Optimist or Pessimist?

Optimist!…. No… Pessimist!… No… Indecisive to both?

I don’t hi-five and whoop my way through the day, but I don’t clunk my way through, shackled to the woes of despair either.

This topic caught my interest on the daily post today. It’s relevant to me. I would say that at the moment I’m generally an optimist. Because I’m choosing to be. It’s not always very easy, but it’s always possible.

Optimism hasn’t got to where he is today without the help of some of his friends though. Optimism would be nothing without his best drinking buddies by his side, Faith & Belief. They are the ones who keep buying you a full pint at the bar. They don’t want you to ponder over ‘half full or half empty’. They want you to have a full pint.

Determination, focus, nerve, courage, hope and confidence aren’t innocent in this either. In fact, they’re all in it together. A posse. A force to be reckoned with.

The brothers Pessimist and Doubt are usually kicking about in the same pub, along with their motley crew.It’s a free world, they’re allowed to. They’re always willing to buy you a pint too, but they expect to drink half of it first before giving it to you.

Sometimes you’ll let them, because it’s easier than challenging them.

Sometimes it’s OK to do that. Optimism won’t be offended, he knows in the long run, he can offer you more, because deep down you do too. He just hopes you realise it.

I started the year with three very clear personal goals in mind. I’m optimistic that I’ll achieve all three. They won’t fall in my lap. I know that I’ve got a lot of hard work in front of me if I want to achieve them…. And I’m prepared to do it.

  • The wheels are in motion for goal number one
  • The wheels are just being screwed on for goal number two
  • The wheel has not been invented yet for goal number three

I’m not worried though, they’ll all happen, because I’ve got Faith and Belief buying me pints. Full ones.

I won’t set the whole world on fire with them, that’s not my intention. But in the small patch of it that I can call my own, I’ve got the matches…

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I got what I deserved

Mirror… Signal… Manoeuvre…  BANG! ….. Shit!

That was last Wednesday night as I was pulling out of a parking space in a supermarket.

I didn’t check my blind spot and I reversed into a parked car behind me.

What do I do? The owner of the car wasn’t there? What would you do?

This is the first time I’ve ever had an incident in the car. In a corner of my brain a little figure who has been sitting in the shadows for the 14 years I’ve been driving, suddenly cleared her throat, stepped out into the spotlight and said loudly “I’ll take control of this – you have two choices”

Ladies & gentleman, here for one night only (hopefully!) my driving conscience…

“Choice A, you can drive away. Say nothing, do nothing. Drive away and go home. Eyes forward, slam it into first and drive off. Don’t look back

“Choice B, you can park up, wait for the owner, apologise, swap details and do the whole Insurance thing”

My driving conscience is very efficient. It processed all this information for me in the blink of an eye, the beat of a heart, the click of a finger…. then said

“Well?, make a decision please. NOW!”

I put my car into first gear and drove…..

THIS IS THE PART WHERE I GET WHAT I DESERVE


I drove around to the space next to the car I’d just hit, parked and got out.

The lady who owned the car was now casually walking back from putting her trolley away. When she saw me standing by her car, her casual walk quickened to a purposeful one. As she approached I said

“I’m so sorry I’ve just reversed into your car”

“Pardon” she said

“I’m so sorry, I’ve just reversed into your car

She looked at me, looked at her broken bumper, looked at me

“Never mind” She said “Don’t worry, nobody is hurt, and these things happen”

It was at this point, I realised that this lady’s behaviour was mirroring my own. I’d got exactly what I deserved. I’d got a pleasant and very understanding individual.

I was calm, and accepting of the fact that I couldn’t change what had just happened. I could however choose how I dealt with it. I wasn’t angry at myself, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t frustrated. I was calm and rational, and so was the lady I was talking to. The situation had been mollified by both our reactions. Of all the cars in all the car park, I’d reversed into the right one!

Despite feeling a little bit foolish, my pride was still intact, because I’d done the right thing. And because I’d done the right thing, most importantly, my integrity was still intact. Still whole, untarnished and unblemished.

The lady was actually thanking me for not driving away. Although my driving conscience had presented me with that choice, I’d dismissed it instantly. I did the right thing, and I’m proud of myself that I did.

Despite having my first claim, having to get the damage to my car repaired too, and having to pay a hefty excess in the process, I’m happy it happened. It taught me that like attracts like. It reminded me that there are consequences to choices we make, it reassured me that my instinctive reaction and behaviour is well-balanced and most importantly… it taught me to always check my blind spot!

How do you define a ‘friend’?

