps should be announced for stormy relationships. After all, they are not always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes they are thunderous and and miserable. Sometimes it may only be a ‘status yellow’ where a little ruffling or prickling of just ‘uncomfortableness’ rears it’s nasty head

The weather, unfortunately, we have no control over. We have to wake up and hope for the best. The ‘best’ depends on what you are hoping for. If you are a farmer for example you may welcome the rain. If you are a sun worshiper you may always hope for sunshine. To always have rain or sunshine is not realistic or healthy, so mother nature gives us a measure of both, this side of the hemisphere anyway, to try to keep the ecology balanced, lush and green.

We do, however, have control over our relationships, but it does depend somewhat intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, needs and wants. It also depends on our patience, tolerance, and level of self worth does it not? Some may think grass is greener on the other side, no matter what type of relationship they are in…. Whether it parent/child, peer to peer, siblings or a romantic relationship. Far away fields often look greener.

The thing is, should we try to cross the fence and see, just how much greener it is, how much better it is, how better life would be? I heard a piece of advice last week during the Wexford Literary Festival, where an author said ‘if we were in a room full of people and we were all to put our disabilities, struggles, stresses etc into a magic bowl in the center of the room, and were asked to take one out, we would probably all take our original one out.

Think about that for a minute, then answer honestly, would you take the same ‘thing’ out of the bowl? Better the devil you know sort of thing, OR, would you chance it, would you edge your bets, would you risk taking a risk? Would you check out the potential of the lush green grass in the far away field or would you hide under the duvet?

It depends! It always depends on many different varying factors, on motivation and other things. Isn’t it exciting though, like when a weather alert comes, it can be somewhat ‘exciting’. The anticipation of what is going to happen! Yes we prepare, we batten down the hatches, we stock up on essentials and we wait it out. We may see something spectacular or extraordinary in the storm, like flashes of fork lightening brightening up the skies. We may see or hear something devastating too. The thing is, we see or hear or feel something, something different. Something out of the ordinary. Something that takes us out of our comfort zone.

What we do after the storm is up to us. We can go on as normal like nothing ever happened and continue with life as we know it, OR, we pick up the pieces, rearrange them, re build them and begin again.

Sometimes to remain is the scariest thing of all, because, what if, what if we miss something, something truly magnificent in taking the risk to not only learning to dance in the storm, but to embrace it, to throw caution to the wind, to be flung from one place to another, without a safety net and to take the risk of trying out that greener grass.

Better to fail by trying than to fail by not trying at all……..

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