Life’s rich tapestry

Once again, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  It seems I have to be in the right place to write.  When life becomes too busy or difficult, it seems that I cannot put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  I am now trying to remember why I started to write a blog and to reinstate the feelings that writing gave me.  I felt that this year was going to be the year for upward movement, but here I am at the beginning of February and nothing has progressed.  In order not to loose momentum, I am forcing myself to type up my book and edit where I think it needs it.  I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that if I wrote my book on my iPad, I could take it everywhere with me and add to it as I pleased.  The fun part about that decision is that I was writing it in a format that cannot be transferred to word on my laptop, hence, re typing the last 15 chapters. Luckily, I am a fast typer so it shouldn’t take too long.  Whilst doing this though, the story is not progressing and that makes me a little frustrated.

I have come to the conclusion that the reason I cannot find time to write, is there is not enough time in the day.  Even over the Christmas period when I had time off, the days still flew past with nothing achieved apart from cooking, cleaning and the laundry, so I am going to have a word with him upstairs and ask him to add a few hours. Do you think it will work?

So here I am again, making a deal with myself to write every day.  I may not be on a blog, but this or my book is going to be an added priority.  Surprising how cathartic just writing these few words has already been.

I must not loose my connection to myself.  I must follow my dream of finishing this book and getting it published.  The sequel is all in my head waiting to be let out.  I need to push forward and not let anything get in my way.  Is that easier said than done, I wonder?

 

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Walk a mile in my shoes

Sometimes I am confused by human nature, but unfortunately I am never surprised.

I think that everyone has a tendency to be selfish, to think only of their needs and wants, but there are people who take it to the extreme.  Then there are those who do something unexpectedly wonderful for you and restore your faith in mankind.

We used to run our own company and employed a lot of people.  Sadly, because we were company owners, people saw us as rich and lucky.  Some were wonderful, but many stole from us, lied, used company property  for personal use that wasn’t allowed or made decisions they weren’t qualified to make.  The company was a good one and the job we did was rewarding in itself, but employing the type of people we had to, made us very cynical.  We became embittered and always stressed.  We eventually lived, expecting trouble and tarred everyone with the same brush.  We had no faith in humanity because of our experiences.

On the day we flew out to our new life in Spain, My husband lost his wallet in the airport.  It fell out of an unsecured pocket.  In it was credit and debit cards, €1000 in cash, his driving licence and basically everything we needed for our new lives.  I remember the colour of his face draining from normal to green at the second he realised his wallet was missing.  He ran back to search everywhere he had been, but to no avail.  We had been chatting to an airport cleaner when he made his discovery and as soon as he came back to us, he said, “Well, I’m never going to see that again.  I don’t know what we are going to do.”  The cleaner immediately grabbed his hand and took him to lost property.

He reached the counter but was told nothing had been handed in, just as he expected.  They gave him a form to fill out and whilst doing it, he was thinking about how we could rent a car without his licence and that certain things had been booked using his cards and he would have to present them.  We could get money but we needed that cash for payment of bills.  He was really worried.  Just at that moment, another member of staff approached and asked him if he had lost a wallet.  He said that he had and described it.  The man said he had it, it had just been handed in.  Ian was amazed, happy to at least get his cards and licence back.  He utterly stunned when he found that all the money was there too.  Nothing had been taken at all.  We were so thankful and asked if we could give the wonderful honest person, who had handed it in, some money to say thank you, but we were told it was against policy and they hadn’t left a name.

It was a lesson in humility for us.  We were so down on human nature, so suspicious of people and their actions, ready to believe the worst in people, yet here we were, the recipients of a strangers selfless actions.  It continues much the same today.  We are not so embittered as we once were, maybe still a little suspicious, but we have found some wonderful people around us.  Help has often come from unexpected places, and people, who were just acquaintances, have proved to be wonderful friends.  Equally, there are people that thought close friends, who have shown themselves to be incapable of true friendship.

As a member of this species, I travel on, observing and learning.  We all judge each other according to our own standards and find each other lacking in many areas, but are we qualified to judge other people?  One of my favourite phrases is “Walk a mile in my shoes.”  We all live such vastly different lives, experienced pain and happiness in individual ways, how can we truly comment on someone else’s lives?

 

 

 

The Muse of the evening

It’s dark and 28 degrees.  The wind is warm and welcome.

Apart from a dog barking in the distance and the rustling of leaves,

it’s silent and peaceful in my little corner of the world.