I got this topic from The Daily Post at WordPress.com. I signed up for the postaweek2011 challenge. This was yesterday’s topic, but, worthy of writing about on any day.

Inspired by all of the wonderful people I’m lucky enough to call friends, this is my answer…

Imagine a room. Imagine standing outside a window to that room on a bright, sunny day. All you can see is your reflection. You can’t see through the window, but you know the room beyond exists.

That’s as far as some people get. They stand outside your window and all they can see is themselves. Despite knowing the room beyond exists, despite seeing shadows moving in the room, they don’t quite understand what’s in there.

Others will be intrigued to know what exists in that room. So they go up close, they cup their hands around their face, peer through and knock on the window to show they are there. The room starts to take shape, shadows start to take form. They gain an understanding of the owner, and what’s beyond the window.

What’s beyond the window, what’s kept in that room, is the spirit and soul of a person. The room is full of energy, emotions, vulnerabilities and insecurities. The room is full of strength, knowledge, experience, wisdom and love. Riches so delicately precious and unique to it’s owner. Everything that makes a person the distinct person they are. They are the shapes and shadows that you see taking form when you peer in. They are what you become part of when you enter into that room yourself.

Guaranteed not everything in there will be to your taste, but you accept that. You accept it, because you know good friends will do the same when they look through your window too.

The only intentions are to handle the contents in the room with honesty, care and affection. To add to the treasures that already exist. The only request is that you do the same.

That’s how I’d define a good friend. They don’t stand back just to admire themselves in the reflection of your window, they move up close so they can see you too.

My cat is in love with my vet, and so am I

 

When my little kitten was 6 months old she got ill. One day she was full of life, the next day she was sullen. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t play, she wouldn’t move. She sat on my kitchen table for 2 days and groaned whenever I smoothed her.

I thought she was dying. How unfair. I’d fallen madly in love with her only a few months earlier and now couldn’t imagine, and didn’t want to imagine life without her.

Cochen was a 30th birthday present from a friend. I hadn’t had the luxury of preparation before she came to live with me. I hadn’t had time to have ‘the big sister chat‘ with Minnie. I’d gone to bed 29, owner of one cat, and woken up 30, owner of two. How the hell did that happen?…. and how the hell was I 30 already!

We all presumed Cochen was a boy because she was ginger, until I took her to the vets for her jabs who confirmed the new man of the house was now the youngest lady of the house.

When I told my niece who was 5 at the time,  she simply said

“Aw, Cochen was a boy but he changed his mind, he’s a little girl now”

The innocence of children eh….

So, Cochen got ill. I stayed up all night with her, I fed her biscuits from my hand,  I dripped water into her mouth, I bought bubbles with catnip in them in the hope she’d find the kitten inside her again. I prayed and I cried. Nothing.

I Googled her symptoms.. (Big mistake – The internet confirmed, as it does when you look up any mild ailment – imminent death!).

On a rainy cold December 23rd I took her to the vets. Usually I don’t mind going to the vets as my vet is hot! He’s Italian and beautiful and buys semi-skimmed milk. I know this because I once stalked saw him in Tesco.

I was scared this time. I was scared that my Christmas memory 2008 would be me walking the streets sobbing with an empty cage. An empty food bowl in the kitchen, little cat toys gathering dust in the corner and a solitary, suspiciously fish-shaped present left unopened under the tree.

The vet called me in. I explained how my little cat had become so helpless she wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t play, she wouldn’t jump. She wouldn’t do anything. It was like she’d broken. I’d broken my cat.

“Letta me take a look at her” (Remember he’s Italian)

He opened the cage and Cochen bounced out like she’d seen an old friend. She leapt into his arms, purred around his feet, rolled over when he smoothed her and left me feeling like an absolute fool.

It was a harsh lesson in cat owning. The lesson being you don’t. They are in charge, they are in control. Always. You are merely a foot soldier in their grand plans for world domination.

 

I found myself apologising to the vet and explaining that she really hadn’t been like that for the last 2 days and I thought she was going to die. He turned to me and said

(Remember he’s Italian) “It’sa fine. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I think I cannota be bothered today. Maybe she justa felt like that huh?”

Oh. I see.  So it transpired after professional veterinary diagnosis that my cat had been suffering from a bad mood… For 2 days.

Either that or she had completely faked the illness so she could attempt to win the heart of the hot vet. It worked. He didn’t give me a second glance whilst cradling her in his arms.

The things you do for love……..

Will you write me a poem?

I work in Insurance. In fact, I work in Accounts in Insurance, so opportunities to write don’t come along very often. The day started like any other. Monday blues, polite but rushed conversations about the weekend just passed……..