The daytime brings a heat that saps your energy

and makes it so hard to concentrate on anything but the call of cooling water

There are geckos on the walls and ceilings of my little outside space

waiting to catch the Mosquitos and Moths that are drawn to the light

And the cicadas that sang all day have ceased their endless chorus,

No doubt resting up before tomorrow’s symphony begins again.

It’s time to reflect upon the day and plan for tomorrow

Today there were happy times, but also an amount of sadness and frustration

Caught up in the preparations for someone else’s wedding

Brought a share of excitement for their future and fulfilment of a job well done

Taking a beloved family pet to the vet serves as a reminder that all life is fleeting

And that soon in the future, that beautiful creature who has brought me so much joy

Will take a final journey from which there is no return

And with her going, my life will once again change

and a new adventure will begin.

I am reminded that nothing is permanent

And we are just a short while upon this planet

We have a finite amount of time here

and this is no dress rehearsal

How ever long we have, will it ever be enough

to achieve all we dreamed of when we were young

and believed a lifetime was long

There is no melancholy with my musing

just a determination to enjoy every last minute

For if I did not sit and think

I would allow tomorrow to slide past without note

I am thankful for today and all that came

and for tomorrow I will be equally grateful

For in that gratitude,  I find happiness, peace and hope.

 

 

 

 

The move to utopia

Spain is such a transient country unless you are Spanish.  When we moved here in 2005, the expat community welcomed us with open arms.  We were invited out to dinner by everyone and our circle of friends expanded quickly.

Many people think that moving to a holiday destination is like finding utopia, but that ideal is dashed quite quickly.  People are people wherever you go and there are the same ups and downs because life always brings it’s challenges. We too thought that we had moved to paradise, but were soon confronted with evidence to the contrary.

My daughter was taken into hospital within a few days of us moving out and having to deal with doctors, nurses and medical jargon in a different language was trying, to say the least.  It hurried us to Spanish lessons and the realisation that it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought to learn.  We now “get by” but are by no means fluent.

My greatest trial though is when friends announce they are moving away.  We all develop friendships.  Some are closer than others and in your home country there are more people to chose from.  Still, we tend to gel with people with similar outlooks and interests.  As an expat, you develop friendships with people that you wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to otherwise, but you are thrown together by circumstance.  Maybe the friendships are more intense because of our need to belong.  We are, after all, a pack animal and being away from our family herd, makes us rely on the people around us for support.

Expats come from different parts of the Uk and all walks of life.  My northern accent is probably stronger now than when I lived in the south because I know so many more northern people here.  I have friends from Scotland, Wales, the West Country, Norfolk, Liverpool, Birmingham, in fact I know a much greater diversity of people here than anywhere I have lived before.

So when someone announces their imminent departure, not only does your friendship group lessen, but you also know that it will be a permanent loss because they will probably be going to an area of the Uk that you will have no cause to go.  When we travel back to our home country, it is usually to spend time with our families.  We race from one home to another, trying to see everyone and making sure no one is left out.  Visits to friends are not even considered in the race to pacify relatives, so the removal of these people from our lives is a great loss.

We have shared fantastic memories, cajoled, supported, cried with and cried on, laughed and truly shared our lives with these people.  I feel their loss deeply and I don’t want them to go or I want to follow them back.

I know I am blessed to have the experience of their company and to have walked beside them, but the absence of their presence leaves a hole and with each departure, our lives become more insular.  To invite more people in also invites the possibility that if they leave, the cycle of making and losing friends carries on.  Maybe it’s tougher to stay in paradise than to leave it.

The truth about visitors

imageThe arrival of guests usually signals the beginning of so many things.  On a negative side,  the preparation is exhausting.  Trying to fit in a whole house clean, ironing, bed making, towel matching, fridge and freezer cleaning and spider web demolition while working is a test in itself.  Then, after they leave there’s a whole house clean, ironing, bed making and emptying the fridge and freezer of all the naughty foods that they leave behind.  Standing on the scales afterwards can prove a very scary experience as there will have been an awful lot of calories taken in during your time of entertaining.

In times gone by, with back to back visitors, it has proved tiring and expensive, and we would breath a sigh of relief as we waved off yet another car full.

On the positive side, the arrival of familiar faces brings hugs, kisses, smiles, new stories, precious time in each other’s company and a renewing of friendships.  It’s a touching of hearts, morals, belonging and kinship.  There are new experiences, the making of new memories and most important of all, there is laughter.

Even though I have to leave and go to work every day, there is the anticipation of returning home and recognising something different from the norm.  There is enjoyment in a change of routine and a sense of holiday even for the workers.

image

After four years of hardly any visitors due to our circumstances, it is so wonderful to, once again, have people to stay.  To welcome people back into our lives has made me realise that the negatives are insignificant.  In fact they have changed to the opposite.