Then an email pinged through from a friend in another department at about 9.30.

“Will you write me a poem?”

My email back…… “What?. Um, we haven’t got that sort of friendship have we?”

“They’re doing a little competition today. You have to write a poem about the events of 2010. Will you write one for me?”

My email back…… “Hell yeah! I’m in!”

So that is how I spent my morning break today. Writing a poem for my friend about the events of 2010. I’m loving the release I get from blogging, so I’ll exploit any opportunity to write these days. My only stipulation was, if it won, I got to post it on here…

It did!. It won!  So here it is. My light-hearted review of 2010 in a poetry nutshell..

The year 2010, started with a bang

We saw the coldest winter since all records began

February saw Katie Price marry Alex Reid

A marriage made in heaven, or a sham based on greed?

Spring arrived, and many thought ‘We’ll book a trip away’

Iceland put an end to that, as the ash cloud came our way

Then we had an election, live debates all full of lies

The result? The Coalition, which we could grow to despise

Vuvuzelas sounded the summer, Jules Rimet was lifted by Spain

Rumours emerged of an album recording, of Take That with Robbie again

The Autumn brought a story, of human survival and true grit

As the World watched the Chilean miners hoisted from the pit

News of a Royal Wedding next year, began to filter our way,

Great news for all us workers as there’s an extra bank holiday

Matt Cardle won the Xfactor, The bookie’s favourite from the start

Gillian Mckeith fainted daily, like she’d been shot with a poisoned dart

The year ended as it started, with ice and cold and snow

And the threat of Amazon ruining Christmas, for nearly everyone I know

If the wind changes, you’ll have an apple tree growing in your stomach

I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post that I believed there was a lucky boy in Swansea who collected footballs when I was younger, so it got me thinking about other things I believed as a child.

I’ve split it into two sections. Lies I was told as a child that I believed, and explanations I conjured up in my own mind and thought them to be true.

Lies I was told that I believed. Why wouldn’t I?

“If the wind changes, you’ll stay like that”.  Believed it.

“If you eat apple pips, an apple tree will start to grow in your stomach. Believed it.

“Thunder is just God playing the drums”. Believed it.

“If you stand on your head all the blood in your body will fill your brain”. Believed it.

“I’ve got your nose”. Believed it. In fact, some uncle of mine who wasn’t really an uncle, just someone I called uncle has still got my nose.

“I’ve just heard on the news that all the strawberry opal fruits have got poison in them for girls so you’d better give me yours”. My brother told me that one. Believed it.

There are a lot more I’m sure, but I want to move on to ideas and logical explanations I had for things in my childhood mind.

A mind when it was easier to think, yet harder to understand.

A mind before Scepticism set up camp there, met Cynicism, married her, then she moved in too, giving birth to Doubt, Suspicion and Knowledge not long after.

Everything I believed made sense at the time, and seemed the only reasonable, plausible explanation.

Where babies come from

When I overheard conversations like “So and so has had their baby, is was 6 pound 4″…. I used to think that Mammys and Daddys had gone up to Heaven at night to choose their baby and had paid £6.04 for it. I thought Heaven was littered with babies with price tags on them, and you just went up, chose which one you wanted, paid for it and came back down. A simple purchase from God. Once you’d paid for it, it was yours to keep. Forever. I also thought that Heaven looked like my attic because whenever I heard anyone talk about it, they always pointed upwards and gave the impression it was really high up. I knew the sky was high up, but I was more savvy than to think you get babies from the sky! The next highest thing I knew was my attic, so I just presumed that Heaven was everyone’s attic.

Waving or flashing your lights at drivers to say thank you.

Whenever we went on a car journey, I was always amazed at how my Dad always seemed to know where we were going. At the time, my world consisted of my house, in my street. I didn’t know how to get anywhere other than to the top of my road. I used to get quite scared that someday when I grew up, I’d be expected to know how to get to places. What if I got lost?… But then I used to think it’s OK because I’ll know plenty of people everywhere I go, just like my Dad does.

The etiquette of driving is if someone lets you out, or you give way to someone, you or they give a little wave, or a little flash of the lights to say thank you. Just a little grateful acknowledgement. Now, as an adult, this really annoys me when people don’t! As a child when this used to happen, I thought that my Dad had seen someone he knew, because you only wave to people you know. You’re not supposed to speak to strangers, so therefore you’re not supposed to wave to strangers either, or flash your lights at them. You only wave to people you know. I was amazed that my Dad knew so many people wherever we went.

 

Clouds

I  believed that planes could land on clouds, and that’s where people went on holidays. That’s why they always came back with a tan, because they’d been closer to the sun.