I love the fact that the discipline of having to clean means that I sort out my rubbish and get rid of it at more regular intervals.  Having to iron and sort bedlinen equals no excuses to avoid the ironing, thus removing the piles.  My fridge and freezer stay a lot more organised and the spiders don’t stand a chance.

I am a happier person for the laughter, more educated because of other people’s experiences, more social because I have to be and perhaps a little kinder or tolerant.  In all, visitors enrich, I look forward to time in their company and feel honoured that they chose to spend time in mine.

clan.

A Life of Sundays

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.

Sundays, as a child, had always been mind blowingly boring.  Apart from helping to cook Sunday lunch and the long winded trip to church, the day seemed to drag on forever.  There was too much time spent in the company of irritated parents who couldn’t wait to get the kids back to school the following day.  A childhood full of disappointing Sundays.

Sundays as an older teenager and young twenties, was spent sleeping and recouperating from the crazy partying that seem to accompany that age.   If enough time was passed in sleep, the monotony of the day never broke through the drink addled haze.  If there was a boyfriend on the scene, the afternoons would find her lips glued to his or slouched on the sofa, watching a movie. Sunday was a wasted day.

When the children came along, Sundays were a crazy day.  There was little chance of a lie in as there was always someone ready to bounce on the bed, shout “Mummy, I’m hungry.” Or  “Mummy, look what she’s done!” Or a high pitched wail as someone got their fingers caught in the door again. The only chance of the day not being spent in a state of mayhem, was to take the cherubs out and let them run off some of their pent up energy.  Sundays were exhausting.

Sundays with teenagers was different again.  Time was spent standing at the bottom of the stairs, either yelling for them to get out of their lazy beds or trying to be heard above the sound of the latest music craze.  There was the inevitable “Is your homework done?” followed by the excuses as to why it wasn’t, the ensuing argument and the “I hate you.” stomp up the stairs and slam of the bedroom door, shaking the whole house off it’s foundations.  Sundays were spent praying for Monday morning to arrive early.

Then came the Sunday when the front door closed for the final time. The car packed with boxes, pulled off the drive as the last child disappeared to their own home.  After years of looking after so many people, nothing could prepare her for the devastation of no longer having anyone to care for.  Sundays were silent, eerie and sad.

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.  Today is a day full of possibilities.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the garden is full of flowers. There is music to play and art to behold, dogs to walk, books to read. What shall I do today? She smiled. I think I shall do everything I want to.  Sunday is my day.

Get rich quick

We have always had a phrase within our family, that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  If something looks too good to be true, then is usually is.

 

I had someone contact me through my blog and I have just spent the entire afternoon listening to high sales pitches from various videos about how to make money and change my life for $25 per month.  My head is ringing and many a time my finger hovered over the buy now button.  Yes, I want to change my life. Yes, I would like to earn a little more money.  So many testimonials, so much pressure.  In fact, I did press the buy now button but I didn’t fill out any of the forms.  If I had done, $25 per month would disappear from my bank account for time immemorial.  And the product they were selling? A viral blog selling high value goods.

 

it all sounded fantastic but I remember coming across something like this a few years ago.  Another get rich scheme, but the guy in charge of that set up actually admitted to being ruthless and selling online self help books to people who were too “stupid”  (his words not mine) to realise they were just get rich schemes for the sellers and he actually stated he didn’t care if the books didn’t help.  He was preying on the vulnerable in order to own a big house and top of the range sports car.  What’s scary is that I see his style of blog page and the “download the book” button on so many pages.

 

While eventually I would like to sell my own book via my blog and I don’t want to decry anyone else doing it, I can’t help but worry about the culture that makes you pay for a little common sense.  I want to gain knowledge about building a better site and I want gain information about how to do it, but I can’t help feeling these things are all too good to be true.  They seem to be based on the old pyramid selling schemes, where the only people really making money are the guys at the top.  Is it crazy that I want to learn how to build and improve my blog from scratch and more importantly, that I want to do the work??

Maybe the old cynical side of me is rearing it’s head again.   I don’t know for sure, but there are certain things I have learned.  If I ask the question, I get the answer.  So I will wait for now.  I started this blog just to write, to pursue my desire, get feedback from others and that is what I have done.  Today logic dictated that I stick to my guns.  Keep my $25 in my bank, keep writing learning and carry on with this wonderful happy feeling I get every time I post.