The nit nurse

When the nit nurse used to come to school, pull your ribbons and hair slides out and run her horrible aged hands through your hair until she’d made you cry and you couldn’t get a comb through it, I used to think she was evil. Now as an adult, I understand. The nit nurse was indeed evil. But I also believed if a child had eggs in their hair it meant that in a few days they’d hatch. Once they’d hatched they’d have birds nesting and flying around their hair. I thought that would be brilliant.

I’m sure there are a lot more, and I’m hoping this post instigates some childhood memories for those who read it. What crazy things were you told as a child, and what did your wonderfully imaginative, innocent, naive childhood mind believe?

The night sky

The moon hung in the sky, but it needed something else. Reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of tiny jewels. They twinkled and flickered in the moonlight that now shone upon them.

Exhaling with all his might, he blew them into the vast blackness and watched them settle….

“Whenever you are lost, look up and these will guide you home”


There is no denying the night sky is one of the universe’s most beautiful creations.

At sunset, Day takes its final bow as it passes control to Night. Night slowly shrouds the Earth in its infinite black cloak, full of celestial mysteries.

The moon romances you into looking upward into the night sky. Like an illusion it compels you. The longer you stare, the more the beauty unfolds. Many a person has fallen in love under the charms of a moonlit night.

The night sky is a wonderous sight, full of contradictions. Intimidating yet comforting, full yet empty. Strong yet delicate, with stars that have been thoughtlessly scattered, yet placed with great precision.

It’s spellbinding. You wish for it to whisper its secrets to you, but you know it never will.

At twilight, Night gracefully steps into the background to allow the yawning sun to rise, stretching its golden hues over the horizon of a brand new Day.  Night’s only promise to Earth? To reappear when Day is done and yet again unveil its beauty.

Take the time to smile, find the time to laugh

Humour, to me, is one of the most attractive qualities. I look for it in people, so it’s no surprise that all my friendships/relationships are with people who really make me laugh. I am also blessed with a very funny family. Peculiar and ‘ha ha’.

Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by people who are funny? Laughing is infectious. FACT.

If I think about my relationships with colleagues in work, the people I have the most connection with are those who make me smile and make me laugh.

I love wit, I love sarcasm, I love slapstick and I love nonsensical random surreal humour.

Laughing is good for you. Laughing is healthy. The science behind it is that not only does it release endorphins, it helps your heart too. It improves the blood flow to your heart in a similar way exercise does. So, technically, laughing is exercise. Now surely, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to give yourself a good humour workout.

There are hundreds of benefits to laughing, so it baffles me that sometimes my more natural reaction to situations is to be frustrated/annoyed/angry/impatient etc…

So, for 2011, one of my aims (I prefer to call them aims & goals rather than resolutions) is to take the time to smile more, and find the time to laugh more. We all face challenges, we all have obstacles, but what separates us is how we react to them.

My aim is to try to find humour in whatever life throws at me. The one perfect example I have of already doing this, is the day of my Grandfather’s funeral.

Surprising yeah?

I’m not trying to make light of this situation. Losing a loved one is the most painful ache you’ll ever feel, and I loved my Grandfather immensely and miss him dearly. He was hilariously funny. If I had to describe him in three words, it would be firstly, sarcastic.., then witty… and finally.. tall!

The day of his funeral, all my immediate family had gathered in my Nanna’s for a private service before the church. After the service the vicar approached our side of the room.

Vicar   –    “I’m so sorry for your loss, which one of you is Auntie S? “

Turning to my Auntie M


Vicar   –    “Are you Auntie S?”

Auntie M   –    “Yes”

Vicar   –    “I’ve heard a lot about you”

Auntie M   –    ” Oh right”

Vicar   –    ” So Auntie S, Your staying with your Mam whilst we’re at the church

Auntie M   –    “Yes I am”

Out of the corner of the room, the real Auntie S lifts her hand and quietly says


“Um, I’m Auntie S”


The vicar continued to engage in conversation with Auntie M
Auntie S trys again, but slightly louder


“Um, I’m Auntie S”


This time the vicar hears her and swings around to speak to her.


Vicar   –    “Sorry, You’re Auntie S”?

Auntie S    –   “Yes”


The vicar quite perplexed swings back to Auntie M and asks the question that we were all starting to wonder..


Vicar   –    “Oh sorry, Why did you say you were Auntie S”?

Auntie M   –    “I don’t know! I panicked”


The Vicar smiles, and turns to face Auntie S


Vicar   –    “So you’re Auntie S and you’re staying here with Mam?”


At this exact moment, my cousin enters the room from the kitchen


Auntie S    –   “Yes, and that’s my son, he’s been sleeping with my mother”

I have to clarify at this point,  this was a completely innocent, innocuous remark, and the next minute was spent with Auntie S explaining what she had meant. All she had meant was that my cousin had been sleeping over in the flat to keep my Nanna company.

Rather than crying into a tissue as I had been, I was now using it to stifle my laugh.

My point is, as painfully emotional as that day was, when I reflect on it, that part always makes me smile, and it always will.

It made a sad day bearable. I smiled that day when I didn’t expect to, and I laughed that day when I thought it impossible to. I’ve no doubt in my mind that standing alongside us, doing exactly the same was my Grampa.

And that, is my inspiration to seek out the humour in life’s events and do more smiling and more laughing.

Playing hide & seek with your cats

Right Minnie, Cochen,

I’m going to close my eyes and count to ten, you go and hide……

Off you go…

One……. Two……… Three…….

Hhmmm.....

Four…. Don’t hide in the fridge like last time….. Five…….

Bugger!

Six…….. Seven……. Eight……. I can hear you in the bathroom….

Bugger!

Nine…… Ten…... Coming ready or not…….

Purrfect!

Where on earth could Cochen be!????…..

Not so purrfect

Oh… um… found you Minnie.

Kill all the rats you want, if you can catch them. But remember it’s a sin to kill a robin

If you are thinking this title looks vaguely familiar, then you’ve probably read the book To Kill A Mockingbird.

When talking to Scout, Atticus Finch says

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

I had a similar conversation with my two cats over Christmas, when I came home from work and found a dead robin on my kitchen floor.

I love robins. I believe in the spiritual meaning for sighting a robin. I’ve experienced it first-hand. I believe that seeing a robin indicates someone who has passed, and who loves you, is around you.

I know that sharing my house with felines means that I will come home to the occasional rodent or aviary murder scene, and I accept that. It’s their instinct. It’s inborn in them, and I understand that it’s their way of showing me their affection. Allowing me to share in the rewards of their hunt. I acknowledge that these are presents for me, their way of saying they love me, but I wish they would say it with flowers, or wine…. Preferably wine.

I’ve become quite accustomed to chasing rats, mice, birds, shrews and the occasional slow worm around the kitchen with my homemade catching kit. (A pair of gloves, a cardboard tube, a shoebox with holes in just incase I have to nurse anything back to full health, and a gallon of disinfectant to clean up afterwards).

Over time, I’ve become quite adept at it. That wasn’t always the case though, at first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I will never rest until this rats outside…..

I won’t deny, the day I came home and found the robin, I was livid. Now, the general rule is you cannot shout at or punish your cat for bringing animals home to you. It confuses them. It puts them off balance. Upsets their status quo. It would be like chastising a child for bringing you a mud pie they’ve made from the garden. You appreciate the sentiment behind the gesture, but you really wish they wouldn’t.

I felt the need to set some ground rules though, so after delicately setting the robin in it’s final resting place,  the forest behind my house, I set about having ‘the chat’ with my cats.

Wild eyed Cochen!

Minnie doing her 'I am what I am' routine

I found them both upstairs, fast asleep in the spare room, clearly tired from their latest killing spree. In a soft voice, and with a smile on my face, I started the conversation..

‘Which one of you did it?‘… They both looked at me with their kitten cat eyes (the feline equivalent of puppy dog eyes).

Actually it doesn’t matter which one of you it was, you can both hear this. Now listen up, and listen good. Real good. (I’m not sure why I turned slightly American at this point, and even the cats were looking at me with a ‘why are you talking like that?‘ look, but I went with it!).

I don’t ever want a repeat of what I’ve come home to tonight. I don’t ever want to find a robin in the house again. They are beautiful little birds and you should leave them well alone. Do you both understand? Although I’d prefer it if you took up a less violent hobby… maybe knitting or scrapbook making perhaps?,  I know you know no better. Thank you for my gift, but it really wasn’t necessary and from now on, no more robins. OK?

Now, lets have a cwtch* and we’ll say no more about it. All I ask is that you listen to what I’ve said.

*Cwtch – the welsh for hug, cuddle etc


With that, I smoothed them until they were both purring machines and went back downstairs.

For the sake of the local wildlife, I kept them in that night. Cochen, my little ginger cat was in the mother of all bad moods because of this. Every time I attempted to walk from one room to another, she would pounce at my ankles and wrap herself around them kicking with her back paws… Looking into her wild eyes, our minds met telepathically… ‘It was you wasn’t it?’..